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Element Bars Review: Energy Bars You Make—Online

chocolate_nut_pie_equationWHAT THEY ARE

Element Bars are energy bars you make—without the cooking trouble.

From the Web site, start with a basic bar, called a core (chewy, oaty, crispy or datey). Then pick from 25 "all-natural" ingredients—fruits, nuts, sweets and nutritional boosts.

A nutrition-facts panel calculates calories and such as you go. (We found that bars usually fall between 200 and 300 calories.) The system also warns you if you pick things that don't go well together.

When you're done, name your bar and submit your order. Element Bars bakes 12 and mails them—with the name you created printed on each one's packaging.

Our two reader testers converted to automatic fans. "I love the idea of being able to pick my own ingredients," said Cathy. "I will use these as a
breakfast bar."

Our expert, Linda Lockett Brown, R.D., LD/N, was more lukewarm. One con she saw: sugar she felt was somewhat hidden because it was called other things, like rice syrup. All cores except the datey one have sweeteners, as do the cherries and cranberries. Just keep an eye on the bottom of the nutrition-facts panel as you go. It lists the full ingredients—along with, by the way, allergy information.

At almost $3.50 a bar, the testers agreed they're expensive, though Cathy pointed out, "Overall, in comparison to other similar bars, this is not that high of a price, considering quality."

element-bar-halfREADERS' REVIEWS

annaAnna, receptionist, Penn Yan, N.Y.
Her bar: oaty core, raisins, blueberries, almonds

"I think they're very good. I love the way you pick what you want in them. They were much better than the ones I normally buy. There was plenty of each ingredient; they don't skimp trying to save money.

I'm keeping the information so I can buy some for Christmas for my sister-in-law.

cathyCathy, retired grocery-store supervisor, Lima, Ohio
Her bar: crispy core, peanuts, brown rice syrup, fiber

These bars met and even exceeded my expectations.

newsletter-graphic-free2I was nervous about picking my own ingredients and I deliberately stayed away from the M&M's and other candy ingredients. I wanted to see if I could actually get something I would want to eat on a regular basis without the candy.

I was also pleased with the amount of peanuts that are in my bars. They're literally loaded with them. My only con is that in addition to being crispy and crunchy they're a little too hard. But they're definitely good and I will share them and order them again.

element-bars-doubleEXPERT'S REVIEW

brownLinda Lockett Brown, R.D. , LD/N, Cinet Registered Dietitians, Orange Park, Fla.
Her bar: chewy core, organic peanut butter, cherries, whey protein, chocolate

The chewy bar had an excellent texture. My formulation contained 297 calories though, which would make this fall in the category of a meal replacement.

One weak point: Healthy-sounding names were used for some sugars. My bar contained brown rice syrup, evaporated cane juice and organic molasses. This might be misleading.

One strong point: The fiber boost is outstanding. It contains the prebiotic inulin. Eating a bar with this and a probiotic will encourage growth of good intestinal bacteria.

I like the concept of naming the bar yourself. It would make an interesting gift. I'd need to play with the formulations to get one that was lower in calories and fat and higher in fiber.

Article last updated and/or approved: March 2010. Originally appeared in—and reviews based on bars tested for—September/October 2009 former print magazine.

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