Ouch, I know.
I’m almost always on the hunt for a really tasty, really healthy go-to nutrition bar. I rarely eat bars, but when I do, I want one that’s vegan, delicious, and of some nutritional value (and preferably minimally processed).
There are a few that fit the bill. Larabars and Raw Revolution bars are good but so greasy (not added, just naturally from the nuts)! So I have to be in the right mood for those (read: have napkins handy). Clif bars are good but a little calorie-heavy for a snack, unless I’ve been working out hard that day. Their Zbars (marketed toward the kiddies, but good for us too!) are lighter, but careful — several Zbar flavors contain honey. Sadface.
My favorite bar of all, though, is the Gnu bar. By far. These little buddies have a lot of things going for them. All-natural, all-vegan, minimally processed, and packing 12 grams of fiber per bar (nearly 50% of the RDA, so make sure you drink lots of water with these!) — plus many of the ingredients are organic. And on top of that, they taste REALLY, REALLY GOOD.
I first discovered the Cinnamon Raisin and Chocolate Brownie flavors at Trader Joe’s when I was in school in Chicago around 2006 or 2007, but I just recently found out that they sell many more flavors at Whole Foods and on the Gnu bar Web site. The site is pretty sexy — along with both individual and by-the-box purchasing capability, there is a “Joy of Fiber” club (a similar idea to Amazon’s Subscribe and Save) that offers a 30% savings and free shipping if you sign up for at least one month of bar delivery, commitment-free.
I was so excited to discover that there were more flavors than the two I’d been buying that I immediately ordered the 7-bar sampler, which is just what it sounds like. It cost me $13.95, but they recently dropped the price down so just $9.95 will get you one of each bar (plus free shipping! one-time only). This is a super deal, since the bars regularly retail at $1.99 each.
Here are my thoughts:
- Chocolate Brownie – My absolute favorite. I am so impressed with how delicious this tastes for something that is such a health food! This can pass as dessert for sure!
- Banana Walnut – A little more dry than the other flavors, but very banana-bread tasting!
- Orange Cranberry – Not my fave — surprisingly super-orangey. Might be good to kill the occasional scone or muffin craving, but I wouldn’t stock up on these.
- Cinnamon Raisin – JUST like an oatmeal raisin cookie! This is coming from someone who loves oatmeal raisin cookies. This flavor especially is good with tea!
- Lemon Ginger – Eh. Not great. Wrong taste for the texture (the psyllium and flaxseed especially), I think.
- Peanut Butter – Not quite peanut-buttery enough to satisfy a PB cookie craving, and a little dry. Still tasty in its own way.
- Espresso Chip – I love this one! It definitely tastes like coffee, though, and does contain caffeine, so this one is best saved for the A.M.
Overall: My faves were the Chocolate Brownie, Cinnamon Raisin and Espresso Chip. Without being gross, it’s also worth noting that the Gnu slogan (“It works!”) may be cute but it’s also TRUE — so if your body’s not used to lots of fiber at once, maybe start with just half a bar a day, or split the bar between a.m. and p.m. I’d also recommend NEVER eating more than 2 bars a day — eek!
Stock up on Gnu Bars (or try the sampler!) at http://gnufoods.com, or purchase them individually at most Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s (and I’ve seen them in other stores too! — so check out your local grocer or health food store).
11/30 NOTE: I discovered JUST TODAY while I was perusing Gnu’s About page that the company is open about the fact that the sugar in their chocolate chips (found in the Brownie and Espresso flavors, which were my faves — boo!) is processed with bone char. Bad that they use it, but good that they post a warning about it on their Web site so you can eat with full consciousness, whatever your decision.