(This is the second in a planned series of monthly posts: you can find the first post here.)
When I last left you, I was in trouble. Due to a mistake on my part, I was saddled with several bags of unflavoured Huel, several weeks away from getting my new stuff, and (on account of being a lazy boy) couldn’t be bothered to send back the unopened bags. I was coping with a routine involving flavour boosts, leftover N&I Huel, and bananas.
Lets talk about bananas.
So, word round the forum is that frozen bananas are the way to go, and… did I talk about this last time? Ahh, I did briefly. So, yeah, I wasn’t clear on if I was supposed to store the whole banana frozen, or peel them first, or what. This led to… problems. What kind of problems? Well;
- Unpeeled frozen bananas are, unsurprisingly, awkward to peel. The skin comes off very bitty, often the inner layer stays in place, it’s painful to hold onto them, trying to cut them open with a knife is helpful but also hard and dangerous… don’t like it.
- Leave them out for a bit, then peel? There’s a surprisingly small window where the banana sort-of OK, with tough and awkward one one side, and gooey sloppy mess on the other (on account of all the frost turning to moisture and soaking the banana). Have you ever tried to handle post-defrost banana slop before? It isn’t fun. Or maybe it is for you, I’m not going to judge, you have fun the way you want, I support you.
- Peeling them before freezing seems like it should be better, but… not really? OK, sure, you don’t have to peel it frozen, and it didn’t seem to harm the bananas at all, but it just meant leaving the banana in the blender bottle with water for a bit and occasionally trying to blend it and, no, still too hard, best wait another few minutes, maybe if I shake it a bit to get water over the top as well? No good, let’s leave it a bit.
Plus, either way, the blender blades wind up coated in a hard banana crust afterwards that was kinda annoying to clean off… definitely the easiest step here, but still annoying. So; forget it! I just started keeping them in the fridge, and it’s fine! It’s totally fine. They peel normally, blend normally, my hands stay as warm as they were, no special cleanup, taste just as good, it’s just fine. I’m sure there’s a good nutritional reason for freezing bananas (or maybe it’s just so they keep longer?), but I’m mainly using them for flavour, so; it’s fine to skip the freezer.
Speaking of blenders; I alluded in the last post to getting a second one. I also mentioned a few times that weekends were tricky because I stayed at my partners. You, doubtless, can see how these two things relate. Another £15, another blender with another 2 bottles, and now I can do everything at hers that I can at home. That’s made life a whole lot easier. And yet, this month, I have had a couple of Huel-less days.
Which is fine.
It’s my experience that when people attempt lifestyle changes (especially in diet), they often pair that with hard targets: I am going to eat 5 portions of fruit every day. I’m going to completely stop having cheese. I’m going to stop smoking, cold turkey. The problem comes when life doesn’t fit the standard pattern; not having cheese may be fine when you’re home every day and just make sure not to buy any, it may be trickier when you go to an Italian restaurant for someone’s birthday. It’s easy at the time to “give in” and have what you want “just this once”, and just as easy to, later on, feel like you’re a failure, and see it as just proof you can’t hack it, and maybe you shouldn’t even bother trying, bring on the Edam!
All hard targets do is make changes hard, so; I didn’t set them. The plan was to try to have Huel for breakfasts/lunches at work, when possible (with weekends quickly getting added because it just felt right). But if I stay at my partners and we have leftover pizza I can have for breakfast; sure, why waste it? Oh, we’re off on a day trip? Part of that is eating out in a new place, so the Huel can stay home. Ahh nuts, I went to work and left my Huel meals at home? Bring on the sausage rolls! Those are all situations I’ve encountered this month, and because there are no targets, these weren’t failures. I’m not giving in, or giving up, because the behaviour isn’t a breach; it was always allowed. This mindset works for me; it may not for you, and that’s fine.
Sorry, this post’s going a bit more rambly than the last one, I think. What’s next… oh, yeah, flavour boosts!
To get me through the U&U times, I picked up two of the big flavour boosts; toffee, and mint chocolate. The Toffee has lived at home (and, along with bananas, has been one of the two staples I’ve used for keeping my meals palatable in lieu of having Vanilla Huel), while the mint chocolate has been at my partners. I’ve still got plenty of each left, and I can imagine that just one would’ve easily lasted me the full month (but remembering to carry it back and forth several times a week sounded like a distinctly none-lazy way to do things).
The toffee is pretty darn good. I don’t really get much of a toffee vibe from it, but it is a nice sweet flavour, and did manage to cut through the U&U; I’d recommend it. Now I’ve got Original again (mostly I’m having 2 scoops of original and one of U&U, which I’ll keep up with until the U&U is all gone), one level teaspoon is plenty to get a strong flavour. My one complain here is just that, for me, vanilla is nice enough by itself that the toffee is a bit much; I may scale it back a bit more, see how that goes.
Mint chocolate is… Hmm. I mean, it does taste right (definitely more mint-chocolatey that the toffee is toffee-y), and the flavour is strong enough to deal with the U&U, but… I don’t know, maybe it doesn’t fit the texture of Huel? Maybe it doesn’t work with cold drinks? I dunno, something about it doesn’t spark with me. It’s not bad, I can imagine many people quite liking it, and it’s done the job for me, but I don’t think I’d buy it again.
I do have one problem with the flavour boosts, and it’s one that applies to Huel itself too; they’re messy. The toffee one, in particular, releases a toffee cloud every time I open the pack, while the mint chocolate clumps a bit and tends to fly everywhere when I try and spoon it out. Huel itself always winds up falling around whatever container I’m trying to put it in; I thought my technique was possibly just wrong at first and would improve over time, but it’s still about as bad as it was. I don’t think there’s much to be done about either… it’s powdered food, powder is inevitably going to go places… but it does mean there’s a little more cleanup than you may expect.
(Oooh, also: someone very helpfully suggested I try using warm water and a stock cube with U&U Huel to make a soup drink. I tried this. The result… was not to my taste. Possibly a beef Oxo wasn’t the way to go?)
Let’s talk overall impact.
I’m still losing weight, which is good. I can kinda see a difference, but it’s taking time. I said before that weight loss wasn’t the goal, but I’ve started thinking a little more in that mindset. I’ve been taking the distinctly un-lazy approach of checking calories of things I’m eating and making choices accordingly. It hasn’t been a huge change, more just an increase in awareness? Also… and this is weird… I think having the U&U for a month really has slightly changed what I expect with Huel, because… and if you knew me, you’d know this was a distinctly odd thing for me to say… Now I’m back with the vanilla, it tastes a bit too sweet. Keep in mind, this is with a 2/1 split; when the leftover U&U is gone, I guess I’ll see what I think. (And if any Huel staff are reading this, I’m begging you, don’t take this as a suggestion you should make it less sweet! Keep it just the way it is!)
I mislead you slightly earlier. Well, not exactly, but I did imply something to make a point that wasn’t literally true. Remember I mentioned the leftover-pizza-for-breakfast thing? Well, that really was the plan yesterday, so I only made one Huel for lunch that night. The next morning, I didn’t feel hungry enough for pizza, and didn’t want to spend time to make another Huel… so I just went to work with just the one. Not a problem; Huel continues to be more filling than my old options.
I am still very happy with how this whole thing is panning out. Huel is still tasty, still healthy, still easy and still cheap. Weight is still dropping, slowly but surely. I’m paying more attention to my other meals, which can only be a good thing. I’ve got a better setup at my partner’s place, I’ve got Original Huel again, and it still feels like I’m cheating my way to a better diet. The sun is shining, I’m seeing a friend tonight, life is good. I bet month 3 is going to go reeeeeeeally smoothly.
Next time: Berry Huel! Bathroom scales? Definitely not a third blender!