If you were at Portland VegFest this past November, it is likely you were introduced to a new food bar that, if you are into bars and healthy snacks, should be in your pantry. For that matter, keep one in your glove compartment and your office desk while you’re at it. Nii (rhymes with “bye”) Bars are nutrient-packed and have ingredients that make for sustainable, long-term energy to keep you fueled throughout your workday afternoon as well as your outdoor adventures.
I came across Nii bars while grocery shopping one day. I picked up what I thought was a “Knee” bar and the simple, whole foods ingredients led me to grab a couple more. What caught my attention right away was the first ingredient of the Almond Chocolate Chip bar that was in my hand: raw organic almond butter. Listen here people: a nut butter as the first ingredient is something you just don’t see in other food/protein/energy/nutrition bars; typically you’ll see dates or some form of syrup sweetener.
I did some research and realized I could totally get behind what Nii was and is about. Their “Own the Day” philosophy is one I try to live by each day and their ingredients are what I look for in a food bar. They’re not only vegan which is a huge plus for me (obviously), but they are organic and made of whole foods ingredients which is exactly what I want to be putting in my body especially as fuel for my running. Not much time had passed before I was accepted as a Nii Ambassador and I’ve been happy to spread the Nii love and awareness of this delicious and nutritious bar for those who want to maintain or pursue healthy and active lifestyles, especially for those in the Portland area (home for me).
They’re good all year round!
I’m ecstatic to finally publish this post because just today, Nii Foods has launched their new website and it is a beauty!! The new website isn’t something that is just a new URL address or a prettier online space for customers and potential customers. This undoubtedly marks a new chapter for the Nii team just as turning That Vegan Runner (my previous blogspot site) into Eat, Run, and Done. marked a new chapter for me. For example, in addition to the site, Nii simultaneously launched their Nii Tribe which was a project that I know they’ve been looking forward to putting together for a while now. I know, because I’m in the tribe! Click on the link and scroll down to check it out and see who else is part of this great community.
Nii Foods founder, Shanais Pelka (above right), was kind enough to answer some Nii questions that I was curious about and I figured the curious potential consumer would like to know as well.
W is me (Will) and S is Shanais. Sorry if I just insulted some people’s intelligence. 😮
W: What does Nii mean? What was the inspiration behind calling your bars, “Nii Bars?”
S: Nii is my nickname. It is short for Shanais and it is what all my closest friends called me in middle school.
W: They may go by different names (e.g. nutrition bar, protein bar, energy bar, granola bar, adventure bar, etc.), but there are hundreds of bars out in the market. What made you dissatisfied with the options enough to get you to start creating what would become Nii bars?
S: I was dissatisfied with the other bars on the market for numerous reasons. Many bars contained soy protein or GMO whey protein. I wanted to create a bar made of real, whole foods. Out of all the organic bars on the shelves, the sweetener, such as dates, agave, or rice syrup, was generally the first ingredient. I wanted to create a bar with nut butter as the first ingredient, therefore making a nutrient-dense sustainable food that would provide long-lasting energy. Finally, I worked very hard to avoid agave syrup, and so I chose to use coconut nectar, which is sustainable and is loaded with enzymes and nutrients.
W: Did your children have any role in the five flavors of the Nii Foods bars?
S: Yes, my children spent many hours in the kitchen with me as we mixed different nut butters, seeds and fruits. My children and their friends were the taste-testers with each new prototype.
W: Some potential consumers may say that the fat content in Nii bars are too high. What is or would be your response?
S: This is a common misconception. Fats are, in fact, an essential macronutrient. Every single cell membrane in our body is made of fat and fats are needed for muscle and tissue health, metabolism, energy, and hormonal balance. Omega 3 and 6 fats, as well as medium chain fats from coconut, are extremely important in hormonal balance, gut health, muscle and skin health, and in moderating inflammation.
W: You are a mother first, I’m sure, but you are also a nutritionist and an educator. Do you find yourself combining those two titles at times and becoming a nutrition educator?
S: Yes, in fact, I do combine both of these titles frequently. Prior to starting Nii, I worked as a nutritionist in a holistic pediatrician’s office and I taught Environmental Science for a local college. There is nothing that I enjoy more than teaching people about health, nutrition and holistic healing.
W: Before they were Nii bars as we know them, they were Nii nut butterballs. Did you have any initial plan to keep them in ball form?
S: I did initially pursue keeping the Nii balls in ‘ball’ form. Unfortunately, it was more expensive to create. I do still have hopes of creating small Nii ball bite-sized snacks in the near future.
W: Is there anything that consumers can expect from Nii Foods in the near or not-so-near future that you are willing to disclose?
S: I have some new superfood flavors I have been working on. I am hoping to make one of these new flavors a charity bar.
W: Now, here is the big question: What is your favorite Nii Bar? How about your children’s’?
S: My favorite Nii bar is the cacao coconut flavor because I love raw coconut and raw cacao nibs. My children’s favorite flavor is peanut butter, hands down.
For those of you who are curious which my favorite Nii Bar would be, I’d have to agree with Shanais’ children on this one and say Peanut Butter with Almond Chocolate Chip as a very close second, but they’re all delicious…and nutritious.
Check out the videos below for some inspiration and knowledge about what Nii Foods is all about.
Happy Snacking/Eating/Running/& Living!
And don’t forget to Own The Day.