Pandas and snacks

You know who loves pandas? Shane Bee. Shane Bee LOVES pandas. So I’m sure he will be delighted to hear that a panda at the San Diego zoo is pregnant. Go panda!

On an unrelated note, I had my first Belly Bar today. Don’t worry, I’m not pregnant (despite my office’s best attempts to jinx me) – I’m just a completest when it comes to bar investigations. I had the Baby Needs Chocolate bar, which was, like many other bars we’ve talked about before, full of crispy weirdness and a thin layer of chocolate. It had a secretive cherry flavor, which I rather liked, but maybe that was just my not-pregnant body telling me that I was missing out on something because I’m not gestating. Whatever, body.

The stats: 170 calories/6 g fat/22 g carbs/12 g sugar/8 g protein

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More bars in more places

NuGo Coffee Break

looked like a granola bar, tasted like weirdness – raisins, dates, mysterious orangeness – strange consistency. Hmm.

Pure Protein Blueberry Crumb Cake

“cake” with blueberry topping and mysterious waxy white coating – maybe vanilla flavored? Quite possibly the holy grail of bars with 18g of protein for 200 calories, but much like in that Indy movie where the greedy adventurer grabs the ornate gold cup and then turns into ash, this is a false grail.

The stats: 200 calories/6 g fat/19 g carbs/2 g sugar/9 g sugar alcohol/18 g protein

Kashi GoLean Chocolate Almond Toffee High Protein & Fiber bar

Weird texture, no apparent almond OR toffee. I am tired of eating bars that I don’t like. The things I do for you people! 6 g fiber is not high fiber, dudes. Hate to break it to you. I mean, it’s more than some, but not “high” by any means. Please, please don’t tell me that I have additional Kashi bars to eat. I just can’t do it.

The stats: 290 calories/6 g fat/45 g carbs (!!!!!)/31 g sugar/13 g protein

Kashi GoLean Crunchy Whatever

Kashi GoLean Crunchy! Chocolate Peanut Protein & Fiber Bar

I am so over Kashi. That’s unfortunate, however, because I still have a couple of their bars and/or rolls to sample. The Crunchy! Chocolate Peanut protein & fiber bar tasted like what you’d get if you crossed a Rice Krispie treat (the prepackaged kind) with cardboard, and then spread an impossibly thin layer of chocolate across the bottom.

The stats: 180 calories/5 g fat/30 g carbs/13 g sugar/9 g protein

bad Karma

Pure Protein Karma Double Chocolate snack bar

I was very excited about the Karma bars – a sub-brand of Pure Protein. They include primarily organic ingredients, and I was hoping that since there’s more sugar, they’d avoid the mushiness that the regular Pure Protein bars sometimes fall prey to. I was right in that regard. I initially thought that the bar had melted a bit because it was a little lumpy and weird – but NO! To my great delight, those lumps were chocolate chips. REAL chocolate chips. Off to a great start here!

The bar on the packaging looked very much like a Hershey bar – little squares of chocolate – but the bar in the package was nothing like it. The chocolate chips were sprinkled on top of Kashi-like crispy bits that tasted kind of like styrofoam, all on top of some fudgy brownie-like stuff. The top and the bottom parts were great, but I’m not so much into styrofoam. Sorry, Karma. You’ve let me down. Everything looked so promising – chocolate chips! 13 g protein! – but in the end, a disappointment.

The stats: 200 calories/7 g fat/23 g carbs/14 g sugar/13 g protein

Bar-Buying Binge

I think I have a problem
Over the last few weeks, I’ve indulged in a bar-buying binge. I knew I wanted to carry on with this exploration of all things bars, so whenever we’ve gone to Strawberry Fields or Meijer or any other snack-selling establishment, I’ve spent a few moments of wonder in front of the bar selection, trying to remember the things I’ve tried and the things I don’t have at home. This has resulted in a giant pile of bars distributed between my kitchen, my bag, and the desk drawer at work.

Clif Black Cherry Almond bar

I grabbed this one for a mid-morning snack the other day after a wholly delicious but unsatisfying pastry breakfast. Despite my great love of Clif bars, this is one I hadn’t tried before – I think I’m mainly just suspicious of fruit bars for no good reason. I neglected to make notes about this bar, which probably means I should eat it again, but also means it was fairly unremarkable. Fruity, not exceptionally nutty – just generally solid Clif fare. I probably won’t go out of my way to buy again – but if I’m at the gas station and it’s that or Cheetos for breakfast, sure, I’ll eat it.

OK, I lied. I’d totally go for the Cheetos. No offense, Clif.

The stats: 250 calories/5 g fat/44 g carbs/20 g sugar/10 g protein

Clif Mojo Honey Roasted Peanut

The Clif Mojo line is an interesting development. The bars are all right around 180-200 calories and are more trail-mix-y than your traditional Clif fare. The packaging reads: “Folks tell us it’s pretty darn good. CLIF Moo is all about getting out there, trying new things, combining new flavors and textures, and respecting the planet by using as many organic ingredients as possible.” Now, I’m all about ‘getting out there’, ‘trying new things’, and ‘combining new flavors and textures’, not to mention ‘respecting the planet’ and ‘using as many organic ingredients as possible’ – but I don’t really see how a ‘honey roasted peanut’ bar does any of those things. I mean, ‘honey roasted’ and ‘peanut’ is a pretty standard combination of flavors. It hardly represents ‘new things’, though the sticky sweetness of the bar is a new texture for good ol’ reliable nuts. This bar was pretty damned tasty, though. It could be improved by putting it on top of peanut butter nougat and covering it in caramel and chocolate, but then I think you’d have a Snickers bar, and that’s not really what we’re going for here.

The stats: 200 calories/10 g fat/20 g carbs/9 g sugar/10 g protein

Clif Mojo Fruit Nut Crunch

Honestly, despite what I said about the Black Cherry Almond, this was my first real Clif let-down. It was not as fruity as I’d hoped, and was more nutty than I expected. It’s kind of like a trail mix bar without the M&Ms. It’s fine, but the other Mojos are better.

The stats: 190 calories/8 g fat/23 g carbs/11 g sugar/10 g protein

Balance “Bare” – Sweet & Salty Chocolate Almond (natural flavor)

I was initially suspicious of Balance after a few fairly gross samples. I think I had initially gone for the low-carb, low-calorie snack bars – y’know, the ones around 100 calories that are meant to tide you over until your next meal replacement bar. The first bites of those bars were heavenly – followed by total grossness, but at that point I was so close to the end that I couldn’t just spit it out. I imagine it’s somewhat like the experience of eating peanut butter if you’re a dog – delicious, yet fairly strange and aggravating. The Sweet & Salty Chocolate Almond “bare” proved me wrong – at least for the time being. It was crunchy, tasty, not at all bar-y, with no weird sugar alcohol mushiness. The bar was crispy without being overly crispy, with nuts and melty delicious chocolate underneath. You’ve won me over for now, Balance.

The stats: 210 calories/9 g fat/23 g carbs/12 g sugar/13 g protein

Bar review #1

So as I mentioned earlier in the month, protein bars have become a staple in my diet. I’m trying to increase the amount of protein in my daily diet, and Clif bars and the like have really helped (and cut down on the worse-for-me snacking, especially at work). I had previously committed to trying one new bar per day for the month of June (or maybe the whole summer, I can’t remember), but I’m lazy and forgot.

I did, however, try two new bars this week.

Pure Protein Peanut Marshmallow Eclipse

Pure Protein is one of my favorite bar manufacturers in no small part because their bars pack in a lot of protein – 18 grams, in the case of the PBME – for generally under 200 calories, which makes them an ideal alternative to, say, a bag of M&Ms. I’ll talk more about other Pure Protein bars later, but suffice to say that in general, the flavor and consistency is generally killer.

I’m no scientist, so I could be just making all of this up, but it seems like the bars with a higher amount of sugar alcohols (instead of regular ol’ sugar) just have a different consistency and tend to err on the side of smooshiness. Add in marshmallow, and you’ve got, well, a smooshy eclipse. I think I liked this one better in theory than in my mouth.

The stats: 180 calories/6 g fat/19 g carbs/1 g sugar/11 g sugar alcohol/18 g protein

Kashi GoLean Caramel Peanut Roll

Prior to his low-carb days, SB really liked the GoLean products. I haven’t had many, primarily because the GoLean cereal hurts my teeth, which is enough to turn me off to an entire line of products. Yeah, I’m difficult.

I tossed this roll bar thing in my bag on the way out the door to class as I’d had a big bowl of yogurt at 6:30 and had to last until 2ish before lunch. It advertises that it helps with “Optimized Glycemic Response”, and damn, it must have, as I wasn’t hungry until after my lunch hour workout. Thanks, GoLean! The bar – a core of peanut butter wrapped in caramel rolled in nuts – was chewy and delicious and kept me chewing for a few minutes – maybe that’s how it optimizes glycemic response? Even though I had to work for it a bit, it was delicious, had an adequate amount of protein, and was well within my snacking calorie limit. It’s way too carb-y for SB, but that’s OK, as it was my snack, not his.

The stats: 190 calories/5 g fat/27 g carbs/14 g sugar/12 g protein