Snack Bars Showdown: My Favorite Healthy Bars

favorite snack bars

Less than a year ago, I used to consider snacks to be something you eat if you’re waiting on a meal.  So, if I was 30 minutes away from lunch time then I’d contemplate suffering through my hunger for a bit longer or give in to a snack to tide me over.

I have a very different outlook on snacks now!  I’ve still got my main meals of breakfast, lunch, and dinner; I just include an extra snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon.  Sometimes I’m hungry and WAITING for that snack or sometimes I’ve got a mild craving and the snack helps satisfy that.  Either way, snacks are a part of my daily routine.

I like making my own snacks, like these no-bake almond coconut bars, but there are a number of packaged snack bars that I love taking on the go.  They are great options when you accidentally forgot to pack your homemade snack or if you need something that is not easily perishable.  I’ll dive into my favorite bars and flavors and also offer protein and sugar comparisons because that’s something I watch out for in bars.  The closer the protein to sugar ratio is, the less chance I’ll spike my blood sugar.  Please, feel free to let me know your thoughts on these bars or any others you like that I didn’t mention here.

My Favorite Snack Bars

Square Organics

squareorganics snack bars

If you’ve spent a short time on Instagram then you’ve probably seen or heard of these bars.  Square Organics bars are chocolate-coated crispy bars packed with vegan protein and hints of flavors.  I love the coconut and cherry coconut flavors but you can’t go wrong with any of them.  You can expect 12g of plant-based brown rice protein, and an equal amount of sugar from low-glycemic coconut nectar and cane syrup.  One of the best ratios I’ve ever seen in a snack bar.

You can buy these bars online or at places like Vitamin Shoppe.

Clif Nut Butter Filled Energy Bars

Unlike traditional clif bars, these energy bars taste like soft biscuits with a creamy nut butter center.  Each bar has an awesome 7g of protein!  I like the coconut almond butter flavor which has 9g of sugar in each bar.  These are surprisingly filling and really great at keeping me sane when I’m super hungry!  These bars are also organic and come in 7 different flavors.  I can’t wait to try the blueberry almond butter variety.

I find these at any major-chain grocer like Walmart and Target.

bRAW Bars

I mentioned bRAW in my May Wrap-Up post so you know I’m already a fan.  These do need to be kept in the refrigerator but taste just fine after being in my purse for 2-3 hours.  They are a little high calorie but all of the goodness of these bars comes from nuts and seeds!  My favorite almond crunch flavor has 9g of protein and 7g of sugar.  Another excellent ratio!  The other flavors: super green, coconut macadamia, and chocolate espresso have similar protein to sugar ratios.

These can be a little hard to find but check out their store locator or shop online!

Go Macro bars

My oh, my!  If you are in the market for the perfect organic nutrition bar, then look no further than Go Macro Bars.  They are vegan, soy-free, non-GMO, and gluten-free.  Some varieties like my favorite Balanced Goodness, contain 5g of protein and 12g of sugar.  Though, there are high protein varieties as well, like Everlasting Joy, which has 10g of protein and 12g of sugar.  I believe each bar has a base of nut butter, brown rice syrup, and puffed brown rice.  They are super chewy, lightly sweet, and so satisfying.

You can shop online or use their store locator to find retail locations near you.

ALOHA Protein Bars

aloha protein snack bars

I like using ALOHA’s organic, plant-based protein powder in my smoothies so I had high hopes before tasting these.  I’ve got to say, they are pretty darn good.  They have 11-12g of sugar in each bar and a whopping 18g of protein.  Yet, in my experience, they don’t weigh me down—which could be problematic in a snack.  That being said, these bars are likely made with ALOHA’s classic protein powder blend which can be a bit chalky.  That chalkiness is subtle in the bars and does not distract from the taste in the flavors I’ve tried: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip and Fudge Brownie.  Online you can find the complete flavor variety of protein bars (just stay away from the Dark Chocolate Coconut Snack Bar—yuck!) but the in-store selection will vary .

ALOHA protein bars can be found at Target or purchased through the ALOHA website.

LARABAR Original

What’s a snack bar list without LARABARS?  The company has quite the selection of products but I still find myself reaching for their original fruit and nut bar!  Flavors like Cashew Cookie, Apple Pie, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and Blueberry Muffin are all so good.  Unlike the other bars on this list, the protein to sugar ratio is a little skewed but I don’t find that they cause blood sugar spikes for me.  The bars nutrition content varies by flavor but they contain anywhere between 4-6g of protein and 12-20g of sugar.  The main ingredient in each bar is dates, which have a fair amount of fiber.  Plus, tag on the fat from the nuts and that helps keep the sugar punch down.

Find these at Target, Walmart, or Amazon.com.

RX Bars*

rx bars snack

A friend passed along some RX bars to me not long ago so I decided to give them a try.  I prefer plant-based nutrition bars but these aren’t half bad.  They are sort of like LARABARS but much firmer and higher in protein.  The egg-whites make these filling bars have a slight off-taste to me but I think it’s easy to get past.  Flavors like Mint Chocolate Chip and Blueberry are tasty choices

I haven’t spotted these in stores near me but they are available to purchase on the RX Bar website.

KIND Bars*

I’m not ranking snack bars from favorite to least but the kind bars are probably the bar I choose least out of all featured here.  Basically, KIND bars are the adult version of a granola bar.  Also, these gluten-free bars don’t use oats but rather: nuts, dried fruit, and sometimes crispy brown rice for texture.  While they taste good, some questionable ingredients like palm kernel oil or even the soy isolate/soy lecithin (which is in each bar), keep me from eating them regularly.  The bars usually have at least 5g of protein but upwards of 10g of sugar.  The healthy grains variety is also tasty but only contains 2 or so grams of protein.  I’d say, be mindful when picking out bars and go for the Nuts and Spices line which are lower in sugar.  The best choices in my opinion are the Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond or Cashew Ginger and Spice.

Find them at Walmart, Target, gas stations, or online.  In stores, they are sometimes available individually near the check-out stand, too.

This list is definitely not comprehensive of all the snack bars out there but just some standouts from what I’ve tried.  I’m always looking for nutritious snack bar options so if there’s something you like that I didn’t mention, let me know!  I hope to update or add to this list in the future as I discover new favorite bars. 🙂

favorite snack bars

*The KIND bars and RX bars are the only snack bar options on the list that aren’t vegan-friendly.  I chose to include them because I have tried them and both are fairly good options.  RX bars are filling and offer excellent protein.  KIND bars are widely available and therefore a decent option if you occasionally need to grab a quick snack while out or on-the-go.

Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me by Lily Collins Book Review

unfiltered lily collins

Earlier this year, in March, Lily Collins published an autobiographical book on what she calls her deepest unshared secrets.  Collins presents a number of both unique and relatable experiences from her childhood in Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me.  She encourages readers to follow in suit and open up about their own struggles, quirks, and stories.  The sooner we can do that, the sooner we can live life with a better, more loving version of ourselves.

unfiltered lily collins quote

What I Knew Before Reading Unfiltered:

I have always viewed Lily Collins as the epitome of elegance, class, and free-spirited perfection.  While she certainly is, there is much more about her life and story that I didn’t know.  Just like Anna Kendrick, whose self-written book Scrappy Little Nobody I also reviewed here, Collins is a young Hollywood actress who has made a mark on the millennial generation, to say the least.  Collins’ list of acting gigs is short but I knew she would have something meaningful to say beyond actor life.

I remember first seeing Lily Collins on Nickelodeon (back when Nickelodeon and Disney Channel were the only channels I would watch) reporting on the presidential election of 2008.  From Unfiltered, I’ve learned her journalism interests go much further than that.  As a young girl, she wanted to see others her own age represented in media and writing.  During teen years, she used her skills to report live on TV for Nickeloden and in writing for magazines like Elle Girl UK.  With this in mind, Unfiltered targets an audience of similar age to her.  More on this later.

unfiltered lily collins quote

What I Like About Unfiltered

Unfiltered is inspirational as it starts each chapter with a quote pulled from the chapter’s content.  Each chapter takes on a different topic or lesson.  Put together, they have helped shape Lily Collins into who she is today.  It is not the most original concept for a celebrity-written book but it is full of fun facts about Collins.  She touches on her childhood, life in the UK and LA, and reveals details about the eating disorder that she kept well-hidden all these years.  It means so much to read her thoughts on surviving her most challenging times growing up.

Collins’ book reads like a girl friend or older sister comfortably talking about obstacles that teens and young adults face.  She takes on a mentor-like role to explain the lessons she has learned and the advice she wishes to provide.  She genuinely hopes to touch others with what she has gone through and offer helpful suggestions as well as a glimmer of hope that things get better.  Such moments are conveyed in chapters like My Battle For Perfection or Food As Fuel, Not Punishment.

Who Should Read Unfiltered:

While her book seems most appropriate for teens to young adults, adults beyond her age could still enjoy it.  It is fascinating to read Collins’ stories and recollections about notable moments in her young life–including an “unfiltered” look at her relationship with her dad.  I’m only a few years her junior, so I could relate to some experiences she had growing up.  The ones that I couldn’t relate to still shed light on a new perspective for me.

Celebrity news junkies, movie buffs, fans, or casual observers of Lily Collins could enjoy this book.  I think Unfiltered offers a valuable perspective about someone’s life that may appear picture perfect but isn’t.  Though, there is no pity involved, only empowerment.  A glimpse into Lily Collins’ reality is one worth checking out.

unfiltered lily collins quote

 

A Week Without Washing My Hair—Grease Training

Ever since Lee from America talked about how she was grease-training her hair, I decided that was something I wanted to try.  I would like to improve the health of my scalp and I am also concerned about my short hair drying out.  The elements and frequent washing can wreak a havoc on both so grease-training seemed like a great way to combat that.

Day 1 of grease training
Day 1 with fresh, clean hair. I showered the previous night and this is the first day in the second week of grease-training.
Day 1 grease training
Side view of Day 1 hair. I just straightened the front pieces to tame the baby hairs. The rest of my wavy hair was left to do its natural thing.

I’m still new to grease-training but basically, it involves taking time to let your hair and scalp develop its natural oils.

Before we delve into this any further, there are some things I want to mention about my hair texture: I recently cut my hair to as short angled bob but, when it was longer, it was easily frizzy and often wavy.  Now, it is somewhere in between wavy and straight, but with a decent fullness.  I usually style it with a straightener to smooth out the hair that frames my face or the rogue pieces at the back of my head.  Otherwise, au natural is easiest for me.  I’ve also got some Latina blood in me so that lends itself to hair with the potential to get majorly oily.

Day 2 grease training
Side view of my hair on Day 2. It’s a little bit flatter but my hair feels smooth without being weighed down.
Day 3 grease training
Day 3 hair doesn’t feel as bad as it looks. I brushed my roots so that the natural oils on my scalp would spread onto my hair and that flattened it out a lot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My hair was ridiculously oily from over-washing.

For years my hair washing routine has been to shampoo every other day.  My second day hair will typically have a little more texture to it but the crown of my head is ready to be washed by the evening.  So, the first step in grease-training for me was to extend washing to every three days.  That felt uncomfortable to say the least.  After about two weeks of going through three day hair-washing cycles, I stepped it up.  I did four days with a hair rinse on day 2.  I’ll talk about rinsing a bit more but first, let me mention some tips I acquired tips from friends on Instagram who also don’t wash their hair frequently ( I won’t out you guys x D ) which I utilized during grease-training:

  • Dry shampoo was recommended and I know it can be a savior for many.  I used it a bit during the first two weeks but opted not to use it as I continued extending the days between washes.
  • Another tip I got was to wash my hair with only water and scrub it really well with my fingernails—I call this a rinse.
  • A final tip was to condition the ends of my hair during the rinsing time in the shower.

I tried all of these at some point but here’s the deal with the mid-point rinse: it helps get rid of the gunk that was building up on my scalp but that gunk just got shoved further down onto my hair.

Day 4 grease training
Day 4 hair feels thick. My mistake was rinsing it last night (evening of Day 3) because that seemed to only exacerbate the oiliness. If I didn’t know better, I’d think someone slathered texturing balm all over my hair.
Day 5 grease training
Day 5 and I’m feeling like I’ve done something wrong. It is REALLY oily and specks of sebum are present close to my hairline. Highly inclined to just wash my hair….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite how gross I felt, I pushed through!

The days following the rinse, I just accepted the “thick” look my hair had.  I mean, hey, at least it couldn’t get any worse.

I did two weeks of four day cycles with a rinse on day 2 and shampooed on day 4.  Finally, day 4 came around and I was like, why not try for 5?  Then on day 5 I said, let’s try to get to day 6 and then 7!  I jumped from washing my hair every four days to a whole week without washing.

Let me tell ya.  That first complete week of no washing was pretty damn greasy.  Especially because I squeezed some workouts in daily.  This week was also when I also rinsed my hair for the last time—it wasn’t working out for me.  My hair was an uncomfortable mess but I was optimistic it would get better.  The second time I tackled a week without washing, my hair lasted well for the first few days (see pictures) but needed some attention by day four.

Day 6 grease training
Day 6 hair has surprisingly less grease going on. My roots still feel oily but the texture of my hair itself is soft and full. It’s also getting back my natural waves.
Day 7 grease training
Day 7 and I want to hide in a cave. My hair has taken a turn for the worst and it feels like a greaseball.  Note: I didn’t take a picture of Day 8 hair but it looked something like this so I hid it in a ponytail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, it was screaming for attention.

My mom was disgusted when I told her what I was doing and told me I should brush my hair.  She reminded me that in the old days, when people wouldn’t shower often, ladies would brush their hair daily.  A daily brushing helpse to distribute the oils and keep their hair fresh.  I honestly never brush my hair but I decided to give it a go.  My hair felt really oily but it was no longer all concentrated at the crown of my head.  It felt like the oils were distributed through my hair but not in the thick way that my hair felt after rinsing.  I kept brushing the days following that until I finally washed my hair on Day 8.  For the record, I wasn’t aiming for eight days.  I just didn’t get the chance to wash it on the evening of Day 7.  My hair felt relieved, instantly clean, and featherweight.

As I write this, I am on my third cycle of a full week without washing (and second week without any rinsing whatsoever).  This week has definitely gone by much smoother and less oilier than last.  My hair actually felt great and looked fresh most of the week!  I attribute that to brushing it well on Day 3 and continuing to do so daily there on after.

My takeaway is:

Grease-training doesn’t happen overnight.  It took me a good month to build up to four days without shampooing my hair.  Now I can last a full 7 days and my scalp and hair feel decent.  More importantly, they don’t look like a greaseball.

Oily roots are the result of natural build up.  So, sure, you can spray dry shampoo on them but that doesn’t help the hair itself.  I opted to use the scalp’s oils as a conditioner for my hair when I gave it the daily brushing.

And the brushing—that makes the biggest difference.  I use a nylon bristle brush though a boar bristle brush would probably be most effective.  If that’s something you want to invest in.

It’s a bit too soon to tell if my scalp and hair are “healthier” but it feels good.  My hair is definitely not dry and I haven’t had to use styling products at all.  I like the way it naturally falls and it holds well in pontytails, buns, or braids.  As far as grease-training goes, it would be cool to be like Shailene Woodley and only shampoo once a month but I’m going to stick with my cycles of 7 days for now.

Understanding Hope: A Change in Perspective

I was just re-watching a Tea Talk video from Nikki Phillippi where she spoke with Instagram sensation, Tifforelie,  about how to find hope even in the midst of frequent pain or hardships.  You can watch the video here, if you’re interested.

Tiffany described her own hardships with careers, marriage, and finding her passion.  I have not been through the experiences that Tiffany has but I have been feeling frustrated with my own circumstances lately.  I understand how important outlook can be in inspiring personal change, betterment, or good fortune.  Thus, the discussion in the Tea Talk is a welcome source of inspiration.  I felt I could relate to a couple of points discussed in the video.  In fact, by the end of it, I was so grateful to hear that they, and others in the comments, share my same thoughts.  What particularly struck my interest was how Tiffany mentioned that she used to look at someone under hard times with judgmental eyes.  She would offer pity rather than optimism or hope to lift the person up.

I think instances of pain—especially pain that is unfamiliar to us—often receive that sort of reaction.  It feels almost instinctive to extend sympathy but that is not the kind of reaction I would want to receive.  Nor is it how I want to look at others.

The Tea Talk video gave me a lot of nice ideas to consider.  It all goes back to that saying, “treat others the way you want to be treated”.  Except…TIffany’s way of thinking advocates for extending hope and positive vibes by thinking positively of someone else.  Not just so that someone else will think kindly of you, but, to extend hope and positive vibes into the universe.  There is a deeper understanding of others, and ourselves for that matter, that we can tap into if we try.  I feel encouraged to reframe my perspective and think less critically about how others may be living their lives.  There is no reason to fill myself with negative thoughts of others or to waste time creating them.

A quote by Roald Dahl sums it up pretty well:

hope and positive vibes

 

 

Live Nomva Smoothie Packs Review

Recently, I got the opportunity to sample several of Live Nomva’s probiotic smoothie packs.  These little packs are pure health pureed into a drinkable form.  I find them perfect for on-the-go and also an easy way to squeeze (literally!) some healthy fruits and veggies into my day.

Live Nomva Smoothie Packs
Photo from Live Nomva’s website

I tried out the following smoothie pack flavors:

KALE YEAH

STRAWNANA

TROPICARROT

APPLESTACK

EVERBERRY

At the time I tried these out, they had not yet release their ISLANDTIME flavor.   Nonetheless, I really liked the flavors I did try!  They’re basically like applesauce in texture but better! The packs are made with awesome ingredients ranging from banana to kale to apples to quinoa.

To begin with, the TROPICARROT flavor was probably my favorite.  It is made of pineapple, carrot, mango, and pear.  Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of how I used that pack because I literally guzzled that baby down in a minute because it was that good!  For all of the other flavors (that I could exercise a bit more restraint with) I managed to take some pictures:

STRAWNANA Live Nomva Smoothie Pack Chia Pudding Parfait

The STRAWNANA flavor went excellently in a coconut chia pudding, granola, and strawberries parfait that I put together.

EVERBERRY Live Nomva Smoothie Pack Chia Pudding Parfait

I also used their EVERBERRY flavor as a layer in yet another chia pudding parfait.  I mixed in some Puffins cereal, strawberries, and kiwi this time.  Super yum!

Admittedly, you could make your own smoothie and use that in a parfait but it’s hard to make just a small amount of smoothie.  So, these packs are the perfect size!!  I love adding the Nomva smoothie packs to parfaits and other concoctions but they are so delicious on their own.  Plus, they are free from dairy, tree nuts, preservatives, or anything funky.  Pure organic fruit and vegetables + vegan friendly probiotics!

Let’s talk about the probiotics for a sec.  As a mostly plant-based eater, I do not consume yogurt regularly.  That used to be my main source of probiotics.  Sometimes I drink kombucha or eat sauerkraut but these Live Nomva smoothies are totally easy and safe to consume daily because they are made with wholesome, organic produce.  Now, I can get behind that.

Live Nomva KALE YEAH: Productivity Fuel

Twice, I tried the KALE YEAH flavor on an occasion when I felt like I needed a pick-me-up but my stomach was feeling a bit off.  All of the nutritious ingredients and probiotics definitely helped me feel reenergized!

Check out the Live Nomva website to see more about their smoothie pack flavors and find out where you can buy them locally.  I believe you can even get a $1 off coupon to try out their product when you visit their website.

Have you guys tried the Nomva smoothie packs?  If so, what did you think?  As always, I’d love to hear your opinions.

Xoxo,

Melanie

 

DISCLAIMER: The Live Nomva smoothie packs were sent to me as a giveaway prize package.  I am not under any obligation to promote or endorse this product.  I truly enjoyed them so I just want to share my review.