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Taste test: Mezcla plant-based protein bars

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This post is made in coordination with Mezcla. Please see the site-wide disclosure policy for more information about sponsored content on fromannaskitchen.com.

How do you feel about energy bars or protein bars? I’ve tried several different kinds over the years as a healthier snack alternative. Admittedly, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with them that started with one bite from a brand that I won’t mention (it has a familiar name, but I’ll just call them “brand X”) that stuck in my memory.

I’ll briefly walk you down memory lane… *cue the dreamy, flashback music* 😉

I remember finding brand X bars at a convenience store, maybe when I was 13 years old. I wanted a snack that wasn’t chips or candy, and several flavors of this bar were on a shelf nearby other grab-and-go-snacks. I was intrigued by the flavors and decided on a vanilla or coffee crunch one to try (this was around the time that I really started to enjoy coffee drinks, so I was sold on anything reminiscent of coffee and cream flavor.)

I bought the brand X bar, thinking it might be like a granola bar, but it didn’t look crunchy at all, as it’s name would imply: it was smooth and glossy, almost like the chocolate coating on a candy bar, and a little sticky.

Biting into it, my brain went into a tizzy. I wanted to like it, thinking, Well, it’s good for me, I think? But the taste… It tasted how it looked: odd. The coffee was horribly artificially-flavored. It was dense and chewy and chalky all at the same time. Frankly, it tasted like a chewable vitamin.

Fortunately, protein bar flavors and textures have improved greatly. Brand X is no longer the only one I see now when I go to stores — far from it, in fact. There are varieties that have changed my mind of what a protein bar can taste like: something that not only claims to be good for you but that’s good tasting, too, and doesn’t look like space food or a science experiment gone wrong. Keto, dairy-free, low-carb, vegan, and other varieties are now also readily available to meet different dietary needs.

Enter Mezcla bars. I was approached recently by a representative from the company with a free sample offer. As I browsed through the website, the unique, vegan flavors made me excited to give them a try.

Given the experiences mentioned above with other brands, I was happy to see Mezcla (which is Spanish for “mixture”) positioned as a “different kind of protein bar.” After tasting the bars, I agree with the statement.

Mezcla’s mission is to celebrate artists from around the world. Artists and creatives from around the world are encouraged to join the #MezclaMovement and share their art. That is reflected immediately not only in the name of the product, but also in the unique design of the Mezcla packaging. As a marketer and creative myself, I appreciated the creative label designs. The QR code on each package takes you to the company website where you can browse art featured for that week.

As I typically do with packaged food, I looked at the ingredients on the back of the label, since even natural foods can be misleading and unhealthy. I was pleased that Mezcla bars contain nothing that sounds artificial or like a chemical.

After ingredients, the main things I also keep in mind when checking out food labels are sugar, fiber, and protein. Similar to granola bars, protein bars can be full of sugar, masquerading more like candy. This was not the case with Mezcla.

Carb-wise, these come in around 20 grams per bar with about 2-3 grams of protein, 7-8 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of plant-based protein (wow!) per bar. Added sugar comes from tapioca syrup, which is a sugar made from cassava (a starchy vegetable) and a common alternative to honey or corn syrup in baked goods. Although it is a sugar, tapioca syrup ranks far below corn syrup or white sugar on the glycemic index.

Mezcla definitely reminded me more of a granola bar in both taste and texture when compared to my experience eating the brand X protein bar from way-back-when. Based on appearance alone, you can tell it has texture to it, but unlike granola bars, which make a huge mess, Mezcla bars are crunchy but don’t crumble apart when you bite into them. The flavors are also very natural; no vitamin taste here. 😉

Mexican Chipotle Hot Chocolate and Japanese Matcha Vanilla were by far the two most unique flavors I was excited to try. Dave and I both agreed these two were our favorites, but the Peruvian Cocoa Peanut Butter is a classic chocolate-peanut butter flavor combination not to be ignored, either.

The Mexican Chipotle Hot Chocolate has the boldest, richest taste. The flavors of chocolate and spice came through well. For some, seeing “chipotle” may come with the thought of “spicy.” In baked goods, it’s better thought of more as like a warming spice, like cinnamon or clove, versus a burning-ouch!-spicy flavor. Chipotle works really well with chocolate and cinnamon; it has always been a flavor I’ve loved, whether in spicy or in sweet things.

By contrast to the chipotle-chocolate, matcha is of course a much more delicate flavor. I’ve always found that it’s a hard flavor to get across: things I’ve tasted before with this flavor have always ended up too bold, too artificial, or too weak. In this case, I enjoyed the matcha-vanilla, but it was very subtle. Meanwhile, Dave said he liked it because it was not too bold, which leads me to believe if there are some who have never tried matcha before or are on the fence if they like it or not, they may enjoy this quite a bit. I only got a slight, earthy taste of matcha and for my taste, would’ve preferred more.

Since we both appreciated the uniqueness of the matcha and Mexican chipotle flavors so much, truthfully, it was hard to follow up with the Peruvian Cocoa Peanut Butter. Like the matcha, this one also had a light taste to it; it didn’t hit me in the face as “peanut butter,” as sometimes the flavor can be very strong, but it was well balanced, nutty, and not too sweet. This one was ok but of the three, it was our least favorite. (Chocolate PB-anything is never bad, though.)

A final con would probably be the availability of only three flavors, but I assume other varieties may be offered in the future.

If you are a creative and want to share your art with the #MezclaMovement community, submit your creation for an opportunity to be featured on the Mezcla website with other creators by tagging #eatmezcla and @eatmezcla on social media or email art@eatmezcla.com.

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