Not everyone wants to make things from scratch, so I aim to pick out the best of what can be bought ready-made and see how good it really is.
Back in February I reviewed 10 yeast free shop-bought breads, sampling the good, the bad (and the ugly!) to work out which was the best for those on a yeast free diet. It was great to also share fabulous breads suitable for other diets too including gluten, wheat and dairy free and vegetarian / vegan. You can see the results here.
So this month I'm moving on to another easy to pick up product that many people consume on a weekly, if not daily basis: snack bars.
I wanted to limit my pool a little and have targeted snack bars that contain no dried fruit.
Now before all the haters come clamoring in here I am going to say there is nothing wrong with some dried fruit occasionally.
However as part of my journey learning about yeast free (and incorrectly getting a little side-tracked with the whole candida theory) I tried to cut down on sugar as much as possible, including dried fruit.
If you're thinking the same and you want to understand about sugar without getting side-tracked by quacks then have a look at The Rooted Project's really helpful info-graphic about free sugars here. Free sugars is a better way to think about sugars than refined vs. unrefined which is a bit deceptive.
Of course these snacks aren't going to be 'sugar free.' Instead we're focusing on snack bars that are made without dried fruit if:
a) you don't like the fruit
b) you don't find it agrees with you (be that an allergy or intolerance) or
c) you are trying a bit of Sarah Wilson's I Quit Sugar programme to readjust your taste-buds to a lower sugar life-style.
Let's get going! I've got nine delicious bars to test and select a winner, let's delve in.
1. Bounce Coconut and Macadamia Protein Bliss
They're a firm snack ball, just sweet enough to give you a sugary hit and satisfy your hunger. I absolutely love this one and it's been my go-to snack for ages.
Bounce provided breakfast at the recent Health Blogger Summit and showcased their newest range of vegan snack balls, the VLife collection, some of which are some really innovative flavour combinations like Beetroot Cashew and Almond Kale. I know some people aren't keen but with my savoury preference they tasted great to me!
However in doing my research for this post I realised these Coconut & Macadamia Bounce balls are sweetened with agave syrup rather than dried fruit.
Google search agave syrup and you get some rather alarming statements: "A Sweetener Worse Than Sugar" says Authority Nutrition and Dr Axe states it's "actually manufactured using a highly processed procedure that basically strips the naturally occurring agave juice of all nutritional value." Oh.
As with everything I'm not intending to completely stop eating these because of what I've read now, everything in moderation. I also notice the VLife series are made with Brown Rice Syrup instead of Agave, perhaps a conscious decision from Bounce?
Verdict: 6/10 This has long been a favourite but maybe agave syrup isn't the most nutritious sweetener going.
2. Clif Chocolate Almond and Fudge Bar
I gave this snack bar to my boyfriend before we went to play some squash and he loved it, which is a pretty good accolade as someone fairly fussy on what he eats!
These bars are Clif's original product and they're crumbly and really delicious. They're not overly chocolatey and if you search the images online they're not exactly beautiful - they do look a bit like a lumpy poo... But don't let that deceive you, they're a seriously delicious snack and sweetened with brown rice syrup, loads of organic credentials and suitable for veggies and vegans this a real winner.
Verdict: 8/10 A chocolatey crumbly bar of organic goodness, boy approved too!
3. 9 Bar Super Seeds Original Carob Hit
This is another brand I discovered early on looking for fruit free snack bars. Loaded with seeds the whole 9 Bars range is a really delicious way of snacking without the dried fruit.
Shock horror though, these bars are made with sugar. Again, not going to say don't eat them - just everything in moderation! With a slick of dairy-free carob (read vegan chocolate!) across the top and a good chewy consistency these are another yummy way to satisfy your hunger.
Verdict: 6/10 A little sticky sweetness lifts these seeds to another level
So that's three down and a pretty tasty beginning. Have you tried any of these? What did you think?
Part two of these reviews is now live so click here to get the next installment for three more snack bars to compete for the title of best fruit free snack.