Karen Malkin likes giving her clients healthy snacks. A Board Certified Health Coach based in Glencoe, Malkin helps people refine their diets and lifestyles so they can live healthier, more productive lives. Clients she sees at her office will often leave with a healthy bar of their choice—drawn from one of her 450 recipes, along with recipes for how to make the bars on their own.
Like many others on the North Shore, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Malkin looked for ways to use her experience and expertise to give back to the community. It wasn’t long before she came up with the Thank You Bar, a healthy snack she’s donating to front-line health care workers in the region.
“I have compassion for our health care workers because many of them are my friends who have really isolated themselves from their families and their friends,” Malkin says. “They’re going to bat working tireless hours on our behalf so that we can stay at home.”
Malkin says she was partly inspired by her four sons who, when the pandemic started, began going around to local restaurants to purchase meals and then delivering them to Highland Park Hospital employees.
“I thought it was such a beautiful project and I decided I wanted to create a bar for health care workers,” says Malkin. “So, I made a protein brownie version of my Super Food Bar and it’s called the Thank You Bar.”
The bars are made with high-quality whey protein from grass-fed cows in New Zealand, almond butter, dates, cocoa powder, and cacao chips.
The first 15,000 Thank You Bars are being donated to area hospitals. To date, Malkin has donated 5,000 bars to Northwestern Hospital, 3,000 to Rush University Medical Center, 2,000 to Swedish Covenant Hospital, and 500 to Weiss Memorial Hospital.
“I wanted to give them something that would nourish their souls and lift them up and allow them to feel appreciated and not forgotten,” Malkin says.
It’s not just the frontline workers who are benefitting.
“When I went to Northwestern, I was on the loading dock and I went to the janitorial staff and the maintenance staff and gave them bars because they are also very important, essential workers.”
While the intent of the project is to give health care workers a healthy snack that can help them get through a shift, Malkin notes the positive power of giving and is offering Thank You Bars for sale on her website for people to buy and give away themselves.
“People are starting to feel pandemic fatigue and we start to feel sorry for ourselves while being stuck at home,” she says. “If anyone is starting to feel pandemic fatigue, this is a way of giving back.”
The Thank You Bar is an extension of Malkin’s life’s work, which is dedicated to helping people get and stay physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy. While diet is certainly an important component of overall health, Malkin sees a bigger picture.
“My passion is basically to help change the way we practice medicine. I feel like I have this gift for healthy living and people are kind of drawn to that,” Malkin says. “Before the pandemic, I met with clients in my office and through motivational interviewing techniques I helped them evoke from within their own healing and ‘aha’ moments.”
Malkin emphasizes it’s the client that does the work. She’s there to coach and to guide.
“We come up with a plan together by identifying small steps,” she says. “By making small step changes we can really open up big doors to create real behavior change and lifestyle change and a much healthier person.”
While not seeing clients face-to-face due to the pandemic, the Thank You Bar project has given Malkin a new way to express her passion for health.
“It’s been so beautiful to just visit these hospitals. They’ve really spent time with me, too. I learned about the emergency department and how proud they are about their own protocols and their patients and their traditions,” Malkin says. “They send me pictures of them with the bars and you know they’re really appreciative.”
For more information about the Thank You Bars please visit karenmalkin.com