When the folks at Mezcla Plant Protein Bars reached out with an offer of samples, I didn’t immediately jump. While I love a portable food—and have frequent use for it, as an avid hiker, kayaker, and traveler—I’ve also been burned a few too many times by other protein bars that promise quick energy and great taste in the same package. As I’ve discovered, the majority of protein bars are heavy; laden with fat, sugar, and calories; and taste like chocolate-flavored chalk.
I now have two criteria for protein bars: 1) they shouldn’t be so caloric that I need to skip my next meal, and 2) they shouldn’t suck. Seems like a low bar, no? And yet you’d be surprised how many bars are able to inch their way over it—hence my hesitation in trying Mezcla.
Sure, they have cool-sounding flavors like Peruvian Cocoa Peanut Butter, Japanese Matcha Vanilla, and Mexican Chipotle Hot Chocolate. Yes, their site is fun and friendly, and makes one of the world’s least visually interesting products look dynamic and cool. And they also partner with independent artists to create the unique artwork on their packaging; scan the QR code on the front label and you’ll be taken to additional art that refreshes frequently. Two percent of their profits also go toward funding art programs in underserved schools.
But do they make good on their promise to temporarily make you feel full? And, perhaps more important, how do they taste?
Mezcla protein bars are made with recognizable, non-GMO, mostly healthy ingredients like pea protein, quinoa, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, chicory, herbs, and spices. They’re vegan and gluten-free, and pack a respectable 10 g of plant protein per bar—enough for a refueling on a hike, without making you feel weighed-down. They’re a little high in sugar—20 mg carbohydrates per bar—but this is what contributes to an energy boost. Since they do have some trace minerals, are lower in calories than most bars (170 per serving), and gave me the requisite get-up-and-goosing while on the trail, I’m willing to overlook the high carb count.
I tried all three Mezcla flavors. As a chocolate fiend, I was convinced the Mexican Chipotle Hot Chocolate would be my favorite, but I found the flavor a little muddy—not so much that I stopped eating it, mind you, but just enough that the chocolate and chili didn’t stand on their own. The Peruvian Cocoa Peanut Butter tasted less like peanut butter than peanuts, but I didn’t mind; it had just enough peanut flavor, along with the coating of chocolate on its backside, to make me mouth-happy. My favorite of the bunch was the Japanese Matcha Vanilla, one of those on-paper combinations that seems very wrong, but really works. It’s creamy, mildly herby, and not overly sweet, and just different enough for my taste buds to take notice.
If you’re in search of protein bars that provide some quick energy and don’t resemble the taste and texture of the Olympic uneven bars, Mezcla is a good choice. They offer a 3-bar trial for free with the cost of shipping ($4.95), which is a great way to sample the flavors before purchasing a full box.
Mezcla Plant Protein Bars$19.99 for 8 bars
- Three distinctive flavors
- Ingredient transparency
- Non-GMO *
- Fun art and community tie-ins
- Relatively small serving size might not satisfy those with larger calorie requirements
- High in sugar
- High price
- No visible proof of non-GMO certification from recognized agency
- More transparency needed on website about schools that are recipients of Mezcla's contributions.