Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gluten-Free Snack Bars Roundup

You have probably noticed the proliferation of gluten-free snack bars that have hit the market in the past year. The current selection goes well beyond the days of when the Larabar was nearly the only gluten-free snack bar on the market, and there is an incredible variety of formulations available now that target particular sub-sectors of the gluten-free diet market.

I snapped a picture of some of the latest incarnations of these diet / snack bars above (there are many more), which each have their own particular features (the features vary by bar, so read the label and make sure you find the one that fits your particular needs the best):
  • Gluten-Free, Wheat-Free (an obvious requirement!)
  • organic ingredients
  • low GI (Glycemic Index)
  • Nutrition Bars with various "Super Foods" in them - typically antioxidants, immune-boosters, and vitamins and minerals
  • High-Protein bars - typically achieving their high-protein status with one or both of whey protein and/or soy protein isolates
  • Vegan, dairy-free
  • Allergen-Free (free of all common allergens)
  • Wonderful Flavor Combinations
As you will notice in that picure above, there are all sorts of different approaches to gluten-free treats now. My personal favorite of recent is the Kind Brand Sesame bar with chocolate drizzle. Excellent! Some of the other "Kind" brand bar varieties are quite enjoyable too, like the various fruit-nut bars. Kind has a nice selection of bars available now, and at last count I think it was 6 or more.

The Think Green, Think Thin, Think Organic, etc... serve their purpose too. The Think Thin type is all about high-protein (soy generally) and low GI impact, and as such I would not qualify these bars as a "gluten-free dessert" (which, I would consider some of the other sweeter varieties of snack bars on the market - especially the ones with chocolate and other dessert-like qualities). The "Think..." brand offerings have expanded rapidly, and there seem to be dozens of different ones to choose from.

The ever-popular LaraBar has now grown into a brand offering a huge selection of flavor combinations (though, they all still feature that Date-based formula, so an appreciation of Dates will sure help if you want to try these). The newer "Jocalat" varieties bring cocoa into what I regard as their "base formula", which makes them much more appealing to me (I love cocoa and chocolate). Again, there are quite a few flavors to choose from.

I didn't care for the original Larabars anywhere near as much as I do the new Jocalat varieties. The cocoa (in each of these new formulas) takes the edge off the overwhelming date-flavor the originals had. These new ones are quite nice. I personally LOVE the chocolate-mint one, and the chocolate and chocolate-coffee types are rather tasty too.

The only Jocolat variety I complete detested was the chocolate-orange (it tasted so strongly of orange peel or oil that I could not deal with it... I might as well been chewing on an orange rind). I like the flavors of chocolate and orange, but only when orange is used in a subtle manner. Perhaps they will update the formula if sales are slow for that variety - if so, I would try it again, otherwise I will never eat the chocolate-orange variety unless I am starving. :)

So, things have certainly changed for the better with the rather wide-ranging selection of gluten-free diet snack bars on the market. These treats are great for keeping handy when out on the road, or at a lengthy meeting, or otherwise away from easy access to your normal gluten-free diet items.

These bars give me a quick and easy SAFE (gluten-free) source of calories if I am finding myself hungry and stuck somewhere that otherwise only offers questionable (or definitely off limits) food options due to obvious gluten exposure possibilities. The bars fit easily in that cup-holder in my car, or in a jacket pocket or shorts pocket (note: I don't carry around any types that would *melt* in a pocket).

As for where to locate these gluten-free snack bars. I have found that I can get most of them at either Whole Foods or mail order via's grocery section, and other grocers carry some too. Amazon didn't have all the varieties, but for the varieties Amazon carries, their prices were rather decent. NOTE: Amazon has items they themselves sell and stock - which are usually a great deal and even include Free Super Saver shipping many times - but they also have many other vendors that sell items via that may not be such a good deal and will cost you shipping most of the time; so, if ordering from Amazon, take time to look around on there and make sure you get a good deal which most often applies to items "shipped and sold by" or such.

Happy snacking everyone!


Lynn Barry said...

good stuff...thanks for the reviews!

Lauren said...

I love Kind bars! They are so good. I also have a big thing of Think Thin bars in my cupboard. The other ones sound good, but I'm not a fan of dates, so they don't do it for me.

Angie said...

Hi, check out Clif Bar Raw Nectar snack bars. They are similar to Larabars in that they are made out of raw dates, nuts and other fruits, but I think they taste WAY better. They have several varieties of chocolate ones that are absolutely divine! Enjoy!


Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free

Lynn Arola said...

I also like the Kind bars alot, especially the fruit and nut variety. They are delicous and a perfect healthy snack.

Emily said...

I've been wanting to try those Kind bars with sesame and chocolate. I even have them in my Amazon shopping cart for when I get around to placing my order! I also love the Cinnamon Roll Larabars and Oskri Organic's Sesame bars. The Oskri are also flavored with dates, but it's date syrup, so it doesn't have a strong date flavor or texture. They are really crunchy and sticky, kind of like thin toffee - and would probably be good dipped in chocolate!

Maureen "Hold The Gluten" said...

Great post! I LOVE Think Thin Bars in Chunky & Smooth Peanut Butter. I order them from Amazon's Subscribe & Save Program to get free shipping & an extra 15% savings. I also love the Kind Bars -- they are very filling. Any good gluten free bar that is high in protein, but low in fat/calories gets high marks in my book!

Anonymous said...

Just a note for those with mold allergies - all dried fruits are moldy. So, snack bars with date paste and/or dried fruits are really out.

Anonymous said...

NuGo Nutrition just came out with a Gluten free, soy free, and dairy free nutrition bar. I got a sample at a recent show they were at and found them one of the best gluten free bars I've had in a long time.

Nikki said...

Thank you so much for this post. I've been on the lookout for a good snack bar. I've tried the Lara bar and didn't like it. I'm off to find the Kind bars!

Anonymous said...

What about Bora Bora bars?? I love those as gluten free snack!

craig said...

Betty Lou's Just Great Stuff bars are so good. I really like the Super Berry Acai

Ruth said...

Do you know of any gluten-free bars that don't have nuts?

It's a personal dislike, rather than an allergy (so I don't mind if they're an ingredient so finely ground that I can't tell...) Even so, there must be people in the world who DO have nut allergies and also need gluten-free stuff. Do you know if there's anything like that on the market?