Right about this time 5 years ago, I was just about to embark on an 8 week snowboarding sabbatical. I had my lift tickets all figured out, gear ready, and I was psyched. By the end of the first week, I realized I hadn’t thoroughly thought through one huge piece of my adventures: nutrition. All that snowboarding jump started my metabolism and I was starving. I’m talking that constant, gnawing, never full feeling. I was becoming a constantly hangry person – and I’m not pleasant when hangry.
That hangriness inevitably led to me thinking “Well, I should just pack some energy bars” – but NOOO. It couldn’t be that easy. I’m allergic to all nuts (peanuts, almonds, pecans, walnuts, etc.) so my hangriness couldn’t be cured by a Snickers or a quick energy bar.
And so began the search. I decided to run an experiment. I wanted to see just exactly how many nut-free energy bars I could find – if any – in my local grocery store. I found just shy of 10, but the next question was “Are any of these actually edible?”. It turned out a few were, but I was kind of shocked there weren’t more options. Little did I know that this little experiment would end up being the most popular article on Tails from the Trails – ever.
Evidently I’m not alone. *waves hi to the crowd*
Of course, I didn’t stop being active after that sabbatical. In fact, I think I’m actually even more active now, so it was really time to re-investigate this to-go nutrition. Over the past 6 months, I’ve been running the experiment again because I hoped that with time more options had become available. So I searched, and searched, and searched some more. And guess what?
THEY DO EXIST! There are SO many options now. Between my local grocery store, amazing websites like The Feed, and the kindness of awesome companies – there is no shortage now. You’re actually going to struggle to pick what to feast on!
So, welcome to “Do nut free energy bars exist?” 2.0.
Since there are in fact so many options now, I’m going to do this article a little differently and highlight the ones that were my personal favorite and have found themselves in my gym bag, hiking pack, and basically wherever I can be found. But there are a ton of other options and you can find them all listed at the bottom.
The “Best Breakfast Anytime” award goes to…
The moment I sifted through my box of snacks from The Feed and set eyes on Bobo’s Oat Bars, I was crossing my fingers they were good. While most energy bars have that dry crumbly look, Bobo’s bars look sweet and sticky. But would it stand the sniff and taste test?
YES! I tried the apple cinnamon bar first and it did not disappoint. I was immediately struck by the smell of cinnamon (basically think cinnamon rolls) and could clearly taste the raisins, cane sugar, and all sorts of other wonderful flavors in between rolled oats. Even better, this little 3 ounce bar packs in 360 calories and 6g of protein which is an excellent way to kick off a busy day of hiking, mountain biking, or whatever you do. We even took Bobo’s to Spain for hiking (see cover picture – Bobo’s with a view). Perfecto!
We’ve since tried Original (good), Coconut (good), and Apple Pie (really good) but Cinnamon Raisin is by far my favorite. I’m looking forward to try all their nut free flavors eventually (chocolate chip – I’m looking at you).
The “This Beats Snickers” award goes to…
I tried NuGo’s Organic Double Dark Chocolate energy bar and it was shockingly good – and I even found it in my local grocery store. It has the consistency and flavor of a pretty great candy bar especially with the use of a rich dark chocolate combined with a nice crunch from the soy crisps.
On the flipside, I will say the bar wasn’t very filling but it does have 10g of protein and 190 calories so it’s just my stomach being opinionated. I also could see it being a high melt risk for summer activities since dark chocolate doesn’t hold up that well against heat. But it makes for one heck of a dessert in the backcountry so the melt risk is worth it. (Also just realized that combining this with toasted marshmallows would be incredible. Hmmmm.)
I’ve also since come to discover that NuGo makes even more nut free flavors, so the exploration continues.
The “Nutty But Nut Free” award goes to…
Avalanche Bars was kind enough to send me a sample box of all of their flavors, but here at Tails from the Trails we always test things without bias. Fortunately it didn’t matter though. Avalanche bars are authentically good all on their own.
While the other energy bars I enjoyed tended to be sweet and sticky, Avalanche was the only energy bar I tested that actually achieved that nutty flavor and texture without using nuts. How? Seeds! Every Avalanche bar is packed full of sunflower kernels giving it that crunchy texture that so many of the bars I tried didn’t have (most went with rubbery). Add in some rolled oats, crisped rice, and delightful flavor additions (apples, cinnamon, butterscotch, coffee beans, etc.) and you have yourself 6 different tasty energy bars with about 10-11 grams of protein and about 300 calories.
It’s also really important to mention that Avalanche is made in a 100% nut free facility, so for those of you with really severe allergies – this is ideal.
The “Tried and True” award goes to…
In my review four years ago, I reviewed Clif Bar‘s nut free options with really low expectations and was pleasantly surprised to find that several of their flavors were actually really good. I was even more shocked to realize I’ve continued to eat one of their flavors weekly for the past four years. So, take a bow Clif Bar Cool Mint Chocolate. I still love you.
What’s made this relationship last? This bar takes a beating and does the job perfectly. I can’t even begin to tell you how many of these bars I have stashed away in my hiking back packs, laptop bags, purses, and my car. I’ve pretty much baked them in the sun, frozen them in -26F snowmobiling trips, and they’re still edible. No, not just edible. Delicious. And with 250 calories and 9 grams of protein, they set the bar for all the other testing.
And you’ll be glad to know there are other nut free flavors too including chocolate brownie, chocolate chip, and coconut chocolate chip. I would really love to see Clif Bar come out with more nut free flavors!
The “Honorable Mention (Because It’s Not a Bar)” award goes to…
In the process of placing my giant order with The Feed, I started throwing in items that weren’t energy bars but might be beneficial to my lifestyle. One of those items was Rip van Wafel – because I like waffles. Plain and simple. Of course, I really wasn’t paying close attention to the flavors that went into my cart and ended up grabbing a dark chocolate sea salt.
And that was a very happy accident. Rip van Wafels don’t pack a huge punch when it comes to calories (130) and protein (2 grams), nor do they pack very well (really brittle). But they are the perfect pick me up on less strenuous activities, once you get back to your car after a 10 mile hike, or really need a snack before/after a workout.
So what about everyone else?
I’ll be the first to admit I am a picky eater, so just because I didn’t like something doesn’t mean you won’t like it either. And a lot of things on this list just didn’t make the final cut. They weren’t bad, but they weren’t Bobo’s/Rip van Wafel/Nu Go good. Make sense?
- Epic Bar
- Wild Zora
- Bricks Bars
- Amrita Endurance Bar
- Yummari Endurance Bites
- Fiber One
- Balance Bar
- Munk Pack
- Honey Stinger Waffle
- Untapped Maple Waffle
- And many many many other products listed on The Feed under their nut-free section
And now all the fine print:
Many of these energy bars came with the “May contain traces of nuts” warning, so if you’re seriously overwhelmingly and epically allergic to nuts (we’re talking like anaphylactic shock), please carefully read the ingredients and warnings listed on the brand’s website before ingesting.
Most of the items tested were provided by The Feed in exchange for an unbiased review of the products I selected on my own. The Avalanche Bars were provided directly from Avalanche also in exchange for an unbiased review. And the rest? I bought myself. As always, opinions here are very much my own.