For those of us who choose to lead optimally health lives we know that snacks such as chocolate bars or granola bars are out of the question on the basis of their ingredients. Their processed nature as well as sugar, unhealthy fat, and additive ingredients do not equate to optimal health and wellness.

Our first choice should always be to make our own fruit, nut or chocolate bars. This is super easy to do by using some dates or dried fruit (sulphur-free) and nuts with the optional raw cacao in a food processor and forming into shapes of your choice. However when on the go, it is good to know that there are some fruit and nut bars being sold commercially, which do have natural and wholesome ingredients and are minimally processed. These can make quick, easy or convenient snacks at various times of need.

So on a recent outing having not planned for a longer than expected escapade I found myself at a local drug store in a small town. Not expecting much I checked out their energy bars, none of which were worthy of being consumed. I was lucky to find one bar which I deemed suitable for the moment. This was the Fruition Strawberry Bars from PROBAR Simply Real.

PROBAR was a company started by Art Eggertsen, a natural food chef and snowboard fanatic around the year 2000. It prides itself on providing bars made from whole, organic, raw foods, and being 100% vegan. PROBAR considers itself a natural alternative to other nutrition bars which contain unrecognizable, hard-to-pronounce ingredients.

The Fruition bars have joined the PROBAR line of bars in 2009. They come in 6 flavors: strawberry, lemon, peach, blueberry, cherry and cran-raspberry.

In terms of taste, the bars tasted good, however they were in truth too sweet for my liking. The strawberry flavor was very prominent also. While the bar packaging is beautiful and looks very natural, fresh and appetizing, we have to remember that foods like these should not be a substitute for real, fresh fruit.

In terms of texture, the bars were excellent. They were pleasantly soft and chewy, without being sticky.

In terms of nutritional value, the bars offer a good selection of nutrients with 3g of protein, 4g of fiber, some omega-3 fatty acids and no trans fats. However, I never pay much attention to the nutritional labels, instead I go straight to the ingredients, where the important information really is.

In terms of ingredients, there are a few pros and a few cons. The nice part about these bars is that they are mostly composed of organic ingredients (70%). The main ingredient is organic dates, which is great. Also nutritionally beneficial ingredients are used like cashews and chia seeds. The rolled oats are neither ideal, nor bad. The strawberry puree sounds nice, but there may be some sweeteners hiding in there.

Although the company states that their bars are from “organic and raw foods”, the bar is not 100% organic, nor was there any indication of it being a “raw-food” product, as on other truly raw bars.

In terms of sweeteners, opponents of agave nectar will be happy to see none here. There are also no artificial sweeteners or refined sugars, at least not directly added. (They may be indirectly used in the strawberry puree or the apple juice.) Another beneficial sweetener, brown rice syrup is used, which acts more like a complex carbohydrate, rather than a simple sugar. However in total, there are too many sweeteners. I have made date & nut or seed bars at home and they are sufficiently sweet. I don’t see a need to add the brown rice syrup at all, not to mention what may be hiding in the puree or apple juice infused strawberries.

Finally, the tocopherols (vitamin E derivatives) used to preserve the product may be an issue for some as it is unclear as to the source of those. Likewise, I do not like seeing “natural flavors” in my food products as those could be anything. While the ascorbic acid is vitamin C, citric acid has gotten some flack over the years as to its effect on our health and its purity.

In general, the bar although not ideal, isn’t too bad. However there was another issue which I found interesting about it. At the time of purchase, I did go for a box of 12 as it was on a really good sale. I bought the box on March 4th and their expiry date was April 8 of the same year. What I found however was that about 6 of the 12 bars had one edge to one half of the bar growing some kind of fungus on the surface. A few weeks later I found myself at another store, in another city which had these bars. I checked the expiry of a different flavor—the raspberry—and asked to open it in front of the cashier before buying to double check I wasn’t wasting my money. The bar had about 3 weeks to go before its expiry date and also had a fungal growth on it. Needless to say I didn’t buy it and asked the cashier to inform the manager so that people are not wasting their money buying moldy bars.

What I found interesting from this experience is that even with the several preserving agents, these bars seemed to be growing some fungus well before their expiry dates. Was it a coincidence? Was it a bad batch that made it to two completely different locations, of two different flavors? Or was there some contamination of the ingredients to begin with?

While I do not know the answer for sure, I do know that I am not interested in buying these bars again. It wasn’t the most pleasant experience and in the end, they are not optimally healthy anyway.

If you find these bars and are intrigued, you can give them a try. However I don’t personally recommend them as some regular snack. Yes, they are way better than the chocolate and granola bars out there, but there are other more optimally healthy bars out there to use as snacks when needed.

In the end, I think the idea of dates and chia seeds is great, but this bar needs some cleaning (no pun intended) of its ingredients before I will give it another look.

Ingredients

  • Organic Date Paste
  • Organic Rolled Oats
  • Organic Brown Rice Syrup
  • Strawberry puree
  • Cashews
  • Apple Juice Infused Strawberries
  • White Chia Seeds
  • Black Chia Seeds
  • Natural Strawberry Flavor
  • Strawberry Extract
  • Tocopherols
  • Natural Flavor
  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Citric Acid
  • Arabic Gum

Made with 70% organic ingredients

Nutritional Information

(per 1 bar – 48g) of Strawberry Flavor

Calories = 160
Fat = 2g
Monounsaturated = 0.61g
Omega-6=0.23g, Omega-3=0.13g
Saturated Fat = 0g
Trans Fat = 0
Carbohydrate = 34g (Sugars = 22g)
Fiber = 4g
Protein = 3g
Cholesterol = 0g
Sodium = 20g
Iron = 6%
Calcium = 4%

Packaging

The bars come individually wrapped in foil lined wrappers. They also can be bought in 12 package cartons.

Price (as of this posting)

  • Around $2 per bar at local stores or coffee shops
  • $1.79US per bar from PROBAR shop (free shipping over $75 in US)
  • $18.48US per box of 12 bars from PROBAR shop (free shipping over $75 in US)
  • $31.99CAD per box of 12 bars from CanadaOnly.ca
  • $21.48US per box of 12 bars from DrugStore.com
  • $26.47US per box of 12 bars from Amazon.com

Availability

  • Available at grocery stores, drug stores, cafes and health food stores across US and Canada
  • Available at various online stores (US, Canada & International)

The Good

  • Good taste
  • Very sweet
  • Some organic ingredients
  • Some health promoting ingredients
  • Some nutritionally beneficial ingredients
  • Excellent chewy texture
  • Vegan & Vegetarian friendly
  • Fair price

The Bad

  • Contains too many sugars/may be too sweet for some
  • Contains too many refined strawberry ingredients/may be too strong for some
  • Contains some preservative ingredients
  • Product does not seem to last until expiry date