The options are plentiful in the snack aisle of your local health-food store, but they’re not always as healthy as you might think. The next time you’re in the market for a replacement meal bar or snack, give one of these alternatives a try. We love these picks because their creators sought out a truly healthy and beneficial snack to help you feel good about what you’re eating. Plus, with fun ingredients like bison and crickets, it’s worth stepping outside the box to add to your rotation of go-to snacks.
Taylor and Katie, the innovators behind EPIC, set out to redefine the bar industry when they created the world’s first grass-fed meat, fruit and nut bar. While the texture is similar to other nutrition bars, they definitely have an overall meaty flavor. Interestingly, they made this concoction right after they became vegetarians! As part of their learning process, they initially cut out meat because they thought it was the only way to “clean eating,” but later discovered animal protein definitely had its place as long as it was derived in a responsible way. “Restorative protein heals our body, our livestock and the land we depend on,” the founders explain. Flavors include Chicken Sriracha, Bacon, Beef Apple Bacon, Bison Bacon Cranberry and Pulled Pork Pineapple. Get a 12 pack of bars for $30 at epicbar.com.
Sometimes, the best-kept secrets are borrowed from another culture. This is the case with the special ingredient of the REV’D bar: maca root powder. This hearty root is one of the few plants that can grow on the 13,000-foot altitudes of the Peruvian Andes. Paul Janavs, the founder of REV’D, discovered it during a visit to Peru where he became fascinated by the root, namely its ability to boost strength and stamina. While maca root is often used in smoothies, Paul had a hunch to use it in bars instead. Paul went on to create the first maca root bar—one that is non-GMO with no artificial flavors, sweeteners nor preservatives with three vegan varieties. Flavors are yummy and include Double Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip, White Chocolate Macadamia and Oatmeal Raisin. Bars retail for $2.49 in stores or buy a 12 pack for $29.95 at revdlife.com
Pistachio Chewy Bites
If you were to combine trail mix with bars, these delicious bites would be the outcome. Pistachios make up the bulk of these bars, which speaks to the history of this company, Setton Farms. More than 40 years ago, two Brooklyn brothers took their love of baking and gourmet foods to growing their own pistachios. Now, the California-based Setton Farms is one of the largest pistachio growers in the country. The brothers decided to create their own line of bars, which are gluten-free, dairy-free, GMO-free and low in sodium. If you like pistachios, you’re guaranteed to like this bar. You can buy a 6-pack of their single flavor (featuring pistachios and cranberries) through Amazon for $5.99. Learn more about the company at pistachiochewybites.com.
If you’re a fan of Shark Tank, then you’ll likely remember the memorable episode when Pat Crowley pitched his bar company. Chapul bars are made in part from crickets (cricket flour), offering a sustainable and protein-rich snack. Chapul is the original cricket bar company, but don’t expect to pick out a cricket flavor at all. The bars are very rich, but the texture is similar to other bars. Know that when you eat them, though, you’re getting a great source of protein! You can buy flavors like Thai, Chaco, Matcha and Aztec online. A sampler’s dozen (three of each flavor) is available for $34 at chapul.com.
It was Michael Williams’ love of surfing and clean eating, combined with his wife Michelle’s passions for CrossFit and Paleo, which led to the creation of Bricks Bars. The Williams found most bars on the market to be sweet, mediocre in taste and with nutritional information that was often too difficult to understand, so they wanted to renovate the offerings. Bricks bars use high-quality meats, organic fruits and veggies, organic spices and organic coconut oil. Both Michael and Michelle go by the mantra, “Food is Foundation,” and it’s the way they’ve developed their bars as well. Their two signature bars include one with turkey and another with grass-fed beef. Both make filling meal replacements if you’re on the trail, too. Try a sampler pack (4 bars) for $15 at bricksbars.com.
What do you get when three professional athletes (a triathlete, runner and marathoner) work together to create a new kind of snack? Picky Bars: a slightly chewy, yet crunchy, snack with dates and nut butters as the base. The company claims the bars are “full of adventure-fueling ingredients with none of the crap that holds you back” and athletes definitely agree. Jesse Thomas, Lauren Fleshman and Stephanie Bruce are the athletes behind Picky Bars, and they said they created them because there were truly no good options on the market to enhance performance. Whether you’re an avid athlete or an occasional runner, these bars are sure to help you get to your next milestone. You can find many flavors in fun names like Cookie Doughpness, Blueberry Boomdizzle, Smooth Caffeinator and Need for Seed (they’re as tasty as they sound, too). Get a three-bar sample pack for $8.99 on pickybars.com or sign up for their monthly subscription program.
The name of this company pretty much sums their philosophy—to keep things simple. They do this by having only five ingredients in each bar, such as nuts, honey, sea salt, vanilla and spices. (Technically, spices make up multiple ingredients but it’s still pretty impressive.) These bars are perfect for people who follow a Paleo lifestyle, and Simple Squares was recently named one of the cleanest products on the market by Clean Eating magazine. Look for Simple Squares at Whole Foods or your local health-food store. The flavors are simple overall, but this just means you can feel really good about what you’re eating. Look for options that include Chili Pep, Cho-coco, Coconut, Coffee, Ginger and Cinna-clove. You can also get a 12 pack of bars for $29.99 at simplesquares.com.