Tuesday, March 19, 2013

march to fitness muscle up mondays: protein bars

I'm proud to announce that there are several protein shakes and bars that are gluten-free.  Due to the sheer number of items, I'm only covering protein bars in this post, and they're listed in alphabetical order.  Most of these photos were taken at the Arnold Classic with my iPhone.


Good Greens

I met a few representatives from Good Greens at the Arnold Classic.  I tried a couple samples and really enjoyed them.  Yesterday at Jungle Jim's Eastgate, I picked up a chocolate raspberry bar.  It's chocolate covered and tasty...but grainy.  This particular bar has Omega 3's, 10 grams of protein, 3 probiotics (think the happy bacteria in yogurt), 40 antioxidants, and 100% of your daily fruits and vegetables.

From their site, "Good Greens is a delicious, raw, vegan, and gluten-free protein bar that promotes a healthy, socially conscious lifestyle."
Unfortunately I didn't realize that the final ingredient under the Nutrition Facts where the Good Greens Z52 Superfood Powder list is has ginger root - one of my allergens - so I'm popping a couple Benadryls as I draft this....

I've been familiar with Larabar for quite a while and am a pretty big fan.  I like that there is variety in taste and texture but with simplicity.  Larabar's self-description sums it up: "Produces healthy energy bars made from minimal, pure ingredients."  They're one of my go-to snacks to pack in my purse and available at a number of stores.

I've had the Larabar (with no more than 9 ingredients), Uber, and Jocalat (with Fair Trade Certified chocolate).  ALT is the company's new alternative protein bar, which I learned about while researching for this post.  Those are vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO.

Bonus: they'll recycle & upcycle your old Larabar wrappers.

If you're gluten-free, you're probably familiar with Elizabeth Hasselbeck's gluten-free line NoGii and her books.  This was actually the first time I tried it.  I grabbed the Peanut Butter & Chocolate High Protein Bar at Walgreens.  It kind of looks like a peanut butter Rice Krispie treat drizzled with a little chocolate and atop a thin layer of chocolate.  It has a nice crunch.  It has 20 grams of protein and 10% each of calcium & iron.

NuGo Dark is the only company to make real dark chocolate-coated protein bars.  These are non-dairy and vegan.  I tried the Mint Chocolate Chip -- think Girl Scout cookie! -- and Chocolate Pretzel with Sea Salt -- it's a gluten-free pretzel!! -- at the Arnold Classic and absolutely had to take some home with me.  They're at some Kroger locations (check the candy aisle), Whole Foods, and Jungle Jim's.  Mmm.
Of note, the company has started an online petition at Change.org asking the FDA to set a standard for dark chocolate, since standards exist for both milk and white chocolates.

NuGo Slim is another gluten-free line available from the company.  These have low-sugar, high protein, and high fiber.  At Jungle Jim's, I picked up the Raspberry Truffle, which is dipped in dark chocolate.  There is no maltitol and no artificial sweeteners.  The texture is harder, but the flavor of the freeze-dried raspberries inside make up for it.  I also tried the Brownie Crunch flavor at the Classic.
Most but not all NuGo bars are gluten-free.  If you're looking at the NuGo Dark, FREE, Slim, 10 bars, or Crispy Cat Candy Bars, you should be in GF territory.  You can also get one of their seven reasonably-priced sample packs on the NuGo site!

I remember the first time I had a PowerBar; I was rappelling in the Hocking Hills.  When I was diagnosed with this gluten intolerance, I thought my time as a PowerBar consumer was over.  However, these new PowerBar Performance Energy Blends caught my eye tonight at Kroger in the Natural Food section.  They're a "fruit-based energy food" and GF.  I picked up the Apple Mango Strawberry flavor.  Surprisingly, the in-store signage mentioned the gluten-free status, and it's on the packaging, but it isn't mentioned on their website.

Premier Protein Crisp
I tried these at the Arnold Classic.  Premier Protein also makes another line that is not gluten-free; be sure to get the Crisp!  I tried the Honey Caramel and Chocolate Mint.  Although I wouldn't have thought to combine honey and caramel, yummy!!  The Chocolate Mint was good too.  (But if you're wanting something like a Thin Mint, I'd stick with NuGo.)

I picked a Pure Organic Banana Coconut bar up at GNC.  It's Non-GMO Project Verified, USDA Organic, gluten-free, and vegan.  It has a nice flavor but is very dry.  The chunks of walnuts - rich in antioxidants - are about the size of my fingernail.  I'd really like to try the Cherry Cashew flavor.

Bonus: the company supports The Lunchbox Fund's efforts to feed impoverished children.

I grabbed a PureFit Berry Almond Crunch bar at Jungle Jim's yesterday.  It's gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, Kosher-certified, high in protein (18 grams), no hydrogenated oils or artificial sweeteners, and won't melt.  It's like dry, thick peanut butter with a nice hint of berry.  The packaging indicates that it is award-winning, and I was able to find on the website that they were named by BIKE Magazine as Nutrition Bar of the Year.

Bonus: the company encourage pet adoption.

This is another company that was represented at the Arnold Classic.  The website sounds like all of the Quest Nutrition Protein Bars are gluten-free.   They have two lines: 99.95% Natural and 100% Natural.

I have QuestBar Protein Bars in Apple Pie and Mixed Berry Bliss (99.95% natural) as well as a QuestBar Natural Protein Bar in Cinnamon Roll (100% natural).  The carbs in the bars are from nuts rather than from sugar.

The first two 99.95% natural bars I tried were dry, thick nut butter-like bars.  The Cinnamon Roll bar, however, totally tasted and smelled like a cinnamon roll.  (The texture is still like thick nut butter.)  They also have a high-protein peanut butter cup.

Others not reviewed here but available and gluten free:

I sincerely hope my taste-testing helps!  Happy eating! :)

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