Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Graze: Nature Delivered (AKA How to Help a Snack-a-holic)

Once, I emailed my co-worker to ask if he was free for lunch and wanted to grab wonton noodles with me in Chinatown. "Sure," he wrote back. "But I take my lunch at 1 pm - is that too late for you?" "???" I replied. "Your lunch seems to run from 10 am - 4 pm," he wrote. "Every time I come up to your office, you have food out on your desk during those hours. It's nearly a 24/7 spread." "I SNACK," I wrote back faux-angrily. "It's called GRAZING," I faux-fumed.

"You should eat a more substantial and slow-releasing energy breakfast," advised another colleague. "I make myself a bowl of steel-cut oatmeal every morning with a generous helping of almonds, walnuts and a handful of goji berries." "Mmm hmm," I nodded, scribbling down notes while wiping away a remnant of Nutella smeared on my pinky - evidence of my cinnamon and raisin bagel breakfast habit.

I get hungry mid-morning. So what? Rather than stress about it, I buy myself snacks. Which is fine except that I sometimes don't have enough forward planning to buy materials in advance and end up raiding the biscuit cupboard at work when I find myself shaking with low blood sugar around 11:30 a.m. - a lot. In emergencies, this is probably fine, but not good on a regular basis. So I tried to buy a pack of dried fruits and nuts at Sainsbury's to last me through the week. This was also, in theory, a good plan, except for the fact that I got so BORED of dried fruits and nuts, I felt like a freaking grey squirrel. I took the rest of the pack to the park and fed it to one. Just kidding. (But I thought about it.)

My snacking is also somewhat compulsive. The nature of my job means that I spend a lot of time problem solving or explaining things to people or writing long, angry emails (AKA negotiating). And when I'm deep in concentration, I tend to snack. Or chew gum.

Enter the Graze box: for £3.49, this compact little box with four compartments filled with different varieties of snacks that you choose arrives at your office desk once a week or as often as you'd like. Skeptical, I paid a visit to yet another co-worker, whose husband had given her a Graze subscription as a present one year. She loved them. And since Graze was running a promotional deal where you can get your first box free and your next box half price, I decided to try it.

Graze gives you the opportunity to choose what kind of box you'd like: 1) a "Nibble Box", which gives you maximum variety and is no-holds-barred when it comes to what kind of snacks you get (yes, it includes the occasional piece of chocolate in the form of, say, a chocolate button) 2) an "Eat Well Box", which includes strictly healthy foods and the occasional "treat" 3) the "Boost Box", which is the strictest, most nutritional box that consists of nuts, seeds, and maybe dried fruit and 4) the "Light Box" which contains low calorie nibbles. You can guess where this story is going, right? I started with the "Boost Box". New year, new me, right? Then, my face fell when I realized that, duh, I couldn't get chocolate buttons in the Boost Box. So then my finger hovered over the Eat Well Box. Nixed that idea in about 2 seconds. Then the Light Box. Finally I gave up and just headed over to the Nibble Box. You can choose what snacks you "love", "like", want to "try" or simply "bin" (AKA never have it delivered. EVER.). Click, done.

I admit it, when my first box arrived, I was so excited (and hungry) I kind of nearly ate the whole thing. My first box had "Billionaire's Shortbread", a mix comprised of dried cranberries, small toffee slices, and white chocolate buttons. Heavenly. The other sections had kalamata and halkidiki olives (weird for a mid-morning snack, but hey, you could have those mid-afternoon ... or at 9:30 a.m. Not saying that I did. Not saying that I did), cinnamon and apple flapjacks (YUM! And - butter, whoa!), and herb-y rice crackers. They were great. And the best thing is that you can rate your snacks after you've received them so you can ensure that you either get them again, often, or never ever again. I was like, so glad I didn't opt for the Eat Well Box. I'd just be grumpy. But then again, I haven't stepped on the scale lately ...


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