Cart Smarts: Belly up to the energy bar

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Kaitlin Anderson

I get lots of questions in the aisles about granola bars and energy bars. Customers are drawn to the convenience of these bars because they're shelf-stable and easy to eat on the go.

This product category is seeing double-digit growth rates and approached $5.7 billion in 2011, according to a recent Packaged Foods report.

That category is huge, and all those options leave customers feeling confused. The best bar to buy depends on your goal, as each option is marketed toward a different type of person.

If you're looking for the bar with the highest nutritional value, try the Kind Nut Delight. It received a NuVal score of 66, which tops the charts for this category. Each bar provides six grams of protein, three grams of fiber and only five grams of sugar, plus healthy fats from the nuts and flax.

If you're looking for a bar with a clean label and short ingredient list, I suggest the Larabar. Each bar is made from real food (unsweetened fruits, nuts and spices) with no more than nine ingredients.


If you are focused on weight management and struggling with appetite control, look for a bar with more fiber and protein to help you feel full longer. You could consider Kashi GoLean, Special K Protein, Fiber One or FiberPlus.

If you're an intense athlete and need a bar to help with refueling and recovery, look to brands such as Clif and PowerBar.

If you still can't find what you're looking for, I suggest simply making your own. This allows you to have complete control over the ingredients and overall nutritional value.

I have included the recipe we use for homemade energy bars in our house. I love that it doesn't require any cooking — just mixing!

2 cups old-fashioned oats

3/4 cup honey

1 cup natural peanut butter


1 cup ground flax seed

1 cup nonfat dry milk

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1 cup raisins

Mix all ingredients together using an electric mixer or food processor. Press evenly into an 8- or 9-inch pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Refrigerate to firm bars.

Source: Adapted from Hy-Vee’s Fit-for-You Bars

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