Recently, I found something on my doorstep. I didn’t realise how horrifying it was at first – in fact at first I let out a little shriek of joy as it was a bright yellow box marked Soreen. I love this stuff and can happily munch slices of it, but considering it’s sweet, sticky and incredible moreish, I had to wonder (sorry turned into Carrie Bradshaw there) is Soreen healthy? So, is it? Let’s investigate.
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What is Soreen?
For those of you who don’t know, it’s a fruit-packed slab of carbohydrate that they officially describe as ‘Soreen malt loaf’ – but I describe as heaven with butter on.
It was first created in Manchester, England in the 1930s and I’ve been eating it since I was little (which wasn’t in the 1930s I hasten to add!).
A Soreen loaf is normally sold in a cake-shaped slab that you cut slices off. I love it – but rarely have it in the house as I can’t be trusted to not eat at least half a loaf of it.
Hence my glee when I saw the box, you see inside were two packets of their new Soreen Lunchbox Loaves – individually packed portions of malt loaf (shaped rather cutely like little loaves of bread) that mean I am less likely to overeat.
On the face of it, these Soreen bars are a low fat/calorie counting dieters dream – 95 calories (and just 0.1g saturated fat) of pure stodgy, squishy yumminess. In reality, a terrifying wake-up call to how many calories I’ve consumed via ‘nibbling’ this stuff in the past.
Seriously, that picture above is what a 95-calorie portion of Soreen looks like compared to a small banana that has the same number of calories. It’s gone in two mouthfuls – and I wander past the stuff regularly just breaking off a bit thinking it doesn’t matter. No wonder I don’t do well on a low-fat diet!
Now, originally, this was roughly when this post ended – but then you started to ask questions – is Soreen good for you? Is malt loaf fattening – and, let’s face it, that post didn’t really answer them now did it, so, it’s time to change that and find out for once and for all whether Soreen is good for you or not.
What is Malt Loaf?
I mentioned above that Soreeen is a malt loaf. which then begs the question, what is malt loaf?
Malt loaf is effectively a fruit-bread made from flour, fruit and sugar but which also uses malt extract (which comes from barley and is a leftover of the brewing process) and sometimes some malt flour to create it’s unique flavour.
It’s not just the flavour that’s unique though about Soreen – malt loaf has a thick, squishy texture, and if you try and cut it with a too blunt knife your perfectly proportioned slice will squash up to virtual nothingness.
This is bad as IMHO to fully enjoy malt loaf at it’s best, it needs butter and if there’s not enough surface to spread it on that’s a bad thing! NB: Apparently, the key to cutting Soreen is a very sharp serrated knife!
It’s also, really sticky!
Soreen is best eaten cold – it’s just not as good toasted.
So, it’s basically a cross between bread and cake – so, what does that mean for health? Is Soreen good for you? Is malt loaf good for you? How many calories are in Soreen Malt Loaf? Is Soreen Malt Loaf fattening? Read on…
Is Soreen Healthy?
Let’s weigh this up…
A loaf of Soreen weighs 260g and contains 806 calories.
Apparently a serving is 1/11th of a loaf which contains
2.1g of protein
19.5g of carbohydrate
5.1g of sugar
0.5g of fat (0.1 saturated)
1.1g of fibre
So, what does this mean for our health…
How Many Calories are in Soreen?
It does fit the good snack criteria for calories. It’s suggested that our snacks should only be around 100 calories – and so, if you look at it on that paramater, and eat the recommended portion, Soreen is healthy.
What About Fat?
It is low in fat with less than 5 percent of calories coming from fat – and less than 1 percent from saturated fat. That makes it healthy.
How Much Sugar is in Soreen?
According to the NHS, we should eat no more than 30g of added sugars a day and a low sugar food should have no more than 5g of sugar per 100g, a high sugar food has 22.5g or more of sugar – Soreen has 17.4g of sugar per 100g.
Now, it gets a bit more complicated because some of the sugar in Soreen comes from dried fruit which, while not quite as healthy as fresh fruit isn’t counted in the sugar totals. Sugar is the fourth ingredient though which means there’s not heaps in there – so, I think when it comes to sugar, we can say Soreen is moderately healthy.
What About Fibre?
Each suggested serving contains 1.1g of fibre a day – a 100g banana has 1.5g of fibre and 100g of apple has 2.4g so, the Soreen isn’t too bad.
With 2 definite ticks in the health boxes, and two moderate ticks, yep, I guess you could say that Soreen is healthy – unless, you do what I do and slather it with so much butter you add another 200 calories and vast amounts of fat. Then it won’t tick so many boxes so, practise eating your Soreen naked -or, if you do want something mashy on the top, try a small piece of banana which will further increase the fibre content.
Soreen and Sports People
Adding weight to the idea that Soreen is healthy, is that fact that it’s used by lots of sports teams to give players an energy boost during training.
They do this you because you get a quick sugar boost from the dried fruit, but, because of the fibre in the loaf you don’t get a suddden crash but a longer sustained burst of energy. to extend this further, some trainers suggested spreading it with peanut butter.
In fact, when someone on twitter asked the Soreen team if Soreen was Low GI (which means it converts slowly to energy in the system) they said that yes, yes it was – so it’s definitely a good fuel for exercise.
However, you only really need to nom it before an extended workout – if you’re just going for a walk around the park (which burns around 150 calories per 30 minutes) the calories you burned will be mostly wiped out in a few bites, which brings us to another question…
Is Soreen Good for Weight Loss?
It’s definitely a healthier snack than a chocolate bar. It will keep you far fuller for longer. It also compares well to other snacks with Soreen saying the loaf contains, on average, 32 percent less sugar than the average snack bar and 50 percent fewer than the average cake bar so things are looking good.
As we said above, a standard slice of Soreen contains just 91 calories – so, it’s easy to build into a calorie-controlled diet.
If however like me you can’t be trusted to cut a standard slice, the nice people at Soreen have created products that help you resist temptation.
They offer a ready sliced loaf. A portion of this is 2 slices which contain 129 calories.
Or there are my new favourite – the Lunchbox Loaves which contain just 95 calories.
US folk – you don’t have quite the same range of Soreen on offer there, but you can buy the Lunchbox Loaves and the normal sized loaf so check out their page on Amazon here to order now.
Are Soreen Lunchbox Loaves Any Good?
Erm, yes!!! In fact, these things are DIVINE. And, considering the fact that Soreen is rather easy to overeat, they’re also actually a really good idea as the indvidual size and the fact that they are in their own little packets does limit you.
Another good thing is the shape – because they are shaped like little loaves of bread and not flat slices I was less tempted to put butter on them.
As well as the original malt loaf, they also offer a banana bread flavour which is really, really good. Of the two, strangely, the banana ones ended up being my favourite.
So, that pretty much covers the is Soreen good for you question, but there’s a few other issues that have come up when people have been googling this post which I also need to address…
Is Soreen Gluten-Free?
Unfortunately not as it contains both malt, which comes from barley, and wheat and both of these foods contain gluten.
The Soreen people are aware how disappointing this is but say they just haven’t managed to replicate the taste without those ingredients.
I haven’t managed to find a ready to eat gluten-free malt loaf anywhere online – I did come up with a couple of possible alternatives…
The Genius Gluten Free Fruit Loaf uses treacle and so will give you that slightly smokey, sticky taste if not the texture.
It might also be worth checking out the Cru8 Paleo Fig and Apple Loaf from Planet Organic (you’ll find it here). It’s not going to have the same squidgy texture, but the Fig and Apple combo might have the same fruity taste.
Or, you might want to make your own gluten-free malt loaf – try this recipe from Glutarama looks suitably squidgy and is totally gluten-free.
Is Soreen Vegan?
All the varieties are vegetarian, but Soreen say only the Apple, Strawberry and Banana products are also vegan. The Soreen banana loaf actually has a Vegan Trademark (the others might too I just haven’t spotted it yet).
The Banana loaves are available online (click the links above) or you’ll find the Apple and Strawberry ones in supermarkets like Tesco and Waitrose.
So, there you have it, my analysis on the ‘is Soreen healthy’ question. Now, it’s time to take the Malt Loaf model downstairs and away from my fingers so I don’t eat it.
If you liked this and are wondering whether some of your other favourite foods are healthy, check out our category on this very subject and find out the truth about things like instant coffee, powdered peanut butter, chai tea – and more.
Who is The Wellness Nerd?
My name is Helen Foster and I’m a health journalist and wellness author. Publications I’ve written for include Women’s Health, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul, Good Health at the Daily Mail and more. I have also written 16 books on health and nutrition.