Sunday, February 15, 2009

Clif Bars: the Abridged Version

Ever since I first tasted a Clif mini last summer, my pre-workout snack has never been the same. Clif bars have come to be my perfect and thus preferred fuel before a run; their precise combination of protein and carbohydrates has been proven far superior to my former snacks. As a result of this discovery, I determined to sample each and every Clif bar flavor. My decision to take on this endeavor occurred before the peanut butter-Salmonella scandal, so my brief reviews below exclude the Peanut Butter Toffee and Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch varieties...keep your fingers crossed that they may safely return to store shelves soon!
General Info:
Nutritionally, all Clif bar varieties are equivalent; one bar typically contains 3-7 grams of fat, 9-12 grams of protein, and 18-23 grams of sugar. Each bar also provides a smattering of vitamins and minerals: 25% RDA for calcium, 100% vitamin C, 25% iron, and several others. For more specific information, click here.
Clif bars all carry the same price tag as well: my Whole Foods sells them for $1.19 each, and Target sells them for 99 cents.
With all that said, below is my take on each variety in terms of tastiness.
The List:
-Apricot: Oddly enough, reminiscent of orange marmalade--shall we call Paddington Bear? Very moist. Recently reformulated.
-Banana Nut Bread: Strong banana flavor, unlike many allegedly banana-flavor bars. Identical flavor to the real thing (i.e., banana nut bread), but much more nutritious!
-Black Cherry Almond: One of my least favorites. Although the package reads "cherry," the flavor was decidedly lacking on cherryliciousness. Bonus points for plenty of almonds.
-Blueberry Crisp: If you purchase this bar, prepare to unwrap a muffin-like treat. Softer than many varieties, with a suprisingly fresh blueberry taste.
-Carrot Cake: Another fabulous rendition of a favorite baked good. The only thing that could make this even better is a blob of cream cheese icing...I suppose that would detract from the bar's health benefits, however.
-Chocolate Almond Fudge: Reminds me of a milk-chocolatey brownie with a plenitude of nuts. I'd prefer a more intense cocoa flavor...see below.
-Chocolate Brownie: One of my top picks! This variety achieves an authentic brownie-like consistency with a deeper chocolate flavor. The only downside is its tendency to leave attractive black remnants in your teeth.
-Chocolate Chip: Hands down favorite. This is always the first variety to dwindle in my box of Clif minis. The soft texture makes it more like chocolate chip cookie dough than an actual cookie. I always look forward to eating these.
-Cool Mint Chocolate: I must reiterate what others have said of this bar--it is the closest one can get to Thin Mint flavor without hunting down a Girl Scout. It has the same effect of the Chocolate Brownie variety--it leaves you with a black-flecked grill.
-Cranberry Apple Cherry: No doubt my least favorite variety. This bar is just a melange of non-distinct flavors, none of which appreciably shines through on your taste buds. My advice to Clif: ditch this flavor and develop something with fewer ingredients in the mix. As a side note, its flavor reminded me of gummy fruit snacks. Weird.
-Crunchy Peanut Butter: This bar is the most protein-packed, lowest in sugar, and most peanut-tastic. A bite into one of these guys is like taking a spoonful of crunchy PB right out of the jar. The only drawback is its lasting breath effects--it always leaves me tasting peanuts mid-run.
-Maple Nut: Think pancakes 'n bar form. Deliciously sweet, and I love its inclusion of chopped pecans.
-Oatmeal Raisin Walnut: The name says it all--it's an oatmeal raisin cookie! The raisin population was a little low in my bar, so it was more like a regular ol' oatmeal cookie, but the combination of cinnamon, molasses, and walnuts made for quite the pleasant flavor experience.
-White Chocolate Macadamia: This bar converted me. That is, I am no longer a white chocolate hater. I now embrace the wonders of white chocolate, especially in combination with hearty macadamias. This bar is quite sweet and the highest in fat (7 grams), making it quite cookie-like, so I would enjoy this variety with less regularity than the others.
I have previously reviewed the seasonal flavors; if you're interested in reading about my take on those, click here.
Clifs are for more than just pre-workout are a few other ways to enjoy them:
That concludes this Cliff's Notes version of Clif (ha!). I'd love to know, what's your favorite flavor? Why? Which ones can't you stand?

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday. Be back tomorrow with a weekend recap!


VeggieGirl said...

Can't eat Clif bars anymore (since they contain soy and wheat/gluten), but I always loved the Banana Nut Bread and Crunchy PB flavors. I DESPISED the Pumpkin Spice flavor.

Sarah (lovINmytummy) said...

Amen on the Clif lovin! Carrot Cake used to be my fave (I love the little chunks of dehydrated carrots), but now White Chocolate Mac. Nut may be pushing ahead! I always eat half a bar during my long runs, and I think that's part of the reason I really look forward to them!

Marianne said...

I haven't really tried alot of Clif bars, and we don't have nearly as many flavours of them in Canada as you can get in the US, so I don't really have a favourite. I would think that if there was some combination of chocolate & peanut butter, that would be it. And probably the White Chocolate Macadamia Nut one as well.

K said...

Oh girl, you know I've got my Cliffy opinions! I'm still embarking on my world tour of Clifs but my favorite is BY FAR WCMN! Next up would be Maple Nut.

I can not stand Carrot Cake at all!! The dried carrot flecks turn me off completely :( it's sad though because carrot cake is my favorite cake flavor!

*Andrea* said...

i love the blueberry crisp one and the white chocolate macadamia!!! the other flavors are of course delicious too ;) i feel like the big ones are a bit too big for workouts and the mini ones are perfect but i hate paying shipping! lol

sarah said...

thanks for the amazing review---for the varieties that i've tasted we have the EXACT same thoughts, so I'm going to take your advice for the ones that i haven't tried yet.


shelby said...

I haven't tried nearly as many flavors as you but you've totally inspired me to go out and buy some! I'm just weary about the high sugar content. My favorite is WCMN and Pear Apple Strudel.

Least favorite, pumpkin spice and carrot two favorite desserts in the world. haha

Fake Ginger said...

I love Clif bars but I can never find the fun flavors where I live! Your post has convinced me to order some!

Erica said...

GREAT post! I love clif bars. I want to try the Blueberry Crisp next!

thecleanveggie said...

i love this post!!
i agree - the chocolate chip flavor is amazing :)
i didnt know they made an apricot flavor though!

Laci said...

Do you always eat ust a half or do you ever eat the whole bar at one time or is it too filling?

just me said...

omg i love clif bars! i def think pb is the's like eating pb cookie dough...yum.

and i am def a fan of the oatmeal raisin and the holiday iced gingerbread one too! said...

my new favorite is white chocolate macadamian nut but i love all the other flavors equally - i'm hooked! best pre-workout snack EVER!

Kristen's Raw said...

Fun post!

Mel said...

ahh, what a fun post!!

fave: white choc. macadamia nut and blueberry crisp

least fave: anything overly fruity. i like my clif bars to taste like straight up cookies haha.

Tra said...

i love you tasted everyone! sounds like a dream to me..except i promised myself that i would eat more whole foods...but i love the carrot cake version (my first one evah!) and i thinkt eh black cherry almond was good..i like the oatmeal one, i'm a raisin hater, so it was good for me. CHOCOLATE BROWNIE HOLLA!i've never tried the seasonal ones!

Jen said...

Great post! I LOVE my Cliff bars!! mmmm

vegannurse said...

Of all the flavors I've tried, WCMN is definitely my top fave flavor.

I have never tried the Chocolate Chip variety, but after reading all the positive reviews over it, I'll definitely be on the look out for it!

ChickPea said...

VeggieGirl: Aww, I am so sorry that you can't enjoy Clifs anymore, but it seems like you've found a more than adequate replacement in Larabars:)
Sarah: I do the same thing--I eat half of a bar just before my run. Either I am really excited about my run or eating the Clif, I can't ever figure out which one!
Marianne: That's a bummer that you can't get all the flavors in Canada. Are there any Canada-only flavors, I wonder?
K: Excellent choices. I'm thinkin' I might need to stock up on multiples of those.
Bummer about the Carrot Cake though...Have you ever tried the Carrot Raisin Odwalla bars? Those are pretty good.
Andrea: Yeah, I almost never eat a whole Clif since they're so dense and filling. I usually eat half or a whole mini.
Sarah: Glad to hear it! Let me know when you try some more flavors! We can compare notes;)
Shelby: They are a tad high in sugar, but that's what your muscles need for exercise--glucose! I usually eat just half at a time, so that decreases the sugar load a bit.
Fake Ginger: Yay for spreading Clif bar love! Let me know which ones are your favorites!
Erica: Blueberry Crisp is a good one. Perfect for a morning workout!
TheCleanVeggie: I'm glad someone shares my love for the chocolate chip flavor!
Laci: I almost always eat half, since I just need a little fuel before my runs.
Just Me: All good picks! I noticed that my WF still has gingerbread ones, if you're looking for them.
LoveofOats: I couldn't agree more--perfect pre-workout snack!
Kristen's Raw: Thanks!
Tra: Ideally, I would eat all unprocessed foods, but I figure these are pretty harmless, since they're 70% organic, and I eat only one half at a time. You should definitely try the seasonal ones!
Jen: Ah yes, don't we all!
VeganNurse: Chocolate Chip is definitely worth a try!

HangryPants said...

This was fun to read! I liked the ginger seasonal one and I like the oatmeal raisin. I am actually more of a z-bar girl. Mark loves Clif bars and his favorite is the brownie one.