I’m going to warn you up front. We have a LOT of ground to cover here.
So if you don’t have a good few moments to dedicate to reading this review, my feelings would not be hurt if you decided to come back to it. But DO come back! This review has not only information about Bariatric Pal and their soups, but deep psychological insights into food cravings, as well as tutorial on how to vanquish protein foam.
It’s all very thrilling. Onward!
What is Bariatric Pal?
In addition to being a 2018 Bariatric Foodie Pledge Week 1 sponsor, I’d say BariatricPal is sorta like Amazon, Facebook, and CNN got together and had a bariatric love-child (yes, I know that’s three parents…don’t judge!). It’s part informational site, part store, part social hang-out complete with message board forums.
And they have soup. With protein in it.
So, as it usually happens when I do a review, I got sent a LOT of products. I’m going to warn you. I did not photograph them all. I did try them all, but photographing anything well (food included) is an intricate process and this past week the universe has done its best to make sure I had little to no time or sanity so…you get what you got. But I think what I got is pretty ok.
Here’s what I got sent:
- Bariatric Pal Cream of Mushroom Soup
- Bariatric Pal Creamy Brocolli/Cheese Soup
- Bariatric Pal Chicken Noodle Soup
- Bariatric Pal Soup Variety Pack (which contained the above flavors + a few more that I’ve outlined below)
You can click on the soup names to get to the nutrition information, which tended to vary a little bit. For the most part, all the soups were between 70-100 calories/serving with 15g protein.
The Aesthetics (Look and Smell)
These soups come as powders of course. None of them had any extraordinary look to them. The cream of mushroom had little bits of dried mushroom in there. I thought that was nice. Meant the taste was probably legit. There was an ever-so-slight proteiny smell. It wasn’t terribly offensive but I did pick it up. When it comes to protein smell, I am like a blood hound. I can sniff it out from far, far away. But again, not to bad (and certainly not as bad as some OTHER products I’ve tried but shall not put on blast).
Ok so here’s where we get into some educational material.
The directions for each packet of soup said the following (I’m paraphrasing): Mix with 6-8 ounces of warm water. Stir until dissolved.
(Maybe I’m not paraphrasing because I do believe that’s actually what it says. Photographic memory, FTW!
So…that’s not how I did it. Why? Because when I do that with protein soups the same thing always happens. I get lumpy clumps that I can never ever seem to work out! And then I’m left with a choice. Do I try to blend it from there, and risk getting the bubbly foam? Do I leave the lumpy clumps and pretend it’s, I dunno, gnocchi? It’s a real dilemma for me. Indulge me a diversion while I tell you why.
I’m not the biggest soup person. Sure, as a new post-op I sucked down a lot of soup because, well, that was the only thing I could eat without severe consequences. Nowadays soup…I dunno…unless it’s a hearty soup, it just isn’t that appealing to me. So when trying soups, I really need it to be a good user experience. Because I will straight up GIVE up on the process unless it’s super easy.
So let me tell you how I mixed the soups instead.
I combined the soup mix with 8 ounces of water in my handy-dandy Ninja Kitchen blender! Just a few seconds did the trick.
That’s going to produce foam sometimes. There’s just no way around that. Some of Bariatric Pal’s soups did not foam, but some of them did. Here’s my super-easy three-step system to handling protein soup foam:
Step 1: Remove the foam from the rest of the liquid
But do NOT discard it! That foam, essentially, is the protein. Well…not all the protein. But it is protein. So don’t throw it away! Simple use a spoon to transfer it to another location temporarily.
Step 2: Let the foam cool down
And when it does, something magical happens. It liquifies! YAY!
Step 3: Pour the de-foamed soup back into your regular bowl of soup
For those of you going, “that’s too much to do!” This entire process happens over the course of, like, five minutes. That may still be too long for you. If so, I can respect that!
Moving on. As I said, I’m not the biggest soup person unless it’s a hearty soup. I’m 8 years post-op. These days soup reads like an appetizer. (Don’t be scared pre-ops…I really can’t eat as much as I did before surgery…I can just eat more than you can!) So I decided to take a bit of a different approach with the soups. I decided to challenge myself to use three ingredients or less to “bulk them up.” In a healthy way of course.
I photographed four types of soup:
Here’s what I did with them and what I thought of them.
This one was the soup from the “defoaming” demonstration pictures. Once I got the foam taken care of, I gave it a little taste. It was very nice. Very beefy. (I don’t know any other adjective for beefy than beefy…savory?) There was the slight protein taste. Again, not offensive to me. It is noteworthy that when mixed with water I no longer smelled any protein though. It smelled…beefy.
What did I add to it? Two really simple ingredients: zoodles (zucchini noodles made with a vegetable spiralizer) and toasted sesame seeds. Chopped green onions might have been nice too but I didn’t have any on hand. I ate the zoodles with chopsticks after drinking the broth (technically NOT violating the no eating/drinking together rule since I drank first, ate second) and it was like eating a nice noodle soup at a Chinese restaurant. I liked it!
Cream of Mushroom
Now this one was tricky for me because, well, I’ve never eaten cream of mushroom soup by itself. I’ve used it as an ingredient, sure, but never have I said “let’s crack open a can of cream of mushroom soup and have a bowl!” That has never happened. I plan to use this flavor in a few recipes to see how that goes but to give you the 411 on the flavor I decided to just make a bowl of it.
So…the flavor? Was good! Like I said, I’ve never had cream of mushroom soup by itself but maybe I ought to start. Because I liked this! The mushroom flavor came through nicely. There seemed to be some herbs in there as well. For some reason I kept picking up an undertone of nutmeg, which wasn’t bothersome, just unexpected. (I checked and I don’t see nutmeg on the ingredients list so NO idea why I picked that up.) The one drawback is that I’m used to cream of mushroom soup being just a tad thicker than this. Next time I make it I’ll only use 6 oz. of liquid instead of 8. That should fix it.
What did I add to it? What you see here is turkey meatballs and some black pepper. That’s it really. I chose that because I always cook my meatballs in either spaghetti sauce, BBQ sauce or cream of mushroom soup. This was very reminiscent of beef stroganoff. Very comforting!
Brocoli & Cheese
This soup is the one that got the most visceral reaction when I shared the picture on social media. So let’s get that out of the way. Yes, it is thick. Yes, it is green. But neither of those things bothered me. I am a visual eater but this was about the texture of a potato soup and the green made sense.(although I had to keep telling myself as I went in for the first bite that this was NOT split pea soup!)
The taste was pretty true to form. I tasted brocoli. I didn’t find it to be particularly cheesy. There was a savory backdrop to it that was very nice though. I will admit up front brocolli soup is not my absolute favorite, but I was not offended by this at all!
What did I add to it? Just a sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese. That’s all it needed really. A punch of cheesiness!
This is not to be confused with creamy tomato (of which I also received a sample). This tomato soup I liked better than the creamy tomato though. The creamy tomato was pretty good, don’t get me wrong, but it was…pink. Like really pink. And while thick, green soups don’t bug me, pink soup does just a little bit. In my head soup should not be pink. (And no, I have never had beet soup.)
So to me tomato soup has definite traits. It’s a little bit saucy but not too much so. And it’s got a slightly savory, slightly sweet flavor. This fit both those requirements. Of course both these preferences were built around the intention to dip a grilled cheese into the soup, but still. I liked it. The texture was like a slightly thinner spaghetti sauce and this one, among all of them, presented no protein taste or smell. Which was a plus!
What did I add to it? This one technically has more than three ingredients. I added some shrimp, a dollop of goat cheese (sour cream or even cream cheese would work well if you don’t like goat cheese), some Italian seasoing and some Old Bay Seasoning.
Oh. My. Yum. I really liked this combo all together. It was like…a really good seafood party in my mouth!
So those are the flavors that got pics, but I also tried the other flavors, and here’s what I thought of them:
- Creamy Tomato Soup: It also foamed (but I dealt), good flavor. But it was pink. Which was a bit strange for me.
- Chicken Noodle: Flavor was pretty true. Again, slight proteiny taste, but not too bothersome. Did not foam.
- Chicken Bouillon: Basically the same as the Chicken Noodle…without the noodles.
- Cream of Chicken: Came out the same texture as the brocolli soup but was tan, not green. Decent chicken flavor. I’d use it more as ingredient in something else.
Whew! We’re in the homestretch. You with me, Foodies?
So if you’ve been reading my reviews lately I have been giving a unit price I call “price per protein serving” for protein products. It’s basically the the price of a product divided by the total number of protein grams you get from the product.
The Bariatric Pal soups pretty much all have 15g protein. Each box comes with 7 packets at a price of $12.89 per box. So let’s do the math:
$12.89 / 7 servings = 1.84
$1.84/15 (g protein) = $0.12 per protein gram
That’s a measurement you can use to compare one protein supplement to another. Is it the cheapest form of protein? No. (By comparison, a 4 oz. serving of chicken breast is about $0.04 per protein gram.) But it shouldn’t be because you are paying for convenience and low calories!
I liked these soups. I have a few packets left over so I’m going to play with them. For example, the Cream of Mushroom would go nicely in my quest to invent a noodle-less chicken spaghetti recipe (Pioneer Woman has me hell-bent on experiencing chicken spaghetti in some form!) Me saying I like them is saying a lot because as I’ve mentioned (ad nauseum) I’m not a soup person! I also don’t do a lot of pre-prepared protein foods, but this I’d keep handy for when I need a decent meal and/or am trying to make an impossible dish (like chicken spaghetti) protein forward!
Here’s how I think it shakes out for you guys:
- For new post-ops: I’d definitely say it’s worth the investment to have something with good protein that is not sweet!
- For other post-ops: As you can see, with a few simple ingredient additions you can do really nice things with these soups.
My advice? Invest in the variety pack, see if you like it and if you do – play with your food!
Pledge to Win BariatricPal Prizes
BariatricPal is a Week 1 sponsor of the Bariatric Foodie Pledge. To win their prize, you gotta sign up for the Pledge! ALSO mark your calendars because during Week 1 (1/28 – 2/3) BariatricPal is offering $10 off your order of $69 or more (plus U.S. shipping) with code FOODIE18.