April 28, 2011

Breeze Bars’ Gluten-Free Energy Bars Available Throughout Boulder

By Evan Sandsmark -  

As soon as you need something, you can never find it. Following a tip we received a few weeks ago, we woke up this morning and decided to hunt down some Breeze Bars, a company that makes gluten-free energy bars that are available in Boulder and other Colorado locations (along with locations in Montana, New York, and Tennessee). We’ve seen the gluten-free bars, which are also dairy-free, many times before around Boulder, so we figured it couldn’t be easier to track a couple down. Not quite.

Our journey began at the Naropa Bookstore, which we didn’t even know existed until this morning, where allegedly we could find Breeze Bars. After we navigated our way to the small bookstore, we were greeted with locked doors and a sign that indicated that store hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. We were there at 11:15 a.m. on a Wednesday. Great.

However, we weren’t without hope, as this same sign said that if nobody was in the store during regular hours, we could contact a lady named Nancy who would be glad to help us. We called Nancy twice, but she didn’t answer, and then we walked around in circles debating what to do. Before leaving the Naropa campus, we grabbed a cup of coffee at some type of student-dining kitchen. We ordered a large, filled it to the top from an urn in the common area, and then, as were leaving, we learned that the coffee was only lukewarm. But no matter! The doors of the bookstore were miraculously open, so we ignored the coffee situation and went to buy a couple of Breeze Bars, except it turns out they have no Breeze Bars. As the clerk mumbled something about the connection between the store’s stocking practices and the end of the semester, we left, cursing our poor fortune.

But being a reviewer of gluten-free foods requires sedulity, so we walked home, heated our coffee in the microwave, and again looked over the list of locations where Breeze Bars are offered (a link to the website is given below). After making a few calls to coffee shops in our area, which are the primary places where the energy bars are sold, we finally tracked down a store with both types of Breeze Bars – the original and the chocolate. Since there were only three bars left – two chocolates and one original – we convinced the employee we were speaking with to hold one of each for us, insisting we’d be there in no more than 10 minutes.

Sure enough, we were there in about five minutes, asking the kind cashier if he had set two bars aside for us. He had, even though he admitted no small degree of puzzlement that someone had taken the time to reserve two energy bars in advance, as if they were iPads or something. We explained our predicament, spicing it up with wild embellishments about our hunt for Breeze Bars thus far today, and then left, content that we had the bars in our hands at last. We were so content, in fact, that we only felt minimal rage when some presumptuous cyclist cut us off and preceded to ride directly down the middle of Walnut Street, preventing us from passing her, at half the speed limit.

So that’s how we got the bars, but what about the bars themselves?

As we mentioned, Breeze Bars currently make original-flavored and chocolate-flavored bars, although a new bar called “Breeze Recovery” is coming out soon that is designed to help the body recuperate after a physically-demanding activity. Each bar is about three inches long by an inch and a half tall, and weigh 2.5 ounces. Essentially, both bars are made of the same all-natural ingredients. The bedrock of the bars is “crunchy rice,” which is made with rice flour, rice bran, raisin juice concentrate, honey, and salt. Both the bars also incorporate peanut butter, brown rice syrup, almonds, dry roasted edamame, dry roasted peanuts, raisins, dried cranberries, flax seed, and clover honey. The ingredients listed so far constitute the entirety of the original-flavored Breeze Bar, and the chocolate Breeze Bar has only one additional ingredient, dairy-free chocolate chips. So, not surprisingly, the bars are similar in texture and taste.

With regard to texture, the crunchy rice seems to play the most prominent role in the bar, making the bar, well, crunchy. The peanuts and almonds also add some nice crunch, as does the edamame, which, by the way, is an awesome ingredient to include in an energy bar. Since we’re dealing with Breeze Bars, the different crunchy parts are obviously held together, and because of this, the bars are rather chewy too. The peanut butter and clover honey contribute to this, and so do the dried cranberries and raisins. If Fiona’s gluten-free cereal bars are the offspring of a PowerBar and a granola bar, as we previously speculated, then Breeze Bars are the offspring of Fiona’s bar and a granola bar. That’s an extremely roundabout way of saying that Breeze Bars are on the crunchier end of the health bar spectrum.

As we said before, the bars, being made with almost identical ingredients, taste very similar, and considering that they taste great, this is not a problem at all. Both noticeably taste like peanut butter, which was foreshadowed when we opened the packages and were confronted with the clear smell of peanut butter. The dried fruit and clover honey give the bars a sweetness that compliments the mild taste of salt that can probably be traced back to the nuts. The only difference in taste between the two types of bars that we were able to discern is that the chocolate Breeze Bar is slightly sweeter thanks to the faint chocolaty overtones supplied by the dairy-free chocolate chips. But to call the chocolate bar “sweeter” is not to call it particularly sweet, as neither of them are. Overall, they taste like the energy bars that they are: there are no rich flavors, but they are nonetheless tasty. This makes them a great snack, not just a vehicle through which energy-boosting ingredients can be transmitted.

Despite the considerable effort we put into finding Breeze Bars – which, by the way, has nothing to do with Breeze Bars and everything to do with our disagreeable fate – we can’t say it wasn’t worth it. We unearthed another healthy gluten-free snack, so who cares if we had to endure a couple of false starts and barely-warm coffee to find it?

You can find the Breeze Bar website here:
http://breezebars.com/

(At the top of the page, you’ll see a tab for the locations at which you can purchase Breeze Bars, as well as a tab for ordering the bars online.)

Note: This is the seventeenth article in a new series presented by GlutenFreeInBoulder.com. On a (roughly) weekly basis, we will visit a restaurant (or track down a product, in this case), try a thing or two, and write about our experience. We will, of course, be sampling exclusively gluten-free food so we can report back to our readers about the items worth having. However, many of the places we visit merely offer gluten-free options, and hence are not necessarily 100% gluten-free facilities, so if proximal cross-contamination is an issue, call ahead. If you would like us to review a particular restaurant with gluten-free options, send an email to info@glutenfreeinboulder.com. We’ll try our best to check it out!

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