If you're like most parents, you probably have a drawer in your pantry packed with nutrition bars for easy, portable and healthy snacks for your kids. But with so many bar options on the market, it can be tough to determine which are the best for your brood, especially since many of the seemingly healthy bars in grocery aisles are actually more like candy bars dressed up in ‘healthy-looking’ wrapping. So – with the help of a nutritionist -- we’ve decided to create a curated list of the best protein bars for kids that are out there today so you can feel good about your snack drawer…
Our key criteria to determine the winning bars had seven parts, laid out by our favorite nutritionist, and our taste-testing group of kids:
High Protein (ideally 10+ grams) to keep little bodies fueled with the right kind of nutrients. Anything offering less than 4 grams of protein was automatically disqualified.
High Fiber (ideally 8+ grams) to keep kids feeling satisfied.
- Low Sugar. Anything with more than 10g is a candy bar in disguise.
- Gluten Free. Because the studies linking attention difficulties in school to gluten consumption are too hard to ignore.
- Free of Corn Syrup and High Fructose Corn Syrup. Because heavily processed sugar is bad no matter how you slice it.
- Soy Free. Because soy usually makes it into bars as parts of long and tricky ingredient lists full of ‘filler’ ingredients that lack nutrients.
- Great Taste! Because if the kids won’t eat it, it doesn’t matter how healthy it is.
NikoBar’s Cherry Chocolate Chip Bar took top prize hands down.
Not only does this incredible tasting bar offer 11 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber, it’s also free of everything from soy to gluten to corn syrup. It’s pure, it’s natural and the icing on this health-cake is that it’s super low in sugar too: just 6 grams in total per bar. But the kids would never know it. We couldn’t keep these in stock on our taste testing. They vanished almost as fast as cupcakes! In all seven categories, this bar got top marks! 7/7
NikoBar’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Bar was almost as much of a
favorite with our taste testers and our nutritionist as the above Cherry Chocolate Chip Bar. It has a whopping 10 grams of protein, 9 grams of fiber and just 5 grams of sugar. What’s more, like all NikoBars, it’s gluten free, and completely free of all corn syrups. Best of all, it tastes like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Moms said they liked the taste of this one almost as much as the kids! 7/7
- Nature Valley Protein’s Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Bar. This delicious bar won 3rd prize in our list of the top bars for 2017 because of its excellent combo of high protein – 10 grams! – and low sugar (just 6 grams). Additionally, this bar tastes great and it’s gluten free! 6/7
- NikoBar’s Birthday Cake Bar. This bar tastes so good that one of our little tasters asked if she could put a candle in it like “real cake!” Our nutritionist loved this bar because it offers a whopping 14 grams of protein and 14 grams of fiber with only 2 grams of sugar, which would make it an excellent snack for kids from the ages of 9-16 after school and/or before sports practice. The high protein / fiber combo also makes it a good on-the-go breakfast option. 6/7
- Curate Kids’ Chocolate Banana Bar. This bar has adorably appealing packaging that really called out to our focus group of kids, and a great taste. Our nutritionist was happy with the bars credentials too: gluten free, no corn syrup and just 9 grams of sugar. That being said, it failed to hit quite the high protein and high fiber that we were ideally looking for in our winners. But it scored so high in taste and kid-appeal – with lots of great pure ingredients – that we thought it deserved a place on the winners’ board! 5/7
NikoBar’s Candy Cane Bar. This bar blew our nutritionist away
with its incredible nutrition panel: 14 grams of protein, 14 grams of fiber and just 3 grams of sugar! What’s more, it’s gluten free and free of all corn syrups. Our kids loved it as a holiday treat too, but they couldn’t quite imagine eating it during the non-Christmas season, which is the only negative number it scored. That being said, we think this bar could be the best, healthiest and easiest Christmas vacation snack/breakfast bar of all time! 5/7
- Cliff Kid Z Protein Chocolate Chip Bar. Among the bars that are easily found on any supermarket shelf, this bar was the least offensive. Though it still falls quite far behind the above options, we wanted to be sure to include one bar that’s relatively ubiquitous. What we liked about this bar was its relatively higher protein content (5 grams), moderately low sugar (9 grams) and freedom from corn syrups. In a pinch, we’d definitely grab this one, despite the low fiber and soy ingredients. It’s much better than the standard Cliff Kid Z bars, which typically have just 2 grams of protein and a whopping 11 grams of sugar. 3/7