Remember when we gave our kids granola bars as a healthy snack? Well, all of a sudden, without anyone noticing, they have been re-packaged and come with a sales pitch. They’re now called energy bars. They come beautifully wrapped and packed full of goodies; some with chocolate chips and some with caramel. I am afraid soon we will see them sandwiched between whipped cream. Sure, they give energy, but it’s just all that sugar! That’s why kids love ’em. These bars often make big promises. Some promise increased energy and others offer up extra nutrition. Once you cut through all the hype and the flashy packaging, turns out all you may be really getting is a stiff dose of sugar.
Good Bars for Kids
In my investigative reporting (and eating), here is what I have discovered. If the bar has lots of carbs (sugar), your body will store the excess glucose (sugar) for later use. However, there may not be ‘later use’, there may just be TV watching — that’s why energy bars work best for athletes, NOT as a snack. Here are some suggestions for a good bar for your kids:
1. Clif Kids
These bars come with lots of good stuff. Lots of flavors including apple cinnamon, blueberry, peanut butter, and chocolate chip. There is no hydrogenated oil (trans fats), no hfcs (high fructose corn syrup), and no preservatives. They are made with whole grains and have 10-11 grams of sugar vs. the original Clif Bar which comes with 22 grams of sugar and double the calories; great when you are planning on playing an hour of tennis later. NOTE ABOUT TRANS-FAT: The FDA does not require trans-fat to be listed on a nutrition label if the product has less than 0.5 trans-fat per serving. If less than that, you still may see hydrogenated oil in the ingredient listing.
2. Kashi Bars
There are so many different ones to choose from! I buy the variety pack of Chewy Granola Bars with honey almond flax, trail mix, and peanut butter. Not only are they low in sugar (only 5-6 grams in each bar), they’re also low in calories and contain no trans-fat. I love them because they are chewy and some of the bars even contain flax seeds. Where else am I going to get my flax seeds? (I also love the Raspberry Chocolate also. That one has 7 grams of sugar. Not bad, huh?). NOTE ON FLAX: It can boost the immune system, heart health and even brain health.
3. Trader Joe’s Brand
I like to tout Trader Joe’s because I think it is fun to shop there and they have great prices. T.J.’s has cereal bars and granola bars, each with a wide variety of flavors. The upside is the price (6 bars for $1.69), the downside for me is they do have more sugar than the bars I just mentioned. So, for me, they’re a bit too sweet. However, I love the “this fig walks into a bar” bar with 13 grams of sugar. Moral of the story? Make sure you read food labels and therein lies the facts about so-called energy bars.
About the Author
Shelley Janson is a chef, writer, and business consultant. In 1985 Janson founded the Epicurean School of Culinary Arts, the first short term Professional Chef Training Program in Los Angeles. A frequent “foodie” contributor to local and nationally-syndicated television programs, Janson is also well-known for producing special food events for department stores, corporations, and fundraisers for nonprofits. Her client list includes MySpace, Oprah Winfrey’s HARPO Productions, and Martha Stewart Living. As a nutrition enthusiast, Janson is now launching her next career as THE FOOD COACH, empowering kids by teaching them about foods and nutrition to help them build healthy lifestyles. Look for her classes at Whole Foods and her other Food Coach articles at www.modernmom.com. Shelley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can check out her website at www.thefoodcoaches.com (see link below).
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