I was sent four flavors of Amazing Grass' 'organic green superfood' bars to try, as well as four flavors of their 'amazing meal.' The latter will be reviewed tomorrow or the day after, but today I'll talk about the bars.
First, a couple comments about both of these products. The way I see it, Amazing Grass' basic product is the green superfood powder, which has a wonderful mix of greens, antioxidants, fiber and superfoods. The bar and the meal are both vehicles for this basic product. Now, as I've repeatedly said before, it usually works best for me to create my own such 'vehicles,' since commercial products usually contain too much sugar and have other issues too.
However, I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to sample these, as because of that boundary and belief I have, I probably wouldn't have tried them otherwise. There's a boundary issue that's been going on for some time: I still have yeast issues. But the ND has been telling me that since we can't deal with those until the mercury chelation is done, I shouldn't be too uptight about avoiding every last bit of sugar. In particular, he wants me to eat my daily apple, berries are ok, etc. My preference is still to avoid sugar mostly, to control the yeast symptoms as much as possible, but Phil has been encouraging me to try some higher-glycemic foods to see if it'll help with my blood sugar.
Here come these samples to review, and since the bars have dates and agave as their first and second ingredients, you'd be right to think that I'd never have gone near them if I didn't have this review to do! So, we got to try out Phil's sensible experiment suggestion.
These bars fall into two pairs - the 'original' and 'berry' flavors, which are uncoated, and the 'chocolate' and 'chocolate-peanut butter' flavors, which have a chocolate coating. They also fall into a threesome and a singleton: the 'chocolate-peanut butter' version is different in a very important way - an illustration of why you should always, always read the label, which I'll get to in due course. They range from 210 calories (berry flavor) to 260 calories (choc-pb flavor) and all but the choc-pb flavor contain five grams of protein. The choc-pb flavor has twelve grams of protein. They all contain mid-30s grams of carbs including four or five grams of fiber, and eight or nine grams of fat.
Now for some comments about the individual bars.
The berry wholefood bar has a lovely texture, and well-nuanced flavor (it's nice that there are more 'savory' seeds like pumpkin and sunflower to cut the sweetness of the dates, agave and berries). It's a little lower-calorie than the chocolate bar, probably because it doesn't have a coating. The berry flavor is intense and pleasant. I love that the recipe includes green foods, herbs, probiotics and enzymes. This makes the bar work better for me than anything else that high in sugar might. That said, the sugar content is too high and the protein too low for me to consume on a regular basis. It seems like everyone else knows how hard it is to make no-sugar raw energy bars! I keep working on it, but dates and syrups are such wonderful binders and preservers!
Most of the same comments go for the plain whole food bar - it's pretty neutral, without the intense berry flavor. The pumpkin and sunflower seeds dominate a little, which makes it seem less sweet than more nut-based bars.
The Chocolate energy bar: I actually tried this one first, shared it with Phil. I haven't had dates in so long, so it was extremely sweet to me, but had a lovely gooey texture I haven't quite been able to achieve with 'chia sweet.'
I liked that I could taste the different nuts and seeds in it, but also enjoyed the 'green' taste, which gave it a certain subtlety. This bar is fairly high in protein but is too high in sugar to be something I could eat regularly. Phil also thought it was very sweet, which surprised me. He liked it a lot but didn't love it.
I was excited to try the 'chocolate-peanut butter' flavor, especially since it has so much more protein. I had already accepted that I was going to eat more sugar than my usual comfort zone and that there was going to be some cacao consumption. But of course, I still read the label - and it turns out that the chocolate-pb bar is made with whey protein! It also contains rice crisps, so it's quite different from the other three. If you look at the photo, it clearly says 'whey protein' in large print - I like that it does that so that even if you're not an avid defensive label-reader, you shouldn't have to get an unpleasant shock.
I was really surprised by this, since so many of the other products are labeled 'vegan.' I know that whey protein is an excellent protein source for many people. It is thought to be one of the best sources of Branched-Chain Amino Acids, (in which I know I'm deficient). However, I also know that whey protein does awful things to my system. Aside from binding up my guts, which have been tending to be sluggish anyway, when I experimented with it in the past, it affected my mental and emotional functioning in a very adverse way. Interestingly, since I figured this out and quit all dairy again (it was a short-lived experiment) I have had an intense aversion to all things dairy. I can get Branched-Chain Amino Acids from Pea Protein Powder, which works much better for me. Fortunately, Phil was open to having it - he's not into smoothies or superfood powders at all, but he does like energy bars, and is a snickers fan. I had a tiny nibble just for the sake of the review - was afraid the whey taste would make it repugnant to me but actually it wasn't really detectable. The pb and the rice crisps definitely made it more attractive to a 'standard' palate, and Phil liked it a lot. It came with us on our beach hike on a warm day and got melted, though!
My bottom line on the bars: they're quite similar to 'organic food' bars, which I liked a lot before I had to avoid sugar. They're probably similar quality, although as far as I know, 'organic food bar' doesn't have a corresponding superfood powder sold as is that I could check against. I would love to be able to give these bars to my family as healthier snacks than they might otherwise go for. For myself, I love the idea of incorporating superfood powders into my own bar creations - and have blogged about doing so before - but these bars are too high in sugar for me to eat. The most I've eaten at once is a half a bar, and I found that that wasn't enough to fill me as a snack, but was right on the edge of feeling like too much sugar. I know that not everyone is like this, and both in terms of taste and of quality of ingredients, I would recommend these bars to people who can handle sugar (especially people looking for something better than trans-fat laden candy bars!)
Speaking of 'too much sugar,' how did the experiment go with trying these higher-glycemic foods? Well, sometimes it's hard to interpret, when you are both the principal investigator and the guinea pig! Here's the current state of play, though: today, I took a day off from sampling the added-sugar items. On Sunday, I felt fantastic - I think I mentioned: the best physical and emotional-feeling day I can remember during a chelation spell. But yesterday I felt terrible. In terms of stomach upset, bound up guts, general yucky-bloated feeling and other chelation-associated malaise, I was in the dumps and even the steam sauna didn't help! On Sunday, I wondered whether more sugar had helped me to feel so good: yesterday, I wondered whether it had helped me to feel so awful. I can't quite believe that one minuscule nibble of the whey-protein-containing bar could have been responsible for binding my guts so badly, but wonder whether eating less flax because of eating these other things was a contributing factor.
I hope this doesn't sound like needless obsessing: it's really a complicated equation and it feels good to be gathering some data.
Sweetness from the garden -
- raspberries, peas, cilantro, mint, parsley, arugula - and a poor cauliflower that got nibbled all over by slugs! We harvested hundreds of slugs the last few days and are hoping to get the population down. I'll probably kraut that cauliflower, since it's so much bitterer than all the others we've had, probably as a defense against predacious slugs! I made the herbs into pesto - parsley-arugula and cilatro-mint. Delicious!