Lara Bar Review – Healthy, Convenient Snacks

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My latest nutritional quest has been to eat things with lower numbers of ingredients in them. Sounds like a simple plan, right? Well, it is…and it works quite well. I am not going to go into this concept too much here because I am currently in the middle of a experiment with this type of eating that I will write a detailed blog about when the experiment is complete. What I will tell you is that, so far, the results are dramatic and exciting. The basic concept is to minimize the number of ingredients that you eat during the day. This forces you to eat foods that are less processed and closer to their natural state (whole foods). It is not “fool-proof” because things like French fries don’t have very many ingredients…so you still have to apply the laws of nutritional common sense…such as “don’t eat deep-fried foods”. However, in general, the idea forces you to eat healthier.

Why am I telling you this in a blog post that is supposed to be about Lara Bars? Well, because Lara Bars fit quite well into a low-ingredient, whole food diet and they have been a staple in my diet during this experiment.

So, what are Lara Bars?

Lara Bars are nothing but fruit, nuts, healthy oils, and spices in a bar form that can be taken anywhere as a snack. They are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, non-gmo, kosher, and vegan (NOTE: The three newest flavors contain a simple, 4-ingredient chocolate chip that has no milk in it but it is made on a line that also makes chocolate chips with milk so they are not claiming those three flavors to be 100% dairy-free, soy-free, or vegan).

You will find that each and every bar has about 5 ingredients with some being as low as 2 ingredients. They are just plain old simple whole foods!

Why should you eat Lara Bars?

Do you like convenient snacks that take no preparation and taste really good and are actually good for you? Well, there you go…that is reason enough. I used to eat things like Power Bars and Zone Perfect Bars and Clif Bars as a “healthy snack”. Now, I am not going to say that you should never eat one of those bars but let me just show you the ingredients in a Power Bar Triple Threat Energy Bar (Smores flavor):

Ingredients:
CHOCOLATEY COATING (SUGAR, FRACTIONATED PALM KERNEL OIL, COCOA, WHEY, NONFAT MILK, SOY LECITHIN, NATURAL VANILLA FLAVOR), CORN SYRUP, CHOCOLATE CRÈME FILLING (CORN SYRUP, SUGAR, PALM OIL, WATER, ALKALIZED COCOA, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, NONFAT MILK, CHOCOLATE, NATURAL FLAVOR, CARRAGEENAN, SOY LECITHIN), TRISOURCE™ PROTEIN BLEND (WHEY PROTEIN ISOLATE, CALCIUM CASEINATE, SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE), MALTITOL SYRUP, VEGETABLE GLYCERIN, OAT FIBER, SOY CRISPS (SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, TAPIOCA STARCH, SALT), MARSHMALLOW FLAVORED NUGGETS (SUGAR, MALTODEXTRIN, VEGETABLE GLYCERIN, PALM KERNEL OIL, RICE FLOUR, DEXTROSE, GUM ARABIC, WATER, NATURAL FLAVOR, CORNSTARCH), HIGH OLEIC CANOLA OIL, AND LESS THAN 2% OF ALMOND BUTTER, NATURAL FLAVORS (CONTAINS SOY LECITHIN), PEANUT FLOUR, SALT, SOY LECITHIN, MINERALS: CALCIUM PHOSPHATE, POTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, FERROUS FUMARATE (IRON), VITAMINS: ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C), VITAMIN B6 HYDROCHLORIDE, RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2), THIAMINE MONONITRATE (VITAMIN B1). CONTAINS ALMOND, MILK, PEANUT AND SOY INGREDIENTS. MADE ON EQUIPMENT THAT ALSO PROCESSES WHEAT.

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 230 Fat: 8g Protein: 10g Carbs: 31g

I used to eat one of those every day after my workout. Now, there may be some healthy stuff in there but I don’t know what half of it even is.

Now how about the Lara Bar (Apple Pie flavor…which is very readily available at your local grocery store or even Costco):

Ingredients:

DATES, ALMONDS, UNSWEETENED APPLES, WALNUTS, RAISINS, CINNAMON

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 190 Fat: 10g Protein: 4g Carbs: 24g

Ok, now how many of you are worried about the fact that the Lara Bar only had 4g of protein compared to 10g in the power bar? Admit it…that is the first thing you saw and you are worried about it. Why though? Wouldn’t it be better for you to get your protein from a lean whole protein source like fish or chicken rather than the trademarked, processed protein blend in the power bar? I would be more worried about the 8g of fat that come from unhealthy sources like “fractionated palm kernel oil” (which is mentioned at least 3 times) in the power bar. Where does the fat come from in the Lara Bar? Walnuts and Almonds! Both are sources of healthy, cholesterol-lowering fats! These are the things that we should be putting in our bodies!!! Where are the carbs coming from in the Lara Bar? Mostly from fruit. Where are they coming from in the Power Bar? Things like sugar, milk, cornstarch, rice flour, and corn syrup.

Ok, so let’s assume that I have convinced you that Lara Bars are healthier than Power Bars and you really want to eat Lara Bars but you still have one question: Do they taste good? A very valid question! Below, I will review each and every Lara Bar flavor currently available and tell you what I think. If you don’t want to read every one, hear is the general statement: I LOVE almost every flavor. There are currently 19 flavors available and I have personally tried 14 of them. My wife has tried 2 more that I haven’t and there are 3 that neither of us has tried. Of the 14 that I have tried, I dislike 2 of them. The rest are great. Here are the reviews:

lara bars

Apple Pie (DATES, ALMONDS, UNSWEETENED APPLES, WALNUTS, RAISINS, CINNAMON)

Does it taste like an Apple Pie? Well, not exactly but it certainly reminds you of apple pie in a very noticeable way. This flavor is just plain good and very easy to find.

Banana Bread (ALMONDS, DATES, UNSWEETENED BANANAS)

This is one of the few flavors that I have not tried. Here is what the website says: With its blend of bananas, dates and almonds – it’s like biting into a slice of luscious banana bread. Each bar, in fact, contains one whole banana and enough dates to meet 12% of the daily recommended allowance of potassium. Almonds, meanwhile, provide Vitamin E, antioxidants and 2.7 grams of heart-healthy Omega-6 fatty acids. Healthy, yes, but delicious, too.

Carrot Cake (DATES, ALMONDS, WALNUTS, RAISINS, PINEAPPLE, UNSWEETENED COCONUT, CARROTS, CINNAMON, EXTRA VIRGIN COCONUT OIL)

OMG (as they say in the IM world), this may be the best flavor ever. Of course, I LOVE carrot cake for dessert…the only thing better than carrot cake is carrot cake with ice cream (hey, isn’t this blog about healthy food….oops). Anyway, this is an awesome flavor that definitely resembles carrot cake. This one is going to be in stock at my house regularly.

Cashew Cookie (CASHEWS, DATES)

Not quite as good as Peanut Butter Cookie (reviewed below) but still quite good. I can’t say that I have ever had an actual Cashew Cookie but this flavor is definitely a winner regardless. A top 5 selection. Cashews are my favorite nut though so that probably has something to do with it.

Cherry Pie (DATES, ALMONDS, UNSWEETENED CHERRIES)

Does it taste like a Cherry Pie? Again, not exactly. I don’t like this flavor personally as much as the Apple Pie but I do not mind it at all. Again, it certainly gives you a hint of pie with every bite. This one is also one of the easy to find flavors.

Chocolate Coconut (DATES, ALMONDS, WALNUTS, UNSWEETENED COCOA POWDER, UNSWEETENED COCONUT)

This is one of the flavors that I don’t like. When Lara Bars first came out Costco used to sell a three-pack of Chocolate Coconut, Cherry Pie, and Apple Pie. We never really liked the Chocolate Coconut because it is a little too bitter with the cocoa powder. I guess our tastes are just spoiled by sweetened milk chocolate. Costco three-packs in this area now come with Apple Pie, Cherry Pie, and Peanut Butter Cookie…hmm, I wonder why. Anyway, there may be some out there that like it but this is one of the two flavors that I won’t eat.

Chocolate Chip Brownie (DATES, CHOCOLATE CHIPS [unsweetened chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter and vanilla], ALMONDS, WALNUTS, COCOA POWDER, SALT

So, this is one of the three new flavors where they have decided to add chocolate chips to the ingredients. Up until now, the word “sugar” has never been seen in the ingredients list of a Lara Bar that I know of. I was shocked to see this and I am not sure what to think about it. The chocolate chips are made with fair trade ingredients and have no milk in them but I am still not sure what to think. Is Lara Bar selling out? Well, here is the taste review though: Unbelievably good! If you are going to have some sweetened chocolate, here is the place to do it. It is as healthy as it can get.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (CASHEWS, DATES, CHOCOLATE CHIPS [unsweetened chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter and vanilla], SALT)

Haven’t tried this one yet. Sounds good though.

Cinnamon Roll (DATES, ALMONDS, WALNUTS, CASHEWS, RAISINS, CINNAMON)

Definitely another winner here. This flavor really does give your mouth the sensation of eating a cinnamon roll. I would have to say that this flavor is in my top five for sure. A candidate (along with Peanut Butter Cookie) for your first Lara Bar if you have never had one.

Cocoa Mole (DATES, ALMONDS, WALNUTS, UNSWEETENED COCOA POWDER, CINNAMON, CHILI)

This is one of the flavors that I have yet to try so I can’t really tell you what I think of it. Here is the description from the website: Holy Môlé! – This bar’s distinguishing ingredient, chili, boasts a subtle, gradual heat. The unexpected combination of spicy and sweet is perfect for indecisive types looking for a nutrition boost. Cocoa Mole packs antioxidant-rich cocoa, protein-loaded almonds and the Omega-3 superstar walnuts, all which contribute to 20% of daily fiber requirements. This ‘hot’ chocolate will have everyone singing ‘OLÉ!’

Coconut Cream Pie (DATES, UNSWEETENED COCONUT, ALMONDS, CASHEWS, ORGANIC EXTRA VIRGIN COCONUT OIL)

Think Key Lime Pie (reviewed below) without the lime. Still good flavor and again one that I thought I wouldn’t care for. Surprised again.

Ginger Snap (DATES, ALMONDS, PECANS, CINNAMON, GINGER, CLOVES)

I have not tried this one but my wife has. She says that it is pretty good but the ginger is rather strong…maybe too strong. So, stay away from this one if you don’t want a strong ginger flavor.

Key Lime Pie (DATES, CASHEWS, ALMONDS, UNSWEETENED COCONUT, LIME JUICE CONCENTRATE)

I didn’t think that I would like this one because I don’t like lemon or lime desserts but I was pleasantly surprised. I can’t say when the last time was that I tried an actual key lime pie so I don’t really have a good sense for what that tastes like. However, what I do know is that the lime and coconut flavors in this bar go very nicely with the nuts. Surprisingly good.

Lemon Bar (DATES, CASHEWS, ALMONDS, LEMON JUICE CONCENTRATE, NATURAL LEMON FLAVOR)

My wife has tried this one, but I have not. She says it tastes like a baked dessert lemon bar.

Peanut Butter & Jelly (DATES, PEANUTS, UNSWEETENED CHERRIES, SALT)

Just like what it sounds. It really does taste like peanut butter and cherry jelly.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip (DATES, PEANUTS, CHOCOLATE CHIPS [unsweetened chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter and vanilla], SALT)

This is also one of the three new flavors with chocolate chips. I must say, without talking about the healthfulness of chocolate chips, this is the BEST flavor of Lara Bar that I have tried. UNBELIEVABLE

Peanut Butter Cookie (PEANUTS, DATES, SALT)

No doubt about it, this is one of my favorites. I love Peanut Butter flavored dessert items and this really does resemble a Peanut Butter cookie. It is amazing that those three simple ingredients can taste that good but I tell you no lie. If you are new to Lara Bars, this would be a candidate for your first ever Lara Bar for sure.

Pecan Pie (DATES, PECANS, ALMONDS)

I like this flavor just fine but I find that it is overshadowed by cinnamon roll. The tastes are somewhat similar but the cinnamon and cashews just give the cinnamon roll a little more flavor. Nothing wrong with this flavor though…I would just pick cinnamon roll over this one if I had the choice.

Tropical Fruit Tart (DATES, PINEAPPLE, UNSWEETENED COCONUT, ALMONDS, ORGANIC EXTRA VIRGIN COCONUT OIL, CASHEWS, ORANGE JUICE CONCENTRATE, ORANGE PEEL)

This is the second one that I dislike. The flavor and consistency of this one is just not that great. It is not disgusting but I would never buy this flavor again.

Well, there you have it. What an amazing variety of flavors and most of them are good! Unfortunately, many of the flavors are hard to find in normal stores. We order most of ours in boxes online. You can find Applie Pie, Cherry Pie, Cashew Cookie, and Peanut Butter Cookie fairly easily in a grocery store but be prepared to order many of the other flavors if your stores are anything like the ones here in Bremerton, WA.

For more info on Lara Bars, visit their website at www.larabar.com

I hope you enjoyed this review. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions.

Ryan Chapman
B.A.S.E. Training
ryan@tribasetraining.com
www.tribasetraining.com

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