Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Nature Valley Sweet & Salty Nut Cashew

Nature Valley Sweet & Salty Nut Cashew
1.2 oz / 35g (6 for $3.00, Walmart)

Ingredients: cashews roasted in safflower oil, high maltose corn syrup, whole grain oats, sugar, rice flour, high fructose corn syrup, palm kernel oil, whole grain wheat, fructose, cashew butter, canola oil, nonfat milk, maltodextrin, salt, whey, reduced minerals whey, soy lecithin, malt extract, color, natural flavor, baking soda, malt, mixed tocopherols. 

Calories: 160
Cals from fat: 60
Total Fat: 7g (10%)
Sat Fat: 2.5g (13%)
Sodium: 135mg (6%)
Total Carb: 23g (8%)
Fiber: 1g (4%)
Sugar: 12g
Protein: 2g 

Another basic granola bar with icing on the bottom. Not quite as exciting as the peanut / chocolate variety. Why is it that cashews are so exciting in the mixed nuts can but not that exciting in a granola bar? In this case it might be because they were hard to notice over the sweet icing. If you take the joy out of eating cashews for me, you have failed. I hate to harsh on this bar as it is a good bar overall, but maybe it should be called "cashew butter" or something that doesn't belie its true flavor. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Nature Valley Sweet & Salty Nut Dark Chocolate, Peanut & Almond

Nature Valley Sweet & Salty Nut Dark Chocolate, Peanut & Almond
1.24 oz / 35g (6 for $3.00, Walmart)

Ingredients: roasted peanuts, high maltose corn syrup, sugar, dark chocolate chunks, whole grain oats, high fructose corn syrup, rice flour, palm kernel oil, almonds, whole grain wheat, fructose, canola oil, nonfat milk, salt, maltodextrin, peanut butter, whey, reduced minerals whey, soy lecithin, malt extract, color, natural flavor, baking soda, malt, mixed tocopherols. 

Calories: 170
Cals from fat: 70
Total Fat: 8g (13%)
Sat Fat: 3.5g (17%)
Sodium: 120mg (5%)
Total Carb: 21g (7%)
Fiber: 2g (8%)
Sugar: 12g
Protein: 3g 

The most striking thing about the ingredients list for this bar is how much worse they are for you than the crunchy kind. The ingredients list is twice as long and full of sugar and chemicals, they are higher in fat and lower in fiber, etc. Still in the grand scheme of things I think this bar is still mostly ok. It has a peanut butter icing on the bottom, and is otherwise a pretty standard chewy granola bar. It tastes really good; the chocolate chunks and the peanut butter icing really make this pretty sweet, like a candy bar. I would rather eat this than a lot of candy bars out there, as a matter of fact. Perhaps that is its calling; for breakfast it is a bit sweet. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Nature Valley Crunchy Oats 'n Dark Chocolate

Nature Valley Crunchy Oats 'n Dark Chocolate
1.49 oz / 42g (6 for $3.00, Publix)

Ingredients: whole grain oats, sugar, canola oil, dark chocolate pieces, honey, yellow corn flour, soy flour, brown sugar syrup, cocoa, salt, natural flavor, soy lecithin, baking soda

Calories: 190
Cals from fat: 70
Total Fat: 8g (12%)
Sat Fat: 1.5g (7%)
Sodium: 140mg (6%)
Total Carb: 28g (9%)
Fiber: 3g (11%)
Sugar: 12g
Protein: 4g 

Ah, it always warms my heart to find a new variety of the tried and true Nature Valley Crunchy bar, the brickle we were all raised on and what started all this granola bar foolishness in the first place. It is a little strange that they say this has dark chocolate pieces - it is actually as if the entire bar has had some cocoa stirred in; I didn't really notice any chocolate pieces. The addition of the cocoa is good but can be a tad overwhelming; if you thought the old bars were dry this bar might be classified as actually removing moisture from your mouth as you eat it. Pairs well with a cup of coffee, and really does deserve to stand alongside the classics of my youth, if perhaps on the second stair. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Kellogg's Fiber Plus Antioxidants Chocolatey Peanut Butter

Kellogg's Fiber Plus Antioxidants Chocolatey Peanut Butter
1.2 oz / 36g (5 for $3.79, Publix)

Ingredients: chicory root extract, rolled oats, crisp rice, sugar, peanuts with TBHQ, inulin from chicory root, hydrogenated and/or partially hydrogenated palm kernel, palm, and/or coconut oils, fructose, peanut butter, canola oil, cocoa, glycerin, partially defatted peanut flour, honey, whey, tricalcium phosphate, salt, nonfat dry milk, soy lecithin, baking soda, BHT, dextrose, polysorbate 60, sorbitan monostearate, vitamin e acetate, zinc oxide, artificial flavor, soy protein isolate, almond flour, wheat starch. 

Calories: 130
Cals from fat: 45
Total Fat: 5g (8%)
Sat Fat: 2.5g (13%)
Sodium: 95mg (4%)
Total Carb: 24g (8%)
Fiber: 9g (35%)
Sugar: 7g
Protein: 3g (6%)

Man, leave it to Kellogg's to have the expertise to handle sunscreen as a food ingredient. Zinc Oxide! Wow! Despite chocolate not being an ingredient (ok, they have cocoa) they've managed to make a granola bar that looks like sort of like a rice krispie treat with peanut butter chips sitting in a thin bed of chocolate. Despite how scary the ingredient list is, this really does taste pretty great. Sort of a caramel / peanut butter / chocolate mix, like a candy bar but lighter. So the advertising on the box indeed rings true: "tastes better than fiber one!" I cannot deny it. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Eat Think Smile Rich Cocoa

Eat Think Smile Rich Cocoa
1.4 oz / 39g

Ingredients: whole grain rolled oats, brown rice syrup, crisp rice, cocoa, soy nuts, almonds, sugar, evaporated cane juice, sunflower oil, invert sugar, glycerin, natural flavor, salt, soy lecithin

Calories: 160
Cals from fat: 40
Total Fat: 4.5g (7%)
Sat Fat: 0.5g (3%)
Sodium: 60mg (3%)
Total Carb: 26g (9%)
Fiber: 3g (12%)
Sugar: 7g
Protein: 4g (8%)

I don't have a price on this because I swiped it from my mom's cupboard while visiting last weekend. This sort of looks like a thin crisp rice treat but made with the chocolate cereal instead of the regular. it has what look like peanuts on top, but note in the ingredients no peanuts. i've never seen soy nuts before but they look like peanuts. It is disconcerting; are they just raw soybeans or are they engineered somehow? The bar is quite dry, with an almost tangy cocoa flavor. Crumbly, as bars go and the nuts are more a distraction than they are helpful. Still, not bad overall. The ingredient list is pretty healthy looking (though i don't know how you invert sugar). If I had to rate this I'd probably give it a 7 of 10 or so; it is the same size but lighter than a clif bar, the cocoa is slightly overwhelming but not bad, and the texture is dry but ok with a beverage. Good, but not great.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Nature Valley Chewy Trail Mix Cranberry & Pomegranate

Nature Valley Chewy Trail Mix Cranberry & Pomegranate (6 for $2.99, Publix)
1.1 oz / 32g

Ingredients: whole grain oats, high maltose corn syrup, rice flour, sugar, malt extract, salt, calcium carbonate, almonds, honey, dried cranberries, fructose, canola oil, maltodextrin, dried pomegranate arils, soy lecithin, salt, baking soda, natural flavor.

Calories: 130
Cals from fat: 25
Total Fat: 3g (4%)
Sat Fat: 0g (0%)
Sodium: 70mg (3%)
Total Carb: 24g (8%)
Fiber: 1g (4%)
Sugar: 13g
Protein: 2g (4%)

Pomegranate! Cranberry! These are all the rage these days, overlooked fruits that have special health benefits, cleansing powers, whatevs. That said, variety is the spice of life so I decided to give this bar a try. It has that classic nature valley granola but the fruit tastes sort of fake or perhaps it is the "chewy" binder that gives off a slight artificial taste. Either way it tastes more processed than its relatively short ingredient list might suggest. It is certainly a passable bar but you can do better.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Kashi Dark Chocolate Coconut Fruit & Grain Bars

Kashi Dark Chocolate Coconut Fruit & Grain Bars (6 for $2.99, Publix)
1.1 oz / 32g

Ingredients: hard red wheat, oats, rye, triticale, barley, dates, dark chocolate, chicory root fiber, brown rice syrup, vegetable glycerin, soy protein isolate, coconut, soy grits, expeller pressed canola oil, walnuts, unmodified cornstarch, evaporated cane juice crystals, corn flour, evaporated cane juice syrup, rice starch, honey, natural flavors, soy lecithin, oat fiber, brown rice, buckwheat, sesame seeds, evaporated salt, peanut flour, whey protein isolate, almond flour.

Calories: 120
Cals from fat: 30
Total Fat: 3.5g (5%)
Sat Fat: 1.5g (8%)
Sodium: 50mg (2%)
Total Carb: 21g (7%)
Fiber: 4g (17%)
Sugar: 7g
Protein: 4g (8%)

As an American, I feel I've done my duty by moving from small granola bars to the much larger, more patriotic clif bars. Nothing says "U.S.A.!" like a little overeating. But, as with all things, variety is the spice of life so I have what looks like a TINY little granola bar this morning, the Kashi. Seriously, this thing is small even by Nature Valley standards. It looks like your standard chewy granola bar but with some chocolate icing and coconut garnish. The bar is unremarkable and the icing is a little fake, it is a little too thick to be normal icing but too soft to be a chocolate coating. Sort of like a chocolate jam resting on top of the bar. Still, all in all this is a nice bar - very unoffensive; goes fine with a cup of coffee. No chemical taste to speak of, really though I only had about 4 bites to gauge this because it is a really small bar.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Clif Bar White Chocolate Macadamia Nut

Clif Bar White Chocolate Macadamia Nut ($0.99, Publix)
2.4 oz / 68g

Ingredients: organic brown rice syrup, soy rice crisps, organic roasted soybeans, organic soy flour, organic rolled oats, organic evaporated cane juice, cocoa butter, soy flour, soy lecithin, organic toasted oats, organic oat fiber, inulin, organic milled flaxseed, organic oat bran, psyllium, macadamia nuts, organic soy butter, organic macadamia nuts, organic date paste, natural flavors, sea salt.

Calories: 250
Cals from fat: 60
Total Fat: 7g (11%)
Sat Fat: 2g (10%)
Sodium: 240mg (10%)
Potassium: 170mg (5%)
Total Carb: 42g (14%)
Fiber: 4g (16%)
Sugar: 21g
Protein: 9g (18%)

This bar is so crazy, it has macadamia nuts AND organic macadamia nuts. I don't want to tell these folks how to run things, but that seems like a logistical hassle - what if your organic nuts get all mixed in with your inorganic nuts? Then you have a problem on your hands, right? Then again, that's all the more reason to just list both, then you can buy your nuts from whomever is available without having to change your packaging. Maybe it is shrewdness. Perhaps genius. Anyway, what we have here is your standard Clif bar but with a little drizzle of icing on top (what the what?) and a rather pleasant, mildly sweet taste. It has the standard Clif texture, which is sort of a dense chewy thing you would imagine reading sci-fi as a kid. No chemical taste, which by itself makes the Clif bar far and away the best "nutritious" bar on the market and running neck and neck with the classic nature valley bar for best in show.