5 Day Packet-Free Challenge – Day 3: Bars & Bliss Balls

Packet Free Lunchbox Challenge

The Packet Free Challenge: Day 3

One of the worst aisles of the supermarket is the muesli bar aisle (now also often home to the ever increasing selection of “bliss balls”). The packets shout out from every angle how healthy, nourishing and full of goodness they are. And of course there is the ubiquitous health star rating now to back them up now in NZ and Australia.

And this is exactly what the manufactures of these bars and balls want you to believe.

But looks can be deceiving.

The World Health Organisation’s recommends limiting added or free sugar intake to 6 tsp (25g) per day for adults and 3 tsp a day for children for added health benefits, and reducing risk of tooth decay, obesity and a raft of other potential health ramifications.

The packaging on bars claims ‘contains fruit!’ and is coupled with images of fresh, delicious looking berries, apple or banana. But often the fruit is a concentrate or flavouring. Not actual fruit, whether fresh or dried.

Many bars several different additives and colours and are over 50% sugar.

As you know, additives and preservatives are linked to a wide range of issues from behavioural problems, headaches, restless legs, hyperactivity, eczema, dermatitis, asthma, depression.

So today here and in the FB Chat Group we’re going to look at options with muesli bars and bliss balls from ingredients to steer clear off to what makes a better product in this area.

Are you a label detective?

Become a label detective: Yes sorry but you really can’t rely on front of pack labelling as it can be so misleading – especially if you’re in NZ or Australia with the ridiculous Health Star Rating system.



Chocolate Compound – A low cost chocolate alternative using cocoa, vegetatbl oils and sweeteners.

Sugar – The World Health Organisation recommendations are for children to consume no more than 6 teaspoons (up to 3 teaspoons for optional health) of added sugar a day (and this includes for fruit juice and syrups as well as sugar added to any product.) With yoghurt you do have approximately 1 tsp (4 grams) of sugar that’s naturally occurring but the remainder will be added sugar. Note how many different ways sugar is labelled in this bar! (Sugar, fructose, dextrose, barley malt extract…).

Vegetable oil – highly processed oil and often genetically modified source. Unlike olive oil, it isn’t cold-pressed. To refine it, a solvent is used to extract the oil from rapeseed which is later evaporated off. That’s followed by neutralisation, bleaching, winterisation and de-odourisation steps, as with other industrial seed oils.

Natural Flavour– Again opinions diverge on safety of natural flavours. But one thing is certain the flavours are not so natural as many consumers understand that term. MSG is a “natural flavor,” and so are other additives like castoreum (a vanilla flavour made from the anal sacs of beavers). Then again, “natural flavour” can be as simple as salt and pepper. Without calling the manufacturer of the food, there’s no way to actually tell what “natural flavour” is, so unless you’re willing to do some research, it’s a safer bet to avoid it.

150c – Caramel III dark brown colour. Associated with liver disorders, allergic reactions, hyper sensitive reactions.


Prefer bliss balls and muesli bars that don’t use flavour enhancers, antioxidants, preservatives and colours and which contain minimal sugar.

Try to avoid industrial seed oils and added flavours – which of course rules out all low fat spreads marketed as replacements to butter.

Jump into the Facebook Group today we’ll be looking at different brands and comparing.


Go and look in your pantry and take a look at any muesli bars and bliss balls and see if any of them have any additives. When you’re next out shopping for muesli bars try to buy a brand that does not have the problematic additives.


Get into the kitchen and have a go making your own biscuits/cookies, muesli bars or bliss balls! See recipes below. Remember to share your pics with us on social media. Use the hashtags: #packetfreefebruary #domskitchen so we can find them.

Jump into the FB group today as we’ll be looking at our favourite brands and tips and tricks for best lunchbox.


Bliss Ball (nut & grain free) recipe: Nut Free Bliss Ball

Bliss Ball (grain free not nut free) recipes: Click here for carrot cake, chocolate & strawberry bliss ball ideas.

Bliss Ball (no dates recipe) from my friend Michelle Yandle at Michelle Yandle Nutrition Coaching: find it here.

Banana Loaf recipe: Paleo Banana Bread

Lunchbox Muesli Bar recipe (grain free, nut free, dairy free and delicious!): Nut Free Muesli Bar

Remember to share your pics with us on social media. Use the hashtags: #packetfreefebruary #domskitchen so we can find them.


Check out my blog post about a typical school lunch and how many additives there are with all the packets.

Learn 60 how sugar is hidden in bars and balls with 60 different names for sugar – image from That Sugar Film (which you must see if you’ve not already – great for kids!

How was your day three? Got a question? Head over to the Dom’s Kitchen Challenge Chat Facebook group and add it today’s post or add your question at the comment section of this post. Feel free to email me with any questions you may have as well!

Don’t forget! Share your recipe creations or lunch boxes in the FB group here. Remember we have cool spot prizes.

Claire Deeks

Real Food Advocate For Families