Carrie’s Test Kitchen: ALT bars

I know I’ve mentioned a time or two that LARABAR is one of the few energy/snack bars I buy. I look for bars that have as few ingredients as possible, and deeply prefer that those ingredients are real food, and not processed isolates and additives. Some LARABAR flavors have only two or three ingredients, and it doesn’t get much more “real food” than dates and nuts.
So, imagine my delight when a tiny little box was waiting for me when I got home one day last week after a long day at the hospital. Inside were free samples from LARABAR of their new offering: ALT, the Alternative Protein Bar.
The alternative protein in question is pea protein, which I first heard about last summer when I was at the Institute of Food Technologist educational conference in Las Vegas. Pea protein is a relatively new player on the protein powder scene, and it has the advantage of being vegan-friendly (unlike whey protein), has low risk of being allergenic (unlike soy protein), and is also gluten-free. The pea protein in ALT is GMO-free, as well.
I was starving when I got home, so I decided to sample what I thought would be my favorite bar of the lot, Peanut Butter Cookie. It did not disappoint. My favorite “regular” LARABAR flavor is Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, so this was not a surprise.
I don’t eat bars every day, so a few days later I sampled Pumpkin Pie. I count this as my second favorite. It had a nice pumpkin flavor, and the spice had a tiny bit of kick, which I loved. It reminded me of LARBAR’s Ginger Snap flavor, one of my favorites, which apparently they aren’t making anymore, since it’s not on their website anymore (I wondered why I always had so much trouble finding it in stores). Boo hoo!
Next up was Lemon Pound Cake. I skew toward nutty/caramelly/chocolaty flavors in bars, so I am pretty sure I’ve never had the comparable Lemon Bar flavor of the original. It was good, but not my favorite.
Finally, it was time for Cinnamon Apple Crisp. I’ve eaten many an original Apple Pie flavor in my time (mostly because it’s one of the flavors in the three-flavor multipacks sold at Costco), and while it was fine, it was never one of my top picks. I actually liked this bar more than I expected. It had a nice amount of cinnamon, and I would totally pick this for an in-a-pinch breakfast bar.
Each bar has 10 grams of protein (compared with 3 to 6 in the original LARABARs). The ingredient list is a little longer, and includes brown rice syrup and sunflower oil, which I’m not super glad about. But I would still rate ALT as among the better bars on the market, and I will be buying the Peanut Butter Cookie and Pumpkin Pie flavors…and maybe a few Cinnamon Apple Crisp, too.