Product Review: Energy Bars

The process of learning about the wild world of energy bars has come to an end; as a natural food freak, I bravely ventured into the territory of natural, wholesome energy sources to get through my roughest days. Campers and outdoor enthusiasts are familiar with a wide range of organic and natural-based brands that essentially give your brain and body a boost for long-lasting energy. I personally enjoy dried fruit, granola, and chocolate for my general energy resources, and was surprised and happy to have found a large variety available on the market today! From Clif bars, Luna, Powerbar varieties, and the Lara Bar, I was overwhelmed with choices.

A closer look, however, proved to be interesting; after reading the nutrition facts thoroughly (something I am also brave enough to admit; I’m one of those people who reads all the fine print, nutrition facts included), it was clear that many of these chocolate covered and fine-tasting concoctions were akin to flavor, texture, and even calorie content to a regular candy bar. But what makes them different? I think the composition of granola, rice, and soy-based products, along with increased protein, gives these bars preference over your standard, sugar-loaded Snickers. Even though Snickers peanuts have plenty of protein, you might say, natural-based granola bars and organic ingredients do provide longer lasting energy over a few hours, rather than a sugar-inspired spike and crash.

So, finding the top five energy bars involved choosing from some key factors; for my review, I made note of taste, texture, natural-food ingredients/composition, price, as well as the all-important but very superficial wrapper/logo. With the large and growing variety of energy bars out there, I do think that creative advertising and brands are a strong decision-making factor for the average energy bar consumer. My top choices were the Lara Bar, Bumble Bar, Luna Bar, Clif Bar, and

#1: Lara Bar

The Lara Bar is touted as the only 100% natural bar as it is made completely out of raw food. Before you cringe at the thought of raw food compiled together and squeezed into a wrapper, consider that the ingredients include unsweetened fruits, spices, and nuts that have never seen a processing machine. The Lara Bar can best be described as the healthiest snack and can cure hunger pangs in the most natural way. Each flavor has only 6 or less ingredients, and the taste is, well, raw and natural. The texture is soft and chewy for all falvors. My favorites include Cashew Cookie with Cashews, Dates;
the Chocolate Coconut Chew with Dates, Almonds, Unsweetened Coconut, Unsweetened Cocoa Powder; and the Banana Cookie Dough – Almonds, Dates, Unsweetened Bananas. This is probably the most cost-effective and efficient form of nutrition that I’ve experienced to date, and my top choice of energy bars. The packaging is simple, bold, and attractive, and each bar is priced between $1.50-$1.99 in most markets.

#2: The Bumble Bar

The Bumble Bar is an organic and flavorful bar; it is composed of natural sugars, sesame seeds, cinnamon, and the extra nutritional benefits of flaxseed. Enhanced with essential Omega 3 fatty acids, this bar serves as a great snack bar between meals; it is available in my favorite flavors of Lemon Chocolate, and Chai. The texture is somewhat crunchy and chewy, and very sweet in flavor thanks to the organic brown rice syrup and cinnamon. Each bar comes in an attractive large-sized package with a bumble bee flying across the front; even if only a nice visual enhancement for your purse or office, this bar is a winner! The bar ranges from $1.50-$1.75 in most markets.

#3: Luna Bar

The Luna Bar is promoted for women, and is a divison of brands by Powerbar. The Luna bar is infused with additional essential vitamins and minerals to promote wellness for women, and the varieties include my favorites of Caramel Nut Brownie, Iced Oatmeal Raisin and Peanut Butter Cookie. These energy bars truly taste like homemade baked treats, and other flavors offer chocolate-covered varieties and ‘icing.’ These bars are chewy, provide natural energy from organic ingredients such as brown rice syrup and healthy protein, and additional vitamins such as calcium, folate, and iron often not found in comparable energy bars. The taste and texture are the Luna Bar’s best attributes, and the package features a moon (Luna) and attractive bold colors. The addition of green tea extract gives this bar the energy boosting capability of a cup of coffee or tea in the afternoon. Price ranges from under $1.00 to $1.50 in most markets.

#4: Clif Bar

The Clif bar is perhaps the most familiar to those new to the energy bar scene, as these have been on the market since the early 1990s. The Clif Bar now includes extensions of the brand including Clif Mojo, Clif Shots, and a Clif ZBar especially for kids. Still, my favorites remain in the original flavors of Carrot Cake, Chocolate Brownie, and Cranberry Apple Cherry. The Carrot Cake is a soft and chewy bar with strong flavors of carrot, raisins, cinnamon, and cream cheese that make real carrot cake so great. The Chocolate Brownie is similar to a ‘normal’ chewy brownie, and a great mid-afternoon treat. The Cranberry Apple Cherry is a well-balanced combination of dried fruit, and provides great sustainable energy for the middle of the workday; it is also the ‘healthiest’ dessert in my mind since it is fruit-based (!). Clif bars are available for a price of $1.00-$1.50 in most markets, and come in an attractive packaging encouraging climbing up a real cliff. Not that this is anywhere in my near future, but the idea of being that outgoing and adventurous just may be enough to encourage a second purchase for me. . .

#5: Power Bar Harvest

Since I definitely am not a fan of the original Power Bar, I was less inclined to try the Power Bar Harvest. However, it made its way to my top five list because it is essentially a granola bar; it offers a variety of oats, sunflower seeds, raisins, nuts, and dried fruit to bring a very different in taste and texture than the original Power Bar. The Harvest bars are available in (gasp!) dipped chocolate, and regular varieiteis, and my favorites are the Double Chocolate Crisp, Chunky Cherry Crunch, and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip. It was during this trial that I realized how dependent I am on chocolate, as I seemed to enjoy the chunks of natural chocolate pieces, as well as chocolate-covered varieties. Yummy.

The Powerbar Harvest offers 23 vitamins and minerals, a medium (10-13 g range) of protein, and strong flavors. These are definitely sweeter than other energy bars, and are not 100% organic. Overall, I think the PowerBar Harvest is a great ‘initation’ bar to energy bars and natural eating, as it is a balanced bar with a fair selection of flavors and tastes. The texture is chewy, and the packaging is attractive and bold. The heart-healthy logo will catch your attention, and assure you that you are contributing to your health in a positive way! The price ranges from $1.20-$1.75 in most markets.

Overall, the Lara Bar was by far my top pick for the energy bar; the Lara Bar is flavorful, 100% organic, satisfying, and offered in a variety of tantalizing flavors. All of these bars are available by the case, and you can enjoy the benefits of a discount when buying in bulk quantities. As my quest continues for great natural food choices and snacks, I’m sure the above energy bars will boost my energy and brain power along the way; and naturally!

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