Let’s face it – we all like to snack. Snacking has become a huge part of the American diet that goes hand in hand with our fast pace lifestyles. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish the difference between a healthy snack that will give you energy and the junky snack that belongs in the candy aisle at Walmart.

When you look at the lead selling “energy bars”, you find sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup, cane syrup and artificial sweeteners like aspartame. Not to mention many have 20 or more grams of sugar per bar. (Women and kids should not exceed more than 25 grams of sugar for an entire day!) Plus many bars contain carb levels as high as 40 grams per bar.  These numbers compare to the most popular candy bars that have similar nutrition labels. The difference between the 2 is not much in the ingredients but more in the marketing. Many energy and power bars are advertised as “health food” when really they are nothing more than a tasty dessert.

Aside from questionable sweeteners, today’s top-selling snack bars also contain excessive grains and genetically engineered, derived ingredients like corn fiber, sugarcane fiber and soy protein isolate. These are not top on my list for your healthy eating!

BUT…

Snack bars are here to stay. They are convenient and ideal for a quick recharge when there was nothing prepared ahead of time. Personally, I am not willing to settle for these misleading “wanna be health foods”. I would rather enjoy a chocolate chip cookie on occasion.

HOWEVER, snack bars CAN be a smart choice when you make them yourself…

What makes the perfect snack bar? Here are my thought on this:

Low Sugar

They must not contain refined sugar, artificial or corn-based sweeteners. We know that your body breaks down these sugars differently and their consumption in excess is linked to insulin resistance, weight gain and disease. Big NO NO.

Lower in Net Carbs

Net carbohydrates are the total carbs in a product minus grams of fiber. For optimal health benefits, you want to focus on lower net carbs in general.

Good source of Healthy Fats

We need healthy fats to keep us satisfied and cut cravings, maximize metabolism, protect against heart disease, speed nutrients through the body, and improve your fat-soluble vitamin uptake. Great sources of healthy fats are coconut oil, nuts like macadamia, almond, and seeds like pumpkin, sunflower.

High Fiber

High levels of fiber are essential for health and for lowering net carbs. Ideal sources of fiber for bars include chia seeds, nuts, coconut and berries.

Gluten-Free

Bottom line is that most people feel better without gluten. Aside from the inflammation caused by gluten, there can be traces of glycogen, a potent health-damaging pesticide applied to most wheat before harvesting. Best to stay away from this.

Conclusion

There are numerous healthy recipes for snack bars, energy bars, protein balls etc… Use my suggestions and be mindful of what you are consuming AND what you are feeding your kids.  If you don’t have the time to make your bars the next best alternative is to throw a few items into a bag for a healthy trail mix…  nuts, seeds, dried fruits – DONE.  Below is one of the recipes included in my Springtime Detox coming in May.  Check it out…

Spiced Snack Bar
Click here for recipe

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