The Best Grab-and-Go Snack Bars, According to Philly Nutrition Pros

Here, the bars that Philly nutrition pros reach for when they get hangry.



A couple weeks ago, a survey of nutritionists let us in on the secret that many foods Americans typically think of “healthy” may not actually be that great for us. Since then, that same New York Times article has been popping up all over my Facebook and Twitter feeds, sparking a lot of healthy (har, har) conversation. One of the biggest stand-outs from the survey was this: While 71 percent of Americans think of granola bars as “healthy,” only 28 percent of nutritionists say the same.

As an almost daily granola-bar-eater myself, this difference grabbed my attention right away. I know I’m not the only one who makes a beeline for the granola-bar aisle at the nearest Wawa or Whole Foods when I’m out and about and get a little hangry. Super convenient? We think yes. But these little bars of deliciousness can be jam-packed with added sugars and other artificial ingredients not even the smartest of scientists can pronounce.

So to save you from choosing the wrong grab-and-go bar next time you’re in a pinch, we got the low-down on the bars that Philly nutrition pros reach for when they get hangry. Check them out below. (And note: They range from granola bars to date bars to chia-seed bars, so there’s a little something for every type of hangry person.) 

Jennifer Laurence, registered dietitian at Family Food
Favorite grab-and-go bar #1: Zing Bars
“I love these for the variety and healthy ingredients that they offer. They have vegan varieties made with pea protein, but also have some with whey protein as well. In addition to being low GI, gluten-free, and non-GMO, each bar averages about 10 to 13 grams of protein and four to six grams of fiber. So, I feel that these bars are nutritionally sound while also appealing to a wide array of clients. Best of all, they were created by a team of dietitians!”

 Favorite grab-and-go bar #2: RX Bars
“These bars contain ingredients like egg whites, almonds, cashews, and dates. Nothing artificial. They contain about 12 grams of protein per bar and come in great flavors such as pumpkin spice and maple sea salt. These are ideal for clients who might have food sensitivities to additives, or for those who value having all natural ingredients in their food.”

Jessica Baumgardner, Holistic Health Coach
Favorite grab-and-go bar #1: Ever Bar
I usually steer clear of bars because they typically contain a bunch of junk and tons of sugar. But, I also totally get that sometimes they are necessary when you are literally unable to eat a meal! In these cases, I look for something that has a small list of ingredients that I can pronounce, where the sugar is balanced by a good amount of protein and fiber. These bars taste amazing, and are primarily made of nuts, seeds and hemp protein, and the 10 grams of sugar are balanced by 12 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber.”

Favorite grab-and-go granola bar #2: Rise Bar
“I also search out a bar that is free of dairy and gluten and prefer a plant-based protein. (Yeah, I am literally that girl in the store spending 10 minutes reading the backs of protein bars.) This brand has two vegan varieties, with five ingredients that are sweetened with coconut nectar.”

Pro tip: “If you really want to go custom, check out You Bar. You can literally make exactly what you want. I like to go with the pea protein, stevia or coconut nectar, and I switch up the flavor each time I order.”

Juliet Burgh, Vice President and Nutrition Director at Unite Fitness
Favorite grab-and-go bar #1: Steve’s Original Paleo Granola Bars
These bars are made with all unprocessed foods and only six grams of sugar. It tastes like a soft cookie and is perfect for a mid-afternoon sweet treat. They even have a nut-free one, if someone has nut allergies.”

Favorite grab-and-go bar #2: No Cow Bars
These have 20 grams of protein, are vegan and easy to digest! They are perfect for pre- or post-workout snack.”

Jolene Hart, certified health coach and author of Eat Pretty
Favorite grab-and-go bar #1: Caramel Almond and Sea Salt or Madagascar Vanilla Almond KIND bars
“If you’re eating KIND bars, it’s important to read the ingredients, and choose the options with 5 grams of sugar or less, like these two flavors. I like that they’re minimally processed (though they do contain some processed ingredients), widely available, and that there are a growing number of varieties that have lower sugar counts.”

Favorite grab-and-go bar #2: GoMacro’s Macrobar Mini bars
These contain only a few whole-food ingredients, like gluten-free oats and organic almond butter and have 5 grams of sugar. I like the minis because the full size are a bit bigger than what I need for a snack, and have way more sugar.”

Emma Donnelly, early intervention nutrition coordinator at Family Food
Favorite grab-and-go bar #1: Larabar
“Larabars are flavorful, nutrient-dense bars that have a short list of ingredients, all of which are recognizable. They have no added sugar or sweeteners. They are naturally gluten-free as they are made with just fruit, nuts and spices. Larabar’s real-food ingredients contribute to a portion of your recommended daily intake of fiber, heart healthy fats, protein and vitamins and minerals, and will keep you satisfied for hours.”

Favorite grab-and-go bar #2: Health Warrior Chia Bar
“They’re gluten-free and low in sugar! As the name suggests, they’re primarily made with chia seeds, which contain omega 3s, and are a heart-healthy fat with anti-inflammatory properties. They’re also loaded with fiber, which helps to keep you feeling full. They also contain dried fruit, nuts and whole grain oats which contribute additional fiber and essential nutrients to the bar.”

Jessica Yeager, Culinary Nutrition Educator
Favorite grab-and-go bar #1: Cho-Coco and Sage Simple Squares
“I love these bars because they are naturally gluten-free, made with simple, whole ingredients and sweetened with raw honey. Nutritionally speaking, these bars are full of healthy fats providing a natural boost of energy. Plus the bars are never heated or baked, which keeps the beneficial vitamins and minerals fully intact.”

Favorite grab-and-go bar #2: Blueberry Burst and Gotta Getta Gojiberry Two Moms in the Raw Bars
These bars are amazing because they are not only raw, but also sprouted, making them super easy to digest. They are also gluten-free, organic and vegan, and are naturally sweetened with coconut nectar, which is low glycemic and filled with beneficial vitamins, minerals and amino acids. The combination of healthy fats and protein in these keep you satiated.”

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