Over the summer I discovered chia seed at my local Costco. Gluten free, healthy and all natural to the point of gimmicky, and sold in bulk…you know I bought it. Chia is a plant native to Central America that was cultivated by the Aztecs. The seeds are one of these magical powerhouse foods full of heart healthy omega 3s, antioxidants, and fiber. They really have no distinguishable taste, but somehow adding a tablespoon to oatmeal or yogurt subtly changes the flavor (as I’ve discovered). It also causes a detectable change in the texture because, when they get wet, the seeds suck up the moisture and form a gelatinous coating.
Well, I got it into my head that I wanted to bring chia on my trek since it’s such a healthy seed and doesn’t require refrigeration. And also, I figured I could use them to grow some hair just in case this drastic haircut is a disaster (yes, it’s the same chia). The downside, though, is that they’re about the size of poppy seeds and would be a real mess. Also, they don’t work on their own (like hemp seeds can), and I couldn’t figure out what I would consistently pair them with on the trail.
So then I thought that there must be a company that puts chia in its products. After a quick Google search, I found Get Chia, which produces FruitChia bars (and then I remembered seeing them at Whole Foods). According to the website, FruitChia bars are all natural, vegan, and gluten free; and they contain no added sugars, preservatives, and artificial flavors. So far so good.
I figured they could be worth a try. So I contacted the company, and the kind folks there agreed to send me a sample of each of their flavors, four in total.
Remember how I mentioned last week that I’m cutting out refined sugars for a while to stave off my sugar addiction? Well, I was super excited when the bars arrived because I was craving some sweets, and FruitChia bars don’t have added sugars. The wrapper also says that they have a low glycemic index (GI). I know generally that GI has something to do with sugar, but I looked it up since I didn’t really understand it.
I learned that GI is a measure of how quickly one’s blood sugar levels rise (and subsequently fall) after eating a particular food. So, by having a low GI, FruitChia bars do not cause sugar spikes and crashes, I guess. But, even so, they still have plenty of carbs (33g, or 11% of daily value). That’s definitely a combo I’m aiming for in my hiking diet.
The bars each have only four ingredients: apple puree, apple concentrate, chia seeds, and either cranberry, strawberry, blueberry, or raspberry concentrate – depending on the flavor. The texture is soft but solid (think an itty bitty bit softer than LARABARs), and the flavor is like eating fruit leather, except maybe a little sweeter. I was actually really surprised by how sweet they are considering that there are no added sugars. I’m thinking that maybe the chia seeds have more of an effect on the other ingredients than I’d imagined. And, in fact, I’m pretty sure they are solely responsible for the soft texture since the other three ingredients usually come together to make a tough fruit leather.
Back to the flavors. Blueberry was hands-down my favorite. As much as I overdose on sugar, I actually prefer the taste of foods that are less sweet and more dynamic. I found that likeness in blueberry. Strawberry was my second favorite. This probably sounds weird considering what we’re talking about here, but it tastes identical to artificially flavored alternatives (think Fruit Roll-ups…it’s been a while, but I know my artificial strawberry flavor). I think a parent could swap out the highly processed version with little/no complaints from the wee tot(s). My third favorite was cranberry. I definitely like cranberries (i.e. always have dried cranberries in my cupboard), but I’m sometimes not in the mood for the tartness. Last but not least, raspberry was my fourth favorite since raspberries tend to be more sour.
The one thing to keep in mind is that the chia has the potential to get stuck in your teeth. I honestly didn’t have an issue with this, but I read a product review that alluded to the predicament for someone will dental issues so thought I should mention it.
Oh, also, for the record, these are the nutrition facts: 155 calories. 1.5 grams of fat. total carbs 33-34 grams. dietary fiber 5-6g. protein 2g.
Overall, I give FruitChia bars a big thumbs up based on all of the aforementioned merits alone. But I have to say that I give the source company Get Chia a lot of credit for the pricing.
Price is, of course, a big consideration for me. If the bars were beyond my price point for justifying (we each have our own limit…but I’m frugal), I’d stubbornly stick to dried fruit and spoonfuls of chia, claiming it’s the same once it hits your belly (it’s not). I went to Amazon to check out their price, and I found 24 bars for $40 ($1.75 each). That’s a bit hefty for me personally, knowing I’d want to eat them regularly.
Then I thought to check out the Get Chia website. I was impressed to find that not only does the company offer free shipping on all sales (even down to the purchase of one bar!), but also they reduce the price per bar substantially as the purchase quantity increases. And I’m not just talking huge bulk orders either. The following is the pricing scheme:
– 1 to 11 bars – $1.99 each
– 12 to 23 bars – $1.89 each
– 24 to 95 bars – $1.75 each
– 96 to 287 bars – $1.49 each
– 288 or more bars – $1.19 each
If you plan to buy a large quantity (whether because you have a family to feed, have friends willing to split the order, or you eat the same foods obsessively…like me), the savings over Whole Foods are significant, especially given the free shipping. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen such a liberal direct-to-consumer pricing scheme in the food industry before.
For that, I have to give Get Chia two thumbs up. And maybe a couple of gold stars…in case they grew up in the ‘90s and expect stickers too.