Energy and protein bars have flanked the grocery aisles for years now, and the real estate they take is ever expanding. Certainly I’ve gone through my fair share of Power Bars and Clif Bars, especially since Costco sells them in bulk. But as much as I enjoyed these bars, they seemed to be more in the sugary granola bar camp than an actual meal replacement. So when I stumbled across the Core Foods booth at the FoodBuzz Conference last fall, I expected a similar sweet, snacky treat. But I was wrong.
The one I tried that day–Raw Almond Raisin–was sweet, but from raisins and not from sugar. The bar was dense and chewy, mainly from the whole oats and ground almonds. Spiced with perhaps cinnamon and nutmeg (the package just says ground spices), the bar had the flavor profile of an oatmeal raisin cookie without any of the added junk. In fact, the bar contains only five raw, organic ingredients. That’s it.
Core Foods (a not-for-profit corporation) was kind enough to send me three more bars to sample and possibly review at my leisure. Since the bars are perishable, I quickly stashed them in the freezer for later. That’s when I ran into a little trouble as Morgan loves this sort of thing, and once he discovered my stash, poof! They were gone. The good news is that he enjoyed the bars so much, he was happy to pick up replacements for me at the local Whole Foods. (You’ll find them in the refrigerated section and not in the energy/protein bar aisle.)
The bars come in three flavors: Raw Almond Raisin, Raw Cashew Cacao, and Raw Walnut Banana. The “Defender Meal” is meant to be a basic meal replacement, while the “Warrior Meal,” which has additional protein, is meant to be eaten after intense activity or for post-workout recovery. While I enjoyed all three flavors, the Raw Almond Raisin was definitely my favorite, closely followed by the Raw Cashew Cacao. One bar with some water will keep you full for hours, literally. In fact, one bar was a bit too filling for me, so I split it with Morgan instead and had my half with a little greek yogurt and fresh fruit.
In any event, if you stumble across Core bars at your local market, I’d recommend giving them a whirl (or you can purchase them online). They are slightly pricey when compared to their sugary counterparts (about $3.99/bar), but it’s well worth it, especially since the bars are far more satisfying (and they’re actually good for you). In addition to Whole Foods, the Core Foods store locator will help you find other local retailers.
Note: I received no compensation for this post beyond the energy bars discussed above. All opinions expressed above are my own.