Dessert Bars
Think raw, the thinking goes, and your body will benefit from enzymes that cooked food lacks. These tasty bars were as enjoyable as blondies and brownies—different, surely, but just as enjoyable. Top, Flax Seed Bar; bottom, The Big Fig Bar. All photography by Melody Lan.





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KAREN HOCHMAN is editorial director of THE NIBBLE.



May 2006

Product Reviews / NutriNibbles / NutriSweets

The New “Raw Bar”

All-Natural, Raw Dessert Bars From Athena’s Silverland Desserts



CAPSULE REPORT: With more people choosing to eat raw foods, manufacturers are responding. Three new raw dessert bars from Athena’s Silverland Desserts—Flax Seed, The Big Fig and Oasis (dates, cherries and walnuts) fit the bill, and can be shipped anywhere in the U.S.

There’s a new raw menu popping up at chic restaurants—and it isn’t sushi or a plat de fruits de mer. If you missed last month’s report on trends in natural and organic products, check out Andy Whitman’s comments on the acceleration of the raw food movement. With more Americans pursuing the benefits of raw food, producers of traditional foods are rising to the challenge.

Raw food doesn’t mean a diet of apples, nuts and crudités: it means consuming food and beverages that have not been heated above 116° to 118°F (that means no traditional pasta, but you can have all the wine you want—wine never rises above this temperature during its production). The concept is that around this temperature, certain food enzymes that assist in the digestion and absorption of the food start to break down. People who have converted to raw diets report remarkable changes in their physical and mental health (adieu to sleep disorders, mood swings, et al).

“Raw” used to mean the stringent side of vegan—raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, seaweed, shoots and the “superfoods” like algae, sea vegetables, bee pollen, and honey. If it sounds a bit too “back-to-nature” or health-nut for you, rest assured that great chefs like Chicago’s Charlie Trotter and New York’s Matthew Kenney (who launched the gourmet raw restaurant Pure Food & Wine) have created intricate cuisines that make most people say, “I can’t believe this is ‘raw’!”

Review continues below.

Learn More About Raw Food

Raw The Raw Gourmet Raw in 10 Minutes
Raw, by Charlie Trotter, Roxanne Klein et al. Trotter and Klein show how exquisite raw food can be. The collection of vegan recipes, all cooked at temperatures below 118°F, is haute: Salsify with Black Truffles and Porcini  Mushrooms, Portobello Mushroom Pave with White Asparagus Vinaigrette, Banana Chocolate Tart with Caramel and Chocolate Sauces. $22.05. Click here for more information. The Raw Gourmet, by Nomi Shannon. A beautiful recipe book, recipes are as varied and wonderful as any cooked food you’ve ever eaten, from breakfast grains to juices and salads to pies, cookies, and ice cream! You won’t believe how much you can do with raw foods! You can prepare a meal within 20 minutes of arriving home. $15.72. Click here for more information. Raw In 10 Minutes, by Bryan Au. Over 150 pages and 80 Raw Organic Living Recipes that are all under 10 minutes and $10. Totally innovative, new recipes that are all unique, fast, easy, modeled to look and taste just like all of your favorite “cooked,” “baked,” “deep fried” comfort and junk foods but it truly is raw. $13.00. Click here for more information.


Athena’s Silverland Desserts, a producer of brownies and dessert bars, has made an interesting line of all-natural fruit and nut bars.  Four of the bars fit into the raw food category.

  • The Big Fig Bar.  The grown-up Fig Newton® in a lovely bar format.  Who needs that pallid cookie shell: this is fig, fig and more delicious fig, held together in a nice bar shape with a dab of wheat flour, butter, a few oats, organic  evaporated cane juice and a pinch of baking soda. You don’t notice much else but the fig—which is as it should be. (120 calories)
  • Flax Seed Bar. If you love those chewy sesame honey candies, you are a candidate for this dense, chewy bar. It’s all seeds—flax, sunflower and sesame—with some evaporated cane juice and non-hydrogenated soybean oil holding them together. Some natural vanilla is a nice touch—less sweet and cloying than honey. (190 calories)
Figaro Bar
The Big Fig Bar
Flax Seed Bar
Flax Seed Bar
  • Flax Seed & Peanut  Butter. This bar looks identitical to the plain Flax Seed bar, but has just the right touch of natural peanut butter. And, for the same calories. It’s a winner! (190 calories)
  • Oasis Bar. Dates, oats, cherries, walnuts—that’s it. Lots of good date flavor with the cherries in a more submissive position. The walnuts have a bit of a bite, but we find that in most walnuts. The texture is a soft, blondie-like experience. We would have eaten many more while waiting for Rudolph Valentino to ride up on a white stallion.

The bars are 1-1/2 ounces, about two inches square, and a perfect size for a snack or a small dessert (smart minds would say the size is not small but just right—but we want to manage expectations in this super-size-me world).

Vegans and those with allergies should note that the bars are manufactured on shared equipment in a plant with wheat flour, dairy and/or dairy by-products, eggs and/or egg products, peanuts, tree nuts (almonds, cashews, macadamias, pecans and walnuts) and soy and/or soy derivatives.

Oasis Bar
Oasis Bar


Athena’s Silverland Raw Dessert Bars come individually packaged for grab-and-go convenience. Compared to raw food energy bars, these stack up well. They have substantially less fat and a correspondingly lower caloric count than the pioneering LäraBar, e.g.:

  Oasis Bar
Cherry Pie (2)
Apple Pie (3)
1.5 oz
1.7 ounces
1.7 ounces
Total Calories
From Fat
Total Carbohydrate
  24g (8%)
24g (8%)
23g (8%)
Dietary Fiber
    3g (14%)
4g (18%)
4g (15%)

(1) Oasis Bar: dates, oats, cherries, walnuts
(2) LäraBar, Cherry Pie: dates, almonds, unsweetened cherries
(3) LäraBar, Apple Pie: dates, walnuts, unsweetened apples, almonds, raisins, cinnamon

The other good thing about these raw dessert bars compared to other raw food bars: people who don’t normally enjoy raw food will like them.  You can sneak them onto a dessert tray, or just set them down in front of someone and say “fig bar” or “Oasis Bar,” and nobody will be the wiser.



RAW DESSERT BARS: Flax Seed Bar, Flax Seed & Peanut Butter Bar, The Big Fig Bar, Oasis Bar

  • 12-Piece Box
  • 24-Piece Box
  • 36-Piece Box
  • 48-Piece Box

Purchase online at

Dessert Plate
From left to right: Flax Seed Bar, The Big Fig Bar, Oasis Bar


Some Favorite Raw Snacks

Cacao Nibs Raw Cashews  
Nature’s First Law Organic Cacao Nibs. These raw, organic, unprocessed criollo cacao nibs from Ecuador are among the best nibs we’ve tasted. You can eat them straight from the bag, toss them into salads, grind them into cocoa powder, add to smoothies, and otherwise cook and bake with them. Eight-ounce bag, $9.99. Click here for more information. Truly Raw Cashews. These cashews, which grow wildly in Indonesia, are harvested and shelled without heating the raw cashew nut. Experts in Indonesia use specially designed tools to split open each cashew shell by hand, leaving the cashew nut raw and fresh. Whole cashews with bud still intact will sprout and grow. One pound, $12.50. Click here for more information.  


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