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:
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!