I'm constantly on the lookout for unique, delicious, and healthy snacks that I can enjoy on a busy, exam-filled day. While browsing the internet in search of new granola products, I stumbled across a video about Cure bars. I was struck by one of the bars' key ingredients: black seed. I'd never tried a black seed-based product, and was especially intrigued after reading about its many health and skin benefits. I was also inspire by the company's "Cure your world" mission and knew that I had to try the products for myself. In addition to trying the products, I had the opportunity to speak with inspiring Cure founder Zobaida Falah, and I just had to share her story with you.

Q&A with founder Zobaida Falah

What inspired you to found Cure?

I was actually a school teacher before starting the company, and I used to witness my students just [sitting] through class, eating refined sugars and bad carbs. Anytime I would ask them, 'Why do you eat so poorly?' A very common response was that healthy food just doesn't taste good and that they don't have time to pack healthy food.

So, at that time, I recalled this mixture that my grandmother used to make me as a child where she would mix black seeds, honey, almonds and other spices to create the secret mixture. She would force-feed it to us every single day, and she called it her secret cure for everything. ... Black seed is very bitter, but I knew that it was the main ingredient, and [I knew] why it was so important to eat, and I grew to be very fond of the mixture.

I started doing research on the black seeds, and I found that they have immense health benefits. When I found that they have immense health benefits, I started thinking, why is this nonexistent in American cuisine? You know, because my Middle Eastern background is the reason for me eating this black seed, but, as an American, I wondered why it wasn't available here.

I said, 'Okay, let's change that.' I vowed to take my grandmother's ancient recipe and turn it into this modern, durable treat that everybody could enjoy, and that was how the Cure bar was born.

What are some of the benefits of black seed and black seed oil? 

We started off as just a black seed bar where we were only creating the bars that have the black seed in them. We recognize that a lot of people believe in the oil as being a huge source of the benefits. And while the oil is very beneficial, the seed is super healthy as well. You're going to get more fiber through the seed.

[We have created black seed oil capsules] because of the benefits that you get from taking the oil straight. A lot of people are kind of turned off from the flavor of that oil. It's very potent, so we have very easy-to-swallow capsules.

The number one benefit that you're going to see is probably immunity. That's not to say that you're not going to get sick, but it will help [boost your immune system]. It's [an anti-inflammatory, and it's] great for digestion health and headaches. This is all backed-up research where it can help with eczema, diabetes, heart and liver functions. A lot of people use it for acne, too.

My niece has really bad eczema. Just this past weekend she was like, 'You know, we need to go buy those creams for eczema.' I told her, 'Why don't you just break a capsule of black seed oil and just put it on the eczema? Because research shows that it can actually cure it.' She tried it, and by the time I was leaving Cincinnati, her eczema patches were actually going away, which was amazing.

The oil itself is so potently rich with antioxidants and antibacterial and antimicrobial benefits. 

What has the process of making the bars in your own kitchen and then moving toward larger production been like for you?

I was hand-making everything in my kitchen, and I was really just selling to friends and family. And then, we had a few interviews done about what we were doing, and one of the interviews went viral. I just remember sitting down one day in my living room, and I just opened up my Facebook, and I had 5,000 friend requests. I went to the video, and it had over a million views, so I was like, 'Oh my goodness.' 

I went to my orders, and I was just scrolling through pages of orders. I think, in that hour, we received over 300 [orders]. It was wild, and, at that point, I realized I could no longer make them at home, ... so I needed to find an incubation space to basically continue making the bars by hand and deliver them. Eventually, the orders just kept coming in. ... One day, I got ten thousand orders. At that point I said, okay, we just needed to upscale manufacturing and move to a factory. There was no way I could fill all those orders by hand.

What is the inspiration behind the bar flavors?

We are a mission-based company. When we started out, for every bar that we sold, we donated a bar to a person in need. I used to go downtown to my local shelters and donate the bars, and I would always strike up conversations with [the individuals] because I wanted them to feel like they were a part of the company, and I wanted them to have that dignity of having their opinions heard and actually implemented within my company.

When I first started making the Cure bar, which was the Roasted Almonds & Honey Bar, we used to use whole almonds. When I would donate them, and I would ask people what they thought about the texture and the flavor or what needed to be changed, a very frequent, common response was that they were way too hard. Unfortunately, people that suffer from homelessness do have a lot of dental issues, so it was like, 'We just can't chew these bars. It's very difficult for us to [eat] them.'

We went back to the drawing board. We chopped and diced down our almonds. We made the bar a lot chewier. If you were to try the first, original bar and the bar that we currently sell, you would taste a tremendous difference in that it is a lot softer and chewier, but you still get the crunch from the almonds.

Can you tell me more about your giving programs and missions?

[We are working on] doing something more sustainable for the planet. I've gone on two mission trips where we were donating a bar for every bar we sell. Last year, during my mission trip to Gambia, we actually helped build a horticulture garden for over 400 families in the Gambian community. What that garden is going to do is it's essentially a farm of vegetables and produce, and the members of this community are able to grow and reap the benefits of these fruits and vegetables, and they can go sell them in the market and make money off of it. 

It was just so much more rewarding [because], rather than giving a man a fish, we actually are teaching the man how to fish and giving them the proper tools in order to continue living this sustainable life. And, what we're doing now is we're donating a portion of our proceeds toward these hunger relief programs. My ultimate goal for Cure would be to launch a Cure Your World foundation, like a non-profit foundation where we can actually do 100 percent of the work.

How do the bars taste?

The Roasted Almond & Honey bar and the Coconut Cashew bar have delicious, nuanced and balanced flavors. The bars, like Falah mentioned when we spoke, are definitely not hard in texture. They're pleasantly chewy without being overly sticky. In the Roasted Almond & Honey flavor, the honey provides a sweet flavor to counteract some of the bitter notes that may come along with black seed as an ingredient. In both bars, the nuts provide the texture with a bit of crunch. The hints of black seed and sesame are definitely noticeable, but I found it to be a nice change from other granola bar flavors on the market. While the black seed flavor may not be for everyone, I definitely recommend giving the bars a chance. I certainly was pleasantly surprised. 

Perhaps controversially—as someone who doesn't like peanut butter—I opted not to try the Peanut Butter bar, but I have been told by family and friends that the bar makes for a tasty and filling snack.

The Roasted Almond & Honey bars contain 150 calories, 11 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein. The Coconut Cashew bars contain 160 calories, 10 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein. The Peanut Butter bar contains 150 calories, 10 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.

Black seed oil capsules

Cure is not just a snack bar brand. As Falah mentioned during our conversation, the company sells black seed oil capsules, providing individuals with all the benefits of black seed oil in one, easy-to-swallow capsule, which can be especially helpful for those looking to boost their immune system during sleepless exam weeks or while traveling. Since Falah and I spoke, I've noticed that Cure now offers turmeric and black seed powder capsules, combining two superfoods in one.

If you're looking for a new products to try, want to spice up your life with unique and healthful ingredients, or are interested in supporting mission-based businesses, I'd definitely recommend checking out Cure's products. The company has definitely provided me with the inspiration to incorporate more superfoods into my daily routine. After all, it may be the perfect time to embrace culinary adventure while curing the world along the way.