Product Review: Gluten Free Fish Sticks and Energy Bars

We’ve got another gluten-free double-header product review coming your way. Today we’re looking at fish sticks and energy bars. I guess that they have one thing in common: they’re bar shaped food. You probably wouldn’t want to eat them together, though.

Dr. Praeger’s Potato Crusted Fish Sticks

The Whole Foods that is close to us doesn’t carry our favorite gluten-free fish stick, the Starfish brand ones. So we decided to give the Dr. Praeger’s fish sticks a try. They’re gluten free because they use potato flakes to bread the fish.

Dr. Praeger's Gluten-free Fish Sticks

The thing that’s cool about Dr. Praeger’s is that the food isn’t super-processed. Their branding motto is “Where you recognize all the ingredients.” Here are the ingredients: Pollack Fillets, Potato Flakes, Potato Starch, Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Eggs, Salt, Brown Sugar. That’s a pretty short list. The manufacturer figures that three sticks make a serving. So a serving has 220 mg of salt which is pretty good. A serving is 120 calories, 70 of which are from fat. The facility disclaimer on the box says that they are made in a facility that uses wheat, soy, and eggs.

Gluten-Free Fish Sticks

We had these with some beans. So how were they? Let’s just say that they are very much like the frozen fish sticks you get at the store. As with things like frozen pizzas and mac ‘n’ cheese, some people like them and other people don’t. We’re not really into them. Our biggest problem with them is that they cook up really mushy. These fish sticks literally end up with a puddle of liquid under them while they bake. So the breading does not get crunchy. Our toaster oven has a convection setting, and I turned that on with the hopes of getting a crispier fish stick, but it only helped a little.

With how they’re already kind of tasteless, the mushy texture kind of pushed us over the edge on these ones. Luckily, the new Whole Foods on Sandy has our favorite gluten-free fish sticks, so we can get our fix.

Prana Bar Energy Bars

Divine Foods contacted us about their gluten-free Prana Bar energy bars and sent us some samples to try out. I have to state for the record that I’m not really an energy bar fan. Most of them taste really nasty to me. I don’t know what that’s about, but there it is. Fortunately, Sienna has more experience with bars.

Gluten-free Energy Bars

They sent us two bars. A Boomi Bar and a Prana Bar. The Prana Bars come in a lot of different flavors. They have apple pie, apricot goji, apricot pumpkin, cashew almond, coconut acai, and pear ginseng. The Boomi Bars come in even more flavors. Divine Foods also has a third line of energy bars that they call their Superchargers. I’m not entirely sure how they decide how to divide the three kinds of bars, but it looks to me like the Boomi Bars are less processed, the Prana Bars are more like regular energy bars where all the ingredients are ground up, and the Superchargers are more about antioxidants. It looks like they do their best to not cook any of the ingredients, except for the nuts.

They are manufactured in a facility which is gluten-free, soy-free, egg-free, and peanut-free. Instead of using cane sugar or other sweeteners, they use agave nectar. They do not use GMOs, sulphured fruits, or hydrogenated oils. All of this is pretty cool. Here are the ingredients of the Prana Bar they sent us: Organic Almond Butter, Organic Agave Nectar, Organic Date Paste, Organic Dried Coconut, Organic Almonds, Organic Raisins, Organic Puffed Amaranth, Organic Acai Dry Powder, Sea Salt. And here are the ingredients of the Boomi Bar: Almonds, Cashews, Honey, Dates, Crisp Rice, Amaranth, Salt. That’s a short list. Neither of these has much salt, with the Prana Bar weighing in at 35 mg and the Boomi Bar at 55 mg.

Boomi Bar

So how were they? We were neither astounded nor disappointed. I liked the Boomi Bar better because it had recognizable pieces of nuts in it, and so it had some texture. Both bars tasted a lot like you would expect an energy bar to taste. And in this case, they tasted a lot like nuts and dates. On the plus side, they didn’t taste nasty, so that’s a good thing. Sienna thought that both bars were OK but felt like they were more soft than she likes an energy bar to be.

I feel a little bit bad reviewing these simply because I don’t have strong opinions about them. I would bet that if you like energy bars, you probably can’t go wrong trying these, considering that they’re made in a dedicated gluten-free facility and are made by a company that obviously cares about using healthy ingredients.

We want to know: Is there anybody out there who is really into energy bars and has a strong opinion about these? Are there other Dr. Praeger items that are gluten-free? Let us know in the comments!

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