One of my mom's favorite nutrition bars are ZonePerfect bars. Since this means she almost always has a box or two lying around the house, I've eaten quite a few of these bars (and let's face it, their Fudge Graham (previously reviewed), Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and Peanut Butter Cookie Dough bars are like crack...and I do keep meaning to review the cookie dough ones, but I usually eat them before I remember I'm supposed to take pictures). One of the cool things about ZonePerfect bars is that they're all-natural. The new line of ZonePerfect bars, called Perfectly Simple by ZonePerfect, goes one step further, limiting the number of ingredients to between six and ten, all of which are recognizable and pronounceable.
The new Perfectly Simple by ZonePerfect nutrition bars are available in three different flavors: Toasted Coconut, Peanut Crunch, and Cranberry Almond. All of these have simple, natural ingredients, and all are gluten-free. ZonePerfect was generous enough to send me a sample of each flavor.
|Perfectly Simple by ZonePerfect Toasted Coconut|
As you may remember from my last ZonePerfect review, I'm not much of a coconut person, so I handed off the Toasted Coconut to my mom. More accustomed to ZonePerfect's sweeter offerings, she initially said that they were a little bland, but she warmed up to them more by the second bite, deciding that she liked them after all. She also said that the coconut flavor hit kind of as an aftertaste, which may be why she it took her a few bites. She said she preferred the texture of the Classic and Fruitified ZonePerfect bars to these (Perfectly Simple bars have a texture that's pretty similar to Larabars' texture), though she did happily take the box and say that they were going to be her snacks for work this week. I'd say it's probably safe to say these passed the mom-test.
|Cross-section of Perfectly Simple by ZonePerfect Toasted Coconut. My mom uses napkins because she was not born in a barn.|
The Perfectly Simple Toasted Coconut bars contain eight ingredients: Invert Dried Cane Syrup, Date Paste, Soy Protein Isolate, Toasted Coconut, Roasted Almonds (Almonds, High Oleic Sunflower Oil), Whey Protein Isolate, and Natural Vanilla Flavor.
|Perfectly Simple Toasted Coconut Nutrition Information|
|Perfectly Simple by ZonePerfect Peanut Crunch|
|Cross-section of Perfectly Simple by ZonePerfect Peanut Crunch|
|Perfectly Simple Peanut Crunch Nutrition Information|
|Perfectly Simple by ZonePerfect Cranberry Almond|
The Perfectly Simple Cranberry Almond bar was, hands-down, my favorite of the bunch. It was also my mom's favorite of the two she tried...she wasn't hungry enough to try the Peanut Crunch bar, and unlike me, she actually knows when to stop eating and doesn't house anything placed in front of her. While it also had a Larabar-like texture, it definitely had a more prominent taste than the other two, which were more understated. The cranberries really came through from the beginning, and the bar was a little sweeter than the other two. Additionally, the almond pieces were pretty prominent (as you can see in the picture), and lent a nice textural contrast. Like the other bars, it was natural tasting with no chemical flavors. Given the choice between the three Perfectly Simple bars, I'd definitely grab these first, and I wouldn't hesitate to buy this flavor on my own (though Cookie Dough still wins...but if the store didn't have Cookie Dough, these might be next).
|Cross-section of Perfectly Simple by ZonePerfect.|
|Perfectly Simple Cranberry Almond Nutrition Information|
Nutritionally, the Perfectly Simple bars are meant to fit the ZonePerfect nutrition profile (35-50% carbs, 25-35% protein, 20-35% fat). If you do the math, you'll find that some of the stuff falls slightly outside that range, but whatever, close enough, it gets the job done, and it's not like your body sits around with a calculator for every food you put into it. Plus it's overall nutritional content of everything you put in your body that matters, so I can even fit these into my crazy high-carb diet if I eat enough other carb-y foods. I was also happy to see that my favorite bar (Cranberry Almond) is the lowest in fat, highest in carbs, and highest in sugar, which sets it up to be a good pre-run snack. If I were eating it as a pre-race or pre-track workout food, I'd probably want even more carbs (i.e. Powerbar-esque high carbs), but as something I might eat before a regular easy run, that one should work well. Additionally, any of them would work well for immediately post-workout (thanks to a combination of carbs and protein), as well as for a random snack. I actually just ate two of these after my mile repeat workout today (and then another after dinner DON'T JUDGE ME).
Perfectly Simple by ZonePerfect nutrition bars can be found online for $55 for three 12-packs (36 bars, for those of you who hate math). They can also be found at stores that carry ZonePerfect products if you'd prefer to buy them in smaller quantities.