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Healthy Snacks

Q & A: Can you do a post on what sort of snacks are good for us? I usually get very hungry between meals and reach for nutri-grain which I know is processed and has a lot of sugar. would love to hear some advice from you.

–Shayma. The Spice Spoon.

Answer:

My first choice is always wholesome foods like dried fruit and raw nuts, a piece of fruit, cut up veggies (carrots or cucumbers) in a sealed bag or with hummus, small peanut or almond butter sandwich, edemame, garbanzo beans with squeeze of lemon, turkey and cheese wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla, regular or Greek plain yogurt, or a low-fat cheese slice with whole wheat crackers.

Danielle Omar from the Food Confidence had a great post this week on fresh snacks. I encourage you to check it out.

Cereal bars are my plan B snacks. They are processed, contain sugars (even those that seem to be “healthy” sugars), and are not as filling as a wholesome piece of fruit. But let’s be honest, we all need something to grab on the way quickly to work, to school, when traveling, running errands, etc. Besides, some of the snacks listed above need refrigeration.

At these situations, a cereal bar can spare a stop at a fast food joint.

Nutri-Grain may not be the most filling. That’s because each bar contains only 2 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein. Calorie content is on the low side, 130 cal, which may leave you a little unsatisfied.

When looking at a cereal bar, aim for something to give you about 200. More than that, and it becomes close to a meal. Aim for higher protein (more than 5 g) and fiber (more than 3), and for lower sugar and saturated fat. It’s not an easy task to find a bar that meets all these criteria, I must admit.

Luna Bars: I honestly don’t care that much about the marketed vitamins and minerals. If you want those, eat fruits, veggies, and whole grains. They are made of soy-based products (protein, flour, butter), sweetened by evaporated cane juice or brown rice syrup (still means sugar), and has a lot of processed ingredients–like other bars. In terms of numbers, the different flavors range between 170 and 190 for calories, 3 to 5 for fiber, 8 to 10 for protein, and sugars are moderate at 10 to 13 grams. The saturated fat is less than 2.5 grams, and the Berry Almond flavor has none. Thumbs up.

Lara Bars: I don’t like the nutrition profile of those as much as the Luna Bars. While they have slightly more fiber (4-6 g), they are higher in calories (190-240), have less protein (3-7 g), more sugar (18-15 g), and two flavors had 7 grams of saturated fat. Thumbs Down.

Pure Bars; they have six flavors, they are dairy and gluten-free, and made with agave nectar as sweetener (which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a healthier sugar!). The nutrition profile is not bad. Protein is considered high (5-7) but is still lower than the Luna Bars. The rest of the stuff look good: calories 190-200, fiber 4-5, and sugars range between 14-20. Thumbs up. One thing bothers me though. They state on their website that the ingredients are minimal and list a few, then follow with this sentence:

ā€œ(unless you count the 14 essential vitamins and minerals, important antioxidants from cocoa, and healthy Omega 3 fats in every bite)ā€

*sigh*: I hate such statements!

Kashi Bars

Kashi makes a lot of bars, so you have to watch which one we’re talking about in here.

While the Kashi GoLean Chewy Bars are high in protein (10-13 g) and fiber (5-6 g), it comes with a tax; higher calories (190-290), sugar (17-35), and saturated fat (2.5-4.5). Thumbs down for me.

Kashi GoLean Crunch! Bars seem like a better deal. Calorie are within the range I prefer (150-190), protein (12 g) and fiber (6 g) are high, while sugar (14 g) and saturated fat (1.5 g) are low. Thumbs up.

Kashi GoLean Roll! Protein and Fiber Bars are an option too with 190 calories each. Fiber (6 g) and protein (12 g) are high, sugar is not bad at 14 grams, and saturated fat at 1.5 g. While they get thumbs up for nutrition content, I personally don’t like their texture–too hard to chew.

Kashi TLC Cereal Bars don’t have enough protein or fiber. Thumbs down.

Kashi TLC Chewy Granola Bars, Kashi TLC Crunchy Granola Bars, and Kashi TLC Fruit and Grain Bars range in calories from 120 to 170. Fiber is good at 4 grams of protein is not as high as some of the others from 5 to 7 grams–but still not bad, sugar is low those from 5 to 8 grams, and saturated fat is also low from 0 to 0.5 grams. All together, this bar gets a thumbs up.

Nature Valley

In most of their bars, the fiber doesn’t go past 2 grams, and except for the Roasted Nut Crunch that has 6 grams of protein, the rest only have 2 to 4 grams. Both fiber and protein are not impressive. Thumbs down.

What is YOUR favorite cereal bar?

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{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Nicole, RD June 1, 2010, 3:58 pm

    I am so glad you reviewed each of these bars – the saturated fat in Larabars shocked me! I guess I’m glad Pure bars are my favorite šŸ™‚ And the Kashi bars…ugh, couldn’t agree more!

  • The Candid RD June 3, 2010, 7:48 am

    Really great post!
    I have to say, however, I disagree with you on several of these. But, that’s typical, many RDs don’t agree on everything! For example, I think Luna bars are not as good as Lara bars, too much sugar. Also, I LOVE NAture VAlley bars!! The granola ones (that comes with two) are so delicious and low sugar. I do agree with you that NutriGrain bars are a joke. Not “NutriTIOUS” at all.

  • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD June 3, 2010, 6:42 pm

    Thanks Nicole and Gina (Candid RD) for the comments. This was one of the more difficult posts. Honestly, with bars, I can always find one thing that I don’t like about each. If it’s low in sugar, it may be low in fiber too. If it’s high in protein, it may be high in saturated fat. I think it’s hard to find the perfect package, also when considering taste.And that’s why they are always bars are my plan B snacks…

  • Jessica June 4, 2010, 11:18 am

    Oh, I was very happy to see my choice validated ; ) We only eat the Kashi TLC crunchy or chewy granola bars, so this post made me VERY happy ; )
    Thank you for all the info!

  • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD June 5, 2010, 1:58 am

    Thanks Jessica for stopping by!

  • Maximo Loyd March 29, 2012, 2:42 pm

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  • Johnathan Callan March 30, 2012, 8:13 am

    Only a smiling visitant here to share the love (:, btw outstanding design.

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