If there’s one thing we know to be true, it’s that all protein bars are not created equal. When they’re good—they’re oh-so-tasty, but when they’re bad—they’re terrible. In addition to being hit or miss, protein bars are sought after in a pinch which is why it’s important to know which bars you should add to your cart before your blood sugar hits an all-time low.
Whether you reach for a protein bar before your workout or like to keep them in your work bag for days when you’ve forgotten lunch, you’ll need to be prepared at the store. From delightful to mealy and everything in between, our editors took the first bite so you don’t have to. Our protein bar taste test is here to take the guesswork out of your protein bar selection in hopes you’ll avoid spit-takes and money down the drain.
Pure Protein Bar – Chocolate Deluxe
Oatmega – Chocolate Coconut
Tone It Up Plant-Based Protein Bites – Snickerdoodle
Clif Builder’s Protein – Crunchy Peanut Butter
The Complete Cookie – Snickerdoodle
Quest – Cookies & Cream
Munk Pack Protein Cookie – Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
Pure Protein Bar
If you are a lover of fudge, you’re going to want to keep a box of these protein bars stashed away. Fudgy and decadent, this bar was surprisingly delightful without feeling too thick or overindulgent. Unlike some protein bars, there wasn’t a heavy protein powder aftertaste—which is no small feat for a protein bar. We scored these bars at a 4/5 for taste only because the chocolate flavor, while tasty, didn’t have as much depth as gusto as you’d hope for given the rich and chewy texture.
Traditional protein bar, this is not. But that’s not a bad thing! Imagine if a granola bar and a protein bar made a delicious protein bar baby—you’re looking at an Oatmega protein bar. Oatmega prides themselves on their whey protein sourced from grass-fed cows in New Zealand and you can taste why. The protein flavor is faint, and when it does hit—it’s not overwhelming with chemical notes in the way many classical protein powders are. While we’d love to give it five stars all around, the granola-esque texture is slightly gritty and neither the coconut nor the chocolate flavors stand out like you’d expect. Oatmega makes up for that with their partnership with No Kid Hungry in working to end childhood hunger.
Tone It Up Plant-Based Protein Bites
In a word, underwhelming. These protein bites aren’t necessarily bad, but they’re certainly not certifiably good either. Their texture is a forgettable blend of dry and crumbly and the promise of snickerdoodle flavor falls short. It’s not all bad though! While their flavor isn’t strong, neither is the protein powder aftertaste. But if you’re looking for a protein-packed snack, don’t grab for these with only nine grams of protein per serving.
Clif Builder’s Protein
Peanut butter enthusiasts, we’ve found the protein bar for you. This delicious protein snack wavers on the cusp of candy bar territory with its hearty peanut butter center layered in a creamy coating that was neither too thin or too thick. The flavor was outstanding, leaving no artificial aftertaste or an overly processed protein bite. We’d recommend saving this bar for when you need some serious refueling because at 270 calories, this isn’t for the casual snacker. It also swings high on sugar with 22 grams, the highest by far in our lot. All that aside, if taste and sustenance are your highest priorities, look no further than the Clif Builder’s Protein.
The Complete Cookie
Can a cookie make for a good protein bar alternative? Turns out the answer is yes! If you’re expecting a traditional cookie, let us stop you right there. These aren’t your mama’s chocolate chip cookies—but they’re a close relative. They have a surprisingly enjoyable bite and texture with the snickerdoodle cookie reminiscent of a cozy fall-flavored treat. The cookie is rounded out with a warm dusting of cinnamon sugar that gives the cookies a “homemade” nod. The flavor is done well, albeit faint—which is why we’ve given the Complete Cookie four stars for taste. With only eight grams of protein, don’t expect this protein cookie to fill you up completely—but you can count on curbing your hunger in a snap!
The moment you unwrap a Quest bar, you’re immediately hit with an unnatural smell that can only serve as a flavor foreshadow of what’s to come. Upon taking a bite, the bar does itself no favors with its chalky texture and a chemical, protein powder taste. While most protein bars attempt to keep sugar counts low, the Quest bar does so unapologetically with a very artificially sweetened flavor. Other flavors may taste more authentic, but the Cookies & Cream variety left little to be desired. We recommend skipping this bar, altogether.
Munk Pack Protein Cookie
This is a cookie. If Munk Pack wants to tell us it’s a protein cookie, that’s fine, but we are here to tell you this is a cookie. Soft-baked and loaded with chocolate chips and chopped peanuts, we were shocked at how well this protein snack resembled a typical cookie. But despite the homemade texture, it wasn’t entirely a home run. The protein powder notes are pronounced and while it’s full of yummy additions, it still lacks flavor. It’s also a heavy snack at 360 calories, but with 18 grams of protein—it can be a great option for a quick pick-me-up when you don’t have time to sit down for a meal.
Overall, the Clif Protein Builder’s bar far-exceeded our expectations and hit all the right notes with the Pure Protein bar coming in close at number two. What’s your favorite protein bar? Do you agree with our taste test? Sound off in the comments, below!
How to Make the Healthy Breakfast Smoothie Bowl of Your Dreams
When you discover a good thing, it can be hard not to dive in headfirst! Tell everyone you know, and eat, eat, eat. I fell into this trap when I discovered an irresistible smoothie bowl. You may have seen them on your Instagram feeds in all their fruity, colorful glory.
The obvious hurdle is that buying smoothie bowls regularly isn’t sustainable, especially if you’re tight on time, money, or calories. So, what do you do? Find a way to mimic the goodness!
Smoothie Bowl Steps
Smoothie bowls are very similar to smoothies, they’re just consumed in a different way (spoon, not straw), and include additional toppings and texture. So, start with your favorite smoothie recipe, blending fruit, some greens (spinach, kale), ice, milk (soy, almond), juice (orange, pomegranate, carrot) or yogurt (greek), and a little healthy sweetener (agave syrup, maple syrup, honey). Have fun with it and try your favorite flavors. You can even make two different smoothies to combine in the same bowl for more interesting bites. Keep thickness in mind overall, as you won’t want it too soupy.
Choose colorful fruit toppings.
The trick is in the toppings. Consider your base and then add complimentary (but not necessarily identical) fruit like blueberries, strawberries, bananas, passion fruit, and raspberries. This is your chance to try something new or uncommon. When’s the last time you had a kiwi? Try a little on top.
Texture is key. You don’t want everything to be smooth, so add some healthy seeds (chia, sunflower, hemp, etc.), grains (granola, oats), and/or nuts (walnut, pumpkin, almond). A little unsweetened coconut flakes sprinkled on top is a nice finishing touch.
Beware of sweetened yogurt, high-calorie granola, and other unnatural, processed ingredients. Stay as fresh as possible, and know that you’ll get a lot of sweetness from the smoothie and additional fruit toppings. You may even find you want a dollop of crème fraîche or plain greek yogurt on top to tame things!
Have fun with the design.
Just like the “recipe,” which can be varied in a million ways, have fun with the assembly. Pro tip: It usually looks nicer if toppings are added in chunks, in their own space; and it’s best if the heaviest items go last. You can always mix it and lose the pretty when eating!
Admire your creation. Then dig in!
That’s it. Whether or not your final bowl is Instagram-worthy, you can pat yourself on the back for starting the day with a healthy breakfast. Way to go!
If you’re looking for more specific direction, find many smoothie bowl recipes online.
The Best Snacks for On-the-Go
We’ve all read or heard the saying, “I’m sorry for what I said when I was hungry.” When your blood sugar dips into the red, it can be hard to keep your cool and stay on track in your health journey—which is why we’re sharing our favorite recipes and snack ideas that can fit in your desk drawer, car console, purse or diaper bag.
If you love a nutty snack, these recipes are perfect for you! Loaded with protein and good fats, these snacks will keep you full, energized and ready for anything.
Recipes can be wonderful, but not everyone has time to mix up their snacks! Below are some quick ideas for you to literally grab on the run. We recommend portioning out snacks at the beginning of the week so you can stay on track, on the fly.
- String cheese and grapes
- Dried fruits and nut mix
- Jerky (beef or turkey, but turkey is leaner!)
- Hardboiled eggs
- Protein drinks
If you need more ideas (who doesn’t?), don’t miss our awesome roundup of 20 portable snacks you’ll love!
Healthy Protein Cookie Dough Bites
I think I can safely say that we’ve all been caught eating raw cookie dough straight from the bowl. However, my experience working in nutrition and in the food industry has taught me that this is not a good thing. It’s quite risky and it can compromise your health goals. You see, most people assume that the warning to not consume raw cookie dough is primarily to avoid the foodborne illness salmonella, caused by ingesting raw eggs. But there’s also a warning on flour, which is extremely dirty (until baked, of course).
This lead me to seek out food-safe cookie dough treat ideas (to fit my dietary restrictions: gluten free, dairy free). You’ll love what I found because these Cookie Dough Bites will satisfy your hankering for cookie dough. Plus, they’re low in sugar, high in protein, and wheat free!
Mini No-Bake Cookie Dough Bites
Makes ~ 18-20 teaspoon sized dough bites
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp honey
- ½ cup almond flour
- ½ cup pulverized oats (or oat flour, I like mine a little more chunk)
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- 1 heaping tbsp nut butter of choice
- 2 tbsp cacao nibs, mini chocolate chips or carob chips
- Mix coconut oil, vanilla, and honey in a medium bowl.
- Add almond meal, pulverized oats, and protein powder.
- Stir in nut butter. Continue mixing until thoroughly combined.
- Add chip of choice to “dough” mixture.
- Using a heaping teaspoon, form dough into balls.
- Freeze dough bites (minimum 2 hours).
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