As a busy mom that I am I’m always looking for that super easy portable snack. The one that is healthy on top of it. Now that I’m totally conscious of what I put into my body- and my daughter’s- it’s amazing to me how 90% of our bars out there are not the healthiest for us. Many are packed with processed ingredients and a TON of sugar. Reading labels is a new hobby for me and I’m glad because protein bars are probably one of the most deceptive products on the market. And everywhere including health food stores has rows of them. So here’s a quick peek of a few bars that I’m choosing to stay clear of and then my favorites on the street.
LUNA Bars – one of my favorites back in the day. Specifically, the Nuts Over Chocolate bar. 10 years ago I thought they were made for me, as a woman. That I would be “healthy” by eating it. That’s how they marketed to me at least. And every ingredient starts with the word “organic” – which unfortunately doesn’t mean squat when it comes to nutrition.
- The first ingredient is what they market as “LunaPro” which is their concoction of processed soy, AKA soy protein isolate, and rice flour.
- Now their sugar content is 10g which isn’t terrible but they list “other carbs” at 11g. Not sure what “other carbs” are.
- Amongst other OK ingredients are the sugars in disguise to include cane syrup, brown rice syrup, oat syrup. AKA sugar. And again more processed soy in the form of soy lecithin.
- There are about 25 ingredients in the bar. To me, that’s just too much going on.
Clif Bars- same company that makes LUNA Bars. There’s a person climbing a mountain. SO MUCH ENERGY! So strong! So healthy. Right?
- Let’s go for over 25 g of sugar in many of their bars (under 10g is a great goal to have). Let’s try the Carrot Cake. 25 g of sugar. Then we have the FIRST ingredient as brown rice syrup. But it says it’s organic, doesn’t that mean it’s healthier? Nope. Sugar is sugar mi amiga.
- Now they have their “ClifPro” which is also soy protein isolate and other processed ingredients.
- Then more processed soy.
- Then some cane syrup, more sugar.
- Then some soy white chocolate (more soy? Do we need any more?), some soy butter, soybean oil and soy lecithin. How much more estrogen can my ovaries handle?
- Ahh, I see some raisins, carrots and coconut. But they’re way at the bottom.
Think Thin Bars- which won’t make you thin by their ingredients. Their website markets their bars as GMO Free, Gluten Free, Vegan, Kosher… none of which are true nutritional benefits. GMO Free is appreciated and definitely important. And for those with gluten intolerances and celiac, great to know there’s no gluten. Doesn’t mean it’s good for you though. Vegan and Kosher? Those don’t make it healthy either. Oh and they say no refined sugars which I’ll talk about below. Now their website has their nutritional labels but for the life of me I cannot find their ingredients on any of their bars. I did find them on www.nutritionexpress.com though.
- They all have 0g of sugar- and they market their products as having no refined sugars. That’s great, thanks. However read that label and you’ll see 11g of sugar alcohol. Not only do I not want to be bloated and holding in my farts all day (and getting a stomach ache), but I don’t want all that fake stuff in my body. And the body treats the fake stuff as if you’re eating the real stuff so “sugar free” is not freeing at all. There is way too much controversy on artificial sweeteners as well.
- Protein blend to include processed proteins like soy protein isolate
- Malitol which is your sugar alcohol- (aka your farts)
- More processed soy
KIND Bars: I appreciate that the KIND Bars have come out with their low-sugar line and I will be honest, I sometimes pick up their dark chocolate sea salt bar. Great nutrients but the only ingredient I’m “eh” about is the soy. It’s at the bottom of the list but it’s still there. I just try to avoid the world of heavily processed soy as much as I can. But eating one day a month won’t kill me.
My picks for the BBOTB…
Lara Bars- www.larabar.com (Various stores and online) These contain natural and minimal ingredients but I do have these in moderation. They are date-based bars which have a lot of fiber and nutrients, but also quite a bit of sugar. So just watch your sugar intake the rest of the day.
Perfect Bar – www.perfectbar.com (Fruitful Yield & Whole Foods have in refrigerated section). Or you can buy online.
Two Moms Bars- www.twomomsintheraw.com (Whole Foods and online)
Simple Squares Organic Snack Bars- www.simplesquares.com
Trader Joe’s grain free bars: This bar is 100% grain free and full of nuts and seeds. It’s also made with coconut oil versus the refined vegetable oils that most bars are made with.
I’ve also made my own nut-butter based bars and balls on a Sunday night and freeze them. Here’s a fast and easy recipe you can try: http://www.healthy-liv.com/no-bake-4-ingredient-peanut-butter-energy-bites/ You can use almond butter with this recipe as well. I use gluten-free oats.
Let’s just put this out there for my faves above- most ingredients are non-GMO, gluten free, organic, real, you know the rest.
So in conclusion- keep it simple, keep it real. Put as much real food into your body. The longer the list, the harder to pronounce, the more processed, the nutritional value just goes down, down, down. There are options out there. Just read your labels.
Snack smartly and live well-