This is a follow-up to my last post, a race report that contained a few product reviews of handouts at the end of the race. One of those products was a sample PB&J Julie Bar. This is what I wrote about it:
Last up is the Julie Bar. This is actually a locally owned business here in Tucson, so I’m hoping it tastes good and I can support them! That said, the sample I got was of the PB&J variety. The nutrition label says it’s made out of organic dates, organic raisins, and organic peanuts. 3 ingredients, now that’s my kind of sports food. The little sample only has 57 calories; a full-sized bar of the same flavor would have 170 according to their website. My first impression is that it is definitely not as sweet as the Muscle Milk. It doesn’t exactly taste like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but it doesn’t taste bad. I thought that the peanuts would be more of a butter than they were. They were basically small chucks sitting in the raisin and date goo. I think if they had been put through a food processor it would have a better consistency. But that’s just my two cents. This is definitely something I’d carry on a long bike ride or run. Or even have by the side of the pool on those long swim workouts (of which I’ve had none). The flavor is subtle, which is needed during intense physical exertion, so that’s a plus. It provides a calorie punch in a small package. Packaging is a negative again. I’m not sure how to get away from it, but each bar is individually wrapped in plastic. At $25 for 12 bars (online), it’s a little expensive, but for a small start-up company marketing locally, that’s to be expected. Add to that price at least $5.75 for shipping too. I’m not sure how much they cost in local businesses. All-in-all, I would recommend this product. I look forward to taste testing other flavors.
As a note to the Julie Bar team, as I was clicking around your site researching your bars, I noticed that when someone clicks on your flavors link, they see a blank page. The mouse-over is nice, but there should be something at the flavors page like there is for the buy local link. On to the review!
Following the race, I decided to come into work to see if I could get caught up on some things I needed to do. I didn’t get anything productive done work-wise, but I did have enough energy to go to the gym. This should tell me that I needed to go harder during the race. Don’t worry, I know that now! Anyway, back to the real story. I was a little hungry and decided I’d try another flavor of the Julie Bar. So I went into Highland Market on the corner of 6th and Highland because I remember seeing them there before. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any! I looked everywhere, but didn’t ask anyone. Maybe they had them hidden in a corner. I was disappointed to say the least. After I finish this post, I’m going to send an email to Julie Bar letting them know about the situation. But my resolve to have another taste would not be so easily defeated.
As I passed into the Campus Rec Center, I passed Fuel and thought to myself, “self, you should see if they have any Julie Bars in there”. So I did. And they did! At the counter, I couldn’t quite make up my mind which flavor I wanted to try. All I knew was that I didn’t want another PB&J and I wasn’t in the mood for pumpkin, so I had the nice woman behind the counter to surprise me. She handed me the German Chocolate flavor. It sounded tasty. It ended up being $2.59, which is about the same price you’d pay by ordering online. I know they also sell them at Fair Wheel Bikes, which I also frequent, so I’ll have to check out the price there too.
I didn’t want to wait until after lifting to taste the bar, plus with all the running around trying to find one I was a little famished. So I took a picture of it to prove that I actually bought it and ate it right there in the locker room. So all you ladies wondering what the men’s locker room at the UA Rec looks like, well now you know. And just to prove that I actually ate it, here’s a picture of the wrapper with no Julie Bar inside.
So what did I think? The real version is much larger than the sample given out at the race. I would estimate it was four times larger. The German Chocolate flavor contained 180 calories, 90 of them from the 10 grams of fat. The bar contains 2 grams of saturated fat. There are 25 grams of carbohydrates and 3 grams of protein. Using the standard 9 calories per gram of fat and 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate and protein that gives 210 calories. Close enough? It’s a difference of 16%. I hope the 180 calories is the right value and the other values were just rounded. We can use a little more math the find out some other cool stuff.
The German Chocolate Julie Bar divvies up the macronutrients to supply you with 44% of the calories coming from fat, 50% from carbohydrates and only 6% coming from protein. That distribution isn’t perfect, but it’s hard to provide a perfect distribution of nutrients in such a small, dense product. I would like to see a higher percentage of carbohydrates in a bar meant to be eaten during endurance events. Carbs are the easiest macronutrients to be absorbed and used quickly by our bodies. There is recent research that suggests that there is some need for protein during endurance events as well, but 6% is probably at the high-end of the ideal range. But fats are harder to digest and can’t be immediately used for energy. This makes them not ideal in an energy bar. It would be nice if they could get a ratio of around 70:25:5 ratio of carbs to fat to protein.
So there I am with my newly bought Julie Bar in the locker room and I want to eat it! As can be seen in the photo above, it comes individually wrapped in plastic. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to open. It took me a long time and significant gnashing of teeth to get it open so I could consume my bar. I’m only glad I didn’t buy a bundle and then head out on a hard group ride to only find I couldn’t open my food and end up bonking! Hopefully I would have been smart enough to stop and eat before actually bonking even if it means getting dropped, but that’s not guaranteed with me.
And now to the part you’ve been waiting for: how did it taste? It was glorious! This bar contains only four ingredients than, one more than the PB&J version, but they are still all organic, dairy-free, and gluten-free. The German Chocolate Julie Bar contains: organic dates, organic walnuts, organic cocoa powder, and organic coconut. The dates are very mild and could hardly be tasted at all. But there was a near-perfect blend of flavors from the cocoa, walnuts, and coconut. If I could have changed one thing, I would have liked a little bit more coconut flavor. I realize that coconuts are high in fat, which I discuss above, and there needs to be trade-offs between taste and nutrition. Maybe this was the best solution. I don’t know, I didn’t get to taste test prior iterations. But I will if I’m asked!