Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bar-Hopping with Gnu and Odwalla

So I've been bar-hopping lately...snack bar-hopping, that is. Yep, I ventured beyond the confines of my beloved Clif world and taste-tested a few of those other treats you see lurking in the ever-expanding bar aisle. Here's a quick summary of my thoughts:
Gnu Bars
These bars have been getting major press lately: featured on the Today Show, Rachael Ray (A Broccoli Hut fave), and included in magazines like Real Simple and Prevention. A few months ago, Robyn from Gnu Foods kindly offered to send me a box of these fiber-packed bars for review. Due to my abundant snack bar stash, it wasn't until now that I got around to sampling them.

The Stats
-130-150 kcalories
-3-5 grams of fat
-3-4 grams of protein
-a whopping 12 grams of fiber
-7-11 grams of sugar
-fruit-sweetened
-vegan
-made with whole grain flour
-HFCS-free!
The Flavors (in order of preference)
*Banana Walnut: I have sample many banana-nut flavored bars in my day, and this rendition is one of my favorites. Quite banana-y, with no artificial aftertaste (after all, there are real bananas in there), and I like the texture that the walnuts provide.
*Cinnamon Raisin: Feeling like a cinnamon-raisin bagel? Grab one of these! Not only is the taste right on target, but you'll get a lot more fiber by chomping one of these instead of its more starchy counterpart.
*Chocolate Brownie: Quite the fiber-licious brownie, this one. I really enjoyed this variety thanks to its abundance of (dairy free) chocolate chips. If you're expecting a milk chocolate flavor, however, you should look elsewhere--this bar has a more intense cocoa flavor that I love.
*Peanut Butter: This flavor was pleasant enough--but NOT peanut-y. It was mildly sweet, but it earned only a "meh" response from my tastebuds. Not a winner. Re-formulation needed, ASAP.
*Orange Cranberry: I opened this bar with high hopes; I expected it to be similar in taste to the apricot Clif flavor (which reminded me of glorious orange marmalade). Not so. The orange flavor was not authentic, and it did not combine well with cranberries. This was by far my least favorite.
General Comments
I used these bars as a pre-workout snack. Not a wise decision. I had my suspicions that the high fiber content would not make them ideal for a quick burst of energy, but what's a Clif Z-bereft girl to do? Anyway, these bars are generally quite difficult to digest--generating fullness, but also causing some discomfort during physical activity. If you choose to try these bars for yourself, consider consuming them as a mid-day snack; avoid eating them before exercise or just before bedtime.
On another note, the wrappers of these bars are ridiculously difficult to open without scissors. Translation: not a good snack to throw in your purse for on-the-go snacking, unless you happen to carry some sort of cutting utensil with you.

Odwalla Bars
These bars are rather ubiquitous: on campus, in various Whole Foods locations, as well as in the food blogosphere. Thus, I just had to give them a try for myself. Unfortunately, I was unable to sample all of the flavors due to the peanut recall as well as the limited selection at my local Whole Foods. Where are those elusive Superfood bars?! Also, I am not including the Chewy Nut Bars...we'll save those for another review, since they're quite qualitatively distinct from the other flavors.

The Stats
-220-250 kcalories
-4-7 grams of fat
-3-4 grams of fiber
-4-5 grams of protein, although the Superprotein variety has a whopping 16 grams
-18-20 grams of sugar
-made with organic ingredients
-includes a few vitamins and minerals, such as calcium (25% RDA), vitamin A (20% RDA), and vitamin E (50% RDA)

The Flavors (in order of preference)
*Superprotein: Hello, giant protein oatmeal cookie! When I brought along this flavor for a quick pre-workout snack, it always disappeared far too quickly. I love its subtle cinnamon-y taste and the fact that one bar contains so much protein! They're even soft like a freshly-baked cookie.
*Choco-Walla: Alright, I am a bit biased in that I will pretty much eat anything with chocolate in it, but this was another winner. Delightful chocolate chips also provide unexpected hits of intense chocolate flavor throughout the bar. I bet this would be quite tasty warmed and dunked in rice milk:)
*Banana Nut: Yep, yet another banana nut bar. No points for creativity, but Odwalla does get some points for taste. This bar also lacks the artificial banana flavor that so many bars can have, but it does have visible chunks of walnuts inside. Delish.
*Berries Go-Mega: As a non-fish eating vegetarian, I am always looking for ways to fit in those omega-3s, so I appreciate products that provide an alternative to the usual flax and walnuts. Excellent berry flavor--it boasts cranberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Good, but not a favorite.
*Strawberry Pomegranate: Now this is a creative flavor. It's not too often that you encounter strawberries in bar form (why is that?). Anyway, the flavor reminded me of those Fruit Roll-Ups I used to stash in my lunchbox as a kid...not sure if that's good or bad. I didn't detect any hints of pomegranate, sadly.

General Comments
These bars have a texture similar but not identical to Clif bars; they are slightly softer and stickier, which can cause unexpected problems (read: sticky fingerprints on test papers). In addition, excepting the Superprotein variety, they lack the significant protein counts found in Clif bars. Most flavors have just 4-5 grams in comparison to Clif's 9-10 grams.
One of may favorite Odwalla products does not come in the full-size bar, but I highly recommend them if you can find them: Carrot Raisin snack bars. I featured them many months ago here at the Hut, but I still find them quite delicious. For those of you who found the Clif Carrot Cake variety so unpalatable, you might try this version as an alternative. These have 110 kcalories and lots of vitamin A.
I have previously reviewed Clif bars and Clif Z bars. Check 'em out!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

13 comments:

VeggieGirl said...

HAHA!! Definitely my kind of bar-hopping ;-)

jesslikesithot said...

Thanks for all the reviews Caroline!!!

I have only tried some of those but I really want to go out and buy more so I can try your favorite flavors!! :)

thecleanveggie said...

i love GNU Cinnamon Raisin Bars!
so good!

ksgoodeats said...

Love your reviews!! The PB Gnu is so not that great but I adored the cinnamon raisin one!

curlytop said...

Caroline you are very talented at writing reviews! I feel like I've tasted them along with you. I can see why GNU sent you samples!

Great Job!

With Love,

Emily

HangryPants said...

Great reviews! I love both Odwalla and Gnu bars! banana is my favorite gnu bar as well. I like how you tried odwalla flavors I never tried! Thanks. :D

Sharon said...

Oh wow, great reviews - really appreciate it, as I have never tried Odwalla bars before!

Katie said...

Thanks for the reviews. Odwalla bars are one of my staples. I've never tried a Gnu bar, but they look great!

Jaime said...

eek! gnu bars are very hard on my system-- not a fan!! ive never seen that odwalla before! thanks for the heads up! xo

shelby said...

I just tried the Super Protein Odwalla and I liked it..but had to save the rest for later as it was too sweet! I LOVED the chocolate brownie one though, I ate it after lunch and dinner as my dessert =)

dailydulcie said...

Thanks so much for reviewing those bars!! That was truly helpful :)

bhealthier said...

i had an odwalla today! It is my favorite go-to item on campus ... the superprotein is what I always get and it so delicious! i should try those gnu bars

Erin said...

I haven't tried Gnu bars yet, lucky you getting free samples!

I'm not a huge fan of the fruit/oat flavored Odwalla bars, but I LOVE the sweet & salty one with almonds. So good.