By Stephanie L. Tallent
A few years ago as a young single woman in fairly poor health, I became interested in better nutrition, hoping the “health” part of health food would perk up my general well-being. Clueless, my early forays into the health food section of our local grocery store netted me some organic microwave meals and assorted “meal replacement bars.”
Bad Things that Come in Small Packages
While the frozen organic meals were odd, they passed the edibility test, but I can’t say the same for the bars. One appetite-killing brand was so tough and chewy it was like gnawing a hunk of homemade deer jerky but without the rewarding flavor. I suspected they had used rubber cement as filler for that bar, so I moved on to Brand B. This one disintegrated into a pile of crumbs when I opened the packet. Thinking at first that this portended an improvement over the previous bar, I stuffed a grainy handful of crumbs into my mouth. I chewed, attempted to swallow, chewed some more, and finally tried to flush the mealy mess down my throat with something like a gallon of water. But those sand-like granules were tenacious. They didn’t want to go down, no matter how much of our local reservoir I drained in the attempt.
Determined to find palatable health in a bar, I sampled any meal substitute or protein bar that claimed a measure of healthfulness. But bar after bar failed in taste, texture, eye appeal, and every other measure of edibility known to man (or woman). The only two I found even marginally appetizing were so high in refined fats and sugars I might as well have eaten cheap candy bars from a convenience store. So I gave up on meal bars and stuck to the “healthy” pre-packaged microwave dinners. Several years have now passed, and I’ve learned a lot more about nutrition in general. I realize, for instance, that as nutritious as the ingredients might be to start with, after anything is nuked, micro-waved foods simply can’t be considered healthful. I also know that many of the bars that proclaimed health benefits actually contained ingredients just as detrimental to good health as an order of fries from Burger Doodle. The handful that actually do provide nutritious and healthy content still suffer from the same appetite-depressing textures and tastes I found fault with years before.
Raising the Bar for Healthy Treats
Now as a busy mom, motivated to avoid the tempting convenience of fast food, my quest for a truly healthy but edible food bar has continued, albeit with little success until the day Beeyoutiful was offered a Perfect Foods Peanut Butter bar. A seasoned health food bar skeptic, I critically perused the list of ingredients. To my surprise, I found no “bad” sweeteners like those hidden in most bars-only raw, unfiltered honey! I scanned the roster, sure I would find fault with something. But: No preservatives, chemicals, refined fats or other undesirables. I mentally made a face to myself, though, as I found these on the list: bell pepper, grapefruit, rosehips, mint, parsley, kelp, spinach, papaya leaves, dulse, celery, sea lettuce.
“Yuck,” I thought, “another truly nutrient-dense bar that will taste horrible.” Not wanting to offend our host by refusing to taste it, I pinched off a corner of the bar and raised it to my lips. WOW!!! My host chuckled at the astonishment on my face. “That tastes really good!” I said, relieved that I wouldn’t be spitting out the crumbs in his presence. I took a generous bite of the bar and could hardly believe the pleasing, smooth texture-just chewy enough for fun-accompanied by an unbelievably good flavor. Thinking that my taste buds may be suffering a temporary lapse in good judgment, I tore off a chunk and handed it to my husband. He, too, looked pleasantly surprised and made short work of the remainder of the bar. But I had one last test.
“Is it Soy free?” I ventured.
“Yes. It says so right on the label.”
And in that moment, I knew my quest had come to an end.
A Price that Sweetens the Taste
Perfect Foods bars come with the bonus feature that they are actually “affordable.” As you know if you’ve priced high quality, whole food bars, they can easily run from three to five dollars per bar. These wonderful creations are such a blessing to our budget that we can eat a couple of good-for-us bars for less than a discount menu meal. The price is $2.50 per bar when purchased individually and $2.25 per bar when purchased in a box of 12 (Box sales available only through our website.) Beeyoutiful now carries three different flavors. My personal favorite is Carob Chip, closely followed by Peanut Butter. Husband Steve, who has less of a sweet tooth than I do, prefers the Fruit and Nut bar.
I’ve enjoyed passing out samples to other health/protein bar skeptics. A cowboy friend of ours firmly believes that no diet is complete without daily doses of white-sugar-sweetened coffee and Dr. Pepper so he was, to say the least, doubtful when I offered him a bar.
“Is this one of those healthy dirt bars?” he quipped, staring at it as if the bar might bite back.
“Yes it is, but I think you’ll like it,” I replied. The flavor stunned his sugar-loving taste buds, and now Perfect Foods bars have a place in his saddlebag on every trail ride.
As with any 100% preservative free food these bars do require a bit of special handling. Beeyoutiful stores them in a freezer and ships them frozen. When you receive yours, they should go in the refrigerator. Although the raw honey is a fantastic preservative that keeps them from spoiling or going bad-even in high temperatures-the bars get “droopy” when exposed to extended periods of summer heat. But even if that happens, re-refrigerating will restore the scrumptious texture.
Because some folks have food allergies and because these bars are chock full of so many different whole foods, I recommend that you read the list of ingredients before ordering to make sure there’s nothing in them that will bother you or anyone you think might eat them. Also: Due to the raw honey content, these bars should never be fed to babies one year old or younger. To you other busy Mamas who have been on the search for an affordable, tasty, nutritious, and safe alternative to the convenience of fast foods, try Perfect Foods bars and like me, you’ll at last be able to say “Mission accomplished!”
Stephanie L. Tallent is Beeyoutiful’s product researcher, supervisor of customer service, and wife of CEO Steve Tallent. At their home in middle Tennessee, she practices what she preaches about healthy eating and good nutritional supplements-much to the benefit of Steve and their daughter, Noelle.