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Australian Soylent for under $5 a day

If you are in and about the start up scene, there is a decent chance you have heard of Soylent, a food replacement drink invented by Software engineer Rob Rhinehart and now fully funded via a $500,000 Tilt crowd funding campaign and $20M of venture capital investment.

What is Soylent?

Despite it’s name, it is not based on Soy, in fact it was named after Soylent Green, a Sci-Fi movie where they drink a mixture made of (spoiler) people. Evidently a drink made of people is much healthy that one made of Soy.

The idea of Soylent is to provide the body with 100% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of maco and micro nutrients (with Amino acids a bonus) without the hassle or cost of food preparation. Rob, in true entrepreneurial style, has now taken that to a more ethical place based around famine, sustainability, and world peace … or something. Yes, another startup making the world a better place:

For Rob it [started as a simple idea](http://robrhinehart.com/?p=298). Less cooking, less cleaning, more time, all nutrient requirements met at a cheap price.

I am a reluctant nerd, a software engineer by trade, a lazy (sometimes decent) cook by night. If it wasn’t for a dedicated wife, there is a fair chance my local store would be out of baked beans by now. The idea of engineered food in a bottle horrifies all foodies and most ‘normal’ people, but to me it sounded like Rob was trying to turn my sexuality, one sip at a time.

DIY

The problem? It is available in the US only. This combined with early fulfilment delays meant a DIY Soylent community sprung to life, with people trying to reverse engineer the official Soylent recipe to make their own version. I still am not sure if this is endorsed by Rob or not, the site is after all on the official site (http://diy.soylent.me), yet in an interview he made it pretty clear he didn’t endorse it.

Either way, the DIY recipe database and forums have grown since 2013, and endorsed or not, I thought why not take a shot at an Australian sourced version that would meet my nutritional needs better than my current diet of air for breakfast, and cafe food for lunch.

After 2+ months of tweaking, taste testing, gagging and looks from my 9 year old like I had gone all ‘Breaking Bad‘ on him. I started stock piling ingredients from large bags of table salt, to kale powder to every seed you can think of, until I had a mix that I could consume 2 out of 3 meals a day.

ausoylent-1-3-2-ingredients

I have been consuming this now since late April 2015, with no ill effects, hunger pains or cravings. Oh an no sign of third limb growing. Good news.

Ausoylent

Of course it needed it’s own name, something amazingly innovative, and so it became Ausoylent (bound to be a target of legal action or a name change if it ever took off).

Ausoylent is an Australian sourced DIY Soylent recipe aimed at nutritional accuracy while keeping prices low and sources few. I chose the 40/25/35 (Carbohydrate/Fat/Protein) Macronutrient ratio (currently sitting at exactly those levels) to help with my, as my boys put it, “big fat tum tum”. I also keep it low carb, and extremely low in sugar, which gives you flexibility to sneak a snack in here an there, or go for coffee.

Cost is under $5/day!, with ingredients coming primarily from Woolworths and Chemist Warehouse, although recent change requires the use of Masa Lista which adds another source unfortunately. Would love to lose this at some point if there was a suitable non-oat replacement.

Prices can be brought down with bulk purchases, or more varied sources, but as it is currently, you could in theory feed yourself for $4.77 a day.

The continuing struggle with DIY and official Soylent varieties remain the texture. If you are expecting a silky smooth milkshake, it isn’t quite there yet, though it is infinitely better than it was thanks to the Lecithin which is an emulsifier (something that keeps the components together).

Testing is ongoing to improve the consistency and taste components, right now though this is a pleasurable light choc flavour with the consistency depending entirely on water quantity, soak time and if you shake the buggery out of it.

Nutritional Accuracy

So many of the DIY recipes use community sourced nutritional information which on deeper investigation is usually wildly inaccurate. In Ausoylent I use only ingredients I can verify from the following sources:

  1. The Australian Health Survey Food Nutrient Database
  2. The product packaging providing it goes into Micro and Macro nutrient detail
  3. Poly-filled information from http://nutritiondata.self.com and http://whfoods.com

Ausoylent aims to keep the percentage levels as even as possible, eliminating some of the extreme levels seen in other DIY recipes above 1000% of RDI.

Here is Ausoylents profile currently:

Screenshot 2015-05-07 at 21.40.23

Low in Sugar

While not tracked on the DIY site, the sugar ratio of this recipe is carefully considered. Currently the sugar profiles are:

  • Skim Milk – 0.035 g
  • Cocoa – 0.035 g
  • Protein Powder – 1.862 g
  • Sunflower Kernels – 1.04 g
  • Flaxseed – 0.144 g
  • Oats – 0.225 g
  • Masa Lista – 1.2 g

Total Sugars = 4.541g

This brings a full days worth of Ausoylent to 4.541g (~1.13tsp), way below the recommendation from the Dietary Association of Australia of 90g (22tsp! what are they thinking?), and far below the recent recommendation from the American Heart Association of 36g (9tsp).

Preparation

What you will need

  • Kitchen scales or measuring spoons/cups depending on how accurately you want to do the measurements.
  • Food processor or Coffee grinder to grind the oats, vitamins, seeds and Lecithin granules. Some of these can be swapped out for already ground varieties if you don’t mind the small increase in price.
  • Some large, air tight containers depending on how much you are making at a time.
  • Pill Cutter (to cut any pills that are not whole numbers).
  • Pill Grinder (optional).
  • An immersion blender or normal blender (optional).

Method

Step 1: If using a food processor, use your kitchen scales to measure out each non-powdered component from the top down, placing each measured out ingredient together. Once all are in, process them into a powder and leave in the processing bowl.

A quick tip here, Lecithin granules can be sticky when ground, so don’t do these on their own, make sure they are done with other dry ingredients to save cleaning hassle. If you have to do them on their own, do them last.

Step 2: For any ingredients that come in pill form and do not use a whole pill, use a pill cutter which you can get from most Pharmacies/Chemists, and decide if you want to grind them in with the powder, or take them whole while drinking your Ausoylent.

Step 3: If you decide to grind the pills (as I do), a small coffee grinder is better for this, especially if you can mix it with another component to make grinding easier such as some of the oats. Another option is to purchase a Pill Grinder which some Pharmacies will sell right next to the Pill Cutters.

Step 4: If you food processor is large enough, and depending on the quantity you are preparing, you may be able to place all remaining powdered ingredients in with those you have just processed, and give them a quick pulse to mix them properly.

Step 5: Once complete, tip the now mixed Ausoylent powder into a large air-tight container (a used Protein Powder container is a good option). A funnel with a large head and spout might help to keep all ingredients in the container rather than on the bench top.

Notes:

  • I keep my Ausoylent powder in the fridge to be safe from the humidity of where I live, but in theory it should keep on the bench top or cupboard as long as the container is air tight.
  • Most DIY Soylent users prefer the taste when chilled rather than luke warm.
  • While there is no hard and fast rule on how much of the daily quantity to drink when, spreading it through the day seems to work best for most as per normal meals.
  • The current taste is a light choc/neutral, and very low in sugar, so feel free to add taste as you please, either through swapping out the fiber with a flavoured one, or by adding flavouring of your choice such as cinnamon, Xylitol or other flavourings (I throw in some Vanilla essence at times).

Consumption

To mix one meal worth of Ausoylent, take approximately 124g (approx 1 full cup, 1/3 of the daily intake) of Ausoylent powder and add an equal portion of hot tap water (not boiling water). This will help dissolve any hard to break down particles and help with the texture later.

Give it a good shake, or a blast in a blender, and leave it to sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, give it another quick shake, and add desired amount of water and refrigerate for later consumption.

Ausoylent can be drunk straight after mixing (even warm if you are game), but the texture improves if you can refrigerate it for a few hours to give the powder more dissolving time (or refrigerate it overnight). Try it either way for yourself and see what works. Consistency will depend on the quantity of water used, so play around with it until you get the consistency you like.

tumblr_inline_nnvpa2VF7d1ttwhzl_500

Remember to drink plenty of water with any Soylent variety as you are missing out on the waters normally contained in fruits and vegetables.

Taste

After many experiments with taste testing different combinations, Ausoylent is now at a nice neutral flavour with a hint of choc/vanilla. The vanilla comes from the Whey powder selection, so you may wish to switch it with another flavour if you prefer. The choc comes from the Dutch Cocoa, but I have tried to keep both flavourings to a minimum to allow easy flavouring. Would love to hear your flavouring method in the comments.

There is some great threads on how to flavour your variety of Soylent:

Recipe

You can see the entire recipe, as well as change the amount you want to make at the DIY Soylent site:

http://diy.soylent.me/recipes/ausoylent-134-low-carb-low-sugar-easily-flavoured

For reference, in case that ever disappears though, here is a snapshot for a days worth:

Screenshot 2015-05-07 at 21.22.09

Key
  • *Data sourced from the Australian Health Survey Food Nutrient Database (8b. AUSNUT 2011-13 AHS Food Nutrient Database) which I maintain a Google Sheet for here.
  • ^Data sourced from producing company nutritional labels, supplemented with data from http://nutrition.data.self.com and http://www.whfoods.com.
  • ~Data sourced from the Australian Health Survey Dietary Supplement Nutrient Database (AUSNUT 2011-13 AHS Dietary Supplement Nutrient Database)

Note: All volume measurements (cups, tsp, tblsp) have been rounded to make them realistic. This slightly adjusts the nutrient balance though still keeps things within required limits. For complete accuracy, use the gram measurements via a kitchen scale.

Remember, I am not a nutritionist, doctor, dentist or astronaut. I have no experience beyond what I am personally discovering drinking this twice a day, so if you decide to try this, do so at your own risk.