Disclaimer: I realize everyone has different granola bar preferences. Health food stores carry awesome selections of perfect specialty granola bars and motivated home cooks can whip up truly fantastic DIY granola bars. This isn’t intended to be a guide for bars like that.
This is a guide for your standard grocery store granola bar selection- I’m talking Walmart status here.
When I founded ‘peeled’, my intent was to write posts for your average person trying to make little adjustments to improve their health. My test before publishing tips on this blog is my mother. My mom is a perfect example of someone who is open to improvement but refuses to do ‘weird health food things.’
Example: Switch to natural peanut butter available at the local grocery store? Sure. Seek out a farmer to obtain organic locally produced grass fed beef? Absolutely not.
Granola bars are great to have on hand for when hunger strikes. Many will give you a decent dose of sugar [energy burst] accompanied by some protein [long lasting energy]. I’m guilty of stashing them in everything from desk drawers to handbags (along with many other things…as my Instagram followers recently learned). Where we run into a problem is when certain granola bars carry a nutrition label more similar to a candy bar than a health food. Word to the wise: if it looks and tastes like a candy bar, it is a candy bar.
My un-fancy list of things I would encourage my mom to look for when buying granola bars:
- PRICE: I refuse to pay more than $1 per bar. I’m really not even happy paying $1 a bar… its a snack, not a meal replacement. Don’t let companies rip you off.
- CALORIES: Calories = energy for your body. I like granola bars to be under 200 calories. Again, its intended to just be a snack.
- CALORIES FROM FAT: You don’t want this to be high- you want your calories to be from quality sources like protein. The lower the better here, no more than 30% of your total calories.
- SODIUM: This is salt, watch out for this- sometimes companies dump in salt to make up for poor flavor.
- DIETARY FIBER: Fiber is good, it keeps you full and keeps things moving inside your digestive system.
- SUGAR: I’d stay below 6g. You won’t see a % daily value listed on the label, but that’s another story.
- PROTEIN: A good bar should have at least 3g, 6 or 7 is even better!
- INGREDIENTS: Keep these as recognizable as possible. They’re listed in order of weight, so the first thing you read is what makes up most of the bar. Watch out for multiple forms of sugar (honey, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, cane syrup, etc.). Also look out for processed sources of protein (whey isolate) or fiber (chicory root extract). You want fiber and protein, but you want it coming from real sources like oats, nuts or seeds.
My 2 favorite bars at the moment are KIND brand ‘Maple Pumpkin Seeds’ and Kashi brand TLC bar in ‘Cherry Dark Chocolate’. I think they’re a reasonable blend of hunger-fighting-health-warriors and tasty yumminess. (Yes, lots of made up words this post) Neither of these companies know I exist, it’s just an honest recommendation.
Remember, the point of a snack is to keep you feeling your best and prevent overeating at meal time. I’m definitely guilty of snacking until I feel full, rather than until I’m no longer hungry. Granola bars can be a perfect [forced] portion control to keep your hunger at bay!
What are your favorite granola bar brands? Have you tried making your own at home?