Sick and tired of energy bars or gels while recreating? Well, so are some Team Clif Bar athletes who worked with the company to concoct new Clif Organic Energy Food. These meal pouches feature unusual flavors not usually associated with energy bars – flavors like Pizza Margherita, Sweet Potato with Sea Salt and Banana Beet with Ginger. According to Clif, each flavor was inspired by home recipes of their athletes, including ultra-runner Scott Jurek.
According to Clif, each recipe contains Certified USDA organic ingredients. For example, the organic bananas in Banana Mango with Coconut provide both glucose and fructose for energy, while organic sunflower seed butter in Pizza Margherita delivers some fat and protein for longer-duration training and racing. Also, the sweet recipes are crafted for activities of one hour or more, while savory recipes also include small amounts of protein and fat beneficial for activities lasting two hours or longer. Supposedly, those savory flavors help satisfy physiological cravings for electrolytes as well as emotional cravings for salty, comfort food and real food textures.
Clif says each recipe is gluten-free and does not contain partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or synthetic preservatives. Plus, all recipes source ingredients that are not genetically engineered.
So how do they taste? I took all four flavors on a backcountry skiing yurt trip in Idaho to find out.
First, after a long skin over a couple peaks in the yurt’s backyard, I broke out the Pizza Margherita pouch as a pre-lunch snack and to get a boost for the remainder of the climb. I was apprehensive when I first sucked on the tip and a gooey paste exploded into my mouth. Honestly, I almost gagged. The taste and texture was like cold pizza sauce sprinkled with sawdust. With the initial impression out of the way, I ate the rest and kept it down. It wasn’t so bad after all, but Pizza Margherita is definitely not a flavor I want to taste again.
On the second day of the trip, I threw the Sweet Potato with Sea Salt in my pack. After a few hours of skinning I started to feel fatigued and opened the pouch. After my experience with the pizza flavor, I was nervous, but to my surprise this one was pretty tasty. I love sweet potatoes anyway, and the salt mixed in was perfect to replenish what I lost from sweating. The taste and texture was like leftover mashed potatoes the day after Thanksgiving – cold but still good. It was pretty satisfying overall.
On the third and final full day of the trip I packed the remaining two – Banana Beet with Ginger and Banana Mango with Coconut. Both come in smaller size pouches and I spread them out through the day. First up was the Banana Beet with Ginger. I really liked this one. The flavor was more on the banana side with no real beet flavor at all – a combination of flavors I wasn’t sure I would like. The ginger taste is more prominent, but not overly so. I give this one a thumbs up.
Next up was the Banana Mango with Coconut. Overall it’s very similar to the Banana Beet with Ginger in that it mostly tastes like banana, but the mango in this case is definitely there. The coconut seems to just add some texture to the mix. I think this one was my favorite of the four as it was very refreshing.
Overall, I think this new concept in energy food is hit or miss. The Pizza Margherita and Sweet Potato with Sea Salt are both difficult to swallow as they are flavors usually eaten as a hot meal. If I want to taste cold pizza on a bike ride, I’ll just pack an actual slice. However, the fruit-centric flavors are actually very tasty and I would not hesitate to buy them for future ski/bike/running trips.
That being said, I can’t stop thinking that eating from these food pouches is like eating baby food. The mushy, cold texture brought me back to my toddler days. While some people may like this, especially since it’s far easier to consume when on the move (no chewing) I just don’t think it’s for me. I’m going to stick with the classic Clif Bars.
The MSRP of the sweet flavors are $2.29 for 90 grams, while savory flavors cost $2.99 for 120 grams. All can be purchased at REI.