It seems like every time I walk down the protein bar aisle at Whole Foods, there are a slew of new products from Balance Bar. We have already reviewed the original and Gold varieties, and now we can choose from reduced carb, organic, and 100-Calorie snack-size bars. What caught my eye, however, was the new Balance Bare line. According to the Balance website, products from this line boast "real ingredients you can see and taste." This fake-free gimmick appealed to me, so I grabbed two bars: one in the fruit-nut trail mix flavor and one in the cinnamon oats and honey trail mix flavor.
When I peeled back the wrapper, I thought I was looking at a Luna Bar because these bars have the same lightly sweetened crispy nuggets and an icing-like coating on the bottom. After a few bites though, the distinction was clear. Balance Bare bars are not quite as decadent as the caramel-laced, pecan-topped Luna Bars. These bars more nearly resemble health food in that you can see chunks of the ingredients: oats, dried cranberry, or almonds, for example. The fruit-nut variety was tasty but was not anything extraordinary in its flavors. The cinnamon one was more unique. I felt like I was eating a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch in bar form. The cinnamon flavor was pronounced enough to be detected but not overwhelming, and the touch of honey adds a nice touch of sweetness.
Each Balance Bare 50 gram bar contains 210 calories and 7-9 grams of fat, most of which is unsaturated. You'll also get 13 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and 23 vitamins and minerals. For ladies looking for calcium, these bars offer relatively little, only 10% RDA as compared to Luna's 35%. There are also a hefty 12-16 grams of sugar.
The ingredients list is fairly long which is not something I would expect out of a "bare" bar. I counted three sweeteners before any of the nuts or fruit appear on the list. For my fellow vegetarians, I am sorry to say that I noticed after eating these that they contain fish gelatin.
I purchased these for $1.49 each at Whole Foods, but you can buy a 15-bar box for $16.49 from the Balance website. There are four other varieties available: Peanut Butter, Chocolate Almond, Yogurt Nut, and Chocolate Chip. In general, these are tasty bars, but I don't think they're as natural as they woud have ou believe. They're more expensive than other bars as well. OK for those days when you're just too busy to sit down for a snack or meal, but they shouldn't become a diet staple.