Review Part One: 2 Store-Bought Vegan Snacks – Sunwarrior and Nature’s Bakery

I’m always so happy to have an excuse to eat more store-bought vegan snacks.

Welcome to the part one review of four vegan snacks that I happily tried and vetted, so that you don’t have to do the guesswork!

In this review, we’ll take a deep-dive look at two of the store-bought vegan snacks from my haul. Part two will cover the rest of my four-snack selection.

 

Fueling My Vice Locally

store bought vegan snacks
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

In the next town over from where I live, there is a food store that is like a fairly-priced Disneyland for people who enjoy organic, plant-based selections. They have an absolutely amazing display of vegan snack bars that take up an entire large shelf by the register.

It’s one of my favorite places on Earth! Honestly. In fact, if you’re ever in Hoboken, NJ, visit Organic Basic Food on Washington St. They’re organic, but never basic. Despite my countless visits, I’m pretty sure that these friendly folks still don’t know that they are largely responsible for fueling my undying affinity for vegan snacks.

 

How They’re Judged

It’s always so exciting to seek out and find new healthy snack foods to bring to you, along with my unrelentingly honest opinions, and this post is no exception.

I approached each of the items here with my usual joyous anticipation. A couple were great, and a couple weren’t as great. But, everyone’s palate is different so I try to give as well-rounded a description as possible for each one.

My initial intention was to put all four snacks into this post, but I have too much to say about food in general, lol, so this started getting way too long! Please check out the sister post, where I review Enjoy Life Protein Bites and Rhythm Carrot Sticks.

To help us figure out these snacks, I’m again using the five-point rating system I introduced in my first vegan snack review.

 

How We’ll Rate The Snacks in This Post

Taste

1 = I’d rather eat thorny cactus. Terrible.

10 = I could live on these, they’re absolutely delicious!

Texture

1 = Too crunchy or too mushy or otherwise unappealing “mouthfeel.”

10 = Great balance of crunch, chew, and density. Overall, a super satisfying bite.

Appearance

1 = My meat-eating cousin wouldn’t touch this because it looks too healthy / Your 5-year-old won’t eat it because it looks weird / It looks nothing like what the package makes you think it might look like.

10 = It looks like what I expect it should based on the packaging / I want to sink my teeth in as soon as the wrapper comes off!

Health

1 = No organic ingredients, more than four food sources that are not from whole foods.

10 = All organic ingredients, all whole foods.

Neatness

1 = Not worth the hassle. Crumbs flying everywhere. Potential for melting makes for messy eating.

10 = Amazing – I could eat everything in the package because there were no crumbs falling out or melting parts to sticking to the wrapper or my hands.

Overall

Total score based on previous five attributes.

And of course:

V = Vegan

GF = Gluten Free

 

And onto the two vegan snacks I’ll be discussing in this post: Sol Good Protein Bar and Nature’s Bakery Gluten-Free Fig Bar.

 

Sol Good Protein Bar by Sunwarrior – Salted Caramel (V, GF)

As soon as I tear the wrapper open, a sense of nostalgia begins to flood my mind. I immediately recall my childhood affinity for Bit O’ Honey.

I love the smooth beige, almost buttery appearance of the Sol Good that looks like it’ll feel like silky nougat when I sink my teeth into it!

As much as I loved Bit O’ Honey, I always found it to be a bit of a tough bite. There was always some gnashing and pulling involved as I tried to consume it. Youthful teeth without dental work can handle that – my older teeth, not so much!

Nougat Nostalgia

I was so relieved and delighted when I bit into the Sol Good Protein Bar and it felt like a silky but firm nougat. Snickers and Three Musketeers bars used to be huge weaknesses for me. I would frequently gravitate to that creamy, fluffy, sugary, otherworldly thing that is nougat. But Sol Good has successfully found a way to replicate my former love into a much healthier and delicious treat!

These bars are my absolute most favorite non-chocolate bar. They’re smooth with a heavenly chew – not too soft and not too tough – and have a texture that actually feels and tastes buttery, despite being completely dairy-free! This is thanks to the cashew butter base that Sol Good now incorporates into all of their protein bars, which makes for a winning formula.

Cashew Butter – Smoother than Barry White on Date Night

Cashew butter is a pretty luxurious ingredient. The way it adds so much in terms of creating buttery flavor and texture is raw cashewsunparalleled by any other nut butter I’ve ever used in my own recipes.

Cashews are incredibly versatile nuts and can be used to make anything from vegan cheese to butter. Unlike some other types of nuts such as almonds and peanuts, cashews can easily take on a variety of different textures and have a very mild flavor.

Sol Good’s bar base for this flavor is punctuated by little pockets of actual cashew bits, which makes for a nice textural variant.

Though this bar is Salted Caramel flavor, I can’t say that it tastes much like salted caramel at all. Texture-wise, it reminds me of the smooth butteriness that characterizes a piece of salted caramel, which works just fine for me!

The caramel flavor seems almost non-existent to me, but the “buttery” factor makes up for this in a big way. If they could find a way to emphasize the caramel flavor without compromising everything else that is so wonderful about this bar, Sol Good would have an outrageously amazing product.

Organic, Plant-Based Protein Power!

I’m not necessarily sold on bars just because they boast a lot of protein. They just have to be delicious and healthy! But this one is a HUGE plus for people specifically seeking a protein-packed meal-replacement type of bar. This one is loaded with 15 grams of plant protein! The wholesome sources of protein in this bar include pea protein, brown rice protein, and quinoa protein.

And, best of all…

ALL of the ingredients in this bar are ORGANIC!!

I feel like throwing a party when I see nutrition labels like Sol Good’s. It means that some companies know that we deserve and expect better. They know that they are dealing with smart consumers.

Sol Good seems to be one of those companies, and for that reason, I’ll continue eating their salted caramel bars as long as they don’t change this winning formula.

Taste = 9

Texture = 8

Appearance = 10

Health = 9

Neatness = 10

Overall = 9.2

 

 

Nature’s Bakery Gluten-Free Fig Bars – Raspberry (V, GF)

The soft-baked outer layer and dried fig-raspberry jam filling in these delicious store bought vegan snacksgluten-free bars make this a super kid-friendly snack!

The 5- and 6-year-olds in my life are very picky eaters and love these. They’re come in second place only to their highly coveted animal crackers. I’m thrilled that these bars make it possible for me to add yet another wholesome, vegan and gluten-free snack into their dietary rotation.

The Soft…

From an adult’s perspective, I appreciate the soft-baked aspect of these bars too. Nature’s Bakery also makes a regular version of this bar that I used to eat all the time, until I conscientiously began cutting gluten out of my diet.

The regular version incorporates wheat flour into the outer layer – or the “crust” part – which makes for a much firmer bite. If you aren’t gluten-averse and enjoy a more firm and less cake-like bite, then the various flavors of Nature’s Bakery regular fig bars would work well for you.

…and The Sweet

Figs are fantastic fruits and I love eating them both fresh and dried.

Like many fruits, they are sweeter when they’re dried, so this filling is on the sweet side. I have a sweet tooth, but sometimes I feel like the filling might be a little too sweet, even for me.

Even if it does taste on the sweeter side, I’d much rather have this type of sweet than the type of artificially flavored and sugar-loaded snack that lines supermarket check-out lanes.

 

A Closer Look At Four Ingredients

store bought vegan snacks

If you’ve never used a particular ingredient in your own cooking, if you see it on a package you’re going to buy, try to understand what that ingredient is. Likewise if a particular ingredient has been known to cause allergic side effects.

One of the best ways for us to harness control of our health is to know what we’re eating, so here are four ingredients that need a closer look.

Locust Bean Gum

This is another type of very common natural food additive that is found in a wide variety of packaged food products.

Locust Bean Gum is essentially extracted from carob seeds of the carob tree. It’s high in dietary fiber, may help improve blood-sugar levels, and lower cholesterol.

From what I can understand, however, it seems that locust bean gum is used in very small amounts for a reason. It’s nearly void of other nutrients, can cause allergic side effects, and block the absorption of vital nutrients such as iron and zinc.

I like the way Dr. Axe breaks down the pros and cons of locust bean gum, as well as gives a comprehensive overview of this pervasive ingredient.

On the list of ingredients for these Nature’s Bakery bars, locust bean gum is indicated as being part of the raspberry jam. To me, this means that a nominal amount is used, and so not enough to make me shy away from eating these delicious soft-baked and fruity things!


Glycerin

Vegetable glycerin is considered a sugar alcohol. When vegetable fats such as soybean, palm, or coconut oil are heated under pressure, it produces the sweet, syrupy substance that is glycerin.

You can find out a little more about glycerin here.


Xanthan Gum

If you are new to gluten-free eating, keep in mind that gluten-free flours tend to be made up of foods such as rice, tapioca, potato, and peas, which yield a much softer texture in baked goods than wheat flour.

Gluten in wheat flour is the sticky part that makes wheat-based flour bind so easily. There is no such binder in gluten-free flour, so xanthan gum is usually the ingredient that acts as the binder you’ll find in many gluten-free flour blends.

Although xanthan gum doesn’t bother me and I haven’t personally known anyone to have problems with it, it’s possible that xanthan gum can cause minor digestive issues in some people.

I encourage trying small amounts of food containing xanthan gum rather than diving right in. Better yet, have an allergist test you for any possible xanthan gum allergies. This will be important information for you to know if you’ll be incorporating more gluten-free products into your life, since you’ll be seeing the ubiquitous xanthan gum listed as an ingredient on many gluten-free product packages.

For vegans like me, note that xanthan gum is sometimes created by using whey. It’s a good idea to check whether your xanthan gum (if packaged individually for baking purposes, for example) is vegan. In this case, Nature’s Bakery Gluten-Free Fig Bars – Raspberry are marked Certified Vegan, so I trust that the xanthan gum used in these bars complies with my vegan diet.

 

Natural Flavors

This vague ingredient deserves a mention because it’s everywhere, but still remains a concept shrouded in mystery.

I’ll briefly restate what I mentioned in another review regarding “natural flavors”:store bought vegan snacks


This ingredient can be found on countless packaged products and is
ambiguously defined by the FDA as being any flavor that is extracted
from the following plant or animal sources:

  • Spices
  • Fruit or fruit juice
  • Vegetables or vegetable juice
  • Edible yeast, herbs, bark, buds, root leaves or plant material
  • Dairy products, including fermented products
  • Meat, poultry or seafood
  • Eggs

The Certified Vegan seal on the box tells me that I can rest assured that the natural flavors in these bars
are from plant, and not animal, sources.

But, natural flavors can and probably do also include any number and mixture of other natural and synthetic chemicals. The FDA is not required to disclose what these chemicals are as long as the original flavor is derived from, in this case, a plant source.


Yes, the FDA is not required to disclose the details of what’s in any particular brand of “natural flavors,” so how you want to handle this really comes down to trust. If you trust the Certified Vegan seal like I do, then you’ll be ok with the “natural flavors” listed on your product package.

Now that we have a decent amount of bases covered, here’s my summation of the Nature’s Bakery Gluten-Free Fig Bars – Raspberry in a nutshell:

Taste = 8

Texture = 7

Appearance = 8

Health = 7

Neatness = 9

Overall = 7.8

 

 

Snack Well!

Whew, that was a mouthful! So much to say about these two delicious but very different vegan and gluten-free bars.

What I love is that Sol Good is all organic and has a rich butteriness to it. Nature’s Bakery is a healthy soft-baked fruit bar, which in its own way reminds me of raspberry thumbprint cookies. But that’s my brain. Always trying to connect snacks and desserts!

I hope you’ve found this Sunwarrior and Nature’s Bakery bar review useful.

Onward to the Enjoy Life Protein Balls and Rhythm Carrot Sticks Review!

 

 

8 thoughts on “Review Part One: 2 Store-Bought Vegan Snacks – Sunwarrior and Nature’s Bakery”

  1. Hey Kris! What a post, so many informations and so much to try!! Like you, I am always looking for some new vegan/healty snacks even if is not that easy to find a good one. Your personal “guide” is going to help me for sure during my next “discovery shopping”. Can’t wait to read the second part!

    Reply
  2. Hi Emma,

    Thank you so much for your sweet comment, I’m so glad you stopped by!

    Yes, vegan does not necessarily mean healthy so I try to find snacks that not only are both, but that also taste good! Sometimes I run into bars in which the concept sounds great on the wrapper so I get excited. Then I open it, it’s really small, and it tastes like twigs and berries glued together. Yes this has happened to me before and I will not be talking about those here, lol.

    Thanks again for dropping by and leaving your thoughts – I really appreciate hearing them! Part Two will be up tomorrow 🙂

    Reply
  3. Wow! A great post! Lots of information and I love how you’ve broken down how you have scored each snack! I didn’t know ‘locust bean gum’ was a thing…until now! Good job!

    Reply
  4. Thank you so much!

    I love your site, btw. Vegan cheese is one of my happy vices. Lots of great info on your site as well. Looking forward to keeping up with you!

    Reply
  5. Haha I loved reading this article, you are pretty funny. Coincidently, I have been looking into more vegan food options so this article really helps!

    Reply
  6. Hi Duni,

    Thank you for stopping by!

    I believe that snack foods are the golden gateway to incorporating more plant-based foods into one’s diet, so I hope you’ll continue along this path and visit us again soon.

    Take care and thanks again!

    Kris

    Reply
  7. Hi Kris – this is so very interesting and informative. Breaking down the ingredients as to what purpose they are used, their organic origins, if they may cause allergic reactions, all of this is so very educational. In today’s world with so many people having severe food allergies, your blog gives answers to many questions that us as consumers, are looking for.

    I thoroughly enjoyed your rating system and descriptions. You bring our taste buds along with these more descriptive and to the point illustrative classifications.

    Your use of noting Cashew butter is smoother than Barry White on a date night, rates 100% on my grading scale. I just love Barry White’s voice and oh those songs. But back to my question, I had always heard that Cashews had high fat, and to use almonds and almond butter. So is it just a personal preference? Is Cashew butter used more often in vegan snacks and non vegan snacks than almond butter?

    Great job on reviewing these two vegan snack bars. I’m looking forward to Part 2.

    You and your family keep well.
    Nancy M. Hamar

    Reply
  8. Hi Nancy,

    Thank you for your generous comment!

    I think it’s safe to say that all nuts have relatively high fat contents. Almonds have a slightly higher fat content than cashews, but since that fat is monounsaturated (the good kind), I don’t let that concern me much.

    What determines which nut I use when creating vegan dishes is the texture of the nut. During my commercial kitchen days, making almond-based cheese was much more challenging because of the almond’s density, outer skin, and it doesn’t soak up liquid the way cashews do, so almonds are tougher to grind down into a smooth paste. Of course, I was working with 25 lbs. batches of almonds at a time so that added to the difficulty, but I’m sure that making an almond-based cheese at home (which I haven’t tried yet), using just 1 or 2 cups of almonds, would be highly feasible and easy enough.

    And yes, I would guess that cashews are used more frequently in snack bars because they are easier to work with, deliver great taste and texture, and are less expensive than almonds while still providing lots of nutritional benefits.

    Haha, yes, Barry White is like none other. One of the greatest.

    Thanks again Nancy!

    Kris

    Reply

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