Friday, March 28, 2014

FIT CRUNCH™ Baked Bars

For the past few weeks, I've been reviewing snack bars, in my never ending quest to find ones I like.  I've tried all sorts of granola bars, including standard Quaker brand or fancy Awesome Bars.  I've tried nut based bars, like last week's KIND bars.  And occasionally, I even try protein, or nutrition focused bars.  Those are usually even worse than the others.  The offerings from LUNA all sound amazing, but I really do not like the flavors or textures.  Probars are the best I've been able to find in this category so far.

This week, I tried the FIT CRUNCH™ Baked Bars, described as, "The Ultimate Whey Protein Isolate Gourmet Bar".  Yes, for real.  I'm not sure how big of a market "Whey Protein Isolate Gourmet Bars" is, but these are apparently the ultimate.  I almost really laughed out loud when I read their marketing.

I laughed inside even more when I saw the box featured Chef Robert Irvine predominantly on front, bulging muscles fully flexed.  You'll recognize him from several programs on Food Network.

Protein bars are usually the biggest offenders in the snack bar market, with awful fake tastes from the substances used to keep the sugar content down, strange textures from whatever boosts up their protein levels, and quite often, they leave my stomach feeling queasy.  You might ask why I even keep trying these things, when I tend to actually hate them, but ... if I could find one I like, it is really useful to have an easy high protein snack in your purse!

So, back to our Ultimate Whey Protein Isolate Gourmet bars.  What exactly are they?  The bars have 6 layers, featuring a soft cookie layer, a creamy layer, and a crunchy layer.  They are baked, which they say makes them more like homemade cookies rather than commercial bars, even though they have long shelf lives.  They use whey protein isolate to provide 16g of protein per snack size bar, and even though they are chocolate coated, they have only 3g of sugar.  This all sounds great, but many bars boost fantastic nutritional stats and taste awful.  I don't care if it is good for me, if I don't want to actually eat it  This is where Robert Irvine comes in, providing the tasty aspect.  

Or, so they claim.  To say I was skeptical is an understatement.  How many actually tasty protein bars have you had?

The bars come in two sizes, snack size or meal size.  The meal size are about twice the size of the snack size, providing 30g of protein compared to the 16g of the snack size.  Unlike most brands with a large array of flavors, they make only two: peanut butter or cookies and cream.

Here comes your spoiler: the one I tried was unexpectedly delicious.  Not only was it better than any other protein bar I've tried, I actually felt like I was being treated to a candy bar.  The textures were great (more on that below), the flavor wasn't bad, and I was honestly shocked.  I only tried one of the two varieties, but if I encounter the other, I'll certainly try it out.  And I'd gladly eat another of these, and I'd enjoy it more than a Snickers bar.
Peanut Butter Whey Protein Fit Crunch Bar.
My skepticism continued as I opened my bar.  The wrapper was twice as long as the bar.  I felt a bit cheated, but this was the smaller snack size, and it was big enough.

Described as "a vanilla cookie core layered with peanut butter, fresh peanuts, high protein chocolate, chocolate crisps and top-layered with a creamy chocolate and peanut butter drizzle."

Just as described, the bar was covered in milk chocolate, a thin layer, and drizzled with the peanut butter drizzle.  I couldn't really taste the drizzle, but it made it pretty.
Peanut Butter Whey Protein Fit Crunch Bar: Inside.
I broke the bar in half to reveal the contents.  I wanted to find all 6 layers!  I think they count the peanut butter drizzle and the chocolate each as a layer.

The base was what they consider the vanilla cookie core, I'm assuming it is where all the whey protein was.  I expected it to be chalky and gross like all other protein bars, but instead, it was a bit chewy, indeed soft, and not gross.  I wouldn't call it a fresh baked cookie, but, it worked.

On top of that was a similarly thick layer of peanut butter cream.  It was creamy, tasted like, well, peanut butter, and complimented the chewier cookie layer.

On top of that was chunks of peanuts, which added a bit of crunch, and more peanut flavor.

The final layer, right under the chocolate, was a thin layer of chocolate crunchies, which provided even more crunch.

This bar got a lot right.  First, chocolate and peanut butter, clearly a delicious combination.  But with so many of these bars, they taste fake, or the protein compounds mask the other flavors.  That didn't happen here.  You could really taste the peanut butter in particular.  They say it was "made with the PB connoisseur in mind", and, it shows.

The textures were also right, another area where protein bars usually fall down.  You had soft, chewy cookie, creamy peanut butter, and crunchy nuts and crispies.

It really was enjoyable, honestly, just like a candy bar.  But one you don't need to feel remotely guilty about eating.  A winner.
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