October 16, 2007

Belated Review: Nature Valley Nut Crunch Bars

“Free Food! Yeeeehaw! Sign me up!”

This may not be an actual quote, as Crabby doesn’t use the word Yeehaw all that often. She could have said “Yay!” or “Hooray!” or “Holy Crap!” But whatever the exclamation, it was uttered because Crabby was VERY EXCITED to find out several weeks ago that General Mills was willing to send her stuff to eat for free.

And the Nice Crunch Bar people sent the package as promised! Two whole boxes (one Peanut, one Almond) of said crunch bars; a press kit; and a Special Bonus Gift--a hideous burlap tote bag! Really, the poor tote bag is the ugliest thing you can imagine, you can only feel sorry for it.

However, Free Product Sending People, please do not be angry at Crabby's callous treatment of your homely tote bag. Crabby loves Free Stuff and wants you to keep sending more! And particularly products that claim to be (a) healthy and (b) tasty.

Caveat: Cranky Fitness can not, however, accept and keep things that cost more than $40 in exchange for a review. (Or at least not while those nifty BlogHer ads are running in her sidebar. She signed a contract promising not to!) Also, Crabby will always disclose when something she reviews was given to her fer nothin'.

This will give readers the chance to ask themselves: can you trust the Crab? Would she suck up to a manufacturer simply to get more free stuff in the future? (Well, actually, she might! Maybe for a free week at a luxury spa or something. But not for a few freakin' snack bars).

And by the way, Crabby also apologizes to the Free Stuff People and her readers for the tardiness of this review. By now, Back in Skinny Jeans (and probably lots of other blogs too) have already reviewed these Nut Crunch Bar Thingies and Crabby is way late to the party. But she's here now, so lets get to it!

So how do the Nature Valley Nut Crunch Bars Taste?

Actually, they're pretty damn good.

Really--they're way more yummy than Crabby thought they'd be. They're sweet and salty and crunchy and taste pretty much like a real candy bar that you'd buy on purpose, not like an Energy Bar or Granola Bar or some other Compromise Food. Crabby's main taste objection: slightly more salty than necessary.

As it happened, Crabby's family was visiting when the package arrived, and Four out of Five Crab tasters said the same thing: Mmmm! One out of Five said: Eh. Not too bad. As for Lobsters: both Lobster and Lobster Mom said: Yumm! So it's not just the Crab who thinks they're tasty.

Almond was the flavor of choice amongst Crabs (and the Lobster) but the Peanut Bars weren't bad either. (By the time the bars got to Lobster Mom, there was only Peanut left).

What else is Good about these bars?

They're mostly nuts and don't have a lot of other ingredients. The nuts give them 7 grams of protein. And they're pretty cheap: a package of six retails for less than $3.50.

And like all Snack Bars, they're convenient. Toss one in your purse or backpack and you've got a semi-healthy treat that could keep you from making a far more disastrous snack choice instead--let's say hunger hits unexpectedly in front of a Ben and Jerry's or Pizza Hut or something. Stuff the bar in your mouth and Run Away!

What's Not So Good about them?

Among the handful of other ingredients: sugar and corn syrup. That's why they're tasty. And they're not whole food, like an apple. But you knew that--snack bars don't count as "real" food.

Also, they're about 200 calories (depending on flavor) and they're not all that big. This is a fairly high calorie budget for a treat that feels small. There are other smallish bars out there that are closer to 100 calories. But to be fair, they don't taste nearly as good as this one. Also, there are plenty of energy bars that are way more than 200 calories that taste like vitamin-and-protein-fortified, sugar-sweetened grout.

One could theoretically eat half of one of these Nut Crunch Bars for a tasty 100 calorie treat--but Crabby, despite several attempts, was unable to stop with "just a couple bites." They're too small and too yummy for that. Open the package--face it, the bar is gone.

So does anyone here even eat energy/snack bars? Have any favorites, or loathe the whole concept? What do you look for in a snack?

(And an unrelated P.S.--Crabby urges you, if you're the sort who doesn't mind surveys, to take the BlogHer survey in the sidebar. Crabby hasn't done it yet herself, but will soon. She hopes it's not too annoying! Anyway, she'd love to make Cranky Fitness look more popular than it actually is by having thousands and thousands more than two people click on the link!)


Apparently, the awesome Weetabix at Elastic Waist likes these crunch bars too! For some reason, this makes Crabby very happy.


  1. Granola bars are my pretend-healthy snack food of choice. I like to imagine that somewhere in the peanut butter and chocolate chips there lies a rich vein of nutrition ready to be mined.

  2. For some reason all healthy bars must have raisins in them - I *hate* raisins....I couldn't find a bar I liked without them that wasn't full of chocolate chips or icing or some other silly thing, so I took a while and after a few months I figured out my own - all natural stuff, all things I like, no preservatives, held together with a bit of butter and brown sugar and honey. Yum.
    And they are like hippie crack and easier to make than puffed wheat squares. Haven't bought a snack bar for a year or so now...I know granola bars aren't the best snack for you...but I like them.

  3. I have a new favorite -- Twisted Bars by Premier Nutrition. They have a layer of pretzels in them, so it takes care of the sweet/salty need, plus they have 15 grams of soy protein per bar. And Costco is selling them, which makes them pretty darned affordable. I've given them to several clients (I'm a trainer) and everyone who's tried one really likes them. But nobody sends me free stuff, alas!

  4. We had some version of Nature Valley bars around. I think there are a few left in my husband's work truck as they do make a good snack. However, these were quite dry and very hard. I have three store teeth (implants) right near the front on my favorite biting side so I have to break these bars first before eating.

    Sadly, most health bars have all manner of unhealthy extras in them so I rarely eat them.
    If I'm going to eat something with unhealthy-ness I prefer to go the whole hog. In fact, many varieties of dark chocolate are better for you than some of these alleged health bars.

    That said, good for you for scoring free stuff!

  5. I like Kashi's TLC bars (available at Costco) they don't have high fructose corn syrup, but do have high fiber and protein. They count for 2 pts for Weight Watchers, so you can guess that they are not super candy-bar sweet, but they do make a great portable snack to keep hunger at bay for a couple of hours.

  6. I stick to organic granola bars because of the high fructose corn syrup in regular bars. If I want something with a little more nutrition, Clif Bars and Luna Bars are a good bet.

    Clif makes Z-Bars, which are marketed to children, but are really quite fabulous. The chocolate ones taste like brownies and are 150 calories apiece with no high fructose corn syrup and logs of good vitamins and minerals.

    I've also grown fond of Luna Tea Cakes. 150 calories and 25% of your daily calcium, 50% of your RDA of C, and plenty of B vitamins.

    I know it's not "fun" to think about nutrition, but studies have shown that some food cravings are the result of vitamin deficiencies. So given the choice between 300 calories of Oreos or 300 calories of Clif Bars, the Clif bars will be more likely to stave off future cravings.

    All calories are not created equal!

  7. Some great suggestions here!

    Thanks Jim, Leslie, Sherijung and Bunnygirl!

    I do think "Hippie Crack" would make a great ad campaign for the right granola bar, geosomin, perhaps you should switch to marketing!

    And leah--if you don't want to break a "store" tooth, these might not be the best bars to try. They are Super Crunchy--sort of like peanut brittle.

  8. I haven't found any health/energy bars I like yet. I'll have to give the Nature Valley Nut Crunch Bars a try. I alway feel like if I'm going to waste 200+ calories I'm going to do it on something I really like instead of eating one of those bars and still be craving the real stuff.

    I hardly ever answer surveys but wanted to make Cranky Fitness look even more popular so I took the BlogHer survey. You should get voted most popular at the prom now :)

    Thanks so much for the positive comments and encouragement. Some days it is the comments that keep my away from the frig. and get me through the night.

  9. The problem with anything that has a lot of nuts in it is big calories in a small package, because of the fat. The fat is good for you, heart wise, but still makes it hard to stay inside your calorie limit.

  10. Do they make a snack bar out of potato chips and beer? Now that I might try...
    Actually, I don't eat snack bars - I buy them for my hubby's lunch, but don't eat them myself.
    Carrots, out of the garden...now there's a snack.
    Oh, now don't get the wrong idea about me. I love the in-store granola from Costco, but it's really fattening (especially when you sit down and eat half the friggin' container by yourself!)

  11. Thanks for taking the survey, MB!

    And Jeff, good point about the nuts.

    Carrots as a snack? What a concept, bag lady. (Actually the chips&beer bar sounds pretty good too!)

  12. Hi Crabby,

    I took the survey, only takes a couple of minutes.

    Nature valley bars are very dry, which is okay since I think a bar should always be washed down by a bottle of water. (Good mix for the fiber I imagine is in the bar.) I also agree with Leah, Nature Vally is hard to bite so I break them into tiny pieces which is also not terrible but defeats the purpose of finger food.

    My main requirement in a bar is high fiber, which is not too common.


  13. My bar of choice, when I'm indulging, is the Fiber One Oats & Peanut Butter bar. Nice and tasty, 150 calories, 4.5 g fat and 9 g fiber.

  14. So I'm am feeling just a tad unpopular here. How come all the "cool" kids got these bars. Wait. Don't answer that! waa.

    Your taste description made me want to go eat some right now! Sweet, salty, crunchy? yummm.

  15. I'm quite a fan of chocolate chip Quaker chewy bars. I carry them around and eat them between classes whe I'm starving and have no money. I just picked up some organic peanut butter bars, mostly because they had pandas on them, and I love pandas...

    The nastiest thing in the whole world is the 100 calorie Oreo bars. These things are TINY, yet I couldn't even finish mine because it was SO GROSS. Generally I finish my food even if I didn't like it, but this was horrible. Ick. It didn't taste like Oreo's or any other identifiable food. Just GROSS.

  16. I don't like granola bars as a "health food" for all the reasons you mentioned. I think it's sort of shameful that companies promote them as such and they really aren't all that healthy. I do like them -- like plain honey bars, but they are sort of junk food. Even if you make homemade they're still chock full of calories. But good review. I hope you get more free stuff. You likely will it's the season. I think I've gotten about $500 worth of stuff lately. I keep waiting for someone to mail me an offbeat home but it ain't happening :(

  17. I can't eat anything with nuts unfortunately - my body has a thing about them and rebels rather vehemently if I decide to ignore the warnings.

    I do like the soft snack bars like Nutrigain bars. The only problem with sticking a bar like that in a bag or backpack is you get one very compact bar when you finally do fish it out.

  18. Terrie, thanks for taking the survey!

    And Katieo, I was very jealous of your refrigerator magnets. Perhaps your Crunch Bar invite is on the way.

    Thanks Skinny Guy and Meg for the great suggestions!

    And Jennifer, you deserve mountains of free shit for all the great blogging you do.

    Good point Marijke, about the squish factor in backpacks. With these super crunchy types, they'd probably be in crumbley little pieces before long but I'd still eat 'em!

  19. I am very willing to do reviews on products.

    Right now I'm working on Louis Vuitton to send me one of those suede lined carriers. I've been after Karen to buy me one since Hurricane Rita (I had to ride in a PLASTIC carrier WITH SADIE for fourteen hours-- not what I expect as far as housing).

    Karen has not been particularly cooperative with this request. I think she laughed, in fact.

    On another subject . . .

    Dude, you should be watching the President's press conference. Those reporters are not cooperating with him and I think he's on the verge of getting pissy.

    Hee Hee

    -- P

  20. My fav treat is Silky Cow ice cream sandwiches at only 2 Weight Watcher points.

    Took the survey. Hope it helps!


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