Finding the Right Snack Bars by Toby Amidor in Healthy Recipes, Healthy Tips, April 1, 2009
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We’ve talked about how to pick the right energy bars. On the flip side, there are snack bars to choose from, too. Here are some of our favorites.
Snack Bars vs. Energy Bars
Unlike energy bars, snack bars are for between meals. Energy bars tend to be higher in calories and are meant to give more active individuals extra calories and energy — too much for just a snack.
Many snack bars are made with granola mixes — that is, a combo of oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruit and small amounts of sugar and fat. Some packaged granola bars also add in chocolate, fudge and pieces of candy (most of those wouldn’t make our approval list). Dozens of granola and fruit bars are available these days and some are better than others (see our faves below).
Remember, these shouldn’t be your go-to snack all the time. Non-fat yogurt, fruit or a handful of nuts are also easy and portable alternatives. It’s important to rotate your snacks — and all foods, really — to get a variety of nutrients.
What to Look For
If you’re looking to lose weight, choose a bar with less than 150 calories. If you’re just looking to maintain, then go for one with 200 calories or less. There are a few of my favorites (ones marked with an * are a good choice for those trying to lose weight):
- Barbara’s Crunchy Organic Granola Bars — 190 to 200 calories per pack of two bars
- Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars — 190 calories per pack of two bars
- Nature Valley Chewy Trail Mix Bars* — around 140 each
- Kashi Bars TLC Chewy Granola Bars* — around 110 to 140 each
- Larabar Fruit & Nut Bars — look for those between 180 to 200 calories
- Larabar Jocolat — any flavor, between 180 to 190 calories each
Make Your Own
Of course, creating your own low-cal snack bars is often better. You get to pick your ingredients and flavor combos — plus, less packaging waste.
[Photo: Tom Censani]