Alisa’s Completely Informal Energy Bar Awards

Posted by on August 19, 2009 | 23 Comments

I don’t have a special logo to offer, and I haven’t held a formal panel to taste test every last bar on the market … but I have tasted quite a few bars (dozens in fact) and outgrown some brands as better options have come along … so I thought I would share the ones I keep going back for again and again.

To be considered for Alisa’s Completely Informal Energy Bar Awards, said bars must be dairy-free (that is, made without milk in any whey (sorry bad pun), shape, or form – casein-free, lactose-free, etc.). They also needed to be affordable and easily accessible. I have tried some positively delicious bars, but their price tag classifies them as an occasional special dessert rather than a daily dose of energy. As a side note, I also lean toward soy-free bars, as you will see.

With that in mind, the winners are (hearing drumroll in head) …

 

In the “Most Bang for Your Buck” Category: One Organic Food Bar

Think you can’t get a hearty, organic, energy bar for under a buck? Think again! I have only tried the Raspberry Muffin Crunch flavor thus far, but this tasty item combines a soft power bar-esque texture with some granola crunch. I love the price tag and the fact that it tastes good and keeps me going for an hour or two.

One Organic Food Bar - Raspberry Muffin Crunch

 

In the “Fiber-liciousness” Category: Gnu Bars

I love fiber – and I don’t mean from a health standpoint. I just love the taste of fiberous foods … whole grains, fruits, and veggies kick the pants off of processed white stuff according to the taste buds I grew up with. And this bar lets  you know it is filled with fiber AND no sugars! The soft, chewy, and crunch textures are a conglomeration of various whole grains, fruit juices, and fruit. I love that these taste like real flavors too; no “natural flavors” on the menu. The orange-cranberry bursts with sweet orange essence; seriously.

Gnu Bar - Cinnamon Raisin

  • This bar is Vegan (Dairy-Free / Egg-Free) and Soy-Free.
  • Nutrition per 45 g bar (may vary by flavor):  140 calories, 4 g fat, 30 g carbs, 4 g protein
  • My full Gnu Bar review on Go Dairy Free.

 

In the “Best Date in Town” Category: Clif Nectar

Don’t get me wrong, I do like Larabar. But something about the spices added and overall flavors of the Clif Nectar line put it one step ahead in my book. I also love that Mambo Sprouts seems to frequently offer Clif Nectar coupons, bringing it that much closer to well-priced. I am a bit concerned that the Nectar line is cutting back, since the Clif site only shows four flavors now, but hopefully this isn’t so.

(Sorry, no pic. Those date-based bars just don’t like to cooperate with the camera)

 

And in the “Seriously Exceeded Expectations” Category: Organic Green Superfood Bars

Truth be told, my husband would pick Odwalla Bars over these bars from Amazing Grass, but he really isn’t into dried fruit bases in bars. And honestly, I can’t pinpoint why I love these bars so much, I just do. The flavor hits those perfect notes of sweet, but not too sweet, flavorful, but not overpowering, and comforting. I greatly prefer the one without the chocolate coating (it just doesn’t meld in my opinion), but I have read reviews to the contrary on other blogs. Since this one is generally the priciest of the bunch (nearing $2), I reserve it for when I want to feel the virtue of chomping on some greens without the “green” taste. Note: I am a big fan of Amazing Grass SuperFood, which is used in this bar, so my palate may be biased.

Amazing Grass Organic Green SuperFood Bars

  • This bar is Vegan (Dairy-Free / Egg-Free), Soy-Free (chocolate one has soy lecithin), and Gluten-Free.
  • Nutrition per 60 g bar (may vary by flavor):  230 calories, 8 g fat, 36 g carbs, 5 g protein
  • My full SuperFood review on Go Dairy Free.
  •  

    Finding the Best Price:

    In my opinion, there is no magical one way to find a great deal on “bars.” Rather I scour a few options and when the deal looks hot, I strike and load up. These are the places I always look:

    • Local weekly / monthly grocery ads (available online too)
    • Coupons (in the paper, in stores, and online)
    • Company Website (they often offer deals direct to consumers)
    • Amazon Deals (change each month, great place for bars)

     

    Three questions for you:

    What are your favorite bars? Do we share some common tastes, or did I miss a gem?

    Why do the calorie count and nutrient grams never calculate out properly on bars? When I multiply out the protein (4 calories per gram), carbs (4 calories per gram), and fat (9 calories per gram) listed on bars to calculate calories, they rarely match the calories listed on the bars! More of a curiosity really.

    Dairy-free and soy-free protein bars are hard to come by (the above are what I classify as “energy” or “snack” bars) … so, I make my own at home. Would you be interested in my recipe for homemade dairy-free, soy-free protein bars?

    Comments (23)

     

    1. VeggieGirl says:

      My favorite bars = PURE bars and Larabars!!

    2. I love energy and breakfast bars! Right now, my daughter and I are eating Nature Valley’s breakfast bars of different flavors, but we will soon need a new one (always trying new things). Thanks for the recommendations, will check these out.

    3. Katherine says:

      thanks for the heads up on the energy bars. When you’re in a hurry, you don’t always have time to read labels, this is a great guide to go by.

    4. Ariel says:

      I love Pure bars and Larabars! Clif Nectar and Raw Organic Food bars are good, too. I rarely buy bars because they are pretty expensive, but I’d like to try making them at home. I’m definitely interested in your recipe!

    5. Ariel says:

      Oh, another bar that you might like is the Optimum Energy bar, especially in Orange Chocolate.

    6. Maida says:

      It’s funny you should be curious about calories. My husband came across this article last month. You might find it interesting:

      http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20327171.200-the-calorie-delusion-why-food-labels-are-wrong.html

    7. RunToFinish says:

      Heart Thrive!! I adore them! I too was completely surprised by the green bar, it was indeed tasty..since I didn’t really like their mixes

    8. Jennifer R. says:

      I would love your bar recipes 🙂

      We like larabars and organic food bars… most recently are trying Raw Revolution (vegan, kosher, uncooked, no refined sugars, non GMO, and soy free) as well as Andrew Weil’s bars (by Nature’s Path — Vegan, nothing artificial, no added sugars, no GMO’s). All yummy and enjoyed by my kids too — a requirement in our household!

    9. Justine says:

      Ahhh!! Your the Go Dairy Free chick. Awesome. My buddy Heabs is a big fan of yours and I think her and I started going dairy free around the same. I really need to get my hands on your book from Heabs.

      Thanks for all the reviews. I have never been much of a bar person. I have been wanting to try out some raw bars though. I heard they make a great dessert 🙂

      ~Justine

    10. Hannah says:

      Re: Nutrition information- Food manufacturer’s have a certain margin of error for the calorie count, so the labels could be off by as much as 50 – 100 calories in some cases, depending on the total calorie count (the higher to begin with, the more likely there are some discrepancies). Fascinating, bizarre, and somewhat unnerving stuff.

    11. Joanne says:

      I have been eating energy bars like these before my long runs because I have to get up SO early and don’t want to have a real voluminous breakfast beforehand. Larabars are currently my bar of choice because they only have 3 ingredients and have a good ratio of fat:simple sugars:complex carbs. I will have to give some of these a try though. I love your reviews – so helpful since there are SO many bars out there and I hate wasting money on ones I don’t end up liking.

    12. Brandi says:

      Hey Alisa – wow! I am in food research heaven! So much wicked information – I am glad to have found you!

    13. Savannah says:

      I would love your bar recipe!

    14. Sarena says:

      As always, a recipe is great! I really use the nutritional information as a guideline more than for actually information. I am a calorie counter, but I know that there is always wiggle room. I also learned that all things that are labeled “lactose free” are not always that. They just have to be below a certain amount to qualify! Now that is scary for people like me!

    15. Andrea says:

      Thanks for this information. I mainly buy bars when I travel, and usually end up with Clif bars crunchy peanut butter flavor, which can often be found for 99 cents. I’m tired of those, and have kind of stopped liking the taste – too sweet. I’ll look for the ones you recommended. I like dried fruit bars a lot.

    16. fresh365 says:

      Thanks for the roundup! i have only tried a few of these, so I will have to check the others out. I’m sure your version tastes great though- I would love to hear the recipe!

    17. Leena says:

      Great roundup! I’m a big fan of the Clif Necter bars, but Larabars are my favorite! I would love to see your recipe too!

    18. sas says:

      I used to LOVE Gnu bars before I found out about my food allergies. My husband, who does not have the same dietary restrictions, still eats the Gnu with great abandon. They are awesome if you can eat gluten, soy, etc. Now, I eat Lara bars instead–yum yum. Before my food allergies, I also adored Carman’s Muesli bars (though they were sometimes tough to find).

    19. laura says:

      haha, this is great. im always looking for the least processed energy bars around, and i love the “organic food bars.” so glad you did a review of them =)

    20. I would! And the organic food bar is my go to for travelling. One of the best in my opinion, health wise and taste wise.

    21. OMG fabulous post! This is my 1st comment on your bloggie, I found you via Justine, Confessions of a SAHM. I am vegan, so inherently dairy free. But I am also gluten and soy free. Therefore, processed bars dont really fit into my life that much b/c they contain either gluten or soy or of course dairy. So, I actually just drink brown rice protein shakes OR I make homemade Larabars which I have blogged about. But honestly, I love the taste of fake powerbar-esque foods and would probably love any of these bars if I could eat them LOL. You’re goin’ in my googlereader!

    22. Dee says:

      Just found your blog hopping through from one gf to another! Thanks for the list — I’d never heard of some of them.

      My favorite bar is organic Pure bars:

      http://www.thepurebar.com/whatispurebar2.htm

      no gluten, soy, or dairy

      Favorite flavors Cranberry Orange and Chocolate Brownie; my husband likes Apple.

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