So after my impassioned (and pictorial) story about conducting AmBari Shake Variety Pack product review, I feel like I set the bar kind of high.
I’m sorry to disappoint you but this review process wasn’t nearly as eventful!
Also in my “post-op zombie apocalypse survival kit” (also known as AmBari Starter Kit) was a variety of protein snacks.
Now I know you guys have mixed feelings about snacks in general. From my experience, you usually fall into one of three camps:
- Post-op A: “I love snacks! But I need healthy ones.”
- Post-op B: “I love snacks! But I’m scared of eating too much.”
- Post-op C: “I love snacks! But my program doesn’t allow them.”
So before I get into AmBari snacks, let’s just get our heads in the same place, shall we?
If you are less than a year out I call you a newbie, and I can say with 99.9% accuracy that the term snack does not exist in your lexicon. Sure you can eat snack food however it doesn’t read like a snack to your pouch/sleeve/stomach apparatus. Anything more than a few bites reads like a meal. So you should judge this and any product as if it were a meal when considering calories, protein, carbs, etc.
If you are a bariatric adolescent (which I define as 1 – 3-ish years post-op), you might actually be able to achieve snacking. You may have regained just enough of your appetite to be able to have a snack in between meals without it completely ruining that next meal. Some of you may already be dancing on the line of overeating. You should consider snacks in terms of what they add to your day: unneccessary calories/fat/carbs? Or helpful protein and nutrients? That’s how you should be looking at this.
If you, like me, are what I call a bariatric veteran (3+ years out, but especially more than 5!) then snacking is more likely to be a part of your life than the former two groups. While your appetite isn’t what it was before surgery, it also isn’t what it was right after either! You can eat more. In fact, some of you can eat when you are not hungry and eat way more than you need to eat (although this may cause pain sometimes). For you, I would say you should consider snacks in their ability to keep your appetite stable and not send you diving head-first into a bag of Doritos.
We all on the same page now? Lovely.
Ok so ignore the box in the front. We’ll get to that next week! For now let us focus on the box in the back. The protein snacks. Yes, those.
Here’s what came in my box:
- BBQ Crunch O’s (130 cals, 3.5g fat, 13g carbs, 1g fiber, 3g sugars, 12g protein)
- Cheddar Double Bites (130 calories, 3g gat, 17g carbs, 1g sugar, 10g protein)
- Chocolate Minis (120 calories, 3.5g fat, 12 g carbs, 1g fiber, 10g sugars, 12g protein)
- Cinna Crunch ‘n Chocolate (150 calories, 3.5g fat, 21g carbs, 0g fiber, 11g sugars, 10g protein)
- Party Mix Tasty Bites (140 calories, 3g fat, 20g carbs, 2g fiber, 1g sugars, 10g protein)
- Pizza Tasty Bites (140 calories, 3g fat, 20g carbs, 2g fiber, 1g sugars, 10g protein)
- Pretzels (120 calories, 3g fat, 11g carbs, 4g fiber, 1g sugars, 12g protein)
Gluten-free: BBQ Crunch O’s, Cheddar Double Bites, Party Mix Tasty Bites, Pizza Tasty Bites, and Pretzels. These all seem to use potato flour.
Type of protein: Soy isolate and/or soy concentrate.
Contains sugar: Chocolate Minis and Cinna Crunch ‘n Chocolate.
Those were the big things I was paying attention to, but you can check out the remainder of the stats and ingredients by visiting the AmBari website.
So let’s pause here. This is why I broke out the different views of snacks depending on where you are in your process. Because these numbers mean different things at different stages. That doesn’t mean they will definitely be a yes/no by your personal standards, but that is to say that something that is a “hell no!” to a newbie may not be to a veteran. Or vice versa.
- Newbies: Remember, everything should be considered a meal for you because it’s gonna make you full. I can’t tell you what the rules for your meals should be (not only is it a bad idea, I’m pretty sure that since I’m not a registered dietician, it’s illegal!). I can tell you when I was a newbie meals had to have at least one gram of protein for every 10 calories, have at least 50% more protein than carbs and a reasonable amount (which is subjective) of heart-healthy fat.
- Adolescents: Remember, you are looking at the above stats based on whether it adds good stuff or junk to your eating day. I don’t want to paint that picture for you but I would say that my opinion is that some of the products pass that test for you, some do not. The choice is ultimately yours!
- Veterans: This is my tribe so I can speak on my reaction to the nutrition here. Yes, I’ve lived the previous two stages but I’m not there anymore! The best you’d get out of me is recall. And my recall sometimes sucks. As a veteran I’m looking for snacks that keep me away from unhealthy stuff. In comparing this to that bag of Doritos (which, fun fact, is my kryptonite), I think the stats on these are infinitely better. Because let’s face it: I’m going to snack. I can say I’m not going to snack, but usually I’m snacking while I say that. So if I’m going to snack, I’d rather snack beneficially! So on stats alone I think the only things that get an X-mark for me are the two chocolate products because I’m sensitive to sugars and have the beginning stages of reactive hypoglycemia. Other vets: your mileage may vary! I did taste both the chocolate offerings (in small quantities) so let’s talk about that next.
So La Petite Diva (LPD) again helped me sample. Sidenote: for those of you wondering why La Grand Diva never helps with reviews, the answer is simple. The word “healthy” or “protein” sends her running in the other direction! I had surgery when my kids were 9 and 6. So for a good portion of their kid lives they have been exposed to predominantly post-op eating (I did have my adolescence folks!). But I think our food system is set up such that unless you totally ban outside influences, there’s a good chance your kid may develop an affinity for junk. Mine did. Sigh. She does eat some healthy things. Others she is made to eat by force. But I feel like this isn’t a situation where I should do that. So LPD, the resident veggie-loving kid, helps me to review things.
That was about nine more things than you wanted to know. Anyhoo. Here’s what we thought.
BBQ Crunch O’s: We both agreed they have a good BBQ flavor, but (and this is a problem across many protein snack lines), the Cheerio shape doesn’t work for me. I expect it to taste like Cheerios. Honey-Nut Cheerios to be exact. And when it doesn’t. Welp. That makes my brain hurt!
Cheddar Double Bites: We both thought these were ok. Not over the moon, but ok. LPD thought they could have been cheesier. I thought the texture was a bit on the hard side. When I went back later to retaste I will agree that while the color of the chip seems legit (and seems to send some weird signal to my brain that it is, in fact, cheesy enough), when I tasted it with my eyes closed? It could be cheesier.
Chocolate Minis: We both liked these very much. LPD said they taste like cereal. I would have to agree.
Cinna Crunch ‘n Chocolate: We were a house divided on these! LPD broke my heart when she told me she doesn’t like choco-cinnamon pairings (how could I not know that about her?). I love the pairing. I think though that choco-cinnamon pairings are usually either liquid or semi-liquid when I consume them so the crunchiness of this snack threw me off a little bit. But I liked them. I just wish the sugar content were lower!
Party Mix Tasty Bites: We both agreed these tasted like Chex. Which, while it is an ingredient in party mix, is not party mix in and of itself.
Pizza Tasty Bites: These were good. Like the cheesy bites, the pizza flavor could be upped a bit. As it were, I picked up a tomato-y sort of flavor but pizza is so much more than tomato sauce! Still…not terrible.
Pretzels: I liked them! LPD was on the fence (which is always characterized by the phrase “I don’t know how I feel about this.”) I liked the crunch and it had a light buttery-esque taste. LPD refused to comment further.
So in general here’s what these products did right:
- They all manage to pack a good bit of protein in the bag.
- Vets: the portion sizes are good. It’s going to feel like a good snack to you.
- The crunch is real.
Here’s where I think these snacks could improve:
- Find a way to lower that sugar! I think they don’t want to use artificial sweeteners, maybe? But simply put, high levels of sugar make some post-ops sick and unfortunately we can eat more of crunchy things than dense things meaning there’s a greater likelihood that we can (and will) elicit a sugar reaction from the chocolate offerings.
- Up the flavor ante on the savory offerings. They could all use about a 2-notch dial up.
- You might consider a few offerings that don’t have soy since many folks can’t have it for various reasons.
This one was a bit tough for me, Foodies. Let’s run down the numbers then I’ll explain why.
Protein Snack Variety Pack (7 items) = $10.15
If you order any of the items seperately (7 items) = $9.45, $10.45, or $11.45 depending on the item. I averaged this out to $10.45 for 7 items.
All the products have either 10g or 12g of protein, which easily averages out to 11g protein. So let’s use that.
Using our method of determining a “unit price” for protein, that comes out to about $0.13 per gram of protein contained in the variety pack. (My brain literally hurt after doing that simple math). This is, of course, more expensive than your bag of chips. Just for fun I looked up a box of Doritos snack sized bags which priced out at $9.47 for 20 of them. (Why did I do that???) But I think it’s rightfully so. This has better ingredients than Doritos and more protein.
So the essential question is would I buy them? Honestly. probably not. I’d invest my protein budget in those yummy shakes that mix up so well in a mixer cup. But if you are a person who doesn’t like shakes or who needs a better snack plan (I actually am ok right now with fruit and such) then these snacks may be worth your attention.
Like I said, we’re not done this review yet! (We’re halfway there.) Tune in next week when we review AmBari bars and meal replacements!
This was a sponsored review. The opinions expressed in this review were those of Bariatric Foodie without the consideration of AmBari Nutrition. If you have any questions about this review, please leave them in the comments.