Obviously food is good, and also obviously- food isn’t always good for you, but in this month’s food feature there is only goodness. Nutrition bars have been all the rage since the 80s and the obsession of fighting hunger quickly in the form of hand held bites is still very popular today. Only problem is, there are so many different types to choose from, with most of them packed filled with artificial sugar and flavor. I’ve been hunting around trying to find bars with natural ingredients when a friend offered me some of her’s. She lives with a gluten intolerance and these bars were her go to for fast nutrients made up from real elements. If she benefited, I surely would too, and oh my was it delicious. Then, once upon a First Friday Art Crawl, I came upon Prince Akeen Kamoory El's, (or Keen for short), stand and was able to purchase a magical ProKeen Bar of my own. I ate it the next day before work and I was feeling energized and ready to rock all morning. It was clean energy, no sugar high feeling because these bars are made of simple ingredients like cashews, coconut sugar, cocoa & hemp powders, ground chia seeds, honey, raisins, among some other simple things. I was so intrigued, I needed to learn more! I ran into him again - at Wholefoods of all places and had to connect to spread the word!
In his own words, Keen’s business is built up from his spirit, creative thinking, and passion for nutrients and health. He was inspired by his experiences working long hours driving around the city leading him to spending a substantial amount of money eating out. Keen explains, “I decided to make a snack that would keep me full for most of my day & it turned out to be surprisingly delicious. They became addicting to my partner and I when she suggested that I should sell them.”
The idea behind the ProKeen Bar was to make a meal replacement that keeps you energized and sustained throughout your day. Keen has chosen to expand his idea into a business because he supports wellness and promotes the encouragement to be healthy. He obtains his ingredients from stores around the city like Trader Joe’s, Aldi, Walmart, and Whole Foods. All of the creation happens inside his kitchen located within his humble abode.
“I myself used to eat protein bars off the shelf, but there was too much out there that wasn’t all the way healthy for me,” Keen admits. Regardless of the past, with since found knowledge, good intention, ingredients, and encouragement he continues to bring his all natural bars to Pittsburgh. Now we all have an opportunity to have an alternative to unhealthy snack bars. He “The people that regularly buy these bars emotionally support me. They motivate me to push myself to even more potential customers.”
ProKeen Bars are regularly sold at local markets or whilst catching foot traffic. Keen plans to continue to network within the community and hopes to soon be seeing his product in local cafes before hitting the market. Buy a batch of your own through Instagram @prokeenbar and visit prokeenbar.com for more information.