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Product Review: thinkThin crunch

La Petite Maison Verte: Product Review: thinkThin crunch

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Product Review: thinkThin crunch

I've decided to start doing Product Reviews here on the blog.  As part of my New Year's Resolutions I am trying to get past my inner fear that people don't care what I have to say.  I am my harshest critic and frequently play the same inner monologue that goes a little something like this:

Me:  "I'd like to share advice on X,Y, or Z"
Me:  "Um, but WHY would anyone care what you have to say.  You're not an expert at anything."
Me:  "Well, but I have a valid opinion and have done a lot of reading and personal research on the subject"
Me:  "Right, well you certainly don't know nearly enough about it to offer anyone practical advice on anything.  And not only that but what if someone reads your review and disagrees, then what?  Then you're going to feel shot-down.  Just don't do it, it's safer if you just keep your opinions to yourself."
Me:  "You're right.  The less controversial, the better."

That was Old Julia.  2011-Julia.  And 2012-Julia shares her opinion on this here blog.  It will always be just that, my opinion, but for some people that might be valid and interesting and give them something to consider.  And that's exactly what I hope for.

For my first product review, I wanted to comment on the thinkThin crunch - the lower sugar nut bar.  I tried the 1.41 oz Chocolate Dipped Mixed Nuts variety which I picked up from my local Publix store for $1.67 (regular price, not on sale).  I am usually pretty good about either eating right before leaving the house to run errands so I avoid hunger during shopping trips (never a good thing) or packing a portable snack to munch if I do feel famished.  Today, my errands were supposed to be quick:  run into Marshall's to make a return and then hit Publix for a chicken (tonight's dinner is chicken soup with my Grandma's kreplah!).  Well, I should have known that a "quick" trip to Marshall's is basically impossible since they always have new stuff to check out.  (Side note:  Marshall's is just like Target in that I will always go in with a clear idea in mind of exactly what I need and I always leave with at least 2 or 3 additional items that I see and simply cannot live without.)

Before I knew it, my "quick" trip turned into the better part of an hour and I was feeling some strong hunger pangs as I roamed through Publix to pick up the chicken and some cough drops (we're both a little under the weather here at the Chadwick house).  I enjoy having a stash of healthy snack bars in my purse for times like these and since I am almost out of Larabars at home I decided I could pick up a few to restock.  

I had seen the thinkThin brand of nutrition bars before had never tried it.  This time though, it caught my eye, as a friend had recently posted on Facebook about buying them by the case because she loves them so much.  A personal recommendation is usually enough to push me to try anything once, especially if I was on the fence but considering trying it anyway.  So I perused the flavors and decided on the thinkThin crunch Chocolate Dipped Mixed nuts variety for now and a thinkThin Chunky Peanut Butter High Protein Bar for later (2.1 oz size, also $1.67) , along with a Banana Bread Larabar for keeping in my purse (since I almost never see the Banana Bread flavor I couldn't resist it at $1.25 each).  

As soon as I got back to the car I unwrapped the thinkThin Crunch bar and went to town.  First impression:  it SURE is crunchy.  Not like a regular chewy nutrition bar, with this one you bite into it and it breaks off, so probably not for people who can't handle especially hard, crunchy textures but I enjoyed it since it didn't feel like I was eating a "nutrition bar".  This bar also had large nuts and nut pieces throughout it - almonds, cashews and peanuts according to the label, but I really could only pick out the almonds and peanuts.  Anytime my food looks like real food, I am happy.  Especially if it IS a processed, packaged snack food (which this is).  

The bottom of the bar was coated in a semi-sweet "chocolate" coating (I used quotations there because malitol, not sugar, is used to sweeten the chocolate).  Malitol is a sugar substitute which has fewer calories than sugar and has a lower impact on blood sugar level than sugar.  Please be aware that some people should not or may not wish to consume malitol because it can cause a laxitive effect* or produce excess gas, however it does not bother my digestive system in the least (TMI?!).    But I would think that if you were the kind of person who couldn't tolerate malitol, this might be a deal-breaker to your wanting to try one of the products offered by thinkThin, as they all seem to use this sugar substitute.  

To my palate, it tasted good, it tasted chocolatey.  Did it taste like a Godiva chocolate bar?  No.  But it didn't taste bad and didn't leave any strange or artificial aftertaste.  (Disclaimer:  I am suffering from a cold and my taste may be somewhat compromised but I don't really think this had much effect).  

Overall, I would rate the taste of this "nutrition bar" as an A.  Quite sweet, quite chocolatey and lots of nice crunchy nuts made the flavor satisfying and almost felt indulgent, like I was eating a piece of candy.

Remember how I mentioned that I was hungry before I ate the thinkThin bar?  Well, I was still hungry when I finished eating it.  Despite the 4 grams of Dietary Fiber and 10 grams of Protein, I don't think the bar did much to curb my hunger at all, so I wouldn't recommend it as a meal replacement or even a snack to eat by itself if you are more than the tiniest bit hungry.  That being said, it would probably be a great snack or meal supplement along with something that has a bit more bulk - some carrot sticks or a big leafy green salad, or maybe a couple of hardboiled egg whites or a bowl of greek yogurt.  I could also recommend the thinkThin crunch as a tasty treat, albeit one with 190 calories (not exactly low cal) and a modest 3 grams of sugar, which may be the best part about the bar since it won't spike your blood sugar and would be a good sweet choice for a diabetic.  

As I mentioned previously, the nutrition information of the thinkThin crunch looked promising:  (per bar)

190 Calories
12 grams of Fat (2.5 g saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat)
16 grams Total Carbohydrates (4 grams Dietary Fiber, 3 grams Sugar, 5 grams Sugar Alcohols)
10 grams Protein

There is a good balance of fat, fiber and protein.  Although 12 grams of fat seems high for a snack, I do tend to favor snacks with some fat content (especially nut or plant-based fat) because they help me feel satisfied and some protein because I find I don't always get enough protein from my mostly plant-based diet.  I also liked that the bar had only 3 grams of Sugar but the jury is still out on the Sugar Alcohols (Malitol), since as a general rule, I like to avoid artificial substances as much as possible.   

So, overall I would grade the thinkThin crunch as a B- for a snack bar.  Summing up, I enjoyed the taste and crunchy texture as well as the presence of big pieces of nuts.  While I found the chocolate-flavor acceptable, the bar was quite sweet and I don't really like the fact that it is sweetened with an artificial substance.  The nutritional profile looks good upon review as the bar offers a nice balance of protein, fat and fiber for less than 200 calories, and doesn't have too much sugar to spike blood sugar and insulin levels (which is good because the spike and subsequent fall would lead you to feel hungry again and go in search of another snack).  And even though the bar offers a generous amount of protein, is relatively high in fat and provides 4 grams of fiber, I did not think it did much to curb my appetite or leave me satisfied.  

All that being said, I would eat the thinkThin crunch Chocolate Dipped Mixed Nuts bar again if I were on the go and just needed a light snack to tide me over until eating a full meal in the near-future, or even to provide the sweet ending to a light lunch of mixed green salad.  I would not recommend it as a meal replacement or even as a snack if you are very hungry, as it didn't provide me with enough bulk and I had to eat a couple of hardboiled egg-whites as soon as I got home 20 minutes later.  As for value, I thought they were a little bit pricey ($1.67 each) and not a great value for the satisfaction they provided.  Something else to note, the thinkThin bars are gluten free (at least both of the varieties I picked up are) so they may be a good option for those avoiding gluten, which many bars cannot boast.     

I hope you found this review helpful!  Please let me know if you have any questions, as I would be happy to answer them as best as I can.  I am looking forward to reviewing the other two nutrition bars I picked up today, as well as some other products in the future.  For reference, I purchased the bars myself and have not been compensated in any way for providing this review.   

*According to the US FDA Malitol is considered GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) but it is recommended that a person not consume greater than 100 grams per day due to it's laxative potential.

Question of the Day

What are your favorite snack foods when you're on the go? 

 I tend to favor inexpensive, whole-foods that can be easily transported and that I buy anyway so I'm not spending extra money on "snack foods".  As a general rule, I don't like a lot of processed foods in my diet anyway and I stay away from heavily-refined carbohydrates and anything that uses all white flour.  These foods spike blood sugar and leave me hungry and unsatisfied.  I like to snack on whole apples, raw almonds, carrot sticks, Larabars (made of just dried fruit and nuts, no preservatives, no artificial anything), bananas, homemade trail mix (I just combine nuts, dried fruits and whole-grain cereal in a bag), lean beef or buffalo jerky or protein shakes in a shaker bottle (just add water).  I also try to always carry a water bottle with me from home, because I know that often when I feel hungry, it's just that I am dehydrated and need to drink more water! 

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At January 5, 2012 at 3:49 AM , Anonymous m071092 said...

Great review! It sounds like the ThinkThin Bars probably aren't substantial enough as a snack for me, but I enjoyed reading about them - you were very descriptive! I personally enjoy taking raw, unsalted almonds and maybe an apple or two wherever I go. The almonds are a "superfood," containing a fantastic mix of protein, fat and fiber, while the apples satisfy my sweet tooth and really fill me up quickly! Both are relatively portable and, on the whole, probably less expensive than an average nutrition bar!

At January 5, 2012 at 3:45 PM , Anonymous HeidiRob said...

So what do you think of the ThinkThin compared to Larabars? I can't remember what I thought but it seems to me that the moistness of Larabars is more satisfying to my hunger than the ThinkThin bar was.

At January 6, 2012 at 6:47 AM , Anonymous Jules said...

I don't think either one is particularly great at satisfying my hunger when I am VERY hungry. If I am only just a little hungry then they are about equal at staving off the hunger-sharks for a little while. That being said, I LOVE the ingredient list on the Larabars (just nuts and dried fruit) so they get my vote since I enjoy the taste and texture equally to that of the thinkThin crunch!

At October 27, 2012 at 7:36 AM , Anonymous Jessica Squires said...

Thank you so much for this review! I've been wanting to try these since I saw them online the other day. Thank you! I will also try the larabars. What are your favorite flavors? Thanks and have a wonderful day!

At October 31, 2012 at 9:41 AM , Anonymous Jules said...

Jessica - I love so many Larabar flavors! A few favorites are the banana bread, coconut cream pie, blueberry muffin and peanut butter chocolate chip cookie larabars. If you can find a Key Lime Pie Larabar that's also worth trying! Check out some of my recipes for copy-cat Larabar flavors!


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