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Review: Larabars

Posted by wmagnus On April - 12 - 2010

One of the big problems with healthy eating is figuring out what to eat on the go. Traditional convenience foods are often fat and calorie laden and just not an option for somebody looking to age against the machine.

Recently, while browsing at our local vitamin shop we came across something that looked promising; food bars without preservatives, without tropical oils, without weird sugar alcohols. We’re not suckers for such things like we used to be. For a while we did strict low carb dieting and got completely suckered in by a brand of protein bar that was later recalled and ordered relabeled by the FDA because the manufacturer was lying about the carb count. So for us to step out and try new bars is a big step.

Larabars are from the aptly named Larabar company. In 2000, according to the company website, a lady named Lara had the idea that packaged food could be tasty and wholesome. Her company was born. What follows is our take on a the bars we tried.

While there are a vast array of flavors available from the company, our local vendor only carries five. We bought one of each and over several days took an in depth look at and taste of the bars.

Cashew Cookie: The ingredients are simple enough, cashews and dates. Unfortunately, that’s about how inspiring the flavor of the bar is. The appearance is that of extruded massed dates and cashews. In a pinch this could do for eats but really a handful of cashews and a few dates would be more satisfying without the pre-masticated presentation of the bar.

Pecan Pie: Nothing but dates, pecans and almonds. Darker color and chewier texture than the Cashew Cookie. Very nutty flavor with mild sweetness from the dates. It’s more like eating food as there are whole almonds and large pecan pieces in the bar.

Cherry Pie: Dates, Almonds and Unsweetened Cherries. Again, pretty simple stuff. It’s a dark colored extruded bar that gets all of its texture from the whole if dehydrated unsweetened cherries. The cherries save it from the pre-chewed feel of the Cashew Cookie but it would be nice to have a few of the almonds be whole too. Tasty but the cherry flavor is a bit overpowering.

Chocolate Coconut Chew: Again dates but this time with almonds, walnuts, cocoa and coconut making this bar more complicated than some of the others. The bar has a faint hint of chocolate flavor and the consistency of dryish fudge. It’s not bad, but it’s also not the satisfaction that a chocolate lover would be looking for.

Apple Pie: This bar is the far and away winner of the whole group we tried. The instant the wrapper opens, the aroma of apple hits the nose. Dates, almonds, apples, walnuts, raisins and cinnamon round out the ingredient panel. The color and appearance make it look like just another extruded bar, but the flavor and aroma are on mark with the name. If you’re looking to replace or augment a meal with a Larabar, this should be it.

Larabars aren’t the last word in convenience food, but they aren’t bad. They are ideal to keep for days you don’t have time to pack baggies of pre-measured nuts, raisins and the like. All the flavors we tried were vegan, gluten free, and kosher, so they are great choices for people with certain dietary restrictions. While some of the varieties are completely skippable, we’ll definitely be eating the Apple Pie again.

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