'Birdseed' Energy Bar

By STEPHEN REGENOLD

The bars look and taste somewhat like compressed blocks of birdseed. Ingredients such as sea salt, goji berries, macadamia nuts, raw honey, and, of course, many types of seeds — flax, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower — make for a grainy texture that is nutty and rough on the tongue.

Raw Crunch bars, the product of a small North Carolina company called Body Engineering Inc., are the latest in a pool of strange energy foods I have put to the test. Touted to contain “no artificial nothin’,” the bars are said to be uncooked, unprocessed, enzyme-rich, and made batch by batch each day in a kitchen by hand.

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Extreme close-up: Raw Crunch bar, goji berry flavor

Six years ago, with a goal to create a new type of energy bar, the founders of the company (www.rawcrunchbar.com) set upon a singular and humble objective: To make a bar with a full list of ingredients “we could actually pronounce.” The first bars were baked in a home kitchen, packaged in Saran Wrap, and sold to friends.

Today, Body Engineering has a line of bars that come in flavors like blueberry, cranberry, goji, and dark chocolate. They are dehydrated rather than cooked and have a five-month life on the shelf. The company says the dehydrating process does not manipulate the natural enzymes and antioxidants found in the constitutes of the bars’ ingredients.

I taste-tested the company’s line and came away liking the bars quite a bit. These are not your normal sweet energy bars, nor do they taste like granola. The goji berry flavor is semisweet and nutty but with the hint of a grassy taste underneath and tinged slightly with sea salt.

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Raw Crunch bars are touted to contain “no artificial nothin’”

Raw Crunch bars, which cost about $2.50 apiece, are grainy and seedy, and they have that simple “healthy” taste I associate with raw bulk ingredients and co-op grocery stores.

They contain about 150 calories per bar with 10 grams of fat and a bit of protein. For outdoors activity, these bars are best used in the “meal-replacement” category, rather than for quick energy. Eat them in place of a PowerBar, gorp or other filling, on-the-go food.

As an alternative to more-processed energy bars — or, even better, as a stand in for candy — the Raw Crunch bars are a healthy option that should not disappoint. The sweet, salty, nutty taste is unique. Just try to forget you’re eating something that looks like birdseed when you take that first bite.

—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.

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