Energy Food for Cybernauts
by Sean Carton for Digital Living Today

Sadly, we e-workers of the world rarely see the inside of a restaurant for our mid-day repast. Instead, most of us grab some grub on the run, play the vending-machine slots, or just go hungry.

So what can you do when the bits are flyin' and you've gotta get that app up on the Web by the end of the day? And how about something with a little zing to it ... and something that doesn't sit on your stomach like a jigger of toxic waste?

We've done some power snacking to find the great (and not-so-great) desktop dining treats suitable for filling the void. We've skipped the junk, concentrating on the healthiest instant grub we could get our mitts on. Foods were rated on a scale of 1 to 10 for taste, meal replacement value, "zoom factor" (how much energy it provided), and "stickiness" (whether or not you'd actually consume the stuff again). Be sure to scroll all the way to the right to see the tasters' comments.

Product Manufacturer Description Tasting notes Nutritional Info Taste Score Meal Replacement Value Zoom Factor Stickiness Taster's comments
Amazake Mangolian Ginseng Drink Grainaissance A brown rice and mango shake with CoQ10 and ginseng. Thick, fruit "smoothie" style drink. 340 calories, 0g fat, 8g fiber, 35g carbohydrates 9.5 9 9 9.5 "I liked it so much I stole the bottle and actually did have it for my lunch!" (Sean)

Ginseng UP Ginseng Up Corporation Orange-y carbonated beverage with ginseng. Contains 19% orange juice. Citrus-y orange/tangerine lightly-carbonated soda. 180 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 45g carbohydrates 9 2.3 4 9 "Better than Orangina. It was real good." (Jason Bottenus, Art Director)

"Good at first but it has a slight aftertaste." (Janet Deery, Multimedia Designer)
Grabber Energy Bar Grabber Dehydrated fruit bar. Fruity, chewy, dense. 153 calories, 0.5g fat, 3g fiber, 36g carbohydrate 6 4 4 6 "Like a pre-chewed fruit rollup" (Mike Smith, Lead Multimedia Programmer)
Greens Today The Organic Frog Powdered algae "drink." Just add water and stir-this multivitamin supernutrient concoction dissolves instantly into a green sludge that left chunks in clinging to the glass after drinking. Yum! 50 calories, less than 1g fat, 2g fiber, 8g carbohydrate 0 5 7 0 "Ugh! Tastes and smells like the bottom of a fish tank. I'm sure its great for you (just read the label), but that's if you can keep it down!" (Sean)
Luna Nutz Over Chocolate Clif Bar, Inc. "The Whole Nutrition Bar for Women"-a grains and nuts concoction with chocolate. Kind of like it wants to be a granola bar but can't quite go the distance. 180 calories, 4.5g fat, 2g fiber, 24g carbohydrate 6 5 8 5 "I used to live on a horse farm and when I was little I tasted horse food-not bad, actually. This is horse food with chocolate on the bottom." (Katie Hawkland, Intern)
Owdalla Chocolate Raspberry Bar Odwalla Grain and fruit meal-replacement bar. Dark brown, fruity-smelling moist grain bar. 240 calories, 5g fat, 5g fiber, 45g carbohydrate 8.2 6 4 8.2 "Great! Tastes like real food." (Peter Quinn, Senior Art Director)

"Give me this before a run...light and energizing." (Katie)

"A little dry but I liked this one the best." (Janet)
Penguin Mints Penguin Altoids-like strong peppermints...loaded with caffeine. Strong-tasting, but not as strong as some. Minty flavor starts strong and sticks around. Not too sweet, but they could get rid of the slick outer coating. Three Penguins have about as much caffeine as one cola beverage 9 0 10+ 10 "I freakin' love these things! Help, I'm addicted!" (Sean)
PowerBar Performance Energy Bar PowerBar Inc. Vitamin-packed high carbohydrate energy bar. Chewy, fruity, with a slightly glue-y texture. 230 calories, 2.5g fat, 3g fiber, 45g carbohydrate 7 6.3 3.7 7.3 "An acquired taste, but once you like it, you really like it." (Janet)

"For energy, I'd do anything." (Andres Zapata, Senior Multimedia Designer)
Simply Nutritious Ginseng Boost Knudsen & Sons Spiced herbal tea with tangerine, ginger, and ginseng. Very spicy and slightly fruity without much tea flavor. 220 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 54g carbohydrate 5 5 7 6 "The flavor had some zing to it, I felt like it was really doing something to energize me." (Janet)
Simply Nutritious Mega Green Knudsen & Sons Six-fruit juice and algae drink with other green foods. Thick, fruity drink with a slightly lawn clippings-like aftertaste. 240 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 60g carbohydrate 7 7 6.5 6.5 "There are better green drinks. Only hardcore health nuts would want this one." (Peter)

"Actually tasty!" (Sean)

Source of Life Energy Bar Natural Organics, Inc. Carob/Fudge energy bar with nuts. Thick, gritty, carob-coated bar. 140 calories, 4.5g fat, 5g fiber, 24g carbohydrate 5.7 8 6 5 "Reminds me of my mom's meal replacement drinks from 20 years ago. Bad aftertaste." (Janet)

"I guess if I was really, really hungry..." (Sean)

Spirutein Sport Natural Organics, Inc. Herb and creatine-charged energy bar. The white-coated "Sonic Berry" flavor tasted slightly chalky with a hint of fruit. Very dense. 260 calories, 9g fat, 2g fiber, 27g carbohydrate 1 2 1 2 "Yuck!" (Andres)

"Lacked any real flavor." (Janet)
Opur Newpharm Oxygen in a can. Tasteless. Odorless. It's oxygen! It's oxygen! 0 0 8 9 "Really cool packaging. Did it work? I can't tell but I do feel a little smarter." (Sean)
It's probably not a good idea to eat horse feed bars and algae drinks every day for lunch. You should get out to a good restaurant once in awhile, that's what that corporate expense account is for! But if you have to eat at your desk, some of these 21st century snack foods will give you the nutrition you need and a boost of energy to boot. Just be careful of those darn Penguin Mints. They'll wind you up tighter than a double espresso -- but at least your breath won't smell like inhabited French cheese!

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