A Lotus Grows in Brooklyn


New fad in food bars
June 30, 2009, 12:41 pm
Filed under: Vegan | Tags: , , , , , ,

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Okay, what’s going on with nutrition bars lately? First a friend turned me on to Larabars, because they are vegan(!), all-natural combinations of fruits and nuts. Their ingredient lists read like this:

Peanut Butter Cookie: peanuts, dates, salt.
Banana Bread: almonds, dates, unsweetened bananas
Cherry Pie: dates, almonds, unsweetened cherries

(Compare this to the ingredient list to the typical Luna bar:

Luna_bar_standard_09_BA

“LunaPro ® (Soy Rice Crisp [Soy Protein Isolate, Organic Rice Flour], Organic Toasted Oats, Organic Roasted Soybeans, Organic Soy Flour, Organic Flaxmeal), Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Caramel (Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Inulin, Organic Palm Kernel Oil, Soy Protein Concentrate, Organic Tapioca Maltodextrin, Water, Salt, Natural Flavors, Organic Soy Lecithin), Inulin (Chicory Extract), Organic Coating (Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Palm Kernel Oil, Organic Soy Flour, Organic Soy Lecithin, Organic Vanilla), Organic Soy Butter, Toffee Pieces (Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Cocoa Butter, Natural Flavor, Salt, Soy Fiber, Soy Lecithin), Vegetable Glycerin, Organic Oat Syrup Solids, Organic Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, Sea Salt.”

Um…organic is good but why do you need all that stuff in there?)

In contrast, Larabars are super tasty, if a bit highly caloric, snacks or light meal replacements with simple ingredients. The fats are “good fats” from nuts and there are no added chemicals, sugars, or other craziness.

balance barNow, I’m suddenly seeing simple fruit-and-nut bars from every company: Balance Bar now has the “Pure” variety, and Clif Bar (which also owns Luna) introduced the “Nectar” brand. I wonder if PowerBar and Odwalla are scrambling to develop competitors in this new market as we speak.

nectar_cranbrryaprictalmdThe problem here is that even natural-looking bars from these kinds of companies run perilously close to being what Michael Pollan would call “food-like products.” If you want to be sure you are only eating cherries and dates, then just eat cherries and dates instead of trying to find them in processed food form.

But of course, that’s not always possible, and these kinds of bars are convenient for people on the run. That being the case, I’d advocate for you to gravitate toward the ones with fewer ingredients, recognizable ingredients, and fewer sugars (and of course vegan) :).

Otherwise, go to the farmer’s market and grab an apple!

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1 Comment so far
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I always have larabars in my pocket when I go on long runs. I like the apple pie ones.

Alton Brown would tell you to make your own:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/good-eats/power-trip/index.html

I haven’t tried making them yet, but they seem really easy.

Comment by Andy Lin




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