Favorite Bars (The Eating Kind, Not The Drinking Kind)

We Americans are enamored of convenience foods because we are busy! We’re often grabbing a quick something on the way to something because we just finished something else. This is how I found protein bars, meal replacement bars, and “power” bars. I think it also had something to do with the idea of something that seemed a lot like a candy bar but was “good for me.” A friend of mine was asking me about snack/energy/nutrition bars. In fact, I’ve had questions about this numerous times, so maybe you’ll be interested in getting a little info about these little wonders of modern culture.

bars on shelf

You may have noticed that I often talk about the benefits of eating real food. I have not changed my mind! That focus colors my opinion of many of the bars on the market today, and there are some great ones, I think. “Holistic” is the name of the game for me, so I’m really evaluating the total picture when I look at any snack. Admittedly, my tastes have evolved over the years to the point that I can tolerate and even enjoy eating foods that many people would reject outright. But, darn it, these bars should, first and foremost, taste fabulous! In the 1970’s, when my mom first introduced us kids to “health food,” everyone said most of that stuff “tasted like cardboard.” They were right, too. Why would we eat such things?

larabar pic

The next concern is for the quality of ingredients. I love that Lara Bars are made with whole foods, limited ingredient lists, and make a point to mention their use of only non-GMO foods. (Connect to their website by clicking here.) In the 1990’s, I bought a fair number of bars for my kiddos who were on the run to social engagements, dance classes, or school. I eventually began to notice that many of the bars featured soy protein isolate as a main ingredient. I now completely avoid those bars. Soy has been strongly linked to endocrine disruption, and most soy in this country is genetically engineered. Besides, it’s nearly impossible for humans to digest soy that has not been properly fermented. (Go ahead. Look it up on the internet.)

kind bars

The next thing I ask is “what is the balance of sugars to protein?” The really high protein bars nearly all use soy, but there are great ones, like Kind Bars, that use nuts. Nuts contain all sorts of good stuff, including good protein & healthy fat. Obviously, there is no sugar in a nut. However, the bars are held together by a sugary syrup. Still, there’s really not too much sugar here. The dark chocolate, nut, and sea salt variety has 6 gm protein and only 5 gm sugar. And besides, I like the company’s emphasis on a “message of holistic kindness,” and they, also, avoid all GMOs. (Connect to their website by clicking here.)

One of the first “energy” bars I ever tried was a Power Bar. These bars might be of some benefit to an athlete, and indeed, they were designed for athletes. However, they are made with tons of sugars and artificial ingredients by a company that opposes labeling of GMOs, so I do not recommend them at all.

garden of life bars

There is one more bar I want to mention. It’s actually a variety of food bars from one of my favorite companies, Garden of Life. These bars contain top-notch ingredients, including whole foods and even sprouts. They taste great, in my opinion, and are quite satisfying. They are also a little more expensive than some of the other ones, but if I know I need something substantial on the go, this is the one I choose. Here’s the link, if you want to learn more.

If you want to make your own snack bars, there are bunches of recipes online. I’m going to be including some in a new cookbook I’m working on with a friend, but it won’t be ready for some months (sorry!) As always, I’d love to hear what foods you love!

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