Sunday, September 01, 2013

Gluten-Free Health Warrior Chia Bar Review

Health Warrior Brand Gluten-Free Chia Bars Review

Chia Seeds meet Snack Bars : a great combination!

For any of you that have read my blog for any length of time, you have noticed I have written a few articles about recipes and baking with chia seed and/or product containing chia.  And now I am writing about a nice snack bar product line — each simply labeled "Chia Bar" of various flavors —  from a company called Health Warrior.

Health Warrior brand gluten-free chia bars
Health Warrior ( Chia Bars

I have been a fan of chia seed (salvia hispanica) for years now, having used them quite regularly since 2008, as chia sees have a wonderful nutritional profile in addition to making a great gluten-free baking ingredient. Chia seeds provide a nice balance of fiber, healthy fats (Omega 3's), and protein. I am used to using them in their hydrated form in my various homemade drinks and recipes, but this time I am enjoying them in as they appear in these commercially-available Health Warrior Chia Bars.

Health Warrior brand gluten-free acai berry chia bar
Health Warrior brand gluten-free acai berry chia bar (close-up and full of chia!)

Pleasing Taste and Texture from Innovative Ingredients

The first bite into the acai berry chia bar variety instantly reminded me of some favorite sesame-seed snacks I have had in the past — the texture was quite similar, and I am not quite sure how much of that is from non-hydrated chia.  As you can see in the close-up photo, it sure looks like sesame-seeds in a way too, and I am not sure if what I am seeing is perhaps all due to white-chia-seeds, or if some of what I see is also the gluten-free-oats used in the formula (yes, they contain oats); sure seems like it is mostly chia seeds I feel and see.  They also employ cashew-butter in the base-formula shared across all the bar varieties from what I see on the labels too.

The oats almost prevented me from trying this product, since I have not had oats (even "certified gluten-free" ones) in years; I have found I can tolerate small amounts on occasion, but generally just avoid them.  But, I decided to make an (oats) exception and try this interesting chia bar product, and I am glad I did.

My wife and I both enjoyed it and found that the flavor was pleasing as was the texture: it was not too sweet, not artificial tasting in any way, but just about spot-on with regards to the berry-centric flavor and the sweetness (sugar level) was just about where I like it (not too sweet, and a reasonable net carbohydrate load reflects this in the nutritional facts printed on the label: 15g total carbs of which 4g are fiber and 5g sugar).  I can definitely detect some nutty flavor from the cashews, but it too blends quite nicely with the other flavor-contributors in the recipe: things like cranberries and strawberries (of which there are certainly more of than of than the featured "acai berry" highlighted on the label for its buzz-factor and popularity) and vanilla.

The bars are rather small (just under 1 ounce), and that is one reason I actually gave them a try even with the GF oats included (I figured it would be a very small dose of oats for me); and, I am delighted to report, the oats had no ill-effects on me either.  Regardless, the size is about right for a quick small snack while keeping the carbohydrate intake down (and, getting 3g of protein thrown in along with Omega 3's for good measure).  I think these bars will come in handy when out for a long bike ride or walk where I want a nice nutritionally balanced snack with me that also tastes good and transports well.

Bottom line: my impression is that this is a quality snack product with a taste and texture I quite enjoyed and can enjoy more in the future.  It was a nice alternative to many of the much sweeter date-based bars, and it is also soy-free and 100% vegan (given I eat ZERO soy, this was a great fit for me too!)  I still need to try the other varieties (as shown in the picture), but I expect they will be similarly enjoyable and welcome in my gluten-free diet snack-repertoire.

A related thought: I would welcome a sugar-free version of these bar if Health Warrior could create a stevia-sweetened version and replace the brown-rice-syrup.  This bar, due to its diminutive size, has a reasonably low-carb / low-sugar profile, but it has the potential to be a very-low-sugar option with some minor tweaks.  I have my own ideas for a recipe that could perhaps yield my desired super-bar outcome: use stevia and perhaps (though breaking with the dairy-free status) use some whey-protein as a "binder" of sorts (perhaps in combo with some hydrated chia); this idea may not work commercially, but I plan to play with the idea for kicks since I enjoy recipes and baking quite a bit.

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

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