Product Review: Vegan Rise Bars Deliver Ethical Energy »
The nutritional bars market is undeniably hella glutted these days—many stores even dedicate entire aisles just for them—so when my friend Heidi told me to check out new vegan Rise Bar flavors, I was slightly skeptical; I was all like, how would these be more delightful than any of the other bajillion bars out there for us non-omnivores?
Turns out my skepticism was bunk—these are some of the best nutrition bars ever! Probably my favorite next to Vega bars and those gluten-free NuGo organic bars they sell at the airport and Raw Energy, the impossibly cute little juice bar off Shattuck in Berkeley (go there if you haven’t already!)
Rise Bars now top my list of energy bars, I think, because they’re sweet but not terribly so. They’re definitely packed with energy, and are pretty much the ideal food to bring with you on a road trip or while hiking, but they really are nicely flavor-balanced. Sometimes you just want a handful of organic nuts and fruit squished together for you by someone else and squeezed into a wrapper for your convenience.
While not all Rise Bars are vegan, the flavors they do make that are gluten-free, non-GMO and are indeed vegan include: Coconut acai, sunflower cinnamon, lemon cashew, blueberry coconut and raspberry pomegranate.
My favorite flavor of the vegan Rise Bars is by far the semi-sweet and perfectly chewy lemon cashew bar. It’s sweet with just the right amount of density. The protein base is pea protein, which is one of my faves. Some of the non-vegan bars have dairy-containing whey (insert yuck chorus), so just steer clear of those! We can all practice a little label-reading discretion and avoid animal secretions, and get our vegan Rise Bars eating game faces on like champs. Use Rise Bar’s handy store locator to find them near you!
Beyond Clif: Five more vegan energy bars, reviewed! »
This soon-to-be legendary post began as an attempt to review The Simply Bar, which the Canadians at Wellness Foods were nice enough to send me a case of. But as a person who gets to try a SHIT TON (that’s a metric measurement) of bars in my capacity as an editor at Backpacker magazine, it felt strange to talk about this one vegan bar-shaped food product and not mention any of the zillion others I’ve tasted in the last year or so. Y’all should know about all the many, many options of pocket foods that have popped up recently. Buckle your seat belts, because HERE WE GO!
1. The Simply Bar
These gluten-free babies were invented by a guy with Crohn’s disease, with the idea that they’d be easy to digest. They’re unusual in that they’re relatively low-cal (160 ish per bar), with more fiber than sugar and a whole lot of protein (16 grams). They’re kind of like grainy Rice Krispy treats in texture, with a subtle flavor (I usually have to look at the label to remember what kind I’m eating, so I’m not going to bother to endorse one). If you’re the kind of person who wants to chow down on a protein shake after exercising, these would be good. If you secretly want a bar that is like cookies, stay away.
2. Mazama Bars
Watch out: Not only are these freakin’ delicious, but they also pack nearly 400 calories each. That means you are at serious risk of eating an entire meal’s worth of yumminess in a moment of afternoon weakness if, for instance, you leave these in your desk. But if you’re really exercising hard or are deprived of genuine meals for awhile, these will make your day. They’re each about the size of a deck of cards and the texture of one of those soft granola bars. All three flavors are studded with yummy morsels like berries or chocolate, but my favorite is the Chocolate Hazelnut. I officially endorse these bars. I kinda love them.
3. Journey Bars
Let’s be honest: These bad boys are weird. Around my office, they’ve been a very contentious topic. But I like ‘em. The schtick is that they’re savory instead of sweet, which is genuinely different than your regular bar. Only 3/5 of the flavors are vegan, alas, but they’re loaded with neat grains like amaranth. So trendy! My personal fav is the coconut curry, which reminds me of eating Indian snack mix. Main problem with these bars: Sometimes they’re soft, like Nutri-Grain bars without the filling, but other bars in the same box will be like very thick crackers. Which actually works pretty well for the Rosemary flavor. Anyway, I say try them; they’re a nice snack.
Whole food bars. That’s how Pro likes to market its product. And it’s true: Eating these bars is kind of like eating a smushed-up handful of nuts and dried fruit. They’re much less like dessert than Mazama bars, but also meal-replacement. Pro’s also got another type call Fruition, which is more like a Lara bar, but full of chia seeds. Anyway, I don’t swoon over these, but they’re solid nutrition.
OK so these are a kind of Clif bar, but I couldn’t resist mentioning them because I’m so excited about them. Remember gooey, fruit-filled breakfast bars? Remember how they’re not vegan? Let’s thank Luna for restoring that particular joy to us. I haven’t tasted all the flavors, but my main comment is YUM. Partake! Partake!
Clif Crunch: Some flavors have honey so read ingredients, but these are like Nature Valley but way tastier. Crunchy! And they have vegan white chocolate in them.
Justin’s Nut Butter squeeze packs: not bars, but portable and YUM! Chocolate hazelnut is basically Nutella.
Did I miss your fav? Let us know!
Product Review: Vegan Real Bar »
Saw hello to the Real Bar! It’s my new best friend. It’s a “whole food alternative energy bar designed to deliver delicious, pure, instant fuel for active bodies.” I saw these bars at the Union Market in Carroll Gardens and my first thought was that I really like the packaging, right? They have a non-vegan bar but then right next to it was the vegan bar! I’m a sucker for vegan products I’ve never had and I’m a sucker for anything that promises energy. Plus, yours truly is training for my first 5K (remember: it’s not the number of kilometers that matters, it’s how miserable you are running them that’s important), so I totally have to eat stuff like this. It’s part of running people’s culture.
Moral of the story: This bar is good! It’s got little bits of coconut so you can chew on it but it doesn’t taste coconut-y. It’s chocolatey but not like smooth chocolate, more like healthy chocolate. But yummy healthy chocolate! And it’s got a nice salty note at the end. I do not know if it gave me a ton of energy but I do know the 2 oz. bar has 8 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber—yowza! That’s what we running people need.
It’s also gluten-free, soy-free, non-GMO, and a bunch of other stuff. I know some of you will like that! It’s not on the Food Empowerment Project’s list, but I’ve submitted The Real Bar to them and I’ll let you know when they have an answer on that.
The Real Bar is available in a few places around New York but you can also order them online. I recommend them for your energetic sweet tooth!