Saturday, June 24, 2017

Are Chocolate and Protein the Base of Your Diet?

Today is our last PROBAR® feature article here on The Chocolate Cult. There are many types of bars we've looked at in the first half of 2017 -- fiber, cereal, meal replacement, snack, and energy are just a few. BASE is a line of energy bars from PROBAR®. Each of the four varieties we were sent has 20 grams of protein. Some of the bar also have caffeine from "yerba mate" – this is a holly type of plant which has been used in beverages in southern South America for centuries. As with other PROBAR® products, these are also Non GMO Project verified and certified gluten-free. While each of these BASE bars have a lot of protein and a good amount of fiber, they also have a lot of sugar from various sources that make up the bulk of the first 10 ingredients on the label.  I'll be more specific about how the bars differ in terms of caffeine and other ingredient and nutritional information later in this review. I am using the information printed on the labels in this review, not the information on the PROBAR® website; sometimes they differed. The three flavors we'll look at today are Chocolate Bliss, Cookie Dough, and Peanut Butter Chocolate – Chocolate SuperGreens bar has been discontinued. If you have tried any of these four varieties, please leave us a comment and tell us about your experience with it. PROBAR® sent these BASE products to The Chocolate Cult for free in exchange for us testing them out and writing as objectively as possible about them; no other form of compensation was received. 

PROBAR® BASE Chocolate Bliss
PROBAR® BASE Chocolate Bliss has 55 mg of caffeine, 4 grams fiber, 16 grams sugar, and 6 grams saturated fat as well as the 20 grams of protein each of the BASE bars has. The first cacao related ingredient shows up as the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 20th ingredient on the label out of 25 ingredients and include unsweetened chocolate, cocoa processed with alkali, cocoa, and cocoa butter. That's a lot of ingredients but then this bar does not claim to be organic or simple. Once out of the wrapper it looks like a lot of other energy bars though a bit large at 2.46 ounces (70 grams). It has a cocoa and soy scent to it and yes, it does have soy if you are allergic to that. I used a sharp knife to cut it open for our photo and it was firm and made crunchy sounds while I cut it. Inside you can see it has two main layers – the bottom is crunchy looking and darker while the top is about the looks to be much like the coating of the bar. The inside has a stronger soy scent. Biting into is loud and it remains crunchy. The bottom layer is very crunchy but the top reveals itself to be basically a thick layer of the coating. It does have a cocoa flavor to it but also a very strong soy flavor but they blend together well. The bar is very dry and it dries my mouth out a bit. It does make me feel a bit buzzed and that is probably from the caffeine because I am not used to consuming caffeine beyond a couple of milligrams a day. Nope, not a tea or coffee drinker; that's why we have special Acolytes for those products!
PROBAR® BASE Cookie Dough

PROBAR® BASE Cookie Dough bar looks like cookie down in the top layer -- light colored with tiny chocolate chips visible in it. The bottom layer isn't solid as in the two previous bars but it has both dark and light colored pieces. Cutting the bar in half revealed that it should be as crunchy as the two previous bars, too. Before cutting it in half the scent was very sweet and soybean heavy, not much chocolate; there was even less chocolate fragrance once it was cut in half and I took a whiff from the inside. Nutritionally this has 10 more calories but I'm not see other big changes in the values on the label. Of course this has soybeans again but this also has almonds for those of you with tree nut allergies. Cacao related ingredients are way down on the list at 11th, 13th, 19th, and 21st and include unsweetened chocolate, cocoa processed with alkali, cocoa, and cocoa butter. Even though the texture is crunchy and a bit dry it does not dry out my mouth as much as the previous bars probably because this has less cacao related ingredients. The flavor isn't as soybean intense as I thought it might be, it does have a dough-like taste but the chocolate and cocoa is barely noticeable. However the name doesn't push the chocolate aspect so I'm not too disappointed.
PROBAR® BASE Peanut Butter Chocolate

Finally we get to the PROBAR® BASE Peanut Butter Chocolate which has both peanuts and soybeans if those are allergies for you. The cacao related ingredients are cocoa (11th), cocoa processed with alkali (17th), and unsweetened chocolate (18th). This has a very strong peanut fragrance, simply peanuts, not a sweetness very common in most mainstream peanut butters and products using it. The coating on top of this bar looks smoother to my eyes and it does not really smell like cocoa or chocolate. Cutting it open makes little sound yet inside I see the two layers -- top looks like peanut butter the bottom is the dark and light pieces of what was crunchy in the other bars. I take a bite and there is a light crunch but this bar is softer compared to the previous one. I can taste the agave syrup in this bar and that ingredient was in previous bars but I couldn't pick it out; it adds an odd flavor that I'm not a big fan of. This bar does not dry out my mouth at all, the top layer is creamy and there really isn't a chocolate or cocoa flavor. I do know that the amount of cocoa in any product can affect how much it may dry out your mouth. 

When I first started the testing for this article I noticed the 55 mg of caffeine in the Chocolate Bliss so I expected that from the other varieties but that was not the case. Why? Why put caffeine in the one bar but not the others? I'm not understanding given these are all the same line of products. But it isn't the caffeine that makes the Chocolate Bliss bar my favorite variety of these PROBAR® BASE bars, it is the fact that the chocolate is a stronger flavor. I might get that bar or the Cookie Dough one in the future.

We close out this PROBAR® BASE feature and that also ends are PROBAR® features for now. Perhaps we'll have other products from them in the future if they add more chocolate to their line up of products.

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