Friday, August 17, 2012

Gluten-Free Review: NOW Energy Bars

Happy Friday!  I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely ready for the weekend.  I decided to kick off my Friday right with a butt-kicking BodyStep class this morning – definitely the hardest step class I’ve ever done!  I ended up being very glad that I grabbed one of the NOW bar samples that I snagged at the gluten-free expo when I was headed out the door to supplement my morning smoothie. 

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NOW (No Opportunity Wasted) bars are certified gluten free and high in protein, designed to help increase energy and endurance for active lifestyles.  Their key ingredient is Manuka honey from New Zealand, which provides more health benefits with anti-inflammatory properties and an antibacterial potency 10 to 50 times more powerful than regular honey.  They also contain white chia seeds, which can help regulate electrolytes.

That stuff is all well and good, but for me the most important factor in these bars is taste.  If I’m going to invest more than $1 per bar, I want to enjoy it!  Most of the time I find protein bars dry and gluey, but I’m happy to report that I really enjoyed the taste and texture of the flavors of these bars.

The peanut & caramel flavor was by far my favorite of the bunch.  It’s sweet and chewy, and the combination of peanut and caramel made me think that they should start putting caramel in peanut butter – I’d be the first in line!  It’s definitely designed with endurance athletes in mind though, a 2.5 oz bar packs an astounding 280 calories and 42g of carbs.  Not exactly ideal for snacking on the couch Smile 

The white chocolate, fruit and nut flavor that I tried this morning was my least favorite, but it was still better than other protein bars I’ve tried.  I’m personally not a big white chocolate fan and think it would have been much better with dark chocolate, especially if they’re pushing the antioxidant angle.  It has the same nutritional stats as the peanut and caramel flavor, with a bit more saturated fat (likely from that white chocolate), so I doubt I’d ever pick this one over the peanut and caramel.

The last bar I tried was one of their newton-style bars, the Soft-Baked Strawberry.  It reminded me almost exactly of a NutriGrain bar, one of my favorite snacks in high school.  It doesn’t have quite as much fiber as the first two and the protein is practically nonexistent, but the calorie count is also a lot more reasonable – just 150 per bar.  I think these would be great to have in my bag for traveling, when I (inevitably) can’t find something suitable for breakfast.  Paired with some Greek yogurt for protein I think it would make a decent meal, albeit a bit heavy on the sugar. 

Unfortunately they don’t seem to be in a lot of retail stores around here, I used the store locator and it seems they are mostly stocked in gyms.  They are also available on Amazon.  I’ll be keeping an eye out though!

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