I have never been one of those people who can skip breakfast. I don’t want to eat when I wake up, but there’s no way I can make it to lunch without food. Normally my breakfast is a hard boiled egg or two with a bowl of yogurt, but that gets boring.
Also, sometimes people look at you funny when you explain you can personally eat over a dozen eggs in a week. In any case, I was excited to try Huel, a meal-replacement shake that claims to be nutritionally complete … but how does it taste?
There’s probably a few things that come to mind when you hear “meal replacement shake”: you’re thinking of Carnation Instant Breakfast, Slimfast, or, if you’re thinking more modern, Soylent.
Huel is more along the lines of Soylent, as the main goal is to provide shelf-stable nutritionally complete food that can also address the growing food crises around the world. Huel is vegan, and they use oats, peas, flaxseed and coconut oil as their base. So not only is it dairy free, but it’s also soy free for those who are sensitive to soybeans.
Huel is not organic, but the company addresses that in their FAQ, explaining that it would be prohibitively expensive to source 100% organic items, and their goal is affordability. The FAQ is quite interesting and even addresses how Huel can be used for feeding tubes and other medical needs.
Huel | Nutritionally Complete Food
So that’s the background on Huel. They have excellent intentions and some solid science behind them, but the bigger question is, how does it taste?
Huel is surprisingly, quite good. It’s very oat-y, and thick without feeling powdery. I’ve had it for breakfast several times over the last few weeks, and it is extremely filling. You can blend it or simply shake it (Huel thoughtfully included a very nice shaker bottle), and both ways yield an evenly mixed shake that doesn’t settle or have unmixed pockets or lumps. I might give a slight edge to the blender version for a smoother texture, but the shaker version is just fine, and it’s a lot easier on mornings when I feel too lazy to haul out the blender.
Huel provides a number of recipes and mix-in suggestions, and I’ve come up with two ways to make Huel that I find to be really delicious. If I want an all-in-one shake, I replace the water normally called for in the recipe with brewed coffee and ice cubes, making a sort of frappe type shake. Otherwise, I make Huel according to the normal mix and add in a few teaspoons of ginger, turmeric, nutmeg, and cinnamon. This is definitely a sweeter shake, but it gives it a chai-tea like flavor profile, and adds in some anti-inflammatory spices to go along with Huel.
Last year I tried Soylent and did not enjoy it very much. It tasted too much like liquid Kix to me, and it left a weird aftertaste. Likewise, I have a huge tub of Naked Pea protein powder, and while it’s not bad, I have to do a lot of work to dress it up and make it palatable (add milk, coffee, chocolate, etc., which increases the calorie count and the expense per shake). Neither of those were go-tos that I saw as something I would eat regularly, but Huel has been a very pleasant surprise in that the flavor and texture are actually good!
I have found that when I start my day with Huel, I don’t snack at all until lunch, and even after lunch, I tend to snack less than I would normally. Huel seems to fill me up and satisfy me throughout the day, even if I only eat it for breakfast and have a normal lunch and dinner. The ingredients are fairly straightforward and I can identify all of them, which is always a plus for me. The cost is very efficient at about $2.12 per shake, and while $66 up front is steep, it’s not any worse than a big tub of commercial protein powder, and the protein powder probably doesn’t have the same nutritional balance.
I’ll admit, when I unboxed the Huel and saw two huge bags, I thought the company was a bit overconfident in their product — that was a lot of food for a review sample! But now that I’m using it regularly, it’s likely I will not only go through the bags that were sent, but I will happily pay for more orders in the future! This may not be an everyday go-to breakfast, but it tastes good, fills me up, and is fast and convenient, and that’s a combination I always want to have on hand!
If you’re ok with drinking your meals, or just want to have a quick and easy option on hand, you should give Huel a try!
Source: Manufacturer provided review samples
What I Liked: Texture is good; Mixes easily and doesn’t separate; Balanced nutritional profile; Good flavor; Easy to mix; Can customize amounts to meet calorie requirements; Gluten and nut free
What Needs Improvement: Have to order a significant amount all at once; Flavor may not be for everyone; Only available in vanilla and unflavored