While the name of this blog clearly implies that most of what I eat isn’t from a packet, I’m also realistic (and human). I’m not always going to have homemade low FODMAP travel-appropriate snacks on hand, so having a box of these in the pantry for such emergencies would be super handy – you all know how hard it is to search the gluten free snacks at the store, only to put each one back as you go: “No, there’s agave; nope, honey; damn it, there’s chicory fibre. FINE, rice cakes it is. Blergh.”
So, when I saw a link to the first low FODMAP protein bar to be available in the US (and not too far behind Australia’s FODMAP Friendly logo launch, either!), it’s safe to say I was quite excited. I was also lucky enough to be chosen to sample it and let you guys know what I think!
Well, here you go. I opened the sample sized packet (think fun-sized, the actual bar will be bigger: 50 g/1.8 oz and 211 calories) and…
- I had a sniff – Mmmmm, peanuts. With visible chocolate chips. A good start.
- I had a bite – Peanuts again! With a subtle sweetness (just sweet enough, not sugar headache inducing) and then pockets of chocolate. I had another bite (how could I not?); the texture is like a fudgey cookie dough. This keeps getting better. It’s actually sort of like the accidental grain free peanut butter cookie turned bliss ball that I am working on. Ev likes those, so I’m sure he’d like these, as well. I didn’t share, though. It was too good (and small) for that.
- I thought it over – I like the cookie dough texture, it makes it seem fudge-like and I felt like I was indulging in something quite decadent. I also really appreciate that it’s not overly sweet, so thanks, guys, for showing some restraint on that point. The serving size I got was enough for a mid afternoon snack (I had it at about 2 pm and didn’t get hungry again until 5.30 pm ish).
The ingredients list will keep most people happy, too. It’s unfortunately not nut free but it is certified organic, gluten free, soy free, corn free and dairy free. Of course, it’s also FODMAP friendly but certification for that doesn’t exist (yet) in the USA. From Nicer Food’s most recent email to subscribers, it sounds like Monash University will be launching a FODMAP friendly certification program in the US in the near future and Nicer Foods is already lining up to participate. If you aren’t yet well versed in what FODMAPs actually are, read this.
In addition to sending me the sample bar, Jesse and Kate (the founders of Nicer Foods) also kindly answered some questions for me:
- When did you first hear about the low FODMAP diet?
Kate Watson RD, one half of Nicer Foods, first heard about FODMAPs several years ago from her gastroenterologist. (She’s struggled with IBS for 20 years, and has had several bouts with SIBO.) That said, when she looked into the diet, it just seemed too restrictive and complicated at the time. (The fact that a registered dietitian came away with this impression tells you what a challenging diet FODMAPs is, and why it was so important to us to make it easier for people!) She didn’t start following the diet until last year, when an especially painful IBS flare-up interfered with our honeymoon in Mexico – you can hear more about that story in our Kickstarter video if you like.
- Why did you decide to create a low FODMAP protein bar and what made you choose a peanut butter and chocolate flavour? Great choice, by the way!
Thanks! We were both very frustrated with cooking from scratch for nearly every meal. The lack of FODMAP friendly snacks or easy to prepare foods on the market was apparent and made travel challenging. Also, Kate was burned out of working in clinical healthcare, while Jesse was recently laid off, so both of us were looking for business ideas that would actually make a difference in people’s lives, and yet at the same time, be actually viable.
Why PB & Chocolate? Mainly because it’s superior in every way to every other flavor in existence. More seriously though, peanut butter is one of the few nut butters that’s FODMAPs approved by Monash up to two tbsp, and it’s a nice hearty choice for when you need a snack that’s actually going to stick with you. The bittersweet dairy-free chocolate chips add texture and a nice flavor contrast that complements the peanut butter, and completes the illusion that you are actually eating some sort of cookie dough.
- What made you choose these particular ingredients? Aside from them being low FODMAP, of course.
Well, PB & chocolate I’ve already explained. Rice protein protein is the other major source of protein in the bar, along with quinoa flakes — Neither have much flavor on their own, the quinoa gives the bar some body and a nice chewy texture. We wanted to use rice protein specifically because it is easily digested and is vegan for those who can’t or don’t do dairy at all.
- What do each of you bring to the table? So to speak. 🙂
Kate is an RD with IBS who has had specialized training on the FODMAPs diet with 2 of the top FODMAP dietitians in our country. She’s not only well informed on the diet, she lives it every day, so she’s a pretty obvious choice to design and implement a product like this. Jesse is a jack of all trades: He’s a software developer, web designer, published author, and has experience in management, entrepreneurship, and business. And in a small business where much of our business will be done online, all of those things end up being pretty useful.
- When do you expect these bars to be commercially available and where? Do you have plans to expand to the rest of the US and perhaps internationally?
If all goes well, we plan to be shipping throughout the US before the end of the year. That said, we’re not willing to compromise on quality, and we want to take the time necessary to get this right. The best way to find out when we’ll ship is to visit http://fodmapbar.com and sign up for a notification. We also hope to get them into stores, but can’t say where just yet. And yes, our vision for the future includes international plans!
- Do you hope to release new flavours and products if (and when) this bar is a success?
Absolutely. We already have two other bar flavors in development, and another low FODMAP product in a different category. We’re extremely excited 🙂
- Any tips for those following a low FODMAP diet?
It’s best to consult a dietitian who is experienced with this diet to help navigate the various phases of it, so that you can ensure you’re getting proper nutrition.
FODMAPs is not a “forever” diet (there is a reintroduction phase), and that’s important because the goal is for people to eventually bring back in as many FODMAPs as they are able to tolerate and get as much variety in their diet as possible. FODMAPs has been called a “learning diet” because it helps people learn their individual sensitivities so they don’t have to avoid all FODMAPs forever. Also, your tolerance to FODMAPs may change over time, so if you fail a “challenge” to a groups of FODMAPs, try it again later.
It’s important to stick as closely as possible to the diet during challenge and elimination phases so you can get a clear sense of what foods are triggers for you. Planning ahead and having appropriate low FODMAPs foods available when you will be traveling, while at work or school is an important part of that. And that is part of the challenge with the diet as well.With that said, it’s our hope that our bars will make a great tool for people on the low FODMAPs diet, as well as for people with celiac, food sensitivities, allergies, and sensitive digestive systems in general.
- Company – Nicer Foods; a brand new, family owned company from right here in Washington State.
- Phone – +1 877 248 2995
- Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Have a look at their official website.
- Like Nicer Foods on Facebook.
- Follow Nicer Foods on Twitter.
- Check out Nicer Foods’ Kickstarter campaign (and score some free bars and other goodies, if you choose to back them).
- Last but not least, here’s their Google Plus profile.
Disclaimer: Please note that while I did receive a free sample of the NICE bar, I was not under any obligation to give a review that I didn’t truly believe. These opinions are my own – and this bar is nom-worthy.