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If you’ve ridden a bike for any distance longer than ten miles, you know that it is smart to carry snacks with you. I love trying out new snacks I see at grocery / health food / LBS’s / pharmacies / online stores. Kind Snacks mailed me four of their best-selling bars for me to review.

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The flavors?

Kind Plus

Kind Plus is a recently launched line of delicious, all natural fruit and nut nutrition bars, enhanced with functional benefits (Antioxidants, Calcium, Protein, Omega 3’s) made with wholesome ingredients you can see and pronounce.

  • Mango Macadamia – “Tangy, fruity taste and slightly crunchy texture makes it a perfect choice for your sweet tooth. This KIND bar is enhanced with calcium and provides 50% of the recommended daily value of folic acid & vitamin D making it a healthy addition to your diet.”
Snacks, Snack, Healthy Snacks, Healthy Snack, Snack Bar, Snack Bars, Health Snack, Health Snacks, Gluten Free Snack, Gluten Free Snacks

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  • Cranberry & Almond – “Delightful mix of tangy cranberries and crunchy almonds, creating a delectable snack whether morning, afternoon, or even a late-night treat! This KIND bar is enhanced with antioxidants such as Vitamins A, C, & E which fight free radicals, helping to maintain the immune system and healthy skin.”
Snacks, Snack, Healthy Snacks, Healthy Snack, Snack Bar, Snack Bars, Health Snack, Health Snacks, Gluten Free Snack, Gluten Free Snacks

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Kind Fruit & Nut

Kind Fruit & Nut is a line of delicious, wholesome, all-natural fruit and nut energy bars made with wholesome ingredients you can see and pronounce.

  • Almond & Apricot – “A sweet blend of tangy apricots, crunchy almonds and a hint of coconut.”
Snacks, Snack, Healthy Snacks, Healthy Snack, Snack Bar, Snack Bars, Health Snack, Health Snacks, Gluten Free Snack, Gluten Free Snacks

Click for Ingredients/Nutritional Info

  • Fruit & Nut Delight – “A delectable medley of crunchy nuts, naturally sweet fruit, and a touch of honey.”
Snacks, Snack, Healthy Snacks, Healthy Snack, Snack Bar, Snack Bars, Health Snack, Health Snacks, Gluten Free Snack, Gluten Free Snacks

Click for Ingredients/Nutritional Info

Like the title of this review suggests, these bars are not cheap; they retail from $1.50-$2.00+, depending on how big of a pack is purchased. When I go through 3-5+ snack bars a week, depending on how often or how far I am riding, the cost of these could really add up fast. This is where I am at a bit of a conundrum… These little Australian made 40g snack bars are about as tasty and fresh as a bar can come. I found that their consistency is somewhat difficult to eat while riding, (I will get to this topic in a moment)  so a two person panel was used to evaluate these bars in terms of flavor and enjoyment.

Reviews

Mango Macadamia

Reviewer 1: Sticky. Just fruit and nuts stuck together. Could eat a bunch of them, and they are very generous with the product (No cheap fillers).

Reviewer 2: Enough of the tiny crispy rice pieces to counteract the texture of the soft fruit. Coconut stuck in mouth 😦

Overall, this Kind Plus bar was very favorable in flavor. The medley of ingredients worked well together, and the additional nutrient supplements did not distract from the essential flavors of the fruit. Both reviewers wondered if the bar they shared had too much coconut on it, not that it detracted from the flavor, but the mouth-feel of it. This was R1’s favorite bar.

3.5 out of 4 Stars

Almond & Apricot

R1: One big notice, I could hardly taste the Apricot. Maybe it was just the portion I had?

R2: Light, not sticky. Easier to chew than the Mango Macadamia. Almonds are very present.

The Almond Apricot bar again shows that Kind Snacks does not skimp on their ingredients. While the reviewers shared half of the bar each, R1 did not receive as much Apricot as R2, but still enjoyed the flavor and consistency. The puffed rice pieces give the bar (like others) a texture surprise that is enjoying and fresh. This was R2’s favorite bar.

3.5 out of 4 Stars


Cranberry & Almond

R1: VERY STICKY. Puckery/tangy in a good way. Aftertaste of oils (similar to inexpensive canned variety nuts). had to wash hands after handling my piece. Not sure how I feel about this one…

R2: The macadamia nuts work well with the almonds.

I had to cut the package open with scissors to get the bar out in one piece. The honey content in the bar was pink (from cranberries?) and could be seen all over the clear portions of the wrapper. This bar was the decision on why to not test these bars out in real-world situations. While the wholesome ingredients are a plus, what could only be assumed as the honey left this bar a mess to eat.

2.5 out of 4 Stars


Fruit & Nut Delight

R1: Not a lot to say about this bar. It is like… a chewy peanut brittle, or something similar to that.

R2: Very much a nut bar with light fruit flavor.

This bar is simple. Nothing elaborate, yet nothing bland in it. The flavors are all pretty subtle, and work well together.

3 out of 4 Stars

Summary

So are these the bars that should be in your rear pocket while on a brevet or century ride this weekend? Are they worth the cost? Should I buy them? What was the best flavor out of the four? What was sets the Kind Snack bars apart from other bars?

Kind takes a lot of time to create a product that is well refined, mature, and provokes you to think about what you are eating. These are not Corn Syrup bars with some oats and flavors added in; no, these are quality, whole products that place them texturally apart from a Powerbar, or Clif bar in terms of the way they feel when eating them. Unfortunately, both reviewers and I came to terms that this is not a bar to attempt eating WHILE MOVING. If you plan on stopping and gnawing on one of these, there would be no problem. I think they would be better for a mid-day snack in terms of caloric content, and satisfaction received from the flavors, etc. They just aren’t as easy to eat as an energy gel/Jelly Belly Sports Beans/Clif bar. but this does not make them a bad product. Out of the four bars reviewed, Mango Macadamia, and Almond & Apricot tied for the best snack bar when not talking about a numbered, unbiased rating. All reviewers say that the quality of the product is something that is desired, but the cost is prohibitive of purchasing these at full retail price. Similar bars, like Larabar also suffer from the issue over quality versus cost. I guess price is all depending on what you like, and cannot be an objective answer of Yes or No.

I still say that the flavors of the bars are worth trying. if you see these at a local store for a price you are willing to pay, don’t hesitate.

FTC Blogging Laws make me post, or at least link to this statement.

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As the readers know, I’ve never been too hot about manufactured foods and snacks while on the bike. Instead of dextrose, give me a peanut butter and jelly sammich. Instead of artificial flavors, give me some nutella. First Endurance has changed me forever for the better.

I received the EFS Liquid Shot in the mail, opened the package, and read the flask’s label. Vanilla? VANILLA? Liquid Vanilla is scary. There are so many ways it can go wrong. EFS did not fail, and actually made it kinda enjoyable. Saying that about an energy gel is a big compliment. The flavor is kind of creamy, and the viscosity of the gel is not intrusive on the flavor, or the enjoyment of it. This is because the liquid shot does not have any of the traditional gelling agents used in other products. The flavor does not linger for a long time in your mouth, it is still nice to have a sip from your water bottle after it but not necessary. About half way through my ride, I wanted to just drink the rest of the liquid shot, since the slightly sweet taste was becoming really enjoyable! 🙂

efs liquid shot first endurance vanilla flask

The flask is 130ml, and was able to get me through 40-50 miles with no problems. The perfect mix of dextrose, sucrose, and sugars did not irritate my stomach, and I was not craving solid foods or anything else. I was doing fine with my water, and the flask of vanilla gel goodness. One thing you must remember is that this flask is pure energy. Before or after the ride is the best time for the food, or any time you cross your stomach’s threshold for needing substance. This is something that will take a bit of time to learn, but the ease of sipping on the liquid shot was enjoyable enough that I have purchased one of their 32 oz refill bottles. This refill bottle is like 20-30 of your normal gel-shot packets depending on which ones you buy; the best part is that you don’t have a sloppy wrapper in your back pocket or right above the elastic of your shorts once you are done with it. The flask itself does not leak, has a pretty average spout releasing just enough depending on how you squeeze the soft plastic container. Feeding yourself becomes no-nonsense.

The EFS Liquid Shot also is a carrier for the basic necessities like sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium, etc that we sweat out while on a ride. These ingredients do not make a significant influence on flavor, but can make the difference between cramping up or not on a hot day. Basically, it is jam-packed with electrolytes, and we’re not talking about Brawndo-type electrolytes

The only flavor currently available is Vanilla. First Endurance plans to introduce additional flavors of the EFS Liquid Shot later in 2010. I am hoping to try the berry flavor when it come out, since this product has been a hit.

Pros:

  • Surprisingly great flavor
  • Large volume, compared to other “gels”
  • Perfect viscosity
  • Full of essential calorie based energy, amino acids, and trace elements the body needs.
  • Refillable flask is a bit more environmentally responsible, as compared to traditional “gels”
  • Does not irritate stomach

Cons:

  • Price ($6 for a 5oz flask) While all prepackaged nutrition is typically more expensive than home-made products, First Endurance has done their homework, and guarantees that this product will do its job, and satisfy you.
  • Novelty – If this is something that you have never tried, it may be quite foreign to you, and possibly have you hesitate. Don’t worry, it’s worth a try!

Not going to lie, I still enjoy real food, but on a race, or gran-fondo, these are a must.

4/5 Stars

If you want more info, check out First Endurance’s site.

This product can be found online, at sports stores, or at your LBS.

FTC Blogging Laws must be stated, since I was given this item for free to review. I received no money or additional promotions in exchange for the review.

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