Product Type: Nature Valley Snacks
Newest Review: ... all. I do like the ginger crunch variety as well as the maple syrup which is loads sweeter. In the variety box you get two each of : Oats... more
Nature valley crunchy granola bars: Cereal bars for grownups.
Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars Variety Pack
Member Name: beckyX
Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars Variety Pack
Advantages: Non-dairy, reasonably healthy for a snack food, tasty
Disadvantages: A bit pricey
One of my recent food discoveries which has turned into a must-have purchase in my household are the Nature Valley crunchy bars. If you've ever spent much time in the US, you'd know as granola bars, but where I'm from, you'd call it a cereal bar. I've been put off these for years because at £2.50 a box, I thought they were far too expensive compared to other cereal bars. Once I did get round to buying some though, I was converted.
Looking at the golden brown oaty bars, I expected them to be a bit like a flapjack, but they were a lot closer to an oaty biscuit - brittle rather than chewy. They are much lower fat than flapjacks or most biscuits though, which I found a benefit.
===How many bars do you get in a box?===
Each bar is about 2 inches wide, five inches long and half an inch thick. The boxes come in six foiled sealed packs with two of the bars in. Each variety pack has two twin-bar packs of each flavour in. The box is advertised as 12 bars in a box, which I think is a little bit cheeky. You really only get six lunch boxes worth from a box, because once you've opened the wrapper, you're hardly going to stop at half of it are you?
I can disrecommend eating only one bar of the twin pack - I did try this once and put the second bar back in its wrapper in my bag for afternoon tea, but that was a disaster - each bar is thin and brittle, so the second bar fragmented all over my bag and I had to spend ten minutes picking oat shrapnel out of my kindle. Not recommended!
The variety pack of crunchy bars has three flavours: oats and honey, maple syup and roasted almond. I've found that not many stores in my part of the UK actually stock the variety pack - packs containing just the oat and honey seem much more common option. In all honesty, there seems little variation in the actual flavour though - they mostly just taste of sweet toasted oats. I find it pleasant though, and although it is a little bit on the sweet side for my taste, it's much less so than most bars.
I'm not at all fond of marzipan, so I thought I'd hate the roasted almond flavour. But it tasted just like the oat and honey bar, but a little bit nutty. I can just about identify which is the maple syrup one and which is the honey in a blind taste test (they are both very sweet, but with a subtly different smell and the maple syrup has a bit of an after-taste), but again, neither of these flavours comes through particularly strongly, so I'd describe it more of a generic "sweet" taste than whatever it says on the label.
I'm recovering from dental surgery at the moment, so I'm looking at the texture of my foods very carefully. I found these bars required a lot of chewing, because as the name suggests, they are very crunchy and brittle. But because they are made of oats, when they fragment, they do so in a crumbly way and break into pieces that aren't too sharp. Unlike some other cereal bars, I didn't find they got stuck in my teeth, which was a plus point. Small children and the elderly may struggle with these as they are very hard, but most people wouldn't have a problem. If they are too hard, breaking off pieces to eat is an option, but I found that they crumbled when I did this.
===Are they filling?===
A resounding yes to this! By the time I've worked my way through one of these, my jaw hurts and I'm half way to being full.
There are 194 calories per twin-pack of the oat and honey flavour, so this compares very well with a bag of crisps or a chocolate bar. But this is much more filling. It'll never be a replacement for a proper lunch, but it's definitely good for elevenses or a hiking snack. Most of the calories are from carbs (29.6g per 42g twin-bar with a whopping 11.3g sugar). There was more fat than I expected (6.8g, of which 0.8g saturated).
These are a snack food. You can pretend to yourself that they are healthy because they are wholegrain if you like, but they're still full of sugar, so don't make the mistake of thinking you can just keep eating them and the calories won't matter! They're great for an energy food when out playing sports, but I found they were a bit fragile for taking hiking unless kept in a lunch box.
As you would expect, oats made up more than half of the bar, meaning they aren't suitable for coeliacs (because they have gluten), followed by sugar, sunflower oil, honey (for the honey bar), salt, molasses, soy, and sodium bicarbonate. Additional ingredients for the other bars in the variety pack are walnuts, almonds, pecan, peanuts.
The allergy panel warns of gluten, soy, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts and pecans in all products. They are vegetarian but aren't vegan because of the honey, but they are non-dairy, which means I personally rate them higher than the vast majority of other cereal bars (which typically have dairy in them).
Would I recommend them? If you're going to buy snacks anyway then yes, these are good! They are a bit more expensive, but not massively so on a per weight basis - each twin-bar is a lot more filling and than most cereal bars. And they have the added bonus of not having dairy in.
Summary: Tasty granola (cereal) bars. Bit sweet, but very filling