How many times have you settled for a lukewarm slice of pizza between your gi and no-gi divisions at a tournament? How many granola bars have you scarfed down to and from the gym? Have you tried to balance your prepared meal on your lap while driving from work to BJJ class?
If any of those situations sound relatable, an Australian company called EDAS Foods has created a solution with you in mind. Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt Phil Gartlan has come up with a way that people on the go can have a convenient, portable, no-mess way to get their protein and vegetables, and he got his inspiration from an episode of Futurama.
“There’s an episode where Fry is pouring stuff into a bowl. It looks like dog food, and it’s called ‘Bachelor Chow.’ I thought, ‘If I could just have Bachelor Chow now, I would throw it into a bowl and just eat that,” said Gartlan.
What followed was “about a year” of prototyping and producing food that could last in a bag and still be healthy. “The process of getting the veggies to be crispy was far more challenging than I’d anticipated,” said Gartlan. “I have to treat each of the vegetables differently to get the end result.”
While EDAS (which stands for “Every Day’s A Sunday”) products have caught on with everyone from hikers to long-distance hang-gliders (Yes, people eat this stuff while soaring through the air.), Gartlan believes that they could be particularly helpful in the jiu-jitsu community. Having trained for six years, he’s now based out of Zenith BJJ Adelaide under Scott Dempster, and he’s well aware of how the BJJ lifestyle can impact your diet.
“A lot of people in jiu-jitsu are just busy because jiu-jitsu is so addictive. You come out of the gym and you’re like, ‘What am I going to eat now?’ Most of the food options that are available are poor food choices. You’re working all day, doing BJJ at night — unless you spend a lot of free time meal prepping, you’re not able to align your food choices with what you should be eating.”
With EDAS’ Primal Pods, though, that situation can change. “You can eat a meal in your car on your way home. You can leave it in your glove box or gym bag,” says Gartlan. “I personally wouldn’t eat it every day, but on the days I’m trying to make ends meet, I have an answer I know I can rely on.”
The convenience, taste, and healthiness of Primal Pods have led to them being stocked in a few local BJJ gyms, but these portable meals have been munched on everywhere from China to Russia to Peru. Right now, it’s a bit pricey to ship them outside of Australia, but Gartlan says he’s working on a most cost-effective solution.
EDAS provided me with a few Primal Pods to try out for myself (5-Spice Pork and Veg and Sunday Roast Beef and Veg). They also have a Thai Chicken and Veg option, as well as “100% Veg” equivalents for all three meat versions. Each Pod sells for $13.95 AUD (about $10.00 USD), and variety packs are also available. If you’re interested in trying some, use code “JIUJITSUTIMES” at checkout for a 15% discount exclusively for our readers.
This was my first experience with a Primal Pod, and not knowing what to expect, I decided to have it at home. It was the first time I’d truly paid attention to the instructions, which were simply, “1. Open, 2. Eat.” Even then, I was sure that there had to be a catch. Not even a “just add water”? Did I need a fork? Should I let it heat up in the Australian sun first?
The contents came in two plastic packets: one had the freeze-dried meat, the other had the veggies (and a silica packet for freshness). Here came my only frustration with the Primal Pod — the plastic had a notch to enable easier opening, but it was still a bit of a struggle. I forced the first one open with my teeth, then took the easy way out and opted for scissors with the second one. Being that I was home and had access to sharp objects, it wasn’t a big deal, but I could imagine this presenting a slight hurdle if you didn’t have access to a knife or scissors while munching on a Pod.
I dumped the contents of both packets back into the box, closed it up, and shook it to get the food mixed up.
5 Spice Pork & Veg
I tried each type of food first and was actually shocked at how delicious it was. The tomatoes were a great mix of savory, sweet, and tangy. The beans were crunchy and flavorful, and the mushrooms tasted like, well, really good mushrooms. The pork was bite-sized, tasty, and easy to munch.
The crunchiness of everything took a minute to get used to, but the more I ate, the more I enjoyed it. The Pod had the “snack” satisfaction that I might search for in a bag of potato chips, but was obviously way healthier and more satiating. I was particularly impressed at how the food truly tasted like someone had taken a pork and vegetable meal and just made it portable. If you’ve ever had one of those “healthy” microwave meals, you probably know how frustrating it is when the meat is rubbery and the vegetables taste like they came straight out of a can. Even though the Pod was freeze-dried, everything in it tasted great and felt healthy.
After I finished the Pod, I was surprised at how full I felt. The whole thing took me about fifteen minutes to get through, and afterward, I felt like eating anything else would’ve made me uncomfortably stuffed. Even the aftertaste strongly resembled what you’d taste after a home-cooked (or restaurant-cooked) pork and veggie meal. I didn’t feel bloated or sluggish, and though the Pod did make me thirsty (it contains 1,840 mg of sodium per serving), a bit of extra salt was a small price to pay for a meal that was packed with protein and vegetables.
My second experience with this Pod revealed to me just how convenient it could be for the busy BJJ life. While waiting for the train coming home from teaching kids’ class, I was starving and eyeing up the vending machine for some chips. But instead, I remembered I had another pork and veg Pod in my backpack, and by the time I’d finished it, I was both full and didn’t have any guilt over choosing an unhealthy vending machine snack instead of dealing with a grumbling stomach until I got home.
Sunday Roast Beef & Veg
This Pod, to me, was less obvious about its vegetable contents. The onions, sweet potatoes, and greens had a crunchy, flaky, almost chip-like feel, and I once again found myself wishing that this was the type of snack food available in stores instead of overly processed potato chips.
Although I personally preferred the taste of the pork, the beef was still good, especially combined with the veggies. Again, the shape and size of the strips made them easy to eat, and they were tender enough that I didn’t have to struggle to tear them into smaller pieces with my teeth.
As with the pork Primal Pod, the beef Pod filled me up without making me feel bloated or gross. My body felt good, and I felt good knowing that my post-training snack/meal contained simple ingredients that fueled me.
Honest opinion: Primal Pods rock. From a jiu-jitsu practitioner’s perspective, I could see these being a huge help during long tournament days when you’re running around and need to refuel, but don’t want to eat the unhealthy (and often overpriced) concession stand good. In my case, the Pods were a lifesaver during busy training and teaching days. Given how many jiu-jitsu athletes are trying out every possible diet to lose fat and gain muscle mass (or simply require dietary restrictions for their general health), the labels on the front of each packet indicating the diets the Pods align with are also helpful.
Would I choose the freeze-dried versions of these meals over the “real” thing? Well, no, of course not. But EDAS’ Primal Pods aren’t trying to be a substitution for Mom’s home cooking. They’re providing athletes, adventurers, and other health-conscious people with a tasty, healthy way to eat right whether they’re in the sky or on the beach. And they do it damn well.
Learn more about EDAS Foods by visiting their website.
EDAS Primal Pods were provided to the Jiu-Jitsu Times in exchange for an honest review. The Jiu-Jitsu Times did not receive any monetary compensation for this review.