Every year, as students of all ages head back to school, parents inevitably find themselves searching anew for the latest, better-for-you, healthy school snacks that their kids can pack into their lunchboxes and backpacks—snacks that feed their minds, as well as their bellies. They’re searching for foods that their kids will enjoy, but that they feel good about serving them.
We gathered together some of the best healthy school snacks that fit the criteria of controlled portions and/or calories, all made with nutrition-forward ingredients like healthy grains, fruit, seeds and nuts. We then put these selections forth to the Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery audience for voting.
The Gluten Free Fig Bars from Nature’s Bakery came out on top as the runaway winner of this contest, collecting 60 percent of all votes. The products clearly align with trends in better-for-you snacking—including clean-label—while capitalizing on the gluten-free boom.
In order to learn more about this product and how it came about, we reached out to the source, with Abbie Walker, content and community manager, Nature’s Bakery, Reno, NV, providing insight into the impetus behind the product and the R&D decisions that went into the process.
Douglas J. Peckenpaugh: Your regular (not gluten-free) fig bars are billed as “Original Fig.” Was that the first product Nature’s Bakery launched in 2010?
Abbie Walker: Correct. We launched Original Fig, and Blueberry and Raspberry, as well.
DJP: What were some of the challenges in creating a gluten-free version of your Original Fig bar?
AW: We always wanted to create a product that tasted as good as our whole-wheat Fig Bar, and we wanted the gluten-free consistency to be on par with what our fans expected from us. We worked on a gluten-free product that our fans almost wouldn’t recognize as gluten-free, but something that tastes delicious.
DJP: What is the makeup of the gluten-free flour blend that replaced the wheat in the Gluten Free Fig Bars?
AW: It is blend of ancient grains, including amaranth, teff, sorghum and tapioca.
DJP: Why did you opt to make the bars Non-GMO Project verified?
AW: We have always been a brand that is proud of the ingredients we put into our products. Having our products verified by the Non-GMO Project was a great way to showcase that.
DJP: This product aligns well with the new breed of “free-from” foods on the market, as it is gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, cholesterol-free and trans-fat-free, and it has no high-fructose corn syrup, no artificial flavors and no artificial colors. Does this set of product criteria pose any challenges when sourcing ingredients or achieving an ideal formulation?
AW: Every product showcases its own challenges. We work hard at finding ingredients that align with our brand and message. We know the quality of our ingredients matters to our fans, and we work hard at providing that.
DJP: What’s next for Nature’s Bakery? Do you have any products that you have just recently released or will launch in 2017?
AW:Yes. We recently just launched a whole-wheat brownie made with dates. Similar to our Fig Bar, we have a whole-wheat and chocolate outside with a date-chocolate filling.