When it comes to protein and nutrition bars, I’ve done my fair share of taste-testing. As a rather picky, texture-sensitive individual, I’ve had some less than stellar experience in this department: Too hard, too mushy, too chunky, too dry, too chalky, too bland, and too fake-tasting. With that being said, I adhere to a set of standards I have in place regarding protein and nutrition bars:
- High-quality source of protein (bonus if it’s plant-based!)
- Natural, high quality ingredients
- Balanced macronutrient profile
- Nutrient density
- Gluten-free (bonus if it’s also dairy-free)
After doing a few Google searches, I discovered the website for the brand D’s Naturals. The company is run by founder Daniel Katz, a young man who values and prioritizes quality nutrition. Having developed a dairy sensitivity, he had a difficult time finding high-quality, dairy-free protein bars with natural, nourishing ingredients. Determined to find a dairy-free protein bar that wasn’t simply a “candy bar in disguise,” he set out to create his own dairy-free protein bar: The No Cow Bar. Since its creation in 2015, No Cow Bars have been available in various retailers, including Vitamin Shoppe, GNC, and CVS Pharmacy. In addition to protein bars, D’s Naturals created Fluffbutter–a line of protein-infused nut butters that are high in protein, low in sugar, and dairy-free. With flavors like Creamy Chocolate S’mores, Cocoa Glazed Cinnamon Roll, and Vanilla Maple Frosting, D’s Naturals has hit the mark when it comes to satisfying various taste profiles for those of us who refer to ourselves as “flavor gurus.”
The No Cow Bar is advertised as “a dairy-free protein bar made with organic brown rice and pea proteins, prebiotic fiber, and all natural sweeteners monk fruit and stevia.” In addition to these exceptional qualities, the bars are vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and non-GMO. The bars are sold in cases of twelve for $29.99 on D’s Naturals website (www.dnaturals.com), but can be found discounted at other retailers, such as Amazon or Vitamin Shoppe. The bars are also sold in singles, with a cost of approximately $2.50 per bar (I have found promotions and discounted bars at Vitamin Shoppe). The bars come in a variety of flavors: Blueberry Cobbler, Lemon Meringue, Raspberry Truffle, Dark Raspberry Truffle, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Chocolate Banana Bread, and Chocolate Mint. All of this brand’s outstanding information sounded great and seemed to have satisfied most of my standards in regards to selecting a protein bar. However, there were still two very important standards I couldn’t check of just yet: Flavor and texture.
I decided to venture to my nearest Vitamin Shoppe and give this bar a fair go. Vitamin Shoppe just so happened to be advertising a 2/$4.00 promotion for D’s Naturals, so I happily tossed a few different flavors into my basket. As I made my way to the cash register, I felt a pang of excitement with high expectations for this newly discovered product. As soon as I got home, I surveyed my new stash of No Cow Bars, which included three flavors: Blueberry Cobbler, Lemon Meringue, and Raspberry Truffle. I’m a fan of fruit-flavored protein bars, so I opted for the ones that I deemed most fruity.
The first flavor I tried was Raspberry Truffle. The bar felt soft in its wrapper, which hinted at the bar having a soft, smooth texture. As I eagerly tore open the wrapper, I was greeted by a sweet aroma of raspberry and a very subtle aroma of dark cocoa. The bar itself was studded with a plethora of dark cocoa chunks, which gave it a nice aesthetic. However, the most important question still remained unanswered: How would the bar taste?
I took a small first bite, letting the flavors and textures coalesce and dance across my tongue’s taste buds. As I continued to nibble my way through the bar, I was pleasantly surprised at the lack of bitter, chalky aftertaste–something I’ve experienced in the past with plant-based protein bars. There was just the right amount of sweetness from the raspberry flavor, and the dark cocoa chips added a crunchy, decadent, taste-bud-pleasing texture. It was truly love at first bite. This is currently my favorite flavor No Cow Bar, coming close in second with Blueberry Cobbler, which I will be reviewing next.
Moving on to the next flavor I purchased, I again noticed a similar soft feel underneath the wrapper. As I peeled open the wrapper, I noticed a light aroma of blueberry and a hint of cinnamon. Blueberry Cobbler isn’t a typical flavor you’d find in a protein bar, but I was curiously intrigued–hence why I settled on this particular flavor. Plus, it’s fruity–my favorite!
The appearance of this bar was darker in color, and had a smoother consistency than that of the Raspberry Truffle. I anticipated this texture difference given that there weren’t any dark cocoa chips or other crunch-inducing add-ins with this particular flavor. Upon the first bite, I noticed a smooth, fruity, sweet taste in my mouth–no aftertaste!–which was quite pleasant. With each nibble, I noticed specks of dried blueberries which enhanced the fruity, sweet flavor quite prominently. For the most part, the bar itself appeared dark in color and rather consistent in its overall texture. However, don’t let its Plane-Jane appearance and texture fool you–this flavor was another winner in my book!
The last flavor No Cow Bar I would like to review is the Lemon Meringue. I do not have a personal picture of this one, which may relay to you that this was my least favorite flavor of the three bars I taste-tested. I’m not a huge fan of lemon, but given my inclination to choose fruity flavors, I wanted to give this one a fair chance. It wasn’t bad by any means–it just wasn’t my favorite of the bunch. I highlighted my two favorite flavors in the reviews above, which I felt deserved a higher degree of recognition.
In conclusion, I can happily say that D’s Naturals No Cow Bar meets (and exceeds) the standards I hold when purchasing protein and nutrition bars. With an excellent macronutrient profile, all-natural ingredients that are gluten-free, soy-free, and non-GMO, a high-quality source of plant-based protein, cost efficiency, and an ample amount of flavors to choose from, No Cow Bars are my go-to when it comes to a nourishing, wholesome protein bar. They make an excellent protein-rich snack for on the go, or a delightful addition to overnight oats, yogurt bowls, smoothie bowls, or any other balanced meal. My favorite pairing is a Raspberry Truffle No Cow Bar and a piping-hot mug of coffee + nut milk, which makes for the perfect snack at any time of the day. When it comes to protein bars, the options regarding how and when to incorporate them are endless, so feel free to get creative!
I’m interested to hear what your thoughts are on protein and nutrition bars: Do you have any other brands that you would recommend? What are your favorite protein/nutrition bars? I’m open to new suggestions, so please feel free to leave feedback in the comments below!
*I was not influenced by D’s Naturals whatsoever for any portion of this review. This was a voluntary review. For more information regarding this product, please visit http://www.dnaturals.com.