Chef Sharif Rasheed cooked his first Power Bites as a snack for his teething toddler. Now they're available in 25 stores in Pittsburgh | Food | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Chef Sharif Rasheed cooked his first Power Bites as a snack for his teething toddler. Now they're available in 25 stores in Pittsburgh

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: MAGGIE WEAVER
CP photo: Maggie Weaver
Sharif Rasheed is a snacktivist. The founder of Safi Health Co., a newly created, Pittsburgh-based snack company, believes that good nutrition fuels change. He’s bringing that philosophy to life with his first product, Power Bites.

Power Bites are small squares of a soft granola bar: non-GMO, gluten-, soy-, and dairy-free, vegan, all-natural, and on top of that, delicious. The concept of “snacktivism” is twofold: In addition to nutritional fuel, a percentage of all sales is donated to school teachers.

The bites were the product of parenting ingenuity, created by Rasheed for his teething child. The trained chef was looking for a nutritional option for his son, a picky eater in the midst of growing pains. Rasheed created something tasty, healthy, and most importantly, soft.

At the time, Rasheed was running Safi Juice on Penn Avenue. Once he discovered that the bites had the potential for the commercial market, he started packaging and selling them to his customers at Safi Juice. The shop eventually closed but the entrepreneur felt like the bites were “a calling.” In June of 2018, he officially launched Power Bites and had three shops stocking them within a week.

“I came out the door running,” he says.

The chef says it’s the flavor of Power Bites that sets them apart from other healthy snacks. He takes the “nutritious and delicious” motto to heart.

His two flavors so far are almond butter crunch and salted peanut butter crunch. The peanut butter bites will trick anyone with a sweet tooth, tasting as close to a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup as you can get without actually eating the candy. There’s a nice crunch in every square and the bites manage to stay soft even without dairy or gluten. One wary taste-tester even told Rasheed that he needs to add “doesn’t taste how it sounds” to the cover of each package.

Rasheed loves what he calls the “dirty work,” knocking on doors with a backpack full of Power Bites and meeting shop owners in person. To him, the fun is in the hustle.

“In my juice shop, I don’t think my hands were getting dirty. I think my ego was too big. I was like, ‘My juice is the best juice out there, you should want it.’ With this product, if you haven’t tried it yet, I want you to try it. I’ll come to you,” says Rasheed.

His approach has paid off. Power Bites can now be found in 25 locations in Pittsburgh, across the state, and nationwide (he ships to California, Georgia, Ohio, and Delaware). When he hits his six-month mark, Rasheed hopes to be in 35 stores in total.

Once the second flavor of Power Bites starts taking off, Rasheed thinks he’ll try something different. He’s inspired by big names like Frito Lay and Coca Cola, companies that started small but grew to have hundreds of products under their brands. Eventually, he hopes to have 10 products under Safi Health Co., adding in nut-butters and granolas.

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