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Energy Bars: the Good, the Bad, and the Weird

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Whether you’re running late for school and need a quick breakfast, or you’re in serious need of a mid-afternoon snack, energy bars can be a healthy and satisfying option. However, with the health craze at an all-time high across America, there are so many brands and flavors of energy bars to chose from. The overabundance of options can be extremely confusing. That is why I have sampled some of the most popular brands of bars. Hopefully, these reviews will help you make a smart choice the next time you’re in need of a quick pick-me-up.

 

Brand:  Clif Bar

Flavor that I sampled:  Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch

Calories:  250

Price:  $1.00

What’s Special:  This particular flavor is made with organic oats and all-natural peanut butter. This bar is also high in protein and is designed to help sustain energy. However, Clif Bars do contain more chemical additives than some of the other brands that I sampled.

What I thought:  When I first opened the package, I immediately thought that the bar did not look appetizing. It was brown and seemed very mushy. However, the bar’s appearance did not reflect its flavor. It was soft and chewy, but still had a nice, slightly crunchy texture from the oats and rice puffs.  Unfortunately, I barely detected any chocolate in the bar and it was a tad too dry for my liking. Overall, the Clif Bar was not my favorite, but it was still rather tasty. This bar is the largest and its high protein content makes it a snack that will curb your hunger for a long period of time.

 

Brand:  Kind®

Flavor that I sampled:  Caramel Almond & Sea Salt

Calories:  200

Price:  $1.59

What’s Special:  These bars are gluten free, non GMO, low glycemic, low in sodium, high in fiber, and have no added sugar alcohols. Also, the brand is marketed with the slogan, “ingredients you can see and pronounce”. In other words, the bar has no chemical additives, and the ingredient list is short and simple.

What I thought:  This bar was by far my favorite. When I first took it out of the package, I was unimpressed by the bar’s plain appearance. However, when I tried the sample, it was delicious. The bar presented a perfect combination of salty and sweet flavors. Also, the nuttiness of the bar balanced the sweet caramel drizzle, which did not overpower the natural flavor of the almonds. Additionally, the bar had a really nice, crunchy texture, but was not dry. The bar also remained slightly chewy from the caramel binder. Overall, the Kind® bar tasted the best and was still a healthy alternative to more sugary snacks. I would definitely be intrigued to try other flavors of this brand.

 

Brand:  Luna®

Flavor that I sampled:  Caramel Nut Brownie

Calories:  190

Price:  $1.09

What’s Special:  These bars are marketed to have specific health benefits for women, but can still be consumed by men. They are also gluten free, high in fiber and protein, and are 70% organic.

What I thought:  When I first tore open the package of this bar, it looked delicious and very similar to a brownie. Unfortunately, its taste did not live up to its appetizing appearance. From the first bite of the bar, I immediately detected a strange flavor that could only be described as artificial and chemical. I could barely detect the chocolate flavor and the nut and caramel flavors promised in the title completely undetectable. Additionally, the bar yielded an unpleasant aftertaste and stuck to all parts of my mouth due to its slightly chalky consistency. However, I did enjoy the texture of the bar. It was soft, yet crunchy, and had an icing on top that seemed to melt in your mouth. Many men have consumed these bars even though they are marketed to women because there is a rumor that they are the best-tasting energy bars on the market. However, I disagree.

 

Brand:  Lärabar®

Flavor that I sampled:  Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Calories:  210

Price: $1.49

What’s Special:  These bars are gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, kosher, and are all-natural. The brand also specializes in fruit bars, with flavors such as apple pie.

What I thought:  Similar to the Clif Bar, this bar did not look appetizing when I first removed it from the packaging. Unfortunately, the bar’s flavor did not make up for its brown, textureless looks.  My tastebuds were immediately confused when I sampled the bar. Instead of the chocolate chip cookie dough flavor that I was promised, I was bombarded with a sweet fruity taste. As I curiously investigated the strange flavor, I realized that the bar contained dates, which resulted in the bar’s slightly tangy taste. The only flavor that I truly picked up was salt, which did not satisfy my high hopes. However, I found the texture of the bar to be soft and pleasant, and it mimicked that of cookie dough. Overall, I would not recommend this particular flavor of the Lärabar®. However, as you have probably noticed, I am not a fan of fruit flavored energy bars. Therefore, if you like fruit in your energy bars, then this may be a delightful option. I have read many great reviews of the fruit flavored versions of these bars, such as apple pie, cherry pie, blueberry muffin, and banana bread.

 

Brand:  Chia BarTM by Health Warrior®

Flavor the I sampled:  Chocolate Peanut Butter

Calories:  100

Price:  $1.39

What’s Special:  These bars contain chia seeds, which are one of the newest superfoods because they are packed with omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, and antioxidants. The bars are also high in protein and are soy free, dairy free, gluten free, and vegan.

What I thought:  I hate to say it, but I am definitely not a fan of the flavor of this new health craze. When I first opened the bar, it looked like nothing that I had ever seen before. The tiny, individual chia seeds gave it a unique look that intrigued me. However, when I took the first bite, all that I could taste were crunchy chia seeds, and there was no peanut butter or chocolate flavors. Chia seeds taste similar to sesame seeds, so they don’t  produce the most desirable flavor if they aren’t successfully masked by other more delectable ingredients. To make matters worse, the seeds got stuck in my teeth and became extremely slimy. I was still picking slippery seeds out of my teeth two hours after I sampled the bar, as I was trying to complete my math homework. Overall, there is no way that I could consume the Chia BarTM by Health Warrior®, even if the amazing health benefits of this trendy item are true. I think that the bar may be more successful if the chia seeds were ground. Maybe a different grain or chocolate chips could be added to yield a better texture and more flavor. For now, chia seeds should not be a part of the human diet and should be restricted to Chia Pets®.
Some of the energy bars that I sampled were definitely better than others. However, I did learn not to judge a book by its cover. Even if an energy bar doesn’t look appetizing, it is the taste and nutritional benefits that truly matter. Hopefully these reviews will help guide you through the endless array of options in the supermarket and make your energy bar search a little easier.

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