Nature’s Path recently redesigned the packaging for their Chewy Granola Bar line, which now comes in several flavors: “Berry Strawberry,” “Chococonut,” “Lotta’ Apricotta,” “MMMaple Pecan,” “Peanut Buddy,” “Peanut Choco,” “Pumpkin-N-Spice,” and “Sunny Hemp.” I received the three bold-ed flavors for consideration:
Do not underestimate the difficulty of staging cardboard boxes.
The company’s effort to shrink its packaging to reduce waste is commendable. They say: “the new box is 36% smaller than a standard 6.2oz box.” I appreciate that this may be a marketing risk, as the smaller box may be perceived by some consumers as their receiving less for the money. However, Nature’s Path has a reputation as an environmentally-conscious company with strong principles.
First up –
Nutrition facts: This 35g bar contains 140 kcals, only .5g saturated fat, a scant 80g sodium, 65mg potassium, 2g fiber, 10g sugar, and 3g protein. It also contains 2% of daily needs for calcium and 8% for iron. (Of course, these %s are based on a 2,000 calorie/day diet — as mandated by FDA packaging requirements — though this daily intake is certainly not appropriate for everyone!)
Ingredients: “Granola* (rolled oats*, evaporated cane juice*, soy oil*), tapioca syrup*, brown rice flour*, pumpkin seeds* (pumpkin seeds*, salt), invert cane syrup*, flaxseeds*, acacia gum*, soy oil*, evaporated cane juice*, sea salt, spice*, molasses*. *Organic. Contains soy. Produced in a facility that uses dairy, peanuts, and tree nuts.”
This flavor is not intended to taste like pumpkin (i.e. puree), but instead has green pumpkin seeds (AKA pepitas) scattered throughout the bar. The bar has a nice chew, with the familiar gooeyness of a marshmallow rice treat, so one can definitely see why it would be a hit with kids. The spice is tasty but not strong, which young snackers might also appreciate; the size is also appropriate for children. I like the lack of dairy here but wish soy oil would have been substituted by another out of sensitivity to those allergic. Overall, it made a tasty, unique morning snack.
Nutrition Facts: This 35g bar contains 150 kcals, 1.5g saturated fat, 105mg sodium, 2g fiber, 10g sugar, and 2g protein, with 2% DV Calcium and 4% DV iron. The oats contribute to its 10g whole grains and the flax seeds contribute to its omega-3 content.
Ingredients: “Granola* (rolled oats*, evaporated cane juice*, soy oil*), tapioca syrup*, pecans*, brown rice flour*, maple icing* (evaporated cane juice*, palm kernel oil* and/or cocoa butter*, cultured buttermilk powder* (skim milk*, starter culture), flavor*, non-fat dried milk*, citric acid, caramel color*, natural maple flavor, sea salt, soy lecithin*, annatto extract*, tapioca starch*), invert cane syrup*, dried coconut*, flaxseeds*, acacia gum*, soy oil*, sea salt, evaporated cane juice*, maple syrup*, natural maple flavor, molasses*. *Organic. Contains dairy, tree nuts and soy.”
I didn’t get a chance to sample this flavor, but my mom took one of these to work. She reports: “It was delicious! Soft and sweet and maple-y gooey. Very fresh.” Disclosure: my mother is an admitted sugar fanatic.
Looking at the ingredients, though, the overwhelming sweetness of evaporated cane juice in the granola + tapioca syrup + evaporated cane juice in the maple icing + invert cane syrup + dried coconut + evaporated cane juice + maple syrup + natural maple flavor + molasses is somewhat unsettling — but explains why she liked it so much. This would probably make a nice dessert and, again, would likely be a kid- (or sugarholic-adult-) favorite.
Nutrition Facts: This 35g bar contains 140 kcals, 1.5g saturated fat, 70mg sodium, 2g fiber, 12g sugar, and 2g protein, with 2% DV Calcium and 4% DV iron. The oats contribute to its 9g whole grains and the flax seeds contribute to its omega-3 content.
Ingredients: Granola* (rolled oats*, evaporated cane juice*, soy oil*), tapioca syrup*, dried apricot* (apricots*, rice flour*), almonds*, brown rice flour*, yogurt icing* (evaporated cane juice*, palm kernel oil* and/or cocoa butter*, cultured buttermilk powder* (skim milk*, starter culture), cultured non-fat dried milk* (skim milk*, starter culture), natural flavor, soy lecithin*, sea salt, citric acid, tapioca starch*), invert cane syrup*, dried coconut*, acacia gum*, soy oil*, sea salt, evaporated cane juice*, natural flavor, molasses*, citric acid. *Organic. Contains dairy, soy, tree nuts. Produced in a facility that uses peanuts.
In very rare exception to my dairy avoidance, I broke of pieces of the Lotta’ Apricotta for dessert. This had a much more subtle apricot scent and taste than I expected, but it was good. The frosting lent a creamy touch, but put things over the top because I felt the bar itself was a tiny bit too sweet. Again, the bar was nicely chewy/crispy (in a good way) and was so fresh that it kept wanting to break apart. I can also see this being a hit with kids. The pieces of fruit made this bar ‘prettier’ than the Pumpkin-N-Spice, but that’s probably not totally relevant to include in an evaluation….
This made a fun evening snack. Suggestions: a bit less sugar in the base and more fruity apricot flavor. Slightly more sodium may also help balance the sweetness.
Thank you to Nature’s Path for the opportunity to review these products. My favorite was the Pumpkin-N-Spice for its hint ‘o spice and dairy-free-ness (lack of frosting).
*Kudos to their lack of soy protein isolate/concentrate (“soy protein crisps”), which is made via dangerous hexane rinse and overabundant in these kinds of bars.
*Pairing this with something like whole-wheat crackers or pretzels + nut butter or hummus would increase satiety.
Side tip: try Nature’s Path organic waffles and oatmeal. Support a responsible organic company. (Their Buckwheat Wildberry gluten-free waffles were the stars of Mother’s Day brunch!)