Thursday, January 9, 2014

REVIEW: NuGo Free Dark Chocolate Crunch Bar

Today's review is brought to you by NuGo Free: Gluten Free, Kosher Free, Soy Free, Low Fat, High Protein, Vegan NuGo Free. Yup, pr-eee-tty healthy. And you know where I got this bar from? Not a vitamin shoppe, nor an organic supermarket, nor a nutrition center... believe it or not, I purchased this Dark Chocolate Crunch bar from a gluten-free stand at a basketball stadium. Yeah, whatever. I could've gotten something really tasty like soft serve or a warm pretzel- and all for the same price -but I guess this was what I went with. 
Sometimes I wonder if I even think. But in my defense, I hadn't heard of NuGo before so I was somewhat intrigued by the protein bar gazing down at me from the display of the gluten-free stand. So, here we go: NuGo's Gluten Free Dark Chocolate Crunch Bar. Since I was at a sports game, mine was purchased for the cutthroat price of $5.00, but you can most likely buy one 1.59 oz. bar for around $1.49 at more reasonable retailers.

One 45g bar contains 170 calories, 30 of them being from fat, 3g of total fat, 1.5g of saturated fat, 0g of trans fat, 0mg of cholesterol, 90mg of sodium, 28g of total carbohydrates, 4g of dietary fiber, 11g of sugar, and 9g of protein.

I'd never had a NuGo Bar befire so I wasn't really sure what to expect to see once I opened up the package. I thought maybe at first it'd look like a real dark chocolate bar, but then I said, "Nah, there's just no way. And besides, there's CRUNCH in the name." My days of wondering were put to an end once I removed the bar from the wrapper and saw it was made up of very dark colored crisped rice on the top and a layer of dark chocolate on the bottom. For some reason the chocolate coating had already begun to melt, making it hard to place the bar on its wrapper so I could take pictures. (Thanks, BMO Harris Bradley Center! By the way, chocolate MELTS underneath lights. Just thought I'd let you know).

After awkwardly standing at a little table near the concession stand to snap some pics of the NuGo Bar, I ran back to my seat in the stadium so I could commence the taste-test while enjoying the game. This bar was very, very cocoa-y. In an odd way, it was bitter and sweet at the same time. I call it "bittersweet." The bitter taste can most likely be traced back to the large amount of protein in this bar, which has been known to make things taste awfully bitter. There WAS that protein-y aftertaste that many protein bars are plagued with within this bar, which was a bit of a disappointment.  The creamy, rich chocolate created a nice balance of textures with the crunchy rice crisps, and was melty and sweet, with a decent essence of dark chocolate. Although NuGo touts this bar as being made with "real chocolate", I found the chocolate to be rather fake in taste and texture. I guess that's what you get when you make chocolate without any dairy. Well, it could've been worse, I bet.

Overall, this bar definitely wasn't a worthwhile choice over sports stadium soft-serve or popcorn or pretzels, but for all of its limitations (gluten-free, kosher-free, soy-free, and vegan) this NuGo bar wasn't all that bad. I'm not sure if gluten-free, and let alone vegan bars can get much better than this, but I really wouldn't be able to tell you for sure because I don't EAT gluten-free or vegan bars all that much. Ever, quite honestly. But like I said, for all the labels this NuGo Bar has to live up to, it really wasn't all that bad and even tasted better than some NON-vegan protein bars I've tried. I don't think I'D buy this bar again, but I have a feeling vegans and gluten-intolerant patrons would appreciate this bar a degree more than myself. It's a solid, healthy choice with a decent dark chocolate experience for those with allergies or healthier lifestyles.
I'd give NuGo Free's Dark Chocolate Crunch Bar a 6/10.

Have YOU tried any NuGo Bars? Which ones might be worth a review? Let us know in the comments below!

Till' then, this has been RiRi ri-porting!
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