My Favourite Healthy Energy Bars of the Week

In a rush? Need a quick pick me up but watching the calories? Do you need to keep your energy up, but glycemic levels low?

Then don’t let me keep you – let’s cut to the chase.

Here are my two favourite energy bars of the week from Good Full Stop and Max’s Protein Bars. Both are majorly amazing – full of only good stuff and perfect for on the run!

GOOD FULL STOP

I love these snack bars. They are exactly what they say on the tin – good…full stop. They’re especially great for people who suffer with digestive issues because there’s absolutely no gluten and no dairy in any of their range and all have a medium/low glycemic index (so you’re not craving loads more sugar afterwards – for more information about what the glycemic index means for you, see here).

good full stop bars

My personal favourite has to be the Nutty one which comes packed full of cashews, hazelnuts, almonds, rice bran and lotssss of yummy gooey dates. The dates give the bar a natural sweetness which won’t impede workouts (like some of the glucose syrupy Neanderthals mentioned here). Major fruit punch and a great smattering of fibre make this probably one of the most nourishing bars I’ve come across in a while.

MAX’S PROTEIN BARS

Ingredients are important – and never has it been more important than checking the ingredients on protein bars as you’ll see here. So rest assured that Max’s Protein Bars are absolutely 100% clean. They literally fit into any diet or lifestyle – Max’s are full of protein (17g!), are gluten free, completely natural, and with no nasties there is no contest when it comes to finding a protein bar full of top class nourishment.

My favourite is the Apple Cinnamon flavour as I’m just a massive apple pie fan. The oats give it such a great texture and mouthfeel and the dried apples pack an amazing natural flavourful hit. If you’re a bit whatever about apple pie, then I implore you to try the white chocolate and raspberry bar which tastes just like a candy bar, but without any of the bad stuff.

Are Protein Bars Good For You?

Nutrition bars/energy bars/sports bars/protein bars – whatever you call them, watch out for these deceptively high fat, high sugar snacks!

‘Protein’ is certainly the buzz-word of 2016. When you think of the word ‘protein’ what do you envision? Is it workout-crazy tigers & tigresses hitting the gym hard on Instagram? Is it ‘clean eating’ memes with just lean steak and vegetables for your daily inspo? Or is it big muscles, built by the beautiful protein we just all can’t seem to get enough of?

maximuscle bars

Yes, thanks to several decades of poor nutrition and nourish-less snack bars & ready meals, protein has proved to be a guiding light into the health world for many.

Protein, from what you’re told, is so good for you it sounds too good to be true – we’re told that eating lots of protein fills you up more, so that you’re less likely to snack, which means you gain less weight. Hurrah! Not to mention that you’re allowed to eat remarkably tasty foods whilst still fuelling your body with essential muscle-repairing vitamins & minerals.

So where’s the catch?

Well, a lot of what you hear is fact. Protein IS good for you, but that doesn’t mean that food items brandishing HIGH PROTEIN are holistically a health food product.

soft scoops

It’s like how soft-scoop ice-cream used to declare how LOW IN CALORIES it was – but this was only because all the calories were stripped out from the natural high-fat cream and replaced with whiteners, thickeners, additives, colourings, preservatives & lots and lots of sugar. All put together these ingredients have a very low calorie content… and no nutritional benefits whatsoever.

Related: ‘Healthy’ Yoghurts Review: Yollies Are A Poor Choice For Kids

The food industry has caught on to the misleading nature of ‘low fat/low calorie/lite’ messaging and thankfully consumers are starting to steer away from these low fat foods in favour of higher-fat, less-processed wholefoods. (Let’s not mention Nutella’s current marketing message, though. “Just hazelnuts, milk & cocoa makes Nutella”. Helpfully the 70%+ of sugar and palm oil doesn’t seem to be get a mention, strangely enough. But I digress).

nutella is bad for you

The same basic understanding of what is healthy in the protein industry, unfortunately, is yet to be addressed. No-one seems to care that in one of their ‘healthy’ protein bars they’re consuming 50% of their saturated fat, or that they’re taking in ¾ of their daily sugar.

Swayed by the word ‘protein’ on the front packaging, so many people pluck these items from the supermarket shelves, snaffling them to their heart’s content, and wondering why they don’t feel good afterwards. Truth is – your protein is not the only ingredient you’re eating. Here’s what else you’re eating in one of those ‘healthy’ protein bars.

Worst Protein Bars in the UK Market

Highest Amount of Sugar

Chocolate Chip Clif Bar

With a list of ingredients as long as your arm, it’s easy to see that these ‘wholesome’ bars are far from being pure protein. RICE SYRUP, CANE JUICE, and MOLASSES ramp up the sugar content of these little bars to just over 24% of your recommended daily sugar allowance.

evil clif bars unhealthy

Put down the Clif bar, pick up a banana, please.

  • 24% RDA sugar
  • INGREDIENTS: Organic Brown Rice Syrup, ClifPro® (Soy Rice Crisps [Soy Protein Isolate, Rice Flour, Barley Malt Extract], Organic Roasted Soybeans, Organic Soy Flour), Organic Rolled Oats, Chocolate Chips (Evaporated Cane Juice, Unsweetened Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavors), Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, ClifCrunch® (Apple Fiber, Organic Oat Fiber, Organic Milled Flaxseed, Inulin [Chicory Extract], Psyllium), Organic Date Paste, Organic Soy Butter, Organic Sunflower Oil, Molasses, Powder, Sea Salt, Natural Flavors, Cinnamon. VITAMINS & MINERALS: Dicalcium Phosphate, Magnesium Oxide, Ascorbic Acid (Vit. C), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vit. E), Ferric Orthophosphate (Iron), Beta Carotene (Vit. A), Zinc Citrate, Phytonadione (Vit. K1), Biotin, Niacinamide (Vit. B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vit. B5), Potassium Iodide, Manganese Gluconate, Copper Gluconate, Sodium Selenite, Thiamin (Vit. B1), Chromium Chloride, Cyanocobalamin (Vit. B12), Sodium Molybdate, Folic Acid (Vit. B9), Riboflavin (Vit. B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vit. B6).

Highest Amount of Salt

MET-Rx Big 100 Colossal Bar Super Cookie Crunch

Salt seems like a weird one to pull up when looking at protein bars, but a lot of the time sneaky food manufacturers throw tonnes of salt in to mask bad flavours and to add punch to bland additives. A good rule of thumb is – if a product is made with wholesome ingredients, salt isn’t needed, the wholefoods give enough natural flavour.

unhealthy metrx bars

More salt, generally, means your food has spent more time in a lab. Ick.

  • 24% salt
  • INGREDIENTS: Soy Cocoa Crisps (Soy Protein Isolate, Cocoa (Processed with Alkali), Tapicoa Starch, Vanilla Cream Topping (High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Milk Protein Isolate, Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil, Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavors, Corn Syrup, Chocolate Flavored Coating (Sugar, Vegetable Oil, Cocoa Powder, Whey Powder, Nonfat Milk Powder, Soy Lecithin, Natural Vanilla), Milk Chocolate Drops, Whole Milk (Powdered), Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Milk Fat, Soy Lecithin, Natural Vanilla Flavor), Cocoa (processed with alkali), Metamyosyn V100 Protein Blend (Whey Protein Isolate, Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Concentrate, Dried Egg White, L Glutamine, Crystalline Fructose, Canola Oil, Palm Oil, Glycerin, Water, Natural Flavors, Fructooligosaccharides, Vitamin & Mineral Blend (Ascorbic Acid, D-Alpha Tocopheryl, Niacinamide, Tricalcium Phosphate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Gluconate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Palminate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Monohydrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid (Folate) Vitamin B12, Biotin (Vitamin H), Potassium Iodide, Cyanocobalamin, Peanut Flour, Salt, Dipotassium Phosphate, Xanthan Gum, Natural Almond Butter, Soy Lecithin, Wheat Germ

Highest Amount of Unhealthy Fats

MultiPower Power Bar Vanilla

It’s important here to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy fats. Healthy fats are natural in protein bars, especially if nuts are involved. These are natural fats and are beneficial in keeping you fuller for longer. Unhealthy fats are trans fats that have been processed and hydrogenated so all they do is clog up your arteries and make you crave more processed food.

These MultiPower bars have 36% of your RDA saturated fats, thanks to an unhealthy mixture of syrups & palm oil. For more palm-fat protein bars check out why Mars & Snickers new protein bars are so bad for you.

are protein bars good for you

  • 36% of your RDA saturated fats
  • INGREDIENTS: Milk Protein, Glucose Syrup, Fructose Syrup, Milk Chocolate (17 %) (Sugar, Milk Powder, Cocoa Butter, Cocoa Mass, Emulsifier Sunflower Lecithins, natural Flavour), Almond Paste, Collagen Hydrolysate, Puffed Rice, Flavour, Palm Oil, Colourant Riboflavin.

Don’t Despair – there are still some very good, healthy protein bars

Never to be the bearer of bad news, there are still some mightily healthy protein bars out there, including Boost Bars, Nookie Bars and Crobar (see their healthy protein bar review here). Not to mention my two new personal favourites: Good Full Stop Bars and Max’s Bars (see the full review of these protein bars here).

 

 

 

Introducing Mr Lee’s Healthy & Gluten-Free Instant Noodles

A while ago I mentioned how great gluten-free noodles are as a bloat-free alternative to stodgy pasta dishes & typically gluten-rich noodle meals. Some of my favourites were special bean-based noodles from Explore Asian, which taste amazing, but they’re not exactly a noodle meal you can take with you on the go.

mung_bean_edamame_US_1280__61185.1409959273.1280.1280

Instant noodles have become a major hit with Generation X and Y seeking convenience over nourishment. Supernoodles, Pot Noodles, you know the types, are full of wheat flour, palm fat, salt and yummy maltodextrin (a powder-based starch used to thicken the food with empty calories). They lack severely in nutrients and they get gulped down like a drink, with not a thought for the 400-500 calories you’ve just consumed and the amount of bloat-inducing starch you’ve just slurped down into your gut.

For an IBS sufferer, instant noodles should be avoided at all costs for the reasons above and more. But thankfully, that doesn’t mean that ALL instant noodles are bad.

Nope, that’s why I’m so excited to share Mr Lee’s Noodles with you all. They’re gluten-free rice noodles (yep you heard that right), which come in handy pots that you can take with you to work, to a friend’s, wherever, and all you have to do is add hot water.

gluten free noodles

There are 6 flavours, ranging from mild chicken noodle flavour to spicy dragon fire mushroom flavour. Although out of all them, my favourite has to be the Shaolin Monk vegetable noodle soup, which is made up of flat rice noodles, broccoli, peppers, green beans and cauliflower. I think I preferred this one the best as I always have to add loads of veggies to my noodle dishes to give it that extra crunch and tastiness that most noodles don’t include, but because these are instant noodles, all the veggies come pre-prepared in the pack and are freeze-dried perfectly so none of their flavours (or nutrients) are lost.

With no MSGs or additives or artificial colours, these are far and away a massive triumph over those disgusting dusty Pot Noodles you’ll have become so used to as a child. Try these out if you’re craving a delicious snack that offers all the goodness of a fresh noodle dish with none of the fuss (or bloaty drawbacks!).

 

Nutritional Labelling on Packaging Set To Change Hugely

I saw this a while ago and thought it might be worth sharing that big changes are coming to the way you view nutritional info on packaged items.

nutrition label

What’s changed?

  • less of a focus on fat, more on calories and sugars (with both in bold & large font)
  • % added sugars will be added
  • servings will be displayed per container, rather than per serving
  • vitamin D and potassium levels added

For a deeper insight into how food labelling will look worldwide, take a look here – http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm385663.htm

 

Is Pasta Bad For IBS? Which Carbs Can I Eat?

Ever eaten a whole bowl of pasta, become incredibly bloated, then suffered awful abdominal cramps afterwards?

If you suffer with IBS, chances are that you’ve definitely experienced some form of pasta hangover. But cutting out pasta is hard, especially if it’s your main carb which you use to fill up with.

The best tasting pastas are the white flour, processed types, which offer low nutritional benefits and limited fibre. On the flip side, whole wheat pasta is full of fibre, have greater nutritional value and, as a complex carbohydrate, takes longer to break down and gives your digestive system much longer to process each forkful. Whole wheat pasta is even recommended on the IBS Low FODMAP list of good foods to eat (http://patient.info/health/irritable-bowel-syndrome-diet-sheet). NB: This diet sheet only mentions ‘pasta’, but should really state the whole-wheat variety only.

So when looking for a pasta, go for whole wheat, but if you really don’t want to dabble with durum wheat flour, egg, or semolina at all (if you think they may be your trigger foods), there are plenty of pasta substitutes available.

If you’ve not been paying attention, Courgetti is now a BIG thing – big because health enthusiasts get to eat pasta without any of the bloat. Purely spiralised courgette, you get all the texture of spaghetti, with none of the drawbacks. My favourite ready-made courgetti (because I don’t own a spiraliser) is BOL foods Italian Tomato Courgetti, made with brocolli, beans, sun-dried tomatoes and of course courgettes.

BOL-Italian-Tomato-Courgetti_OFF

If you really want pasta but so don’t want the bloaty part, try these awesome gluten free pastas from Explore Asian. They’re completely bean-based with no additives, meaning you can finally eat pasta but still feel clean and nourished afterwards.My favourite is the Edamame Fettucini, which cooks in minutes and tastes amazing with tons of peas, shoots and beans.

mung_bean_edamame_US_1280__61185.1409959273.1280.1280

Still not sure about which way to go when craving carbs? Check out these 8 Ways To Prevent Bloating & Have More Energy and easily beat the bloat, everyday!

 

 

 

Best IBS-Friendly Hummus Recipes Online (My Top 5)

Best for: Health Conscious Hummus Fans

Tahini-free Hummus

Although traditional hummus comes packed with tahini, this recipe takes out the tahini but keeps the flavour in.

ibs friendly hummus recipes tahini free

Tahini is a paste made from hulled sesame seeds, so it’s not super bad for you, but it is high in fats (although these are healthy fats). If you’re following a low calorie/low fat diet, this might be the best hummus recipe for you. Take the tahini out and you get to appreciate a greater myriad of flavours, including the zesty lemon juice and garlic.

Ingredients: Chickpeas, Garlic, Fresh lemon juice, Salt, Olive oil, Cumin, Water, Paprika.

Recipe: http://hintofjoes.com/easy-hummus-without-tahini/

Best for: Interesting Flavour

Peanut Butter Hummus

If you follow this blog, you’ll know peanut butter is my no.1 for creaminess and full rich flavour, so imagine how great this hummus recipe tastes! A perfect accompaniment to the meaty chickpeas and fresh yogurt, it really is the most decadent hummus recipe I know.

ibs friendly hummus recipes peanut butter

This peanut butter hummus works particularly well in places where you’d use peanut butter by itself – such as on toast or with celery – and is a great alternative if you’re running low on the nutty stuff.

Ingredients: Chickpeas, Garlic, Olive Oil, Smooth Peanut Butter, Lemon Juice, Salt, Cumin, Greek Yogurt, Peanuts, Paprika.

Recipe: https://www.nigella.com/recipes/peanut-butter-hummus

Best for: Classic taste

Easy Hummus

Hummus is a great dip to make because it’s so healthy for you – but also because it’s so easy. Just bang everything together in a food processor and let the magic happen all by itself! This recipe is one of my favourite simple but delicious hummus recipes and tastes even better than the shop-bought kinds. I tend to add a little extra lemon juice to this to give it the lightness I look for in a hummus🙂

ibs friendly hummus recipe easy

Ingredients: Chickpeas, Tahini, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Garlic, Lemon Juice, Black Pepper, Cumin, Parsley.

Recipe: http://markbittman.com/recipe/hummus/

Best for: Added Protein

Chicken Broth Hummus

This may sound a little different – but it tastes great. The broth gives the meaty chickpeas even more meaty flavour and just that little bit savoury if you want a paste that tastes more like a meal than just a meaningless dip you could do without. If you get the balance just right and thicken it out a bit more with a little added tahini you could easily just eat this by itself straight from the tub!

Ingredients: Chicken Broth, Chickpeas, Garlic, Lemon Juice, Tahini, Salt, Cumin, Cayenne Pepper.

Recipe: http://abstractfitness.ca/recipe/the-best-homemade-hummus-recipe-ever/

Best for: A spicy kick!

Jalapeno Hummus

Some people complain that hummus is a bit of a bland dip – probably because it’s beige, healthy and is made of virtually 4 ingredients – so this jalapeno dip is perfect for all the nay-sayers!

ibs friendly hummus recipe jalapeno

Delectably zingy and full of kick, you can enjoy this on blander items like pita bread and feel like you’ve really treated yourself. If you don’t like your dips too spicy, just tinker with the amount of jalapenos until you’re completely happy – the joys of healthy home-baking!

Ingredients: Chickpeas, Coriander, Garlic, Jalapenos, Lemon Juice, Lime Juice, Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil, Water.

Recipe: http://www.foodfaithfitness.com/hummus-recipe-jalapeno-lime/

Best Protein Energy Bars For IBS

Like anybody else who loves to snack, I love protein energy bars because they’re simply the best solution to settling sugary cravings, with no guilt. But that’s not to say all protein bars are good for you – a lot of them are packed with sugar, syrups, flavourings, etc. which don’t agree with IBS sufferers, so selecting the perfect energy bar for you is essential and some consideration should be taken before tucking in.

I’ve tried making my own healthy gluten-free raw banana energy balls in the past, and these were so tasty I couldn’t help but make a fresh batch every week. However, if you don’t have the time, want to try different flavours, or prefer a bar over a ball, I’d suggest trying these amazing protein energy snacks, which are perfect for IBS sufferers and health enthusiasts alike. J

Boost Balls (boostball.com)

These little balls are packed with real fruit and nuts and are naturally stuffed with over 20% of protein. Free from gluten, wheat, soy and refined sugars, these are ideal for a happy gut, not to mention the have a delicious dessert-like taste and gooey mouthfeel.

protein energy bars for ibs coconut fudge cake

My favourite from their gorgeous bunch were the Coconut Fudge Cake balls which were deceptively creamy yet had the added texture from the desiccated coconut. Very very delicious – tastes just like a healthy Bounty bar in ball form!

Crobar (gathrfoods.com)

Cricket flour is all the rage in the protein world at the moment, and I’ve tried out some in the past (see here for my Exo Protein review), that’s why I was super hyped to try Gathrfoods latest offering, Crobar.

protein energy bars for ibs coffee vanilla crobar

Naturally high in protein from the cricket flour and with loads of flavours to choose from – from fruity berry bars to chocolatey cacao bars, there’s something to suit every craving. My favourite has to be the coffee, vanilla & cricket flour flavour as it gave me that incredible caffeine hit without drinking any coffee (see here why coffee is massively disruptive for IBS) and gave me the gooiness of a delicious dessert – winner!

Nookie Bars (nookiebar.com)

So – these look a bit messy and weird (especially the spirulina one), but I promise you they’re anything but. Although on first glance they look like they’ll melt everywhere, they actually keep their shape exactly the same as any other nut butter bar. My favourite was 100% the spirulina bar which is made with almond butter, spirulina and big fat chocolate chunks – just don’t be put off by the deep green colour as it’s actually the best tasting one! Light yet super chocolatey they’re a great solution for nut butter lovers on the move who need a quick high protein pick-up.

protein energy bars for ibs spirulina almond butter chocolate nookie bar.png

Free from refined sugars and syrups with no hydrogenated oils, these bars feel homemade and like they’re made with love, which thankfully is miles away from the mass production of companies like Mars & Nestle who try to sell ‘healthy protein bars’ which really aren’t healthy in the slightest. The Nookie Bars were my personal favourites of the bunch – so much so that when I finished my last one I may as well as have held a memorial service I mourned for that long.