I am the PlayPennies resident fitness freak - if you want to know anything H&F then I'm your go-to girl - so everyone else gets all the chocolate things and I get anything that can be remotely described as 'healthy'.
It was no big surprise, then, when three Tropica Organic bars from Natur Boutique landed on my desk to review.
Natur Boutique are a family run business, established in 1991, whose ethos is, using their own words, "to provide natural, organic, ethical and healthy foods and remedies."
I've been umming and ahhing as to how best to write this review for the last few days (without it turning into a piece long enough to rival WAR and Peace - we can all live in hope!) as there are two main groups of people who will be interested in the Natur Boutique Tropica Organic bars:
- Those who are looking to shape up and want a snack bar alternative to something chocolaty that's calorie and fat-laden, and
- Those who simply want to something healthy, organic and ethically produced
There is a lot of common ground, but for the shaping-up guys and gals there are a few points I'd like to raise...
So, the three Tropica Organic bars that sat on my desk, just begging to be eaten, were:
- Tropica Organic Peanut Protein Bar
- Tropica Organic Banana Bar, and a
- Tropica Organic Fruit Bar
After a bit on eeny-meeny-miny-mo (or however you spell it!) I tried the Tropica Organic Peanut Protein Bar first.
Its ingredients are: organic peanuts, organic bananas, organic papaya and organic ginger - that's it! No preservatives, no artificial flavourings, colourings or additives, it's also GMO and sulfur free.
A 45g bar contains: 213 calories, 7.5g of protein, 20g of carbs (13g of which is sugar), 11g of fat (but only 2.7g of that is saturated fat) and just under 4g of fibre - not bad for a little bar that costs just 79 pence, or you can buy a box of 10 for £7.19, or 30 for £18.99.
*A little word for those wanting to get in shape - please don't be put off by the 11g of fat in this Natur Boutique Tropica Organic Peanut Protein Bar. Fat is NOT bad for you - BAD fat is bad for you; you must have the right fats in your diet to maintain healthy skin, nails and hair and keep your metabolism firing on all cylinders.
If the fat content in something looks high, check how much of that is actually saturated fat - you want that number to be low in comparison, as is the case with this Peanut Protein Bar. Nuts are a fabulous source of healthy fat, but eat too many of them and you'll still be eating too much fat and that won't help you at all!
SO, what did the Peanut Protein Bar taste like?
Well, in a word - GINGER and, to be honest, not much else; if you don't like ginger I categorically tell you, you won't like it.
The texture is lovely, chewy without being so chewy that it sticks to your teeth, requiring a hot drink to melt it all off. It's also completely raw, so none of the nutritional benefits of the ingredients have been lost in the cooking process.
A few hours later I flipped a coin - heads for the Tropica Organic Fruit Bar, tails for the Tropica Organic Banana Bar - it came up tails.
I wasn't overly thrilled by this as I'm not a fan of bananas per sey - I don't mind them in things as long as they're not too 'bananaery' but bananas on their own?
No, I'm really not keen and as the only two ingredients in the Tropica Organic Banana Bar are: organic bananas and organic ginger I bit into it with more than a bit of trepidation!
So what did the Banana Bar taste like?
Well, in a word - GINGER! If I'd been given this to try, without being told it had banana in it, I'd have never known. Now on the one hand you could see this as a negative - if you like bananas and wanted a banana taste, then WOW you'll be disappointed.
BUT, on the other hand, if you don't like bananas but want to enjoy their nutritional benefits then they'll be ideal for you, as long as you like ginger - if you don't like ginger I categorically tell you, you won't like this Banana Bar either.
A 45g bar contains: 150 calories, 1g of protein, 36g of carbs (28g of which is sugar), 0.18g of fat (none of which is saturated fat) and just under 3g of fibre.
* A little word for those wanting to get in shape - the sugar content of this Banana Bar is quite high so if you're going to eat them, eat them smart - before a workout, for additional fuel, or straight after when your body will burn most of that sugar away rather than storing any excess as glycogen in your liver or as fat.
Finally it was the turn of the Tropica Organic Fruit Bar, which is made solely from: organic banana, organic papaya, organic palm sugar, organic peanuts and, yep you've guessed it, organic ginger!
A 45g bar contains: 186 calories, 2.5g of protein, 35g of carbs (28g of which is sugar), 4g of fat (1.2g of which is saturated fat) and just under 3.5g of fibre.
SO - the big question - what did the Fruit Bar taste like?
Well...erm...GINGER!! I don't have any problem detecting subtle, and not so subtle, differences in my food but I'll be honest with you, all three of the Natur Boutique Tropica Organic Bars tasted the same - overwhelming ginger that drowned out the flavours of the other ingredients.
* A little word for those wanting to get in shape - again, if you eat these smart then you'll be fine even though the sugar content is quite high.
Despite the Natur Boutique Tropica Organic bars now being known as 'the ginger bars' in my house, I don't really have anything overly negative to say about them.
If you're after a healthy snack, and don't mind the taste of ginger, then they'll tick all the boxes for you.
If you are looking to shape up and want something healthy for eating on the run, then great - just make sure to eat them smart, don't fall into the trap of thinking you can eat lots of them because they're healthy and low in fat - you can't, sorry - and they'll tick all the boxes for you too.
But if you don't like ginger, don't go anywhere near them - there isn't just a hint of ginger here, think IN-YOUR-FACE ginger; have I made myself clear enough on the ginger point for you?
As for price - well they all cost the same and your average chocolate bar is pretty much on a par with their single 79 pence price. And whilst the Peanut Protein Bar calorie total isn't too far off some chocolate bars, the quality of those calories is far superior - not all calories are created equal and these ones are much better for you.
Would I choose to buy them myself? No, I wouldn't - but then I'm not a huge snack bar fan, even of this kind.
I don't (and didn't) find them very satisfying and am always left wanting more for my calories - I'd rather grab an apple or two, cut it into slices and eat it with a cup of Rooibos tea!
An overall score...hmmm, tricky. Okay, I give the Natur Boutique Tropica Organic Bars a 7 out of 10 - mainly because they all tasted the same and if you don't like ginger, then sorry for YOU!