When I’m finished up at the gym, I usually want McDonalds. But on the rare occasion that I actually stay on track for longer than 45 minutes, I look for healthier and convenient alternatives to take with me on the go. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to sort through all the options available in that healthy aisle next to the tampon aisle at Target these days. It’s even more difficult to untangle the complicated web of what you should eat and when you should eat it after a workout. Do I need more carbs right now? More protein? Where do I buy more of these macros that everybody keeps talking about? No wonder this nutrition thing is so tough.
So, you find yourself in this aisle staring at a million things that end in “bar.” What does it all mean? Here’s what I’ve got so far:
I researched the origins of Larabars and found that were created by a former junk food junkie named Lara Merriken. Lara was hiking one day and she randomly had the brilliant idea to make dessert-inspired bars out of healthy fruits & nuts. That’s the entire story. I went on a hike once, so I completely understand. You work up an appetite, crave an entire cake, but then guilt yourself into eating something healthy afterwards. Lara decided to combine unhealthy cravings with healthy ingredients and began selling them in the year 2000. I respect the hell out of the flavor offerings. Take a look and count how many times you see the words cookie, pie, cake, brownie, or muffin. Lara is also awesome because she keeps up with holiday seasonals, every single one of which we will be dining on tonight:
First up is a dear old friend. We haven’t reviewed anything pumpkin for about a month after reviewing nothing but pumpkin for three months. The Pumpkin Pie Larabar has 8 simple ingredients: dates, cashews, almonds, dried pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger. If you’re unfamiliar with Larabars, they’re incredibly chewy with an occasional nut crunch mixed in. Sticky as all hell too. The lead flavor is the dates, which quickly gives way to an authentic pumpkin spice blend. Ya know what? Pumpkin Pie Larabars do actually taste like pumpkin pie! The texture tastes some getting used to for the uninitiated, and a touch more sweetness may have done wonders to balance the heavy spices, but Lara was successful at achieving what she set out to do with this Pumpkin Pie Larabar.
How Well Dates Mix With Pumpkin Rating: 7 out of 10
How Many Actual Dates I’ve Been On In the Last Month Rating: 0 out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 out of 10
Next up is the Gingerbread Larabar. These bars contain the same ingredients as Pumpkin Pie Larabar but replace pumpkin and nutmeg with raisins and vanilla extract. Same exact texture. There’s a lot of cinnamon going on here, and the Gingerbread Larabar masks the flavor of the dates better than the previous. The vanilla extract adds that little oomph of sweetness I was searching for in Pumpkin Pie. Once again, this bar does taste like gingerbread! Should I be eating more Larabars? The Gingerbread Larabar is like an iced gingerbread cookie if it were mashed into a fine paste, which begs the obvious question of why Trader Joe’s hasn’t released a Gingerbread Cookie Butter yet? The bits of cashews and almonds add some crunchy texture that lend itself to a gingerbread cookie – a more natural fit than in Pumpkin Pie.
How Much I Want Trader Joe’s Gingerbread Cookie Butter: 9.5 out of 10
How Much I Want Trader Joe’s Date & Raisin Cookie Butter Rating: 0.5 out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Last but hopefully not least is the Snickerdoodle Larabar. I was most excited about this bar because I haven’t gotten my snickerdoodle fix on yet in 2015. The Snickerdoodle Larabar contains only 6 ingredients: dates, cashews, almonds, cinnamon, sea salt, & vanilla extract. Ugh… salty cinnamon. Turns out this was last and definitely least. This doesn’t remind of me of a snickerdoodle cookie at all; it’s missing the buttery, floury element that define the cookie and there is a real lack of sweetness accompanying that cinnamon. The sea salt may have been the attempt to capture “cookie” without any unhealthy ingredients, but it works to a disadvantage for me. A really bold cinnamon presence mitigates this salty bloopee to some degree, but not enough. Cream of tartar seems to be the real key to the unique snickerdoodle flavor, and that element isn’t replicated with the Snickerdoodle Larabar formula. It wasn’t exactly offensive (I ate the whole bar because whatever), but it was certainly a doodle of a letdown.
How Much I Know What Cream of Tartar Is Rating: 2 out of 10
How Much Tartar Sauce I Drink Every Morning Rating: 8 out of 10
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 10
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