Nothing stokes hunger like a tough hike, bike or climb. And when it comes to refueling, energy bars can be a healthy and convenient option. But not all energy bars are created equal. Some contain as much sugar, preservatives and trans fat as a candy bar, while others leave much to be desired when it comes to taste and texture.
To help you navigate the world of energy bars, here are four satisfying, nutritious and (gasp!) delicious bars to pack with you on your next outdoor adventure. Better yet? All of these energy bars are made right here in the Pacific Northwest.
Leave the chemical-packed protein bars to body builders. The all-natural Zing Bar was created by nutritionists and offers a healthy balance of carbohydrates, protein, fats and fiber. All are gluten-and preservative-free, sweetened with agave, and most importantly, they taste great!
- Top flavor pick: Chocolate Peanut Butter
- Bar Stats: 210 calories, 13g protein, 3g fiber, 14g sugar, 10g fat
- Where to buy: Natural markets, select grocery chains (Safeway, TOP Food and Drug, Haggen’s), Whole Foods, REI and online at www.zingbars.com.
Prefer a fruity snack? Check out Orchard Bar. Like fruit leather on steroids, these soft, fruit-based bars are packed with nuts, seeds, grains and protein nuggets. They are all-natural, vegan and gluten-free, high in antioxidants (vitamins A & C) and omega-3s. They also have no preservatives or artificial flavors, but are higher in sugar (18 to 19 grams per bar) than other bars.
- Top Flavor Pick: Strawberry Raspberry & Walnut
- Bar Stats: 200 calories, 5g protein, 2g fiber, 18g sugar, 7g fat
- Where to buy: Select grocery chains (QFC, Safeway), Uwajimaya, Made in Washington Stores, and online at www.libertyorchards.com.
Sesame seedy-nutty-honey goodness is the best way to describe Bumble Bar. 100 percent organic, gluten-free and “ethically-sourced,” these bars are packed with omega-3s, fiber and protein. With a range of flavor combinations, including fruits, nuts and chocolate, Bumble Bars are one of the best picks for nut lovers looking for a low-sugar option.
- Top flavor pick: Chai Almond
- Bar Stats: 200 calories, 7g protein, 4g fiber, 8g sugar, 12g fat
- Where to buy: Select natural markets, Whole Foods, and online at www.bumblebar.com.
This bar was “created and inspired by the Pacific Northwest” by a team of outdoor enthusiasts based in Portland. 100 percent organic, gluten-, dairy- and soy-free, Skout Trailbars are made with a date and nut base, making them high in antioxidants and fiber. They are also high in sugar (18 to 22 grams per bar), but do pack an entire serving of fruit in each bar.
- Top Flavor Pick: Organic Chocolate Coconut
- Bar Stats: 200 calories, 3g protein, 5g fiber, 18g sugar, 9g fat
- Where to buy: Natural markets, Whole Foods, and online at www.skoutorganic.com.
While these bars are not made in the Northwest, they receive high marks for healthfulness, taste and, most notably, wide distribution.
KIND Bar: What started as eight nut-packed bars has grown into a comprehensive line of both sweet and savory bars and granola-like clusters. With a wide range of flavor and nutritional options including gluten-free, vegan, low-sugar and high-protein, there’s a KIND Bar for every appetite. Widely available at grocery stores across the Northwest.
Larabar: Fruits, nuts and spices are combined into tempting flavor combinations like coconut cream pie, carrot cake and pecan pie, making these all-natural bars a healthier way to satisfy your dessert craving. All are gluten-free and vegan, include nothing artificial and have no added sugar. Available at natural foods stores and most grocery stores in the Northwest.