Product Review – Purple BalanceJason Firmager
As many of you already know, balancing personal athletic and performance goals whilst maintaining a commitment to a diet that is ethical, sustainable, and wholesome, can be somewhat of a difficult task. My own training goals mean that I have to maintain a relatively high protein intake, but during the month of September I made a commitment to my body and my planet to up my intake of protein from plant based sources, limiting my consumption of protein from animal sources as much as possible. Part of this was a self-experiment; to see how it would affect my health and my performance, whilst part of it was a conscious effort to do more for our already fragile environment.
In my search for wholesome plant based protein powders, I delved deep into a market that is still largely dominated by soy or other GMO protein blends, with the vast majority of products seemingly having no regard for nutrient density or the quality of ingredients they are using. Nonetheless, the tide does seem to be turning somewhat – with young, ethical, dynamic brands starting to make waves in the industry; albeit, the vast majority of them are USA based. The search continued, until I came across the brand ‘Purple Balance’ – and knew that I had finally found what I was looking for.
One click on the Purple Balance website showed me exactly what they were all about; 100% plant based, nutrient rich protein powders and raw snack bars, all of which are free from gluten, dairy, soy, or anything else GMO. In fact, all of the ingredients they use are raw, organic, and ethically sourced – something that really resonated with me.
It was only after I decided to research deeper into the brand and the people behind it, that I came across the extremely passionate, vibrant character that makes the brand tick – Frank Arrigazzi. A yoga teacher and natural health expert, Frank founded Purple Balance in 2011 to provide people an opportunity to make more wholesome, natural food choices that benefit their health and the environment. I called the company and spoke directly with Frank, and after learning even more about the products, I made my first order.
My package arrived the next day, and I was incredibly excited to open it. Where to start first!? I decided to go for the ‘Raw Natural Protein’; partly due to the fantastic array of truly nutrient dense, superfood ingredients it contains, but also because anything associated with raw chocolate doesn’t require much persuasion on my part. Raw Natural Protein has a base of cold pressed hemp protein, which contains all the essential amino acids needed for growth and repair (something that is rare in plant proteins) along with a generous amount of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, fibre, and minerals zinc and magnesium. It was the other ingredients that really set this product apart from the rest, turning this product from a protein powder into a true superfood blend; cacao powder, bee pollen, lucuma fruit, maca root, and a little coconut palm sugar to lightly sweeten.
Usually, I find that products that promise so much very rarely deliver in the taste department, so although excited I did create my first Purple Balance smoothie with a little scepticism. In this case, however, I was completely blown away by both the taste and texture of this blend. It was absolutely divine! It mixed incredibly well, and didn’t form lumps like many other protein powders do. The taste was delicious – distinctly chocolatey but not overly sweet, with subtle caramel and butterscotch flavours from the maca and lucuma. There was also a little warming tingle to it, which I would imagine came from the bee pollen. And all this when simply mixed with a little almond milk! Suddenly my mind was conjuring up images of it being sprinkled on top of yoghurt, used in raw desserts or mixed with fruit for amazing chocolate smoothie bowls.
Next on my list to try was the Raw Green Protein, a blend of hemp protein, lucuma fruit and maca root, along with chlorophyll rich greens spirulina, wheat grass, barely grass and chlorella. These greens from both land and sea are well known as some of the most nutrient dense, alkalising green foods on the planet, providing a rich source of chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants. The abundance of health giving chlorophyll in this product gives it a deep green colour, which makes it look almost as healthy as it actually is! I whizzed a little of this with some fruit and coconut water to make a smoothie, and was surprised at just how tasty it actually was. The natural sweetness of the maca and lucuma balance out the flavour of the greens, whilst the hemp adds a subtle nuttiness. I think I slightly preferred the chocolate flavour, but having both allows me to give my smoothies real variety. After drinking my Raw Green Protein smoothie, I felt noticeably energised and vibrant for hours to come.
A quick note: as Raw Natural Protein contains Bee Pollen, it is not strictly vegan – however many vegans do consume Bee Pollen as part of their diet, if it is taken from high quality sources (as is the case with Purple Balance). If you’re not into Bee Pollen, that’s fine – the Raw Green Protein is Bee Pollen free and 100% suitable for vegans.
As for the snack bars, I ordered every flavour on the Purple Balance menu – all in the name of research, of course! There was the Goji and Vanilla Cookie, a mix of Tibetan Goji Berries (rich in antioxidants, vitamin C and iron), dates, almonds, coconut, raw oak honey and vanilla. The taste and texture of this one was superb, probably my favourite out of the bunch. The Wild Pecan Choco Cake was a close runner up; the tried and tested mixture of pecans and raw cacao, combines with hazelnuts, dates and raw oak honey is enough to make anyone go weak at the knees. The Lemon Pie and Raspberry Cake were probably a little too sweet for me, but I couldn’t help but admire the melt in the mouth texture they both provided.
The bars didn’t hang around very long, and the ones I didn’t eat myself were gobbled up by hungry friends and family that discovered my secret stash. The protein powders, however, I have continued to work into my daily diet – after experimenting with the best times to take them, I have settled on a system that works best for me and my body. I begin my day with 1 heaped tablespoon of Raw Green Protein in a smoothie, usually also featuring blueberries, spinach, maybe a banana, a teaspoon of coconut oil and a teaspoon of a greens blend. This provides me with long lasting, sustained energy throughout the day, and also is a great way to gently wake up my digestive system rather than throwing ‘heavier’ foods at it too early. I then take 2 tbsp of Raw Natural Protein mixed with 100ml coconut water and 100ml almond milk about 30 minutes before my workout – this mix really energises me, enhances my focus and gets me in a great mood for training. I’ve also experimented with using post workout, but I have decided I prefer a real food meal at this time, as I’ve usually worked up quite an appetite!
I’m in love with the Purple Balance brand and the products they produce, and I’ll definitely be placing an order again soon. Do you have a favourite brand of plant based protein powders? Can they compete with Purple Balance? I’d love to hear your thoughts!