I apologize for my absence. I recently had the good fortune to start a new, full-time, permanent job, and there's been a short period of adjusting to getting up at the same time every day, having some place to be, not having total control over when I eat lunch and snack, etc. Anyway, I'm super excited about my new job, and now I can get back to bringing you week-daily updates on the best and worst of the nutrition bar world.
I was so hungry today, I ate my Nut Delight Kind Fruit & Nut Bar with my lunch. It's not late afternoon yet, so we'll see if that was a huge mistake later. I actually brought in nutrition bars for the rest of the week today, so I hope I can avoid devouring them all in one sitting.
Application of the Nutrition Formula: Protein: 7 g, 2 point Fiber: 3 g, 3 points Natural Ingredients: No HFCS, Non-organic, 10 ingredients, no artificial sweetners, 4 points Calories: 210, 4 points Sugars: 8 g, 4 points Total: 17/25
Taste: This was very yummy, if you like nuts. It's basically like eating a big handful of slightly sweetened nuts. Very satisfying, tastes like food.
Yesterday I had an engaging discussion about nutrition bars with my dear friend Ray, after he pulled a Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch Clif Bar out of his bag. I trust Ray on the subject of packaged foods, as not only is he an accomplished consumer of same, he is also responsible for ordering for a significant section in one of our areas largest grocery stores. We agreed that the ideal nutrition bar is 1) not too dense and 2) not coated in anything.
Upon opening the package, I realize that I'm not going to be impressed with the Yogurt Honey Peanut Balance Bar, although the depths of my disappointment are not realized until I take my first bite- which is when I realise that this bar breaks both of those rules. The bar is coated in some sort of yogurty thing- although this is probably to be expected from the name of the flavor, and I will say that it is one of the tastier coatings I have encountered so far, and it does not melt on my fingers. But the real sin is the density. This bar is like an unpleasant, grainy Snickers bar, without the crunch. I expect peanuts to crunch. These peanuts crumble.
Application of the Nutrition Formula: Protein: 15 g, 3 point Fiber: 0 g, 0 points Natural Ingredients: HFCS*, Non-organic, 23 ingredients, no artificial sweetners, 2 points Calories: 200, 4 points Sugars: 17 g, 3 points Total: 12/25
Taste: If you couldn't tell from the above, I did not like this bar. The best I can say for it is that I'd eat it again if it was all I had and I were hungry, and I suspect it will keep me sated until dinner. After finishing this bar, my mouth feels like I ate peanuts, but I think it would have been more satisfying to eat a bag of the airplane variety. Eating this was not like eating food- especially not yogurt, honey, or peanuts.
*Ok, technically the label doesn't say high fructose corn syrup, it says corn syrup and fructose. But they don't get any points for cleverness.
The Larabar came up high in a Men's Health (I think) article I read about nutrition bars in preparation for this project, so I made sure to pick one up to try. I'm starting with the Pecan Pie Larabar. It has three ingredients: dates, pecans, and almonds, so already I'm a little sceptical about the "pecan pie" claim- real pecan pie, of course being one of the few places where I actually approve of the use of corn syrup. Pardon me while I fantasize about some pecan pie...
Unfortunately, the Larabar tastes nothing like pecan pie. It tastes like dates and nuts. I don't have a problem with dates and nuts, and I do appreciate the portion control aspect, since my "11 almond" snack is just as likely to turn into a couple of handfuls. The dates also make the bar pretty sweet- I suspect the 22 g of sugar and the only 3 g of protein mean that this bar will not keep me satisfied until dinner. At least there's free hot tea at this temp job.
Application of the Nutrition Formula: Protein: 3 g, 1 point Fiber: 4 g, 4 points Natural Ingredients: No HFCS, Non-organic, 3 ingredients, no artificial sweetners, 4 points Calories: 220, 4 points Sugars: 18 g, 3 points Total: 14/25
Taste: I don't understand why they don't just call it "Date and Nut Bar." I also don't understand why they couldn't throw some cinnamon or something in there, something to cut the sweetness of the dates. Or maybe I think it needs a higher nut to date ratio. But it definitely tastes like food.
I ate this around 1 p.m. today, about 2 hours after a very small lunch. I'm hoping that the 20! grams of protein in the Vanilla Almond Clif Builder's Bar will tide me over until dinner. Which is hot dogs, cooked on the grill. Yum. Man, I am way too hungry these days.
Let me, at this time, articulate my opposition to coatings of any kind on nutrition bars. Our first entry had melty chocolate, and today we have some sort of unidentifiable melty vanilla coating, sort of like white chocolate or like the yogurt on yogurt covered raisins, but neither chocolate nor yogurt are among the ingredients in this bar. Whatever it is, it tastes fine, but it's not worth the sticky greasiness it leaves on my hands as it melts.
The Vanilla Almond bar is large and heavy for its size. It's strucured almost like a candy bar, with the aforementioned coating, a top layer (about 3 mm) that is dense and sweet, and then a slightly thicker bottom layer that is the crunchy granola texture that is typical of nutrition bars. It took longer to eat than most nutrition bars, and I think that bodes well for its staying power. There are other flavors in Clif's "Builder's Bar" line, though, and I'd definitely try one of them before I came back to this one, given the choice.
Application of the Nutrition Formula: Protein: 20 g, 4 points Fiber: 3 g, 3 points Natural Ingredients: No HFCS, Organic, 20 ingredients, no artificial sweeteners, 3 point Calories: 270, 3 points Sugars: 22 g, 2 points Total: 15/25
Taste: This bar is ok. Nothing special. The outer coating is a little too sweet, and the whole thing is actually overall pretty sweet. Definite vanilla taste. The almond taste is more subtle, almost an aftertaste, and I didn't encounter any satisfyingly big pieces of almond. 10/25
First review! I have to confess, this bar did not play its usual role, as I forgot my lunch today and am substituting this Chocolate Peanut Butter, All-Natural, Zone Perfect Classic Nutrition Bar for an actual meal. I promise it won't happen again. Very often.
So I will admit that increased hunger may have played a role in my enjoyment of this bar. It was indeed Chocolate and Peanut Butter flavored, and it was actually surprisingly peanut buttery. I would definitely eat this again, if I weren't at the beginning of this undertaking.
Application of the Nutrition Formula: Protein: 14 g, 3 points Fiber: 3 g, 3 points Natural Ingredients: HFCS, Non-organic, 30 ingredients, no artificial sweetners, 1 point Calories: 210, 4 points Sugars: 15 g, 3 points Total: 14/25
Taste: The chocolate coating melted somewhat in my desk, and that was unpleasant, but it had a nice crunch. There was a real peanut butter feel and flavor. Despite the chocolate coating, chocolate flavor was decent but not overwhelming. There was a very slight "not food" undertaste. 18/25
Protein (20%) 1 point- 1-5 g protein 2 points- 5-10 g protein 3 points- 10-15 g protein 4 points- 15-20 g protein 5 points- 21+ g protein Fiber (20%) 1 point per gram of fiber (up to 5) Natural Ingredients (20%) 5 points to start -1 for HFCS -1 for artificial sweetners (Splenda, aspartame, sugar alcohols) -1 for every ten ingredients (beyond the first ten), up to -2 -1 for non-organic ingredients Calories (20%) 1 point- 375+ calories 2 points- 301-375 calories 3 points- 226-300 calories 4 points- 150-225 calories 5 points- Up to 150 calories Sugars (20%) 1 point- 26+ g sugar 2 points- 20-25 3 points- 12-19 g 4 points- 6-11 g 5 points- Up to 5 g sugars