Ok, so who would have thought 20 years ago that bars would be such a big food group! As time goes on it seems our already fast paced world gets even faster. People don't have time to make a nutritious snack or meal so they grab a bar. Unfortunately, the market is saturated with a lot bars that aren't real food. Some of them should really fall into the candy bar category. Then we have the bars that are filled with chemicals and junk. It's easy to get sucked into thinking a bar is actually good for you by all the marketing ploys of companies these days. From catchy words like, natural, whole ingredients, plant protein, and even organic. These companies are catching on to what consumers are looking for.
Here are a list of ingredients I avoid in bars:
–Folic Acid(synthetic form- often an added vitamin or mineral, you want folate)
–Cyanocobalamin(synthetic form of Vitamin B-12 that contains cyanide-a poison)
–Soy Protein(especially if it's not organic. I try and avoid soy as it's in so many foods already and unless it's organic or says non-gmo it likely is a GMO)
–Soy Protein Isolate(Processed soy and same as above for soy protein)
-Soy Lecithin(Helps keep things together, but again soy)
-Whey Protein Isolate(causes gas, bloating and diarrhea, wreaks havoc on the gut flora)
–High Fructose Corn Syrup
–Inulin(Most Inulin used in food bars is extracted from chicory root and can cause a lot of problems- upset stomach, bloating, diarrhea)
–Brown Rice Syrup(Often it's found at the top of an ingredient list in bars and is used instead of sugar. People think it's better but be careful because it can contain high levels of arsenic from the brown rice)
-Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil(it's processed to separate the liquid from the oil. It can be used a lot for chocolate coating on bars. And results in higher saturated fat content)
-Natural Flavors(may come from a natural source but then they are manipulated in a lab. It's hard to really know what's in a natural flavor)
–Carageenan(You can often find this ingredient in protein bars)
-Sugar Alcohols(these tend to be hard to digest and can make you feel bloated even though the calorie count is low. Watch out for maltitol, sorbitol, erythritol)
-Hydrogenated Oils(trans fat)
*Keep in mind this is just a small list.
Tips When Shopping For Bars:
- Look for short ingredient lists– If the ingredient list looks overwhelming and contains words you can't pronounce or aren't sure what they are, then move on. Chances are the bar is full of more chemicals than real food.
- Avoid Cheap/Synthetic Ingredients- If you see a lot of soy(really cheap ingredient), isolates, folic acid, etc. (basically any of the above ingredients I listed) then keep walking. If a company skimps in one area, they are probably skimping in other areas too.
- Avoid Sugar Bars- If sugar is the first or second ingredient you can bet it's more of a candy bar than a health bar. Look for bars that add sweetness as naturally as possible. Think dates, coconut nectar, etc.
- Look For Marketing Tactics- Don't assume a bar is healthy or good because it has the organic or non-gmo symbol on it. I can't tell you how many times I've picked up a bar that has the organic symbol on it thinking it would be good, only to find it contained a lot of cheap ingredients, folic acid and Cyanocobalamin. So disturbing! Sometimes your best bet might not be organic, but at least it only has 7 real food ingredients and you can recognize each one of them.
Favorite Bar Picks:
Skout Backcountry Organic Trail Bar-
I discovered these bars not too long ago and instantly became hooked! I mean they're so good! My first thought when eating one was how it reminded me of no bake cookies-yes you heard me! The chocolate coconut one specifically. They also have an almond blueberry flavor, apple cinnamon, and chocolate peanut butter. Made with only 7 ingredients, these bars are organic, gluten free, non-gmo, vegan and free of refined sugar. These have oats in them, but are still gluten free. Plus, I love that they're just sweetened with dates. My daughter loves them too! These are more of a snack bar in my opinion since the protein isn't super high. A great pick for kid's lunch boxes or after school snack. To make them even more protein dense I like adding a little nut butter on top! Skout Backcountry has been so kind to offer 25% off using code: GONEGREEN. Shop here on their website!
These bars are one of my very favorites! They are a protein bar and great for grabbing when you need something substantial quick. They literally only have 6-8 real food ingredients per bar. They are dairy, soy, and gluten free. They also are considered paleo friendly and Whole30 approved. I love the texture of these bars. They are chewy and satisfying. Plus 12 grams of protein per bar! My favorite flavor hands down is Maple Sea Salt- try it and thank me later. I also like the Mint Chocolate flavor. You can find these at Trader Joe's(Usually just a couple flavors) and other health food stores. They often have sales or different promotions, so follow them on social media. Check out RXBAR!
These are hands down my daughter's favorite. They are a protein bar but made with 20+ superfood ingredients. They aren't chewy but more dense and soft. All the flavors are gluten free, soy free and non-gmo. There is one flavor that is vegan and that is Vegan Almond Coconut. Most bars are certified organic but some don't have the symbol because not every ingredient is organic-although most of them are. They include superfood ingredients like, kale, kelp, carrot and spinach-just to name a few. These are definitely a fill you up kind of bar in my opinion. My current favorites are Blueberry Cashew, and Coconut Peanut Butter. You can find these at Whole Foods, most health food stores, and a lot of conventional grocery stores. You can also by them at Costco! They are in the refrigeration section at the grocery store. Shop the full selection here!
Go Raw Grow Protein Bars-
If you follow me on Instagram you've seen me share these in my stories. I love that they use organic raw sprouted watermelon seeds as the protein source! A completely vegan bar with 12 grams of protein and made with only 8 ingredients. These aren't super chewy but more like a granola bar texture but denser. The bars are also organic and non-gmo. These bars are nut free too-a great option if you or your child is allergic to nuts! Which is sometimes hard to find when it comes to health bars. If you can do nuts these are great dipped in some nut butter or even sunflower seed butter. I really like the Mint Chocolate flavor and Cinnamon Spice. Use Coupon Code: RAW25 for 25% off your purchase online. Shop here!
Thunderbird Real Food Bars-
These bars are so good! They have a Fruit and Nut Bar selection and then a Nut and Seed Bar selection. The Nut and Seed collection is more for those wanting a little more substance and a little less sugar. I love the chewy texture and the flavors. They use a variety of real food ingredients in their bars. Everything from pecan meal, quinoa, pecan butter, carrots, hemp seeds, buckwheat groats…are you getting the picture? I love the variety! The flavors are so good too! I haven't tried all of them but my favorite so far is Pecans+Goji+Pistachio from the Nut and Seed collection. All the bars are gluten free, vegan, non-gmo, soy and refined sugar free. Some bars have more protein depending on ingredients. These aren't organic but they all only have a handful of real ingredients, which is pretty hard to find nowadays. I get these at my local Co-op PCC. These are also paleo certified. Shop all their flavors here!
Square Organics Bar-
These honestly taste like a candy bar but without the chemicals! All of them are chocolate coated with a different flavor on the inside. I love that they're dairy, soy and gluten free. They sweeten them using coconut nectar and use a plant based organic protein. They are vegan as well and of course organic and non-gmo. My personal favorites are the coconut and mint. I ate these a lot after having my second baby girl. They were quick energy when I was nursing like crazy! They hit the spot for those sudden hunger urges. If it’s been hard for you to find a protein bar that tastes good and has decent ingredients, then check out Square Organics- you won’t be disappointed. You can find these at Whole Foods and a lot of other health food stores. Also, use coupon code: gurlgonegreen for 20% off a box! Shop here.
Two Mom's In the Raw Soul Sprout Granola Bar-
These bars are just so nutrient dense! They are raw obviously and filled with sprouted nuts, sprouted seeds, sprouted oat groats, sprouted buckwheat groats and fruit. They are organic and non-gmo and sweetened with coconut syrup. Also, they are soy, dairy, and gluten free and vegan. These are thinner and more like a slightly crunchy granola bar. Again, I love spreading mine with some nut butter! They aren't a super heavy bar at all, with only about 3 grams of protein and only 6 grams of sugar per bar. I buy these on Thrive Market but they also sell them at Whole Foods in the granola bar packaged section. You get them in a package of 6. They also sell nut bars that are a little more protein packed, truffles and crackers that I haven't tried yet but want too! Also, if you enter your e-mail on their website you'll get 20% off your first order! Shop the full product line here!
These are a great option if you just want to be able to run to the store and get a good quality bar. You can find these at most conventional stores as well as health food stores, and even Thrive Market carries them. They just have a handful of real ingredients and are sweetened with dates. They taste similar to a Lara Bar but are organic. They are soy, dairy, and gluten free as well and non-gmo. My daughter really likes these too! They are more of snack bar in my opinion since they are lower on protein. I've been known to dip these in some nut butter though for a little extra substance! Our favorites are the Dark Chocolate Walnut, and the Dark Chocolate Almond Coconut. Shop KIT'S ORGANIC !
That concludes my favorite healthy bar round up! What are your favorites? Did you see any you want to try?