Thursday, March 27, 2008

Clif Bar Black Cherry Almond

Clif Bar Black Cherry Almond ($0.99, whole foods)
2.4 oz / 68g

Ingredients: organic brown rice syrup, soy rice crisps, organic roasted soybeans, organic soy flour, organic rolled oats, apple fiber, organic oat fiber, organic milled flaxseed, inulin, psyllium, dry roasted almonds, dried cherries, organic evaporated cane juice, soy white chocolate, organic fig paste, almond butter, natural flavors, sea salt, citric acid.

Calories: 250
Cals from fat: 45
Total Fat: 5g (8%)
Sat Fat: 1.5g (8%)
Sodium: 110mg (4%)
Potassium: 220mg (6%)
Total Carb: 44g (15%)
Fiber: 5g (20%)
Sugar: 20g
Protein: 10g (20%)

I sort of expected to like this bar, since I like almonds and cherries (smoked almonds and dried cherries make a great hiking snack). Also, I'm totally down with the clif bar being superior in texture and overall flavor to the other bars. This bar is no exception; the cherry flavor isn't overpowering, the almonds are whole, crunchy, and delicious, and the overall texture of the bar is, well, that good moist clif texture. I still think these are the ugliest things I've ever seen though, even moreso when there are little swirls of soy white chocolate involved. Wow. Now I think you should always dance with the date that brung you, but this bar is clearly working that 'inner beauty' for all its worth.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Clif Bar Maple Nut

Clif Bar Maple Nut ($0.99, whole foods)
2.4 oz / 68g

Ingredients: organic brown rice syrup, soy rice crisps, organic roasted soybeans, organic soy flour, organic rolled oats, organic toasted oats, pecan pralines, organic maple syrup, organic oat fiber, inulin, organic milled flaxseed, organic oat bran, psyllium, organic date paste, safflower oil roasted pecans, natural flavors, almond butter, organic sunflower oil, sea salt.

Calories: 240
Cals from fat: 50
Total Fat: 5g (8%)
Sat. Fat: 1g (4%)
Sodium: 220mg (9%)
Potassium: 250mg (7%)
Total Carb: 42g (14%)
Fiber: 5g (20%)
Sugar: 20g
Protein: 10g (20%)

ooh, even worse looking than the previous ones, due to its darker color. if it didn't taste so good i'd worry I was being punk'd. this is a nice, slightly different flavor from previous bars. i think this is the first bar with pecans so far. still, i think the nuttier flavors tend to enhance the 'soy flavor' somehow, so this isn't devoid of a little artificial taste. The maple and pecan flavors are strong enough that I've actually had to slow down a little while eating. A tad overwhelming.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Clif Bar chocolate chip peanut crunch

Clif Bar chocolate chip peanut crunch ($1.50, harris teeter)
2.4 oz / 68g

Ingredients: organic brown rice syrup, soy rice crisps, organic soy flour, organic roasted soybeans, organic rolled oats, organic evaporated cane juice, organic peanut butter, chocolate chips, peanuts, peanut flour, apple fiber, organic oat fiber, organic milled flaxseed, inulin, psyllium, organic date paste, natural flavors, sea salt.

Calories: 260
Cals from Fat: 60
Total Fat: 6g (10%)
Sat. Fat: 1.5g (7%)
Sodium: 200mg (8%)
Potassium: 260mg (7%)
Total Carb: 42g (15%)
Fiber: 5g (20%)
Sugar: 21g
Protein: 11g (22%)

A little too nutty or perhaps too soy-ish. Still miles ahead of the other bars. Now that I've been eating these for a couple of weeks I'm starting to identify a "nutrition bar" taste which I am assuming must be the taste of soy, since that's a key ingredient of most of the granola-type bars but is not something I normally eat. My working theory today is that the peanuts compliment and intensify the soy flavor, which I don't want. I've voted the Clif bars "most likely to succeed" but I think I may try to shy away from the peanut varieties as I didn't like this one as much as the previous two.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Balance Bare trail mix fruit and nut

Balance Bare trail mix fruit and nut ($1.39, harris teeter)
1.76 oz / 50g

Ingredients: soy nuggets, soy protein isolate, calcium caseinate, casein, whey, evaporated cane juice invert syrup, sugar, brown rice syrup, almonds, fractionated palm kernel oil, dried cranberries, roasted soy nuts, nonfat milk, rolled oats, inulin, natural flavor, blueberry puree concentrate, high oleic sunflower oil, rice syrup, glycerin, salt, pectin, sunflower oil, fish gelatin, soy lecithin.

Calories: 210
Cals from Fat: 60
Total Fat: 7g (11%)
Sat Fat: 2.5g (13%)
Sodium: 240mg (10%)
Potassium: 120mg (3%)
Total Carb: 23g (8%)
Fiber: 2g (8%)
Sugar: 16g
Protein: 15g (27%)

Ooh, this bar has something other than chocolate on the bottom. I'm supposing its yogurt or maybe just icing of some kind. It tastes better than most of the chocolate coatings, so that's a noticable improvement. You can smell the berry smell when you open the wrapper, which isn't bad but makes me think 'pop tart' just a little. Its a solid granola taste, with a berry zing! at the finish. Just a little tart moment on the back end, which I know will appeal to some of you. This is a nice bar, much better than the last one, and I attribute the improvement to the coating. Its pretty sweet for a granola bar, maybe too sweet for breakfast (I'm having it as an afternoon snack, which is nice). Overall, a solid choice but the berry taste is so noticable and unique that I bet I'd get tired of it after eating a few of these.

Kashi GoLean crunchy chocolate peanut

Kashi GoLean crunchy chocolate peanut ($1.89, harris teeter)
1.76 oz / 50g

Ingredients: brown rice syrup, soy protein isolate, evaporated cane juice crystals, crystalline fructose, oat fiber, hard red winter wheat, oats, rye, barley, triticale, long grain brown rice, buckwheat, sesame seeds, peanuts, rice flour, natural peanut butter, mechanically fractionated palm kernel oil, corn grits, rice starch, brown rice flour, wheat bran, chicory root fiber, vegetable glycerin, cocoa, nonfat milk, corn bran, salt, chocolate liquor, calcium carbonate, natural flavors, magnesium oxide, soy lecithin, ascorbic acid, alpha tocopherol acetate, zinc oxide, ferrous fumarate, annatto, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, vitamin b12.

Calories: 180
Cals from Fat: 45
Total Fat: 5g (8%)
Sat. Fat: 2g (10%)
Sodium: 150mg (10%)
Total Carb: 30g (10%)
Fiber: 6g (24%)
Sugar: 13g
Protein: 9g (13%)

This isn't exactly crunchy. Its not devoid of crunch, but the overall texture is chewy. This is another granola bar with a chocolate bottom, but with a much more appealing bottom than the ones from before - almost no chemical taste. Overall the bar still exokes "nutrition bar" but much less so than the previous ones I've complained about. The texture is good, as I said not really crunchy but crispy enough to satisfy. This is a nice bar, overall. If I could find them at a competitve price to the clif bars, I'd happily add them to the rotation.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Clif Bar Oatmeal Raisin Walnut

Clif Bar Oatmeal Raisin Walnut ($1.50, harris teeter)
2.4 oz / 68g

Ingredients: organic brown rice syrup, soy rice crisps, organic roasted soybeans, organic soy flour, organic rolled oats, raisins, organic evaporated cane juice, walnuts, organic oat fiber, inulin, organic milled flaxseed, organic oat bran, psyllium, organic soy butter, molasses powder, natural flavors, ground cinnamon, sea salt.

Calories: 240
Cals from fat: 45
Total Fat: 5g (8%)
Sat. Fat: 1g (4%)
Sodium: 130mg (5%)
Potassium: 310mg (9%)
Total Carb: 43g (14%)
Fiber: 5g (20%)
Sugars: 20g
Protein: 10g (20%)

Another hideous but tasty bar. Really much more moist than the other bars, how do they do it? I really can't shake the sci-fi feeling I get from eating Clif bars, but they really do mark a step forward in nutrition bars - there's no vitamin or chemical taste at all. Why can't the other bars take a page out of this kids' book?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Kashi GoLean Chewy Peanut Butter & Chocolate

Kashi GoLean Chewy Peanut Butter & Chocolate ($1.89, harris teeter)
2.75 oz / 78g

Ingredients: peanut flour, evaporated cane juice syrup, brown rice syrup, corn, wheat bran, corn bran, oat fiber, oats, long grain brown rice, rye, hard red winter wheat, triticale, buckwheat, barley, sesame seeds, soy protein concentrate, salt, annatto, evaporated cane juice, soy protein isolate, nonfat dry milk, honey, barley malt syrup, whey protein isolate, fractionated palm kernel oil, chicory root fiber, oat fiber, rolled oats, cocoa, soy lecithin, salt, natural flavors

Calories: 290
Cals from fat: 60
Total Fat: 6g (10%)
Sat Fat: 4.5g (20%)
Sodium: 280mg (12%)
Potassium: 150mg (7%)
Total Carb: 48g (16%)
Fiber: 6g (24%)
Sugars: 31g
Protein: 13g (20%)

Tastes sort of like vitamins. Soft texture - like a really dense peanut butter nougat dipped in chocolate. This is a huge, heavy, dense bar, which is sort of good because it cost a lot. A bit dry, a bit fake tasting. I have to admit, most of these 'nutrition bars' haven't come very far. They still taste a lot like vitamins, which is just what you don't want them to taste like. Sure I can understand that adding things like peanut butter can help with the taste, but really only so much - the chemicals will still shine through. I'm starting to see the draw of the organic ones, which have to derive vitamin content differently. I have to admit, I didn't like all of those but for the most part they didn't taste manufactured. On the other hand, these look like real bars. Can you guys and Clif get married? I want the clif bars to keep tasting great but be less ugly; likewise I want you to keep looking great but be tastier. Get going on that, ok?

Balance Bare Trail Mix Chocolate Chip

Balance Bare Trail Mix Chocolate Chip ($1.39, harris teeter)
1.76 oz / 50g

Ingredients: soy nuggets, casein, soy protein isolate, whey protein isolate, evaporated cane juice invert syrup, almonds, roasted soy nuts, brown rice syrup, chocolate flavored chips, sugar, rolled oats, fractionated palm kernel oil, inulin, natural flavor, chocolate, high oleic sunflower oil, cocoa, nonfat milk, glycerin, sunflower oil, salt, fish gelatin, soy lecithin.

Calories: 210
Cals from Fat: 60
Total Fat: 7g (11%)
Sat. Fat: 3g (15%)
Sodium: 310mg (13%)
Potassium: 180mg (5%)
Total Carb: 22g (7%)
Fiber: 3g (12%)
Sugars: 14g
Protein: 14g (26%)

This had a super chemical flavor on the front end that was gone fairly quickly but was unmistakable. Its a granola bar that has the bottom covered in something that looks like chocolate but tastes like chemicals. The granola bar part is quite good but that "chocolate" substance on the bottom is pretty suspicious. I turned the bar upside down to see if I could get away from it, but it actually got worse. Whatever that stuff is, its not chocolate, but it is acrid and even a bit metallic in its taste. Extremely unnatural. As I eat more of it I really wish more and more that the coating wasn't there, as the granola part seems pretty good. Sadly, the coating just ruins it.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

odwalla choco-walla

odwalla choco-walla ($1.19, whole foods)
2.2 oz / 62g

Ingredients: brown rice syrup, semi-sweet chocolate chips, organic rolled oats, oat bran, organic oat flour, organic evaporated cane juice syrup, date puree, raisin puree, plum puree, vegetable glycerin, oat fiber, dry roasted almonds, dutch cocoa, organic soy nuts, organic sunflower oil, natural flavor, chocolate liquor, calcium carbonate, soy lecithin, baking soda, vitamin c, vitamin e, folic acid.

Calories: 240
Cals from Fat: 60
Total Fat: 6g (10%)
Sat. Fat: 2g (11%)
Sodium: 80mg (3%)
Potassium: 220mg (6%)
Total Carb: 42g (14%)
Fiber: 5g (20%)
Sugars: 20g
Protein: 5g

Oh, whoa, that's just not natural. Yet another compressed-date type thing, but larger than the others and for some reason has a much more chemical/artificial taste. The taste sort of reminds me of the chocolate pop tarts of my youth. A bit dry, like most of the other compressed date bars, but the chocolate chips help quite a bit and make it taste more like a chocolate cookie. This is definitely dessert material, not breakfast material. I feel a little guilty eating it all. I will say that this would probably be something nice to share with someone on a hike, but in the office its just a bit too much.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Clif Bar Chocolate Chip

Clif Bar Chocolate Chip ($0.99, whole foods)
2.4 oz / 68g

Ingredients: organic brown rice syrup, soy rice crisps, organic roasted soybeans, organic soy flour, organic rolled oats, chocolate chips, organic evaporated cane juice, apple fiber, organic oat fiber, organic milled flaxseed, chicory extract, psyllium, organic date paste, organic soy butter, organic sunflower oil, molasses powder, sea salt, natural flavors, cinnamon

Calories: 240
Cals from fat: 45
Fat: 5g (8%)
Sat. Fat: 1.5g (8%)
Sodium: 140mg (6%)
Total Carb: 44g (15%)
Fiber: 5g (20%)
Sugars: 22g
Protein: 10g (20%)

This bar looks ridiculously unpalatable, but it tastes remarkably good. Its a strong disconnect; the bar itself could pass as some jokey fake vomit without a lot of modification, but the taste is basically like a candy bar. I admit I'd almost rather have this than a candy bar, actually. The texture is nice, very much like a chewy granola bar or a dense candy bar. Still, the appearance evokes memories of campy sci-fi: "this gruel doesn't taste like much but its got all your essential nutrients!" Oh yeah, they also pulled that in The Matrix. Clif should have totally gotten some product placement in there. It would have played well. I'm going to eat it with my eyes closed. So far, this is the bar that would most easily replace my old standby granola bars, but maybe I should unwrap one with a hangover a time or two to make sure I don't have any adverse effects.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Luna Toasted Nuts and Cranberry

Luna Toasted Nuts and Cranberry ($0.99, whole foods)
1.69 oz / 48g

Ingredients: soy rice crisp, soy protein isolate, organic rice flour, organic toasted oats, organic roasted soybeans, organic soy flour, organic flaxmeal, organic brown rice syrup, organic cranberries, organic roasted cashews, organic roasted almonds, vegetable glycerin, chicory extract, organic soy butter, pumpkin seeds, natural flavor, organic sunflower oil, sea salt

Calories: 180
Calories from fat: 35

Total Fat: 4g (6%)
Sat. Fat: 0.5g (3%)
Sodium: 160mg (7%)
Potassium: 200mg (6%)
Total Carb: 26g (9%)
Fiber: 3g (12%)
Sugar: 12g
Protein: 10g

Hm, "The Whole Nutrition Bar for Women (TM)" Aww, man, this is a bar for girls! How'd I wander off with this? So far, it has a nutty "hippie" texture, and a reasonably bland taste. It definitely conjures "health food store" in its flavor and texture. Still, there's something to be said for "neutral" which this certainly is. The bar has lots of crispy things in it, and none of the flavors are overpowering. There are very few cranberries, but they are a nice compliment to the extremely neutral flavor. I'm not sure I ever realized that women would be into something so bland, maybe that's where I've gone wrong all these years. I just have too much flavor! Girl you know its true.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Larabar Jocalat

Larabar Jocalat ($1.29, whole foods)
1.7 oz / 48g

Ingredients: organic dates, organic almonds, organic walnuts, organic cocoa powder, organic cocoa mass, organic cashews

Calories: 190
Calories from fat: 90
Fat: 10g (15%)
Sat. Fat: 2g (10%)
Potassium: 270mg (8%)
Total Carb: 24g (8%)
Fiber: 5g (21%)
Sugars: 18g
Protein: 5g (9%)

Yet another compressed date brownie bar. It was another salad day at the office so I had this for dessert. Its a nice dessert. This one definitely has the datey undertones, but I liked all the nuts. This one also has a lot of fiber, which is probably good in theory. It seems sweeter than the ones I had last week, which isn't bad. Also, it is less dry, which is noteworthy. This is the first time I've knowingly had "cocoa mass" and maybe that's the secret to making the bar sweet and moist, seeing as how last week's bars didn't have it. I'd say overall this is probably the best of the compressed-date bars yet, though I'm still slightly suspicious of the entire category, truth be told.

Friday, March 7, 2008

thinkOrganic chocolate coconut

thinkOrganic chocolate coconut ($1.25, whole foods)
1.4 oz / 40g

Ingredients: organic dates, organic cashews, organic unsweetened coconut, organic cocoa, organic unsweetened chocolate, pectin, organic almonds.

calories: 160
calories from fat: 80
fat: 9g (14%)
sat. fat: 2.5g (13%)
potassium: 330mg (9%)
total carb: 21g (7%)
fiber: 3g (12%)
sugar: 13g
protein: 4g

I had a salad at the office for lunch today, so I thought I'd eat this for dessert. Looking at the ingredients list, I thought this would be another 'compressed-date brownie' and lo-and-behold I was right. This one was pretty much equivalent to the last one: a bit on the dry side, nutty, evokes the memory of the little debbie brownie but with the righteous self-satisfaction of being organic and made of dates (2 servings of fruit, but tastes like a brownie! being healthy never had it so good!!!1!). I liked the addition of coconut - this might contribute to the fact that I didn't really notice any date taste - I actually sort of like dates but if you're going to pretend to be a brownie you'd better do a good job of it, you know?

Clif Mojo Peanut Butter Pretzel

Clif Mojo Peanut Butter Pretzel ($1.19, whole foods)
1.59 oz / 45g

Ingredients: organic brown rice syrup, organic dry roasted peanuts, soy rice crisps, peanut butter filled pretzels, peanut butter chips, organic pretzels, organic peanut butter, organic dry roasted soybeans, organic oat syrup, vegetable glycerin, peanut flour, organic sunflower oil, roasted peanut extract, sea salt, organic gum arabic, natural vitamin E.

calories: 200
calories from fat: 80
total fat: 9g (14%)
sat. fat: 2g (10%)
sodium: 230mg (9%)
potassium: 200g (6%)
total carb: 21g (7%)
fiber: 2g (8%)
sugar: 9g
protein: 10g

looks sort of like one of those old peanut bars made of peanuts and corn syrup but of course has a bunch of other stuff in it like miniature peanut butter chips, pretzel pieces, etc. i should mention its chewy overall, unlike those peanut bars. tastes similar to but better than a payday bar. very shiny, maybe from the glycerin? I'm still not sure that I should be eating glycerin, even if its vegetarian. goes well with a tall drink of water (which I am). The only problem with it is its sort of falling apart, and there are crumbs everywhere. i like the texture except for all the crumbs. one of the reasons I eat granola bars at work is because they involve minimal clean-up. This one fails that test, but it is really tasty and filling. I had a vision of eating this while hiking and having a crowd of little animals following me, feasting on crumbs. It does have a nice peanut-y taste. Certainly the best bar this week.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Weil Chocolate Walnut

Weil Chocolate Walnut ($1.25, whole foods)
1.6 oz, 45 g
Ingredients: organic dates, organic almonds, organic dried unsweetened coconut, organic walnuts, organic natural cocoa, organic vanilla extract.

calories: 190
calories from fat: 90
fat: 10g (15%)
sat. fat: 4g (20%)
sodium: 0g
total carb: 24g (8%)
fiber: 5g (20%)
sugars: 17g
protein: 3g

so i'm reading the nutrition facts thinking "basically this is a candy bar, not a granola bar." actually, its a brownie. looks like a brownie, feels like a slightly dry brownie, tastes like a brownie. Its a bit inappropriate for breakfast, but not at all offensive and would probably be refreshing on a camping trip. needs a beverage, as it is a bit dry. pretty good with coffee. by about half-way through I'm convinced its just squashed dates, and it starts tasting a bit datey. very nutty, which gives it a nice texture and saves you from freaking out completely about the compressed date idea. its vegan! Its also a bit pricey and doesn't seem all that good for me compared to even a plain granola bar. its got to be better for me than something full of corn syrup and glycerin (!), but overall its a better snack than breakfast bar.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Quaker Chewy Dark Chocolate Cherry

Quaker Chewy Dark Chocolate Cherry (about $3 for 10, or $0.30 each).
0.84 oz, 24 g

Ingredients: granola, corn syrup, crisp rice, semisweet chocolate chunks, sugar, corn syrup solids, glycerin, high fructose corn syrup, dried cherries, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, sorbitol, calcium carbonate, salt, natural and artificial flavors, molasses, soy lecithin, malic acid, BHT.

calories: 90
calories from fat: 20
fat: 2g (3%)
sat. fat: 0.5g (3%)
sodium: 75mg (3%)
total carb: 19g (6%)
fiber: 1g (3%)
sugar: 7g
protein 1g

All those chemicals (glycerin, really? isn't that in soap?) make this a really cheap and health-questionable granola bar, but this variety is pretty tasty. This is a new variety designed to compete with the Kashi bar, I think. I really like the Kashi version so I thought I'd try this out. There is, unsurprisingly, fewer cherries than in the Kashi version, but its still a really nice basic granola bar. Its light, and has really an almost perfect chewy granola texture, but it is a bit on the thin side and thus you're left with a slightly unsatisfied feeling. I could really eat two of these as a single serving, but I'm always left with the impression that if the bar was just a bit larger it could be so much more. I know what to expect when I get a Quaker bar after all these years, but for some reason that sort of dinky impression has really stuck and no matter how good the granola is I'll always be left with the idea that these are either designed for children or they're maximizing the unit cost or something. Given that they're so cheap I still come back to them from time to time, but only when I'm tired of the Kashi and Nature Valley bars. I wish they made a 2 oz. bar, 6 in a box for $4 like the big boys. Still, if you're buying Quaker bars, this is the variety to buy for the moment - the cherries are not overpowering and the chocolate balances them well.