The bars category is healthy, with sales up nearly 4% for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 8 compared to a year ago, according to IRI. But health and nutrition bars are driving the success of the category, which accounted for more than 43% of total bar sales and saw 14% growth from a year ago. Granola bar sales slipped 2% and breakfast/cereal/snack bars were down 1%. The "all other" snack/granola segment saw a sharp drop of 61%.
If vending-machine food is the only option, registered dietitian Elisa Zied suggests choosing a granola or energy bar for breakfast, a package of nuts for a snack, tuna salad or popcorn for lunch, and some trail mix to get through the afternoon. Zied says it is important to consider portion sizes when selecting nuts or trail mix, and to watch out for high sodium and fat content in items such as popcorn or mayonnaise.
Skipping breakfast can lead children to make other unhealthy food choices later in the day and reduces their ability to concentrate at school, says dietitian Lori Walton of St. Vincent hospital in Indianapolis, which has released a cookbook containing home-cooked recipes to replace fast-food options. Top brain-boosting breakfast foods include protein-rich eggs, peanut butter, oats, berries, and milk and yogurt.
Trendy health terms such as raw and organic can be confusing, so it is better to get back to basics with real food and home cooking, writes registered dietitian Manuel Villacorta. He suggests that rather than trying to cook from scratch each night, plan and prepare basic ingredients and meal components in advance so dinner is ready quickly after a long day.
Kashi has introduced a new TLC snack, the Peanutty Dark Chocolate Layered Granola Bar. The bars, made without artificial flavors, preservatives or high fructose corn syrup, contain a chewy granola base made with peanut butter and peanut chunks, a layer of soft fruit mixed with dark chocolate, and roasted nuts.