Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Not All Bars Are Created Equal

If you are anything like me, I'm on the go, often. In an effort to eat when I am hungry, and not when I am famished, when I am more likely to overeat or eat the wrong kinds of things... I try to keep a variety of snacks in my bag at all times. I frequently have an apple. Sometimes raw veggies, jerky (vegan or otherwise), occasionally trail mix, and almost always a bar or two. However, not all bars are created equal. 

Some, like Cliff bars, are so big, they really count as two servings, especially when you notice that each one has over 20 grams of sugar. In fact, their first ingredient is usually organic brown rice syrup. Luckily, there is quite a bit of fiber in their bars, which helps with the metabolizing process, putting less strain on your liver, and a smaller spike in blood sugar. I typically eat a whole bar with several nibbles, spaced out, over time. 

When choosing a good bar, I aim for less than 15 grams of sugar, with 2 or more grams of fiber. The more sugar the bar has, the more fiber it should also have. Good ones I have found are: Cherry Bumble Bars (12 g sugar/4 g fiber), Cliff's MOJO Dipped Peanut Butter and Jelly (12 g sugar/2 g fiber), Pomegranate Blueberry Pistachio KIND (13 g sugar/4 g fiber), Cliff Z Bars (10 g sugar/3 g fiber), and Gluten Free Cafe Chocolate Sesame (7 g sugar/3 g fiber). There are lots of them out there... Just a quick glance at the nutritional information and you will soon discover your favorites, too. 

LARABAR and JOCALAT bars are phenomenal. They have over 22 grams of sugar per bar, but it's all natural sugars from dried fruit, with the fiber. A whopping 5 grams of fiber per bar. Plus, their ingredient list is quite short... Nothing unrecognizable. Watch out for some of LARABAR's latest flavors, like Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Chocolate Chip Brownie, though... These have chocolate chips as well as dried fruit, which bumps the sugar content up a couple of notches, making them more like regular sweets than a healthy alternative. 

Working within a budget? Try scoping out your local store, hit a sale, and buy a dozen. Do this a few times a month, and suddenly you'll have a whole bowl or drawer full of variety to choose from for a while. My favorite spot for sales on healthy bars is Grocery Outlet. Again, check to be sure they aren't all sugar, and little fiber. 

Nature Valley Chewy Trail Mix bars, for example, are deceiving with only have one gram of fiber and 14 grams of sugar each. They also have "High Maltose Corn Syrup". Read: Close "cousin" to High Fructose Corn Syrup. Read: Concentrated corn sugar. Read: Processed, processed, processed. When something is that processed, it typically is void of many naturally occurring nutrients that have been lost in the process. High Maltose Corn Syrup is very sweet, so it is highly caloric, and zero research has been done on the effects of this lab-altered sweetener on the human body, which means we really don't know what the risks might be. Try to find bars that have ingredients you can pronounce and recognize.

And be warned... the chocolate coated Balance bars melt in the wrapper and make a very sticky mess when it comes time to feed yourself. You may end up wearing more of the bar than eating it!

Here is an easy recipe if you want to make your own bar:

Fruit and Almond Snack Barmakes 4 servings

1 1/2 cups pitted Medjool dates, process into chunks
1 cup raw almonds, process into chunks
1/2 cup unsweetened dried fruit (pears, cranberries, currents, raisins, apricots, or cherries)
1/2 cup shredded coconut (I prefer the unsweetened big flakes)
1 TB pure Madagascar vanilla extract, alcohol free

Place everything in a large mixing bowl. Use your clean, washed hands to mix well. Press batter into the bottom of a loaf pan coated in coconut oil. Cut into 4 bars. YUM.

For more information on LARABAR, JOCALAT bars and their flavors and ingredients, click on this link:

For more information on Bumble Bars and their flavors and ingredients, click on this link:

For more information on KIND bars, click on this link:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Beet and Carrot Coleslaw

I had only a few items to work with that evening... 
The process was incredibly easy... 
The results were outstanding!
Bonus? Absolutely nutrient dense, as beets provide anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification support. The carrots also provide anti-oxidant support, which prevent against cancer and heart disease, and also promote healthy vision. Rich in vitamin K and vitamin C, red cabbage is particularly nutritious and also provides anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and glucosinolate support, which reduces stress and lowers your chance for many types of cancers.

Beet and Carrot Coleslaw
2 medium sized beets (boiled, skin removed)
1 carrot
1 large scallion
¼ of a small red cabbage
4-5 oz of crumbled feta
2-3 TB of Brianna’s Real French Vinaigrette
Fresh ground pepper

Chop first four ingredients. Add feta, dressing and 3 grinds of pepper. Mix. Serve cold.

For more information on the benefits of beets, click on this link:

For more information on the benefits of carrots, click on this link:

For more information on the benefits of red cabbage, click on this link: