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zenpawn » 2010 » November
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Archive for November, 2010

Vegan Thanksgiving Pics – Part 2

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

This Thanksgiving, my friend Scott, who recently announced he’s gone vegan for life after having dabbled for a few years, invited me to spend the day with his family. He took the main and side, while I was put on dessert duty, which was perfect for me, since I really enjoy baking, but try to only do so when making goodies for others (lest I incite a binge).

It was a relaxing, much appreciated day of good conversation and outdoor exercise with the kids.


Sweet Potato Chili (mild)
Cranberry-Toasted Almond Coleslaw

The above main and side were served with peas, potatoes, and squash, no butter or sugar, and a wonderfully spicy, cranberry chutney made by Scott’s mother.

For dessert (told you I like to bake :) ) …


Cranberry-Walnut Bread (top)


Cranberry Walnut Bread (a slice)


Maple-Pecan Chocolates


Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

The bread and cookies are from the amazing cookbook Simple Treats, full of vegan and gluten free (though certainly not low-fat) baked goods.

Vegan Thanksgiving Pics – Part 1

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Before the holiday, I blogged about the delicious-sounding vegan Thanksgiving menu my Dad, sister, and her hubby would be enjoying down in North Carolina. In passing, I wrote, “Maybe I can convince them to take some pictures.”

Well, Dad reads my blog, so when I got home from my day out, waiting for me in my Inbox were these great shots of their buffet meal! He said the food was yummy, everyone was stuffed, and there were a lot of people, so these weren’t easy photos to get. Thanks. :)

In Part 2, I’ll post some pictures from my meal. Stay tuned.

Interview with Me & Goji’s Alexander Renzi

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

I’m really excited to bring you this interview today with Alexander Renzi, co-founder of me & goji. These guys are literally less than 45 minutes away from me!

Despite their proximity, I didn’t realize they were fellow New Hampshirites until recently when I read an article in the local paper announcing me & goji had been chosen as a featured product for MTV’s upcoming season of the Real World.

Of course, I immediately went to check out their website, which proved to be a lot of fun! While mixing up my dream cereal online, I got to wondering what it all took… to start… to run… Actually, I think about such things quite often these days. So, I decided to drop them a line and find out.

Alexander wrote back right away and kindly agreed to answer my questions for the blog — and rather candidly at that. I hope you find their story as inspiring as have I. Thanks again fellas, and congrats!


How did you get started?

The IDEA for our company came about while playing soccer with Adam at Northwestern University. Training multiple times per day, we were being asked to perform at a very high level without the proper fuel — dorm food was awful and making the trip to the grocery store without a car was a pain. After college, we each went to work in corporate America and after a year, decided that corporate America wasn’t for us and that we should address the need we originally had in college. We both loved cereal and realized that it was time people rethink cereal, from the added sugars to the flimsy/cheap packaging. Our solution was simple: a cereal as nature intended: unprocessed and without synthetic or artificial ingredients with more mix ins in.

Did you rent a commercial kitchen or get your own inspected or did you go directly to a co-processor?

We rent a commercially licensed kitchen.

Are you surprised at how fast the company has grown?

We are very happy with the success we have achieved so far as a small company but, for better or worse, Adam and I have that mentality that we could always do better. It’s always hard to reward yourself for what you’ve done because we are constantly putting out fires (not real ones!) but when we take a moment to reflect on what we’ve accomplished, it is a surprising and rewarding feeling.

Did you seek outside funding or did you instead try to keep expenses to a minimum and use your own credit?

me & goji is completely self funded. We are considering bringing on investors at this point, but until now, have kept costs at a minimum and grown organically.

Were you ever nervous about whether things would work out or have you always been confident and positive?

Fortunately, when you start a company you really don’t have time to be nervous. We are very positive when it comes to our overall brand but extremely critical with our day to day operations. I think this balance helps us to stay focus in a positive manner.

How does the production work such that you’re able to offer customized creations?

I like to compare it to a salad bar where you can sort of throw all your ingredients into a bowl and go. We have a very organized order fulfillment process that is surprisingly scalable.

I’m envisioning you and your employees in plastic hair bags doing the mixing by hand (with scoops). Is this an accurate picture, or is it all machine/computer-driven these days?

You have the correct vision, ha ha. It is a manual process right now. As we expand, we hope to develop a more automated process.

I saw the article about you being featured on MTV’s The Real World. Could you tell us a little about how that came about? Did they find you or did you approach them?

One of the best things we’ve been able to do with me & goji is attract the attention of the media. We’ve been featured in everything from the Today Show to Oprah Magazine. I think the reason behind this is we created a story and product people want to talk about. The Real World came about through their PR person that was in charge of finding products. She’d initially heard of us through a popular food blog.

Any parting words or advice for others who might like to start their own healthy food business?

While starting out, constantly seek advice from your different networks and local community. And most importantly, be passionate about your company and product, because you’re going to be working day and night on it.


 

Bob Harper of The Biggest Loser is a Vegan!

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

It’s always been obvious Bob Harper, one of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” trainers, is a really fit guy, but with all the Jennie-O turkey slices and Jello they’re always hawking on that show, it came as a bit of a surprise to me when, on a recent episode in which he invited the contestants into his home for a meal, he revealed he eats a plant-based diet. (And, that’s what he served too.)

Well, I guess it’s the real deal, i.e., he’s not just dabbling in the diet, because he now graces the cover of VegNews as their Person of the Year in the November+December 2010 (#76) Veggie Awards Issue! Very cool.

Here’s a link to the VegNews interview with Bob Harper, courtesy NBC.com. What didn’t come as a surprise was the books that influenced him so profoundly, as they do so many: Skinny Bitch and, you guessed it, The China Study. :)


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