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Get Lively with Genki Bar!

July 22, 2011 - http://winnipegwellnews.ca/blog1/2011/07/181/

In a series of articles Winnipeg WellNews highlights several made-in-Manitoba unique and healthy food products. Many have been developed only in the last 5 years. Whether it's in the ingredients, the preparation or a combination of both, Manitoba entrepreneurs – many of them women – have proven they are ready to bring to market superior snacks that deliver nutrition and taste.

Never is nutrition so important as when we are feeding our children, but when we are finding new ways of fueling young athletes, it takes on even greater importance. As an amateur triathlete, busy working mother of two young children and entrepreneur, Theresa Le Sliworsky wanted a protein and nutrient-rich bar that would carry her through training sessions as well as the occasional day when the demands of all of the above took every spare ounce of stamina. "I was not satisfied with bars already in the market that derived most of their calories from sugar and fat so I set about creating my own recipe, " says Le Sliworsky. The result was the Genki Bar ,"genki" being a Japanese term meaning "enthusiastic, energetic, lively"

Having spent over 15 years in the food industry, she was well aware of the realities of commercial production. "The all-important question is often, 'what will cost the least and taste the best while satisfying the minimum requirements? I came at it from a completely different angle so ended up with a completely different product. I wanted the best ingredients I could get to achieve the results I wanted and for that reason I went with Canadian lentils."

Studies of lentils prove they are in the superfood category providing fiber, protein, essential vitamins and minerals while presenting a low glycemic index. Because lentils provide a slow, even burn of energy, there is no "crash" so often associated with sugar-rich bars and makes them ideal for long workouts.

"The Genki bar was actually field tested by several athletic groups to make sure that it worked like it was supposed to," says Le Sliworsky. "I've had people testing and training with them because I wanted to develop a bar that did more than just taste good .It had to work. It had to do something for you."

Although lentils are the main ingredient, the current formulation of Genki Bars also contains honey, oats, brown rice syrup, dehydrated cranberries (evaporated cane juice, sunflower oil), peanut flour, whey protein isolate, peanut butter, cocoa, almonds, coconut, and natural peanut flavor. There are no preservatives or additives, no fillers and no artificial sweeteners. Le Sliworsky says they are developing a peanut-free version though depending on where it is manufactured, marketing it as a 100% nut-free product may not be possible as there is always the risk of cross contamination. The same concern is behind their reluctance to market the bars as gluten-free even though lentils and oats are categorized as such.

So far, Genki Bars are available at only a few Winnipeg retail outlets listed on the Genki Bar website, but can be ordered on-line.

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It is hard to find a bar for games that is composed of enough to sustain throughout the game, and at the same time is not heavy. The Genki Bar was a perfect combination of easily digestible and sustaining.

- Travis Zajac, Pro Hockey Player
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