To the CORE: An Oatmeal Bar Review

I recently received three bars from CORE Foods to sample and I’m happy to share my thoughts on their product. Yes, they were free and my opinions are my own. No, I didn’t take pictures because I’m dumb and forgot. Disclaimer aside, some recent thoughts on oats:

This past week at the gym (where I now put in long hours doing anything and everything except working out), I’ve been teased by the other staffers about my un-paleo diet. This is a CrossFit gym and paleo is law. I’ve been pretty relaxed about my food since the WLC 2012 ended. But I’m gearing up to get back into better eating and exercising for WLC 2013! And boy do I need it.

However, even when I was at my most paleo, I didn’t completely give up oats. Oh, and when I say “oats”, I’m not talking about instant oatmeal or anything like that. As I’ve mentioned before, I love Coach’s Oats, especially on race morning. I don’t eat them daily and I honestly don’t care if their not paleo. They work for me. I limit what I put it them when I make them – raw cacao powder and cinnamon or maybe a bit of agave honey.

So, I give oats a pass for myself. And all this brings me to CORE Foods.




What I like most about CORE Foods is the basic, quality ingredients. It’s hard to find something to eat on the go that isn’t made with a bunch of crap.

Looking at the ingredients list on the bar wrapper, you should be immediately pleased at how simple and recognizable the list is. FEW other bars have an ingredients list so short with things that a high schooler would recognize. Thumbs up there. Seriously, if you’re not a label reader, try it out next time you go grocery shopping. It’s disturbing how many “food-like” products we’re buying.

Another note is freshness. My CORE bars came with a cold pack and a large warning that they either needed to be eaten immediately, put in the fridge to be eaten within the week, or put in the freezer to be eaten whenever. Some might think this is annoying. However, the fact that it is perishable is actually good sign. Natural things don’t last forever. They shouldn’t have a long shelf life. Pick a flower and lay it on a shelf in your panty. How long does it last? Exactly. I was tempted to leave one of the CORE bars out to see what would happen to it…but I decided to eat it right away instead. Hunger trumps science.

Defender 3 pack with ingredients

I put one bar in the fridge and two in the freezer. Freezer bars thawed quickly to edibleness. Kept either way, they did tend to crumble into chunks. But at least they were large chunks and not small crumby chunks. The bars were chewy, not crunchy, and overall pretty easy to eat. They definitely make you WANT to drink water with it and, as promised, they kept hunger away for a couple hours.

Lastly, flavor. CORE Meal bars have three flavors, but they all had one thing in common: they were very mild. Compared to something like a Lara Bar, they could be considered bland. Probably because they don’t have a ton of dates (sugar) in them like Lara Bars do. That being said, they didn’t taste bad at all. If you think about CORE Meal bars as just a bowl of oatmeal in a wrapper, that’s pretty spot on. By the flavor:

WAR-Almond Raw Almond Raisin. Surprisingly I thought this was the sweetest of the three. Blame the (assumed) extra raisins. I’m a huge almond nut and found this to be easy to eat.

Raw Cashew Cacao. My favorite. Cashews are a rare treat and the cacao and coconut made this bar the most tasty on the what-would-an-8-year-old-eat scale. I may have licked at the wrapper. Yes, I am an 8 year old.

Raw Walnut Banana. This was my least favorite of the three because it seemed the most bland. I think walnuts are kind of plain tasting to begin with. However, this one reminded me of the banana walnut muffins I used to consume on a regular basis during my barista days at “The Buck”. I wanted to heat this one up and eat it à la Mode.


CORE Foods is one of many new small businesses that believe there is a better way to do business. In other words, they cap their salaries at what they deem is a livable income. They take only what they need. They say the rest goes back into building a better product, their local community, or is donated.

Our business runs on Zero Percent Financial Return. That means that any profit we make beyond our costs of doing business has to be reinvested in food quality, community, and the planet. That gives us a strong incentive to internalize all of our costs. We spend the money to make sure we are on the cutting edge of sustainability, have happy, healthy employees, and produce the highest quality product. (For more information about why internalized costs are so important, please watch Anne Leonard’s Story of Stuff video.)”

I don’t think this is a business model that will resonate with most Americans, but I admire it. To have what you need and nothing more is a fine way to live. CORE Foods is unique that way and I like it. I’m not going to lie, though. Personally, I don’t need to make their product a regular staple in my diet but I think they’d be great for multi-day camping/backpacking.

Click HERE to “Like” CORE Foods on Facebook, and get a coupon code good for $5 off any online order and enter to win a free case (worth $40).



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