Tasty and healthy: a paradox?

We parents do everything we can to ensure our kids grow up healthy and happy. For instance, we try to buy healthy, wholesome snacks for them, which they’ll actually want to eat. That’s the catch, right? If it’s tasty, it’s probably crap; but if it’s healthy, it probably tastes a little like sawdust.

At the top of the snack list are nature’s treats — fresh fruits and vegetables. Next come dried fruits, yogurt, nuts and whole grain crackers and cereal. But have you tried looking at alternatives? Slim pickings to say the least. Take a stroll to your local supermarket and go down the snack aisle.  You’ll find dozens of brands of granola bars in dozens of flavours, many claiming the benefits of either whole grains, high fibre, or some other trendy catch phrase.

Before throwing the box into your basket, turn it over and take a look at the nutritional content. The average granola bar will have 1 to 2 grams of fibre (2 grams being the minimum quantity necessary to claim “Source of fibre”). Keep reading. The sugar content, on average, will range anywhere between 9 and 16 grams. Let me put that into context for you: 1 teaspoon of granulated white sugar contains 4.2 grams. It’s like feeding your child rolled oats and nuts, with up to 4 teaspoons of sugar sprinkled on top.

Example #1: Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain bars — 3 g fat, 2 g fibre, 13 g sugar, 2 g protein

Example #2: General Mills’ Nature Valley Trail Mix bars — 4 g fat, 1 g fibre, 12 g sugar, 3 g protein (Their crunchy bars have 6 g of fat)

I wonder if they feed their own kids this stuff. Note that I didn’t bother referencing anything involving chocolate, honey, maple or the like.

I can spend up to 20 minutes in that aisle, comparing the backs of boxes, looking for the lesser of all evils. I can occasionally bake my own concoctions, but like most parents who work full-time, have kids to drive to multiple activities, and still have a home to manage, it’s not a permanent solution. So short of starting my own bakery, is there a decent solution on the market?

The light at the end of the tunnel: Kashi. Their granola bars are both nutritious and delicious. Evidently, they employ smart, responsible parents. Thank you, Kashi, for setting the example.

Consider Kashi’s Cherry Dark Chocolate granola bars — 3.5 g fat, 4 g fibre, 6 g sugar, 6 g protein

Their only flaw is that their products aren’t certified as being nut-free, which most schools today insist upon.

Oh well. The girls can at least enjoy Kashi bars at home or on the way to soccer. Incidentally, they’ve come up with some new flavours, which aren’t on their web site yet, but are available in stores – Dark chocolate & Coconut, for one, is sinfully delicious, and still boasts the same wholesome benefits. Just sayin’.

I do intend on using my relentless powers of harassment to contact some of the major players and suggest they follow Kashi’s lead and start offering some healthier alternatives. They all have R&D facilities. With enough pressure from the public, perhaps they’ll eventually come out with something that will make both kids and moms happy.


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