Over the past fortnight, I've been taste testing some of Exante's vegetarian-friendly meals, bars, soups and snacks. Here are my thoughts!
Exante are popular within dieting circles as they specialise in VLCD (very low-calorie diet) and meal replacement products. Now personally, I'm not a fan of either as I've tried various diet programmes and plans over the years and never had much luck with them, especially when they involve eating just a protein bar or drinking a milkshake for a meal. Don't get me wrong - I think they can be useful for those who want to drop a few pounds quickly for a holiday or a special occasion, but I don't think they're sustainable in the long term, and my personal experience is that any weight I have lost through doing a VLCD, I've inevitably put it straight back on later down the line.
However, Exante have branched out a lot recently and created more 'weight control/management products' with an emphasis on healthy protein, which definitely appeals to me. Portion sizes are something that I've often struggled with because I'm just so damn greedy, so the idea of having meals expertly sized out, and with all the added vitamins and minerals that I need, is something of a winner in my book. With this in mind, I was interested to see what their products actually tasted like so I eagerly tried some of their Vegetarian Society approved meals, bars, soups and snacks.
Exante Diet Hot Cross Bun Flavour Bar*
As I mentioned above, I'm not the kind of girl who generally goes in for meal replacement bars or shakes, but I was curious to try out some of the protein bars as a handy breakfast-on-the-go option for busy mornings. This Hot Cross Bun bar is packed full of protein so it fills you up until nearly lunchtime. It's very, very, very chewy, almost like a dense fudge type consistency and has that typical milky/whey protein taste to it. There was something of a hot cross bun flavour to it (a little festive, spicy cinnamon coming through), but it's overpoweringly sweet and has an extra milky layer of sweetness all over it which was just too much for me and I've always considered myself to have a strong sweet tooth! [4/10]
Exante Diet Deliciously Different Cookies & Cream Flavour Bar*
The Cookies & Cream bar was very similar to the Hot Cross Bun bar in terms of that same strong whey protein texture and taste, though I'd say this was slightly more palatable. It was still quite dense inside the bar but reminded me of stale cake, rather than super chewy like the above bar was. Again though it was sickly sweet with that unnecessary extra milky coating and the 'cookie' pieces were more stodgy than crunchy and proceeded to fall off as I was eating the bar. Not great. [5/10]
Exante Diet Chocolate Orange Bar*
Now this was completely different! It tasted just like a regular cereal / Tracker bar - wonderfully crispy and chewy texture, still with a little of that whey protein taste mixed with soy, but the addition of the chocolate orange drops into the bar helped to significantly mask it. I really enjoyed this one and would definitely buy a box of these to eat for breakfasts-on-the-go. [9/10]
Exante Diet Thai Green Curry Rice Pot Meal*
I'm a big fan of Thai Green Curry and curry in general, so I was curious to see what a healthy rice pot version would taste like. To be honest, the Green Curry flavour was pretty good with a subtle little kick of spice, but the rice wasn't so great. It sort of turned mushy but some of the rice still felt undercooked and bitty at the same time. Weird. I ate it anyway as a quick lunch option and was surprised by how filling it was. [6/10]
Exante Diet Mushroom Soup*
This soup came in a huge pouch for one meal but I couldn't stomach even half of it. Thin, watery consistency and it tasted more of onion than it did of mushroom. Not for me! [0/10]
Exante Diet Barbeque Protein Crisps*
High protein crisps that pack a crunchy and flavourful punch - these were great! Generous portion size that fills a gap, and they stopped me craving other unhealthy salty snacks. If you love crisps but want a healthier, low fat option, these are certainly worth checking out. [8/10]
Exante Diet Vegetable Curry*
Moving onto the vegetarian weight management meals, these all come ready made to pop into the microwave or oven and don't need to be kept in the fridge. I was pleasantly surprised by how good this vegetable curry was which has tomatoes, red lentils, adzuki beans and 'chicken style' soy protein pieces in it. Flavoursome and filling! At only 306 calories for the whole meal, I would happily order some more of these to keep in the cupboard. [8/10]
Exante Diet Mushroom Pasta*
Two of my favourite foods combined - mushrooms and pasta, what's not to love? This meal has a lovely creamy sauce with sliced button mushrooms and 'chicken' style pieces to up the protein content. Like the curry, you can just pop it into the microwave for 5 minutes and you have a quick lunch or dinner. This one came in at 288 calories and would be ideal served with a salad for a mid-week meal. [8/10]
Exante 5 Bean Vegetarian Chilli*
The Chilli tasted suspiciously similar to the Vegetable Curry above, but I didn't mind as I liked it! A very filling and generous portion size again, full of 5 beans (adzuki, pinto, cannellini, red kidney and black eyed), plus chopped tomatoes, onions, red pepper and soya mince. The only slight downside to this meal was that some of the beans were hard and undercooked, despite following the cooking instructions, but the rest was really good. [7/10]
Summary: Some hits and misses but I guess I was expecting that as I'm a little fussy with my food and we all like and dislike different things. I'd definitely recommend the ready meals and I was thinking the other day about how useful they would be for someone who had just come out of hospital or was getting over being ill because they are so convenient to cook and store. I wasn't a fan of the protein bars but would happily recommend the cereal/tracker style ones for busy people who don't have time in the morning to cook something or those who commute to work.
Exante Diet products are available to purchase separately and in packs direct from exantediet.com
Have you tried any Exante products?