Hungry Haley

it's more than food

My Top 5 Energy Bars (vegan, high-protein, gluten-free)

Haley Hansen1 Comment

The most frequent wonders of my mind (both serious/legit and not so):

  1. the complexity of the human body and its ability to breakdown just about every compound (except cellulose, alcohol, and a few other compounds - thanks for the knowledge, biochemistry) its given, to build up energy from whatever it has stored (be it amino acids, carbohydrates, or fatty acids), and to manage those processes as well as thousands - yes, thousands - of others beneath our skin. 
  2. love. and I'm talking about the in-love kind of love. the kind that sends lightning bolts of butterflies to the heart at the sight of the loved one. the kind that weakens knees at the simple, innocent touch by the loved one. and there's more to this, but I'm getting mushy and now isn't the time for that. 
  3. fasting. not snacking. like, how does one go 6+ hours without at least bite or two (or eight) of something? Maybe I'll never understand, which is likely due to the fact that I'm not sure if I'll allow myself six or seven snack-free hours between meals. of course, I don't hold any nutritional judgements against intermittent fasting. I just don't think it's calling my name. 

These bars, though? Well, when they call my name (which they most certainly do on a daily basis), you better believe I listen. 

Today I wanted to share my absolute favorite bars - some are high in protein, others in healthy fats, and others yet in micronutrients I sometimes forget I need in the midst of each busy day in the life of a student. Because I'm unsure how clear I've made my obsession with these bars, I'll have you know that about 1/3 (ehh, maybe even 1/2) of my closet has been dedicated to shelves for organizing all these. Go ahead and call me crazy, but don't think I'll be sharing any bites with you (unless, of course, you call me the good kind of crazy... whatever that be). 

Haley, you ARE weird. Stop talking and show me the bars, please. Okay okay, sorry. 

Note: these are in no particular order. Those who know me well would be surprised at my picking of a favorite of just about anything. Rather, I'll just share a few reasons why I love each bar/brand, when I grab that particular bar, etc. 

  1. GoMacro - Pushing the bars aside for just a minute, can I highlight the GoMacro founders' story? Great. The family caring for a Wisconsin farm switched over to a macrobiotic diet immediately upon discovering Amelia, the mother of the family, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Some homemade nutrient-dense bars popped out of the kitchen constantly, and before Amelia knew it, grocery stores wanted their own share. 
    If GoMacro had a middle name to describe the bars, it'd be "hearty". I know, that word might bring about thoughts of chunky chili, but let's give it a go in the protein bar world, shall we? Amelia likes her bars exactly how I like mine - thick, hearty, chewy, with a crunch in each bite. No artificial flavors or conventional ingredients make it into these. The organic protein powders used include brown rice and pea protein, which, when eaten together, constitute a complete protein with all nine essential amino acids! Holllaaaaaaa! (that's my new word) 
    Best time to eat it: anytime the craving(s) hit. I've never really a bar-for-breakfast kind of girl because I feel much more satiated when the food actually fills my stomach, but if I were stuck with no voluminously filling items, I'd reach for a GoMacro first and foremost. After a workout, the organic protein blend will provide the optimal nutrition for muscle recovery. Whenever a GoMacro bar calls, its the perfect time to answer! 
    Click here for more information, as well as where to buy. 
  2. Square Organics - I can't quite decide what the best part is about these bars. Is it the all-organic ingredient list, free of gluten, dairy, soy, and refined sugars? Or is it the sprouted, whole grain protein? Okay, maybe its the chocolate coating that hides a rich, sweet interior - a pairing that can fool even the most skilled  traditional chocolate candy bar connoisseur. Each bar boasts the same dark chocolate coating made with coconut oil, coconut nectar, and dark chocolate, but each interior varies from peanut butter (my personal favorite) to cherry coconut to nuts + sea salt and more.
    Best time to eat: I reach for these whenever I'm craving their not-so-nutritious counterpart - my childhood favorite Kit Kat. Unlike other bars, these never leave me feeling absolutely stuffed, and unlike that Kit Kat, it always satisfies my sweet tooth. The 10-12 grams of protein keeps me full throughout the night and controls my hunger in the morning, and the low(er than most) sugar content won't keep me lying in bed awake at night.
    Click here for more flavors, store locators, and recipes - the Square-Stuffed Pumpkin Cookies were whipped up in yours truly's kitchen!
  3. Rise Bar - The creators of Rise Bar clearly have their intentions well-sorted. Inside the slim packaging lies the bar that boasts four ingredients - four ingredients. Each vegan bar packs about 15 grams of purely plant-based protein, which can be just as effective as animal proteins, when done right. Protein powder of choice here is pea protein for the vegan bars and whey protein isolate for the non-vegan bars. Why pea protein? Well, with its higher concentrations of specific amino acids especially beneficial in muscle building + turnover AND its proven ability to lower high blood pressure + reduce inflammation + coronary heart disease and kidney disease risk... why not pea protein? 
    Best time to eat it: after a workout, no doubt. Rise Bars are one of the most protein-rich bars available, and the body craves this plant-based protein to help it repair muscle after lifting, running, sweating, yoga-ing, or whatever the body loves most. 
    Explore the website to find your local provider or buy online (P.S. if you sign up for the newsletter, they may or may not send out discounts, giveaways, etc...)
  4. Larabar - Lara, I l(ara)ove you (did that work?). Okay but really, I've loved these bars for as long as I can remember, and I'm loving all the new flavors - banana bread, cinnamon bun, and the bites! Simplicity would be a Larabar's middle name, given it had one. Zero refined sugars (just dates), flours, or preservatives - exactly how it should be. Lara herself felt nutritionally inspired to refuel after a hike, and brought her ideas home to her kitchen where she sealed the bags of the first 500 bars. Today, her company holds true to its simple, plant-based, whole-foods roots. 
    Best time to eat: Larabars are lower in protein than most of the others I buy, so they aren't as satisfying in that aspect, but I'll bring one along for an afternoon snack, probably topped with nut butter for added "umph". As always, I'll grab one (yes, from my closet) for dessert - especially the peanut butter chocolate chip and/or chocolate coconut chew! 
    Want more information? Here's the website
  5. Perfect Bar - these bars make it into my fridge about once a month, if that, simply because a college-budget girl like me cringes when it's not on sale - $3+ dollars for it regular price ain't happenin' too often in my wallet. However, the ingredients used for the vegan bars (only one line is vegan - the others contain egg whites) are pretty dang... perfect? Sure - we'll go with that. Nuts, seeds, dates, coconut, almond butter and dried fruits are the main ingredients used and every single one is organic.
    Best time to eat: Keeping in mind that these bars require refrigeration, I recommend grabbing straight from the fridge, but I've left one in an insulated lunch bag without an ice pack for about five hours, and as far as I know, nothing went horribly wrong. These also aren't as high in protein as my other favorite bars, so I reach for these like I would any other afternoon snack because it still boasts everything I'd search for - fiber, carbs (without any added sugar), protein, and tons of healthy fats. 
    Check out the website for more information.

And those are my bars, dudes! I love each at different times for different reasons, yet all of them at the same time for one reason - clean, minimally refined, and SO satisfying in both taste and nutrition. 

I hope you've taken the time to check each bar out, and that you've found a few you want to try! 

Like this post? Want to see more of my favorite products? Keep coming back to this page on my blog, where I'll be sharing tons more! If you have any specific questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments down below or send over an email. 

Thank you for reading!