Since eating on the go has become fairly routine, many nutrition bars have hit the market. They offer a convenient, quick little "meal" in a neatly wrapped package. Though not the same as a well-balanced meal or snack, they are better than fast food, vending machine snacks or not eating at all. According to Dr. Mary Gavin, the "best" protein bars for children should provide a balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates, be vitamin- and mineral-fortified, low in sugar and provide at least 2.5 grams of dietary fiber. Interestingly, the best protein bars for kids are not designed for kids at all, as those are generally too high in sugar and low in fiber.
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Clif Organic Z Bars
Clif Organic Z Bars are the only "best pick" specifically marketed for children. They are made with wholesome whole grains and natural ingredients and contain no preservatives or artificial flavors. Clif Organic Z Bars are more of an "energy" bar than a protein bar. They provide a bit more carbohydrates than standard protein bars; however, they are slightly higher in protein than most granola bars. One bar (chocolate brownie) provides 120 calories, 3 grams of protein, 3.5 grams of fat (1g saturated), 23 grams of carbohydrates (10 grams of sugars or 2.5 teaspoons, and 3 grams of dietary fiber) and is fortified with 12 vitamins and minerals.
PowerBar Nut Naturals
Even though most children can consume adult protein bars, they don't need as much protein, so the ultra-high protein bars are not the best choice. PowerBar Nut Naturals were rated "Best Crunchy Energy Bar" by editors of Real Simple magazine. One bar provides about 210 calories, 10 grams of protein, 10 grams of fat (1 grams saturated) and 20 grams carbohydrates (9 grams of sugar or slightly over 2 teaspoons and 3 grams of dietary fiber). They are higher in fat because they are full of crunchy, heart-healthy nuts. In fact, each flavor is certified Heart Healthy by the American Heart Association. These are a good choice because they offer the wholesomeness of a nut/fruit "trail mix," are low in sugar, moderate in both protein and carbohydrates and are a good source of dietary fiber.
These Kosher-certified, vegan-approved natural food bars are dairy-, wheat- and gluten-free. They are made with high-quality soy protein isolate and are free of artificial ingredients, sugar alcohols and common allergens. Mom's Team website gave the chocolate brownie variety an "A+" for nutrition, flavor and overall quality. One bar provides 220 calories, 18 grams of protein, 6 grams of fat (1 grams saturated) and 24 grams of carbohydrates (15 grams of sugar or 3.75 teaspoons and 3 grams of dietary fiber). They are chocolaty and satisfying and, per PureFit, they won't melt easily, like most chocolate-coated bars, making them a perfect choice for long car/bus trips and/or in your child's sports bag.