FOR this week’s survey we looked at chunky bars for school and work and found plenty, unearthing gluten-free products along the way.
They tasted good, so many are included.
There are plenty of new brands available, so we focused on those, and will get back to more mainstream brands and boxed varieties another time.
Most of the bars we tested are available in supermarkets, but try wholefood shops where they are usually the same price.
I’m not giving the breakdown of sugars, as many of those come from fruit, and most of the snack bars have much the same fibre and protein.
You cannot expect to be greatly nourished, but most deliver a temporary lift.
As they are quite expensive, a good idea is to share the bars, cutting them up before you leave home and perhaps giving a piece to a child as a healthy lunch-box treat.
Most bars will generate a thirst, so it is important to drink water to avoid dehydration.
One of the biggest causes of lethargy and poor attention at school and work is lack of fluids.
Keep it simple by giving water.
Fizzy water has been shown to have some ill effects on teeth, so keep it plain.
Nakd Apple Pie 95c
This 30g bar of raw fruit, oats and nuts is wheat and dairy free. The apple pie flavour has a little spice and was enjoyed by children who are not used to very sweet treats, and by adults who liked its wholesomeness. 34% dates, 24% oats is a good combination.
Kids preferred the cocoa mint flavour (€1.09/€1.27) with more dates, cashews and no oats. Prices vary, so watch for bargains in health shops and supermarkets.
Trek Cocoa Oat Protein Flapjack €1.49
A mixture of 25% gluten-free oats, soya protein, oils and sugar, this 50g bar has a cocoa coating on one side which was not chocolately enough and disappointed tasters.
Gluten-free, is has the dry flavour of soya. “Edible, but not special”, is how one taster described it.
Meridian Almond Bar €2.15
A soft bar of 55% almonds, rice and concentrated fruit juices, this is a satisfying bite with nice almond flavour and grittiness.
There is agave syrup, but it’s not over-sweet. Dairy, soya and gluten-free, tasters liked it. From health shops and some supermarkets, 50g.
Natasha’s Raw Passion €2.99
This 50g bar is a raw mix of agave nectar (a form of sugar) 30.5% coconut and 20.3% raw cocoa powder with coconut oil, vanilla essence and sea salt.
The blend is rich and delicious. While expensive, a third of it would be enough for a treat for an adult’s lunch break — it’s too heavy for young children. Made in Co Donegal, a good addition to the shelves.
Broderick’s Gluten Free Fruity Booty Nutty Crunchie €2
A cellophane wrapped bar of ‘exotic’ fruit (dried sweetened cranberries, apricots and mixed peel) and nuts (Brazil, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts) with puffed rice, this is a chewy mix, not too dense.
With a crunch of the rice and an overall flavour of peanuts and lemon peel with the grittiness of the other nuts, adult tasters liked it more than young kids, who found it needed a lot of chewing. Made in Dublin, 42g.
Eat Natural Protein Packed Bar €1.45
This 45g bar with 45% peanuts, 12% dark chocolate and glucose syrup, has soya protein crispies, shredded coconut, honey, crisped rice, cocoa powder and salt. It is chewy with nice, toasty peanut as the main flavour.
With 0.96g salt in each bar, keep liquids handy for afterwards. Chocolate flavour is low, but the overall taste and texture was liked by tasters.
Bounce Energy Ball €2.59
This round 42g pat of almonds, gluten-free oats, dried fruit, rice and sesame seeds is flavoured with spirulina (algae) and ginseng and sounds very healthy. Expensive, it looks it too, with an unappetizing greenness, saved by almond nibs on the outside.
The texture is a bit chewy, but the flavour is good — slightly salty and nutty. It will suit adults looking for a psychological or physical boost, more than children who may be put off by the colour.
Foods of Athenry Granola Bar €2.49
Gluten and wheat-free, this 75g bar comprises gluten-free oats, butter, brown sugar, sultanas, sunflower seeds, cranberries, chocolate chips, honey, coconut and cinnamon.
With a gentle crunch, it is oaty and the dominating flavour is of cinnamon. The brown sugar makes the texture quite sugary. This could be divided and last for three days for better value.
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