If you’ve read my reviews for very long, you have probably noticed that I try a lot of quick foods that I can eat without much fuss during the day. And the biggest category of fuss free foods is bars of some variety – breakfast, granola, energy, etc. Grabbing a bar for a quick snack or even breakfast just means that is one less thing I have to think about or mess with during the day. I find a bar in the morning especially wonderful because I like to get my day going and for me that does not include a leisurely breakfast or taking the time to make something even. A cup of tea in the morning is pretty much the extent of the “cooking” time I want to do in the morning. So, needless to say, I was thrilled when the nice people at Lockhart Fine Foods contacted me about trying their new energy bars that they are now selling at midwest Costco locations.
The U-Bake OATOMIC Energy Bars are perhaps the coolest, and tastiest, bar on the market right now. Their cool factor doesn’t come from some crazy lab-created potion or mixture, but from a novel difference in how you get your energy bars. You won’t find these in the regular cereal aisle or near the snacks, like other bars. Nope, you’ll only find these in the refrigerated area. But the really interesting thing is that you find them there because they are actually sold as dough and then, as the name indicates, you bake them at home. This way your energy bars are super fresh when you are eating them and it turns out that makes a huge difference to the texture and moistness of the bars. When I first heard about this, I was totally intrigued but thought maybe it would be like making your own granola at home which is basically the same as the stuff you buy in texture and taste. However, these energy bars end up having this great texture for this type of bar product that is chewy, soft, and moist with so much flavour. As far as bars go, these are pretty unique in that they have a nice texture and they actually taste good too.
The dough comes in four slabs that are pre-scored for 8 bars per slab; you get 32 bars in total in the box at Costco. They package two slabs of dough, or 16 bars, in a sealed pack, so you can easily take the other two layers of dough and put them in the freezer, for up to 10 months, if you want. The dough will be fine stored in an air tight container in your fridge too if you plan on making the bars in the next couple of weeks. All you have to do to prepare the bars is pre-heat your oven to 350 F (325 F for convection ovens), break apart the bars and place them on a cookie sheet, and then cook them for about 10 – 12 minutes. The directions on the box say to place the bars 1.5″ apart on the cookie sheet but I know I placed my closer together than that. I probably had mine just an inch apart or even a little less, and they were okay and didn’t spread into each other, though they do puff up a bit when cooking so you don’t want to get them right next to each other or touching in any way. I tried breaking them apart along the pre-scored marks too but had a problem with a couple of them bending and breaking a bit, so the next time I just used a knife to make sure they came apart in perfect bars. When you take them out of the oven, you’ll be tempted to eat them right away because they smell so awesome, like you’re baking really great oatmeal raisin cookies, but don’t. Step away from the hot bars! You really, really need to keep yourself away from them until they are quite cool and can easily come off of the cookie sheet without bending or coming apart. They firm up as they cool but I promise you they will still be moist, tender, and delicious when they are fully cool.
Once the bars are cool you can easily remove them from the cookie sheet and pop them into an air tight container (might I suggest the Snapware that is sold at Costco too) where they will keep quite well for a week. Or, you can put them in the fridge to keep them for up to two weeks. I prefer to keep them unrefrigerated and just make a fresh batch at the start of the week so I have delicious, fresh bars for the week. The freshly baked bars are so soft and so moist and flavourful that it truly is like having a fresh from the oven oatmeal raisin cookie. I’ll admit the first bunch I made I didn’t quite wait for them to cool completely before I tried one, that’s how I know you really want to let them cool to keep them intact. The funny thing is that you don’t have to jump the gun like that, because the only difference between them fresh from the oven and at the end of the week of being in the air tight container, was that they were warm when they were just out of the oven. At the end of the week they were still just as tender and moist and just as flavourful as when they were just baked.
The Oatomic Energy Bars are Oatmeal Raisin Pecan and they are so yummy and flavourful that you can’t believe they are in any way healthy for you too. But they are loaded with all kinds of good things, and free of the bad things that you find in a lot of these types of bars. There are no artificial ingredients in the bars, just the perfect mix of oats, raisins, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seed and ground flaxseed, that is sweetened naturally with applesauce and evaporated cane juice. There are no refined sugars, fillers, additives, or preservatives in the bars, plus they are low in sodium and have zero (0) trans fats. They use Kosher dairy products too, if that is a concern for you. Each bar is 1.7 ounces/48 grams and has 200 calories, 10 grams of fat, just 90 mg of sodium, 14 grams of sugar, 2.5 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein. Each bar also has 500 mg of the very good for you Omega-3 fatty acids and even 6% of your RDA for iron. All of that makes these bars a perfect breakfast substitute or quick afternoon snack. These would also be a great post-workout snack as well. I find them really useful for a quick energy pick-me-up in the afternoon when I start kind of losing steam between lunch and dinner. As a mid-afternoon snack they are even more important when I am having a late in the day workout because it keeps my energy level up enough that I can still have a productive workout.
I love a good breakfast or energy bar, but unfortunately the “good” is sometimes hard to find in that equation. Or at least, good for you and good to taste seems to be a hard combination to achieve. In my quest to find good tasting and good for you, I’ve tried just about every energy, cereal, granola, breakfast, protein, whatever bar out there from expensive to cheap and these by far are the tastiest ones I’ve ever had. I’ll be honest, usually when I think of energy bars I think of things that provide a punch of quick nutrition but usually taste either really bland or (mostly) just really bad. Or, they cover them in some type of chocolate-like product to make them more palatable; which still doesn’t always work. But honestly, the Oatomic bars are more like eating a cookie than an energy bar. Even my husband, who never likes stuff like this, likes these. And that is huge because he is not a fan of anything with raisins but he liked these and has even had more than one, or two, or three of them. I find them filling enough to have for breakfast, especially when I have a mid-morning snack of fruit. And, as I said, they are great mid-afternoon to boost your energy and get you through the rest of the day until dinner.
Right now you can find the U-Bake Oatomic Energy Bars (item number 835591) at Costco locations in their Midwest Region which includes the following states: Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. I hear that they might be having a trial in Texas Costco locations as well (I’ll try to let everyone know when that happens). And of course that seems fitting since they are made in Lockhart, Texas. Each box of 32 bars is $9.99 at Costco, or just $0.31 per bar. I think they are a great bar and that price is really a deal too. I will definitely have my mom buy some of these the next time I go visit her. Wonder if I could bring these back in my suitcase… Of course, now I am wishing that they were going to be bringing them to the Costco UK locations too. I don’t know how I’m going to go back to eating other bars, they’ll never live up to these.
By the way, if you are in Texas you can find the Oatomic bars in the bakery section of Central Markets, and soon they will be in HEBs too.
If you were wondering how I got my hands on these, the people at Lochart Fine Foods sent me a box to try so that I could share my thoughts with everyone here. The logistics of this was pretty impressive since they were sending fresh dough from Texas to me in London. Amazingly, they did arrive perfectly intact and even still cold. The wonders of modern shipping, huh? Even though I did receive my box of U-Bake Oatomic Engery Bars for free from Lockhart Fine Foods, my opinions are still my own and I still feel like my biggest obligation is to be honest and open with everyone here about my experience with the product. I truly did love them and really do think they are worth checking out.