Product Review: Quest Bar Cinnamon Roll Protein Bar

Quest Bar Cinnamon Roll Protein Bar
Quest Bar Cinnamon Roll Protein Bar

Product: Quest Bar Cinnamon Roll Protein Bar – $2.39+

I’m finding I am very on-the-fence about these bars.  I’d heard so much good buzz about them, but I’m still not sure I actually like them or not.  HA!  Does that sound odd?  I believe most of it has to do with the texture more than anything else.  Because the flavor, much like last time, was there.  And, thank the protein bar gods…this was still chewy…but not as chewy as the Chocolate Peanut Butter one…so at least my jaw didn’t get tired and start hurting.

That being said…it’s Sunday.  And sometimes on Sunday I just don’t have time to prepare a breakfast.  I am usually very busy.  So, when this happens…it’s always nice to have something in the apartment that I can just grab-and-go.  My stash of gluten-free protein bars definitely fits that bill.  And when things were getting hectic and go…go…go…today, I was happy to have packed one of the protein bars from the kitchen.

I know…real food is best…but a Cinnamon Roll flavored protein bar is probably more nutritious than a real cinnamon roll.  It is, however, not as delicious.

So, let’s get down to the (literal) nitty-gritty of this product, shall we?

Since I love cinnamon rolls.  Honestly…there is really nothing better than a hot, gooey, fresh cinnamon roll.  They have always been one of my favorite breakfast pastries…but they are so guilt-inducing.  Not that it stops me from downing one or two at a time.  The thing is…they are tasty, they are awesome, but they aren’t exactly healthy.

Quest Bar is striving to bring some of the best and most popular flavor combinations that happen in nature to their line-up of protein bars.  I tried the Chocolate Peanut Butter bar about a week ago and was…eh.  So, today…Cinnamon Roll.  Because Sundays are just good cinnamon roll days.

As I was on the road in the middle of my errands this morning, I was definitely needing some form of sustenance.  Thank goodness I packed both Cathy and I one of our protein bars.  I handed her the LäraBar that she likes and I broke into the wrapper of the Quest Bar Cinnamon Roll Protein Bar.  I loved that I could see flecks of cinnamon in the bar itself.  That was really cool.  And it smelled like…a cinnamon roll.  This was definitely promising.

I went to tear off a piece to try…and realized that it had the sort of softy and chewy texture the previous one had.  So, I wasn’t sure what to make of that.  But I popped it into my mouth and began to chew.  It did taste like a lightly seasoned cinnamon roll.  I will give this bar that.  The flavor was spot-on.  And it felt a lot lighter than the Chocolate Peanut Butter bar that I ate last week.  It was chewy, but it didn’t hurt my jaw to work on it like last time.  Improvement.  I broke off a bit for Cathy to try and she also isn’t too sold on the texture…but she liked it better than the previous one as well.  And we’re both chocolate peanut butter fans…so go figure.  This bar had a bit of grittiness to it, I’m assuming from the cinnamon that is incorporated into it.  It took a few bites to get used to, but it was decent enough.

Ingredients in the Quest Bar Cinnamon Roll Protein Bar include: protein blend (whey protein isolate, milk protein isolate), isomalto-oligosaccharides* (prebiotic fiber), almonds, water, and erythritol.  This bar contains less than 2% of the following: sea salt, stevia, lo han guo, natural flavors, and cinnamon.  It is gluten-free, contains no artificial sweeteners, and is practically guilt free.

This leads us to the nutritional portion of the Quest Bar Cinnamon Roll Protein Bar.  A serving size is 1 bar.  This bar will provide you with 170 calories and 6 grams of fat.  You will be taking in 5 mg cholesterol, 280 mg sodium, and only 1 gram of sugar.  LOVE that low sugar!  Also, you will be taking in 17 grams of fiber and 20 grams of sugar.  YES…this bar will actually fill you up!  Trust me.

So, for me, I’m struggling with the chewy texture (which is better than being rock solid…but…it’s a lot of work to chew that much).  In fact, I’m just not 100% sold on these bars.  While the flavors are definitely there…mild…but there…the actual bar itself is just…okay.  Sure, it tastes fantastic, but damn…I just don’t want to chew 100 times in order to swallow one bite.

I have one more variety of this brand to try…so we’ll see how it fares.  As for now…not looking likely that I’ll actively seek these out.  Would I eat them again?  Sure.  But if there are other options, I’d probably go with those first.

Quest Bar Cinnamon Roll Protein Bar (unwrapped)
Quest Bar Cinnamon Roll Protein Bar (unwrapped)

Product Review: Quest Bar Chocolate Peanut Butter

Quest Bar Chocolate Peanut Butter
Quest Bar Chocolate Peanut Butter

Product: Quest Bar Chocolate Peanut Butter – $2.39+

So, I’ve been slowly working my way through different high protein bars…because…I am.  Because, sometimes I have to eat on the go, and they are an easy-to-grab snack/meal.  They are also great on race days when I might not be going anywhere fast and will need something to hold me over until I next get to eat.

That was what happened today.

I ran a 10K race in Frankfort, Kentucky…and since I placed in both the race and the racing series…I was now staying at the scene of the crime…er…race…for a bit longer than anticipated.  No problem.  I come prepared for these such occasions.

For quite a long while now, I’ve been hearing my friends rave about Quest Bar.  But I couldn’t find them.  Anywhere.  What it took was a trip to Jungle Jim’s in Cincinnati, Ohio.  They were in the gluten-free section…and I grabbed a few to try.  They didn’t have the flavor everyone was raving about, but they had some that sounded beyond delicious…so…why not give them a try?

Except…despite toting these places with me, I never really needed them.  That’s not a bad thing…it just means I was around actual food instead.  But today…today that changed.

So, as I settled in on the steps of the Kentucky State Capitol, I removed my Quest Bar from the backpack my roomie has with her.  It was a bit misshapen.  Unfortunately.  That’s from toting it around to all those other events…in the heat…and having it soften and then harden back up.  That’s fine.  If it tastes good…it doesn’t have to look perfect.

But that was the question…would it taste good?

I broke off a bit for my roommate to try and she took a bite…and chewed…and chewed…and chewed…

“How is it?”

“Chewy.”

Thanks for that!  Since it was the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar…I was hoping it would taste like a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup.  I took a bite.  And began to chew…and chew…and chew…damn…it was chewy…

It didn’t taste like a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup.  Not at all.  It tasted like a really chewy hunk of chocolate…with a bit of nutty flavor and texture mixed in.  It wasn’t bad.  But…my jaw was already starting to hurt from working so hard on this bar.  I am seriously hoping that this chewy texture (overly chewy!) was really brought on by having the bar melt a couple times in the heat and then reform.  Because…by the third bite…my jaw was done with chewing and I still had half a bar left.  Which I did manage to finish.  And then give my jaw a much needed break.  Back to the flavor though…the peanut butter part was really hidden under the flavor of the chocolate.  It was just an undertone.  And I don’t know if that was on purpose or not…but peanut butter is my favorite thing in life…so I was just expecting more of it to shine through.  Peanut butter and chocolate are best mates and a classic combination…so this works.  The flavor was good.  Like eating dessert…without it being overly sweet.

It will be interesting to see how the next bar is as far as chewiness.  Because now I’m curious!

Let’s look at the ingredients in this high protein and low carb bar, shall we?  The Quest Bar Chocolate Peanut Butter is made from a protein blend (whey protein isolate, milk protein isolate),  Isomalto-Oligosaccharides* (Prebiotic Fiber), peanuts, water, erythritol,  and cocoa. This bar also contains less than 2% of the following: sea salt, stevia, lo han guo, and natural flavors. This bar is High Fiber, Gluten Free, and sweetened without the use of sugar or artificial sweeteners.

A serving size of the Quest Bar Chocolate Peanut Butter is 1 bar.  This bar provides you with 160 calories and 5 grams of fat.  You also will be taking in 5 mg cholesterol, 25 mg sodium, and 2 grams of sugar.  This bar provides your body with 255 mg potassium.  And finally, you will be consuming 25 grams carbohydrates, 17 grams of fiber and 20 grams of protein.

Trust me…you’ll feel full!

So, as I said, this bar wasn’t bad…it was just…not really what I was expecting.  It was the perfect thing after my race though, when I knew it would be awhile before I ate anything.  It definitely held me over for hours and I ran some errands and even settled in a bit at home before I even thought about making an early dinner.  The flavor was good…and I’m really hoping the next one isn’t as chewy.

Guess we’ll find out.

Quest Bar Chocolate Peanut Butter (unwrapped with a chunk torn out of it)
Quest Bar Chocolate Peanut Butter (unwrapped with a chunk torn out of it)

Product Review: Betty Lou’s Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Nut Butter Balls

Betty Lou's Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Nut Butter Balls
Betty Lou’s Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Nut Butter Balls

Product: Betty Lou’s Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Nut Butter Balls – $1.69+

I’ve gotta be on a peanut butter protein bar (or ball, in this case) kick this week.  Because after wrapping up with the sample GoMacro Peanut Butter Macrobars, I immediately dug into my snack drawer and pulled out one of the other cash register treats I picked up at the Raisin Rack in Columbus, Ohio.  This time, it was from a company I was familiar with.  When I was in Denver, Colorado two years ago, I picked up a couple of different flavors of Betty Lou’s Gluten-Free Fruit Bars.  Well…when something uses the phrase gluten-free with the words peanut butter…trust me…you have my full and undivided attention.

And that, in a nutshell (see what I did there?) is how I came home with one of Betty Lou’s Gluten-Free Nut Butter Balls.  Specifically…the peanut butter one.

Betty Lou, the owner of Betty Lou’s Inc., believes that there is a connection between what people eat and how they feel.  I couldn’t agree more.  As I have taken more to eating clean, I find that I feel much better.  And when I don’t…I can tell.  Almost 32 years ago, Betty Lou made a conscious decision to remove refined sugar from her family’s diet…and in doing so, began to create recipes that were made with honey and brown rice syrup instead.  She fine-tuned each recipe and made everything with the best, healthiest, cutting edge ingredients.  Today, 32 years later, that same practice is in place and all of Betty Lou’s healthy, all-natural, gluten-free products have to live up to the highest of standards.  Good ingredients…never compromising taste.

I thoroughly enjoyed the three versions of Betty Lou’s Gluten-Free Fruit Bars that I picked up in Colorado.  So…now it was peanut butter’s time to shine.  I hoped.

When my morning snack time rolled around, I pulled the Betty Lou’s Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Nut Butter Ball out and opened it up.  I tried to be careful with it, so that the wrapper wouldn’t be torn in the picture…but…that didn’t happen.  After taking the picture for the blog, I pulled out my butter knife from my desk (I keep a set of silverware in my drawer) and sliced off a piece for my roommate to try.  I had a bit of a time cutting through the actual nut butter ball itself, and it was shedding the peanuts that speckled the outside of it like crazy.  Nonetheless, a little elbow grease, and some upper body strength…and voila…I had a piece for Cathy to try.  I took my own bite…and began to chew.

And chew.  And chew.  And chew some more.  In fact, the Betty Lou’s Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Nut Butter Ball…was kind of tough.  It seemed like the heat from my mouth actually had to warm it up to make it pliable.  And then it was like chewing caramel that has gotten solid rather than soft.  You just keep chewing and chewing and chewing until it eventually dissolves enough that you can safely swallow it.

That…was how I felt eating this.  And I only took a small bite.

I took Cathy her piece and awaited her thoughts.  They actually mirrored my own.  While the Betty Lou’s Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Nut Butter Ball had a much better and more predominant peanut butter flavor than the GoMacro Peanut Butter Macrobar (see review just ahead of this one!), it wasn’t soft nor easy to really eat.  In fact, I might have burned more calories eating the thing than it gave my body.  My jaw was totally getting a workout.  So, it was a shame about the texture, but the flavor was really good.  And the little roll in peanuts to have them speckle the top of the nut butter ball itself was genius.  It just adds to the flavor for sure.

So…really on the fence on this one.  If it had been softer and easier to eat, I think this would have been a runaway hit.  But…as it was…my jaw started to ache after awhile and soon I found myself just wishing it was gone already.  I ate it, although it took awhile and many a chew break…but found it tasty, regardless.  I might be a little hesitant to pick one up next time, however.  Just for the sheer fact that it was like gnawing on tough caramel rather than diving into a rich, smooth peanut buttery treat.

So, what makes up Betty Lou’s Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Nut Butter Balls?  The listed ingredients are organic agave syrup, peanut butter, whey protein blend, peanuts, inulin (dietary fiber), whey protein crisps, natural peanut extract, water, vanilla extract, potassium citrate, magnesium citrate, pure sunflower lecithin, sea salt, mixed tocoherols (natural vitamin E).  Clean eating this is not.  In fact, it has some crazy vitamin’s getting mixed in there as well.  I can’t pronounce them…and therefore will not type them.  The Peanut Butter Nut Butter Ball contains no trans fat, no corn, no soy and is non-GMO.  This ball contains electrolytes.

So, a bit of a letdown as far as ingredients.  I was hoping for more natural ingredients.

As for nutrition, one serving is one of the Nut Butter Balls.  The Betty Lou’s Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Nut Butter Ball serves up 180 calories and 8 grams of fat.  The fat is mostly derived from the peanuts and peanut butter though, so keep that in mind.  You will be taking in 10 mg cholesterol, 130 mg sodium, and 12 grams of sugar.  In addition, you will be consuming 5 grams of filling fiber and a whopping 15 grams of protein.

I don’t know if I will try any other of the Nut Butter Balls that Betty Lou’s offers.  This one really didn’t win me over with the texture of it.  The flavor was amazing, but…I don’t like having my jaw hurt just to eat a snack.  Had this been softer, I think it would have been a complete winner.  I think I’ll stick to the Gluten-Free Fruit Bars when it comes to Betty Lou’s products.  I just wasn’t impressed with the Betty Lou’s Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Nut Butter Ball.  At all.

Product Review: Oskri Fig Dark Chocolate Bar

Oskri Fig Dark Chocolate Bar
Oskri Fig Dark Chocolate Bar

Product: Oskri Fig Dark Chocolate Bar – $1.99+

Dark Chocolate.  Fig.

Two of my favorite things to eat right now.  There was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to try this bar.  I had, actually, never heard of this particular bar before…until my friend Jenn took me to her local natural foods store, Raisin Rack, and there I found all sorts of little delights I didn’t even know existed.  In fact, this wasn’t even on my radar until we went to check out.  I had filled the basket (maybe overfilled) as my roomie told me I could get whatever I could fit into the medium basket offered at the store.  Jenn and I set out on the task to Tetris as much stuff into the basket as possible.  It was full…but there were some goodies up by the register.  I grabbed a couple of them when Cathy told me to go ahead and do so.

One of them…was the Oskri Fig Dark Chocolate Bar.

I carried this bar with me for an entire weekend when my friend Indy was visiting from California.  Why?  Because I wasn’t certain with the restaurants we were trying, whether I would be able to eat anything or not.  But, thankfully, all the restaurants could work within my dietary restrictions.  However, on Sunday morning, we were heading up to Cincinnati to go shopping at Jungle Jim’s…and we got a case of the munchies on the way.

As Indy had never had White Castle from White Castle…she and Cathy went to get some food there.  I can’t eat anything at White Castle…but I did have the Oskri Fig Dark Chocolate Bar in my purse.  Victory.  I knew I carried little protein and snack bars around with me for a reason.  As they dug into their sliders and chicken rings, I tore open my Oskri Fig Dark Chocolate Bar and took an initial, tentative bite.

Why I was worried, I don’t know.  The best way I know how to describe this bar is by saying it tasted like a chocolate Fig Newton.  Now, I went gluten-free three years ago…and I haven’t had Fig Newtons since then.  Which sucks, as they were always one of my favorite snacks.  Yes…they are filled with high fructose corn syrup and other chemicals, but I loved them.  I really did.  And this…this was a Fig Newton…but…it was SO much more than a Fig Newton.  It was dark chocolate.  And the dark chocolate paired perfectly with the fig.  Honestly…this is now one of my favorite flavor profiles.  I had to rein myself in.  I wanted to enjoy every bite of this bar.  The dark chocolate was the perfect bittersweet complement to the texture and taste of the fig.  Actually, the way the bar was described, I thought I was going to be getting a chocolate coated fig bar.  But what I have is something akin to a Lärabar.  The bar is 100% fig, but doesn’t have that gritty texture that often products made from fig have.  And I loved every bite.  I savored it for as long as possible, but all good snacks do come to an end.

Ingredients in the Oskri Fig Dark Chocolate Bar are really straightforward.  They include figs (80%) and dark chocolate (20%).  If you are looking for a clean-eating snack, this just might be your new go-to!  Two ingredients…and they are both healthy!  This bar is gluten-free and vegetarian.  It is also cholesterol free.

Nutritionally speaking, the serving size of the Oskri Fig Dark Chocolate Bar is 1 bar.  This bar will serve you up 172 calories and 2 grams of fat.  That’s not bad for a snack bar.  This bar contains no sodium, but does have 26 grams of sugar.  YIKES!!  That’s a lot of sugar.  I blame the natural sugars in the figs as well as…the dark chocolate.  So…really I blame both ingredients.  Still…this bar is total yum!  This bar is guaranteed to fill you up though, touting 5 grams of filling fiber and 2 grams of protein.

Yeah…when I head to the Raisin Rack next time I am in Columbus, Ohio…I’m buying more of these.  I will buy as many as I think I can get away with.  Yes, the sugar content is a bit high, but…damn…nothing like snacking on a healthier version of a Fig Newton.  Except…it’s better…because it’s Dark Chocolate.  If you see these at your local natural food stores…don’t hesitate to buy one.  Trust me…you’ll be glad you did.  In fact, you might want to pick up more than one.  Do not make the same mistake I did.

Oskri Fig Dark Chocolate Bar (unwrapped)
Oskri Fig Dark Chocolate Bar (unwrapped)

Product Review: KIND Healthy Grains Dark Chocolate Chunk Bars

KIND Healthy Grains Dark Chocolate Chunk Bars
KIND Healthy Grains Dark Chocolate Chunk Bars

Product: KIND Healthy Grains Dark Chocolate Chunk Bars – $3.99+

Granola bars.

While there are gluten-free options out there for granola bars, it is something that I gave up when I had to go gluten-free.  Why?  I just didn’t find any that tasted…right…or good for that matter.  Sure, there are plenty of fruit and nut bars out there, but when you think granola bar, you think of oats and that chewy-sticky goodness that you get with each bite.  That was what I wanted.  And that was not what I was finding.

Until…

KIND once again rose to the occasion.

I keep becoming so indebted to KIND because their products are superb.  Honestly.  I wouldn’t keep going back to KIND bars and KIND Healthy Grain Clusters time after time after time.  Lord knows, these days there are plenty of delicious and gluten-free options when it comes to protein bars and granola.  But there is something so spectacular about the products that KIND puts out.  I trust them with my food budget.  I really do.

So, imagine my glee the day I stepped into my local grocery store and went to scope out the Manager’s Special shelves and found the KIND Healthy Grains Bars on the shelf.  They had the discounted price ticket on there.  The only flavor being offered at the discounted price was the KIND Healthy Grains Dark Chocolate Chunk Bars…so that’s what came home with me.  Two boxes of them.  That meant, without any idea of how they tasted…I invested in 10 bars (they come 5 to a box).  But I didn’t even flinch…because it was KIND.

Sadly, these just sort of sat in my drawer of protein bars and race day snackies up until the other day.  I was working my way through the pantry that I totally forgot about those in that drawer.  And, with my sprained ankle, I hadn’t been racing or running so there was no reason for me to open that drawer.  It slipped my mind.  Until…I started running again.  I noticed the boxes in the drawer and knew it was time to bust them out for one of my work snacks.  It would be just like the old days.  A morning snack of a “granola” bar.  But this…this is even better than a granola bar.  It tastes better…has actual real ingredients…and it has more (and better) nutritional value.  Trust me.

I couldn’t wait for snack time to roll around the other day.  Honestly.  I had the bar out on my desk…anticipating it.  Wanting to see if it was any good.  Needing to know if it lived up to the high standards that KIND set for its products with me in the past.  And when it was time, I tore into that wrapper and broke off a corner of the Healthy Grains Bar.  The first thing I noticed was this didn’t snap away.  The bar itself is very light and soft.  You definitely get that hint of sticky-soft goodness from the honey, which helps to also sweeten the oats and other grains that are used in the making of these bars.  The dark chocolate chunks provide this amazing sweetness that doesn’t detract from the rest of the bar, but works with it…bringing out all the other flavors.  And I love that hint of coconut flavor you get right at the end.  Honestly…one of the best bars I have ever consumed.  EVER!  Even better…I don’t feel guilty about this little indulgence, because it’s not really an indulgence.  The name of this product says it all – HEALTHY Grains Bars.  Add in that sweet hint of heart-healthy dark chocolate and you have my new favorite snack in life.

So, what all goes into the KIND Healthy Grains Dark Chocolate Chunk Bars?  Well, KIND never hides anything when it comes to their products.  That’s why their packaging and wrappers have large open windows.  They honestly have nothing to hide.  At all.  The KIND Healthy Grains Dark Chocolate Chunk Bars are a blend of whole grains (which include gluten-free oats, brown rice, millet, gluten-free oat flour, buckwheat, amaranth, and quinoa), tapioca syrup, evaporated cane juice, honey, non-GMO canola oil, coconut, chocolate liquor, sugar, brown rice syrup, molasses, gum acacia, sea salt, vanilla extract, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, and natural vitamin E.

How does it stack up nutritionally?  Not too bad at all.  A serving of the KIND Healthy Grains Dark Chocolate Chunk Bars is one bar.  This bar will provide 150 calories and 4.5 grams of fat.  One bar will also provide you with only 65 mg sodium and 9 grams of sugar.  You will also be getting 3 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein…so you actually do feel full after eating one.  These are gluten-free and cholesterol-free.

If you’re looking for a healthy snack that you can easily pack and take with you…anywhere…I highly recommend KIND Healthy Grains Dark Chocolate Chunk Bars.  They remind me, a lot, of the homemade granola bars I used to make.  Flavor is SUPER fantastic.  Texture and feel is spot on.  And that chocolate…tames even the biggest sweet tooth.  My snack time just got a lot sweeter….without the extra sugar and…additives.  Thank you, KIND, for products that I’m proud to have right out on my desk.

KIND Healthy Grains Dark Chocolate Chunk Bars
KIND Healthy Grains Dark Chocolate Chunk Bars

NuGo offers nutritious on-the-go snacks that taste as good as they sound (and they taste awesome!)

There is always that fear when I hit the road.  As a gluten-free (and vegetarian) athlete, grabbing food from a fast food joint just isn’t an option.  And, let’s face it, some of the “safe” snacks at those convenience stores along the way are still a bit daunting when you’re on the road.  All it takes is for one thing to not be right and you’re down for the count with some stomach issues.

I wasn’t taking any chances this past weekend when I hit the road with my roomie, Cathy, and my good friend Jenn.  While those two can eat pretty much anywhere and anything that sounds good…I had to watch it.  I needed to be sure nothing I consumed would make me sick…or hit me wrong.

So…now was as good a time as any to test out new protein bars, yes?

Sometimes my logic is astounding, I know.

Anyway…I had packed from home two NuGo bars to eat on the road if needed.  And thank goodness I did.

 

NuGo Dark Mint Chocolate Chip Bar
NuGo Dark Mint Chocolate Chip Bar

Product: NuGo Dark Mint Chocolate Chip Bar – $3.29+

We left Jenn’s house before the sun was even thinking about rising, having just eaten a few pieces of watermelon to at least get something in our stomachs until we stopped somewhere for food.  That occurred shortly after putting gas in the gar, and getting some coffee from Starbucks.  Cathy and Jenn were making noises about a quick drive thru at McDonalds.  While milling about the convenience store that had the Starbucks attached, I spotted a few things of interest…Chobani yogurt, some fruit cups…but I said I would find something in the food I brought along.  After all, that’s why I bring it along.  So, we got our coffee (caffeine…finally!) and headed over for them to grab their breakfast orders.

And so…we were off.

And as they noshed on their breakfast…I dug around in the little red duffel of snacks and good stuff and grabbed a small box of raisins and the NuGo Dark Mint Chocolate Chip Bar.

Now, I had previously had NuGo Dark Chocolate Trail Mix Bar while at an airport and starving.  I loved it.  I remember that much.  So, I was having high hopes for this variety as well.  And…come on…it’s dark chocolate and mint.  That’s the most epic combination…anywhere.  Who doesn’t like mint and chocolate?  I unwrapped the bar and could immediately smell the hints of mint and that bittersweet aroma of (my favorite) dark chocolate!

I broke off a piece and had to test it out…immediately.

Remember Thin Mint Cookies?  You know…those addictive little cookies that the Girl Scouts tempt you with every year?  Well, they were my favorite back when I could eat them.  And I’ve been without them for two years now.  Two long years.  Well, I can honestly say that the NuGo Dark Mint Chocolate Chip Bar reminds me of what a Thin Mint Cookie tasted like.  Honestly.  I think that’s why I somewhat hoovered and somewhat savored this bar.  I went between wanting to devour it for sheer nostalgia and the fact that it tasted so damn good…to wanting to make each and every bite last.  It was the only one I currently had, after all.

This bar is sheer dark chocolate minty love in an easy to unwrap package.  What’s even better…is that it is actually good for you.  Let’s take a look at the nutrition.

A serving size is one bar.  This one bar will give you a hit of dark chocolate and mint at the cost of only 200 calories and 5 grams of fat.  This one bar is cholesterol free and low in sodium (only 160 mg).  You will receive 1 gram of fiber and 10 grams of protein.  While the fiber count is low…the protein helps bulk it up and make it a filling choice for a bar.  The sugar count is a bit high for my liking (14 grams), but it tastes like a Thin Mint Cookie…so…I’ll indulge a little this time.

As far as ingredients go, it starts out with dark chocolate, soy crisps (which sort of gives it some texture and that crispness that gives it that Thin Mint Cookie crackle), tapioca syrup, agave syrup, chocolate rice crisp (more crispiness), soy protein, alkalized cocoa, brown rice flour, natural flavor, peppermint extract, and gum acacia.  I’m familiar with the ingredients that these are made out of, putting my mind to ease about what I might actually be consuming.  That’s always a nice relief.

For a bar that tastes like you’re indulging in a sweet, dark chocolate treat…I highly recommend NuGo Dark Mint Chocolate Chip.  Honestly…one of the best out on the market.

NuGo Dark Mint Chocolate Chip Bar (unwrapped)
NuGo Dark Mint Chocolate Chip Bar (unwrapped)
NuGo Dark Chocolate Pretzel with Sea Salt
NuGo Dark Chocolate Pretzel with Sea Salt

Product: NuGo Dark Chocolate Pretzel with Sea Salt

Salty or sweet?  Some people like one or the other.  Me?  I’m a fan of the combination.  I love having that sweetness of chocolate (especially bittersweet dark chocolate) with something salty underneath.  Before going gluten-free, chocolate covered pretzels were my kryptonite.  Put them anywhere near me, and the entire bag would be gone in a blink of an eye.  I can’t help myself when given something both salty and sweet.  For me…it’s the perfect combination.

So, on the way home on this road trip out to Utica, New York for an epic 15K road race (The Boilermaker), my lunch on-the-go (or on the way to ice cream) was the other NuGo bar that I packed from home.  This time, it was the NuGo Dark Chocolate Pretzel with Sea Salt variety.  Once again, I tore into the wrapper and unveiled a dark chocolate hugged bar.  I could see the texture of the crisps that make up the body of the bar.  And if the Mint Chocolate Chip variety was any indication of how epic this bar could be…I was already salivating.

Once again, I broke off a piece and popped it into my mouth.  I immediately got hit with the sweetness of the dark chocolate that completely coated this bar.  The crispy texture from the crisps inside was perfect.  And the combination worked.  The crispiness of the crunchy pretzels sprinkled with sea salt and the bittersweet flavor of the chocolate just ignited my taste buds.  Totally delicious.

So, let’s talk nutrition on this one.  One serving is an entire bar.  YUM!  This serving will serve you 200 calories and 5 grams of fat.  Due to the inclusion of sea salt, the sodium count is only slightly higher (360 mg).  This bar is still cholesterol free, however.  Additionally, you get 2 grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein.  Once again, the sugar count was a bit high for my liking (15 grams), but every now and again, it wouldn’t hurt to indulge a little in one of these bars.

Trust me…this is definitely worth trying.  While I didn’t like this one as much as the Dark Mint Chocolate Chip variety, this one was good for its own reasons and a bar I would certainly eat again.

NuGo Dark Chocolate Pretzel with Sea Salt (unwrapped)
NuGo Dark Chocolate Pretzel with Sea Salt (unwrapped)

Both of these bars are not only low in fat and high in protein, but they are both also certified gluten-free, vegan, pareve, certified kosher, rich with antioxidants, healthy, and made with real dark chocolate.

And both are super, super delicious!!  If you are looking for a good protein bar that doesn’t taste like chemicals…these two flavors from NuGo are good options for anyone.  I know they’ll find their way back into my pantry very soon.

Try them…you’ll thank me later.

(Pssst…especially the NuGo Dark Mint Chocolate Chip!)

Caramel Fudge a definite flavor-winner for thinkThin high protein bars

thinkThin Caramel Fudge High Protein Bar
thinkThin Caramel Fudge High Protein Bar

Product: thinkThin Caramel Fudge High Protein Bar – $1.99+

It’s sometimes hit or miss when it comes to protein bars.  Honestly.  They can be amazing…or they can taste like cardboard…or worse.  Yes…there have been worse.  But, for me, with the exception of one bar so far, thinkThin has not let me down.  In fact, a majority of the products I have tried from thinkThin have been good.  Some even really good.  Some better than really good.

Due to a sale at my local grocery store, I ended up picking up a couple of these bars because, for the most part, I can trust them to be filling and taste good.  Hey…I’ll eat something that is just “good.”  I might be a little picky when it comes to flavors, but if it’s edible, I will eat it.  That being said, I picked up one I previously reviewed…Creamy Peanut Butter…and then the Caramel Fudge.

This past weekend I was out of town…which meant I needed to pack the onslaught of protein bars in case I was hungry and there was nothing around for me to eat.  At conventions, that can happen.  And it did.  Honestly.  Thankfully, I have learned to always be prepared.

On Sunday morning, however, after a 7 mile run, I returned to the room to shower and eat breakfast.  I had brought apples, raisins, and peanut butter to make apple sandwiches for my roommate and I, but I also knew it would be awhile before we were going to eat lunch…so we decided to split the thinkThin Caramel Fudge High Protein Bar.

Before I get into the taste, I figure I’ll hit up the general nutritional info on these bars.  First of all, what I love about thinkThin’s High Protein Bars are that they contain around 15-20 grams of protein per bar (which 1 bar is a serving).  That’s awesome.  They are gluten-free and sugar-free as well.  I appreciate that especially as I start to lean toward more clean eating…while balancing a very active lifestyle.  This particular flavor of bar contains 240 calories and 9 grams of fat.  In addition to that, you get only 300 mg of sodium and less than 5 mg of cholesterol.  One of the Caramel Fudge bars has only 1 gram of fiber and then 20 grams of protein.  For the active and protein challenged like me, this is an ideal choice for a snack before or after a run.  Honestly.

But…the big question loomed.  How would it taste?

I sliced the bar in half, the chocolate coating giving way to the nougat-like caramel filling that it surrounded.  Given that this was the Caramel Fudge flavor from thinkThin, this is a good thing.  It was also good that this bar smelled like chocolate covered caramel.  So far, so good.  Taste-wise…well…

It tasted a lot like it smelled…sweet and a little salty.  One of my favorite combinations.  So, it was a bit like having a chocolate covered salty caramel goodie.  And salted caramel is one of the best things in the world, if you ask me.  Really.  It is.  What I loved about the flavor of this one is that it didn’t taste like the protein that is added to it.  Too often, that protein powder is so evident in protein bars, but not this one.  This had a very smooth flavor.  The chocolate had the right amount of sweetness to make it feel like a treat as well.  The chocolate shell was soft, but had this crispness to it when it was split in half.  It was nice.  The texture was moist without being chalky…making it very palatable.  Yeah…I totally fell in love with this one.  Definitely ranking up as one of my favorites to date.  The peanut butter varieties still rank at the very top so far though.  Just sayin’.

If you are looking for a delicious protein bar, this one definitely gives you a 20 gram protein punch for your buck.  Honestly.  thinkThin is one of the products I continue to return to.  While not completely void of sugar (they use sugar alcohols), they are one of the better choices out on the market.  And I am so glad that my friend Tawn introduced me to these bars a couple of years back when I visited in California.  Beyond impressed.  And soon…more will find their way into my run snack drawer.  Very soon.

Nicely done, thinkThin.  I applaud you…and will restock sometime in the very near future.

thinkThin Caramel Fudge High Protein Bar (unwrapped)
thinkThin Caramel Fudge High Protein Bar (unwrapped)

New gluten-free Ancient Grains Granola Bars from Udi’s makes an easy, delicious snack

Special Delivery of Udi’s Gluten-Free Goodies – including brand new products!
Special Delivery of Udi’s Gluten-Free Goodies – including brand new products!

Product: Udi’s Gluten-Free Ancient Grain Granola Bars – $5.49+

Udi’s continues to expand on its gluten-free product line-up and I couldn’t be happier about it.  After all, you have to grow and expand to get anywhere in this gluten-free product explosion that is facing the market these days.  Luckily, I do have my favorite brands and, while I do sample others at times, there is no forgetting who is trusted in this market.

Everyone knows Udi’s.  Their gluten-free bread was the first I ever tried that I actually liked.  I mean, it tasted like bread.  Sure, it’s smaller in size…but the texture, the taste…it was all good.  It was all just as I wanted it to be.  And from there, more and more of their products have made it into my home.  And, with only one exception so far (the Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls), I have loved everything I have purchased and sampled from Udi’s.  I even have my favorites.  Some of them…are even on the new products list!

You see, a while back, I was the proud recipient of a box of goodies from Udi’s Gluten-Free, containing some of their old products and a few of their new products.  Pure joy in the mail, let me tell you.  I enjoyed revisiting some of their classic products, but even better…I loved being able to give their newest products a try as well.  This was super exciting to me and I was looking forward to diving into each and every single product they provided for me.

This week, with my gluten-free pantry drying up, I reached in and removed the box of Udi’s Gluten-Free Ancient Grain Granola Bars.  Perfect.  This would be the ideal snack to have in the late afternoon to get me through to when I could get home and cook dinner.  I was really excited about trying these.  They are one of the newly introduced products in Udi’s gluten-free snack line.  In fact, there are actually three flavors that are out on the market now: Cranberry Almond, Chocolate Chip, and Ancient Grains.  All of them sound really good…and if I find the other two varieties in my local stores, I’ll definitely give them a try as well.

Udi's Gluten-Free Ancient Grain Granola Bars
Udi’s Gluten-Free Ancient Grain Granola Bars

As it was, one of these little granola bars came to work with me on Wednesday and at 3:00 p.m. I was ready to give it a try.  The blank white wrapper gives no indication as to what awaits inside.  Thankfully, the box that this came in was brightly decorated with a larger-than-life depiction of the granola bar waiting behind the mysterious white wrapper.

The Ancient Grains Granola Bar contains gluten-free oats, rice crisp, milled flaxseed, amaranth, and quinoa.  These grains provide the structure and base from which the sweeteners, oils, raisins, and nuts are added.  To sweeten and bind this granola bar, I note that Udi’s uses honey, brown rice syrup, evaporated cane srup, non-GMO canola oil, inulin, tapioca maltodextrin, palm oil, water, vegetable glycerine, natural flavor and something called Bacillus coagulans GBI-30 6086.  And before you start to panic, that Bacillus coagulans GBI-30 6068 is the Probiotics that are added to this granola bar to elevate the health factor.  Yep.  Probiotics.  Good for digestion and all that.

But…what about the texture?  The taste?  I’m getting there.

Udi's Gluten-Free Ancient Grains Granola Bar (wrapped)
Udi’s Gluten-Free Ancient Grains Granola Bar (wrapped)

After unwrapping this granola bar, I took a moment to examine it.  You could see the variety of ingredients all mashed together into this granola bar.  Nothing was indiscernible, which is always a nice touch.  And, upon first bite, I discovered how soft and chewy these were.  I guess the box indicates this, but I wasn’t paying attention.  I was thinking…”WOOHOO!  Gluten-free granola bars!”  But, that was a nice surprise.  I am not a fan of crunchy granola bars.  I like to chew them, not crunch them.  I like a soft, filling texture and that’s exactly what Udi’s provides.  They aren’t overly sweet, thank goodness.  They also aren’t a sticky mess and they don’t leave your fingers covered in residue.  They are clean, and perfect.  Bite-for-bite goodness.  I was very impressed with these.  They make a great, easy on-the-go snack or something light to chew on to get you through to dinner time or even lunch.  It’s the right amount and fills you up just enough.  And, wow…the flavor.  Without being hidden under a layer of sugar or unnecessary chocolate, the ingredients of these bars speak for themselves.  You taste the texture of the grains, get the sweetness from the honey and raisins, get that bit of crunch from the almonds that are added.  It is a perfect snack, a good size to tuck away for later without fearing it will be too much.

Nutritionally speaking, an Udi’s Gluten-Free Ancient Grains Granola Bar will provide you with 140 calories and 4.5 grams of fat.  One bar will also provide you with 40 mg of sodium and 10 grams of sugar.  The sugar content seems a bit high, considering these aren’t very sweet…but with all the sweeteners added, I’m actually surprises it isn’t higher than that.  I have definitely seen far worse for granola bars.  The Ancient Grains Granola Bar also will provide your body with 2 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein.  Not too shabby!

Add this one to the long list of Udi’s Gluten-Free products that I have loved from the start.  It’s a very long list.  Because with Udi’s…they strive for perfection.  They want their food to taste good.  And, when consumers spoke out about their cinnamon rolls, they changed the recipe and reformulated them.  I haven’t tried the new version…but I’d like to think I’d like them better the next time I do purchase them.  I’ll keep an open mind for sure.  Because when it comes to gluten-free companies, Udi’s has made a name for itself for the quality and attention they give their products and their customers.  And that’s why people keep coming back to them.

Udi's Gluten-Free Ancient Grains Granola Bar (unwrapped)
Udi’s Gluten-Free Ancient Grains Granola Bar (unwrapped)

thinkThin makes decadent and wholesome Caramel Chocolate Dipped Mixed Nuts Crunch Bar

thinkThin Caramel Chocolate Dipped Crunch Bar
thinkThin Caramel Chocolate Dipped Crunch Bar

thinkThin Caramel Chocolate Dipped Mixed Nuts Crunch Bar – $1.99+

Oh, I just can’t stop singing the praises of thinkThin and the amazing, gluten-free, delicious, and nutritious bars that they have out on the market.  I have reviewed quite a few along the way, as I often use these as a protein pick-me-up, or even a pre-race or post-race snack.  They are portable…and…even more importantly…impressively filling and delicious.

One of the newer bars out on the market are their line of thinkThin Crunch bars.  They have a few varieties out there.  Previously, I tried out just the regular Chocolate Dipped Mixed Nuts Crunch Bar…and absolutely devoured it and sang its praises along the way.

Well, my roommate loves a good deal…and while I sent her out to grab something from the grocery store one day when I was in the kitchen slaving away over dinner, she returned with gifts.  And one of these gifts was a new flavor of thinkThin Crunch bars.

Happiness.  I love new products.  Especially by companies and brands that I trust.

Enter…the morning of one of my races.  For longer races, I usually dine on a delicious banana about 40 minutes prior to the run.  For shorter races…it’s whatever I can grab.  Banana works then too…but I haven’t been keeping bananas recently.  Sad…I should start doing that again.  But, in a rush to get out the door, it was find something quick from the drawer of race morning snacks.  I didn’t want something with a lot of chocolate…because I don’t think my tummy would handle that well before a run.  The only option, then, that I currently had…was the thinkThin Caramel Chocolate Dipped Mixed Nuts Crunch Bar that Cathy brought home for me.  It still had a small amount of chocolate in it…but far less than the other options in the drawer.  It would have to do.

We ended up being way ahead of schedule to the race…but the guy with all the packet stuff was running late that morning.  It was a little earlier than I liked, but as we were sitting around waiting on someone before anything else race related could be done…I figured I’d go ahead and eat my bar, giving my body some time to work on digesting not just the bit of chocolate, but the nuts as well.

I unwrapped the bar and took a bite.

It reminded me of something…and I still can’t seem to put my finger on it.  But…it was something I used to eat…often.  So, trust me when I say…this bar is yummy!  It is packed with a blend of peanuts, almonds, and cashews.  All of the nuts are bound together and sweetened with a hint of honey, then the bottom layer is dipped in a decadent blend of caramel and dark chocolate.  Together, the salty-sweet mix is the perfect blend for any palate.  Who doesn’t love a hit of sweetness with salty things?  It’s why I loved eating chocolate covered pretzels before I had to go gluten-free (but Glutino makes fantastic gluten-free chocolate covered pretzels)…that combination of salty and sweet just does it for me.  And this bar combines everything I love about that combination…into one healthy and satisfying bar.

Nutritionally speaking, when it comes to bars of this nature, this is one of the best you can choose.  One bar will only set you back 190 calories and 11 grams of fat.  Yes…the fat content may seem high, but most of that is from the nuts, and those are healthy, belly-flattening fats.  This bar is low in sugar, topping out at only 6 grams, which is 70% less than most leading fruit and nut bars.  In addition to that, a healthy dose of 9 grams of protein (that’s 80% more than leading fruit and nut bars as well) and 4 grams of fiber will help keep you feeling full and satisfied long after this bar is eaten.  I ran a hard, hilly 5K race and I wasn’t even starving afterwards like I usually am.

Replace candy bars with this wholesome Crunch bar from thinkThin and you’re right on track to delicious, nutritious snacking.  I absolutely loved the flavor combination and that this bar is so healthy on top of it.  thinkThin has done me proud in the past…and once again…they live up to the high standards they set.  I continue to buy bars from thinkThin because they continue to put out a product worth buying.  The crunch bars will replace your sugar-loaded candy bars or granola bars…and give you added nutrients in the process.

Smart thinking, thinkThin.

thinkThin Caramel Chocolate Dipped Crunch Bar (unwrapped)
thinkThin Caramel Chocolate Dipped Crunch Bar (unwrapped)

KIND-ly enjoying a hit of dark chocolate and peanut butter in an amzing snack bar

KIND Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein Snack Bar
KIND Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein Snack Bar

Product: KIND Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein Snack Bar – $1.99+

Well, yesterday rounded out the sample box of KIND bars that I purchased with the help of a Groupon that came through awhile back.  And the final bar to get it’s chance to shine was none other than KIND Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein Snack Bar.

Peanut butter and dark chocolate.  This sounded like a match made in heaven to me.  After all…that is exactly two of my most favorite ingredients in life.  Anything with dark chocolate.  Anything with peanut butter.  But put the two of them together…and you have made me one very, very happy girl.

Needless to say, the very thought of sinking my teeth into this bar prior to running on Saturday morning at the park was…mouth watering.  For real.

It was a chilly, foggy Saturday and my roommate and I were up quite early.  The reason being I wanted to hit up Cherokee Park to run some hills before a 5K race was scheduled to kick off at 9 a.m.  This meant we needed to be at the park about the time it was getting light outside.  So, breakfast that morning at home was a serving of our cereals…but for in the car, to provide some fuel for her trail hiking and my running…I packed the final KIND bar in my run bag.

Being that it was a colder morning (come on, Spring…it’s freakin’ the end of March!), this bar was a bit chilled.  So, the ooey-gooey texture I prefer over brittle and hard was not happening.  But, a little warm up in my toasty fingers and everything would be okay.  As we hit the highway, I busted out the KIND bar and split it in half, handing her one half while I kept the other.

Bite one…was, as I said, a bit hard.  Damn cold weather.  Messing with my snacks.  But after that, things started to get interesting…and flavorful.

The KIND Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein Snack Bar is…just what it sounds like.  Dark chocolate and peanut butter crack.  Every bite bursts with this sweet and salty flavor that I love.  And the dark chocolate adds the right amount of sweetness to counter balance the peanut butter and nuts that are throughout the bar.  I loved it.  It, surprisingly, wasn’t my favorite bar.  That still has to be the Fruit & Nut Bar…but this one…this one comes close.

The KIND Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein Snack Bar is a healthy and satisfying mix of a variety of nuts.  So, not just peanuts.  Nope.  They go all out and include peanuts, walnuts, almonds, cashews, macadamias, and Brazil nuts.  All of those are blended with peanut butter, honey, and soy crisps.  Then the bar is coated on the bottom with dark chocolate and a dark chocolate drizzle beautifully adorns the top.  This means every bite is guaranteed that sweet/savory taste.

Nutrition-wise, this bar isn’t too far off the mark.  Not for what it contains.  The entire bar will set you back 200 calories and 13 grams of fat.  Keep in mind, however, that the fat is derived from nuts, and therefore is at least the healthy kind of fat.  This bar is very low in sodium, only 50 mg, and relatively low in sugars, topping out at 10 grams.  And with all that peanut butter and nutty goodness, this bar offers up a dose of 7 grams of protein.  NICE!  These snack bars are also gluten-free

KIND offers up a variety of different flavors and nutritional benefits with their KIND Snack Bars.  The KIND Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein was a nice addition to their satisfying and delicious line up.  I didn’t like every flavor in the box, but none of them were inedible.  And that is a great thing.  I intend to continue to sample flavors that were not offered in my cube of goodness and see what else KIND has to offer.

But so far…highly impressed.

KIND Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein Snack Bar (unwrapped)
KIND Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein Snack Bar (unwrapped)