I was recently sent some healthy snacks to review from Nakd - they are 100% natural, made of just raw fruits and nuts. The bars are vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free and also wheat free, and come in a range flavours. You can find them in supermarkets and you can also buy a mixed box from their website.
Nakd points out that a typical cereal bar, perhaps even one that looks like it's healthy, can contain up to 30 ingredients, many of which are unrecognisable to the average consumer and several of which are just different types of sugar. Which is a bit scary when you think about it!
Nakd bars have a "wholefood approach", which they describe as "minimal processing and we don’t add any sugar, syrups or mysterious additives to your food". In fact I was quite surprised when I saw how few ingredients the bars contain - for instance, the Nakd Pecan Pie bar (which sounds like it should be oozing with sugars and flavourings) is made out of literally nothing other than dates (52%), pecans (28%) and almonds (20%), and as it says on the packet, "and that's it!"
The only downside from my perspective is that these are not ideal for my Slimming World diet plan. They are undeniably healthy, but because of the nuts, which isn't a "free food" on Slimming World, these have an average of 8 syns per bar. That isn't too bad but I'd have to be careful if I wanted to eat these every day while following Slimming World.
One of my best friends is vegan and really likes these bars and is impressed by their lack of artificial ingredients. But as I don't know what the other vegan snack bars on the market are like (and whether it's not hard to taste nice in comparison perhaps) I wanted to compare them to the sort of cereal or snack bars I would normally buy, and see if I would buy these not just because they are vegan or gluten free but because they simply taste nice.
The first one I tried - picked out at random - was Cashew Cookie. The only ingredients are cashews (51%) and dates (49%). I was surprised at how smooth the bars looked - I was expecting to see pieces of nut, more like a cereal bar - but they remind me more of a piece of fudge in appearance, which is definitely appealing! The name seems particularly apt as there was a distinct cookie taste, and while I could taste dates I would never have guessed this was the main ingredient.
Next I tried the Cocoa Orange bar: the ingredients are dates (40%), cashews (40%), raisins (14%), cocoa (5%) and a hint of natural orange and chocolate flavouring. The bar is still
smooth but you can see little bits of nut in it, also it looks a little
darker in colour. In fact it looks and smells quite indulgent even though it's healthy, and has a really chocolatey smell and taste. I found that the orange is less obvious but overall this was a really nice flavour and I would buy it again if I wanted a chocolate hit without the calories of a chocolate bar.
Another benefit is that one of these bars counts as one of your five a day! My only query would be that some of them state they contain "a hint of natural flavour" - how hard would it be to specify what that is? For instance the Rhubard & Custard bar is 55% dates, 25% cashews and 19% raisins - no mention of rhubarb or custard, so I assume this is the natural flavouring.
I'm not normally a fan of rhubarb but the pink and yellow packaging reminded me of the rhubarb and custard sweets I loved as a child and made me want to try this. It's not a strong flavour and I think the custard comes through more than the rhubarb, but if I didn't know what flavour this was, I probably wouldn't have guessed. Overall this was not my favourite but it was still pretty good.
Next I sampled the Pecan pie bar, which contains 52% dates, 28% pecans, 20% almonds. It had a nuttier texture than the other ones, but the fruity taste from the dates was almost as strong as the nuts; the aftertaste did remind me a bit of a pecan pie though.
Next up is the Caffe mocha. I'm not an Italian expert but I'm pretty sure the accent on the 'e' is the wrong way round, it should be grave not acute! Forgive me for picking holes (and please correct me if I'm wrong in which case I will correct this post) but little things like this really bug me.
This bar is made of 55% dates, 26% cashews, 12% raisins, 6% cocoa and a hint of natural flavours - again if this includes coffee why not mention it? Or I wonder if the coffee taste actually comes from the combination of other ingredients? It's really dark and chocolately looking inside with a definite coffee taste from the first bite. I don't actually like coffee so this bar was never going to be my favourite but it is actually really nice, the combination of chocolate and coffee really works.
Next up: I really wanted a chocolate fix (well, it was a Monday...) so I was looking forward to trying the Cocoa Delight bar. It is made up of 48% dates, 29% cashews, 17% raisins and 6% cocoa, with natural chocolate flavouring. It tasted really chocolately with a slightly fudgy texture which was great, and the best thing is, it stopped me going to the office vending machine for a Snickers.
The gingerbread bar would be perfect for this time of year with its mixture of ginger, cloves and cinnamon; as well as these natural flavourings it is 48% dates, 32% almonds and 18% pecans. I could smell the ginger very strongly as soon as I opened the packet, and this was despite having a bad cold! The taste was slightly fruitier than I would associate with gingerbread (because of the dates of course) and in some ways this reminded me more of the flavour of malt loaf. It went down very well on a cold and frosty morning!
I left the Berry Delight until last as I'm not a fan of berries, though from reading the packaging I needn't have worried - this bar consists of 49% dates, 31% cashews, 17% raisins, 3% raspberries and natural berry flavouring. You can see little flecks of red in the bar which is nice and it has a lovely raspberry flavour. With all of these bars I was a little reticient as I don't really like dates, which is their main ingredient, but the overriding taste of each bar is chocolate, or raspberry, or ginger - not dates. I was very pleasantly surprised and would definitely buy these.
I like the packaging too - the bright colours and the fun style of lettering are attractive, and would appeal to children but at the same time not look out of place in an adult's packed lunch. The different colours make it easy to identify each flavour if you're rooting around in a mixed box, eg blue for the cashew cookie bar, green for the mint etc.
As I don't often write reviews I decided to tie testing these in with experimenting with my own vegan cereal bars. They are quite different as they do use cereal so are not wheat free for a start, but the recipe is vegan - you can see the results here.
Disclaimer: I was sent a box of Nakd snack bars to review, though was not required to make positive comments.