Operation Snack Bar
May 21, 2010

Happy Friday!

Hope the week was good. For those of you who read and responded to part one of my thoughts on body acceptance at ETDC, please don’t forget to check out part two, the conclusion! I am so grateful for your insight. One thing that’s worth saying is that the solutions I offer aren’t aren’t a bulletproof vest against self-doubt or insecurity; such a thing, alas, does not exist! But I do believe that there are habits we can learn and habits we can un-learn in order to be more at peace with our bodies. They, like anything else, demand patience and discipline, along with a strong inward focus and sense of scope — mostly, a sense of scope about our own personhood, which comprises so much more than looks and shape.

OK, enough deep thoughts. Tonight, I want to talk about snack bars.

In theory, snack bars aren’t my favorite. Not that I don’t love the taste or texture or experience of eating them; I just don’t love the idea of meals (or snacks) that come in plastic wrap! But life is imperfect, and these days, life is busy. I’ve been working double the hours I was a year ago, which means that concessions must be made to convenience. Snack bars, along with baggies of homemade raw trail mix, sprouted toast with smears of avocado or nut butter, and homemade hummus and veggie sticks tend to carry me through the long stretches between my meals, be they at the desk (which will, sadly, be the majorities of my dinners in June and early July) or at home. I also love to snack on slices of baked sweet potato (which I transport to work with me), coconut yogurt, or that most refreshing of all snacks: veggie juice!

But back to convenience. It’s hard to beat snack bars. They’re quick, effortless, nutrient and energy dense, and they taste pretty good, too. My usual faves are Larabars, PureBars, PranaBars, and Wild Bars. All of these are raw or high raw, and all are nut/dried fruit based. I like Wild Bars because of the incredible chocolate taste; I love the texture and flavors of Larabars. Pranabars are a bit sweet for my taste, but the flavors are stellar.

But the thing is, there are only so many combos of dates and nuts a woman can take. And last week, as I was opening up a Larabar for a snack, it occurred to me that I really need to mix up my bar routine.

For one thing, it would be fun to find bars that aren’t comprised solely of nuts and fruit. I’d love some grain options, but I find that most vegan, grain-based bars are full of things I don’t love, like artificial flavors and soy proteins, or that brown rice syrup is the first ingredient on their labels, which is equally off-putting. There are a few brands I like: Sun Valley Bars, for example, have fairly clean ingredient labels. I’m also fond of the Vega Vibrancy Bars. But my mission of late has been to go off the beaten path and seek out small food companies churning out high quality vegan snack bars, made with love!

The first company worth noting is obvious: if you haven’t yet tried Glo Bars, go do it. Now. Ange’s amaaaaaaazing bars are vegan, organic, and feature minimal ingredient lists. It’s honest, simple food, made with love by one of the most inspiring and kind women I know. Nothing could be more worthy of your purchase!

Some online research led me to two other brands. The first was Luminous Kitchen’s Bum Bars. These guys caught my eye not only for the wonderful ingredient labels, but also because they’re local! Made right here in the Bronx. A few facts about these guys, brought to you by the makers of Bum Bars themselves:

  • We use only the finest ingredients and whole foods (no soy protein isolates), along with healthy oils and wholesome sweeteners. We bake with love!
  • Our bars contain no dairy or refined sugars. We use only whole and unprocessed ingredients, about 90% of which are organic.
  • Unrefined sweeteners – organic barley malt, organic brown rice syrup, and honey – help to burn a steady metabolic flame in the body.
  • These organic energy bars are the gourmet 3rd cousin of mass produced commercial power bars. Luminous Kitchens Bum Bars are sold at yoga studios, coffee shops, independent movie theatres, and health food stores around New York City and across the country. Bum Bars are handcrafted in a small commercial kitchen in the Bronx, New York, using fresh, quality ingredients.
  • The hefty protein in our Apricot Bum Bars is represented by whole nuts and seeds (like almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds) not synthetic protein powders or soy isolates.

I especially like that last point! Rock on, Bum Bars.

I contacted the Bum Bar makers for some samples, and the lovely Doug was kind enough to send me a sampling of their flavors: apricot, hemp, and peanut butter. I enjoyed all three, but the standout was definitely apricot! Sweet, but not too sweet, and totally delish. Second place winner was the hemp:

Which was very earthy and fairly dense in texture, but appropriately filling. Note the quality ingredients:

I think these guys would make great pre- or post-workout snackies!

Yum.

My next snack bar outreach project led me to Sarah, at Flying Vegan Snack Bars. I was immediately moved by Sarah’s story:

I first began making granola bars during college while training for a half marathon. Quite simply, they were a means to an end: protein! Since then, I have adopted a vegan lifestyle (no consumption of dairy, meat or animal products) and resurrected my dusty little recipe, leading to a revised and much healthier version of Flying Vegan granola bars.

All ingredients are certified Organic and purchased locally. Packaging is %100 Recycled.

I’m always eager to find snack options that will help my CR clients — some of whom are still a little skittish about the protein question–to chillax and get their energy on. These bars, which boast 9 grams per bar, are a terrific option!

Impressive, no? I love that these are nutrient and protein dense without being too sugary, as so many snack bars–especially, alas, raw ones–are. All ingredients are gluten-free, certified organic, and purchased locally. And each 3 oz. bar contains 80% Raw ingredients, which makes for a happy Gena! Those ingredients are: Oats, Raw Flax Seed Meal, Unsalted Peanut Butter, Raw Agave Nectar, Dried Cranberries, Dried Raisins, Raw Coconut, Raw Pumpkin Seeds, Raw Sesame Seeds, Cinnamon. And here are the goods:

My verdict? Amaaaaaaazing!

I haven’t liked a snack this much in a long, long, long time. How to describe these? I’d say that they feel and taste like an uber-healthy Clif bar. They’ve got that super dense, slightly sticky texture, but they taste clean, nutty, and even have (pleasant) hints of flax (as opposed to hints of soy protein isolate!). I loved them, and wrote back to Sarah on my Blackberry within seconds to say so! I will definitely be making these bars a purchase on the reg, and depending on them heavily when I’m traveling or on the go.

Thank you, Sarah! You rocked my world.

The only constructive criticism I would offer to Bum and Flying Vegan bars is to consider using almond or cashew butter in place of peanut; I’m not allergic, but I don’t love peanuts and peanut products, mostly because peanuts can be mucous forming and tough to digest (and if you don’t buy organic, beware: they’re a huge GMO crop). But I certainly don’t mind getting my PB love on once in a while, and these yummy bars are the way to do it!

If you’re looking for some vegan snack options, I really encourage you to think outside the box. We all have certain tried and true brands we depend on, and we all see the same regular options at Whole Foods and TJ’s. But guess what? There are some amazing and hard working men and women out there at small, locally sourced companies who are churning out products that are just as good, if not better, and far more likely to be missing preservatives and soy isolates. I highly recommend you check out Glo Bars, Bum Bars and Flying Vegan Crack Bars! They will not dissapoint.

And if you all have any great snack bar suggestions, now’s the time to pipe up! I’d love to hear how you fuel through long days.

Finally: don’t forget to enter my Chia giveaway! I’m due to post the winner tomorrow, but Chloe is staying with me this weekend, so if I don’t get to it till Sunday — well, that just gives you an extra day to enter!

Night.

xo

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    31 Comments
  1. Hello, love the story about Sarah and her flying vegan bars. I have not meet Sarah, but I have a Co worker, and she has. She have,me one and I fell in love with them. I’m trying to get my hands on some, please tell me how. Web address first work. flyingvegan.com. Please send me some information!

  2. I am slightly addicted to strawberry Bobo bars! http://www.bobosoatbars.com/
    They are like a fruity bowl of vegan oatmeal in a snack bar!
    Also, I recently discovered new Clif C bars, which also appear to be vegan- love the layering idea of this bar, and they taste great (although they are along the lines of a more traditional fruit & nut bar).

  3. Hi! Been reading your blog for some time now, and really love it! Very nice post on snack barsm though it makes me pretty jealous that I live in Sweden and not have those options… but I’ll definitley do some more research to check out if there are some options for me at home. Maybe I just can start doing them myself. 🙂

    I also have a questions! Been eating mostly raw for a while now (since february/march, I think) and I feel great! The thing is, I also have a little worried mother who is concerned about me getting all that I need. Having studied nutrition for four years, I feel pretty confidence combining my food, except for one thing – B12. As I’ve been learned, you can only get B12 from animal sources – am I totally wrong? I would really appreciate if you could sort things out a bit. From where do I get my B12? Are there other sources than those from animals?

    Hope you’ve had a great weekend!
    🙂 / Johanna

  4. I love Larabars, but definitely get into ruts with them. The Flying Vegan bars look amazing! Thanks for doing your research and finding some choices that stand out from the obvious big energy bar companies.

  5. gena: you are *amazing* my friend!! thank you so much for the wonderful flying vegan love!! also, i wanted to let you know that beginning in july, flying vegan will be offering an alternative version granola bar made with organic raw almond butter for those with peanut allergies! 🙂 nothin’ but love for you darlin’!! xoxo, sarah

  6. What about Lydia’s? Any luck with those? I know you get her bread. It’s local for me in San Francisco.
    What about the raw food bars with sprouted grains too?

  7. i love pure vegan NRG bars! their stats are amazing – high fiber and high protein, and they are kind of cakey and yummy (unlike any other energy bars i have tasted). even their brownie is sooo good. they are not raw but they use a lot of cool ingredients that i haven’t found in other bars, such as coconut flour, hemp protein, and chia seeds. http://www.purenrgbars.com/store/index.html i swear im not a representative for the company or anything, i just recently discovered these bars and fell in love with them. they are really filling too!!

  8. While I’m not a big adocate of the ready-made, I think that there should be more great healthy and eco-concsious snack options out there. We live in a world where sometimes, we just have to grab somethingready-to-eat, and in a sea of fast food options, it’s great to see some snacks that stands out by their quality, and by the integrity of the people who made them. I whish I would have had some on hand yesterday, while I spent the whole day trying to fix my website. Hopefully, the site is up and running again, and I now have the time to cook a bit!

  9. Thank you for posting some of your favorite bars. My new Raw Favorite Granola Bar is by 2 Moms in the Raw. They are based out of Colorado and have their bars distributed by Starbucks. Please try them because they are amazing. I especially like their gojiberry flavor.

  10. hi gena,
    these bars do look amazing, but do you have an advice for those of us who can’t spend the money on these bars? do you maybe have a recipe for homemade bar that is as healthy as these ones???
    thanks!!!
    elana

  11. Thanks for all the reviews! I usually stick to Lara and Pure Bars, but I agree, there are only so many one can eat (and I’m not a fan of the sweeter flavors like cherry or apple pie). 🙂

  12. Gena, this is a great post! Do you have a good recipe for a raw home-made bar? We’ll be flying to Europe next week and I wanted to bring some home-made raw bars with us. There is a great recipe for a breakfast bar at Elana’s pantry website: http://www.elanaspantry.com/breakfast-bars/

    These bars are great – I made them many times and everyone loved them. They are not raw though. So I was wondering if you have a recipe for a raw home-made bar.

    Thanks,
    Svetlana

  13. This is timely – I just tried a Clif bar for the first time in like over a year and remembered why I stopped eating them. Holy belly bomb, and ouch, too. I feel like my belly accepts the Lara bars much easier than the ones with protein supplements, which I guess is not supposed to surprise me. So yeah, it’s great to know of these options since I’ve been having the same thought – ideally I wouldn’t have to eat snacks to get me through the day, but when I do, it would be nice not to eat the same Lara bar every time! (Because let’s be honest – they all start to taste the same after a while.)

  14. i loveeee the vega vibrancy bars… also larabars. but granola/grain based bars usually tend to give me problems when they’re mixed with nuts and dried fruit. the vega ones though, although they contain buckwheat, seem to be fine! i’m thinking probably because of the fact they’re sprouted first.

  15. I used to be addicted to LUNA bars!! Some days I would have three of four! When I started eating mostly raw I stopped eating them, thankfully, but I agree with you about many of the raw food bars all being made with nuts and dates. So eventually I stopped eating those too because I didn’t like the heavy feeling I had afterwards. Now, every once in awhile I will make my own nut balls out of almonds and dates, but the brands you suggest sound like a great yummy alternative. 🙂

  16. i read part two and loved it. now if only i could unlearn the things you talked about. sigh.

    and i hear ya on bars…being in the field makes it hard to not eat them, and i try to limit myself to one a day…but i’m most certainly looking for better ones, or recipe for homemade ones!

    <3 you lots!

    PS emailed you back.

  17. To be honest, I haven’t ventured very far into snack-bar realm, save for the occasional Larabar. Even then I have some problems coughing up dough for stuff that I know I could just eat in their respective forms — ie. almonds and dates. It kind of just naturally becomes a Larabar in my mouth, you know?

    If I did have to snack between meals, I’d probably drink some Amazing Grass. Have you tried Chocolate Amazing Grass?? It’s like drinking crack. Chocolate crack. Except it’s green. Therefore – green chocolate crack. Does it get any better than that??

  18. Hi Gena, just read Part 2 and commented over there. love you 🙂

    Energy bars. Well. My energy bars that I make have been published by Hers Magazine and Tropical Traditions so those are my stand-by’s b/c they are so easy. They do use maple syrup but other than that, no other sweeteners per se other than banana and coconut flakes. You can also make them with PB or AB, Sunfl Butter, anything that you like.

    How else do I fuel for long days…umm,does coffee count? LOL

    HAVE a stellar Weekend!!!
    xox

  19. I can’t believe I still haven’t tried a Glo Bar!! What is wrong with me!? I think I’ll be making a purchase very soon. 🙂 The other bars look amazing also. Hemp Bum Bars? Sold. I love everything hemp!

  20. Thanks for all these great bar companies! They all look amazing. We are with you on supporting small and local companies 😉 We do our best do the same with our purchases. Too bad we don’t do well with peanut butter because those Flying Vegan bars look great.

    • Hello! Just wanted to let you know that beginning in July, Flying Vegan will be providing an alternative version made with Raw Organic Almond Butter! 🙂 YEE-HAW!*
      xo,
      The Flying Vegan

  21. Feel free to send it my way! (that is if i can stop eating all the chocolate in my vicinity…thats another story).
    Those bars must be a U.S. thing I assume.