What Run Oregon is Eating! Our review of three unique snacks to boost up your pantry!

Run Oregon sometimes receives products to review. We recently  received some a few different types of healthy food options to satisfy our constant desire to snack with a conscience. Here are our impressions of:

Matt: I  am a hungry dude. At 6’2 and hovering between 175-190 pounds (depending on the month – screw you December), I don’t exactly have the “prototypical” running body. I need sustenance, and I try to keep it fueled with as many fruits, veggies, and protein as I can stomach.

But there is just something about sweetness. I hate to admit it, but I run like The Oatmeal at times, just running away from The Blerch and trying to avoid delving head first into a giant bowl of ice cream. My sweet tooth leaves me craving at least once per day, and playing games with my head.

Eco Trek Fitness Bars may be a Michigan-base company, but they fit right in here in the Pacific NW. Here is the description from their website:

EcoTrek Fitness Whole Food Bars are created from ingredients of the highest quality nutritional content, avoiding refined sugars, artificial sweeteners and genetically modified ingredients. Containing a rich array of green foods like spirulina, wheat grass and spinach, these wholesome, delicious bars are a tastier alternative to the typical health bar.

Their flavors are:

  • Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter
  • Dark Chocolate Raspberry
  • Dark Chocolate Toasted Coconut

Each bar is both vegan and dairy-free. They weigh in at 195 calories and pack in 10g of protein. But the true test is how do they test. I have had some great protein bars (I am still partial to the simple Chocolate Powerbar), but others have I tried have that aftertaste that completely overwhelms whatever sweetness I wanted and makes me want to spit it out (maybe that’s what they hope to accomplish – hmmm). But it’s a combination of taste and health that really does it for me. And these bars do that.

My first taste test is typically the most difficult one to pass – my 4-year-old daughter. She is the pickiest of eaters on the planet and often straight up refuses to look at a food she thinks will be nasty. I offered her a choice of the three options and she opted for the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter (fruit in a name? Gross!!). I gave her a small chunk as I was expecting a quick spit out. However, to my amazement, she asked for more. Chalk that one up as a win! When I tasted it, I saw why she wanted more. It just tasted pretty normal. I didn’t get an overwhelming taste of unnatural ingredients stuffed in, not did I experience the aftertaste. I was waiting for it, but it just never came. The same can be said of the Raspberry and Toasted Coconut varieties.

Right now, the only location to purchase for us over here is via their webpage. A 6-count box will run at $14 with Free Shipping. Maybe with a little more outpouring of support we can get some over here! In fact, if you’d like to pay a little “less” and support a local retailer, you can ask your local health food store owner to contact bars@ecotrekfitness.com directly and they would be happy to set up the retailer with their bars to sell. Follow them on Facebook to keep plugged in.

 

Geli: I have recently been “off the grid” with my family over the past week or so. We packed a lot of things, of which were a variety of Tanka meat bars. Meat bars, you say?! Yes, and they are amazing! While the phrase “meat bars” may throw people off at first, consider what they actually are. From their website:

Made from tart-sweet cranberries and prairie-raised buffalo, the Tanka Bar is a delicious real food bar with a smoky, slightly-sweet flavor.

100% Natural and only 70-calories, Tanka Bars are the perfect food for anyone who’s on the go — athletes, outdoor enthusiasts, students, busy moms, and pow-wow dancers. Gluten-free, hormone-free and low-fat, the Tanka Bars are deliciously perfect for every diet lifestyle.

My family tried all three flavors:

  • Slow Smoked Original
  • Apple Orange Peel
  • Spicy Pepper

The consistency more like a summer sausage than a jerky. It was not dry at all and had great flavor. The pepper flavor was a family favorite, followed closely by the Original. The Apple Orange Peel was not as exciting as it sounded, but still tasted good.

These bars can fill a void in many runner’s pantries, but I think it would be a great snack no matter what you are doing. Having a shelf life of about a year makes it a great emergency or backup food as well.

In addition to their “meat bars”, they also have Tanks Bites (bite-sized versions of the bars), Tanks Sticks, and Gourmet Buffalo Jerky in the product line. For nutritional and allergen information, check out the link here.

 

Maryalicia: I work in a place where I war daily with my desires against reaching into one of the many candy jars littered across numerous co-worker’s desks, or resisting the cake and other calorie-ridden edibles that follow the numerous promotions, retirements, and birthdays. Therefore, I battle with weight constantly.  Recently, I had the opportunity to try Chia Star ,  and …Oh My….

I received six Chia Stars to drink, and it was not enough. Two days. These babies lasted ONLY two days, and that was ‘controlling’ myself. I received five different flavors; Pineapple Honey, Blackberry Lime, Peach Green Tea, Pomegranate Apple, and Lemon Berry. I love Pineapple, I love Honey, so I thought the Pineapple Honey would be my favorite, but no. Although I loved that one, my favorite was the Pomegranate Apple! Who am I kidding though, I enjoyed them all. I found this was a very nice alternative snack to reach for instead of those sabotaging cakes and candies.

I tried them cold, I tried them warm, and although I preferred them cold, I loved them both ways. In addition, even though I binged with three bottles a day, I never took in more than about 150 calories each day from these. Each bottle is 90% hydrated Chia.  this drink has more seeds than beverage! On top of that, these drinks have more calcium than milk, more omega 3s than salmon, 25% of your daily fiber needs, more iron than spinach, and more potassium than a banana, but that is not all, depending on the flavor you choose, 0-15grams of sugar (TOTAL!).

Now all that being said, These ARE low-calorie drinks. They do not taste sugary, they taste light and refreshing. Take for example, the Pineapple Honey. In this drink, the honey is more a hint of flavor than the sugary thoughts I had going into that first drink. Another thing is texture. Chia seeds, when hydrated, have a unique texture, and some may never be able to get over that.  I found them going down quite easily though myself. Although they were easy to drink, they were easy to savor. I never ‘chugged this drink, and nursed a few over a 20 minute period. The substance of the drinks, made them hard to guzzle, but they filled the belly nicely.  I also liked drinking them before a workout one of those two days. It helped get me though the workout, without being heavy on the stomach. Although I did not drink it after, with all the potassium it has, it has to be a good recovery option too.

Examples:

Lemon Berry – Calories:47, Total Fat 3g, 90% hydrated chia, 2% juice, Sodium 0mg, Total carbs 5g, Fiber 4g, Sugar 0g, Protien 2g

Peach Green Tea – Calories:60, Total Fat 3g, 90% hydrated chia, 3% juice, Sodium 0mg, Total carbs 8g, Fiber 4g, Sugar 3g, Protien 2g

Cons:

  • Not currently available on the West Coast – but available through website (and Amazon soon)
  • Some may not be able to get over the texture/consistency
  • Pricier drink at $2.99 (comparable to Mamma Chia and other healthy drinks like cold pressed juices)
  • Some will not find it tasty (subjective- it is low-calorie)

Pros:

  • Vegan
  • Gluten Free
  • Lightweight
  • Low Sugar and a low-calorie snack option (60-90 Calories a  bottle)
  • Packed with antioxidants
  • Packed with Omega 3s
  • Packed with calcium
  • Packed with fiber
  • Organic
  • Several flavors to choose from
  • Tasty (subjective- it is low-calorie)
  • Great for an On-the-Go snack

In today’s world, where it is so hard to resist those sugary sports drinks and/or snacks, it is nice to have another, filling, and tasty, option. And if you don’t like it? Please hand it over, because I do!

Check out Chia Star’s Facebook Page

About Matt Rasmussen (1554 Articles)
Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching the Olympics, sampling craft beers, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010.
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