60 SECOND REVIEW: Fiber One Salted Caramel Cheesecake Bar

Item: Fiber One Salted Caramel Cheesecake Bar
Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 5 bars
Purchased at: Target

(Nutrition Facts – 1 bar – 150 calories, 60 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 130 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

QUICK REVIEW: Fiber One Caramel Sea Salt 90 Calorie Soft-Baked Bars (Target Exclusive)

Fiber One Caramel Sea Salt 90 Calorie Soft-Baked Bars

Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 6 bars
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Nice flavor, but I’m not sure it’s not what I would consider caramel. It kind of tastes Fig Newton-y. Soft, slightly chewy texture. Smells like brown sugar. Low fat. A decent tasting way to get five grams of fiber. I guess it’s easier than eating an apple. I mean, I can stuff a whole bar in my mouth, but I can’t stuff a whole apple.
Cons: Sometimes there are these bursts of saltiness, which are a bit off-putting. “Caramel bits” are really toffee bits. The bars look kind of small when unwrapped, they’re just 2-inch squares. Some people have had gas issues with the chicory root extract, which gives the bar its fiber, so don’t go through the box in one day…or even two days.

Fiber One Caramel Sea Salt 90 Calorie Soft-Baked Bars Closeup

Nutrition Facts: 90 calories, 25 calories from fat, 2.5 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 115 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Peanut Butter Strawberry Luna Fiber Bar

Peanut Butter Strawberry Luna FIber Bars

Finding a delicious snack bar is about as likely as digging under your doorstep and unearthing a magical Viking helmet that summons world peace, eliminates grocery carts with one bad wheel, and resurrects Ben and Jerry’s Wavy Gravy. It’d be unexpected, unlikely, and near impossible, but somewhere in all that nagging doubt rests the hope that said magical Viking helmet/delicious snack bar exists, and it is this slim probability that sustains a blind faith that you may stumble upon such an impossibility.

It is with this hope that I grabbed the Luna Peanut Butter and Strawberry Fiber Bar box as it proclaimed the “soft baked, fruit filled” contents within.

“Hmmm…” I said to myself. “Soft-baked? That sounds an awful lot like a cookie.”

Time to bring in the professional.

Peanut Butter Strawberry Luna FIber Bars Cookie Monster

So, equipped with Cookie Monster himself, I sat down to my soft-baked wrapper.

Bars fortified with vitamins and minerals have the taste reliability of the ten-day forecast. All those vitamins and minerals can either come through or, more often than not, sweep away anything reminiscent of flavor and leave you nostalgic for something that tastes better than tree bark. Not so here. One bite of these puppies and my taste buds were lit like a dance floor at a European discotheque from the 70s. Every element of this bar has its place. A thin strawberry layer for sweetness, a peanut butter cookie for roasty-toasty-saltiness, a sandy sugar coating (yes, I said sandy sugar coating) for a crackle. Oh, and are those peanut butter chips so generously sprinkled on top? Yes, yes they are.

And, indeed, this one’s for the peanut butter lovers. The peanut-butter-based cookie exterior takes up a good 83 percent of the bar according to my not-so-mathematical guess and is moister than the average Nutri-Grain. The thin strawberry filling is just enough goo without stretching into the forbidden realm of “goopy,” and the hint of salt functions like the bartender of the party, shaking up the flavor and allowing everyone to come out of their shells.

Peanut Butter Strawberry Luna FIber Bars Closeup

Look at that. Beautiful as the layered sands of the Grand Canyon only not as dry and much more tasty.

I’m fond of fitting into my pants. If you, too, are fond of fitting into your pants, these Luna bars can help you achieve/maintain that as they have a mere 120 calories, 4 grams of fat, and a whopping 7 grams of fiber. Just think of all the adventures that could arise out of the whole-grain energy you acquire: ice sculpting, pickle making, bull riding, treasure hunting, snake charming…the list goes on. Don’t be afraid. Get out there and have fun.

These may be targeted to women, but don’t let this piddly-posh marketing pull the wool over your eyes, gentlemen. I gave one to a man in my life, who claimed that all that peanut butter make these as man-friendly as an open grill and a lawn mower. Plus, they have Vitamin D and Vitamin D is downright sexy, so be a man! Eat a Luna fiber bar!

Overall, these make me want to whip out maracas and dance in my kitchen (which I may or may not have done). Having a cookie in the middle of the day is good. Having a cookie in the middle of the day with vitamins and minerals is even better. It is with this in mind that the C-monster himself hath blessed these bars with incantations of magical proportions. I came into this anticipating a vitamin-flavored, semi-stale fruit bar and I got a soft-baked rectangle of a portable joy.

Thank you, Luna, for completely defying my expectations.

Peanut Butter Strawberry Luna FIber Bars Cookie Monster 2

(Nutrition Facts – 1 bar – 120 calories, 35 calories from fat, 4 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 95 milligrams of potassium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 7 gram of dietary fiber, 11 grams of sugars, and 2 grams of protein.)

Other Peanut Butter Strawberry Luna Fiber Bar reviews:
Running Foodie
One Step at a Time

Item: Peanut Butter Strawberry Luna Fiber Bar
Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: 6 bars
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Cookie-like. Peanut butter chips. Salty-sweet. Whole grains. Magical Viking helmets. Fitting into your pants. Pickle making. Vitamin D is sexy.
Cons: Over the everyday snack-bar-budget margin. Things that taste like tree bark. Grocery carts with one bad wheel. European discotheques from the 70s. The death of Ben and Jerry’s Wavy Gravy.

REVIEW: General Mills Cinnamon Toast Crunch Treats

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Treats

Somewhere on the edges of the globe, nestled between the marshes of Keebler County and Cascadian Farms, rests the town of General Mills. It is in this land of cuckoo birds and marshmallow balloons that a legend resides.

And his name…

Is Wendell.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Treats Wendell

He looks like a Wendell, doesn’t he?

What with his half-moon spectacles and rotund little nose, Wendell seems unassuming enough, but don’t be fooled. He has connections with the Keebler elves. He landed in General Mills in 1987 with a single dream: to put toast in a bowl, and, after many long nights beside his magical toaster and a cinnamon-related explosion, he got the recipe for Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Back in 2001, he channeled his Cinnamon cereal craze into the smash hit: “Cinnamon Toast Crunch Milk-N-Cereal Bar.” Now, he’s bringing it home in a smaller, portion-friendly treat.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Treats Wrapper

Judging by the cover, Wendell’s stepped away from his toaster to mix up a hearty batch of “yogurt coating.” No lie: this was the very thing that pulled me in to this bar. As a connoisseur of the yogurt-covered pretzel, I can’t resist a yogurt coating, and, indeed, I was elated when I discovered that a yogurt squiggle accompanied the yogurt-dipped foundation of the bar.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Treats Closeup

I’m thinking these little crisps were made for lunchtime and would fit snuggly in a lunchbox/briefcase/purse/other portable vessel of preference. The list of ingredients seems a mile long, but, in summary, it involves cinnamon, icing, and gooeyness and, as we all know, those are the ingredients involved in sustaining a happy relationship. Had a disagreement with your spouse? Bake something with cinnamon and, instantly, it smells like somebody loves you. Top that baked good with icing? Well, you can just kick back and watch the magic unfold.

Now, before diving into the texture of this bar, I’d like to step back for a brief moment to define the adjective “chewy.” Quaker has obfuscated (word of the day!) this term with their “Chewy” granola bars for years. If a food is “chewy,” it has a certain pull, being both somewhat firm and somewhat sticky. Caramels are chewy. Taffy is chewy. That yummy nougat in Snickers bars is chewy. Stale rice cereal smooshed with uncooked oats? Not chewy, Quaker, not chewy.

Now, these, on the other hand, actually do have a bit of a chew and are a fair amount denser than their Quaker counterparts, which gets them off to a good start. On first bite, they even have a bit of a crisp, but, in the end, this crisp ended on the note of “Stale Cinnamon Toast Crunch,” which was disappointing for a product that had hopes to bounce me over the heart, stars, horseshoes, clovers, and blue moons. The yogurt coating does its best for what this lacks in texture, but alas, fair Wendell, the faint wisps of cinnamon in your bar are no match for this weak consistency and overwhelming taste of corn syrup.

However, on an up note, these do have a bit of whole grain and there was enough of the yogurt to make me smile at the end, making these treats far better than the imagination-crushing, depression-inducing Quaker “Chewy” Granola bars. Nonetheless, next time I have the Cinnamon-Toast-Crunch craving, I’ll probably reach for the bowl and spoon before I nab a treat.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 bar – 100 calories, 25 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 100 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, less than 1 gram of protein, and a little vitamins and minerals.)

Other Cinnamon Toast Crunch Treats reviews:
Truly Foody

Item: General Mills Cinnamon Toast Crunch Treats
Purchased Price: $2.84 (on sale)
Size: 1 box/6 bars
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Yogurt coating on the base. Yogurt squiggles. Cinnamon. Wendell. A friendly portion. Whole grain. Lunchboxes. The word “Obfuscate.” Half-moon spectacles. A land filled with marshmallow balloons.
Cons: The texture of stale cereal. Corn syrup overpowers cinnamon. Using the word “chewy” incorrectly. Crushers of the imagination.

REVIEW: Liberty Orchards Orchard Bars

Liberty Orchards Orchard Bars

As a resident of the great Pacific Northwest, I cannot stress how much emphasis this region puts on all things local, organic and/or natural. Even a few years ago, Seattle’s motto was re-imagined as the singular phrase “Metronatural” which ended up sounding less like a tourism goldmine and more like a trendy new sexual orientation. Staying natural is also the reason I haven’t shaved my legs for a few months now. It’s not that I’m lazy, I’m just preventing countless more disposable razors from ending up in our ever overflowing landfills.

In true Northwest form, the first product I’ll be reviewing is a largely organic energy bar that relies on fruit, nuts & seeds as the main source of fuel instead of caffeine, tiger’s blood and crack. Orchard Bars feature a gelatinous blend of fruit & nuts, the ubiquitous “soy nuggets” and flax seeds instead of the crumbly, cakey ingredients of a garden variety protein or granola bar. They’re also vegan, GMO-free, dairy-free, gluten-free and preservative free as well as kosher, so no one is harmed by this product, except those who inevitably get a jagged flax seed stuck in between their molars and gums.

The folks at Liberty Orchards sent me five different Orchard Bars and media kit CD, complete with the history of their factory, based in the fertile crescent of Cashmere, Washington. Much like the Kashmir region made famous by a notable Led Zeppelin song, it’s a dry arid place nestled near a vast range of mountains (okay, the meager Cascades. Not quite the Himalayas).

Liberty Orchards’ most notable product is a Turkish Delight-esque jelly treat called Aplets & Cotlets. If you’ve ever had the experience of receiving a box of the famously infamous candy from your grandmother as a belated birthday present, think of Orchard Bars as its sophisticated cousin in a sleek bar form. I liken it to when companies reinvent products for a hip, modern crowd of folks, much like OK Soda or Bibles with guys skateboarding on the front.

Liberty Orchards Orchard Bars Cherry Almond Crunch

Liberty Orchards Orchard Bars Blueberry Pomegranate & Almond

The range of Orchard Bar flavors let you run the gamut in tasting all the the orchard has to offer. Cherry Almond Crunch is a tart and tangy bar with some crispiness provided by almonds and those aforementioned soy nuggets, the hippie alternative to the poor man’s Rice Krispies. Blueberry is both the dominant flavor and color in the Blueberry Pomegranate & Almond bar. You could even go as far as imagining it wearing some nice tight leather and brandishing a whip.

Liberty Orchards Orchard Bars Strawberry Raspberry & Walnut

I personally found the Strawberry Raspberry & Walnut (or “Berry Delicious Bar” as I like to call it) the most savory and delicious of these three. It’s like there’s an orchard in my mouth and everyone’s invited to pick fruit for minimal wages! Plus the walnut chunks mellow out the ultra-sweetness that comes with the popular berry flavors.

Liberty Orchards Orchard Bars Banana Mango & Macadamia

Liberty Orchards Orchard Bars Pineapple Coconut & Macadamia

While geographically impossible to come from “Washington State’s orchard country”, Banana Mango Macadamia & Pineapple Coconut Macadamia are the tropical representatives of the batch. I mean, we could even get technical and call them “Grove Goodies” or “Plantation Pleasures”, but then we start wandering into too politically correct territory. While I could hardly detect the banana flavors in the mango bar, the addition of the creamy, fatty nuts enveloped the tastes nicely. On the other hand, the Pineapple Coconut Macadamia is a tangy tropical bar that would give you an excuse to swig some rum and deem it a Pina Colada (plus I get a kick out of saying “fatty nuts”).

One thing to keep in mind is that the bars are all quite sweet, ranging from 18-19 grams of sugar per bar. I’m not quite sure if I got “natural energy” but more of a “concentrated fruit sugar high” after going through all five Orchard Bars within a just a couple hours. If I’ve learned anything from the emergence of all the energy products over the past few years, once you add enough sugar that’s in fruit, powdered, granular or syrup form, you can pretty much make anything body energizing, tooth decaying and delicious all in one fell swoop.

(Editor’s Note/Disclaimer – We received the Orchard Bars for free from the PR firm that represents Liberty Orchards. Orchard is such a funny word, isn’t it? (Insert a naughty World of Warcraft joke here.))

(Nutrition Facts – 1 bar (1.6 oz/45g) – Cherry Almond Crunch – 200 calories, 6 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 19 gram of sugar, and 6 grams of protein. Banana Mango Macadamia – 200 calories, 7 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 19 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein. Blueberry Pomegranate & Almond – 200 calories, 7 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein. Pineapple Coconut & Macadamia – 200 calories, 8 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 100 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein. Strawberry Raspberry & Walnut – 200 calories, 7 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.)

Item: Liberty Orchards Orchard Bars (Cherry Almond Crunch, Banana Mango Macadamia, Blueberry Pomegranate & Almond, Pineapple Coconut & Macadamia, Strawberry Raspberry & Walnut)
Price: FREE
Size: 1.6 ounces
Purchased at: Received for free from PR firm
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Cherry Almond Crunch)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Banana Mango Macadamia)
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Blueberry Pomegranate & Almond)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Pineapple Coconut & Macadamia)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Strawberry Raspberry & Walnut)
Pros: Natural energy that tastes good. Protein, omega-3s and vitamins. Nuts in my mouth. Vegan if you swing that way. Led Zeppelin singles.
Cons: Might be too sweet for some. Hairy female legs. Flax seed related dental issues.

REVIEW: Nature Valley Granola Thins (Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter)

The square-shaped Granola Thins by Nature Valley makes the company look like it has become bored with producing long rectangle granola bars.

Good.

Because I’m bored with eating long rectangle granola bars.

As a matter of fact, fuck eating quadrilaterals! How about an enneadecagon granola snack? Or if Nature Valley has the nuts, and the ability to channel the spirit of M.C. Escher, a dodecahedron or apeirogon granola snack.

But I guess until then, I’m stuck with quadrilaterals.

The Nature Valley Granola Thins come in two flavors; they are either partially dipped in peanut butter or dark chocolate, which I’m not 100 percent sure is actual dark chocolate because of the words “naturally flavored” printed on the front of the box.

The folks at Nature Valley describe the snack as, “The uniquely delicate crunch of crispy, toasted granola paired with an irresistible, melt-in-your-mouth taste.”

Unfortunately, I haven’t experienced that “melt-in-your-mouth taste” very often because I live on a tropical rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and the first couple of individually wrapped Granola Thins I opened encountered a phenomenon I like to call “melt-in-its-own-packaging-because-the-temperature-rarely-drops-below-80-degrees.” It causes most of the dark chocolate and peanut butter to stick to the cardboard that’s included in each wrapper.

To overcome this, I suggest sticking a Granola Thins in the refrigerator for a few minutes before opening.

Can’t wait a few minutes? Oh, I think you can, because while the Granola Thins are good, they’re not irresistible like the marketing copy on the box claims. How do I know? Both boxes have been sitting on my desk for the past two weeks. If they’re “irresistible,” why have I consumed only two of the ten 2.5-inch Granola Thins from each box?

But, again, I did enjoy both flavors. The peanut butter one reminds me of a Nutter Butter in flavor and in the fact that the peanut butter doesn’t taste like any peanut butter I’ve ever had. As for the dark chocolate version, the crispy granola is a bit more noticeable than the chocolate. Strangely, the combination of granola with the chocolate makes it taste like a graham cracker. Maybe the fact that the chocolate is “naturally flavored” might have something to do with the light flavor.

As good as they are, the Nature Valley Granola Thins aren’t as satisfying as their long rectangle granola brethren. It would take three or four of these to equal the hunger-crushing power of Nature Valley’s regular granola bars, which come with two per wrapper. Also, I wish the peanut butter and chocolate were baked into the crispy squares, like Nature Valley does with their regular granola bars, so that they wouldn’t be so messy to eat on this rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 pouch/17 grams – Dark Chocolate – 80 calories, 4 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 75 milligrams of sodium, 11 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 6 grams of sugar, 1 gram of protein and 2% iron. Peanut Butter – 90 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 10 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, 1 gram of protein and 2% iron.)

Other Nature Valley Granola Thins reviews:
Stuff We Like

Item: Nature Valley Granola Thins (Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter)
Price: $3.49
Size: 10 pack
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Dark Chocolate)
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Peanut Butter)
Pros: Enjoyable. Crispy. Peanut butter one tastes like a Nutter Butter. Dark chocolate one tastes like a graham cracker. Looking at M.C. Escher pieces. Looking at M.C. Escher pieces while on an illegal substance.
Cons: Seems pricey for what you get. “Naturally flavored” dark chocolate has a weak flavor. Not irresistible to me. Messy if you’re eating it on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. No enneadecagon granola snacks.