Take your granola on the go
Looking for a sweet snack to stash in your gym bag or desk drawer? Granola bars, packed with fiber and whole grains, are a natural and nutritious grab-and-go snack.
“If you have something healthy by your side, you’re not as like to rush to the vending machine,” said Felicia Stoler, a nutritionist and exercise psychologist.
Granola bars are made with oats and other whole grains you can see, which have been shown to reduce the risk of many diseases, including stroke and diabetes. They are also a good source of fiber. Look for brands with at least 3 grams per serving, Stoler said.
Stoler recommends granola bars over cereal or protein bars to fuel you through the final hours of your work day or as a pre-workout snack. Granola bars are full of carbohydrates to boost energy levels. “Carbs give you fuel,” Stoler said.
And if you feel like chocolate, it’s not off limits. Stoler says granola bars with chocolate chips or coating are a good alternative to the empty calories in a candy bar.
Crunchy or chewy, coated with chocolate or packed with dried fruit and nuts, here’s a rundown of your natural noshing options.
Nature Valley’s crunchy granola bar is the classic bar, in flavors like Oats ‘N Honey, Cinnamon and Peanut Butter ($4.49 per box of 6 packs). A two-bar pack has about 190 calories, 6 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein. For a lower-calorie option, Nature Valley also offers Chewy Trail Mix bars. Flavors include Cranberry & Pomegranate and Dark Chocolate Nut. One bar has 140 calories, 4 grams of fat, and 1 gram of fiber.
Trader Joe’s variety tastes and looks just like Nature Valley. The supermarket brand’s crunchy bar has a slightly crispier texture and an extra gram each of fiber and fat. The chewy variety also has an extra gram of fiber, but both have the same number of calories as Nature Valley. There are fewer flavor options (we tried, and liked, Oats & Honey), but each box is only $1.99.
New England Naturals offers a little something extra in their bars, such as omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. The Chocolate-Omega bars, $4.59 for a box of five, with 140 calories and 2 grams of fiber, have 410 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids, which promotes heart health. These bars are chewy, with an orange essence.
For a Chocolate Fix
Tasty Little Chewies Fruit & Grain bars from Kashi are coated with a layer of chocolate, fruit and nuts. Available in boxes of six for $4.99, these bars are smaller than other brands, with only 120 calories, 4 grams of fiber and 3 grams of fat. Tasty Little Crunchies also have 4 grams of fiber and offer up to 7 grams of protein. The Pumpkin Spice Flax bars have 300 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids. Kashi offers many varieties that are naturally sweet and packed with flavor.
Oatmeal To Go
Nature’s Path offers organic granola bars — five for $3.49 —that are wheat and trans-fat free. The chewy bars, in flavors like include Apricot & Nut Coconut and Cranberry Ginger, are sweet with an oatmeal taste. Each bar has 5 grams of fat and 2 grams of fiber.
In a Pinch
Although Quaker Chewy Granola Bars — which come in packs of 10 and cost $3.49 — only have 100 calories and 3 grams of fat per bar, they also have only 1 gram of fiber. The chips in the Chocolate Chip variety are small, and the bars don’t have much of a chocolate flavor.