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kuali snack bars

With super foods and super berries dominating store shelves, I wouldn’t blame grains if they feel left out.

Heck, given the prominence of gluten-free foods and the popularity of the Paleo diet, grains have every right to feel slighted.

But rather than give up and pout, grains are making a name for themselves thanks to Kuali Snack Bars, which are made with amaranth – a “super grain.”

For the most part, I see this as more evidence that “super” means nothing more than “not widely consumed in America.” But hey, the bars might taste great, so I’ll give them a shot.

Kuali sent me boxes of all three flavors to try. What surprised me the most was the retail price of $9.99 for a box of 6 bars. That’s $1.66 per bar for these little bars (which would look right at home next to Nature’s Valley or Quaker granola bars). Individual Clif Bars and Lara Bars are less expensive!

It must be the rarity of amaranth. I’ve seen a few different quinoa bars lately, but not a single amaranth bar. I’ve only seen the amaranth grains themselves (next to the chia seeds) and amaranth flour (in the gluten-free sections).

Speaking of which… yes, it’s a gluten-free grain, and the bars are gluten-free, too.

kuali snack bars

Ingredients and Nutrition Facts

These really are amaranth bars. There’s not much else in there!

Ingredients: Organic agave syrup, popped amaranth, chia seeds, quinoa extruded, acacia gum, water, agar.

It’s popped amaranth, syrup to hold it together, and then the toppings and extras (chia seeds, quinoa, cocoa, and/or cranberries, depending on the flavor).

To me, it’s a bummer to see that agave syrup is the first ingredient. But, that’s likely because it’s so much heavier than the popped grains, so I won’t hate on them too bad.

What I’m not so agreeable on, however, is that agave syrup is “the natural sugar that delivers a super sweet finish whilst remaining comprehensively healthy.”

Oh, I agree on the super sweet part. That’s there. I’m just not sure how agave syrup is comprehensively healthy (or healthy at all).

kuali snack bars

At least amaranth is high in protein.

Or is it?

Calories 80
Total Fat 1g
Sodium 10mg
Total Carbs 16g
Fiber 3g
Sugars 8g
Protein 2g

These bars only contain 1-2 grams of protein!

So, while amaranth is indeed high in protein when compared to other grains, there is no mistaking this for a protein bar.

Amaranth is mainly carbohydrates, and then you’ve got the added sugar (in the form of agave syrup), so the bar is mainly carbohydrates overall.

It’s a low-calorie snack!

The good news is, this bar is still a low-calorie snack. Each one is a mere 80 calories.

They are sort of like rice cakes – they have a satisfying crunch and texture, yet are low in calories.

Kuali Amaranth Snack Bars Taste Test

For these low-calorie bars to demand a premium price, they better taste good!

Here I tested each flavor:

kuali snack bars

Amaranth Bars with Chia and Quinoa

This is the most plain looking option; the entire bar is essentially the same color (the chia seeds are pale, so the whole bar is a light brown). And the additions aren’t really things you expect to provide much in the way of flavor.

So I tried one of these first…

The bar is pleasantly soft, chewy, and sweet… yet crunchy at the same time!

You know how you can have fresh baked bread with crunch on the outside, but it’s real chewy inside? It’s like that. The bar is chewy overall, but there is a noticeable crunch when you bite down on the grains. And while you feel the crunch, others don’t hear you crunching – it’s great for quiet offices.

It’s a lot like a rice cake, but sweeter, and with a different sort of crunch. It’s chewier, too, likely from the agave syrup.

It’s quite sweet, but there’s really not much flavor. I think the agave is the most potent flavor here!

Overall, it’s edible and pleasant, but not an “OMG I’m going out to buy some of these!” bar.

kuali snack bars

Amaranth Bars with Cranberries

This one looks much more fun thanks to the cranberries!

Usually I don’t get too excited about anything with a cranberry flavor, since dried cranberries are pretty common. But in this case, the cranberries’ tartness was the perfect complement to the sweet agave nectar!

Overall, it was essentially the equivalent of the other bar, but with some chewy cranberries added. I really liked this one, but it was nothing out of this world.

kuali snack bars

Amaranth Bars with Cocoa

Finally, one that looks different! It’s all brown from the cocoa powder.

This is definitely NOT a chocolate chip flavor. There are no bits of chocolate at all. It’s just powder.

So the dining experience is very much the same as the others, but with some cocoa flavor.

It’s a little bland at first; it takes a while before you experience the chocolate flavor. And then when you do, you realize it’s sort of like baking chocolate. The bar would probably be bitter if it wasn’t for the agave.

It was enough chocolate flavor for me, but if you love chocolate, it might not be potent enough for your liking.

I’ll stick with the cranberry!

Regardless of flavor, I found the bar to be surprisingly filling (given it provides just 80 calories), and I felt great after eating them! A little pick me up, no sugar crash!

Amaranth – what’s with the musty aftertaste?

OK, so, I enjoyed these bars. Not enough to rave about them, but enough to say yes, they taste pleasant.

Well, I gave a few to my parents to enjoy on one of their weekend hikes. The result? Complaints!!

My mom tells me, “the bar smells like Grandma’s musty basement!”

I thought it was some sort of joke, but she was serious. My dad didn’t like them, either, and he rarely turns anything down!

I continued to enjoy them, but I did my research. Apparently some people report that amaranth grains and flour have a musty smell and aftertaste. Some say it’s the nature of the grain, others say that means the grains have spoiled.

There does not seem to be a clear consensus. My theory is that the flavor depends on your individual taste buds. How else could someone enjoy the flavor while others find it inedible?

kuali snack bars

My final verdict is…

Regardless of any potential musty aftertaste, there are so many other gluten-free bars that cost less and taste better. These were neat to try, but I don’t think I’ll ever miss them that badly. If I do, I’ll probably just buy a bag of rice cakes!

Maybe give them a shot if you are looking for a low-calorie snack and feeling adventurous? Just see if you can sample one before buying a full box!

Official website: www.KualiFoods.com

Buy online: www.Amazon.com

Product Review Details
Company: Kuali Foods
Product: Kuali Amaranth Snack Bars
Reviewed by: Coach Levi
My Rating: 3.0 out of 5
Date last updated: 2016-05-10
Obtained Product: Free sample from company.
CoachLevi.com Advertiser: No.

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  1. Hi! This is Raquel from Kuali. As you mentioned we do not pretend to be a nutritional or fitness bar, Kuali bars are a sweet and low calorie treat for the whole family with only a few ingredients, mainly amaranth which has many health benefits.

    About the price, we are working very hard to lower our price. Larabars and Cliff bars are great, I like them too, but the ingredients are mostly oats, and oats are very cheap, that is why maybe there is not comparison with those as we are working mainly with amaranth and no oats. We are a very small company just starting out, our product is manufactured in Mexico so importing in small volume is expensive. We are hoping to hit the shelves of a big store soon what will change our price dramatically, but hey we got to start somehow. We will be launching a new product soon: Popped amaranth that you can add to your smoothies, fruits, yogurt, salads, etc. I will keep you posted, maybe that one you will like!

    • Thanks for popping by, Raquel! (pun intended) 🙂

      You make some great points, and one thing I didn’t really point out is that if you want amaranth bars, the Kuali bars are your only real option here! Otherwise you’d have to find amaranth, pop it yourself, and then fashion it into a bar. That’s a lot of work!

      I definitely liked the bars, just not enough to replace the snacks that I really, really like.

  2. Hey Coach Levi,
    Thanks for this point of view. I get it. Some of these superfoods are on the fringe for a reason. While there may be a long list of benefits to amaranth, snack foods always come down to taste.
    Some of my favorite snacks I enjoy on the bike are those I make at home. As a chef and a foodie, I love eating real food.
    With tat being said, you have raised my curiosity about Kuali bars. I have cut out extra sugar in my diet, so I am always open to those alternatives with “natural” sweeteners.
    Appreciate the suggestion. Thanks for your honest review Levi.

    • @Gerald

      Thanks for stopping by! Yep, the Kuali bars are something to be curious about. Lots of mixed reviews from my friends and family though.

      Have you ever read The Feed Zone Cookbook by chance? Do you have any favorite homemade snacks you take on rides?

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