By Kate Bennett.
Last summer I travelled, almost back to back, to two places I thought I’d never see: Liberia (on the West Coast of Africa) and Mongolia (in the heart of Inner Asia). As a non-meat eater facing long flights and middle-of-nowhere, cross-country travel once on the ground, I knew my regular backup of granola bars to stave off hunger pangs was not going to suffice. Considering what lay ahead this called for something far more substantial, something that would sustain me no matter where I ended up. I’m talking actual meal-replacement bars. Bars with muscle.
Before leaving, I headed to Whole Foods to survey my options and stock up. Luckily, two kinds of bars were on sale. This saved me from having to choose, rationally, from dozens of brands and flavors displayed before me, all of them snappy in slick packaging and looking equally worthy. I simply had no time for pondering grams of protein vs. calories vs. fat from calories and other factors all requiring higher math.
I grabbed two entire boxes of “Greens +Chocolate Covered High Protein Bars” and “Think Thin Chocolate Fudge Bars,” dispersed the contents strategically in my suitcases, carry-on luggage, and handbag and felt ready for anything.
The Greens+ Bars are not for the faint hearted. I had chugged down the Greens-brand veggie health drink previously and suspected I was in for dehydrated and finely-ground barley grass, spinach, sprouts, etc. – in this case, in a compressed, rectangular form. I hoped the chocolate covering would soften the blow. As it turned out, in the Mongolian countryside (where chunks of meat in dark-brown gravy are the staple, and salad and vegetables virtually nonexistent) my green bars reminded me faintly of something I used to know and love and, apart from the chocolate melting in the Gobi where daytime temperatures were quite high, they actually did replace many a meal perfectly. (As a side note, rural Mongolians are probably one of the most extraordinary people on earth; however their interest in cuisine pales next to their true cultural loves: horses, archery, and wrestling.)
The big surprise was the “Think Thin Chocolate Fudge” bars. Weighing in at a reasonable 240 calories and packing 20 grams of protein, this brownie-like wonder was something you could gladly sink your teeth into and savor— relatively guilt free.
Since returning, I have discovered that Think Thin also makes a “Creamy Peanut Butter” bar which chocolate covered and addictive. Also, Greens + has a “Wild Berry Burst Yogurt-Coated Energy Bar.” Dense with fig and fruity flavors, it is truly delicious.
Do remember, when eating an entire bar you should chase it with 8 ounces of water for best results.
I plan to venture into the mammoth and still daunting world of mealreplacement bars more as time and travel go on. If anyone has a favorite to suggest, do share the power and let me know.
Flavors and More Magazine – September 2009