TLDR (spoiler alert): The Bar Shack is a brand that makes custom protein bars where you can select each ingredient that goes into it. The bars that I made were incredibly fresh, easy on the tummy, and really yummy. Though pricey, I will order them again. The Macaw! Foods bars I got to try were delicious, and there were two flavors that stood out to me that I would keep as a staple in my pantry (cookie dough and cinnamon roll). I definitely recommend The Bar Shack and Macaw! Foods brands to anyone looking for a protein/snack bar (protein content for the bars is between 10-15g, so it’s not an incredibly high protein snack) that’s easy to digest, delicious, and contains clean and organic ingredients!
How many times have you picked a new protein bar off the shelf and generally like it, but have one tiny complaint about either the flavor profile or the type of protein used (whey vs vegan, anyone?)
This is me literally every single time I try a protein bar. I’ll be honest – I can be really picky about prepared foods/snacks that I purchase, and this is why I make most of my meals and snacks for myself. Making an on-the-go protein snack, however, is not really the easiest task, and nothing beats the convenience of a good protein bar. That’s why I am constantly in the market for a protein bar that has clean ingredients, doesnt wreak havoc on my stomach, and has a decent macro spread. Oh, and tastes great. It seems as though it’s more difficult to find a standard go-to protein bar than it is to find a boyfriend – TBD, since I currently have neither.
I’m a step closer to finding the more important of the two – my perfect protein bar – because The Bar Shack has created a DIY portal where you can build your own! From the nut butter base to the type of protein, all the way down to the flavor profile of the bar, you are in control of literally everything. You also have access to the nutrition facts of the bar you’re creating, updated real-time every time you add/remove ingredients.
Right off the bat, I will address the fact that the bars are pricey. I was lucky enough to connect with the brand for a sample box, and figured that I would decide after trying the product whether it stands up to the price. (It does). I’m not saying I’ll have two of them a day, but I think a box (which comes out to $50 after taxes and shipping for 12 bars) could last me a month and be totally worth it. I’ve spent that much on way less awesome and less functional things, is how I’ll justify it.
The Bar Shack brand grew out of a parent brand, Macaw! Foods. Macaw! Foods was born when its founder, Owen, moved to Florida to pursue real estate, didn’t exactly succeed at that, and caught a break selling homemade protein bars at the local farmer’s market. Owen’s story and dedication to creating quality protein bars is really amazing, and I urge you to check it out here. I have a lot of respect for this brand which started from absolutely nothing, and grew to the point where wholesalers like Whole Foods wanted to stock its products in their stores. Owen turned wholesalers down, however, in order to continue to evolve his brand and to promote the importance of living “free and wild,” a motto that speaks to me deeply. Owen sent me a number of Macaw! foods bars to try as well, which I’ve included in this review.
Moving back to The Bar Shack, let’s talk about the protein bar building process. The website is very user friendly, and my only complaint would be that there are so many options to choose from that it was a bit overwhelming. I settled on a maple banana oatmeal flavored bar, with a soft and chewy base made of cashew butter and maple pecan butter, a plant-based protein, and various flavor and texture enhancers to achieve that perfect balance of flavors.
The Bar Shack Final Product
My Maple Banana Oatmeal bars came out REALLY good. I think the trick is that you don’t get to choose the ratios of your selected ingredients – so if something doesn’t go really well together, there’s at least the ratios that the professionals can work with to create something tasty. Here are the exact ingredients I chose (any my reorder code if you want exactly the same bar).
Upon first taking a bar out of the box and packaging, I noticed just how fresh they were – which makes sense, because they were made custom for me literally that week. They are super soft (and this might vary depending on the consistency you choose in your preferences) and chewy. You can visibly see the ingredients that it would make sense for you to see (i.e. chia seeds). Taste-wise, the maple shines through a lot more than the other flavors. I didn’t get that earthy oat flavor that I was hoping for, but I am more than happy with the flavor profile of the bar as a whole. The bars are also really easy on my stomach, and don’t bother me at all the next day, which is saying a lot for a protein bar.
Overall, I wish the protein content of the bars were better (P-12;C-22;F-10), but I do think that they work really well as a snack. They’re great for right before or after the gym because they have the carb content to give you good energy (though if you’re sensitive to fats maybe save it for after the gym), and are enough calories to keep you full for a while. I think that these bars are worth the price, and I will likely make them a monthly or every two months thing – I am interested in trying out some new flavor combinations!
Who would try these bars? Let me know what your ideal flavor combination would be – send me an email or comment my social media! @LiftinLuxe
Special shout out here to the Macaw! Foods bars I also got to try. I really liked these, though they were definitely different from The Bar Shack bars, and I plan on stocking up on these again. I got to try every flavor except for the lemon poppy and mint chocolate chip varieties, and each one tasted delicious. My personal favorites were the cookie dough and cinnamon roll, mostly because these flavors were the most unique. The other flavors were really good, but in my opinion weren’t particularly unique from the two I mentioned, and didn’t hold perfectly true to their label. Below I’ve included my comments on each bar with pictures, but in a nutshell these bars use really clean ingredients and they also have a great consistency. They are a hard bar (very different from my Bar Shack bars which were so soft), but they have a really good chewy consistency and are full of deliciously creamy chocolate chips. I am not sure why, but I loved the chocolate chips the most in these bars – they’re better than any other protein bar chocolate chip I’ve ever had. They’re large chips, but also are smooth and creamy, a little bit melty, and not crunchy like most chocolate chips in a protein bar. There were chips in every bar I tried, which I was totally fine with because I loved them, but sometimes I was confused as to why a chocolate chip would be paired with that flavor profile and sometimes overpowered the flavor in the bar (also not complaining about this, because the flavor was good).
This one might have been my favorite of all of the bars I tried. It has a really strong cinnamon flavor, in the best way, and truly tastes like a cinnamon roll. This was one of the ones that I wasn’t sure why chocolate chips were included, but they still added good flavor and an extra component of texture, so I’m not complaining at all about these.
This OG flavor landed itself in my top two for this brand. It paired so well with the chocolate chips, and though it wasn’t an overwhelmingly unique cookie dough flavor, it was satisfying and delicious. Also, the consistency of these bars lent itself very well to the cookie dough flavor because they had a chew to them that I look for in a cookie.
The flavor here was good. Didn’t get a ton of coconut – these reminded me of the cookie dough flavor.
Subtle banana flavor, the addition of walnuts was nice.
Literally can’t go wrong here. This was another bar where the chocolate chips were the MVP.
Peanut Butter Cookie
This had a strong peanut flavor, but didn’t have any hint of the creamy consistency that peanut butter has, so I was a little thrown off. The bar has peanut pieces in it that you can very clearly see and taste, which added a layer of texture to this bar.
To the troopers who made it to the end of this lengthy post – thank you for your support and interest!
Stay fit and fresh, all! 🙂