Today's food product is Carman's original fruit and nut muesli bars. These contain almonds and pecans so aren’t appropriate for some schools. But is it a quick, nutritious snack or just junk?
🔹This is a slightly tricky ingredient list to interpret, but basic facts suggest it's 79% muesli. The muesli ingredients include oats (52%), dried fruit (14% including sultanas, currants, raisins and coconut), sunflower oil, seeds (7%), nuts (7%), golden syrup, oat flour and cinnamon.
🔹If 79% of the bar comes from muesli, then obviously you want to know what the other 21% of ingredients are. Well, according to the information panel, it's just glucose (sugar) and natural vanilla flavour. So essentially, this product is Carman's muesli, with sugar to bind it. Keep reading- this isn't as bad as it sounds.
🔹I like that almost every ingredient is a real food- grains, fruit, nuts and seeds
🔹High fibre food, with 3.1g per muesli bar, which is good for little tummies. This works out to 22.1% of a young child’s fibre recommendation, and 17.2% of an older child’s daily fibre recommendations.
🔹Very low sodium (salt) content
🔹High protein content (remember that Australian kids already have a high protein intake so don't necessarily need more protein in their diets!)
🔹The dried fruit in these bars is sulphite free, which is useful for those with food chemical intolerances (but most people can tolerate these with no problems)
🔹The convenience factor also can't be overlooked. These can be chucked into a bag, with no storage specifications, and pulled out in an emergency weeks later. Sometimes you can't put a price on that!
🔹The sugar content comes in at 17.3g per 100g, which is over general guidelines (aim for less than 15g/100g). However some of this sugar does come from the dried fruit (11% of the bar), which also provides fibre and nutrients. The bars contain 2.3g more sugar (by weight) than the regular Carman's muesli, which was definitely better than I initially expected considering glucose is the binding ingredient.
🔹The overall fat content is relatively high because of the nuts (which are mostly a good fat), and because the muesli is toasted (baked with oil). They contain 14.9g per 100g, which is more than the 10g recommendations. However, the saturated fat content comes in under healthy guidelines.
🔹Although nuts are super nutritious, the inclusion of almonds and pecans means that these muesli bars are banned at many Australian schools.
🔹These bars are reasonably expensive at 94c/bar.
🔶 The marketing:
🔹Carman's do make a big deal out of their 'real food' ingredients. I think they've got a reasonable edge in the market, because most of the other muesli bars are made up of some stranger sounding ingredients like humectants and starches and multiple forms of sugars. These aren't 'bad' ingredients, it's just that they don't have a lot of nutritional worth or health benefits- they're there to keep the bar stuck together.
🔹“Source of fibre” Yes this is true, and a good one at that.
🔹”High in wholegrain” Yes, also true with 18g in each bar.
🔹This product is an ok choice in a snack aisle often filled with foods containing very high levels of sugar, fat and salt. Compared to other foods it does ok, but the added sugar content is still too high for me to recommend as an everyday food.
🔹Homemade muesli bars might be a better option, but I am yet to find a recipe that tastes good, keeps its shape and isn't loaded with sugar. If you've got a recipe- hit me up!!
🔹These particular muesli bars are also a much better option than any of the other 'yoghurt' topped bars or 'protein' muesli bars sold by Carman's or any other brand for that matter. But that's a review for another day! They’re almost EXACTLY the same as the Carman’s Super Berry Muesli Bars. Go figure.
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About Mealtime Building Blocks
Dr Kyla Smith and Liz Beaton are paediatric dietitians specialising in fussy eating, feeding difficulties and childhood nutrition. Lauren Pike is an occupational therapist working in fussy eating and feeding difficulties. They have a private practice called Mealtime Building Blocks in Perth, Western Australia. You can connect with Kyla, Liz and Lauren here www.mealtimes.com.au