This post will be more fun than actual bar review, which I suffered through last summer and sucks a lot. Yuck!
I love bars. I’ve always loved granola bars, but as I started looking more and more into nutrition I tried to figure out ways to make them work for me. Here are some criteria I look for in a good bar:
- Not just empty carbs. A bar should have a fair amount of protein OR a fair amount of fat, both of which keep me fuller than carbs.
- No high fructose corn syrup.
- Pronounceable ingredients. (Sometimes I let this slide for the sake of a protein boost.)
- Not sickly sweet, but still tasty
- A few grams of fiber
Anyway, I consider myself a bar connoisseur. Here’s a rundown of every bar I’ve ever eaten, the good, the bad, and the ugly! (I have eaten a LOT of bars, so be warned!)
Clif bars are a big, thick, hearty bar that are usually pretty calorie dense–240ish calories or so. I generally eat them split in half for a snack or a whole one for a light breakfast on the go. I find that they’re good pre-run fuel! They are heavier on carbs and lower on protein, which is also good for that. They also come in a handy mini size, which are great purse snacks. Clif bars are practically indestructible–you can leave them in your purse for months and they’ll still be edible and mostly non-smashed.
Clif bar flavors I’ve tried:
- Chocolate Chip (good! Like a chocolate chip cookie.)
- White Chocolate Macadamia (so-so. A little sickly sweet for me.)
- Banana Nut (so-so. Would be great warmed up with peanut butter!)
- Crunchy Peanut Butter (good! A basic, yummy peanut bar with chunks of peanuts.)
- Chocolate Brownie (Second favorite!)
- Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch (so-so. A little too sweet.)
- Chocolate Almond Fudge (LOVE. This is my favorite flavor. The almonds keep it from being too sweet.)
When I was losing weight, I “treated” myself with a Luna Bar for dessert every night. I loved them! They are great refrigerated. They’re a little less calorie dense than a Clif Bar and have more protein (about 180 calories/9 grams of protein per bar). I burned out on them after about four months of eating one every single day and I’m just now getting to a point where I can eat them again. Currently, I have the Luna minis in my desk (pictured below)–about 70 calories and perfect for a little bite when you need it.
Luna Bar flavors I’ve tried:
- Nutz over Chocolate (so-so. The “nutz” part doesn’t take particularly nutty to me.)
- Caramel Nut Brownie (Second favorite! Has a nice, thick layer of caramel on top.)
- Chocolate Peppermint Stick (good! Tastes like a Girl Scout Thin Mint.)
- Lemon Zest (Barf. This is one of few bars I’ve tried, taken a bite, and thrown away instantly.)
- Dulce de Leche (so-so. Very, very sweet.)
- Peanut Butter Cookie (good! Has a very realistic peanut butter cookie flavor.)
- Iced Oatmeal Cookie (good! If you like cinnamon and raisins, you’d love this.)
- White Chocolate Macadamia (so-so. Again, I’m just not a white chocolate fan.)
- S’mores (so-so. I burned out on it.)
- Chocolate Raspberry (Favorite! Typing this made me wish I had one. I generally don’t like chocolate and raspberry together, either.)
Clif Builders Bars
These bars are high in calories and high in protein. I ate them when I was doing lots of heavy weightlifting–3 or 4 days a week–and needed a huge protein boost. They are very, very good as far as protein bars, but a bit pricey!
Clif Builder’s flavors I’ve tried:
- Chocolate: Probably the best. Basic, chocolate protein bar. I like that all these bars have a little crunch to them!
- Peanut butter: Also good. Has a nice chocolate coating. The PB flavor is a little fakey though.
- Vanilla almond: Meh. You’d like these if you liked white chocolate more than I do.
Clif Mojo Bars:
One of the pros of these bars is that they’re generally high in healthy fats from nuts, which I like. When I track calories, I often find I don’t get enough fat and nuts are the way to go to balance that out. They are around 200 calories and also have 9-10 grams of protein. They are more of a trail mix type bar than a granola or protein bar, which is a nice change!
Clif Mojo bar flavors I’ve tried:
- Mountain Mix: A basic trail mix bar with yummy chocolate chips. This is awesome–pretzels, nuts, raisins and chocolate!
- Peanut Butter and Jelly: This is a new flavor! The bar is bright purple with a peanut butter coating on the bottom. It’s really different, but I like it a lot.
- Chocolate Peanut: Also good!
Clif Kids Z Bars
I prefer these bars to regular granola bars any day. They are soft and chewy and taste incredibly decadent, and have 120-140 calories, a few grams of protein and a few grams of fiber. They also rate high on the indestructibility scale–I can leave them in my purse, gym bag, or desk for months with minimal damage.
Z Bar Flavors I’ve tried:
- Chocolate Brownie (LOVE! My favorite. Chewy and delicious with chocolate chunks)
- Chocolate Chip (Also awesome. Tastes like a chocolate chip cookie!)
- Blueberry Muffin (Yet again, a winner. Doesn’t quite taste like a blueberry muffin, but still yummy!)
- Honey Graham (So-so–I like them, but they’re not my favorite.)
- Peanut Butter (Pretty great. I actually haven’t had a bad Z Bar yet!)
Zone bars are based on the popular (and surprisingly, reasonable and healthy) Zone diet. This means that they are 30% protein, 30% fat, and 40% carbs, which many people consider to be a perfect “macro split.” They usually weigh in around 200 calories, and I like them for a pre-workout snack! However, these are the most “artificial” tasting of any of the bars I’m reviewing, generally. I like them, but they’re not my favorite.
Zone Bar flavors I’ve tried:
- Chocolate Mint (yuck. Not that great.)
- Chocolate Coconut Crunch (Yum! Probably my favorite. I’m a sucker for chocolate and coconut together.)
- Chocolate Peanut Butter (So-so. Very sweet.)
- Double Dark Chocolate (Yum! Second favorite, probably?)
- Dark Chocolate Almond (also good)
- Chocolate Caramel Crunch (is still in my desk drawer!)
First off–a bit of a warning. Some Balance bars contain HFCS, so you have to read the ingredients on each flavor! I’ve accidentally had a few with it in it, so be careful. However, I do find these bars to be a really great protein bar with yummy flavors. They are about 200 calories and have around 15 grams of protein. They don’t particularly travel well because most of them have some kind of chocolate coating, which melts, and they are soft and smash easily.
Flavors of Balance Bars I’ve tried:
- Almond Brownie (An acquired taste. I do like them, though! They are different from most bars and have a very chewy, almost fruit leathery texture.)
- Mocha Chip (I hated this at first but after a few bites I was hooked. It’s very dark and rich, so if you like that this is a good choice.)
- Peanut Butter (Surprisingly, my favorite! It’s a PB bar with PB coating and it tastes almost exactly like my aunt’s PB fudge. If you like PB, this is the bar for you.)
- Chocolate Peanut Butter (So-so. A pretty basic protein bar. Nothing special.)
- Cookie Dough (I like these but don’t love them. They’re really sweet, but do have a pretty good cookie dough flavor!)
- Caramel Nut Blast (Love these. They taste very, very similar to a Snickers bar!)
- Bare Chocolate Cashew (These are a little different and basically Balance’s equivalent of a Larabar. I love, love, love these too. They have much more natural ingredients than most Balance bars and are still yummy and filling. Thumbs up!)
Generally speaking, Larabars are a little low on the protein scale for me and high in carbs and sugar. But, I like their flavors and I like that they’re totally natural. They are hard to find in my area for some reason, unfortunately!
Larabar flavors I’ve tried:
- Apple Pie (I don’t remember this one. Sorry. I know I’ve had it, though. That should tell you something.)
- Coconut Cream Pie (I love coconut so I had high hopes, but this was just way too sweet.)
- Cashew Cookie (I like that it features cashews, but it’s pretty boring.)
- Peanut Butter Cookie (So-so. Pretty bland.)
- Cherry Pie (mouth-puckeringly tart! Way too much so.)
- Peanut Butter and Jelly (Yum! Second favorite. The sweetness of the cherries nicely balances the less sweet flavor of the peanuts.)
- Chocolate Coconut (Favorite! Again, I’m a sucker for chocolate/coconut combo.)
- Banana Bread (Not bad, would buy again. Nice to have a banana bar that isn’t fakey tasting.)
Kashi Granola Bars
Kashi granola bars are kind of a lightweight. They’re about 120-140 calories and usually have 4-6 grams of protein (which is pretty good). They are not my favorite, BUT they do travel well and I pick them up when they’re on sale to have on hand. Of note: these are the only bars I’ve found that go stale. After opening the box, eat them within a month or so. They get really dry and hard if you don’t!
Kashi bar flavors I’ve tried:
- Peanut Peanut Butter (Like this. It’s a very light peanut flavor.)
- Chocolate Raspberry (Yum! Not a big fan of chocolate/raspberry but this is a pretty good combo.)
- Chocolate Coconut (These two are always a winner in my book.)
- Cherry Dark Chocolate (My complaint about this bar is that if there’s no cherry chunk or dark chocolate in your bite, it tastes like nothing. Otherwise it’s good.)
- Trail Mix (Blech. These were totally flavorless. I threw the box away.)
- Mocha Almond (VERY strong coffee flavor, so if you’re not a coffee lover throw these away! I liked them but I’m not sure if I’d buy them again.)
- Honey Almond Flax (Good, but these taste quite different from the cereal.)
Okay, I think I’ll go nuts if I review another bar. I’ve also tried several varieties of the Atkins bars, Pure Protein bars, a Bumble Bar, and a Bear Naked granola bar. If anyone is dying for a review of any of these bars, let me know and I’ll do a bar review addendum!
One day left to enter my Thankful Tee Giveaway!
What’s your favorite bar? Anything I should try that I’m missing out on? After reading Susan’s blog the last week, I’m going to pick up a Kind bar next time I see them in stores!
Filed under: food, Uncategorized | Tagged: bars, food, nutrition, protein | 4 Comments »