Real Food Barre Review: Two Dancers set the “Barre” High for Raw, Vegan Snacks!


It’s raining bars lately. I say that not only because I’ve been offered quite a few to review, but also because I’m in the middle of summer school, and when I’m on campus nearly all day, bars are my favorite snack. They’re portable, easy, and tasty. And, in spite of the fact that I don’t favor them for meal replacement, I do love them for a bite in between meals. This year taught me all about the importance of snacking when one is on-the-go; whereas I needed less snacks when I worked full time in an office setting, I certainly do need them as a student, mostly because I can’t always make my lunches as voluminous as I like. Snacks compensate for that, and keep my appetite steady.

Two weeks ago, I was at Whole Foods, and a nearby food sample caught my eye. I overheard the man who was presenting the samples say “raw and vegan.” That’s usually all it takes for me to make a beeline to a freebie table. So there I scurried, eager to see what new vegan treats were for the offering.

As it turns out, they were Real Food Barres, a line of raw, vegan snack bars developed by professional ballet dancers Julia Erickson and Aaron Ingley (who are also husband and wife). The couple conceptualized these bars in response to the nutritional needs that their careers in dance created. In Julia’s words, “When I set out to create Barre I did so to address my exacting needs as a dancer: it had to fuel me without weighing me down, it had to be sustaining yet easy to digest with the proper mix of nutrients, it had to contain only the finest all-natural whole foods, and, of course, it had to taste sublime. Basically, it had to be just right.”

A few tastes of the three flavors, black swan chocolate berry, pirouette cinnamon pecan, and ballerina spirulina, showed me that Julia had succeeded in her mission. The bars are delicious, nutritionally balanced, and feature simple, whole foods ingredients. Check out each bar’s ingredient list and label:

Black Swan Chocolate Berry:

Dates, agave nectar, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seed butter (sunflower kernels, sunflower oil, molasses, salt, citric acid), cranberries, cocoa powder, hemp seed, hemp protein, oats, ground flax seed, brown rice protein, sea salt, peanuts.

Pirouette Cinnamon Pecan:

Dates, walnuts, pecans, agave nectar, hemp seed, rolled oats, hemp protein, ground flax seed,brown rice protein, vanilla, cinnamon, sea salt, peanuts.

Ballerina Spirulina

Dates, walnuts, pecans, agave nectar, hemp seed, hemp protein, rolled oats, ground flax seed, dried coconut flakes, brown rice protein, spirulina, vanilla, sea salt, peanuts.

I especially like the addition of a touch of brown rice protein in two of the bars!

I hear a lot about the lives of professional dancers, because a lot of my readers come from dance histories. Sadly, many of them also credit dance with having exacerbated or catalyzed eating disorders. I took a little dance as a child–I was younger than the age of ten–but even then, I was painfully aware of my body, and the mirrors were too much for me. I dropped it, but I’ve loved dance as a spectator ever since.

It saddens me that so much body pressure should accompany this beautiful art; it also saddens me that so many former dancer friends report having fueled with less-than-wholesome food and snack bars, rather than whole food options. So it makes me particularly happy that Aaron and Julia are bringing these wholesome, plant-based snacks to the dance community. Aaron mentioned that dancers are their biggest market at the moment, but that the bars are branching out. I certainly hope that the bars become widely available very soon!

So, where do you find the “barres”? You can use the locator form on the Barre website. They’re carried in 130 retailers nationwide, and you can also place a request. If you’re curious about the tasty snacks, please let Aaron and Julia know!

I really enjoyed all three flavors: the cinnamon pecan tasted just like a gingerbread cookie (perfect for Nutcracker season)! It made for some ideal in class snacking (along with a bit of fruit).

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The spirulina was salty, sweet, and also featured a touch of hemp–my favorite! But taste wise, the black swan chocolate berry was probably most delectable.

It makes me so profoundly happy when I see more and more vegan companies popping up and exerting an influence on the communities around them. Kudos to Julia and Aaron for bringing healthful ingredients like hemp, spirulina, and brown rice protein to other dancers. I hope these snacks fuel many beautiful practices and performances. And I hope you all check the bars out for yourselves: it’s so important to support fledgling brands!

I’ll see you, CR readers, tomorrow.


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  1. I got a Ballerina bar in my Conscious box and I didn’t like it much. Maybe it was the sprilulina. I am going to try the other two flavors since it seems like reviews like the other 2 more. 🙂

  2. What a cute name! They look like Larabars…and I love Larabars. Haven’t seen them in stores, though, so will have to keep an eye out.

  3. I’ve seen these bars around the blog world lately and everyone seems to really like them. I’m curious to pick up a couple the next time I’m at Whole Foods. The black swan chocolate berry sounds like a great flavor combo!

    As an aside – my mom was a professional ballet dancer with the NYC ballet until she was in her early 30s (she started dancing around age 13), and while I don’t think she had an eating disorder per se, she definitely restricted in order to stay thin. She doesn’t talk about it very much, but (and this is simply a personal anecdote) it seems like it was just understood that that was part of being a dancer. She suffered from some serious health ramifications, including bone loss and tooth decay, and while she does eat healthfully now, the focus on staying thin is still very much there. It’s a blurry line between dedicated and obsessive when it comes to her exercise and eating habits, even today.

  4. i like the name of the black swan one 🙂 as much as i wish i were graceful, i am relieved my parents never pushed dance. i grew up playing softball and loving my body. it wasn’t until college that i started to over analyze & criticize myself. these bars seem like a good snack…i’m finding the need to supplement quick things lately as i have been too rushed to actually sit down and eat real meals for breakfast/lunch. i might give these a try!

  5. I’m so happy to hear about this! Hopefully this will encourage dancers to fuel their body with the right nutrients and not just fat free chemicals.
    Black Swan has critric acid in it. What is your take on that? xx

    • Lisa, please know that while many dancers struggle with eating disorders or fuel themselves with “fat free chemicals,” not all do. The purpose of these bars is to offer a dancer — or any athlete — a snack that is nourishing but not heavy. As a professional dancer, I know it can sometimes be difficult to have a large salad or sandwich for lunch during long days of rehearsals without many breaks; sometimes there’s really only time for quick snacks here and there. I wasn’t sure if you were making a broad overarching critique about dancer’s eating habits or simply commenting upon the limited availability of wholesome snack bars, so I thought I’d clarify a bit! 🙂

  6. So interesting! I’ve heard about bars for Olympic Athletes, marathoners, etc–but never ballerinas/dancers! As someone who did competitive figure skating for a number of years, I can quite clearly see the need for something like this.

  7. Gena, thanks for your honest reviews, particularly on products such as these. I myself struggle with choosing what to carry around with me on long school days (rehearsal and after rehearsal when I don’t want be weighed down right before I play), and I find most bars have too many ingredients that don’t seem to add to overall nutritional density, or they’re just too sweet. It’s also nice to know that on top of raw, whole foods, you incorporate cooked food and get help from good products such as these to carry with you. I think when I delved into the world of veganism, it was really hard to reconcile carrying something processed (even minimally) around with me. I’ve been looking for a better product (Vega has helped) as of late, so I will definitely give these a try!

  8. Um, in what world is agave nectar (ingredient #2 in first bar) a whole food? Nice try, but looks like a lot of other processed junk to me.

  9. My gym just started offering barre classes this month. It is an excellent stretching and strengthening class to upbeat music. I will have to get a barre bar to have after my barre class.

  10. I’ll keep an eye out for these in ohdearholybucketlessthantwoweeksbreathebreathe.

    The pirouette sings to me the most! (Or ‘dances towards me the most’?)

  11. I love the concept of these bars! I’ve been dancing for the past 17 years and there is a distinct lack of dancer-appropriate snacks on the market. It’s awesome that there’s now a company trying to fill that void. Dance is hard work, we need some healthy, wholesome fuel! The ballerina spirulina flavor sounds awesome (and I love the name!).

  12. I really like the concept of these snack bars. Very innovative!
    The only question I have about the bars you’ve been reviewing is, if they contain ground flax seed, don’t they have to be refrigerated? I’ve always understood that ground flax is perishable and can go rancid if not kept in the fridge. If you or any others have info on this, I’d love to know more. Thanks!

    • It’s a great question. Flax is in a huge number of flax bars; I wonder if they use cold milled? My understanding is that cold milled can last a bit longer.