Sometimes, it's hard to tell the difference between a nutrition bar and a brownie. But a handful of gluten-free selections are raising the bar on energy snacks. Most are made primarily of whole foods-nuts, seeds, dried fruit, greens, and vegetables-with little or no added sugar, plenty of fiber and protein, and blends of antioxidant herbs and essential fatty acids.
So what's behind the best bars? Here are some of our gluten-free favorites, and their bar-raising features:
- BumbleBars. Made mostly from flax and sesame seeds, so they're naturally high in omega-3 fats; vegan and organic, they also come in junior sizes for kids.
- PURE BARS. Most are organic; all are soy-free and sweetened with apple juice, dates, or other whole-food sweeteners.
- Lärabars. Made almost exclusively from fruits and nuts; most have no added sugar and fewer ingredients than any other bars on the market.
- Kind Bars. High in nuts and dried fruits; some have additional antioxidants, protein, or omega-3 fats; the mini-bar size is great for kids.
- Renew Life Organic Fiber Bars. Contain 14 grams of fiber from three different sources, with no soy or dairy and only a handful of simple ingredients.
- Amazing Grass Green SuperFood Energy Bars. All organic, with seven different grasses and greens blended with other vegetables, fruits, and herbal extracts.
- Rise Energy Bars. Formerly known as PrānaBar, Rise Bars are a mix of fruit and nuts and are also free of dairy, soy, and peanuts. Each bar has 3 grams fiber. Our favorite? The Blueberry Coconut.
- Organic Food Bars. All organic; made with almond butter, dates, brown rice protein, and sprouts; some have added greens and extra protein.
- Fiona's Quinoa Bars. Made mostly of quinoa with almonds and flax; a high-energy, low-sugar substitute for traditional granola bars.
- Sequel Naturals Vega Bars. Whole-food bar with no added sweeteners; made with wheat grass, sprouted mung beans, sprouted flax seeds, and hemp protein.
10 Power-Packed, Gluten-Free Goods
You'll find plenty of gluten-free items on your local grocers' shelves. But how nutrient-dense are they? Some selections pack a whole days' worth of sodium into one serving; others have more calories than you'd normally eat in two meals. Fresh food-especially produce-is usually the best choice. But when you're in a hurry, you can buy gluten-free packaged foods and still eat healthy.
The key is knowing what to look for. Check labels for low-sodium content (shoot for less than 200 mg per serving), high fiber content (look for 5 grams or more), lean protein, and/or lots of antioxidants from fruits and vegetables. Or, just check out these power-packed finds:
- Sambazon Açai Smoothie Packs. Add them to the blender with chilled green tea and pineapple juice for a fruity, antioxidant smoothie.
- Helen's Kitchen Thai Red Curry. Vegetarian, moderate in sodium, and gluten-free; serve it with a salad for a complete meal.
- Columbia River Organic Garden Stir-fry. Cook in olive oil with tempeh cubes, chicken strips, or frozen shrimp for a fiber- and antioxidant-rich meal.
- Food for Life Brown Rice Tortillas. Light and fresh, they're great for rolling up leftover chicken, fish, or grilled vegetables for a quick gluten-free lunch.
- Starfish Italian Breaded Sole. Wild-caught fish and gluten-free breadcrumbs pair up in this low-calorie, protein-rich entrée; serve with sautéed green beans for a fast meal.
- Gluten Free Café Black Bean Soup. High in fiber and moderate in sodium, it makes a fast, simple lunch when served with a large green salad.
- Tribe Sweet Roasted Red Pepper Hummus. Gluten-free, low-fat, and protein-rich, it makes a great dip. Can also be used as a healthy sandwich-spread alternative to mayo.
- Nature's Plus Vanilla Spiru-tein Whey Protein Powder. Whirl it in the blender with frozen berries for a fast, protein-packed breakfast.
- Turtle Island Lemon-Pepper Marinated Tempeh Strips. Stir-fry these presliced strips with frozen vegetables for a protein- and fiber-rich vegetarian dinner.
- Beanitos Black Bean Chipotle BBQ Chips. Made with beans, brown rice, and flax seeds-and free of corn and gluten-they're packed with fiber and protein.