Pop into any convenience store and you’ll notice one thing: The vast majority of grab-and-go nutrition bars are either a fruits-and-nuts combo or super sweet (if not both). Chocolate! Cherry! Even salted caramel!
If you’re trying to avoid sugar—or just aren’t craving something saccharine—sometimes what you really want is something savory.
Thankfully, wellness brands are finally realizing that just because people are reaching for food in bar form doesn’t mean they want it to taste like a Snickers. Now, there are lots of savory, satisfying options popping up to bolster an already massive market. (According to data published in Natural Products Insider‘s March 2016 issue, wellness bar sales jumped by nearly 20 percent between 2014 and 2015). Even major players like Kind are getting in on the trend, crafting bars packed with veggies, spices, seeds, and other non-sweet ingredients. (Cough, hot sauce, cough.)
Here, we break down options that are both tasty and nutritious—because let’s be real, if you’re opting for a bar, you probably don’t have time to stand around reading the label.
Scroll down for eight savory snack bar options to chew on.
You’ll like it if: You have a takeout Indian place you visit on the reg.
What’s in it: Shanti positions itself as a 100 percent raw, plant-based energy bar, which is hard enough to find, but it’s likely the only one out there with anti-inflammatory turmeric as an active ingredient. Chia seeds, hemp seeds, and goji berries are also inside, along with dates and coconut nectar. All in, it packs 17 grams of protein and high amounts of iron, magnesium, and potassium—all while keeping sugar and salt way low.
What it tastes like: The turmeric flavoring is no joke—this is one spicy snack. But there’s a hint of sweetness, thanks to the dates and goji berries.
You’ll like it if: You put hot sauce on your eggs (and tacos, and French fries, and…).
What’s in it: Red jalapeno powder, red bell peppers, and garlic conjure up the cult-status condiment flavor. Kale, spinach, chia seeds, sun-dried tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, and golden flax seeds up the nutritional value (protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber), while the calorie count is one of the lowest on this list (at 180) and there are only 4 grams of sugar.
What it tastes like: The Sriracha-insipired flavor is bold and lingers. What you won’t taste? The kale and spinach.
You’ll like it if: You enjoy noshing on sunflower seeds but want something with an even more satisfying crunch.
What’s in it: This bar has a very clean ingredient list. It’s literally just pumpkin seeds, sprouted flax seeds, organic dates, raw agave nectar, and Celtic sea salt. Pumpkin seeds are a sneaky (but powerful) source of protein—as well as iron, potassium, and magnesium—so this pick will help fuel your workout or get you through that 4 p.m. work slump.
What it tastes like: Just as advertised—think pumpkin seeds with some mild sweetness, thanks to the dates. The texture is crunchy, not chewy.
You’ll like it if: Biting into bruschetta takes you to your happy place.
What’s in it: What makes Mediterra stand out from the nutrition bar pack is the veggie content—there really are sun-dried tomatoes in there. Other good-for-you ingredients include protein-rich cashews, pecans, and fiber-filled currants, with only 4 grams of sugar.
What it tastes like: Thanks to tomatoes, basil, and olive oil, this snack actually does taste like a savory salad. The brand’s other flavors—Black Olives & Walnuts, Kale & Pumpkin Seeds, and Bell Peppers & Green Olives—fully deliver on flavor, too.
You’ll like it if: Beef jerky is your all-time favorite gas station snack.
What’s in it: Meat is perhaps the most obvious protein source, and Epic is running with the idea of grass-fed beef bars. Along with cherries and habanero, this flavor has walnuts, salt, celery powder, and pepper. While there isn’t much nutritional value to this one besides its 13 grams of protein, the sodium is low—a big plus if you’re really into jerky.
What it tastes like: Beef jerky fans actually tend to like the taste of Epic more than the processed stuff because it isn’t as salty.
You’ll like it if: You can’t comprehend cooking without fresh herbs from your garden.
What’s in it: This savory snack packs in a whole medley of seeds and nuts (peanuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and sesame seeds) spiced with garlic, onion, thyme, and sage. While it delivers on the fiber front (5 grams), this bar isn’t as high in protein or vitamins as most of the others on this list. But it’s still low in sodium, sugar, and carbs, making it a healthier choice than other garlic-y options you’ll find in the snack aisle.
What it tastes like: Imagine eating a handful of sunflower seeds that have been toasted with Italian herbs, and you’ll get the picture.
You’ll like it if: Your perfect snack is savory and sweet, not one or the other.
What’s in it: The other nutrition bars on this list may have bragging rights when it comes to protein, but this pick is one of the highest in potassium, thanks to the figs. It also has a good amount of fiber, which isn’t surprising since the only ingredient listed higher than figs is hazelnuts.
What it tastes like: Almost exactly like a Fig Newton. The fig and hazelnut flavors come through stronger than the balsamic, making it the sweetest snack option in this savory roundup (without crossing over into candy land).
You’ll like it if: Your spice level is “medium”—not too hot, not too mild, but juuust right.
What’s in it: Kind’s Strong & Kind extension bills itself as a protein bar, and it is—this one has 10 grams of protein, while also serving up high doses of potassium. Besides almonds and honey, pumpkin seeds are one of the top ingredients, even though they’re not touted on the front of the label. Ginger, black pepper, basil, cinnamon, and garlic powder are the (not-so) secret sauce behind the flavor.
What it tastes like: While you can’t rely on this pick to cure your craving for pad Thai, it might inspire you to skip that takeout order. It’s like eating a handful of pecans that have been dipped in sweet chili sauce—zesty, without being so bold that you need to chase it with a glass of water.
If you’re hitting the road this summer, you’ll need more than just a bag full of bars—check out this healthy vacation packing guide to see what else to bring. Plus, don’t miss these three brilliant tips for staying healthy while you travel.