A staple of my diet is a daily mid-morning snack. This energy booster usually takes the form of a granola bar because it is easy to pack, carry, and eat without a mess, utensils, and while multitasking. (My job as a para-educator has me outside three times a day to monitor recess, and as that's when I have my morning snack I need to be able to work and munch.) I ordinarily pack a LUNA Bar of some kind -- my favorite flavors include Chocolate Peppermint Stick, Lemon Zest, and Dulce de Leche. Averaging around 180 calories, 45 calories from fat, and 10 grams of protein per bar (with fluctuations depending on the flavor), these mostly organic bars are nutritious without being high in sugar or unnecessary fats. LUNA Bars do have more saturated fat than I would like, though, even if they are free from trans fats.
Seeing as I eat a granola bar every week day, the LUNA Bars soon began to bore me. As tasty as they are, I wanted something different. I enjoy two of Kashi's bar products, Go Lean Roll! and Go Lean Crunch! However, just as with the LUNA Bars, they have more saturated fat than I want and less protein. As much as I love the Chocolate Pretzel Crunch! bar, it doesn't give me as much nutrition and energy as I need from a morning snack. But what's a snacking girl to do?
Go shopping, of course! I started trying out new types of nutrition bars. I also began to be less strict about my calorie limit on the bars. Right now I'm working on returning to a healthy weight for my body type, and part of my plan is to up the calories my snacks contain. That meant that a whole new level of granola bar goodness opened up to me. I tried out a couple of Clif Bar products, who are inicidentally the same folks who make the LUNA Bar. I've always wanted to try Clif Bars but was deterred by the high calorie content -- these bars seem to average 250ish calories, with about 50 from fat, and 10 or more grams of protein. Now that I've started to incorporate them into my diet, though, I'm not sure that I'll want to ever take them out. They taste so good, if a little on the sweet side, and come in great flavors. They are organic to boot and have a lower satured fat content than LUNA Bars. So far I've enjoyed their Carrot Cake, Banana Nut Bread, Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch, and Peanut Toffee Buzz flavors. I have Maple Nut and Blueberry Crisp waiting for next week, and can't wait to try them!
Another Clif Bar product that I tried and didn't strike my fancy was the Clif Nectar bar, in Lemon Vanilla Cashew. It contained 160 calories, 50 from fat, but only 4 grams of protein. It is organic and lower in saturated fats. One aspect of this bar that I particularly enjoyed was how it's made entirely of fruit, nuts, and natural flavorings like vanilla -- no granola to speak of at all in these puppies! It makes me feel like there are not empty carbs hidden inside. However, it is a little sweet, and the Lemon Vanilla Cashew tasted so-so.
There is an organic, fully natural raw nutrition bar out there that tastes absolutely amazing. Enter the Larabar. I've read about these nutrition bars on other health-conscious blogs, and all the buzz about them is fanatically positive. The best flavors seem hard to obtain, and bloggers are constantly raving about them. When I finally saw a Larabar at a localy grocery store (first, surprisingly, in the organic section of Safeway, and later at The Good Food Store), I took a peek -- and quickly put the product back on the shelf. With these items averaging 200 or more calories with a whopping 100 fat calories, I couldn't believe that Larabars could taste good enough to be worth all that extraneous nutrition.
But still . . . the rave blog reviews stuck in my brain, and I eventually bough a Banana Bread Larabar and a mint chocolate Jocalat. Both were . . . amazing! Perfection! Bliss in bar form! The calories were worth it. The Jocalat bar was just okay and took a little getting used to, but the Banana Bread tasted just like fresh-from-the-oven banana bread! Plus, as with the Nectar bars, Larabars contain only fruit and nuts, nothing else! The Cashew Cookie Larabar that I've been incidentally nibbling while I type this post, for example, containts only cashews and dates. Case closed. Astounding! Stupendous! Unfortunately, they're a little low on the protein spectrum, but quite wondrous nonetheless. Even though I wouldn't eat a Larabar everyday, they definitely make a special treat. I'm eager to try some of their other flavors, especially Peanut Butter Cookie, Coconut Cream Pie, and Ginger Snap.
Whew! That's a lot of chatter about healthy snack bars, isn't it? Nutrition bars are fun, these days, since they are yummy as well as healthful, instead of tasting like a hunk of solid protein (erm, Balance Bars, anyone?). The best I've encountered in terms of taste is definitely the Larabar, but the Clif Bar my product of choice when factoring in calories, good and not so good fats, and, most important of all to me, protein. What's your favorite granola bar?