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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Healthy Habits

Oskri’s natural snacks

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Snacking is an American pastime, a well-loved tradition that we manage to associate with whatever activity we can. There are those of us who can’t imagine a movie without popcorn, a baseball game without peanuts or a road trip without sweets. Finally, there are some nutritionists on our side! They are suggesting that rather than consume three substantial meals a day in the form of breakfast, lunch and dinner, we should graze, snacking on several small meals a day. Granted, dietitians are not recommending we supplement our meals with movie theater popcorn and Milk Duds, but rather healthy and nutritious snacks that enrich our diets with protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Breaking up our daily dietary needs into mini-meals and snacks helps keep our blood sugar level from making drastic up-and-down fluctuations and fills in those necessary calories and nutrients we might otherwise miss due to incomplete or skipped meals.

To realistically fit into our work, school or parenting schedules, or while traveling, shopping or sporting, these snacks have to be convenient: small, portable, discreet and easy to eat (i.e. no utensils, refrigeration or napkins required). For a while, granola and sports bars were considered the healthy alternative to other on-the-go foods, but then health-conscious consumers became more savvy. Is that high fructose corn syrup and artificial preservatives on the nutrition label? Tsk, tsk. Off to the health-food stores and co-ops it is, to comb the aisles for an all-natural, healthy snack.

Fekri Zainoba founded Oskri Organics in 1999 as a supplier of organic products that, at the time, weren’t avail- able in the market. With the creation of the now popular sesame bars, Zainoba was not only a supplier of organic and natural products, but a manufacturer too. Operating from Ixonia, Wis. in a 15,000-square-foot facility powered by wind energy, Oskri Organics sells a wide variety of confections, from chocolate, coffee, granola, trail mix and dried fruit, to cooking oils, spices, spreads and syrups.

But it’s Zainoba’s Oskri Bars, a collection of great-tasting, all-natural sesame, coconut, honey, fruit and Jalow snack bars, that deserve the spotlight. Oskri’s sesame bars, which offer the most variety, are a great source of protein, calcium and dietary fiber. The bars (which are actually three thin wafers) are free of gluten, lactose and refined sugar, and are vegan, as well as U.S.D.A.-certified organic by Ecocert SA. In addition to sesame seeds, they are made with ingredients like black sesame seeds, quinoa seeds, fennel and black cumin, and are mixed with molasses, date syrup and brown rice syrup.

Fifty-nine percent of an Oskri coconut bar is made with actual coconut; the rest consists of brown rice syrup and a natural flavor, either mango, strawberry, cherry, pineapple or almond. These chewy, sweet bars are a good source of protein and minerals, like iron and zinc. Oskri Organics’ honey bars are made in seven flavors: cashew, granola, Turkish delight, desert date, mixed nuts, muesli and flax seed.

“All of our products have similar success,” Zainoba says. “But the most promising products are our new low-sugar bars.”

Jalow pecan raisin, Jalow almond cranberry, and Jalow cashew cranberry were created with children in mind and contain four grams of sugar or less, which also makes them suitable for diabetics. Oskri Organics products can be purchased online at www.oskri.com or at stores such as Outpost Natural Foods, Sendik’s and the Health Hut.

Located at W1240 Elmwood Ave., Ixonia. Call (800) 628- 1110 or e-mail: info@oskri.com.