Cereal bars are bars made from cereal grains like oats, rye, rice, and wheat. You may also hear a cereal bar called a “breakfast bar,” in a reference to the fact that many people eat cereal bars in lieu of breakfast, although this food can technically be eaten at any time. Many companies manufacture cereal bars, with most markets selling an array of options. It is also possible to make cereal bars at home, by combining a mixture of grains, nuts, and other ingredients with a thick heated syrup and allowing the mixture to cool and set in a baking pan before slicing it into bars.
In addition to the key cereal ingredient, cereal bars usually have some sort of syrup which acts like a glue to pull the grain together so that it stays in a bar shape. The most common choice of syrup is a sugar syrup, although other glue-like mixtures can be used as well. Ingredients like fruit, nuts, candy, and so forth may also be added to a cereal bar to enhance the flavor and taste, and some cereal bars are dipped in yogurt or candy coatings.
The idea behind cereal bars is that they provide a quick snack or breakfast for someone who is on the go. Assembling a full breakfast may be a challenge for someone with a tight schedule, and many people believe that breakfast is an important meal, so cereal bars fill the need. Someone can also snack on a cereal bar in the middle of the day, with some people carrying cereal bars so that they can keep their blood sugar under control. A cereal bar before a workout can provide more energy, and likewise with a cereal bar consumed at a low point in the work day.
The nutritional value of cereal bars varies considerably. Many companies make versions which are heavily sweetened, with a low fiber content and few vitamins or minerals. While these cereal bars may be tasty, they do not confer very much nutrition, and they may not provide the same benefits as a healthier version. Especially when cereal bars are being eaten as a meal replacement, it is important to seek out a cereal bar which provides some basic nutrition, rather than a cereal bar which is basically a sweet treat in wolf's clothing.
There are some things to look for when buying cereal bars which can be used to select a product with the most nutritional value. The sugar content should be low, ideally less than 15 grams, while the fiber content should be high, usually above five grams. High protein is another thing to look for, as are vitamins like C and A, with a cereal bar ideally having at least 25% of the daily value of two or more vitamins. Avoid cereal bars which are dipped in candy coatings, or cereal bars with ingredients like marshmallows, chocolate chunks, and other candy ingredients. Dried fruit and nuts are good ingredients to look for, as they can provide extra nutritional value.