“ Brand: Kelloggs / Type: Cereal Bars „
Being in Mexico has done wonders for the variety of foods I eat, and I shall be returning to the UK a much less fussy eater than when I left a year ago. As I began to eat a better selection, I also began to learn more about the different nutrients in foods and so on, and decided a little more fibre in my diet would be a good thing. People have long asked me, given what I used to eat, how I poo, and depending on who was asking, my answer would either be "Ladies don't poo" or "Quite easily, thank you very much". So, what was my use for fibre if not to regulate toilet habits? Well, I spend a lot of time in my current job walking around the city and as I do so I pass many convenience stores. If I'm even the slightest big peckish, I invariably go in, so I was really just looking for a product that would make me feel full for longer, and something high in fibre seemed to be a logical option.
The Case For Fibre (adapted from netdoctor.co.uk)
Fibre itself is an important component of a healthy balanced diet but contains no calories or vitamins. Its benefits include helping digestion, lowering blood cholesterol and controlling blood sugar levels, which in turn control appetite. Fibre occurs naturally in lots of foods which are invariably suitable for us vegetarians, and vegans as well. Think beans, brown rice, fruits, vegetables, wholegrain breads and cereals and pastas.
Current advice says adults should aim for 20g - 35g fibre a day but most of us eat more like 12g. Having already traded my nice white bread for the wholemeal kind (though I draw the line at changing pasta), I started looking at my snack foods. My schedule doesn't always allow me to eat proper meals when I like (I teach at times to suit my business students - usually first thing, lunch time, or what a Brit would call dinner time) so I sometimes eat a small snack before a class and another after. That's how I found these bars.
All Bran chocolate flavoured bars are sold either individually or in boxes of 6. The bars contain two fingers which, like a KitKat, are attached together but can easily be snapped apart. When you first see one, they don't look all that appealing, as they're a dull brown colour and are covered with flecks of a straw coloured grain. They also look like they will be dry and taste a bit like cardboard...and they sort of do. The first time I tried them I had to choke down the bars and immediately afterwards was searching for my bottle of water to get rid of the thick crumbs lodged in my throat. I persevered and grew to like them, but only, and here's the trick, when combined with something. In my case that is fat-free plain yoghurt. You can either dip them in, or crumble them up and mix in, but either way you get a nicer snacking experience than eating them dry. A pot of non-fat yoghurt is only 60 calories, and a bunch of protein, so it adds to rather than negating the healthy aspects of the bars. If you were a milk drinker, I imagine you could also eat these with milk in the way you would eat Weetabix. I normally have my Corn Flakes or Rice Krispies with OJ (yep, actually on them) and while I don't like these bars soggy, at a pinch when I'm out of yoghurt and on my own in the flat with no one to judge me, I will dip them into a glass of juice to take away the dryness.
I bought this flavour because it implied it would be chocolatey, though I was sort of guessing that it wouldn't be any rival for a decent bar of Cadbury's. I was right - these are never going to replace the good stuff, and I'd still prefer even a bar from the somewhat-edible Hershey's range over these. That doesn't mean they don't have a nice taste, just that they're not what I would call chocolate. They taste less chocolatey than other 'chocolate' cereals such as CocoPops, because they are less sweet. I suppose they taste somewhat nutritious, and have a good crunch to them.
Because they don't taste very sweet, I find them a very versatile snack. I can have half a pack before the gym when my workout is first thing, to break my fast without making my stomach uncomfortably full and liable to cramp during the workout. I can eat them for a proper breakfast, maybe with yoghurt and fruit, I can eat them as 'pudding' after a main meal when I want more than a yoghurt, and I can eat them late at night (invariably after the gym, again) when I want a little something but not anything that will disturb my sleep. The little bars are sturdy, too. I've often carted one around with me in my bag and never had to deal with broken bars or ripped packets, even after a day of trekking through the city.
A serving size is supposed to be two bars, which is how they are wrapped. However, sometimes I will eat just one of these (remember, I'm often adding yoghurt) and wrap the other up for later. They go soft within a few hours if left open, but popping them in a zip lock bag stops this happening. Softness is not too much of a problem if you're going to crumble them into a yoghurt, but if you're eating them dry, they taste much better crisp. When freshly opened, the bars are crunchy but not in a pull-your-teeth-out way. You have to chew them, but not for a long time as they crumble quite easily, and are liable to make a bit of a mess if you're not careful. Eating them on the run as I often do, I leave a Hansel-and-Gretel style string of crumbs all over the business district, but so far no one has traced me using these.
The British Nutrition Foundation states that only products containing at least 6g of fibre per 100g should be labelled 'High fibre' while those with 3g per 100g can be a 'source of fibre'. These bars contain 16.25g fibre per 100g (6.5g per bar) and therefore, though there's no proper ruling on this, I would call them 'Super, dooper, high fibre'. The bars have a mere 155 calories (per 40g serving) but also bring a whopping 7g fat (or about 17g per 100g) so they're NOT a low fat food.
But how does this compare to other products on the market? Bran Flakes contain 15g fibre and a mere 2g fat per 100g, but to me they are still an unappealing alternative. I also don't think it's a fair comparison, since these bars are less of a breakfast cereal and more of a snack bar, so let's look at some of those.
* A Fruit 'n Fibre Bar has 5g fibre and 9g fat per 100g
* A Nutri-grain (chocolate) has 4g fibre and 10g fat per 100g
* Special K Mini Breaks (chocolate) have 3g fibre and also 10g fat per 100g
Looking at it in this way, I think these All Bran bars are not bad at all. In terms of fibre there is literally no comparison, even to another product that has 'fibre' in the title. While the fat content is worrying, if you're mainly looking for a fibre boost, and won't be eating chocolate bars the rest of the day, I still think these are a good choice.
(For comparison, here's the fibre content of some other foods:
1 slice whole-wheat bread 1.6g
½ cup brown rice 2.4g
Medium baked potato 3.8g
½ cup Spinach 2g
½ cup Lettuce 0.3g
¾ cup Strawberries 2g
Medium banana 2g
Medium apple 2.6g
Small orange 1.2g
So even against fruits and vegetables, these compare favourably)
I don't deny that there will be healthier, fibre filled products out there with less fat and sugar than these bars. However, I know me, and I know would be unlikely to eat them on a regular basis. That's why these work for me, because I do like them, and I now seem to have one pack every day.
While it wasn't my objective when buying these, if you do need help going to the toilet more regularly, with all that fibre, these are going to make a big difference. Recommendations say that if you're rapidly increasing the amount of fibre in your diet (like these super dooper poop inducers), you should also drink massive amounts of water for the first week, or it can have quite the opposite effect as your body first gets used to the change.
I don't care if it's the placebo effect (if it works, don't knock it): these bars fill me up. Not in an uncomfortably full way, but they do seem to starve off hunger for longer than a normal snack. They also don't seem to mess with my blood sugar - if I eat a chocolate bar before a long class I can start to sag after the first 90 minutes, but that's not the case with these. For this reason, I'm giving them a high rating because they do exactly what I need them to do, and are certainly edible if not what you'd call delicious. They cost about half the price of a chocolate bar (25p vs. 50p here) but work twice as well. Recommended.
To see a picture of the bars, and the packaging I get, which does not match the picture above, see: