Food Vegetarian friendly

Review: Lara Bars

An assortment of Lara Bars, shot on location in Hawaii.

Back when I reviewed a Clif Bar in January, helpful commenter Jill left a note recommending the Lara Bar line of energy bars. The pitch was appealing: “Very few ingredients, taste great, very natural.”

Intrigued, I picked up a few flavours at Planet Organic, then another few while on vacation in the U.S. My overall feeling? Yummy.

The common element in these bars is dates, which form the sweet, mushy base that binds the lot together. After that, there are only a handful of other ingredients: some nuts, some fruit, some cocoa, some raisins, etc. It’s surprising how much they do with so few components.

While they don’t always taste exactly like the flavour listed on the wrapper, they’re still very good. I’m glad I tried them, and I plan to keep sampling flavours over time.

Here’s a quick summary of the flavours I’ve tried so far:

Key Lime: Lime and coconut dominate, with nuts and dates in the background. Unexpectedly sour, as there’s no sugar to balance out the lime juice concentrate. Different than a lot of other energy bars I’ve tasted.

Cherry: Lots of cherry, but bitter and a little soapy. More like a soft cherry fruit leather than an energy bar. Not my favourite.

Lemon Bar: Very lemony. A nice intensity of real lemon flavour. Like the key lime bar, it’s not that sweet — the sourness of the fruit isn’t neutralised by any added sugar. The dates and cashews are there, but they’re more noticeable in texture than in taste.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough: Tastes like nuts and dates, with a bit of chocolate. Only marginally tastes like chocolate chip cookie dough. Not bad, though.

Cinnamon Roll: Just like a cinnamon bun with raisins and nuts, minus the dough. The cinnamon is the main flavour, and three types of nuts (walnuts, almonds and cashews) add a nice complexity. Dates are the first ingredient, but their taste isn’t dominant.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip: Contains dates, peanuts, chocolate chips and salt. Tastes like exactly that. You won’t mistake it for a peanut butter cup, but it’s good. Almost raisiny.

A Lara Bar in its standard foil plastic wrap.

RATINGS AND DETAILS

Cost: About $2 to $3 per bar. Price varies quite a bit.

Value for cash money: Not bad, depending on what you pay. A bit on the expensive side compared to similar bars.

Availability: Health food stores, organic stores. Found a decent selection at Planet Organic.

Nutrition?: Depends on the bar. Around 200 to 240 calories per bar, near as I can tell. A fair bit of protein and fibre. The U.S. packaging features a detailed breakdown of the nutrients in each bar.

The verdict: Great, especially if you like products with an ingredient list you can read aloud in one breath. Not as filling as other energy bars I’ve tried, but still a good snack to keep in the office desk. A fantastic assortment of flavours.

Split in half, you can see the rough texture of the Lara Bar. It's like a lump of date paste, compressed into a bar with a handful of other ingredients.

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