Once upon a time a candy bar was a treat you picked up from the neighborhood store. Back then we were admonished by our parents not to let it spoil our dinner, which more often than not was home cooked.
The candy bar served as an energy supplement, some fat and carbohydrate to carry us over till the typical meal of meat, dairy, vegetables, grains, beans and potatoes. Then came the fast food explosion. Fast foods, packed with refined fats and carbohydrates, were short on micronutrients compared to home-cooked meals, many of which stemmed from healthy ethnic traditions and often included garden-fresh vegetables or market-fresh foods.
Mars applied the powerful Snickers name to a line of bars in four varieties: Nutrition, Protein, Energy and Low-Carb Lifestyle.
Fast food sales continue to boom. Concern over the obesity epidemic has by no means tempered our desire for convenience. Nor has it significantly altered the composition of the fast food menu. What has changed is the image of the treat, particularly the bars. A new species has emerged, leaner, fitter and better able to shore up the weakness of the not-so-home-cooked meals.
They may look like candy and even taste like candy, but the composition of some members of this new species is by design more like the meals of our past, lower in refined fats and carbohydrates and richer in vitamins and minerals.
Don’t have time for breakfast? Barbara’s Organic Bakery has several solutions. How about a Nature’s Choice Multigrain Cereal Bars? They’re fruit-filled, low in fat, wheat-free and rich in whole grains such as oats and barley. Maybe something crunchy is more to your liking. Organic Crunchy Organic Granola Bars are wheat free and contain nearly half the recommended daily servings of Whole Grains. Fruit & Yogurt bars mix real fruit, yogurt and whole grains into a portable package. The soluble fiber of oats and barley is known to lower cholesterol.
No fruits or veggies in that burger and fries order? Think5 fruit and vegetable bars pack two cups of fruit (apples, cranberries) and three cups of vegetables (spinach and broccoli) and omega-3 fatty acids in each gluten-free bar. Other nutrient-rich ingredients include acerola berries, sweet potatoes, brown rice, carrots, parsley, alfalfa grass, watercress, chlorella, and grapes.
“Greens and berries are foods that help people maintain high levels of productivity, build strong immune systems and support general well-being,” says Thinkproducts CEO Lizanne Falsetto. The former model and mother of two built Thinkproducts based on her belief that pure food creates vitality.
Bouquet of Fruits’ On Track bars contain a full serving of fruit per bar. “Studies have shown that children are consuming less than the daily recommended servings of fruit while consuming excess calories in the form of sugars and fats,” says Cory Colligan marketing and sales for Bouquet of Fruits. On Track bars are free of added sugar and trans fats, high in fiber, raw, vegan, SB-12, and Kosher.
Deep fried foods got you hankering for something raw? Alice Benedetto, president and founder of Raw Indulgence Ltd., created something to satisfy that need. “I started making raw desserts for my son; I wanted him to eat healthier,” says Benedetto. Her organic raw food bars, which come in eight flavors from spirulina and cashew to raisin and chocolate, contain dried fruit, raw nuts and sprouted flax.
Lara bars are revolutionary in their own right as the ingredient list fits on only one line, and with readable type. Raw nuts, dried fruit, healthy spices, and that’s about it. The dates that sweeten the bars also hold them together -- no thickeners needed. Dates, which are not actually dried fruit — they come that way off the tree — are a food bar super food.
Organic Food Bars, the creation of Dr. Jack J. Singh, contain organic almond butter, organic date paste, organic raisins, sesame seeds and such exotic ingredients as sprouted flax and sprouted quinoa, premium agave nectar and organic brown rice protein. The bars are free of trans fats and highly refined sugars.
Are fast foods ruining your digestion? Attune Food’s probiotic wellness bars contain specially formulated probiotics to promote healthy digestive function. Each all-natural wellness bar is packed with five times the live active cultures in yogurt.
Want a less fatty source of protein? Many of today’s bars pack a significant amount of protein due to the increased use of protein concentrates, like whey and soy. ADM now offers food manufacturers three varieties of NutriSoy protein crisps, 60 and 80 percent protein in soy and 85 percent protein in soy and wheat.
Spoil our meals? Well, if bars stave off hunger long enough to make us re-evaluate our love affair with fast food, then maybe spoiling our meals is a good thing.