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IDIOT’S GUIDE: Energy bars

At the beginning of my freshman year, I was frankly overwhelmed by my friends’ and classmates’ eating habits, which greatly differ from those of most Indonesians. For one, it seems that a lot of Americans I know have a need for convenience when it comes to eating. To illustrate, consider the vast array of microwavable meals—bagel bites to organic, gluten free options—you find in grocery stores; sandwiches, chips, and salads served on paper trays and eaten in classrooms; and, my personal favorite, energy or protein bars with (almost) any flavor you can imagine. 

Please kindly note that I am not complaining: in fact, I always have one or two bars stashed in my backpack to keep hunger at bay when temptation is lurking, or even as “dessert.” Considering the variety of bars in the US market, I will specifically address several dairy-free, mostly vegan bars, as I am lactose intolerant and most familiar with them.


Despite being comparatively small in size when lined up amongst other bars, Larabars are actually quite filling and rich in nutrients as the main components of these bars are fruits and nuts. Each Larabar is less than 2 ounces, and contains, on average, 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber. They currently come in 21 flavors, all of which contain six natural ingredients or fewer. My personal favorites are peanut butter cookie, chocolate chip cookie dough, and peanut butter and jelly. Yes, we’re talking about PB&J minus the crusts here. Need I say more?

Pure Organic

I first encountered these bars during one of my many visits to Trader Joe’s. The word “chocolate brownie” displayed on the packaging was truthfully enough of a reason for these bars to intrigue me. I liked the flavor, although I do not think the chocolate brownie flavor will fully satiate one’s craving for a solid brownie. What really stands out about Pure Organic bars is that all flavors are between 65% and 82% raw.

NuGO Dark

The Mocha Chocolate flavor is my favorite. Upon first bite, the flavor reminds me of Beng-beng, a popular Indonesian chocolate wafer snack with caramel filling. To put it in another way, I enjoyed it a lot and will definitely try the other flavors. The nutritional value is not bad either: one bar packs 200 calories, 10 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fiber. NuGO also carries an organic bar line called NuGO Organic.

The Simply Bar


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These bars are advertised as “the most protein for the least calories,” and they are probably spot on with that description given that the bars have approximately 16 grams of protein with 160 or fewer calories and no more than 3 grams of sugar. They have six flavors, among which are lemon coconut and cinnamon pecan. The only downside to these bars is that their prices are a bit on the high side, though it’s worth a try!

KIND bar

Similar to Larabars, KIND bars contain natural ingredients with plenty of chunks of nuts and dried fruits, and as such, mimic the good old trail mix that we love. At around 200 calories each, a KIND bar could be a solid afternoon snack or even a light breakfast alongside a piece of fruit. Dear Tufts students, Hodgdon carries several KIND bars including cranberry almond + antioxidants and almond and coconut (I’m looking at you, freshmen).

-Andari Gusman 

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