REVIEW: Quest Bar Mocha Chocolate Chip

I tend to start my weekday mornings with a protein bar and a nice cup of strong hot coffee.  As big of a fan of the flavor and effects of the world’s favorite black beverage as I am I’m generally not the biggest fan of coffee flavored bars, ice creams, and other desserts (except Tiramisu), but  I get a feeling my taste buds might be evolving.  Just in time for my change of heart, Quest have unleashed their latest protein-on-the-go creation with Mocha Chocolate Chip.

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Like most newly released Quest bars, this one is extremely soft and fresh with very little signs of the harder taffy texture that used to define the brand. The light brown base that makes up most of the bar has a slightly salty almost toffee kind of flavor that gradually builds and blossoms into coffee that is very authentic and delicious. It isn’t bitter like straight black drip or espresso but it definitely has big coffee flavor and isn’t nearly as sweet as some of the froufy-er beverages you might find at Starbucks or Dunkin. It’s a very genuine taste that as an avid coffee consumer I am stoked on.

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The chocolate chips are dark and not too sweet, and add extra texture and flavor to the bar that accentuates the coffee notes. The bites where you get a good amount of chip and protein base leave the perfect mocha flavor lingering on the tongue.  Another huge win for this bar is the absence of Sucralose, which Quest notoriously uses way too much of and as a result many of their bars have a bad artificial aftertaste. There is no bad fake sweet flavor at all and they have somehow achieved a great balance with only one gram of sugar and some stevia. Impressive.  There is, however, a moderately astringent aftertaste from the use of baking soda that isn’t terribly offensive but does a little dance on my tongue after I’m done chewing.

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Any good baker knows that some black coffee in a chocolate cake makes it taste like richer deeper chocolate and some of that is at play here. The classic pairing of chocolate and coffee works wonderfully and is one of the most solid flavors Quest have come up with so far. Coffee isn’t one of my personal favorite flavors, like the cinnamon in oatmeal chocolate chip, but it is good enough that I will buy it again and make it part of my small Quest rotation.

Rating: 8.5/10
Found at: GNC

Quick Nutrition: 180 cals – 6g Fat – 240mg Sodium – 24g Carbs – 14g Fiber – <1g Sugar – 20g Protein

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REVIEW: Nuts ‘N More Chocolate Maple Pretzel

In my life peanut butter is a food group.  Whether it be smooth or crunchy, salted or unsalted, plain or flavored – peanut butter has a luxuriously addictive and delicious texture that I go to town on with just a spoon and a jar on a regular basis.  There comes a point in every PB-addicts life when reducing some of the fat and increasing the amount of protein simply makes sense, and it is with that mentality that brands like Nuts ’N More flourish – off of nut butter fiends seeking ways to justify their addiction.  At the end of last year I ordered one of the company’s newest flavors – Chocolate Maple Pretzel – and hoarded it until the moment was just right.  Well friends, the moment is now, and it feels (and hopefully tastes) oh so sweet.

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I guess it should come as no surprise that a product that combines three of my favorite flavors into one (put cinnamon in there and I might die) is tasty, but this nutty spread exceeded even my own expectations.  The aroma is spot on chocolate covered pretzel, with that salty sweetness accented by cocoa and rounded out beautifully by maple and yeast.  It’s like dunking your head into a bag of chocolate covered pretzels with just a drizzle of maple syrup on top, and it is divine.  The other Nuts ’N More spreads I’ve had have a kind of protein-y almost artificial peanut butter smell to them, and this one has none of that, which is really appealing.

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The flavor of this stuff is absolutely through the roof.  The peanut butter base has been perfectly integrated with chocolate chips that blended themselves into a smooth brown color as I mixed.  There are big chunks of actual pretzel that crunch and pop with salty explosions that set off the chocolate and peanut butter to brilliant new heights.  The use of real, gluten free pretzels is executed flawlessly, as they’ve maintained their texture and add a different kind of depth to this butter than any other I’ve had before, and they didn’t skimp on them either.  Maple is the least dominant of the flavors but it’s definitely present and its role is cherished, adding a little extra sweetness that enhances the bready flavor of the pretzels; and a little kiss of that Sunday morning magic that comes along with anything that registers “syrup” in my brain.

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Check out the pretzel sticks in there – my GOODNESS!

What’s most impressive about eating this spread is if I didn’t tell you there was some extra protein punch from whey you would have no idea because there is no fake flavor or grainy texture to be found.  The chocolate and maple do a tremendous job of masking any unpleasant or artificial notes that can come through in low sugar high protein products and the flavor is not only convincing but deliciously addictive for any flavored peanut butter.  It is without a doubt the best Nuts ’N More release I have tried and is up there with D’s Natural’s best Fluffbutter flavors in battling for the protein butter title.  This jar literally lasted me three days – I simply could not stop eating it.  It’s salty, it’s sweet, and dare I say I think it might be perfect.

Rating: 10/10

Quick Nutrition:
2 TBS – 182 Cals – 11g Fat – 9g Carbs – 2g Fiber – 2g Sugar 11g Protein – 138mg Sodium

REVIEW: Quest Beyond Cereal Bars (All three flavors)

The all-influential and trend-setting folks at Quest Nutrition are back at it again with a new line of portable protein – Beyond Cereal bars. The bars attempt to emulate the mainstream cereal bar, somewhere in between the Lucky Charms 7/11-available variety and the popular Red Berry line by Special K.

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As with most Quest products these bars are laced with both protein (12 grams) and fiber (7 grams), and only 110 calories each. The big difference here is the amount of sugar, clocking in at 8 grams, or four times the amount typically found in a Quest protein bar. The kicker is apparently the listed grams of sugar aren’t actually the same as the ones normally listed because they come from allulose, which has one tenth of the calories of actual sugar (despite being required to be listed in the sugar column).  This is the first widely distributed product on the market made with allulose and to be honest I have no idea how it works, but its flavor is certainly more convincing than the other alternate sweeteners typically used in protein products.

The bars launched this week with three flavors and I’m going to rate and review all three from most fire to most tepid, but heads up, they’re all pretty solid.

Waffle: This bar is delicious. Immediately upon opening the package you’re hit with the strong smell of maple syrup, not the stuff that actually comes from trees but the Aunt Jemima Log Cabin Sunday morning nostalgia kind of syrup. Somehow the taste isn’t overwhelmingly sweet, and the use of allulose allows the bar to avoid the artificial Sucralose taste that sometimes plagues Quest products. The texture is soft and chewy like a Rice Krispy treat with an undercurrent of buttery graham cracker. What makes this flavor particularly intriguing is there are no other products with this profile currently on the market. If this bar were an actual cereal it would be Golden Grahams, and it’s a damn fine substitute.  I had to buy this bar a second time to make sure I liked it as much as I thought and it’s without a doubt my favorite Quest product of the year.
Rating: 9/10

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Cinnamon Roll: Beautiful cinnamon flavor with a slight buttery toasty undertone – this bar is Cinnamon Toast Crunch all the way. It is the only one where the white drizzle on top seems to really stand out, adding a nice touch of creaminess and sweetness to highlight the spice. The spices aren’t overwhelming but are very much there, and this is the first time I’ve really marveled at the fact that this whole line isn’t actually cereal. Really cool for people with gluten intolerance to be able to enjoy something that emulates a cereal bar so well. Only downside to this one is it is the only bar of the three that has a bit of a fake sugar Sucralose flavor, even though it uses allulose as its primary sweetener.
Rating: 8/10

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Chocolate: This bar has less of everything. Less aroma, less sweetness, less pop on the initial bite. The texture is a bit softer but also grainier than the waffle or cinnamon, and its main strength is a deep cocoa taste. The chocolate here is not suggesting milk chocolate like Cocoa Pebbles but it isn’t as bitter as straight cocoa either. It’s got a natural chocolatey-ness that’s more convincing than most Quest products. The base flavor is not too far off from a less sweet Oreo, and doesn’t emulate any particular name brand cereal I’ve had on the market (RIP Oreo O‘s and shoutout Junk Banter for that comparison). If you’re a fan of Cocoa Puffs you will likely dig this but don’t expect it to taste exactly like the actual cereal you grew up loving.
Rating: 7.5/10

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Overall the Quest Beyond Cereal lineup is a slam dunk.  They have managed to make something awesome that I didn’t even know I needed in my life and I will be a repeat customer.  A quick fix snack bar that provides the comfort of a nostalgic breakfast with portability, protein, and fiber to boot.  The only issue with this line is the price point – being offered at a very similar cost to a regular Quest bar in most retailers ($2.39), but only having around half the protein and fiber you would typically get at that dollar amount.  A great snack but probably not suitable for a meal replacement, although you can always just crush two if you’re feeling spendy and hungry.

Overall Quest Beyond Cereal rating: 8/10

Quick Nutrition:
110 calories – 4.5g fat – 10mg Cholesterol – 170mg Sodium – 17g Carbs – 7g Fiber – 8g Sugar – 12g Protein

PROTEIN POST: Nuts ‘N More Salted Caramel

Have you ever wished you could crush up a Butterfinger bar and spread it all over everything?  Drizzle it on ice cream?  Eat it with a spoon?  Put it on a sandwich?  Look no further – this Salted Caramel Nuts ‘N More protein butter tastes almost exactly like the distinct sweet nutty flavor of Butterfinger.

Butterfinger is that candy bar that I always found myself enjoying while trick or treating as a kid but rarely buying on a trip to the candy aisle.  Now in my adult years I don’t buy many candy bars but who can resist something packed with protein that sends you down a trip to nostalgia lane?

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Photo courtesy of Nuts ‘N More website

Nuts N More spreads combine whey protein isolate with nuts (in this case peanuts), flax seed, and a couple of binders and sugar alcohols to round out the flavor in their power packed butters.  The texture is a little bit whey-grainy but not too far off from a regular flavored nut butter, and with almost twice the amount of protein they’re definitely worth this minor change.

While I can’t say the spread tastes quite like salted caramel it is delicious and has a perfect creamy consistency that holds up well after a good mixing.  The product is a bit pricey ($12.99) but with 14 servings per container it should last quite awhile, unless you go on a crazy post-Halloween snack spiral and try it on top of everything in your cabinet.  Hey, at least you’d wake up hella buff.

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Deliciously dreamy consistency

Serving Size: 2 TBSP – Servings: 14 – Calories: 188 – Total Fat: 12g – 2g saturated 0g trans fat – Cholesterol 2mg – Sodium 102g – Total Carbohydrate: 8g – Dietary Fiber: 3g – Sugars 1g – Protein: 12g

Note: This is not a new product, just something I’ve recently got into and felt the need to share!

REVIEW: Quest Bar Rocky Road

Earlier this year Quest announced that it would be rolling out three new flavors of cheat clean goodness over the course of four months and the big bad finale is finally upon us. Following the success of imitating a cookie with Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, and a muffin, with Blueberry Muffin, the Quest brand has chosen to take on imitating Rocky Road ice cream.  The classic flavors of chocolate, nuts, and sweet marshmallow lend themselves well to a portable protein bar, but how does it stack up against the others in the Quest-verse?

Rocky Road’s biggest strength is the same as the two that came before it, and that is in its chunky prominence.  Quest have quickly solidified themselves as the king of the chunk and while new competitors pop up seemingly every month, Quest has found a way to keep itself relevant and desirable in the vast field of protein bars.  Every bite of Rocky Road has ample pieces of crunchy almonds and sweet marshmallow; the bar has some of the most equal chunk distribution I’ve seen from Quest and that keeps the bar interesting from start to finish. The chocolate base, like most Quest bars, has a strong sucralose flavor that drives the sweetness of each bite. As long as you’re okay with the fake sweet taste the overall experience is pretty true to a good scoop of rocky road ice cream. Almond is the dominant flavor over marshmallow, which gets lost just a bit in the general sweetness of the bar as a whole, but you see them and their presence is at least felt texturally.

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Rocky Road is essentially a nutty crunchy version of one of their best bars already on the market – Double Chocolate Chunk. While there are no pieces of dark chocolate lurking in the protein base, the ample amounts of almonds and marshmallows make this an intriguing bite on the go. Not as good as the two that came before it but still better than or equal to the other top Quest bars already available.

Rating: 7/10