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Energy bars that taste good?

Overwhelmed by the number of energy bars in my health food store and looking for guidance, especially any recommended date bars. TIA

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  1. After suffering through most of the mass market energy bars out there, marveling at their chemical-y flavor profiles and suspect textures, I have decided there's only one I'll eat: Lara bars. Each one has between 2 and 5 ingredients, all of which are whole organic foods like fruits and nuts. Ok, I suppose the few with chocolate aren't "whole" foods (there is some processing there), but here's the thing about Lara bars: they actually taste good. They taste like fruits and nuts, and they provide a good amount of energy when I'm slumping. There is no added sugar -- any sweetness comes from the fruit itself. I take a bunch of them whenever I travel for conferences and the like, where the prospect of anything healthy/affordable/palatable is in question.

    My favorite flavors are the ginger snap, which is wicked gingery with good spice, the cherry pie, which tastes of high quality unsweetened dried tart cherries, and the cashew cookie, which is super cashew-y.

    Here's my caveat though, these are whole food bars that deliver energy via the natural sugars from fruit and proteins from nuts. Their not engineered like power bars (etc) are for intense athletic activity. So, if you're looking for that kind of carefully tweaked bar with all the appropriate ratios and chemically balanced nutrients, this isn't it. Of course all those bars taste like crap.

    2 Replies
    1. re: litchick

      Thanks for the great info, litchick. I'm not looking for "power" bars, just something that will tide me over when I can't get to real food.

      1. re: litchick

        I must have had a bad Lara bar. Twice.

        I tried a "ginger snap" a few weeks ago and found it severely lacking in ginger and filled with something else, decidedly non-ginger snapish. After a bite or two it went into the trash, following the course of the first Lara bar I had tried (either the pistachio or pecan if I recall correctly).

      2. Not sure if you're a male or female or what you are trying to benefit from it. Like litchick said, different content for different results. Are you looking for a daily meal replacement or something to satisfy a craving that isn't candy?

        My husband likes the "Pure Protein" brand; specifically the 20g chewy chocolate chip. I go with a soy-based shake personally because I prefer fat free and lower sugar but if you're looking for lower protein and just a good mid-day boost, I like the Special K peanut butter protein bars. Easy to come by, cheaper than most because of a lower protein content (10g) and really satisfies the chocolate/peanut butter craving.

        But at around a $1.50 per bar, I'd suggest making a list of what you hope to get from them (higher protein, lower fat, lower sugar, etc.) and going from there.

        2 Replies
        1. re: creativeusername

          Second vote for Pure Protein bars..the peanut butter one is great. Clif bars are also a good choice, cheaper too. Again I like the peanut butter one.

          These bars are a great option for a tide e over...just realize the calorie content some can have if you are watching that. More of a meal replacement than a snack

          1. re: creativeusername

            Third vote for Pure Protein bars. They're all good, but the S'mores bar is my all time favorite.

            1. Lara bar has one that is cashew and dates only that's pretty good.


              I prefer making my own trail mix to it, though.

              1 Reply
              1. re: chowser

                I second Larabar Raw Natural Food Bars especially the cashew, pure and easy to digest taste great.. really good with a banana....

                my other favorite is Clif Mojo Bars nutty, salty, crunchy and don't taste like a power bar

                to me the rest taste fake and processed.

              2. don't eat energy bars, but when I was in TJ's looking for some to give out, the young lady stocking the energy bar area(can you believe how much shelf space in TJ's goes to energy bars??) said without hesitation, "THESE!" which were the KID'S Clif Bars. "They are the best."

                They are half sized and half priced at 49 cents.

                3 Replies
                1. re: toodie jane

                  I second these. They have half the sugar that other bars have, too, and they really are enough to get over the gap until mealtime.

                  The most filling bar for me is the Genisoy bar (peanut butter, mocha, chocolate, etc.) But they are getting harder to find. T.J.'s dropped them, my local heath food store has cut way back and Whole Foods seems to be the last supplier. You can find them occasionally at Target but only once in a while.

                  1. re: toodie jane

                    Oh, cool. What flavors are good? Are they kiddie type flavors like bubblegum and razzleberry? kidding about that last part...but really, any recs?

                    1. re: toodie jane

                      The Clif kid's bar is the Z Bar! Flavors I've had are "chocolate chip" and "chocolate brownie". I also bought "honey graham" and "peanut butter" and I'm going to try them this week. They're yummy, and not too sweet. Much less filling than a whole Cliff bar. They're the perfect size for me. I do like the special holiday Cliff bar flavors, but I usually have to split them in half.

                      I tried the key lime Larabar today and it was very good!

                    2. The Kashi bars I have found to be great tasting and a bit better for you. Be careful with some of the options out there you will find some of the bars have 250-300 calories and 6-12g of fat. That is a meal replacement rather than a quick tide me over! The kashi bars stay under the 200 cal 6g fat mark. Although, my other choice is the Lara Bars my local Costco also carries them. I only use the Lara bars when I am not going to be eating for a few more hours.

                      1. I love Luna Bars and keep a box in my desk for a healthy between meal snack. They are made for women by the same folks who make Clif bars for men. They are about 180 calories each, taste great, and have a lot of essential vitamins and minerals. My favorite flavors are Nutz Over Chocolate, Iced Oatmeal Raisin, and Toasted Nuts and Cranberry. I have found them cheapest at Trader Joe's and Target. Their website has all the nutritional info for every bar:


                        2 Replies
                        1. re: mojoeater

                          I second the Luna Bars. The best flavors are nut and cranberry (full of little nuts and seeds and chunks of fruit), the peanut butter, and the dulce de leche for something sweet.

                          1. re: mojoeater

                            I've tried a multitude of energy and snack bars over the years and can't find any I like as much as Luna bars. They recently came out with a bunch of new flavors as well, and I'm absolutely loving the blueberry ones.

                          2. Taste-wise... Love the Promax Cookies'n'Cream... but higher in sugar.

                            Balance Bars in Yogurt Honey Peanut, Chocolate Honey Peanut, and Cookie Dough

                            Body for Life Bars in cookies'n'cream ( http://www.gorillajack.com/index.asp?... ) LOVE THESE!!

                            SoyJoy Bars

                            For strong protein, I do Pure Protein bars (s'mores, peanut marshmallow eclicpse, and strawberry shortcake flavors), EAS AdvantEdge Carb Control (cookies'n'cream, caramel apple, blueberry, choc cream pie flavors), Myoplex Carb Control (choc chip PB, cookies'n'cream flavors), and South Beach (cinnamon roll flavor)

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Emme

                              Tastewise, no question that the Promax Cookies and Cream and the Promax Nutty Butter are the best. Almost like candy bars, which explains the high sugar!

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                I second both the Kashi and Luna bars... very tasty, and healthy too!

                              2. Over the years, I went through various stages: Luna, Cliff, Odwalla, ThinkOrganic, Lara, SoyJoy....for some reason, I found some too sweet, some with questionable ingredients (read 'soy protein isolates' and the like), and others not too tasty....I settled for the spirulina bites at WF (and no, I am not an obsessive health nut :)

                                BTW, has anyone tried the Gnu bars? Curious for what others thought....

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: jeni1002

                                  What are the spirulina bites like? Are they in the bar section at WF? Sound interesting. I want something that's not overly sweet that I might be able to use on longer runs (though I know the sweet/carb is what you really need).

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    They're in the bulk section with the grains, nuts and dried fruit - I can't recall all the ingredients, but I know they're sweetened with molasses, and have almonds. Let me get back to you with more specifics.

                                    1. re: chowser

                                      Hi Chowser - went back to WH to look at the ingredients: they're mostly dried fruit (dates, etc.), nuts (almonds, walnuts), and spirulina. Surprisingly enough, they are not very sweet and have a decent nutty flavor. I use them before rollerblading, so I would think they'd work for running too....

                                      Thanks, Emme, for the Gnu bar preview - I think I'll pass :)

                                      1. re: chowser

                                        Chowser, I apologize this comes two months later, but I randomly came across the spirulina bites ingredients the other day and thought of you. I didn't realize that what I was buying at WH was actually locally produced, and I am not sure whether you'll be able to find them in your area, but here's the URL:

                                        Let me know what you think if you end up buying them.

                                      2. re: jeni1002

                                        I've had all the Gnu bars. In fact, my mom and stepdad are obsessed with them, and have cases delivered. Personally, I don't like them, especially because I don't like the flavor combinations, and to me, they taste (and I AM a professed health nut) too whole-grain/oaty. They're similar in texture and taste to me as Odwalla bars, except with less calories, more fiber, and a little more protein I believe. If you prefer the Clif/Odwalla/Lara bar type over Balance Bar/Zone/Pure Protein more solid type of bar, then you'll probably like the Gnu.

                                        1. re: jeni1002

                                          I wonder what "soy protein isolate" is? I'm looking at the back of my Peanut Butter Powerbar (which I love dearly) and it has an asterisk beside all the "natural ingredients" The only ingredient not so marked is the "soy protein isolate". Interstingly, "milk protein isolate" IS marked as natural. Weird.

                                          Anyway this powerbar has some tasty ingredients in it, the first one being "organic evaporated cane juice" ...always a favorite ;-) Also rosemary extract, salted peanut butter, almond butter, brown rice flour, oat bran...this stuff is healthy, IMHO and only 4 grams of fat. I prefer to eat my fat allowance in real food, not bars, no matter how tasty they might be.

                                        2. The Lara bars are good, if a bit sweet (from all the dried fruit).

                                          There are other from various brands that one could get at natural foods stores with dried fruits, nuts, and seeds (sesame and flax rock!), and I like those as well.

                                          For me, the fewer the ingredients, the better. I also try to get ones without added sweeteners-- I want a quick boost, after all, not a crash.

                                          The other high-protein, low-carb, or Balance bars that I've tried have a weird sort of spiciness that makes my tongue feel tingly in an unpleasant way, so I've come to avoid them. Nobody else I've talked to notices that spiciness, so maybe it's just the way my body reacts to some ingredient or another?

                                          1. my boyfriend buys the clif mojo peanut butter and pretzel bar and it is AMAZING. Its the perfect thing for a woman (when it's that time of the you know what) because its sweet and salty and crunchy and gooey all at the same time.

                                            I also enjoy the clif bar carrot cake flavour. All clif bars are good...they taste like candy to me, not like they are good for me

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: bitsubeats

                                              I love the mojo bars as well. They're the one kind of bar that doesn't seem too sweet to me.

                                              1. re: beachmouse

                                                I'd put Lara, Clif, and Odwalla at the top. Low sugar, high quality organic ingredients.

                                                1. re: Leonardo

                                                  Bora Bora Snack Bars (http://www.wellements.com)....best stuff so far....and I have tried just about all other products on US and Canadian markets......and they are available at Costco.....

                                              1. re: pfoods

                                                I am loyal to Clif Bars...great for before/after biking

                                              2. Try a "Cup of Gold." It's got some soy stuff, but it's mostly oats, peanut butter, and chocolate chips - and that's exactly what it tastes like. The count is pretty good, and it tastes like real food, with none of that weird chemical taste that many of the bars have. We first got them at our gym and then ordered them from grabthegold.net. I've seen them at a Smoothie King, but I think those are franchised so maybe they're not everywhere.

                                                1. i am not a real fan of them some are not too bad
                                                  but the METR-X brand(excuse the spelling please) there should be a law against that one

                                                  2 Replies
                                                    1. re: foodperv

                                                      playing a collegiate sport and training since high school, i've prob tasted every energy bar out there. i think balance bars are tasty but i looked towards bars w. higher protein content. i agree the pure protein bars are good, my fave being the chewy chocolate chip, but the Met-rx bars containe the highest grams of protein. i agree some of them are kind of chalky but the absolute best tasting out of all the bars, high protein or not are the met-rx chocolate chocolate chunk. delicious!

                                                    2. I like the Powerbar Protein plus. I find the protein-based are a little better tasting than the carb-based. But, if you're using it for something like all-day biking, the carb-based ones work better because they digest a little faster.

                                                      1. By far and away, Clif Bars. Far superior to power bar and all the other chalky ones. My personal favorite flavors are the seasonal gingerbread which I load up on cases for the full year, lemon poppyseed, apricot, and choc cookie.

                                                        1. My favorite are Big Sur bars, in the original flavor. They're insanely caloric, but I don't eat the whole thing at once -- these work well for me because I get stuck in the music building at school for many hours each day, and I need something to munch on periodically.

                                                          If you're not dieting, and just looking for something to tide you over, I suggest these. More of a baked good than a health food, but they sure keep me from getting hungry all day!


                                                          1. My favorites are from Cliff. Luna Bar--the chocolaty ones remind me of a flavored Rice Krispy Treat and their Nectar bars are really super sweet. I especially love the Nectar lemon-vanilla is to die for--and tend to hate lemon accented foods.

                                                            1. Whole Foods has one of the largest energy/health/meal replacement bar selection I've seen. My family & I have tried nearly all of them. About two years ago we started experimenting with our own recipe. The major benefit is creating an energy bar that you can tolerate. For instance, if you have nut allergies or are watching your sugar intake energy bar choices are limited. Plus far too many taste like cardboard.

                                                              We created a trail mixture with ingredients we all love, add rice syrup to help form a dough and pour the mixture into a springform pan. A day later we cut the tray into indiv. bars. They have a self life of 1 month, freeze beautifully.

                                                              We now believe buying the ingredients, tailoring it to our own tastes IS the best energy bar around! Give it a try!

                                                              1. Clif Bars all the way, they are my guaranteed pre-marathon running food. My favorite before a long run is the cran-apple flavor, not as candy-like to me (vs. the peanut butter and chocolate ones, although those are good in their own right). I think that REI supplies the biggest selection of Clif Bars that I've seen. They also seem to stock a lot of Power Bar; but those are nausea inducing and only used as a last resort.

                                                                1. http://www.organicfoodbar.com/
                                                                  We eat the chocolate chip, vegan, and omega bars as they're the ones that are vegan and gluten-free. We always pack some of these when we travel. TJs tends to have the best price in this area (though still expensive).