As the co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of brüks bars it is important for me to deeply understand nutrition. What started out as a lifelong food obsession has evolved into not one, but two jobs centered around nutrition. My Bachelors and Masters degrees in Exercise Physiology laid the educational foundation for me in holistic human performance, but it has been the three roles I’ve held as a strength, fitness, and performance coach that have honed my skills to applicable real life expertise. As a strength coach and sport scientist for the Seattle Sounders FC everyday I work with elite athletes focusing on what will maximize their performance. Nutrition is a piece that is often overlooked and undervalued, but something I make sure to address on a daily basis with my athletes.
We are a real food snack bar company. In this blog I’m going to explain what that actually means and why we feel the need to be different from all the other snack companies. The way we’ve always made our delicious snacks is from whole ingredients in their most natural (read: from nature) form. We use the highest quality ingredients (read: delicious), organic when possible, without preservatives or fillers. This is the thread that has run through our company since the beginning and is written into our mission and vision statements. Our newest and most badass packaging further reflects these beliefs.
Why Define Real Food
Grocery aisles are jam packed with “healthy snacks” that are free-from many allergens and market themselves based off of a select few ingredients. When you actually look at the label there are tons of ingredients that are not recognizable and we certainly don’t want to put inside our bodies. It is up to us (team brüks and our supporters) to raise the bar on the snacking industry.
Much of the western food philosophy stems from the idea that there are good parts of food (protein, antioxidants) and bad (sugar, fat, etc.) and that there are good foods (avocados) and bad (cookies). We believe that food is much simpler than that. Simple because nature creates exactly what is needed for the survival of the entire ecosystem. It is holistic not segmented. Foods that are chock full of phytonutrients and polyphenols (plant based compounds that help the plant eaters fight off diseases) are brightly colored, for instance, which is meant to attract our attention so we eat them and reap the benefits of all those inflammation crushing antioxidants. By eating those foods we are also spreading their seeds, thus keeping both parties alive. Sweet foods found in nature that are high in sugar (i.e., apples, dates, apricots and maple syrup) generally come with lots of fiber (i.e., skin, pulp, shells and bark) to help our bodies more easily process that sugar. Natures holistic approach to nutrition.
We won't outsmart a system that has evolved over thousands of years with the sole purpose of survival. We are a part of a full ecosystem in which every part plays an important role and each piece needs to be nurtured and allowed to flourish. This is why using real food is so important to our team, straight up: it’s better for you in health and taste!
The Whole is Better Than the Sum of it’s Parts
Green tea is widely researched and known to be one of the healthiest beverages on the earth. Yet when some of compounds that help combat heart disease are isolated and taken as a pill they don't work. While controversial, many think this reductionist approach can be applied with Vitamin C and citrus fruits, and synthetic minerals versus those found in food grown in quality soil. The whole really is more than the sum of its parts. And that is not even addressing the idea of food synergy, which is when certain foods combined are greater nutritionally than adding up the nutrition content of each food separately. Some of my favorite synergistic pairings are rice and beans, avocado and tomatoes, oatmeal and orange juice (fresh squeezed of course), turmeric and black pepper, spinach and lemon, and apples and purple grapes. Together these combos pack a far greater health punch than either would if consumed separately.
At brüks bars, we are keeping ingredients the way they naturally grow to allow them to shine and to showcase their beauty and flavor. It's not always easy or cheap but we will never sacrifice that. Our health depends on it. Not only is it important what ingredients ARE in our bars but it's just as important what's NOT in them. Allergen-conscious (gluten, dairy, soy and egg-free) with no preservatives or fillers.
All Sugar is Not Created Equal
Many snack bars companies use cheaply processed syrups (brown rice, tapioca, or corn, to name a few) to help with sweetness and consistency. I challenge you to find any of these ingredients in nature. Spoiler alert: you won’t. What that means is that these types of syrups are just highly processed sugars with non-sugar sounding names to try and trick you. Sugar is in every fruit and vegetable, which normally isn't a problem when you eat the whole thing but when you isolate just the sugar and throw a different name on it, it's still sugar. It’s important to highlight the difference and look for it in products you support so we can prevent our bodies from getting bombarded with the toxic known as highly processed/refined sugar.
While we’re not perfect, we promise that we will keep getting better. We work extremely hard behind the scenes to source ingredients that fit within our quality standards in both in terms of taste and health. In fact, we get non-GMO and kosher documentation from all our suppliers, documentation from those who are organic and we are working diligently to make all four of our bars organic (two are already technically organic). Read about our switch from sulfured apricots to the delicious unsulfured ones we use now here. The mission is and always will be to highlight whole food ingredients in a delicious and convenient way so we can “provide the fuel for YOU to change the world, one bite at a time.”