If I had my druthers, I would eat mac & cheese for dinner several times a week. However, since I’m adult and know that’s not exactly a healthy dietary choice, I usually opt for a more balanced meal.
But what if I could health-ify my mac & cheese? That’s the promise that offered by Pampered Chef, a kitchen equipment and dry goods company owned by Berkshire Hathaway, with its new Enrichables line. Enrichables are packets of nutrient-dense powders meat to be added to your normal meals, from smoothies to soups to dips, to make them healthier.
The line’s first two flavors, Pea Protein and Kale & Fiber, launched in October of this year. According to Sandy Wolner, Pampered Chef’s in-house food and trend innovator, the company decided to start with these two products because they’re universally appealing. “Right now, everyone is trying to get more protein into their diet,” she told me over the phone last week. “And everyone knows that kale is a very nutritious vegetable.”
The pea protein packet contains 10 g of pea protein, and the Kale & Fiber pack has 2 cups of kale, which contains vitamins A, C, and K, as well as 8 grams of chicory root fiber. And that’s it. I like that the packets are made of super-simple, transparent ingredients, unlike lots of other meal supplements and protein powders. The Enrichables packets are also vegan and free from soy, gluten, and nuts.
Pampered Chef sent me some Enrichables so I could try them for myself. The first thing I noticed after opening up the box was the size of the packets themselves. I imagined they would be a little bigger than a sugar packet, maybe the size of a tea bag. However, the Enrichables packs are about 5-inches by 4-inches — significantly larger than I’d expected. In fact, they were a little too large to fit into my pocket or slip into my outer backpack pocket, which made keeping them with me on-the-go slightly inconvenient.
Reading the back of the packets, I realized that Enrichables aren’t single-serve. Each one is meant to be incorporated into a recipe that feeds four. That might work well if you’re a parent trying to sneak some fiber and protein into your family dinner, but as someone who mainly cooks just for herself, it was slighly awkward to keep these partially-used packets around my kitchen or office kitchen.
So how did it taste? On the whole, not bad. In fact, both powders chiefly tasted like nothing — and that’s a good thing.
I tried them stirred into a plain lentil soup — one-fourth of a packet in each serving. The Kale & Fiber pack turned my soup vaguely green but didn’t really affect the flavor, which was nice. Similarly the Pea Protein didn’t taste like much and didn’t have the bitterness that sometimes goes along with pea protein. However, it did thicken my soup so much that it became a paste, which was slightly unappetizing. That could be an issue if I was adding the Pea Protein powder to smoothies or other liquids.
That hiccup aside, my lunch tasted good. I’m not sure how much of a difference 2.5 grams of protein powder and a half-cup of kale, the equivalent of one-fourth of each packet, will really make in my overall health. It could’ve just been in my head, but I did finish my lunch feeling uncharacteristically virtuous and full.
Placebo or no, I think Enrichables concept is an interesting way to tap into a few food trends we’ve been seeing here at the Spoon. First, it fits into the move towards so-called “clean label” products with shorter, more transparent ingredient lists. Enrichables is also taking advantage of growing consumer demand for protein, specifically plant-based protein. Finally, Enrichables plays into the overarching trend for mealtime convenience. Want more fiber in your meal? Just sprinkle on this powder and you’re set in an instant.
As for me, I think I’ll use the rest of my Enrichables packet on some mac & cheese for dinner tonight. Hey, it’s healthy!