Think of the most accepted macronutrient in the diet industry. Does protein come to mind? Well, I would be surprised if you thought differently. It is common knowledge that protein is considered the builder of muscle, the catalyst of metabolic and biochemical reactions, the healer of injury and illness, and of course, the godsend for satiety (well, except for sashimi back in the day).
While it is not hard for anyone, even a vegan and vegetarian, to consume enough–sometimes a surplus–protein with a sufficient balance and intake of wholesome foods, it can be more difficult to prepare on-the-go snacks that sneak in extra protein. Greek yogurt can curdle and melt if left un-refrigerated for too long. Pumpkin seeds are delicious, but chewing them is awfully noisy, especially during lecture periods. Beef jerky is another good option, except the texture is pretty tough and the sodium content is relatively unfavorable. This is where protein bars come into play.
Unfortunately, most protein bars in the market are either 1) too high in sugar, 2) contain artificial sweeteners and miscellaneous gunk, 3) too low in fiber, 4) too high in calories, 5) produced unethically, 6) are made with common allergens, and/or 7) equivalent to tree bark. I’ve experienced all of the above, which is definitely not ideal for optimal health. But, I cannot say the same once I came across Bhu Foods on Instagram!
Bhu, pronounced like “Boo”, is a new line of organic protein bars that uses only the most wholesome and local ingredients, eco-friendly practices, caring customer service, and conscious sustainability. I am extremely avid at finding any way to reduce my carbon footprint. If there is anything that I would never want to be, it’s wasteful.
Each of their bars contains at least one incredible superfood that will taste and make you feel absolutely incredible. Their relatively high fiber, high protein, low sugar and low carb content make these bars perfect for managing or losing weight, but anybody who’s up for a sweet treat that tastes like dessert but is much healthier will definitely enjoy them too!
VEGAN PROTEIN BARS
Receiving two bars of all varieties of the vegan protein bars could not have been a better surprise. I could enjoy one of each both on-the-go and as a topping for my breakfasts! Anyhow, let’s get started on these lovely bars right away, shall we? Below are the bars listed from my least favorite to my absolute beloved!
- Chocolate + Tart Cherry + Pistachio: texture is crumbly, resembles coconut flour, is gritty (like rice protein powder), dry and smooth on the outside. Flavor is strong in chocolate, slightly nutty but very little cherry tartiness.
- Overall: Least favorite because there is not enough cherry flavor, and the overall bar isn’t something to seriously rave about. With that being said, I didn’t loathe the bar, and it tasted really good on sweet potatoes!
- Superfood Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough: No doubt about this, this bar wins the crown for the best texture! It is doughey, perfectly smooth and chewy, and soft without sticking to your teeth. Flavor wise, there really is not much to find. The bar is not sweet at all, nor does it have any sort of cookie dough taste unless if you were to bite into a chocolate chip, which in that case, you’re in luck because the chocolate just melts in your mouth!
- Overall: Here’s the thing–I would definitely buy this bar again. The texture and the chocolate chips are absolutely excellent. However, I wouldn’t recommend eating the bar by itself because the overall flavor is incredibly underwhelming. With that being said, the pieces tasted much better when topped onto my kabocha squash “cake” since it complemented the sweet, buttery protein spread and everything else on top!
- Superfood Chocolate Chip + Fudge Brownie Batter: texture-wise and flavor wise, this bar resembles those of the cherry bar, except without any cherry taste. The chocolate flavor is a bit more prominent, and is also much richer in quality, which I loved!
- Overall: I am such a sucker for anything dark chocolate, so this bar is definitely a success in my book. If you need a simple chocolate protein bar that is not too sweet but also not too overpoweringly bitter, then this is perfect for you! Keep in mind that the texture is sort of powdery and crumbly, however, which can be a hit or miss. By the second time around, I did enjoy the pea protein and coconut flour textures much, much more!
- Peanut Butter + Dark Chocolate: Say you put this bar in a marathon for texture–it would be leaving its competitors in the DUST. The bar is smooth, melt-in-your-mouth yet retains its firm composition simultaneously. Fantastic! The flavor, not going to lie, was a little underwhelming, but still really tasty once you bite into a chocolate chip and/or peanut chunk! I do wish there was a much more prominent peanut butter flavor, otherwise this bar tastes more like a chocolate chip or cookie dough bar.
- Overall: Even though I have a major setback with the lack of peanut flavor in this bar, I still love it wholeheartedly. It is amazing by itself, but the chocolate chips inn the bar melted perfectly on top of the piping hot sweet potato “cake” I made in celebration of my birthday, which was totally epic!
- Apple Chunk + Cinnamon + Nutmeg: The texture is chewy, sticky, and doughey like a LaraBar. Flavor is definitely very sweet with lots of rich spice and apple taste–it almost resembles a subtly sweetened apple cake! The only con is the thin layer of palm oil on the surface that does get on your hands.
- Overall: To my disbelief, this was much much much better than I thought! I absolutely loved the chewiness of each apple chunk because it tasted sweet and cinnamon-y, just like biting into an apple pie (not to say that this bar is completely like apple pie, though!)! Versatile with the sweet potatoes but also killer by itself, this is by far one of my favorites!
- Peanut Butter + White Chocolate: My initial reaction to this bar: “WHAT?” While I expected a chewy an soft bar, I ended up biting into a hard and dense texture, similar to a regular chocolate bar. However, the sweetness and flavors were delicious!
- Overall: I guess you could say that this bar is mystifying in the best way! Think of it this way: it’s almost impossible to break through, but once you open the surface, it’s just like finding the diamond in the rough. The flavor of the peanut butter is there, the white chocolate is there, and the two couple prominently and perfectly. I definitely needed a cutting knife to use it to decorate my kabocha squash “cake” above, but it was totally worth it in the end!
PRIMAL + PALEO PROTEIN BARS
While I no longer eat any animal products, the Bhu Foods community did politely request that I include some input into these bars. With that being said, I gave these bars to my roommates, which they accepted and even tried a few on the spot! 🙂 The reviews are quite short, but hopefully will give some honest and helpful feedback on these bars from outsiders of the fitness and health community, in which they aren’t as used to protein bars and other protein treats as most of us are.
- Primal Salted Caramel + Pecan: First off, massive apologies for the lack of a front-view photo because idiot-airhead-me totally forgot to take a shot! Anyhow, back to the review–one of my apartment-suite mates, who is an avid dairy fan, thought that the bar tastes good and has a nice flavor, but said she would probably not buy it on a regular basis unless if she were on-the-go.
- Primal Grass-Fed Whey Dark Chocolate + Coconut Almond: My roommate considered this to be her favorite bar because she really enjoyed the combination of dark chocolate and coconut almond flavors in this bar! Since she is a fan of the Quest bars I gave her at the beginning of the fall quarter, she did not mind the texture of the grass-fed whey, even though whey protein bars tend to have a very acquired consistency.
- Primal Vanilla + Almond + Cashew: According to my roommate who also has this bar, she thought that the flavor was a little too mild for her liking, but it was a really nice blend of subtle sweetness from teh vanilla bean as well as nuttiness from the almonds. Something that she did enjoy was the fact that the bar was not too sweet, just as most protein bars tend to be. Texture-wise, the verdict is the same as the Dark Chocolate + Coconut Almond bar.
- Paleo Double Dark Chocolate Chip: My apartment-suite mate found the texture of the bar to be very intriguing, as the ingredients are completely Paleo and contain no dairy. The egg white protein yielded a very chewy texture and wasn’t used to such density, but she did enjoy the dark, rich and decadent flavor of the bar!
Bhu’s philosophy completely aligns with what I look for in a company: compassion, sustainability, conscientiousness, ambition, and wellness. I truly cannot say the same for many companies I have seen and even collaborated with in the past. In terms of macronutrients and ingredients, I was beyond impressed! Unlike Quest bars, each Bhu Foods bar contains a realistically healthy amount of fiber and protein while keeping carbs and sugars reasonably low. Plus, most of the ingredients are allergen-friendly, with the exception of peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, and/or egg protein present in certain bars.
While most protein bars contain many artificial sweeteners, syrups or other forms of unhealthy sugars, these bars are only sweetened with monk fruit! There was no bar that I truly disliked, because even though some of them may have lacked flavor, The creativity of the bars are fantastic, as I never found one dull flavor combination! Superfood Peanut Butter + White Chocolate? Salted Caramel + Pecan? Apple Chunk + Cinnamon + Nutmeg? You cannot go wrong at all!
Some of the bars I tasted had relatively interesting and confusing textures, whereas others had underwhelming flavors. For instance, while the Superfood Chocolate Chip + Fudge Brownie Batter bar had a thick, distinctly coconut flour-y and soft texture, the Peanut Butter + White Chocolate bar tasted more like a rock-hard candy bar than a protein bar, which I honestly did not mind at all, despite that it was shocking upon first bite. Also, while I was extremely excited by some of the flavors, I did feel let down by the lack of flavor I tasted in certain bars, at least stand-alone. As for the non-vegan bars, they are bound to taste a little funny to those who aren’t so familiar with protein bars.
Bhu’s diverse lineup of high quality protein bars and philosophy about making the most environmentally-friendly and healthy products collectively contribute to why Bhu Foods has become one of my new favorite brands. It is so incredible that it makes my list of top three protein bar companies!
Even though I did not necessarily enjoy all of the vegan bars, none of the samples I received went to waste; the same case with my roommates. Whether I had these bars alone or on top of a breakfast sweet potato or kabocha squash, I adored every bite! As you can probably tell, I cannot recommend Bhu Foods enough! If you are an avid fan of protein bars, prepare to get hooked, because I guarantee that you will find at least one bar that you’ll love!