Saturday, February 06, 2016

Bounce Energy Balls, Australia

Another day, another review of snack food bars that I discovered while visiting our Sydney office, (like Carman's Muesli Rounds that I loved!).  These were ... less successful.

Bouce makes ... balls.  Energy balls.  The company was founded by a couple in Australia with health and fitness backgrounds, who wanted to build a snack products that helps people feel good, by highlighting superfoods.  They also make protein powders for shakes, but, I only had the balls.

Bounce makes 8 different varieties of these balls, all with kinda funny names: one is a "protein burst", another a "protein bomb", another a "protein punch", yet another is a "protein bliss", etc.  Most have protein added via one of my least favorite ingredients, whey protein isolate.  They do have interesting flavors, and all have fun coatings like bits of nuts (cashews, almonds, peanuts), coconut, or cocoa nibs.

Like many other bars I have tried, they are gluten-free, high in protein, etc.  They use natural sweeteners (blue agave, brown rice malt syrup, grape juice, dates) rather than sugar.

I tried 5 different flavors.  They ranged from truly dreadful (I'm sorry, I can't stand the texture nor flavor of awful whey protein junk) to almost ok (no whey protein, phew).  I do appreciate that they take a different spin on traditional energy bars, and really do like some of the outside coatings.  But ... whey protein, I just can't take it.
Almond Protein Hit.
"A tasty pocket rocket, bursting with nutrients from the king of nuts. This Ball contains the optimum balance of high quality proteins, complex carbohydrates and heart-healthy mono and unsaturated fats."

The first Bounce bar I tried was the "Almond Protein Hit".  How do you resist a "tasty pocket rocket"?

Almonds make up the majority of the ball (29%), with whey protein making up the next largest component (15%).  The whey protein shows up in several forms: isolate, hydrolysate, and concentrate.  The rest of the ingredient list is a random assortment of stuffs, including brown rice malt syrup and grape juice as sweeteners.

I went into it with low hopes since I don't tend to like protein bars, particularly ones with whey protein.  I liked the crunchy nuts on the outside, but, I didn't like the flavor of the base.  It wasn't necessarily the whey protein I didn't like, rather, it tasted like almond butter, and even though I do like almonds, for some reason, I don't generally like almond butter.

So not as awful as I feared, but, not something I wanted another of.
Peanut Protein Blast.
"The Golden Nugget - a filling and satisfying powerhouse of protein,packed with peanuts, to help keep you energised and feeling at your best."

Next, I moved on to a peanut based one, since I identified the almond as the problem in the first ball I tried.

The one is primarily peanuts (34%), plus all the expected whey proteins (22%), and the laundry list of ingredients I also found in the almond bar.

This one didn't look very good, the nut coating wasn't as evenly distributed, and the ball itself was kinda mushed.  Perhaps it was the higher nut percentage in this ball, or perhaps it was the fact that I've been craving peanut butter lately, but I liked this one far more.

The crunch of the bits of peanut on the outside, just like the almonds on the previous ball, were again a nice touch.  The ball itself had a decent peanut flavor.  It obviously still had whey protein stuff, but, I *almost* liked it.  My favorite of the balls, and the only one I'd consider eating again.
Cacao Mint Protein Bomb.
"An epic new recipe that harnesses the healthy power of cacao nibs, sunflower seeds, quality proteins and rice bran. It’s exploding with delicious, nutritious goodness."

After the near success of the Peanut Protein Blast, I decided to keep trying Bounce balls, since they seemed so close to tasty.  For my next bar, I selected the one that sounded like dessert: cocoa mint!

At first, this looked like a winner.  The outside was coated in crunchy cacao nibs.  I loved the crunch and the nibs.

But the ball itself ... the texture and the flavor were just awful.  All I could taste was the whey protein isolate, or maybe the whey protein concentrate, or perhaps the pea protein concentrate.  Whatever it was, it was awful.  It was also very bitter, likely from the sunflower seeds, which made up 19% of the ball.

The flavor was just dreadful, and the aftertaste lingered on and on.  No amount of nibs could save this one.
Coconut & Macadamia Protein Bliss.
"Not only is it packed with macadamias, cashews and coconut, this delicious favourite is also high in protein, fibre and antioxidants. Wow."

But still I persevered.  Maybe macadamias would be the magic touch?

This ball fared about the same as the almond and peanut ones.  It was almost good.  I liked the crunch from the macadamias inside.  I liked the coconut coating.  But ... alas, whey protein.  Whey protein makes up 18% of this bar, with macadamias only weighing in at 6%.  A surprise is that cashews make up 12%.  I didn't actually taste the cashews, but I was surprised to see them in the ball.  I guess they provide a nutty taste, and are cheaper than macadamias?

Not one I'd get again, but not as offensive as some others.
Superberry Vitality Burst.
"Gluten and dairy free, the Superberry Vitality Burst has been developed to meet the requirements of those with specific dietary needs. Combining cranberries, goji berries, raspberries and coconut, the flavours are a sumptuous mix that tantalise your taste buds."

For my final attempt, I decided to try one that wasn't a Protein Blast/Bliss/Bomb/etc, aka, one that didn't have extra protein junk inside.  After all, I know I don't like whey protein.

I opted for the Superberry Vitality Burst (the other non-protein one is the Spirulina Ginseng Defence Boost).

This one had some promise, and indeed did not have the nasty whey protein.  But ... what do most health foods bars have that I also hate?  Yup, dates.  #1 ingredient in this.  This ball had a nice texture, and good fruitiness from the dried cranberries, apples, raspberries, and acai juice.  I liked the crunch from goji berries, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and crispy rice.  But ... dominant flavor?  Dates.

If you like dates, and fruity things, I think this one is likely actually good.
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