Sunday, June 19, 2011


If you want to avoid high-fructose corn syrup, palm oil, and hydrogenated oils, your selection is really freakin' thin in the world of pre-packaged foods. And the products that are made not using these ingredients as part of the company's philosophy are usually doing so to cater to some self-righteous/important element of society, like Whole Foods-dwelling hipsters. Thus, the ingredient list is more about whatever ingredients are trendy and not about making the food taste good. Oh, and speaking of Whole Foods...

Kashi is definitely one of those hipster companies. I generally don't like anything they have for sale. Their cookies don't taste like cookies, their cereal tastes like twigs while somehow being less healthy than FiberONE, and their stuff is over-priced.

But their cereal bars are a bright spot. They taste good, with strong fruit flavor, and a complete compliment of real ingredients. Compare this to Kellogg's Nutri-Grain bars, or, more accurately, ANYTHING that Kellogg's makes, and you'll be amazed at the crap that Kellogg's shovels onto your breakfast table.

Even their "healthy" foods like FiberPlus, with 35% your daily fiber, comes with hydrogenated oils, specifically hydrogenated palm oil, so not only are orangutans dying for this oil, you're dying eating it. And remember, if there are hydrogenated oils, and they say 0% Trans Fats on the nutrition label, THEY ARE LYING. It's a legal lie (anything below 0.5 grams per serving can legally be listed as zero), but it's still a lie. And you can be damn sure that the trans fat amount is as close to 0.5 grams as chemically possible.

But back to the Nutri-Grain bars specifically. They're a trainwreck. The only thing that's worse are the Special K 100 Calorie Fruit Crisps, which have near-as-damnit NO fruit in them. Eating a Nutri-Grain bar in the morning is like eating a Reese's cup for breakfast.

Let's dissect a Nutrigrain bar. The filling in the Strawberry Kashi TLC bar lists its ingredients as Pear Juice, tapioca, cane juice, apple powder, strawberry puree, corn starch (unmodified, whatever that means), vegetable glycerin, water, natural flavor (why?), and more fruit juice.

In contrast, the Nutri-Grain bar lists its filling as containing high fructose corn syrup (sugar), corn syrup (sugar), strawberry puree (Yay, fruit!), sugar (more?!), Sodium Alginate, Corn Starch (modified... still puzzeling), Citric Acid, Natural and Artifical flavoring, Sodium Citrate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Methylcellulose, Carambel Color, Malic Acid, RED #40.

Most of the chemicals on that list are scary-sounding but totally harmless and widely used. It's the THREE inclusions of sugar in various ways that boggles my mind. How much actual fruit is in their "fruit" bars?! It reminds me of Family Guy's spoof of Tony the Tiger.

So it was with great happiness that I discovered that Kashi's bars not only have real food in them, but taste good! Let me repeat that, this Kashi product TASTES GOOD. It tastes like it has real fruit in it, because it does, and while the cake part is a little bark-like, it actually matches the sweetness of the filling very well. My only wish was for more filling in any given bar.

They still aren't the healthiest breakfast around, but if you include this as the on-the-road element to your morning meal, it's quite good. I've bought these in bulk from Amazon and use them as an inter-meal snack. I think that they're peachy-keen.

Kashi TLC Soft-Baked Cereal Bars: RECOMMENDED


Sarah @ Eat Live Austin said...

I love their cinnamon heart to heart cereal!

Don't forget pear juice, cane juice, and probably apple powder (not sure on that one) are pretty much sugar as well. Thankfully they (seem) more natural and not so much franken-corn-sugar.

Aaron MC said...

Thanks Sarah,

I meant to mention that in the review.

While cane juice is certainly sugar, pear juice isn't. It's going to have nutrients in it just like any other juice. It's much better than pure sugar and even the grape juice that is usually used as a juice sweetener.

The apple powder is dehydrated apples that have been processed into a fine powder. You can buy it as a laxative, of all things.

Stephanie said...

Yeah, it's scary what's in some of those bars! Recently I tried LARABARS and was impressed - the ingredient list was really short and totally filler free (like dates, almonds, apples), and the bars were a great consistency.

Just visited their website and the fact they display ingredients as a a picture list says a lot!

Aaron MC said...

Hey Stephanie,

I've been meaning to try Larabars after a really positive mention of them on the "Eat This Not That" website.

It doesn't seem like it should be difficult to make fruit bars with FRUIT. Maybe I'm just crazy.