There's an ever-increasing number of energy bars on the market that now include this year's trendy ingredient - insect flour. Eat Grub are the new kids on the block and under the review knife ....
Now, you know I'm not adverse to eating insect flour energy bars or even the whole insects, I've reviewed lots already and still they keep coming, yay! To say this is a fast -growing market would be somewhat of an understatement and everyone wants a piece of it.
With the world population due to increase to 9 billion by 2050 (and food production needing to double to accommodate the growth), alternative food sources are coming into focus. As I've mentioned in previous reviews, insects are a great sustainable source of protein (and fibre, vitamins and minerals), it's just getting your head around eating the darn things. It took me a while I tell you and while I don't have them 3 times a day I have no problem including them in my diet and using the insect flour in baking and smoothies.
Enter Eat Grub, a newcomer launching this month in the UK, funded by a Kickstarter campaign in November 2015. Stocked in Planet Organic and with plans to go nationwide into supermarkets. I received two energy bars made with cricket powder to try: Coconut & Cacao and Cranberry & Orange.
My usual crack testing team (aka the people I share my office with!) have now deliberated, cogitated and digested the bars. Read on and find out whether you'll want to be stocking up on them!
Super cool! The bars look grown-up, contemporary, classy - we'd definitely grab one if they were on the shelf.
I love that they add onto the back of the packet the planet's resources needed to breed insects vs. cattle, pigs & poultry :-)
Taste & Texture
Cranberry & Orange - wowzers, this packs a punch of orange flavour, which lingers along time on the palate (It divided the office, half loved it, half said they might struggle to eat a whole bar). The cranberries don't add a distinct taste but do add a much needed hit or tartness. Really moist too, which was a pleasant surprise for these kind of bars.
Coconut & Cacao - one of the reviewers said 'it tastes like a less sweet version of a bounty bar' which is spot on, it's like a very clean equivalent. The coconut adds a slight taste but more a crunchy texture which was great. The cacao adds a really dark hit of chocolate flavour and keeps the sweetness at bay. Again, a pleasantly moist texture.
No offensive smells we're pleased to report which can be present in these type of bars, just a pleasant orange smell from the Cranberry & Orange bar.
And it was all going so well ...
Cranberry & Orange - Juice Infused Cranberries (22.3%), Sunflower Seeds (16.4%), Currants (12.3%), Chopped Dates (9.8%), Gluten Free Oatbran (9.8%), Goji Berries (7.9%), Pumpkin Seeds (5.9%), Vegetable Glycerine (5.5%), Cricket Powder (5.1%), Water (4.7%), Natural Orange Flavour (0.3%)
Coconut & Cacao - Chopped dates (18.9%), Sultanas (18.9%), Coconut (15.1%), Gluten Free Oatbran (9.1%), Cricket Powder (8.7%), Sunflower Seeds (6.3%), Cacao Powder (5.5%), Water (5.0%), Vegetable Glycerine (4.7%), Cacao Nibs (3.9%), Cacao Butter (3.8%).
Most of the ingredients are really good/clean & paleo but then they've added:
- Gluten Free Oatbran (at least it's gluten-free but it's 10% of the bar so super-strict Paleo folks would rule it out as it's grain), and
- Vegetable Glycerine
Vegetable Glycerine is produced industrially, usually as a by-product of soap manufacture, from oils and fats. It can be made from animal fat, or in this case, from vegetable oil. It's effectively an alternative sweetener but the fact it is highly processed and a by-product makes it a no-no from a Paleo perspective. Shame. I do get the 'why', it's cheap to use, keeps the bars moist and helps keep the cost of the bars down but it spoils all that lovely natural goodness from the other ingredients.
It has a calorie density similar to sugar but due to it's lower GI, it's more accepted as a sweetener in low-carbs diets (just not in Paleo diets, just not clean enough).
I chatted to one of the co-owners of Eat Grub, Neil, and here's what he had to say:
"it's a decision we took extremely seriously, and
the reason we use it is not as a sweetener, but actually to ensure that the bar
is moist over time. Our initial trials were without it in at all, and the
outcome was slightly too dry and no-where near as pleasant to bite. We had some
good conversations with our manufacturer about it, and as it's just a
fractionisation of rapeseed oil, we felt happy enough to put it in the bars.
After all, we want someone who buys a bar with one month of life remaining to
have the same experience to someone who has one straight out the factory. As
much as we wanted to tick so many points, there comes a point where it can be
to the detriment of the product. This was one of those decisions, not ideal,
but we think necessary."
When you compare the cost of the bars (£21.99 for 12 vs. £26.99 for Crobar pack of 12), Eat Grub definitely will appeal at it's cheaper price point, it will just come down to how 'clean' you want your energy bar to be.
Nutritional analysis (per 36g bar)
|Cranberry & Orange||Coconut & Cacao|
|- of which saturates||0.6g||4.5g|
|- of which sugars||12.4g||9.6g|
A clear difference between the two bars in terms of fat and carbs, so it's a simple choice based on how low carb your diet is. Personally the coconut & cacao fits 'better' for me but it's a personal thing.
Overall score (out of 10)
Cranberry & Orange bar - 7
Coconut & Cacao bar - 9
Personally, if I saw an Eat Grub bar on the shelf in a shop, I'd happily buy one - they taste fantastic (especially the Coconut & Cacao flavour) and if they were next to my current favourite bar, Crobar, it would be a close call. If I was being super-clean, Crobar would win but for more value for money & taste, Eat Grub would just about swing it.
I hope they look at the addition of vegetable glycerine to make the bar even more clean and paleo-friendly, if they want to appeal to those markets.