What are y’all’s feelings about energy, snack, and meal replacement bars? Do you have an opinion? If you do, would you feel comfortable sharing it with others? I have a definite opinion (as the title of this post may have alerted you!) and I’m not hesitant to share it. Let’s begin.
My decade-long* love/hate relationship with energy bars began when I was in high school. Back then, I was not as much a fan of the meat as I am now (that’s what she said), but being a member of the track team, I needed to get protein somehow. Enter Genisoy bars! With the dense texture of a brownie and a taste mimicking chalk spiked with Ovaltine, Genisoy bars are nothing that I’d eat now, but back then they were the basis of my (frequently unhealthy) lunches.
Ah, lunchtime in high school! I well remember the anxiety wrought by deciding where and with whom to sit; the avoidance, at all costs, of the tepid cartons of 2% milk sold for 50 cents; and the total nutritional imbalance of nearly everything I ate. When I was 16, a typical lunch included a bottle of apple juice (probably from concentrate — I was living in the ‘burbs and was no juice connoisseur, that is for real), a Genisoy bar, and some Cheez-Its. How I survived to adulthood beats me.
In college, my bar consumption suffered a sharp decline. Rather than making at least a pathetic effort to get proper amounts of macronutrients, I ate pizza bagels! Pizza bagels, Nesquick, Parliaments, and Mad Dog! Even more baffling than how I survived high school is how I did not develop diabetes and cirrhosis in college.
Things looked up in grad school, if you take “things” to mean “my diet.” I realized that refined sugars and simple carbs do not effective study fuel make, that beer is a drink in and of itself (and not just a watersome substance used to chase Jaeger). With my renewed interest in health came an increase in my energy bar consumption: Luna was my bar of choice, despite its faint chemical aftertaste. Clif’s flavors didn’t appeal to me like Luna’s did — or maybe Luna’s woman-centric branding is what sealed the deal. Regardless, I rarely trekked to campus without a Luna bar packed in the small pocket of my backpack.
And here we are at the present. For my first year in California, I had a fling with Odwalla bars (Chocolate Chip Peanut), whose chewy texture and verisimilitude to real and tasty candy set my gut aflutter. For the better part of six months, I ate a few bars a week: as breakfast on days when I ran behind, as part of a lunch, after the gym. Too much of a good thing, though, can only lead to total, unalterable boredom; the sight of CCP Odwallas on my pantry shelf came to cause a lurch in my stomach, and I started bringing PB&J for lunch, instead. Moreover, the bars’ likeness to candy caused some suspicion that they actually were candy, in which case I should just have been eating candy bars for lunch. Candy bars, as we know, will always beat the shit out of energy bars, tastewise.
Enter Trio. A new breed of bar made from actual foodstuffs — nuts, seeds, and evaporated cane juice — Trio is kosher, vegan, and free of trans fats. It has no preservatives and is gluten/dairy/GMO free. In short, it’s the perfect bobo snack. Want to make someone feel guilty about that Powerbar he’s chomping? Pull out a Trio bar and make a sly comment about foods vs. “food products.”
In all seriousness, though, Trio is delicious. It is healthier than much of the other crap I eat — lower in sugar, replete with Real Ingredients, not filled with formaldehyde — and it, as all bars, is imminently packable. Which is what drew me to bars in the first place: the convenience factor. One downside of Trio is its relative messiness. Aggregated from nuts and seeds as it is, Trio tends to be crumbly and can muss one’s black sweater, if one is as messy an eater as I am. Drawback aside, Trio is my new go-to energy bar — until something younger and hipper storms the market. Until that point, bring on those nuts!
*Jesus. Just writing that sentence makes me cringe.