Dairy Free Cereal Bar Reviews

This week’s batch of reviews is cereal bars. These have a very mixed press at the moment. The school dieticians seem to regard them as pretty much second to the spawn of Satan. I’ve become involved with the whole Healthy Eating Policy thing in my kids’ lower school and it’s a minefield! More of all this later… there’s so much that it deserves a whole post of its own. (Or two, or three, or maybe more!!) However, back to cereal bars. There is no doubt, looking at the ingredients, that they have a lot of sugars in them. Some have a large amount of fruit in them, and this inevitably means that there will  be large amounts of naturally occurring fruit sugars present. Some, however, have large amounts of added sugars too in all sorts of forms. Therefore, as with the mueslis, you have to balance the health benefits of the fruit content with the sugar content.

There is also the fact that you have to think about how you use these things. They are great for that car trip from school to an after school activity requiring energy such as swimming, football or dance. The sugars in these bars will give an instant lift to perk up a child who is fading a bit after a day in school, but the best also provide some longer burning fuel in the form of oats or rice. What you have to watch for are those which stack the odds in favour of sugar at the expense of cereal. These simply won’t provide the energy for a long enough period for the benefit to outweigh the cost. What these bars are not, is a good, healthy, guilt-free snack food which you can feel virtuous about eating as often as you like. The sugar content will start to translate into body fat the moment your energy needs are lower than your sugar intake.

Remember, children have much higher carbohydrate (starchy stuff) needs than adults do. They are very active and they’re growing. You just have to decide where you’re going to draw a sensible line.

To help, I’ve collected the sugar details for the milk-free cereal bars, as I did for the mueslis and granolas. Then you can look at the figures and make up your own minds which you want to use.


Dove’s Farm

All these are Fairtrade, organic and vegan. They contain no wheat, no soya and no hydrogenated fat.

Chocolate and crispy rice bars

5 x 35g bars.  These are 40.8% sugars by weight, with 14.3g per bar. Obviously there’s sugar in the chocolate. They are £1.99 a box, which works out as £11.40/kg.

Fruity oat cereal bars

5 x 40g bars. These are 42.3% sugars by weight, with 16.9g per bar. Isn’t it interesting that the chocolate one has less sugar? Just goes to show, you shouldn’t always go on what you think you already know. They are £1.99 a box, which works out as £9.95/kg.

Tropical fruit and nut cereal bars

5 x 40g bars. These are 38.7% sugars by weight, with 15.5g per bar. These look good, but my kids don’t like them at all. I’ve ended up using up the box myself. I think they’re OK, but they really aren’t as special as they look. They are £2.19 a box, which works out as £11/kg.

Nature Valley

Canadian Maple Syrup Crunchy Granola Bars

These may be called “Nature Valley”, but there’s a lot of added sweet stuff in all of them.

6 x 2 bar packs. These are 25.2 % sugars, with 10.6g per 2 bar pack. They have added sugar, honey, maple syrup and molasses. They also have 0.3g salt per 2 bar pack. They are £2.30 a box, which works out as £9.13/kg.

Roasted Almonds Crunchy Granola Bars

6 x 2 bar packs. These are 25.1% sugars, with 10.5g per 2 bar pack. They have added sugar, honey and molasses. They also have 0.4g salt per 2 bar pack. Notice that as you lose 0.1g of sugar, (compared with the maple syrup ones) you gain 0.1g of salt to keep it as “tasty”. They are £2.30 a box, which works out as £9.13/kg.

Apple Crunch Crunchy Granola Bars

6 x 2 bar packs. These are 27.9% sugars, with 11.7g per 2 bar pack. They have added sugar, honey and molasses. They also have 0.1g salt per 2 bar pack. More sugar in these, so they’ve cut down the salt. They are £2.30 a box, which works out as £9.13/kg.


These have no wheat, no gm ingredients and are vegan. They contain peanuts. They have no added sugar or salt and my kids think they’re great. However, the figures are vague. The carbohydrate figure is not broken down into sugars and starches. It’s just 56% carbohydrate. Some of that will be from the oats in them, but you can’t tell how much. Given the bars are 49% fruit and 9% apple juice, most of the carb figure is probably sugar. Natural sugar, but still sugar. The box says they are “guilt-free goodness”. I would dispute that. Nothing which is full of fruit and nuts can ever be eaten without thinking sensibly about the amount of energy you’re taking in and how much you actually use in a day.

Cocoa loco

The bars are 49% fruit and 9% apple juice. 56% carbohydrate. They are £1.99 a box, which works out as £16.60/kg!

Berry cheeky

All the same figures as above, though the actual ingredients are slightly different. They are £1.99 a box, which works out as £16.60/kg!


Nature Valley Fruit and Nut Chewy Trail Mix Bars

These have the “may contain” label, which is surprising, given the granola bars don’t have it. It’s hard to know how seriously to take these things, since they’re often just the corporate lawyers covering themselves. However, if you’re seriously allergic it’s always safest to avoid them. When you look at the list of added sugars, you might not want to eat them in any case (glucose syrup, sugar, caramel syrup, honey, sugar, fructose, maltodextrin & caramelized sugar)!!


This company makes a wide range of bars. I found the same variety of bar in two different styles of wrapper, one of which said “may contain…” and the other of which didn’t. Again, part of the range was clearly labelled with the usual disclaimer and part of it wasn’t. I have no idea what Jordans are up to. All their mueslis are labelled “may contain…”, so they obviously have zealous corporate lawyers. When the labelling settles one way or the other, I’ll let you know. Until then, safer to avoid these.



There are lots of these, but they all have skimmed milk powder in them.


Several of these. All have condensed milk.

go ahead

All of these have milk ingredients too.

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