Honey, Cashews, Almonds, Seeds… Energy Bars get real (taste good, too)

Used to be the food bricks we call “energy bars” were barely eatable. That changed years ago, though you wouldn’t know by the ill looks some people still give. Truth is, energy bars are now a commodity, mainstream foodstuff. One brand alone, KIND, cites its bars as available in 60,000 stores.

Real food. Energy bars have graduated into the mainstream of the American diet

Indeed, companies from Clif Bar to KIND make bars so good they battle candy for shelf space in the grocery aisle. Here are four of my favorite bar types. All taste better than the candy bar alternative in my opinion, and all have ingredients superior to what you’ll find in a Snickers Bar or a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. —Stephen Regenold

Clif Mojo — Sticky, crunchy, chewy, salty, sweet. . . those contradictory adjectives can describe the Mojo line, which Clif debuted a few years back. Whole raisins, nuts, and chunks of pretzels keep me coming back to these bars. With any Mojo bar flavor, from the gorp-like Mountain Mix to White Chocolate Macadamia, it’s hard to go wrong.

NOW Bar — Nuts are the first ingredient listed on many NOW bar flavors. But the taste is not heavy, and the brand’s use of healthful bits like chia seeds and crisped rice make them one of my new favorites. A bonus: The company adds a special New Zealand honey called manuka that is touted to boost the immune system with its antibacterial properties.

KIND I like the company’s Nuts & Spices line, which is low in sugar and uses ingredients ranging from ginger to cinnamon to sea salt. The taste of many KIND bars, in general, is more subtle than Mojo and NOW. High-quality and unique ingredients, including whole almonds and cashews, keep me reaching for KIND in the woods or a grocery store checkout lane.

ProBar — Filling! At more than twice the mass of a KIND bar, ProBars are often too much to eat in one sitting. (Some flavors have almost 400 calories and 22 grams of fat.) But like the bars above, these ones lean on “whole food” constitutes, and you can taste that in each hearty bite.

For something different, the brand’s SuperBerry & Greens bar is among the most unique on the market, including spinach, broccoli, and other green veggies in its ingredient mix.

—Stephen Regenold is the editor of GearJunkie.

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Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.

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