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Diet Solutions: Nutrition bars

The 11 Best Breakfast Bars
by BrandDoctorKerry

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   (100 votes)

A recent Label Lesson unwrapped the dark side of breakfast bars. This week we want you to take an oath:

I swear I will NEVER touch another Healthy Food Imposter breakfast bar again. I will ONLY eat breakfast foods that provide my body with whole grains and other natural, healthful ingredients - no matter how long it takes to prepare such a breakfast…

Just kidding! You don’t have to give up convenience to enjoy a great breakfast.

That’s right… you can be good to your body even if you don’t have time to prepare a full-blown morning meal. The food sleuths here at have tracked down a few good breakfast bars that have nutrients and convenience!

Case in point: LARABAR Raw Food Bar Chocolate Coconut Chew

Cals 220, 12g fat, 0 sodium, 18g sugar, 5g fiber, 5g protein

Ingredients: Dates, Almonds, Walnuts, Unsweetened Coconut, Unsweetened Cocoa Powder.

Friends, this bar contains the Holy Trinity of healthy eating: CONVENIENCE, NUTRITION and ENERGY!

Decoding the fine print

So why is this breakfast bar worth your time and money, you ask? If the ingredients don’t speak for themselves, our food sleuths are happy to speak for them. Take a look:

This bar (like all the LARABAR varieties) is crafted from fewer than six ingredients.

The unsweetened cocoa provides more antioxidants than green tea.
The dates, coconut, almonds and walnuts are all nutritional superstars!

The fiber, protein, good carbohydrates and healthy fats are derived exclusively from whole, raw foods.

This bar is a wholefood NATURAL source of 16 essential vitamins and minerals, including fiber, vitamin E and folic acid. There’s no need for a red-flag label claim like “fortified with vitamins and minerals.”

Sugars and carbs come from fruit, not from processed, added junk sources.

And the best part, they come in 14 amazing flavors all of which are free of added sugars and sweeteners, preservatives, fillers, and artificial colorings.

There’s nothing not to love about this breakfast bar!

Best Brands

Variety is the spice of life – and important to any healthy eating plan – so we’re serving up more nutrition-on-the-go breakfast bars that meet our BestBrands standards:

The first few ingredients are made from wholefood sources like dates, nuts or whole grains such as rolled oats, wheat, barley or brown rice flour.

They have at least two grams of fiber per serving, and no more than 250 calories per bar.

And of course, they’re void of our least favorite junk ingredients like refined sugars, refined grains, trans fats, artificial sweeteners and colors, and harmful preservatives.

Finally, they’re good and good for you! And by the way, these aren’t just for breakfast anymore – they make great in between meal snacks too!

Note: Remember, all varieties of the same brand are NOT created equal! Please make sure you are choosing the recommended variety within each brand. When in doubt, read the ingredients label!

Clif Nectar Organic Fruit and Nut Bar (all flavors)

Health Valley Granola Bars Lowfat Chocolate Chip

Kashi TLC Chewy Granola Bars Honey Almond Flax

Kashi Honey Toasted 7-Grain

Kashi Chewy Granola Bars Trail Mix

LARABARS (All flavors)

Nature's Choice Multigrain Cereal Bars

Nature Valley Granola Bites Oats 'N Honey

Nature Valley Roasted Nut Bars Peanut Crunch

Odwalla Nourishing Food Bars Carrot Raisin

Simple Harvest All Natural Multigrain Chewy Granola Bars (all flavors)

Remember, when you're armed with a little eBrandAid know-how,
you're in control at the grocery store.

Kerry McLeod is's chief Brand Doctor and a regular blogger here at Kerry's mission in life is to teach food shoppers how to cut through the clutter at the grocery store in order to find the truly healthy brand-name foods. Go to for more information.

August 23, 2010


Beware! Junk Foods in Disguise
by ShaunaS

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   (34 votes)

Imagine yourself walking down the grocery store aisle. You see foods chock-full of vitamins, bran and fruit and vegetables. They must be healthy right?

Well, maybe not! Take a closer look at foods labeled as healthy. They’re probably not all they’re made out to be. They may be “junk” foods in disguise or foods that are less healthy.

This doesn’t mean we should avoid them at all costs, but rather enjoy them in moderation. Think twice about the foods listed below.

1. Bran Muffins. Not all bran muffins are created equally. I’m not talking about your homemade bran muffin, rather, I am referring to that supersized bran muffin at the coffee shop. Just because it has the word “bran” in it doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Most coffee shop or store bought bran muffins are loaded with fat and calories due to their large size (equal to about 5 servings from the grain group!). A typical muffin is 5 ounces and contains 400-500 calories and 15 grams of fat! You’re better off making your own low-fat (and smaller) muffins at home.

2. Fruit and Vegetable Chips. You’ve seen them – gourmet potato chips made from or with fruits and vegetables. Even though they may bear the words “natural” or “organic”, they are still typically calorie dense and salty or fried. You’re better off eating sliced apples or carrots – they are naturally low in calorie and filling!

3. Cereal Bars. Remember the days when there were just a few cereal or granola bars? Now there is a whole wall – almost every cereal brand has it’s own version in bar form. This doesn’t mean they’re all bad, just be sure to read the label. Some are really no better than a candy bar when it comes to sugar content and low fiber content. Look for bars made with whole grains that are low in fat and have at least 3 grams of fiber. Kashi’s line of crunchy and chewy granola bars are great!

4. Vitamin Drinks. Just because something has vitamins added to it doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Many of these beverages are also high in sugar, meaning empty calories that don’t fill you up! You’re better off sticking to water and obtaining your vitamins and minerals from real food! And, if you take a multivitamin, you are already meeting your needs. Fortification of foods is a big trend – pay attention to what’s added to your foods. If you eat a lot of fortified foods and take a multivitamin, you could be getting more than you need.

5. Whole Grains. “Made with whole grains”, “multi-grain”, “12-grain” and the list goes on! These terms among many others are plastered all over food products and while they sound healthy, many are still made with mostly refined flour! Whole grains are indeed nutritious (high in fiber and nutrients) and most of your grain servings should come from whole grains – so, how do you if you’re choosing whole grains? Turn to the ingredients – the first ingredient should read “whole wheat", “whole grain”, “whole oat”, “oat bran”, “brown rice” or “rolled oats.”

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July 9, 2008


Smart Snacking: 5 Diet-Right Tips!
by ShaunaS

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   (43 votes)

If you view snacking as a bad thing, think again! Snacking can be a very important and healthy part of your eating plan. If you go too long in between meals, your body starts to run low on fuel and that can spell trouble when it comes time for your next meal. Snacks help fill the gap in between meals and if planned properly can help you meet your nutrient needs for the day.

Eating in between meals also helps keep your energy levels up. Now, what you eat does count! Many of us may view snacks as chips, cookies or candy – if this sounds like you, it’s time to redefine your definition of a snack. Let’s review some healthy snacking tips along with some tasty ideas!

Smart Snacking

1. Plan, Plan, Plan! The more you plan your snacks, the more likely they are to be healthy! It’s all too easy to grab junk food when the impulse strikes. Having healthy options available helps keep you running efficiently and adds quality to your day. And, you won’t have to think about what you are in the mood for.

2. Listen to your body! You will probably notice you are hungry at certain times of the day. When enjoying your snack, pay attention to hunger and fullness cues as you do at a normal meal. Remember though, this a snack and not a meal. If you are ravenous at snack time, take a look at the timing, quality and size of your previous meals. I am available in the Rate My Plate board to take a look for you!

3. Balance is key! Just as it is important to balance your meals – it is just as important to balance your snacks. A donut will not satisfy and keep your energy levels up as long as an apple and string cheese would. As a general rule of thumb, combine healthy carbs with protein as your snack. The two together will help keep you full for longer. For example, try hummus and whole wheat pita bread, yogurt and fruit, veggies with yogurt dip or peanut butter with pear slices. At the very least, choose higher fiber foods to nosh on.

4. Keep snacks handy! Make sure planned snacks are stashed where you need them the most. If you are hungry mid-afternoon - keep them in your desk drawer, car or in front of the refrigerator where you will see them. Then they will be ready to grab at a moment’s notice! Also, keep some stashed in your gym bag in case you need a pre-workout pick me up.

5. Moderation is okay! If you have chips every now and then, that’s okay! Just balance the rest of your week with healthy snacks. Or, if you have limited choices around you, do the best you can and jump right back into your healthy snacks the next day.

On the go snacks

Light yogurt and berries
Instant oatmeal and mini box of raisins
Snack bar (Luna, Pria, Slimfast, Clif Nectar)
Low-fat string cheese and 100-calorie pack crackers
Pre-packaged baby carrots/ranch combo
Low-fat granola bar (Kashi, Fiber One) and almonds
Dried fruit and mini 94% fat-free popcorn

Snacking at home

1/2 whole wheat bagel with light cream cheese, tomatoes and sprouts
Cottage cheese and peaches
Smoothie made with yogurt, milk and frozen fruit
Bean dip and veggie sticks
Sliced turkey rolled up in lettuce
Broth based veggie or bean soup
Sliced apple with reduced-fat shard cheddar
Hummus with cucumbers and red bell pepper

Happy and health noshing!


To get a weight loss plan perfectly catered to your personal needs, click here and becomes a Premium member!

May 6, 2008


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