You’ve got a conference or Trade Show coming up and won’t be able to lug around a cooler. How do you keep from eating donuts and Honest (dishonest) Tea?
What can you fit in your pocket?
Enter the Power Bar.
But not just any power bar, because most are no better than a candy bar. Two-by-four inch snacks are great because they hardly take up any space and can even be stored in a pocket. Here are my favorites:
Made in Austin, TX, home to so many real-food entrepreneurs, they contain only real and simple ingredients with a mix of superfoods while not adding a drop of sugar. How do they do this? With dates and figs. The sugar content is not negligible, but it comes from real food, so you get a free pass. Just don’t eat five a day. Interesting flavors include Hazlenut-Coffee-Maca and Cashew-Fig-Carrot. No grains, either! Paleo and vegan.
Ingredients you can see and pronounce touts their website. Well, I can see and pronounce Canola oil, but I don’t want it in my mouth. The ingredients used to be kinder, but they grew into a big company and Target wanted inventory, so they had to scale up—and cut some corners. Their Whole Grain Clusters contain Canola oil and heavily processed, nutrient-dead soy protein isolate, so don’t buy those. Their basic bars are still decent—just check the ingredients. Only get the ones withy 5g sugar or less, because otherwise you’re buying dessert.
If you want something that’s a cross between a power bar and beef jerky, you’ve found your fix. Crazy and exciting flavors like Salmon Smoked Maple and Bison Bacon Cranberry. Very pure ingredients with 6g sugar and 7g protein. Also 8g fat to keep you satiated till the next meal. Lots of variety….want some feral boar?
Every bar has Egg whites for protein. Dates to bind. Nuts for texture. Also, apparently they’re upfront and honest about everything we do, from the inside out. Except that the last ingredient on their chocolate and fruit bars is a mystery flavor that they won’t disclose. “Flavor” could be a thousand things including Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), so they get dinged for not being transparent. Otherwise, compared to 99% of the junk out there, it’s a good bar—no soy or gluten or crap fillers and no added sugar. Tame flavors include Apple Cinnamon and Coconut Chocolate. Average bar has Sugar 13g (from the dates)/Protein 12g/Fat 10g.
These are similar to Epic with meat and berries in each bar. Everything they make is gluten free. There are also “sticks” and jerky. The sesame garlic beef with sweet potato stick gives you a whole entrée in a couple of bites. Next, maybe they’ll stick a whole meal into a pill and you can just swallow it and power on through your day 😝! Note that the products contain Citric Acid, which sounds harmless enough and exists naturally in citrus fruit. However, the kind used in packaged foods is industrially produced Aspergillus niger, a common black mold derived from corn starch, which is usually GMO. Not as yummy! Krave uses lean cuts of beef, which some people may prefer, but expect to be hungry again in an hour! Also, check the sugar content…anything over 7g is dessert.
Grain-free superfood bars. The Coconut Cashew contains cashews, sunflower kernels, pumkpin seeds, coconut, coconut oil, almonds, chia seeds, cashew butter and hemp seeds and is lightly sweetened with coconut sugar.
Fruits that travel.
Okay, bananas are a quick and easy snack and come with their own packaging, but they also squish easily so can’t be carried around for long. Apples, on the other hand, are a little more resilient rolling around in a bag. Got cleavage? Otherwise, try this trick. Too big for your pocket? How about little juicy orange things, like mandarins and clementines. Hopefully not grown with California wastewater. If you have a purse or a jacket pocket you can carry an avocado.
Seriously. And you can cut it with a plastic knife and scoop it out with a spoon. So just pack a plastic knife and spoon or pick one up at the airport or hotel—plastic can be washed and reused! Or you can get cool compact utensils like this or this. Avocados are a fantastic food for a million reasons and it’ll fill you up.
Beef Jerky. Step aside Slim Jims!
Gone are the old days when the only available brand had nitrates, MSG and was packed with salt and sugar. There are so many other choices now, many of them healthy and reasonably nutritious. And you can store them in your pocket till ready to eat!
Chomps Snack Sticks.
Made from grass fed beef and spices in an innocent collagen casing. Sold on Amazon like everything else.
Think Jerky lists so many things that they don’t contain that I wondered if anything was left to include. But their famous-chef-created concoctions have all the good stuff: grass-fed beef, raspberries, sea salt, chipotle, ancho chili, paprika, etc. The jerky comes in an air-compressed bag so if you take the pieces out and repackage them they’ll take up less space.
The New Primal.
One of the purest. All grass-fed, grass finished beef (most manufacturers cheat and finish with grain which fattens the cows up quickly while completely eliminating the health benefit of grass). These guys are a step above the rest. It’s higher in grass-fed fat which is full of healthy Omega 3 essential fatty acids. And the fat will help tie you over till the next meal. Unique healthy ingredients like pineapple juice (instead of sugar), coconut aminos, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar.
All of the Goodness, None of the Garbage. Traditional preparations of grass-fed beef and wild turkey. Nice spices like coriander, parsley, and turmeric. No sugar!
Pan’s Mushroom Jerky.
I tried all their flavors and loved them. What a great idea! They’re made from shiitake mushrooms—the kind that have cancer-fighting properties. No meat, no soy, just ‘shrooms! Cool flavors like zesty Thai and applewood BBQ. The ingredients are superb—avocado oil, coconut sugar, and lots of great spices.
All kinds. Best to eat raw. Avoid those roasted in oil because it’s usually vegetable oil. Salt is okay. Organic is important if peanuts or almonds. And sprouted is best because the anti-nutrients have been neutralized and you will digest them more easily. The nuts you buy on the road will mostly suck (Planters, etc), so try to bring your own. They travel fine in your suitcase and you can stuff a few handfuls in a ziploc and carry it on an airplane and to a conference. Or wear a string of nuts around your neck and chomp when you’re hungry!
Pumpkin seeds are awesome. There are many different brands and flavors. Some like it raw, some prefer roasted and salted. The best ones are actually addictive like potato chips, but full of fiber and filling. Buy a bag or get them in bulk and then pour into a ziploc or small container. Granola/seed mixes are good, too as long as they contain less than 6g sugar.
Also called energy balls and power bites, these have become a thing in Austin. At least three foodie entrepreneurs are making them. You can easily make your own. But not at a hotel the night before a conference. However, if you’re in Austin going to SXSW you can pick some up at Peoples Pharmacy. They come in lots of flavors like cherry almond and pumpkin maca and the base is nut butter mixed with oats or coconut.
Go easy on these because they’re high in natural sugar and most have added sugar, as well. Perhaps you can buy a container of dates, date rolls, or figs, and keep a few on hand to spike you out of your afternoon nap when you need to give your presentation.
If you’re feeling munchy and crunchy or anticipate that you will, think ahead because you do not to get suck with whatever the airport or corner store or convention center carries. Just order some packs online and throw them in your suitcase or purse.
These are true superfoods. The Garlic and Onion Kale chips contain kale, sunflower seeds, tahini, cane sugar (only 3g), apple cider vinegar, garlic, onion, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Some of the products are so minimalist that they only have one ingredients, like the beets. Would be better, of course, to eat a beet–shaved into your salad or in a smoothie. But when you’re on the run you have to cut some corners. Most of the chips have a good amount of protein but not enough fat to keep you going all day. Kale chips are a little crumbly, so if plucking them from your belt doesn’t work out well, keep them in a bag or a water bottle.
The only company with “honest” in the name that’s relatively honest. They claim to stone grind the corn using volcanic rock to preserve its integrity. They source from farmers who use traditional methods and fry in coconut oil which is the only oil that’s safe to fry in. Still, corn is corn, a not-so-healthy carb, and it’s not organic. Some contain sugar (maple cinnamon flavor), and others have maltodextrin, a very processed corn filler. The Lime and Sea salt is comparatively pure and contains heathy lime oil. My favorite is Sweet Potato chips with just three great ingredients.
Boulder Canyon Foods.
The Story of Two brothers who set out to make a better potato chip, etc., etc. Non-GMO and cooked in small batches give these a gourmet edge, always better than a large-scale factory food. Some products are better than others—their crisps use sunflower oil, so not recommended. They also have a rice bran oil potato chip, which is not as crappy as soybean oil but not exactly healthy either. So stick to their coconut oil or olive oil potato chip.
Hopefully there’s an idea here for you. Only a very few brands got the GFF stamp of approval. But when more great transportable non-refrigerated snacks come on the market, they’ll join this list. Know any that I forgot? Please reach out and let me know!
Okay, I admit it—not all of these snacks fit comfortably in your pocket—or can be transported in your hair—but I wanted to capture your imagination. Perhaps you’ll have a briefcase or laptop or purse or waist pack and can slip a small snack inside. And hopefully that’ll hold you over till lunch or dinner so you don’t break down and poison yourself with Fritos and corndogs.
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