I was recently sent a lovely box filled with goodies from the folk over at Mule Bar for me to try and review for the blog.
Mule specialise in natural high energy bars and (new!) gels. Here's the lowdown "Reasons Why MuleBar
• MuleBars give you energy. We can’t say it clearer than that.
• They’re tasty, try one. We know that sounds silly but a lot of energy bars taste and feel like cardboard
• We use organic and Fairtrade ingredients wherever possible and are committed to having all our products totally organic and Fairtrade as soon as the ingredients are available.
• You know what you’re eating
• You can recognise the ingredients
• They are “real food”
• More and more of the world’s top athletes are fuelling up with MuleBar; and we mean Tour de France winners, World champion Ultraman racers, Ironman competitors and triathletes, footballers, World Cup winning rugby players, surfers, sailors, kite surfers, kayakers, downhill (and uphill) Mountainbikers, High altitude mountaineers, free climbers, slackliners, rollers skaters, bladers, boarders and skiers, frisbee players, sculptors, winemakers and dairy farmers (yes really), golfers, gymnasts and yes, last but not least, even crossword setters.
• We actively aim to compensate for our business and personal footprint on the planet as a 1% For the Planet member
• MuleBars are a great everyday snack no matter what you’re doing – so many press reviews end with wording like “this is good enough to eat when you’re NOT on your bike.”
I am a massive energy/natural/protein bar fan - I love them for morning snackies and for re-fueling after running. And if they are natural and packed with nutrients then all the better! I was sent some smaller Mega Bite bars, MuleBars, ReFuel Bars and one of the new Kicks energy gel.
First up: Strudel Mega Bite.
"Dasistgud, ya! Our homage to the great Austrian pastry. There are layers of flavour in this bar which you just don't expect from an energy bar: the organic apple is a a great mix with cinnamon and then ripe, sweet raisins. Have a good look at the wrapper too, the moon's been swapped for an apple!"
First impressions - nice creamy taste with a hint of cinnamon. This is a sweet bar, but isn't overly sweet or sickly. The apple tastes comes through and I could also detect a nice raisin undertone. The texture is slightly crunchy due to the seeds and rice crisp. I enjoyed this and (like all the Mules) the ingredient list is natural which is always a positive.
Next up: ReFuel Chocolate Banana
This is the only Mule product that I had tried before and was keen to try it again with my 'reviewing hat' on :)
First things first is the rather unusual smell of this bar - it kind of smells like vinegar! :( The taste and texture however are both really nice and I like these bars a lot. The banana flavour comes through first, while the chocolate taste is more subtle. These bars are really really chewy (I love chewy!) and the little bits of puffed rice add a nice bit of crunch and texture. I ate this after going for a run for breakfast due to the good protein content and because at 65g it's a pretty big bar and quite filling. Will certainly buy these in the future.
Again, to start with the negative, this bar has that hint of a vinegary scent and kind of looks a bit greasy - but I wouldn't let that put you off because like the Chocolate Banana ReFuel, it's very tasty! Neither a strong chocolate or date flavour can really be detected and that means it isn't overly sweet and tastes quite creamy. Again, the texture is really good and chewy and has that little bit of crunch from the rice crisps. The protein content is quite high again with this bar - which is really what you're looking for in a refueling product. Eating it left me feeling restored and recovered!
Next bar, Pinacolada
"Exactly what you'd think is in this bar: a slice of pineapple with a heavenly shot of coconut. But for the added surprise topping we've found Chinese Ghoji berries for their vitamin C enhancing capabilities. We are searching for ways to make this a Fairtrade bar but as yet can't find enough ingredients to satisfy those sticklers at Fairtrade HQ. They're doing a great job of making sure people like us do what it says on the wrapper and we support them. "
As you may know, pineapple and coconut/pinacolada is one of my most favoured flavour combos EVER. And this didn't disappoint! The smell is so juicy and pineapply, it's mouth watering! It tastes sweet and delicious and has nice big bits of coconut in each bite. The texture again is a good contract between chewy and crunchy from the rice crisps. I also like the addition of goji berries for added nutrients. My only bug-bare, the nutritional info on the packet is per 100g and not per 65g bar so I had to get my maths brain in gear to work out the info while I was eating it.
Next is Mango Tango Mega Bite!
"Take the highest quality, Fairtrade dried mango from Uganda, add cashew nuts and our high energy natural base of Mulebar and you can see where the Tango comes from."
This was really really yummy, definitely one of my favourites and I'll be buying the big bar of this! It's certainly the sweetest of the bars and if you're after a real pick me up, I'd go for this. The texture is similar to the other bars and mega bites - good combo of chewy with a bit of crunch. And again, like all the mules, the ingredients list is good and natural and the calorie content is perfect for a snack. I would like to see the Mules with a wee bit more fibre though, that's one thing they lack.
The Hunza Nut Mega Bite is next!
"In the Hunza Valley of Northern Pakistan, the apricot is referred to as Hunza Gold - the original name for our bar until someone's lawyer told us we couldn't call it that . The apricots are Fairtrade and unsulphured and when mixed with good old fashioned Walnut they provide a true Christmas cake of an energy bar."
I ate this one so quickly, it was that good! This is full of good big chunks of dried apricot and has that crunchy/chewy texture. It's a real sweet treat and I loved it.
Next I tried one of the new energy gels, the Cherry Bomb Kick
"Our unique organic Cherry Bomb energy gel - an antioxidant explosion! Cherry juice concentrate has been shown to have extraordinary antioxidant content, whilst the high GI sugars from brown rice syrup provide the carbohydrate equivalent of rocket-fuel. Medium-GI sugars (fructose from organic, naturally sourced agave nectar) give a slower release of energy when taken before endurance exercise.Hydration is supported by the natural electrolytes in Himalayan crystal salts which also provide a full-spectrum of trace minerals."
I had never tried an energy gel before so I was a bit apprehensive after hearing horror stories of them tasting evil! First impressions, the smell is good, similar to strawberry juice. It has a pleasant taste and texture but really left me gagging for water! It does recommend you consume it with water and I could really understand why. It has a very sweet taste but for an energy gel I guess that's not surprising. I had this before going for a 5k run, I'm not sure whether it aided my performance at all, and I did feel noticeably more thirsty then I normally would just because the gel was so thick and thirst sapping. I'm not quite "into" energy gels yet but if and when I do I would probably look to Mule because I did enjoy the flavour of this and the natural ingredient list is a positive.
And finally, Liquorice Allsports Mega Bite!
"Hands up if you love liquorice. Not everybody's cup of tea but for all you liquorice, pastis or fennel fans, this is THE energy bar. A lot of feedback from triathletes, cyclists and other long distance people has been that it would be great to have something which isn't another fruit energy bar. Here's the first. Liquorice is exceptionally good for the digestive system apart from also being a great healer."
Now, liquorice isn't normally I flavour I'd go for. But, having tasted this I may now be converted! The bar really does smell like liquorice allsorts (which is probably the point) but the flavour doesn't taste overpowering and apart from the liquorice the taste is mild and not too sweet or overwhelming. I could detect the taste and the texture of the coconut which is fab cos I LOVE coconut :) I would probably purchase this, it's an unusual flavour that works.
I've really enjoyed trying this range of Mule bars and will certainly be buying Mules in the near future - they are tasty, have a decent ingredient list and the range of flavours are different and imaginative. I like the larger ReFuel bars and Mule Bars for breakfast and the little Mega Bites are ideal for mid-morning snacking.
The Mules can be purchased online and in health shops. A full range of stockists can be found here .