Our very own Lori Harito gives us a peak behind the all-natural and delicious NAGI bars, created here in Toronto!
Three years ago I was struggling to find a good snack that my body could tolerate during a period of weakened immune system. Protein bars had just started to dominate the aisles at health food stores. But nothing stood out that was truly healthy. Most were packed with sugar and carbs.
NAGI bars were different. At the time they were called Inner-J Bars, and I fell in love after tasting just one bar. So much so that I emailed the founder, Justyna Kozlowska, to express my appreciation for her company. A friendship and working relationship evolved from that initial email. As we worked and evolved together over the years, I was fortunate to see her fierce vision and creativity come to life.
Justyna had a strong determination to keep transforming and developing the bars into something different. We even had a mass taste-testing in my kitchen with protein bars Justyna had brought back from the US. There were so many to choose from — jerky, savoury, sweet, a delicate mix of both. What did consumers want?
NAGI Bars was the answer to that question. A healthy snack that is real, rich and nourishing. A protein bar that does what it says – gives you protein and doesn’t hit you with a sugar rush.
Relaunched and completely rebranded, NAGI, pronounced with a hard ‘g’ means naked in Polish, and it’s what NAGI bars offer. A naked revisiting of food, uncomplicated in its approach to nourish you with wholesome ingredients while also making it fun to indulge in flavours like chocolate almond coconut, chocolate goji berry and lemon goji berry.
They’re also gluten, soy and dairy-free which is music to my sensitive stomach.
Justyna, a fitness and health expert and registered massage therapist, practices a holistic approach to health as her way to maintain balance in life. “My goal is to educate people on the mind-body connection.” She says. She founded NAGI bars on the premise that the right energy is needed to keep the body active and the mind sharp throughout the day.
NAGI bars are produced in small batches in Montreal, Quebec. They nourish you with a wonderful protein blend of pea and sprouted brown rice, cacao, almonds, coconut, goji berries, apples and cinnamon depending on flavour (salivating yet?). NAGI bars are sweetened with prunes/apricots, coconut nectar and tapioca fiber. Delish!
“There is a growing awareness around the dangers of sugar to the human body and brain chemistry. Avoiding sugar completely is a hard task,” says Justyna. “Let’s embrace food for nourishment, and not for denial. Moderation is the key.”
The NAGI rebrand came from a force of creativity by three women putting their heads together. Justyna credits the launch of NAGI bars to help from two other female entrepreneurs, Charise Garcia at Kaeru Communications and Michelle at BrandsByMake.
As an entrepreneur who has been growing her business and passion for many years, Justyna’s advice to other entrepreneurs is to face the reality and continue to follow your passion and dreams. Challenges will happen. You will get a lot of ‘no’s before you get one ‘yes’.
“You can’t sugar coat the challenges of an entrepreneur life, but have to meet them with courage, commitment and perseverance to your goals and dreams,” says Justyna. “Keep an open, positive mind, and go with the flow. If one path leads to a dead end, try another. No effort is ever wasted, it only shapes you into a wiser being, and brings you closer to the reason ‘why’ this whole journey ever started.”
As for her own approach to fitness, Justyna loves the blending of meditation with exercise and a growing understanding for holistic nutrition as a way to connect deeply with others.
You can order NAGI bars online or find them at health food stores across the city. #EatNagi