Protein Bars and their Dark Side
It is really fascinating, when we are on the road, or too harried, or trying to loose a few unwanted pounds, that we can find a whole meal in the form of protein bars, snugly fitting in tiny packets, which we can enjoy with great abandon, whipping them out on a moment’s notice, taking no room, making no mess, needing no maintenance, calorically ideal, and making you as strong and energetic as a champ!
Or is it?
It seems every trouble we get into in every area of our lives is, we never bother to read the small print. Think about a few examples: Some marriages not made in heaven; some business deals gone sour; some diets gone forever un-slimming, maybe even fattening; some miracle cures meant to make one stop smoking that caused hallucinations and suicidal thoughts – or worse: actions! All right, I think you get the picture.
A “glowing” example is, the ubiquitous protein bars.
I decided to look in earnest into their contents after I used them several times (Delicious: that, they were!) on a multi-city book tour that kept me on the run and included very few kosher amenities. Pretty soon I was doubled over with bloating, cramps and blinding headaches. Probing into it deeper, this sleuth had no trouble finding the culprit, not only in protein bars but in many cold cereal mixes:
Soy Protein Isolates: That’s who!
The nefarious process of protein isolation leaves levels of lead in the food that, taken frequently, can be alarming. I hope it is not too presumptuous or too optimistic to hope that very soon, we will be able to trace many diseases and allergies to the offending soy protein isolates that swarmed our continent and our food, looking treacherously small, tasting treacherously good, and ripping through the figures and well-being of millions of unsuspecting people. You think because it is marketed as health foods it is good for you? I beg you, think again!
The Health Food Industry is governed by the exact same principles as the rest of the food industry: tugging at your heartstrings, tugging at your purse strings, and in the process sending out the constant seductive but nefarious message that is getting our country so sick: “You don’t need to cook or do anything! We will do it ALL for you! You just relax!” That’s right, relax, lose total control of what you ingest, and miss a good time: meal time.
When you need to maintain your diet, with less food and more energy, and a good amount of protein, ignore protein bars with a vengeance, and make yourself Hot Cereal Fit for Champions, which will take ten minutes from beginning to end: Throw in the greatest quick-cooking grains: Thin granulation buckwheat (kasha), millet, quinoa, teff, steel-cut oats, thick corn meal. Mix and match any way you like. Did you know that these superfoods are little powerhouses, with loads of protein, fiber and nutrients? Cook it with some water or milk, dairy or dairy-free. Gluten-free? It will work perfectly as well! Add some olive oil or butter, a nice handful of raisins or cranberries, lots of cinnamon, salt to taste. Thin it to your personal taste. Make a nice amount, and save for the next couple days. It doesn’t hurt that it is delicious too!
Back to Protein Bars: Sorry for being so dogged!
18 grams protein in 2 ounces of protein bar food? Hello: Shouldn’t this whopping protein number raise a red flag? Twice the amount of the protein contained in a steak the size meant for a St Bernard (to the extend that you would feed your dog, say, fillet mignon!) or Olympic swimmers, and obtained by the most unnatural, unorthodox, and yes, dangerous methods? Please repeat after me “High Energy Protein Bars? No thank you! I’ll have hot cereal!”
But what about when we are on the road?
OK, let’s see what we got ready-to-eat on the shelves: Canned sardines, greatest source of protein of all. Fruit, salad greens, frozen yogurt, cottage cheese, tofu, yogurt, cheese, hummus, nuts etc… What’s wrong with that? We’ll have more protein at our next meal, always coming up soon enough, thank you very much!
What if we find a nutritionally correct protein bar?
Ha! Now you’re talking! If and when we do find a sensible health bars, as opposed to a candy bar masquerading as one, we will thoroughly enjoy it!