Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Nature Valley Pecan Crunch

Nature Valley Pecan Crunch ($0.75, office snack area)
1.5 oz / 42g

Ingredients: whole grain rolled oats, sugar, canola oil, crisp rice with soy protein, brown sugar syrup, pecan pieces, salt, soy lecithin, baking soda, natural flavor, almond flour, peanut flour.

Calories: 190
Cals from fat: 60
Total Fat: 7g (11%)
Sat Fat: 1g (4%)
Sodium: 170mg (7%)
Total Carb: 29g (10%)
Fiber: 2g (8%)
Sugar: 12g
Protein: 4g

It's almost unfair to include the nature valley crunchy bars on this site, as I've eaten them for so many years they basically define what I'm looking for in a bar (other than of course our old friend 'variety'). I've not had this pecan version before so I thought I'd try my best to compare it to the other bars you've been patient enough to sit through waiting for the king to arrive.

Oh, goodness. This is good even by nature valley standards. Lots of people find the nature valley bars to be slightly too dense and crunchy, but this particular variety seems lighter than the old "oats and honey" - i have to admit this has a better overall texture than almost any bar previously encountered. The lighter texture among other things means that it doesn't crumble all over the place when you eat it, which admittedly is about the only shortcoming I can find in the original bar. I'm tempted to call it a fluke; I'm so used to the nature valley crunchy texture that I'm frightened to even imagine they've been able to improve on it. Say it isn't so! Sweet agony!

I know what you're thinking. You're all "how can he like this thing so much?" Well, I'm here to tell you, this is a different animal entirely from the stale, 3 year old bar you found in some hunger-induced panic in the bottom of that backpack you'd been carrying around all year and barely decided would be better than gnawing on your own foot. This is toasted, nutty, crunchy, granola perfection, my dear friends, and you owe it to yourself to experience it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

gnu foods flavor and fiber chocolate brownie bar

gnu foods flavor and fiber chocolate brownie bar ($1.69, trader joe's)
1.6 oz / 45g

Ingredients: whole rolled oats, organic whole wheat flour, wheat bran, organic kamut, psyllium, flax, millet, chicory root inulin, fruit juices, rice dextrins, dark chocolate chips, cocoa powder, canola oil, plums, rice, wheat protein isolate, natural flavors, baking powder

Calories: 140
Cals from fat: 35
Total Fat: 4g (6%)
Sat Fat: 1g (4%)
Sodium: 30mg (1%)
Total Carb: 30g (10%)
Fiber: 12g (48%)
Sugar: 9g
Protein: 4g

Yet another super fiber bar. This one is pretty good - nice granola-y texture (a bit more firm than the last bar) and a nice cocoa flavor. I'm not sure its healthy to eat so much fiber all at once but hey, that's between me and my lower GI. Knowing is half the battle!

Monday, April 13, 2009

kind plus antioxidants cranberry & almond

kind plus antioxidants cranberry & almond ($1.69, trader joe's)
1.4 oz / 40g

Ingredients: almonds, macadamias, dried cranberries, honey, glucose, puffed rice, soluble dietary fiber (maize)

Calories: 190
Cals from fat: 110
Total Fat: 12g (18%)
Sat Fat: 1.5g (8%)
Sodium: 10mg (1%)
Potassium: 120mg (3%)
Total Carb: 19g (6%)
Fiber: 2.5g (10%)
Sugar: 13g
Protein: 4g

Ah, finally the last of the kind bars. Will this one be a Dr. Jekyll or a Mr. Hyde?

This is another "peanut bar" type, though there's so much "glue" that there's a small layer of it on the bottom. Luckily, this is the soft glue, so the overall bar is more chewy than crunchy. This puts it firmly in "Jekyll" territory. The taste of the bar is overwhelmed by the cranberries - the puffed rice seemed like a good idea but it's not really helping the case at all. Pretty much all I taste is cranberries and honey. This isn't bad; and I must stress there's no chemical taste to speak of, but again I'm not sure why having these in a bar is so much better than just having a handful of dried fruits and nuts lying around. I note these are made in Australia, perhaps they don't have dried fruits and nuts in bulk over there.

In any event the existing rules stand: kind bars with fruit are ok, kind bars without fruit are not ok. Recess!

Friday, April 10, 2009

kind nut delight

kind nut delight ($1.69, trader joe's)
1.4 oz / 40g

Ingredients: peanuts, almonds, brazil nuts, walnuts, honey, glucose, puffed rice, linseed, chicory fiber, soy lecithin

Calories: 200
Cals from fat: 140
Total Fat: 15g (24%)
Sat Fat: 2g (10%)
Sodium: 15mg (1%)
Total Carb: 12g (4%)
Fiber: 3g (12%)
Sugar: 8g
Protein: 7g

Oh, man. It's peanut bar time again. I was afraid of this. After making such progress with these bars we're right back to the hard, crumbly, annoying nut bar i panned before. I actually had to shove this one to the back of my mouth to bite off pieces. Let's just put this one behind us, shall we? Its such a shame because the one with the fruit was so much better. I just noticed that this is my 50th (!) granola bar review, I only wish we could have celebrated with a really good one instead of this messy, tired thing.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

clif kid organic Z bar chocolate chip

clif kid organic Z bar chocolate chip ($0.69, trader joe's)
1.27 oz / 36g

Ingredients: organic chocolate chips, organic rolled oats, organic oat flour, organic fig paste, organic tapioca syrup, organic evaporated cane juice syrup, organic maple syrup, organic soy butter, organic chocolate, natural flavors, organic milled flaxseed, organic oat fiber, baking soda, salt.

Calories: 130
Cals from fat: 35
Total Fat: 4g (6%)
Sat Fat: 1.5g (8%)
Sodium: 100mg (4%)
Potassium: 140mg (4%)
Total Carb: 24g (9%)
Fiber: 3g (12%)
Sugar: 11g
Protein: 3g

I expected to like this since I like the regular clif chocolate chip bars and I must admit I wasn't disappointed. The texture of this is unique; its like an especially-dense cereal bar. I normally don't really go in for cereal bars but this one is heavier than most and has a little more "granola" than a regular cereal bar which I think makes it better. No chemical taste, though the aftertaste is a little overly sweet - consume with a beverage. Overall this bar is really good; enough so to buy a box of 12 which is about as high as praise gets from this website.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

kind fruit and nut delight

kind fruit and nut delight ($1.69, trader joe's)
1.4 oz / 40g

Ingredients: peanuts, almonds, brazil nuts, walnuts, raisins, apricots, apricot paste, glycerol, pectin, apple fiber, citric acid, dates, honey, glucose, puffed rice, linseed, chicory fiber, soy lecithin

Calories: 170
Cals from fat: 100
Total Fat: 11g (17%)
Sat Fat: 1.5g (8%)
Sodium: 25mg (1%)
Total Carb: 16g (5%)
Fiber: 3g (12%)
Sugar: 12g
Protein: 5g

I'm feeling more patient today with the peanut bar. That's what this is, categorically, and in my last review I was a bit short with it. It is an overpriced handful of fruits and nuts, but this one with the fruit seems to have a softer overall texture; like they had to change the "glue" because of the fruit or something. As a result it is less crumbly than the previous bar, which is a welcome improvement. This one actually makes me think "granola bar" more than "peanut bar" which is enough to sell it. Another upside to the sparse ingredient list is that there is no chemical taste to speak of. So in that respect it is a success. Still may not beat homemade trail mix for being so similar, but this bar is a lot better than the last one.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

gnu foods flavor and fiber peanut butter bar

gnu foods flavor and fiber peanut butter bar ($1.69, trader joe's)
1.4 oz / 40g

Ingredients: organic whole wheat flour, oats, wheat bran, psyllium, flax, millet, soy flour, chicory root fiber, fruit juices, rice dextrins, peanuts, canola oil, plums, rice, apples, natural flavors, aluminum-free baking powder.

Calories: 150
Cals from fat: 30
Total Fat: 3g (5%)
Sat Fat: 1g (4%)
Sodium: 64mg (3%)
Total Carb: 32g (11%)
Fiber: 12g (48%)
Sugar: 9g
Protein: 5g

I'm sort of afraid to eat this. I've never seen a bar with so many high-fiber ingredients before. Its almost like someone said "ok, lets just take this fiber thing to its logical conclusion." Hold on a sec, I'm going to go drink a glass of water before I get started here.

This bar looks remarkably normal, but the smell is a strange, slightly unfamiliar sweet smell that might have originated in a health food store. I could feel my lower GI tightening up in expectation as I ate this bar. The texture is surprisingly loose, oh I mean light - I expected it to be more dense. Sadly the weird smell carried over to the taste - I think it might be one of the less common granola bar ingredients like the flax or plums coming through? Not a bad bar overall, though the flavor isn't really my favorite. Its not peanut butter at all; in fact, did you see that among the ingredient list? Yeah, me neither. You know, it sort of tastes fruity overall, which is strange.

I don't know if I'd buy this one again - its not bad and feels pretty healthy but I did sort of expect it to taste more like peanut butter and less like a fruit bar.