Tag Archives: nuts

Mission: Trying All the KIND Bars

9 Aug

Finally, I’ve discovered my favorite protein snack – KIND nut bars! The wrapper has a clear window so you can see exactly what’s inside, matching their clever motto, “Ingredients you can see and pronounce.”  When I discovered that my workplace subsidizes healthy snacks, I made it my mission to try every flavor of Kind bar that could be found in the cafeteria. Actually, it pretty soon became an obsession. I went from buying one or two bars at a time to stockpiling Kind bars to last me for the next two weeks.

IMAG2506Above: Blueberry Pecan

I ended up trying 16 kinds of Kind bars – that’s not nearly all the flavours out there, but after about 10 weeks of trips to the cafeteria, I seemed to have exhausted the workplace selection. It turns out that not all Kind Bars are created equal. Some are more delicious than others, but at the expense of higher sugar content. If you’re looking for more protein, you might prefer some flavours over others. Like a true geek, I’ve ranked the Kind bars using bar charts so you can pick the best for yourself. (Yes I know, I’m so clever).

This chart shows bars arranged from the highest protein content to the lowest, with sugar shown in the green bars. If you’re looking for the most protein, the Almond Walnut Macadamia bar is the way to go. This was actually one of my favorite bars. It’s not too sweet, with big pieces of macadamia nuts and almonds, and a good amount of honey.protein

 

Below: Close-up of Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt – This is a perfect alternative to a chocolate bar. It’s chocolatey and very nutty, with a hint of sea salt.IMAG2512

This chart shows arranges Kind bars from lowest sugar content to the highest.

sugar

Below: Almond Cashew with Flax – there are whole flax seeds here, which unfortunately, often go undigested in your body. Waving the word “flax” around is just a marketing ploy here. (You’re better off buying some ground flaxseed and putting it in your breakfast.)

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Perhaps most importantly, here are Kind bars arranged from most to least delicious.  For a given deliciousness rating, it’s easy to pick out the bar with the most protein and less sugar. From the set of most delicious bars (Deliciousness rating of 5), the Almond Walnut Macadamia bar is pretty good. The Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond tastes like a mouthful of chocolate-covered almonds – yum! The Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew however, while it’s my favourite bar taste-wise, packs 14g of sugar, the highest of the bunch I tried. It also had the least amount of protein (4g). It’s still better than chowing down on a Snickers bar of course (27 grams of sugar in a regular size bar), but it’s definitely not a particularly healthy snack. The Almond Cashew with Flax ranks below average on the Protein and Sugar charts, and it’s low on the Deliciousness chart, so why bother? Pick something else to nosh on. The Cashew and Ginger Spice bar, while low in sugar, tastes like a mouthful of ginger.

deliciousThe Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate bar tastes like a Snickers bar, but waaaay better. The Madagascar Vanilla Almond is great if you’re looking for something less sweet. It’s also a great one to take along if you’re traveling, because it’s less sticky than others, and it has no chocolate that can melt everywhere. Peanut Butter and Strawberry tastes just like a PB & J, the Almond and Apricot tastes like a Chinese bakery bun, with lots of coconut, and Apple Cinnamon Pecan is like an apple cobbler in bar form.

Below: Almond Walnut Macadamia bar IMAG2469

How do Kind bars compare to other brand? I also tried a thinkThin Crunch bar – the Caramel Chocolate Dipped Mixed Nuts tastes like a sinful treat thought it has only 6g of sugar. However, it’s less nutty than Kind bars – soy crisps come first on the ingredients list, and I would describe this as a soy crisp-peanut-almond bar coated in caramel.

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It’s been a couple months since my mission began, and I’m still addicted. It’s hard not to have a Kind bar a day. Actually, every wrapper is printed on the back with “A study by the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center indicates that eating 2 KIND bars a day helps prevent weight gain.” That’s a lot of nut bars per day – I’m not there yet!

Hermit Cookies

20 Apr

hermit cookies fresh out of the oven

These hermit cookies are so yummy, with a hint of spice. For a gluten-free version, use oat flour, which also gives the cookies a slightly nutty flavour, and a lighter, more delicate texture.

Ingredients
6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
(Gluten-free cookies: use 1 1/2 cup oat flour instead of all-purpose and whole wheat flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp milk
1 cup raisins
1 cup pecans (or walnuts), coarsely chopped
1 cup chocolate chips (milk and semisweet)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until smooth.
  2. Beat in eggs until creamy. Stir in vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add mixture to first bowl.
  4. Fold mixture together until doughy. Stir in milk. cookie batter
  5. Add raisins, nuts, and chocolate chips.
  6. Chill in refrigerator for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350F.
  7. Spoon dough onto baking sheets, about 5 cm apart.
  8. Bake until golden brown (about 12-14 minutes. Gluten-free version requires 14-15 minutes). Let cool before removing from baking sheets.

Makes about 2 dozen large cookies.

Off The Shelf: Protein and Nut Bars – Part I

16 Dec

Bag of almondsSometimes the BusyFoodie needs to grab a quick, nutritious (and tasty) snack. Nuts are known for satisfying hunger, protein bars are perfectly packaged to be thrown in any purse or bag, and nut bars are like a happy marriage of the two. Here’s what I like to keep handy:

Not all roasted nuts are created equal – often, nuts are overly salted or oily. Almond Expressions Roasted Salted Almonds are perfectly lightly salted, and not greasy at all.

For a more indulgent snack, Q’s Nuts (Somerville, MA) roasts peanuts, almonds, cashews and pecans with a variety of natural ingredients. I first discovered Q’s Nuts at Eat Boutique in Boston, and immediately fell in love with the Banana Foster Pecans – they really do taste just like bananas foster!

When it comes to a quick grab-and-go, toss-in-your-bag snack, Larabar Über Sweet and Salty Fruit and Nut Bars manage a good balance of taste and nutrition. While many granola or protein bars pack in tons of sugar along with ingredients you can’t pronounce, Über bars have short lists of recognizable ingredients, and they also taste great (unlike many protein bars). They are also gluten-free. The Bananas Foster reminds me of Q’s Nuts’ pecans. The Cherry Cobbler really tastes like a mouthful of cherries, and the Apple Turnover is a terrific mix of dried apples. walnuts, and raisins with a hint of cinnamon. Sadly, these are currently available in the United States, but not yet in Canada.

Luna Bar

If you’re craving baked sweets, Luna bars (made by CLIF Bar & Company) might just hit the spot. The Chocolate Peppermint Stick and Nutz Over Chocolate flavours pack enough chewy, chocolatey goodness to make you feel as if you’re eating a brownie. In fact, there is a Caramel Nut Brownie version. Though Luna Bars are marketed as nutrition bars for women (containing calcium, vitamin D, folic acid, and iron in addition to the usual protein and fiber), my boyfriend thought they were pretty yummy, too.

Luna Bar- unwrappedInside a Chocolate Peppermint Stick bar – the texture is a bit like a vegan brownie.

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