I might come across as a cheapskate, wearing hand-me-down clothes and getting heartburn over spending money. But, friends, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The truth is, and I’m not proud to admit this, part of me is a little bit of a Yuppie too. See, sometimes I like nice things and am willing to pay for them. They are often small luxuries, but if I think they’re worth the expense, I’ll buy them.
Case in point, when I travel I like to go to my local Whole Foods and buy a few LÄRABARs for my trip. (I know they’re only like $1.30 per bar, but the way my brain works, I can spend less money by eating the equivalent calories in dried fruit and nuts.) If you’ve never heard of them, LÄRABARs have between two and nine ingredients, the base ingredient of which is dates. Other ingredients depend on the flavor.
I’ve tried several varieties (like Ginger Snap and Carrot Cake), and they tend to have between 200 and 240 calories. I love them because the texture is soft (See, there’s the added value. They pre-chew the dried fruit and nuts for me.), but there are distinguishable pieces of nuts ground in them. For everyday life in which I’m trying to watch my calorie intake, I find them too dense inasmuch as I can eat consume 200+ calories in a few bites, but when I’m hiking and burning a lot of calories, I figure that they’re a good addition, especially because each bar weighs only 1.6 ounces.
**Full disclosure: I reached out to LÄRABAR, and the company generously provided me six varieties to try…and eating six varieties in as many (or fewer) days (don’t judge me) is doing nothing for my current sits-in-a-cubicle-most-of-the-day waistline. The things I do in the name of science and blogging (just go with it).**
I will preface this review by saying that:
1) I decided to list the varieties in the order that I sampled them.
2) I did not eat them while hiking or immediately afterward since everything tastes better while/after hiking.
3) I have a strong sense of smell and taste, so take what I say with a grain of salt (or sugar).
5) I tend to prefer flavors that are less sweet and more dynamic.
6) Much of the time I don’t eat food with such a critical palate in mind, but I decided to do it right and really put these flavors to the test.
Without further ado…
Cappuccino: Well, crud, this is going to be so anticlimactic. Usually I like to save the best for last, but I sampled this one first. Holy moly, this flavor is awesome. It’s definitely my new favorite. I always keep a bag of these yummy coffee-flavored hard candies in my office. One day I let a co-worker try one and her response was, “This tastes like licking the inside of a coffeepot.” Clearly, she was not into the flavor, but I absolutely love the flavor of coffee. Unfortunately, my sensitive belly can’t handle coffee, so flavored foods are my best alternative. In a similar way to the hard candy, the cappuccino flavor is intense. This bar has become my new favorite (did I already say that? I think I did). It’s made with real coffee, and it thoroughly complements the underlying flavor of dates.
Conclusion: Best flavor. Limit to earlier in the day since it’s made with real coffee.
FYI. Ingredients: dates, almonds, cashews, coffee, vanilla extract. Calories 200, total fat 10g, saturated fat 1g, total carbs 22g, dietary fiber 4g, protein 5g.
Banana Bread: I might have gotten a defective bar here. I stuck it in the oven “Back to the Future Part II” pizza-hydrator style, but it didn’t grow to a full size banana bread; it just turned into a hot mess (ba da ba chhhh). Seriously, though, this one didn’t go over that well. It was perfectly edible and initially tasted smoothly of banana, but the aftertaste was a bit off. I say the aftertaste reminded me of the slightly bitter flavor of raw almonds, and my friend April (who split the bar with me) contends that it was too sweet.
Conclusion: Meh. (Visualize me curling one nostril up while furrowing the eyebrow on the same side of my face and shrugging my shoulders. Are you actually trying it? It’s pretty entertaining.) Least favorite of the ones I sampled.
FYI. Ingredients: almonds, dates, unsweetened bananas. Calories 230, total fat 11g, saturated fat 1g, total carbs 30g, dietary fiber 5g, protein 6g.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough: I don’t usually lament the fact that I’m gluten sensitive. Many people with food allergies/sensitivities can relate when I say that I’m extremely happy to avoid gluten; it’s better than feeling crappy. But it would be a stretch to deny that I sometimes miss certain foods. Cookie dough happens to be one of these foods. (Think the food critic’s childhood flashback in the movie Ratatouille) Biting into this bar reminded me of all the (wonderful, fabulous, fantastic) times I made myself feel utterly sick on a batch of cookie dough as a teenager. The texture is spot on, and the bar is chocked full of chocolate chips that add moisture in addition to overwhelming (i.e. hiding) the flavor of dates. I almost felt like I needed to pair it with a glass of milk. That being said, I’m pretty particular about sweets. I wouldn’t eat it in the morning, and in fact I’d save it for those few moments when I’m really craving sweets. If you crave sweets/chocolate any time of day or night, then by all means, you’d enjoy this one whenever.
Conclusion: Best when craving dessert/sweets. Probably not the best for the trail for fear of melting chocolate.
FYI. Ingredients: cashews, dates, chocolate chips (unsweetened chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla), sea salt. Calories 210, total fat 11g, saturated fat 3g, total carbs 28g, dietary fiber 3g, protein 4g.
Pecan Pie: I don’t have too much to say about this flavor. It tastes mostly of dates but has a slightly bitter aftertaste similar to that described above with the Banana Bread (likely from raw nuts). I can’t say I would compare it to pecan pie, but it’s generally tasty.
Conclusion: A decent middle-of-the-road anytime flavor.
FYI. Ingredients: dates, pecans, almonds. Calories 220, total fat 13g, saturated fat 1g, total carbs 24g, dietary fiber 4g, protein 3g.
Chocolate Coconut Chew: Maybe my taste buds were off or something, but I didn’t glean much of a coconut flavor from this bar. The cocoa powder came through strongly, so if you’re not much into super sweet flavors, this one might be for you. It also had sizeable chunks of walnuts. Keeping in mind that I’m not a chocoholic, depending on my mood, I could go either way on this one.
Conclusion: Best when craving the deep flavor of dark chocolate.
FYI. Ingredients: dates, almonds, walnuts, unsweetened cocoa powder, unsweetened coconut. Calories 240, total fat 13g, saturated fat 2.5g, total carbs 29g, dietary fiber 5g, protein 5g.
Cashew Cookie: This one tasted similar to the Pecan Pie with a couple of exceptions. First, there was no bitter aftertaste (maybe because this one has no almonds?). Second, the flavor seemed deeper and richer. Definitely prefer this one over the Pecan Pie.
Conclusion: Best middle-of-the-road anytime flavor.
FYI. Ingredients: cashews, dates. Calories: 230, total fat 13g, saturated fat 1.5g, total carbs 23g, dietary fiber 3g, protein 6g.
So, there you have it, folks, a bar for every mood. And a good thing too since this Yuppie is going to need to eat, and she’s not bringing along a stove.