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Those of you who follow these review columns know that I am not a fan of breakfast bars. They are OK for emergencies but don't make good replacements for a decent breakfast. You are far better off taking a few minutes to have a bowl of cereal or a quickie scrambled egg and toast. Heck, a slice of peanut butter toast is so quick and simple that there's really no excuse.
In our previous reviews we couldn't really find much in the way of a standout product. But what about folks with celiac disease? Are gluten free products any better or are they worse?
Glutino sells what they call an "Organic Bar." The flavor tested was called wildberry and this wasn't bad. If you are on a gluten free diet, this would be OK to keep on in your purse, office desk or car for emergencies. It is similar to the Special K bars in size and looks sort of like a lot of seeds stuck together with honey. The berry flavor is fairly fresh tasting. We give this a thumbs up (as cereal bars go).
Next up were Glutino breakfast bars. The blueberry version doesn't taste much like blueberry at all. The crust is a bit grainy and has a somewhat raw flour flavor. The flavor of the filling is good but it's more of a plum taste. There's good reason for this. Looking at the ingredients there's very little in the way of blueberries. It is the second to last ingredient, coming just before natural flavor. (Remember that ingredients are listed in order based on their total weights.)
The panel also tasted the apple flavor. This was not much better, with barely enough apple flavor to distinguish them from the blueberry but the same grainy crust. Both had a slight metallic aftertaste. (OK, not too good so far.)
Cereal bars that contain wheat aren't great, but if these were your first choice of what to eat after being told you had celiac disease, you would think you were in for a sad time. I'd like to say that the Enjoy Life brand are better. I'd also like to tell you I won the lottery but neither of these are true. This brand is truly dismal. Their Very Berry flavor is neither berry or very good. Dry and tasteless, it is much like a PowerBar that's been left out in the sun too long. One tester said, "This tastes like Elmer's glue made with sesame seeds."
We saved the worst for last. The Enjoy Life Chewy Coco Loco bar is truly dismal. First off when you take the bars out of their wrappers you find that the bar is only half as long as the wrapper. These aren't tiny but they are pretty close. The flavor is a mouth full of barely sweetened cocoa powder. Ugh!
A better choice than all of these might be rice cakes. Given that there are not that many gluten free bars available we widened the search to include the Lundberg Farms products. These are pretty good overall with the flavors varying widely. For those of you thinking that rice cakes are simply tasteless Styrofoam, you are right. They are essentially Rice Crispies formed into a cake with no sugar or anything to sweeten them. Lundberg, however, uses light sweetening combined with various flavors and the best of their offerings is the Honey Nut by far.
This is one area where Celiacs really need a good product. It's easier for them to get stuck with nothing to eat at a ball game or when traveling. The best of these products are the rice cakes and the Glutino Organic Bars. The drawback to the rice cakes is that they don't come individually wrapped. Either way, you'd be better off having 5 ginger snaps or arrowroot cookies from Mi-Del.
Reviewed: May 7, 2010