The Problem with Store-Bought Energy Bars - Page 2
While there are idiosyncratic reasons contributing to the trend, two key issues are driving it: cost and ingredient control.
Power bars retail for anywhere between one and four dollars apiece, depending on the type of bar (for example, high protein bars and raw bars can cost far more than basic energy bars) and where it’s purchased (for example, bars cost far less at warehouse club stores than at health food stores or gyms). While a single bar won’t break the bank, the cost of eating multiple power bars in a week’s time—typical for trail runners—can quickly become prohibitive.
(2) Ingredient Control
The second reason is ingredient control, which I contend is an even more compelling argument than cost. The demand for all-natural, high-quality food is fast becoming the rule rather than the exception and people of all stripes and sorts are seeking greater control over the food they eat, and that includes power bars.
Junky Ingredients: Ironically, a large percentage of power bars on the market are loaded with a range of unhealthy ingredients such as synthetic flavorings, artificial sweeteners, soy protein isolate, sugar alcohols, hydrogenated oils, chemical colorants, and high- fructose corn syrup.
Additional ingredient control factors driving consumers towards DIY power bars include the following:
Poor Taste: “Poor” taste is putting it nicely. A consistent complaint about ready-to-eat power bars is the flavor—that they are too sweet, cloying or have a peculiar aftertaste from the protein ingredients.
Repetitive Flavors: Further, despite hundreds of brands on the market, the same tastes and textures are employed again and again (think peanut butter and chocolate, double chocolate fudge, chocolate and peanut butter, etc.), inevitably leading to power bar palate fatigue.
Artificial Preservatives: The majority of power bars on the market—even many of the bars touting “natural” labels—contain synthetic, artificial preservatives to ensure a long shelf life and create a more visually appealing product. Part of the problem is that, while labels such as “organic” are federally regulated, wording such as “natural” and “all-natural” are not; manufacturers are able to define the terms as they choose. Homemade bars require no such artificial wording, ingredients, or anything.
Low-Quality Protein: The protein in power bars is a large part of their appeal. However, the protein used in ready-made bars is typically very low quality options, such as hydrolyzed animal collagen, hydrolyzed gelatin, and soy protein isolate, a waste product gleaned from the processing of primary soy products, such as tofu.
High-Allergen Ingredients: An estimated 25 million Americans suffer from food allergies and several of the top food allergens—soy, gluten, corn, egg, dairy, and nuts—are principal ingredients in manufactured power bars. Even if the bars do not contain one or more of these ingredients, they are typically manufactured in plants that process such foods, which raises concerns of cross contamination and eliminates them as an option.
But take heart—all-natural, affordable power bars are possible. My new book, Power Hungry: The Ultimate Energy Bar Cookbook, has a simple premise: do-it-yourself power bar recipes that emphasize taste, maximize nutrition, minimize cost and eliminate the junk can be made at home with ease and flair. They are endlessly customizable, too, so you can always hit the trail in delicious style!
Read on for Camilla's Seeds of Power Bars recipe ...