more than just another bike blog

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

roll your own -- Matisse & Jack's

One of the cool things about my job is I get to do a lot of product testing. I've tested bikes, clothing, nutrition products, supplements, you name it. Well, not an oxygen tent yet, but maybe someday. Part of the arrangement is typically that I write a review of the product which may or may not ever be seen by anyone outside the product company. Sometimes the product is cool, sometimes it's silly, sometimes I like it, sometimes I would never consider endorsing it.

Well, a few weeks ago I was contacted by a San Francisco company called Matisse & Jack's. They have a product called Trail Blaze -- Bake-At-Home Oatmeal Energy Bars.

Those who really know me probably think this product would be as good a match for me as a down-hill mountain bike. Yeah, I cook a little (if you count salads). But, I'm so busy that taking the time to plan and bake energy bars just doesn't fit into my hectic lifestyle. But, I said I'd try them just the same.

The recipe is super-simple. In addition to the dry ingredients included in the box, you need to add some wet ingredients too. I chose the original option which uses 2/3 cup applesauce and 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt. There are also vegan and less sweet options listed on the package and a whole bunch of alternate recipes (for cookies and muffins, etc) on their website. Oh, and you need some shortening to grease the pan.

There are two flavors. The first night I baked the Chocolate Chip bars (made with genuine chocolate chips). You just pour the contents of the box into a bowl, add the applesauce and yogurt, and then stir it up. Oh, and for those of you who love to eat cookie dough, you can eat the mix raw because there are no eggs! And it's yummy. Grease an 8" pan, pour the mix into the pan, pop it into the oven at 350 degrees, and 30 minutes later you're done. The bars cut best if you cool them so you have to wait another 15 minutes before diving in.

When I read the label, I was pretty impressed -- no multi-syllabic scientific words, no refined flours, no preservatives, and no hydrogenated or fractionated oils. Just good old fashioned ingredients, including organic whole grain rolled oats, organic flax seeds (omega 3's baby!), and real natural flavors like vanilla! This is good stuff. The company says the nutritional breakdown is similar to a Clif Bar. At 160 calories per bar, I think it's a bit light on calories, but that's actually good for smaller riders (like women).

Once the pan cools, you cut it into 9 bars. I put them in a rubbermaid container in the fridge so they would last longer. Okay, I ate two of them first, but then I put them in the fridge. The next day I put a couple of them in snack-size zip locks for my ride (and my riding partner was pleasantly surprised that I brought one for her too).

I'm not a big energy bar fan. For long, lower-intensity rides, they're fine, although I'd rather eat real food when possible. For shorter, high-intensity rides and races I get all my calories from my drink and gels. I'm also bar challenged because of my wheat allergy and my lack of a salivary gland (eewwww!). There is gluten in the Trail Blaze bars, but it doesn't seem to cause an allergic reaction with me. And the folks at Matisse & Jack's are working on a gluten-free recipe! My bigger concern was that I typically have a hard time eating dry food because I don't produce as much saliva as most folks. After my surgery, Clif Bars were out and Power Bars were in (they melt in your mouth). So, I had no idea how I'd like the Trail Blaze bars.

All I can say is "yum!" These bars are delicious. The consistency is almost bread-like -- very moist but not too solid. A bit fluffy, a bit cakey, and they definitely won't remind you of typical energy bars. The flavors are excellent and they taste healthy. And they retained their flavor and consistency for just about a week.

The disadvantage is that these bars could easily become snack food for me. I'm not tempted to snack on a Power Bar, but these are so yummy and taste like real food. Having nine bars without individual packaging to deter me could be dangerous.

The following week I made the other flavor -- cranberry walnut. Also yummalicious, also healthy, and also easy to bake. Not sure which I liked better. I guess I'd better order some so I can test them again!

Sound interesting to you? Don't trust me. Order some for yourself. The good folks at Matisse & Jack's have provided us with a discount coupon -- MJVELOGIRLS06 -- enter it when you order and you receive 20% off your order. Good stuff!

Click here ---> Trail Blaze Bake-At-Home-Energy Bars


At 11/09/2006 4:49 PM, Blogger X Bunny said...

that sounds wonderful
except for the having to bake them

i have a great recipe for dog bones

it is sooo much easier to buy them and the dogs don't seem to appreciate the hands-on effort

At 11/09/2006 5:05 PM, Blogger lauren said...

they sound really yummy, but i have to agree with xbunny about baking them.

why don't you bake a whole bunch and then bring them to the next cross race.

At 11/09/2006 9:05 PM, Blogger Velo Bella said...

and throw some extra chocolate chips in.
And some amaretto.

At 11/09/2006 9:29 PM, Blogger Sweet Cheeks said...

with my trader joe's bill mounting with clif bar purchases, maybe this whole baking thing wouldn't be too bad.

At 11/10/2006 5:36 PM, Blogger bbElf (a.k.a. panda) said...

Those sound really yummy. I've taken to bringing home-dried fruit on rides, 'cause if you do it right it tastes like candy but doesn't hurt your teeth. Bosc pears are the best.


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