The Healthiest (and Yummiest) Snack Bars!

Those of you who are no stranger to The Organic Beauty know that I am not a huge proponent of snacking. Excessive need for snacking means you’re not getting enough substantial nutrition, and it can lead to weight gain from unnecessary added calories, as well as constantly fluctuating blood sugar. That said, sometimes you really need a frickin’ snack! Maybe you didn’t have time for a big healthy lunch, or don’t want to arrive at your nephew’s birthday pizza party famished. It’s times like these (hopefully not too often!) that you want to have access to a delicious, nutritious and quick snack that get’s the job done, without setting your diet back.  An ideal snack bar gives you a good bit of protein to keep you full, fiber to keep things moving, and healthy carbs to give you energy.  I’ve compiled a list of my top 5 snack bars that fit the bill…  Plus, I’ve added the snack bars you should avoid at all costs, just for good measure.

  • LARA BARS:  These are consistently my number one top recommended snack bar.  They are made of nothing but nuts and dried fruit… no additives, no sugar, no chemicals, no crap.  Simple, whole food ingredients means more complete nutrition! This also means they’re gluten-free and vegan.  A typical Lara Bar provides you with a full serving of fruit, 5 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fiber, making it the perfect snack!  My favorite flavor is Cherry Pie… delish!

  • JOURNEY BARS:  These are a relatively new bar on the market, and I have to say, I am super impressed!  The bars are savory, which means you’re not getting that god awful blood sugar spike, and come in yummy flavors like Rosemary, Hickory Barbecue, and Coconut Curry (my current fave).  The bars feature amazing organic, gluten-free whole grains like amaranth and millet and savory spices and herbs that do great things for your body.  They also pack about 5 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.

  • BUMBLE BAR:  Here’s another delicious, organic, gluten-free bar filled with nutritious seeds, grains, nuts, and dried fruit.  The bars come in great flavors like Awesome Apricot (my favorite), Chai Almond, and Lushus Lemon, and many are sweetened with naturally low-glycemic sweeteners like organic agave or organic brown rice syrup.  They pack anywhere from 4-7 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and an average of 7-10 grams of sugar!

  • PURE BAR:  These are another line of delicious, organic snack bars that have perfectly simple and pure ingredients.  Dried fruit, nuts, brown rice protein, and agave make up the vast majority of their bars, that come in flavors like Banana Coconut, Wild Blueberry, and Dark Chocolate Berry (that last one is more of a dessert bar, but I’ll tell you what, it is sooo good, and still super healthy!).  They have around 6-7 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and are loaded with antioxidants!
  • RISE BAR:  Rise has three different lines of breakfast bars, energy bars, and protein bars, all with simple, healthy ingredients like organic fruit, nuts, and whole grains.  Depending on your needs, you can select bars with as much protein as 20 grams (in the Almond Honey Protein Bar),  and all the bars have about 4 grams of fiber and are sweetened with healthy brown rice or tapioca syrup, or honey!  The bars are designed to keep you sustained and energized for 3 hours, which is definitely the mark of a great snack!
Now what you don’t want out of a snack bar is unfortunately what the vast majority on the market have to offer:  chemical additives and sugar replacements, processed or refined carbs, processed soy, processed dairy, and all kinds of other allergens (I love this image on the left from A Healthy Kitchen, which illustrates all the harmful crap found in most “diet” bars).  As with anything you put in your body, LESS IS MORE!  Any product with a super long list of ingredients is no good for you.  A good rule of thumb is to only eat foods with 5 or less ingredients, and if you can’t pronounce an ingredient, stay away!  Anything with “hydrolyzed” or “partially hydrogenated” ingredients typically means a low quality product.  Some bars to stay away from are:
  • “Diet” and meal replacement bars like Atkins Meal Advantage, Zone Perfect Bars, South Beach Diet Bars, Slim-Fast Snack Bars, Balance Bars, Nutribar, Special K Meal Bars — which are all full of tons of processed soy, fake sugars, chemicals and additives.
  • Protein bars and sports bars like Pure Protein, PowerBar, Solid Protein by Nature’ Best — also full of processed soy, palm and canola oils, dairy, and unhealthy chemical sweeteners.
  • Pseudo-healthy bars like Kashi Go Lean bars, FiberOne Bars, Think Thin Bars — which, although slightly better than the bad guys above, are still full of processed ingredients, unhealthy oils, and sugar substitutes.
If you’re trying to bulk up your muscles and are working out a ton, a much healthier alternative to protein bars is a great shake with organic rice or hemp protein powder, fruit, and water or a nut milk!
Bottom line, derive your nutrition from REAL FOOD, not fake food substitutes.  If you need something quick to grab and go, grab something that is REAL FOOD (i.e.: nuts, fruit, whole grains) and not a food facsimile!  Just because something is “high protein,” “high fiber,” “low calorie,” or “sugar free” does not make it healthy — in fact, usually, it means the exact opposite!
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Natasha Uspensky, chhc
Holistic Health & Nutrition Counselor