I recently had the pleasure of receiving a free sampler pack of a new-to-me vegan food bar called the Defender Meal from Core Foods. They come in three flavors, almond-raisin, walnut-banana, and cashew-cacao, and are made with only the simplest of organic ingredients, including oatmeal, nuts, and fruit. Furthermore, in addition to being vegan, they are raw and gluten-free.
Note: Their other line of bars, the Warrior Meal, contain whey.
The story behind the not-for-profit company’s origins and the inspiration for the bars is a fascinating one. The founder, Corey Rennell was a nutrition major at Harvard.
“In a research project partly underwritten by the Discovery Channel, Rennell lived with remote tribes in Papua New Guinea, Mongolia, rural Mexico and 11 other locations.”
He followed up that experience, where he learned much about how the world eats outside of the Standard American Diet — namely, a high-starch, raw food, mostly plant-based diet — with a stint at Whole Foods, and Core Foods was born.
Source: A Harvard Project Leads To A Healthy Snacks Startup, Forbes.com
“Sounds great,” you say, “but how do they taste?” Glad you asked, as I was eager to find out as well!
In order to get a wider range of opinions, as in the past when I’ve reviewed new vegan food products, I got together with friends for a little taste test. This time it was Scott, a fellow vegan, his wife, and their 4-year-old daughter.
We rated each on a scale of 1-5 for taste, texture, perceived healthfulness, and price (would you buy it at between $4-5 [a case of 10 costs $39.99 before shipping]). We tried not to influence one another, and took note of the little one’s reaction.
First up was the almond-raisin bar. This was hands-down the favorite of everyone with 4-5 on taste and texture. It was moist and had a good flavor of cinnamon and raisin, like a comforting bowl of oatmeal in the morning.
Next, we tried the walnut-banana, which due to some rough transit in the mail and the big pieces of walnut, was a bit broken up. No matter, the taste was still much appreciated; it was almost spot-on to that of a banana bread. The texture got slightly lower marks all around, as it was a little dry. Right about now, we all drank some water, prompted by their daughter’s request.
Last up was the cashew-cacao. Unfortunately, the initial reaction was that it was too bitter. Scott’s wife and daughter couldn’t finish their portions, but we persisted. It did grow on you a little as you ate more, but wow, that first bite was a surprise. There’s no added sweetener in any of these bars, which was great with all the fruit, but when it came to the cacao, its natural bitterness won the day.
For healthfulness, it was 5′s across the board on all of them, save for my 4 on the cashew-cacao due to its higher saturated fat content.
So, overall, pretty good and certainly filling. The price was perhaps a bit prohibitive. Scott did picture maybe picking some up if you knew you were going on a hike or something though. I could see it for a road trip too.
If you’d like a chance to win your own sampler pack, Core Foods has agreed to let me run a giveaway for my readers. You can enter here.