The food we eat can have a large impact on our health, and different people have different needs and sensitivities.
So we think it’s only fair that you know exactly what goes into our bars, and why.
And unlike a lot of other food businesses, we’ll tell you about all our ingredients, not just the really healthy or trendy ones! If you don’t think we’re being transparent enough, please let us know.
We go into a bit of detail here, so please scroll down to the bottom if you just want to see a clear summary!
When we set out to develop a veg-based snack bar several years ago we wanted to get as much veg as possible into it, using as few other ingredients as possible and with no added sugar or artificial ingredients. As time went by and our understanding of nutrition increased, we also wanted to use as many whole foods as possible (find out why here). And whilst we didn’t rule out adding some fruit, we clearly wanted veg to be the main player.
Some of that has been quite easy, but the rest of it has been quite tough!
The main problem we had is that veg are much lower in sugar than fruit, and sugar’s a great preservative. So the high sugar content of dried fruit-based bars enables them to naturally have both a good texture and a long shelf-life. Swapping dried veg for the dried fruit just doesn’t work though, so we need to add extra ingredients to make the veg-based bar concept work.
After lots of trial and error we found a whole food, plant-based ingredient that enabled us to achieve both a good texture (binding the veg together and providing a good mouthfeel) and a long shelf-life. Made from algae, it’s called whole algal flour and is really quite special. Just after our initial launch, however, the sole manufacturer of it hit difficulties, and the product hasn’t been available since. So it was back to the drawing board again…
After lots more trial and error we found that a combination of tapioca starch and rapeseed oil worked as a replacement for the whole algal flour, and that’s what we use today, along with some vegetable glycerine and sunflower lecithin. You can read more about these ingredients below, but in short, whilst they’re not whole foods or completely natural, they’re not chemically modified or artificial (so can be called “natural”). They’re also used in lots of other healthier food products. We’d rather use whole foods instead, but we don’t think it’s possible at the moment. And we think that relaxing our ideals here is a small price to pay to create a bar that makes it much easier and more enjoyable for people to eat more whole veg!
All our bars contain dried vegetables, buckwheat, raisins, tapioca starch, rapeseed oil, vegetable glycerine, sunflower lecithin, a range of real flavourings and vitamin E, as detailed below:
Small pieces of dried veg are the main ingredient in all our bars, with a bit of powdered veg in some of them too. We don’t use pastes, purees or juices – find out why that’s important here.
They’re packed with good carbs, fibre, vitamins, minerals and a whole range of other beneficial things like antioxidants. In short, they’re nutritional powerhouses. So it’s no wonder that we’re advised to eat at least five portions a day (alongside fruit). You can find out a lot more about why veg are great here.
Over time we hope to use as wide a variety of veg as possible in our bars, although not all of them work well in this format. For now we’re using carrots, tomatoes, pumpkin. beetroot, peppers and broccoli.
Please note that we’d never recommend eating vedge bars instead of fresh veg, which we think are definitely healthier. But if you find that hard, or want to top them up, our bars are a great option. And we think they’re significantly than most other packaged snacks.
Carrots are probably most well-known as being a very good source of vitamin A, which is known to help keep your eyes, immune system and skin healthy. They don’t actually contain the vitamin itself, but beta-carotene, a phtyochemical that the body turns into vitamin A.
They’re also a particularly good source of vitamins C, K, B6 and B9, and the mineral potassium. All of these have a wide variety of health benefits, such as being good for our bones, nervous system and blood.
Tomatoes share a lot of the same vitamins, minerals and benefits as carrots, but are also particularly high in lycopene (the powerful phytochemical that gives them their red colour).
Peppers are also similar to carrots with regards to their vitamins, minerals, and benefits, but they’re also a particularly good source of vitamin E (a particularly good anti-oxidant).
You’ve guessed it – it shares a lot of the nutrients and benefits of the other veg!
But it’s also a particularly good source of the minerals manganese and iron, which help reduce tiredness and keep our connective tissue healthy (amongst other things). And it’s relatively high in protein for a vegetable.
And as a cruciferous veg, it’s particularly high in the powerful phytochemical sulforaphane.
Another nutritional powerhouse! While being particularly high in vitamin B9 and a good source of manganese, beetroot also contain nitrates, which are beneficial for athletic performance.
Pumpkins are often just thought of as the veg with scary faces carved out of them at a particular time of year, but they’re actually full of nutrients (and very tasty!). They’re particularly high in vitamin A, so, like carrots, may support healthy eyes, immune system and skin.
Whilst different veg share a lot of the same vitamins and minerals, they also each contain potentially hundreds of other beneficial compounds, some of which are unique to particular veg. So it’s important to eat as wide a variety as possible. And although they contain lots of vitamins and minerals, the extent to which you can benefit from them is impacted by a wide variety of factors, as discussed here. It’s worth noting, for instance, that although most fresh veg are high in vitamin C, most processing (including any cooking) destroys it. That shouldn’t be a concern though, as just one fresh red pepper (for example) contains over 150% of your daily vitamin C requirement.
Despite its name, buckwheat is actually a seed, and gluten free.
We mainly use it to add a bit of crunch to most of our bars, but it’s also a good source of minerals (eg manganese, copper and magnesium) and antioxidants. And it’s been linked with reducing blood sugar levels and promoting heart health.
Part of our purpose is to provide an alternative to fruit-based bars, but there’s no escaping the fact that dried fruit provides a nice texture and, for some people, a welcome hit of extra sweetness.
There are more than enough date-based bars out there though, and the date paste they use doesn’t work that well in our bars, so we use raisins instead.
Like some of the other ingredients, we don’t think that they make the bars any healthier, but they are a good source of fibre, iron and antioxidants.
Please note that a tiny amount of sunflower oil (0.5% of the weight of the raisins) is added by the supplier of the raisins to make sure that they don’t stick together too much.
Tapioca is the starch extracted from the roots of cassava plants, which are root vegetables native to South America. The wet pulp of the cassava root is squeezed to extract a starchy liquid, with the water then evaporated to leave the tapioca flour.
Unlike whole veg, it doesn’t contain many vitamins or minerals, but it’s still a good source of energy.
For us it’s the key binding ingredient that holds the veg together.
It’s widely used in Asian cuisine in particular, and as a gluten free thickener / flour alternative.
We’d rather not use refined fats at all, but fortunately we don’t need to use much (less than half what you’d find in kale crisps, for instance). And as far as they go, we think that rapeseed oil is a relatively good one. Most importantly it’s relatively low in saturated fat (just 7%, versus 14% for olive oil and 87% for coconut oil), and has a good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats. Olive oil is better in other ways, but the neutral taste of rapeseed oil makes it the most suited to our bars.
As well as helping to bind the veg together, it also improves the mouthfeel of the bars, making them more enjoyable than otherwise.
Glycerine occurs naturally as a key component of fat molecules. To manufacture the version we use, rapeseed oil is heated under pressure with water, which splits the glycerine out. This effectively accelerates a process that happens naturally within our bodies, where fat is broken down into carbohydrates for energy (gluconeogenesis).
We use it because it “locks up” water (it’s a humectant) and gives the bars a moister texture than otherwise. We think it’s a much better option than adding lots of salt, sugar or unnatural ingredients to get the same effect.
It’s widely used in other snack bars, and also toothpaste and cough medicines, amongst other things.
Lecithin is a fat compound found naturally in the body and that can also be extracted from different plants for use as an ingredient. It’s used in a wide variety of food and other products as an emulsifier, which helps to bind ingredients together. We don’t need an emulsifier, but adding a small amount of lecithin makes our bars less dense and therefore easier to eat than otherwise. The lecithin we use is extracted from sunflower seeds, which is preferable to other types (eg soy) as the extraction is gentler and doesn’t require harsh chemicals.
All our flavours have a variety of of herbs, spices and / or fruit oils (and Twisted Tomato contains some 100% natural / no added sugar ketchup, courtesy of Dr Will’s).
The use of herbs and spices is particularly important to us because they have potent health benefits as well as providing lots of bold flavour. Gram for gram they typically have more antioxidants than any other foods.
And the natural fruit oils we use add some great zest and tang.
Because of the veg in particular, all our bars naturally contain a wide range of vitamins (and minerals). To make the “source of” claim, however, they need to contain more than 15% of the RDA. So whilst they contain a wide variety, we only refer to vitamins A and E. Because of the carrots, the bars are naturally a great source of vitamin A (more than 15% of RDA, but we want to be conservative). They’re naturally just under 15% of RDA for vitamin E though, so we add a bit extra in order to make the claim.
Although lots of other bars have added vitamins and minerals too, we think it’s far better to try to get them from whole foods (like the veg in our bars) where possible, so we don’t add any others. This is what nature intended, and what our bodies are used to. You can find out more about this here.
Vitamin A is good for our immune systems, skin and vision.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that supports cells from oxidative damage.
Some of the bars also contain chicory root fibre:
Chicory root fibre
Chicory is a blue flowering herb whose root is particularly high in inulin, a prebiotic fibre that’s proven to be good for the gut (it’s a food source for our all-important good bacteria). Sliced chicory roots are soaked in hot water which is then evaporated, leaving a powder that in our case is 85% fibre.
It’s been linked to improved blood sugar control and weight loss, and the version we use has an approved EU health claim of “good for the gut” (when used in sufficient quantities), because it aids bowel movements (when used in the right quantity – we’re not making this claim for any of our current flavours).
On the downside, as a fructo-oligosaccharide it’s high FODMAP and can cause discomfort for some people when eaten in large amounts (particularly those with IBS).
Fibre’s great, and the main macronutrient most of us don’t eat enough of, so it’s good to add a concentrated form. But our bars are already very high in fibre because of the veg content, and we think that this whole food fibre is better than refined fibres like those from chicory root (see here for why). For various reasons its typically only refined products developed by large manufacturers that have approved health claims though.
What we’ll never include:
As you may be able to tell, we’re not fans of added sugars (including syrups, blossoms, nectars, honey etc, raw / unrefined or otherwise (they’re all largely the same as far as our bodies are concerned), and that extends to free sugars too (which includes the sugars naturally found in juices, purees and pastes etc (find out more here)). On average we eat far more of these than advised (at least twice as much as the maximum advised by the WHO), so we don’t think they really belong in any product calling itself “healthy”. The only exception to this is our Twisted Tomato flavour bar, which includes some free sugars because they’re present in the ketchup. It’s a tiny amount though and it helps us to make our point – we’d rather it didn’t have free sugars in, but it wouldn’t be ketchup without them, and if adding a bit of ketchup to veg gets more people eating them, on balance we don’t think it’s a bad thing.
We think nature knows best so will only use natural ingredients, and whole foods wherever possible.
The table below shows the ingredients used in each of our main flavours. Full details for all flavours are provided on the individual product pages.
The individual product pages also have full nutritional information. A summary of it, and our thoughts on nutrition in general, can be found on our nutrition page.
We want to make veg-based snacks as accessible as possible so don’t use any major allergens in any of our recipes. We’re not making any free-from claims yet, however, because we haven’t fully audited our supply chain for potential cross-contamination.
Our ingredients are sourced principally from Europe, but also further afield. Whilst this isn’t ideal, it is necessary, and we’ll offset the carbon footprint. Theoretically it’s possible to get some of them from the UK (eg carrots), but the necessary supply chain isn’t well developed yet and it would therefore be much more expensive and potentially unreliable.
And although some of our ingredients are organic, most aren’t. We think that organic ingredients are best where possible, and we could potentially move to organic veg in the future, but it probably won’t be possible for all our ingredients.
We’ll be writing more about some of our ingredients in future blogs – sign up to our newsletter at the bottom of the page to make sure that you see them.
What our customers say
Delicious vegetable bars that make it so much easier to get in your five a day! Flawless products and service provided by Vedge Snacks - cannot recommend enough!
Beetroot and Pumpkin Pie were amazing! Could see myself eating a lot of them
Really love your snacks...was pleasantly surprised with the tomato ketchup one!
The bars are delicious. Was not sure if I would want to eat savoury bars, but this has changed my mind.
"2 of 5 a day in a healthy snack with low calorie count is a great option."
"when you think that you are getting 2 of your 5 a day from just one bar… it is so much easier to eat this way! Genius product"
I don't know of anything else like this on the market and think it's a really good idea. I was really surprised how much I liked the tomato ketchup one!
Very nice healthy snack on the go! Beetroot flavour is a favourite, but all were tasty and had a nice feeling afterwards that you're eating healthy and getting in some of your “5 a day” veg
Really loved the pumpkin pie bar the most.
Great snack and healthy too. Our kids love them!
Great way to get your 5 a day. Really enjoyed these bars. My favourite was the beetroot and orange flavour, even my 10 year old enjoyed. Great way to snack healthily.
Absolutely delicious! Really loved the Broccoli and the Pumpkin Pie. Hard to believe they contain 2 of your 5 a day. Lovely crunch from buckwheat and each flavour has a different subtle spice kick. Highly recommend these for healthy snackers.