Health & Wellness

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Taste Howell’s Standard Hot Honey, The Wellness Superfood Packed with Flavor and Family

Taste Howell’s Standard Hot Honey, The Wellness Superfood Packed with Flavor and Family

Howell’s Standard provides raw, natural honey in its purest form, a variety of herb and fruit-infused honeys, and products from the hive. 

They are a small family-owned company in Northeast Maryland that appreciates the gifts of nature and artistic expression.  Find their website,  their Instagram and their in-person farmer’s market experience.

Howell's Standard Delivers Flavor, Family and a Healthy Flourish with their Hot Honey

Below, Alexander and Monica Howell visited for a conversation about family, flavor, health benefits and the magic of honey.

Howell's Standard Delivers Flavor, Family and a Healthy Flourish

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  Find the full, unedited conversation on the FlavRReport YouTube channel.

 

My understanding going back to the beginning is, this whole company was a COVID baby, meaning the idea of it launched during the pandemic. Is that accurate?

 

Alexander Howell: So I’ll give you a bit of a backstory. We had, like you said, started around the boom of COVID. During that time with all the sickness going around, one of the things we decided to do was to figure out how we can stay healthier and keep the entire family more healthy during that entire time.

One of the things we decided to do was to cut out a lot of white and processed sugars because it’s the cause of a lot of health issues, cancers, things of that nature. After that we [realized] we can’t just not have any type of sweetener at all.  We’re not that strong. 

We went across a couple of different sweeteners. We tried agave, we tried monk fruit.  We tried all those, [but] they didn’t hit the spot for us. 

Then we were at a farmer’s market [and] tried some raw honey.  Once we had tried that, it’s like the entire world just opened up for us because.

We started researching it more and found out there were tons of health benefits tied into raw honey itself. 

Once we started consuming it ourselves, we felt the changes.  A lot more energy naturally, our skin started looking a lot better, our hair started looking better.  Then we decided instead of keeping this a family secret, we can share it with the world.

Monica Howell: So I’ve got a slightly different angle on it. Everything Alex said is definitely true. Pre COVID, I had always been an entrepreneur at heart, always dabbling in something, always doing a little side things.  They say you have to have multiple streams of income.

So I was always looking for the next best option. Prior to COVID, I was creating body butters and detox masks and sugar scrubs; and just looking for things that were positive for your skin in a natural manner. Honey was one of the ingredients that was always on my shelf. 

[Honey] is one of those ingredients. It’s a wonderful connector. I had really only ever thought of honey as this thing that was on aisle number eight of the grocery store always next to the maple syrup.  A condiment to get with your fried chicken.

But once I started having success with personal skin care, the products that were most sought after, that had the best outcomes for my skin all had honey in them. 

During COVID, we just really started to come together more, having more conversations. Bringing together the things that we were doing individually as a group and kind of figuring out 

We started minimizing ingredients.  Looking at that 20 line ingredient list on the back of everything and saying what can [remove]?

 

Something you both touched on was the zero to one aspect.  Talk a little bit about the process from idea to reality.

Monica Howell: So for me, it was checking boxes. Throwing something on the wall and seeing what sticks, that old spaghetti adage.

There’s so many layers, so many things that I wasn’t aware of honey as a whole.

Figuring out how we could integrate this into our lives, and then how we then convert that and transition that into something that was revenue generating, seeing there was a niche.

We started with friends and family. Letting people that would trust us, try things out.

A lot of the response was ‘I don’t like honey’ or ‘I already have sugar. I don’t need to do this.’

But we said, it’s open your mind, let’s look into something a little different. Let’s consider it in a different way and move forward from there.

One thing that I think stands out for us is the fact that everything that we do, all the honey options that we have available are all beneficial in some way, shape or form. You get the benefit of those things that are being infused into the honey. So everything is purposeful.

Everything added is to expand the benefits of the honey into something beyond. 

Each honey is different, with different infusions.  We call them varietals.  Essentially a varietal is a honey that the beekeeper and the farmer have integrated hives into that particular crop. The honey has a flavor and nuance.  Then we have our infusions. 

Local honey is where I go. That’s all I want.  Our local [honey] in Maryland is not the same local that’s in Texas. What’s local to California is not what’s local to Utah. What’s local to Utah is not local to Maine. But when you look at it, all those honeys have a slight variance and nuance in flavor because of what’s being pollinated.

Our plants aren’t the same here as in Hawaii. So when you say I enjoy wildflower, the enjoyment of your wildflower might taste completely different than what I’m used to because of the plants that are growing. It doesn’t necessarily all taste the same. 

 

When you started with this idea, were you aware of the different varietals, the regions and how that affected honey?

Alexander Howell:  We definitely didn’t know how intricate and how deep this kind of rabbit hole of honey goes.  It’s a very nice and very informative learning experience for two reasons. One, just so we are aware of the benefits and can tell our family, but also so we can now have those kinds of conversations with our customers.

Monica Howell: Even something as a variance from season to season.  Literally your spring honey can be a completely different product from your fall [honey] and your winter honey.

The amount of moisture that’s in the air, that can even be from location to location. April showers bring May flowers. Those April showers are happening, there’s a ton of moisture in the air. And then when you’re getting into the fall, you’re having the bees that are pollinated when you’re getting into the fall, there’s a variance in that same region.

That same area has shifted the temperature. You’re just coming out of 90 degree weather. There’s still flowers out. But the pollination process that’s happening, the bees are what they’re collecting now, it can be different. 

In the U. S. alone, there’s over 300 different types of honey.  Over the world, there are thousands.

The interesting thing is when we’re bringing those varietals together in one place, you actually taste them side by side, [you can taste and notice] there are definite differences that you may never [have noticed otherwise] .

Someone says, “I don’t like honey. I say, “Well you haven’t tasted my honey.”

They find out, they dont like wildflower from North Carolina, but they love sage from California or macadamia nut from Hawaii – it’s amazing.

 

You’ve both mentioned farmer’s market experiences, sampling and buying. Let’s talk a little bit about those experiences.

 

Alexander Howell: As far as farmers markets goes, we’ve gotten the entire spectrum of reactions – ‘Oh, this is some of the best I‘ve ever had in my life’, or ‘This is nasty’

I appreciate either side of the spectrum, it’s just very honest and blunt. In person, you get to actually see that emotion, you get to see that interaction, you get to not only see what they think but maybe they brought a friend or a family member of theirs – their husband, their wife, their kids, their dog.

We get to see what your dietary needs are, your favorite flavors, your favorite vegetables.  If you have a health issue, what type of things we have that could possibly help.

It’s even as simple as someone getting a gift for somebody who’s a pescatarian who likes to cook so, ‘What do you have for this?’

And I can then give them a whole range of stuff [to browse].

Monica Howell: We’ve been selling at farmer’s markets for 2.5 years. By far, it is my favorite. People who grew up going to farmer’s markets. Beekeepers that have grown up in their Grandma’s backyard.  

We always get somebody that says, ‘Oh, my grandma had honey. And I’m already familiar.’    I always challenge them to taste something that’s a little different, 

We get people who are extremely health conscious.  They are looking for natural options.

 

On your website, there’s a lot of products What are the major categories and what are one or two or three that you really want to highlight that are currently available?

Monica Howell: We do some switching out from season to season, but for the most part, 25 items. A combination of the varietals and the infusions. 

We’ve got an amazing macadamia nut honey that comes from Hawaii.  You get a honey that has a certain butteriness to it, a nice weight to it.  A little nuttiness at the end. It’s amazing in coffee. It’s amazing on top of a banana bread, really good in yogurt. Also good to cook with. 

Our blueberry is from Maine. A little bit of a nuance of that blueberry flavor. It’s a little sweeter than some of the other honeys. It’s amazing on bakery goods and breakfast. So instead of using traditional maple syrup, we’re using the blueberry honey on a Belgian waffle on a pancake. Amazing on yogurt and things like that. 

Then we’ve got our infusions. So the infusions essentially are different botanicals using a particular honey.

I’m using an extra white honey from Iowa. If you’re looking on the spectrum of honey, not only does honey change area to area, there’s water white honey, all the way down to your dark amber honeys.  So there’s an entire rainbow of different types of honey, based on what’s being pollinated and what’s growing. 

Your darker honeys have more of a molasses flavor, probably 10 – 20 x the antioxidants that you’re getting then like a water white honey. But when we’re considering what to use to infuse, I’m usually going with that lighter honey.

Our elderberry honey is super important.  We’re taking a ground elderberry from the actual berry, not the elderberry flower. And we’re grinding that up and then infusing that into honey over a period of time. That allows you to then take that elderberry on a regular basis, either in as a sweetener for your tea or actually adding it into a yogurt.

Alexander Howell: Some of the things that I like to highlight, because I’m a foodie, I’m always trying to find honey that would elevate the taste.

One of those is Hot Honey. Anything from chicken, to beef, to pork, to seafood, to shellfish. I love it all. One specific thing is strawberries. It sounds a little out there, but it’s amazing. 

And also the vanilla.  I love it on my baked goods, banana breads, cornbread, really good on cinnamon rolls. Instead of the sheet icing I’ll put the honey. Even simpler like a latte or a cup of tea.  Put some of your pancakes or crepes. 

It’s the two different honeys on two different ends of the spectrum, but at the end of the day they both serve their purposes 

Monica Howell: We are working with a few bartenders and mixologists that have taken our honeys and creating mocktails. Super fun.

 

One thing to acknowledge,  the audience is a large majority of our conversations are wine based. So it’s with winemakers and chefs.

Do any of these honeys pair better with any specific kinds of varietals of wine?

 

Alexander Howell: One of the best ways I do like to enjoy wine with honey is charcuterie. 

Monica Howell: Charcuterie and honey go hand in hand. It’s like a whole little puzzle of delicious-ness.

I like Merlot.  Something becoming more popular are meads. So mead is wine essentially made with the foundation of honey versus grapes.  There are a lot of brewers that are starting to play with mead. So you’ll find mead in all different varietals, some that very much tastes like wine and some that tastes closer to beer.

We’re not necessarily pairing the wine so much with the honey as helping the person that’s hosting the event, creating that perfect board, that perfect accompaniment to it.

What’s the best way to learn more about you? Website, social media? How can we follow you more?

 

Monica Howell: Definitely the website is the easiest way. You can also find us on Facebook and Instagram. The unique feature of what we do in-person. That’s the benefit of coming to see us at a farmer’s market.  We also are actually on a couple of stores in the local area, local by design, which is an Annapolis mall in Annapolis, Maryland, where our product is available on their shelves.

You can find gifting boxes and samplers on the website too. 

How to Design a Zero-Waste Kitchen

How to Design a Zero-Waste Kitchen

By Caleb Leonard

As we witness the impacts of plastics and other waste on our planet, more and more people are looking to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Creating a zero-waste kitchen involves adopting a mindful and sustainable approach to reduce waste at every stage of your buying, cooking, and eating routines, and it is an impactful way to minimize your carbon footprint.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started:

Plan Ahead to Leave Less Behind

Look through your pantry and kitchen to see what you have on hand. Assess areas where waste is generated and rethink your shopping list.

Food waste can be prevented by effectively using your ingredients. Make creative use of leftovers. Freeze excess food for future meals. Don’t over-purchase perishable items. Make a shopping list and stick to it to avoid impulse purchases.

Buy in Bulk and Refill

Stock up on staples like grains, pasta, nuts, and spices in bulk. If you are heading to a store with bulk bins, bring your containers to avoid excess packaging.

Another way to reduce plastic packaging waste is by shopping at stores where you can refill cleaning and personal care products.

Choose products with minimal or sustainable packaging. Opt for glass, metal, or cardboard packaging over plastic whenever possible. These items can be repurposed or recycled.

Avoid individually packaged items and single-use packaging.

Shop Your Local Farmers Market

Shop Your Local Farmers Market

Shop Your Local Farmers Market

Farmers markets facilitate zero-waste kitchens.

Here’s how:

Reduced food packaging: Farmers markets offer fewer packaged and processed foods than grocery stores. Buying fewer single-use plastics keeps packaging waste out of landfills.

Local and seasonal produce: Farmers markets prioritize regionally grown and seasonal produce. By buying from local farmers, you support sustainable agriculture practices while minimizing the environmental impact of long-distance food transportation.

Bulk purchases: Many farmers markets offer the option to buy produce in bulk, allowing you to choose the quantity you need without redundant packaging.

BYOB (bring your own bag)

BYOB (bring your own bag)

BYOB (bring your own bag)

Those flimsy plastic bags from the grocery store are no match for a reusable tote. Reusable bags made from canvas or recycled plastics are larger and more durable than single-use bags. Plus, more states are implementing fees to curb the use of plastic bags.

Go Green with Reusable Kitchenware

Most people know about reusable water bottles, but there are tons more reusable items on the market (many are dishwasher-safe too). From reusable K-cups for your morning cup of joe to stainless steel straws, there are lots of eco-friendly ways to eliminate kitchen waste.

Here are a few examples:

  • Reusable food wraps (plastic wrap alternative)
  • Washable cloths (paper towel/napkin substitute)
  • Fiberglass chopsticks
  • Compostable sponges
  • Silicone storage/freezer bags (Ziplock alternative)
  • Silicone muffin liners

Reusable products not only cut down on the production and consumption of new products, but they also save you money.

Consider Eco-Friendly Upgrades

With all the money you’ll save by going green, consider upgrading your appliances. New technologies use less water and electricity. The money you spend on energy-efficient appliances will be recuperated over time.    

Freeze as You Please

A high-performance freezer is a powerful tool for keeping your food fresh. Food waste often comes from leftovers. Rather than throwing away leftovers, you can freeze them. These frozen meals can be quick and convenient options on busy days, especially when stored as pre-packaged meals.

Freezing foods can significantly extend their shelf life; this way, you can buy in bulk and take advantage of sales without worrying about ingredients spoiling.

If you have produce nearing its expiration date, freeze it before it turns. Freeze fruits, vegetables, and other perishables. Sauces can be frozen too.

Your freezer can also store dry goods. Freeze bulk items like nuts, grains, and flour for later use.

Reimagine Your Food Scraps

Reimagine Your Food Scraps

Reimagine Your Food Scraps

Almost all organic material has multiple uses. For example, banana peels make great hair and skin masks, banana tea is a powerful sleep aid, and plants love the potassium-enriched water of peels soaked overnight.

Orange peels can be boiled as a room deodorizer or baked and ground into a vitamin-packed powder.

Bones can be made into bone broth, and new plants can be grown from viable produce seeds, while herbs can be propagated for an endless supply of seasonings.

Before you toss it in the compost bin, perform a quick search and scope out any additional uses.

Compost is King

Composting is the backbone of the zero-waste kitchen. Once you have re-used your food in every imaginable way, it’s time to give it back to the earth. Create a compost pile in your yard; use a tumbling bin or a countertop composter.

Benefits of composting:

Reduced landfill waste: Food scraps account for a large chunk of landfill waste. When these materials decompose in landfills; they release methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Composting diverts these materials away from landfills, reducing their environmental impact.

Enriched soil: Compost improves soil structure, water retention, and nutrient availability. By composting, you’ll foster healthy plant growth, reducing the need for excessive watering and fertilizers.

Minimized odor and pests: Properly composting food scraps and yard waste reduces the likelihood of attracting pests and generating foul odors in trash bins.

A zero-waste kitchen is one way to live a greener, more eco-friendly lifestyle. Once you hit your stride in the kitchen, you’ll likely find other areas to cut waste. Small changes add up, and you’ll make a big difference.

Caleb Leonard is a freelance writer and marketing professional. A graduate of the University of North Texas, his interests include gardening, podcasts, and studying Spanish.

The Future of Food is Getting “Better Better” thanks to WhatIf Foods and Chris Langwallner

The Future of food is getting “Better Better” thanks to WhatIf Foods and Chris Langwallner.

WhatIF Foods believes in a better better.

Tasty, delicious foods that are better for our bodies, better for our taste buds and farmer buds alike. Better for degraded lands, our eco-systems and naturally… better for cows.

Today I had the chance to have a conversation (via zoom) with WhatIF Food’s Chris Langwallner to talk about inspiration, their foods, their flavors and the science and technology making it all happen.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  For the full conversation visit our YouTube channel.

Today we are here with Chris Langwallner from What If Foods. Thanks for joining us today.

Absolute pleasure. I cannot thank you enough. It’s fantastic to be here and letting our story get out a little bit. So thank you very much. I’m excited because it’s gonna be a lot of fun.

 

 

We’re talking about plant-based foods, we’re talking about planet based foods and for a “better-better” world. I’m hoping you’ll clarify that for us.

 

I look forward to it. Yes, it’s all about a planet based food company. It’s all about regenerating. It’s all about reconnecting to communities, restoring the greater land, and making sure that we are replenishing the nutrients we need on a day-to-day basis.

 

What inspired you to get into plant-based food?

 

To be honest with you, as a planet based company I think what really inspired me to get into a better way of doing things is actually a call out of my grandfather.

He has been always saying, leave this planet a better world than how you found it. When I was a young boy, I couldn’t understand. It was too abstract. I couldn’t really get my head around. But as I was then working in the industry for 20, 25 years you look behind the scenes, and you see how food is being manufactured on large scale and how profitability over shadows a lot of decision making.

And on the other flip side of the coin, there is a community out there, about 2.6 billion people. This planet makes a direct income or an indirect income from farming activities. And the vast majority, more than two thirds of these people are the poorest of the poor. And we are leaving them behind. And that’s not fair to them because what we have on the plates has been harvested by them.

They take care of their land. And if we leave them behind in the current state of affairs We’ll see many tears in their eyes. And it doesn’t have to be that way. It can be totally different. And hence my strife was really to look at the planetary health and its affairs as well as humanity overall.

And thinking about that must be a better way of doing things and how can we improve it, not incrementally, but really make a system change. And here we are basically inspired by my grandfather. 

On your website, you take some very science-based heavy content and you make it fun and easy.  Talk about that process.

 

It’s a team effort. Honestly, there’s a huge team behind the scenes that works tirelessly on improving our communication and our style and our tone. But the essence of it all is that we understand that Gen Zs and today’s youth are essentially those consumer groups that are on this planet.

Probably the first sort of generation that is fully educated in sustainability. And they have their ability today by one click of a button to really look behind the scenes and understand whether or not there is BS or whether or not there’s transparency, there’s honesty, and there is a different approach to things.

So that is one aspect of things. So we wanted to really make sure we are speaking to the youth on this planet. The second aspect of it all is that, You open your social media feeds today, or you open a media channel, you switch on your television and you are bombarded with bad news, after bad news.

And quite frankly, I have worked in universities and with students and I have been shocked by the fact that people, young guys, talk to me, ‘Hey, I don’t care about sustainability. I don’t care about our planet because it’s so crappy. Everything is so bad. I might as well just enjoy the time span I have on this planet.’

 

And I was shocked in contrast to what my grandfather told me. Today’s youth, some of them, not all, a fraction of them think like that. Or in other words I met this young girl and she says, I don’t know if I want to have children. Because I don’t know whether or not I would like to give birth to people that then inherit a planet that is so hot.

And all of that together was just making me restless and I wanted to really change things and and take this finite time span that I have on this planet to try as hard as I possibly can to leave it better than I found it. And that’s what I strive for. Hence we’re speaking with a fun and engaging voice.

We are speaking with colors and we are speaking with cartoons so that we basically get this heavy message across in an uplifting way and saying, Hey, you can be part of something. That actually does the opposite. It’s not grim. Yes. If we change, we can make this. We’re a better place and here we are.

Thanks for the call out. The credit goes to my team.

 

As we segue into the products themselves, what I wanna highlight is this BamNut Is that the nickname for the Bambara Groundnut?

 

Yeah, so we came up with Bamnut as a short version, as an acronym for the Bambara Ground Nut, which in reality is a legume, a legume that helps us fix nitrogen organically in soils that are essentially degraded and left behind by intensive agriculture.

The Bamnut word came about in Singapore. We actually did not quite know when we started using it. We didn’t quite know how the Americans would pronounce it. And then we found out, alright, it’s the Bamnut. So it all turned out to be so witty and entertaining and just perfect fit for a “better, better” to be honest.

 

Because that’s a main ingredient in all of your food. Let’s talk about what is a BamNut. Why is it magical and unique?

 

I was walking through the world of agro food over the past 20 years, and I’ve always been hugely concerned about the massive speed of land degradation, particularly on arid land.

And that’s getting accelerated because of climate change; and the weather is changing; and the rains and the monsoons are not hitting regularly anymore. So it becomes increasingly more difficult to plant, the planting season to make sure that you are having the seeds in the ground before the rains hit them and so on and so forth.

So it becomes really challenging for folks. So land turpitation has always been a huge concern of mine because another, on the flip side of that, we are losing about 25 soccer fields worth of arid land every minute, while at the very same minute, the same amount of primary forests have been cut down.

So if you compare and contrast these two figures, what it tells me is that in order to make way for the old food industry, we actually cut primary forest and we leave land behind. And that is the wrong thing to do. That is one aspect of things. 

The other aspect of things is I had once the fantastic opportunity to have an interview with Dr. Roy Steiner of the Rockefeller Foundation. And he gave a casual shoutout and he said, nowhere in the world do we produce and consume enough legumes. And I was thinking, why does he say that? But then it’s quite obvious if you think it through, because we are depending so much on crops that the land that basically holds the crops is deprived from organic nitrogen fixing crops like the legumes, and in the absence of nitrogen being fixed through the legumes, we throw endless amounts of synthetic fertilizers on the ground in order to make up for it.

That’s an aspect of things that also worried me.  But today the input costs have gone through the roof is it unravels all over the world and it has gotten more and more expensive to do so the degrading of land in one pocket, I was basically going through my work with that sort of lens.

Then there’s this whole water issue. We are big time irrigating crops, but what does that do? It just slows down the loss of water tables because the moment we take water out of the ground, the water tables are collapsing. I have numbers for that. I had a business in India a long time ago, and it used to be 30 meters, and today it’s probably 90 to 120 meters.

So water is basically a huge issue. There was another lens through which I looked at, and then I was at a conference in Jakarta, and I happened to run into a scientist. He said to me that he works on the Bambara groundnut. It’s a complete crop.  I thought, “Oh, that’s interesting. So what does that mean?”

And I started to really explore that much more deeper. And a complete crop turns out to be essentially a crop that has all micronutrients in the sort of right balance that we need. On top of it, it has all nine essential amino acids that we need. It has rich fatty acids, quality fatty acids, as well as car complex carbohydrates.  So fiber. 

You remember the forgotten macronutrient fibers for our microbiomes? So I got really inspired. So I looked up the amino acid profile and I saw it is rich in plutonic acid or spartic acid. So these are very cool amino acids in terms of generating nice flavors. And off I was; I organized the first couple of five kilos and the trial started, and that’s years and years ago.

In the meantime, the Bambara groundnut actually taught us a few lessons because it’s a very hearty nut and it really takes an effort to make cool products outta it.

 

It’s called a complete product, is that correct?

 

A complete food.  A complete crop or complete food crop.

 

Right now all of the products on your website are based from BamNut. I see Bam Nut milk. I see noodles with seasonings, and then there’s bundles and swag and all kinds of delicious things.

In the future, are we expanding that beyond or what’s the scope?

 

We would love to explore new categories as we build our business. There are so many occasions throughout the day where we can actually incorporate the bambara ground in exciting products, and we look forward to doing that.

Our focus right now is definitely our milk portfolio. It’s a wonderful product. I encourage everybody to have a little taste and Judge for yourself. We have a client in Los Angeles, a coffee roaster, who said ‘This is the closest thing to cow milk that I’ve ever seen in plant-based milk.’ 

We call it planet based milk. I have to say again, shout out to my team in the R&D side of things because they have established a wonderful product essentially with just three ingredients: that’s water, the bambara groundnut, not coconut oil. The rest is essentially technology behind the scenes that actually makes it foam nicely, very stable foam, small bubbles. So you can do latte art. 

Our Airy [flavor] is essentially the one that I would use for a nice drink, like a shake.

In between there is the Every Day [flavor] that goes essentially into my cereal in the morning. 

What are the flavors?

 

Today we are in the market with three different products.

The first one in a slightly black sort of packaging is the Barista. It has the richest mouthfeel. It is the creamiest. We have designed it to perform fantastic or be able to perform fantastic latte art. So it really goes into the cappuccino sort of an experience rather nicely.

I personally take it also for Boba tea. I might as well use the bambara groundnut and foam it up. 

I have my little trick with the barista. I actually froth it in the frother and I put my espresso shot into the frother with the barista together. So I froth it together. But that is just me. I just like it that way. 

Then we have the purple package, which is our Everyday. My wife uses it in baking. We do make cakes, like traditional Austria style, and we totally use only the Everyday [flavor] for that.

Friends of mine [pour] it into their cereals in the morning. It’s a little bit richer, earthy, nutty in character because we do tend to roast the nuts a little bit stronger in the process of making it.

Last but not least, we have our Airy [flavor], which is the lightest one of it all. It is the mint colored package. It is the one that people take into milkshakes and protein shakes. 

 

Let’s move on to Noodles

 

We wanted to create technologies that help us regenerate what’s broken. And today a large portion of all ramen that is being consumed on a day-to-day basis globally is deep fried in palm oil. Palm oil leaves huge banks of land degraded behind, particularly after the third cycle of palm plantations being grown.

We see the aftermath of the palm plantation industry essentially now in Southeast Asia. Therefore we were alerted when we started this project to basically say no to frying and no to deep frying and no, to essentially dehydrating instant noodles or ramen using that sort of process.

So we invented a technology that actually took that sort of challenge away. We invented an industrial scale air frying technology. Once you actually don’t fry anymore, you save about 20% of the space because 20% of palm oil is [based] in the noodle product of classic ramen.  That’s what it absorbs in the frying process. 

So if you don’t deep fry, you save 20%. Now nutrients will survive. Now colors may survive.  Then we replaced all the palm oil with the Bambara. 

We started to actually say, how can we bring color and different flavors and textures on the plates of consumers? And we created these four different products with the four different colors, which is essentially the black one, which is charcoal driven, moringa is green, pumpkin is orange and the original is yellow.

So four different options, all the same philosophy. 

The backbone of making it is the same, but then we add different nutrients to it to have fun, and then we add fancy seasonings to it, which makes just a nice flavor experience as well.

 

 

Our audience is passionate, hungry, curious, foodies. What does it actually taste like?

 

I’m extremely proud of our Noodles because even without the seasonings, you can cook them up and eat them and you will have a wonderful experience.

Try and contrast that with other ramen that you find in the market, and you will come back to our offering immediately because they’re just tasting nice. 

So our starting point of then adding the seasonings to it, like hot and spicy, or the mushrooms is an easy undertaking. It is actually an easy sort of concept to work with because if you have a neutral and nice taste to start with from the noodle base, you can build interesting flavor profiles on top.

Rather than having to use heavy flavors to mask off-flavor from a product base, or not so nice processes or even crappy raw materials. We don’t have that challenge. 

We also decided very early on to keep the salt at a minimum to stay away from any flavor enhancers. No MSG,  we’ve tried to keep it as clean as we possibly can.

We’ve tried to use as much spice as we can access.  No flavoring and stuff like that. I’ve been in that industry for over 20 years.  We thought let’s stay honest, to the product as well, to the noodles as well. And that has been a fantastic journey.

Our “Original, is a hot and sweet, hot and spicy pairing.  In Southeast Asia, it’s based on wok cooking. That’s my personal favorite. I eat it on salads with a little bit of a balsamico dressing

We have with Sesame Garlic, many kids who go for a green one. 

Pumpkin with the traditional Indian curry offer a great pairing. Watch out, it comes hot and spicy.  Typical Indian flavors. 

Last but not least is our charcoal with mushrooms. It’s fantastic for, if you go out to have a beer and come home and wanna have a bite, go for it. It’s a good one. 

How did you decide which flavors to choose? Was it a lot of trial and error?

 

There’s a lot of trial and error. There’s a lot of pairing up with our noodles.

What we have tried to do is really look into what are the best pairings for these sort of flavors.

From that point of view, we also wanted to stay with our seasonings. We wanted to stay essentially planet based.  None of our ingredients have any animal derived products in it.

You look at the charcoal, you cook it up, you eat it, you give it to a chef, let him experiment around. 

We had a Spanish chef take our charcoal and put it into a paella. All of a sudden there was a totally different sort of recipe.

The way we actually derived the final products has also a lot to do with people that actually use it day-to-day in the kitchen and learn from them.

 

What’s the future of WhatIf foods?

 

We are going to enter new categories of food and we are gonna expand our existing categories with new products. 

But I probably would love to use the opportunity to take you along on a more philosophical sort of journey for WhatIf foods and what comes hopefully in the next couple of years to come, because I think we have a better opportunity that needs doubling down now.

What I’m talking about is really the cost of the way we are making everything right from originating bambara groundnut, with partnering farming communities in all parts of Ghana. Encouraging them, making the ingredients ourselves, and then making the food applications, making the food, and then basically taking it to retail all the way through to Manhattan and other parts of the US.

So it’s that entire regenerative value chain that we have created and what that actually represents to us is an opportunity to really explore the intersection between soil health and restoring the soil that has been once degraded from intensive agriculture. 

It is that intersection of renewable energy because the Bambara groundnut now grows in a shell and hence the shell has energy in there and can be used in order to fire up essentially for power.

If you do that smartly, you generate biochar. With biochar, you then actually sequester carbon from the atmosphere into the soils permanently for hundreds, if not a thousand years to come.

 And last but not least, another intersection is wellbeing for consumers. We call them “Better Believers” as well as farming communities because we work with them directly.

We are proud of the fact that we have increased profit, not income; profit of farmers who work with us by 300%. 

At 2.5 acres, these farmers are permanently uplifted above the poverty line. That’s the intersection we really wanna double down to. Again, soil health, renewable energy, carbon sequestration.

Well-being for both the better believers as consumers, as well as the farming communities. Its possible and we’re looking forward to doing that on a large scale. If we wanna fulfill the demand that we hopefully can create, then we will probably need about 20,000 farmers to do that in the next five to ten years to come.

And then generate all the energy that we need internally to be there for carbon zero.  Even further carbon or maybe even participate in the carbon market through certificates. That’s our next challenge. That’s where we wanna go.

 

Find more about What If Foods on their website

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Heraclea Olive Oil delivers award-winning flavor, health and heritage, reveals Berk Bahceci

Heraclea Olive Oil delivers flavor, health and heritage, reveals Berk Bahceci

We are here with Berk Bahceci from Heraclea Olive Oil.

Berk joined me for a conversation (via zoom).  Below has been edited for length and clarity.  Find the full conversation on our YouTube Channel.

I’m excited because I’ve tasted your olive oils and they’re subtle, they’re flavorful, and there’s a great story behind them. And today I wanna touch on all of that and a little bit more.

 

Tell me a bit about your background and how you got into olive oil

 

Berk:  Sure. I moved to the United States approximately 10 years ago for college. Actually. That’s how my story here started. I studied economics at UCLA and then I went to law school at UC Berkeley.

But the day I started law school, I realized something was off. I started questioning whether I was the material to be an attorney. Three years passed by.  I took the bar exam and started working. In my first year I realized, I don’t want to be a lawyer anymore.

I started looking for an exit plan. So I reflected back on myself, my life, my childhood. What is one thing that would  make me wanna wake up every day with excitement?

I realized olive oil is out there. My family owned some olive groves before, but we were never doing this with a business mindset. It was just produced and consumed within family and friends. I came up with the idea to tell my family, why don’t we turn this into a business, create a brand around it, and sell it here exclusively in the United States.

The market itself is very dominated by a couple big players from certain countries. 

I did more research and realized that Turkey is the fifth largest importer of olive oil into the United States, but you are not seeing any Turkish brands on shelves.

What’s the reason for that? It’s probably because producers in Turkey don’t have the means to come here, establish a distribution center like channels, and move product. Selling in bulk is the easiest and most convenient way for those people.

But I wanted to bring a new way for the Turkish olive oil in the United States with Heraclea that’s how we found it.

 

 

We’re definitely gonna get into Turkey in a second.  A lot of the people watching this are wine lovers.  Region is very important.  So tell us about the region that you’re farming

 

Berk: Region has an impact on olive oil as well. That’s the reason why the European Union has a scheme called Protected Designation of Origin. I’m sure wine lovers and cheese lovers will know, when I say PDO, the red and yellow emblem that you see on certain products sold in specialty food stores.

 

PDO is basically a stamp given by the European Union, to distinct products. What do I mean by that? So the variety of olive that we work with is called Memecik. There are over 2000 olive varieties  in the world. 

 

Do me a favor, say that variety again and spell it for us.

 

Berk: It’s called Memecik. It is very unknown, very rare because it is specific to the region that we produce. 

And that’s why the European Union has given a couple years ago to this region and this olive variety, A P D O certification. For example, in California most growers are bequia, right? If they were to plant Memecik, which they can, in California, they won’t be able to have this PDO certification.

So PDO only comes if Memecik is grown in Milas. That’s a very special thing for us and we are very proud to be working with a very rare variety. So when you buy olive oil, it is for certain that you won’t taste it with any other brand because it’s distinct to Milas.

Just the same way that champagne only comes from the Champagne of France.

Berk: That’s exactly what I was going to say. 

 

When did you realize the magic and the power of the Memecik varietal?

 

Berk: This PDO certification is so new that we did not found this business upon that, that certification. It was just an added value with the PDO, but we always knew that our olive oil was distinct in its quality.

It has actually recently been approved by International judges in New York International Olive Oil competition, Japan Olive Oil Competition, Istanbul Olive Oil Competition. We got gold and silver medals from all of these. And this is the first year that we are actively participating in these competitions.

It’s a really good moment for us because usually these things don’t happen in the first or second year. [Usually] you’re a producer for multiple years or maybe generations.  So we’re really proud about that.

 

Congratulations. And just to give someone listening or watching an idea, the scale of these competitions.

Can you estimate how many different olive oils are in that competition?

 

Berk: I would say in the thousands, 2000.  Maybe a hundred companies are winning these awards. You’re in the select field of the top 5-10% in the entire world.

The panel is composed of people from all around the world, from all producing regions, Italy, Tunisia, Greece, Turkey, Chile, Argentina.  Experts. So it’s a good indication that the product is at a certain level of quality.

 

So let’s talk about the behind the scenes and the process of making this award-winning olive oil.

 

Berk: We have around a hundred acres of land with over 10,000 trees that we take care of with a team of seven full-time on the field every day. We don’t use any fertilizers, we don’t use any pesticides. We don’t use any chemicals.  One reason is our grows are literally on the on mountains. They’re not plantations. 

Many olive oil brands have what people call “olive farms” where the companies do intensive and super, super high density farming, which means that where maybe 10 trees would go. They plant a hundred trees. So it’s very compact, producing very high yield olives, but lacking taste because they’re fed with irrigation all the time.

So the olives get really big when they’re given water every day, whereas our olives don’t have irrigation because it’s on the mountains. Our olives, in comparison, are relatively smaller, which keeps the aroma very vibrant. That’s actually the secret behind it.

A lot of people who taste our early harvest olive oil say that it’s a little bit bitter, especially right after the harvest.  That comes from the antioxidants that are loaded in it. Because our olives are very small. The density of antioxidants is higher, so that’s why the bitterness comes in. 

We just prune the trees, cutting the excessive branches because we’re working in a very scarce,  nutrient environment. Like I said, no fertilizers, so you have to keep the trees very optimal by cutting the unnecessary trees and branches so that whatever there is in the soil goes to the fruit.

That’s why our team of seven constantly does these kind of things. These kind of physical touches, no like chemical alteration or anything. Around October we start  walking  around the grow to determine the day of the harvest. That is the most exciting time of the year

Due to not using fertilizers, we really have to optimize the day of the harvest to maximize our production. So when we determine that day, which is mid-October, usually we start harvesting.

We hire local men and women who are living in nearby villages. We go in with a team of 20 to 30.

We keep it for 90 days until January. We don’t want to go into January. Because fruit flies, conditions and a lot of other things impact the quality. 

So we try to finish everything from mid-October until January. We work with a local mill to process our olives. We take two batches every day, one in the afternoon and one at night because we don’t wanna wait in between.

If you start harvest at 8:00 AM and harvest until 4:00 PM the olives that you have harvested at 8:00 AM will have waited nine hours before going into the processing machine. We don’t wanna do that because as the olive waits, fermentation starts and the quality decreases.

So we do two deliveries every day to the local mills, one in the afternoon, and one later in the day. This way we ensure that our olives go right into production within two to four hours of harvest.  Believe me, we’re working really hard to maintain that.

Then we store our olive oil in stainless steel tanks in temperature and humidity controlled rooms with nitrogen gas used as a buffer between the olive oil and the rim. 

Think of a five ton tank.  You fill it out, but there’s always some portion of the tank that is left empty and there’s oxygen in that empty part. When olive oil touches with oxygen in the stainless steel tank as it is stored, oxidation starts, which leads to rancidity, which decreases the quality of the olive oil. So we take that oxygen out by pumping in another gas – of course, food grade safety, no worries there. 

That’s the level of attention and care we give to our olive oil. 

 

Let’s switch to the the tasty part. Let’s talk about the flavor of your two bottles.  Flavor profiles, aroma, anything you’d like.

 

Berk: So we have two products right now. We’re bringing in a third one soon.

Olive oil is the white bottle which is made from olives that we harvest starting from October until mid-November.

And the moment that we switch from early to mature harvest is when the olives start turning into this purplish color. As months pass the green olives start to ripen and then change in color. When we see that change into purple, that’s the moment we say, okay, early harvest is done.

Now we’re doing mature harvest and then everything else that we harvest mid-November, till January, is considered mature harvest. That’s the distinction between the two. 

The mature harvest is the black bottle. And when it comes to flavor profile, there’s one disclaimer that I wanna make, uh, in general about, uh, these, uh, like.

Flavor profiles.  I think to really understand and feel and get this smell. In any olive oil, you have to have a sensory memory, have that experience in your mind, I still remember it.

Here’s an example from my sensory memory:

We had a walnut tree right across the street by our house, and there was a fine paper-like cover, outside of the walnut. Right before they mature, we would take from the tree and taste it and it’s bitter. So that [bitter] taste is in my sensory memory right now.

Same as tomato stems. Like if you touch a tomato plant with your hands and play around and then smell your hands, you’re going to get a very unique tomato stem smell, and that’s like embedded in your mind now. So from now on, every time you taste an olive oil, if there is that distinct smell or taste in it, that’s how you recognize it.

So in our olive oil, early harvest, for example, I get the notes of freshly cut grass, tomato stems, walnuts, banana.

What I was told in this olive oil school that I went to in Spain is, get your hands out there. Touch everything, smell everything. Taste everything. That’s how you develop your sensory memory.

And that’s how you become, as people say, familiar. But you know, like you don’t have to have a certificate to be one. You know, you just go out there and taste stuff and try to. Memorize and remember those smells and tastes.

I was talking to somebody earlier this week about food pairings and he had a similar answer, which was be curious.

Exactly. Taste things, touch things, smell things, and be curious. 

 

I know your website has a cookbook, let’s talk about some of your favorite food pairings with your olive oil

 

Berk: I love  drizzling our early harvest on cheese plates. That’s my favorite thing. Early harvest is more for finishing dishes because it has a bitter aroma to it.

If you cook with it, you may have a bitter taste in the food. Actually, I know people who cook with our early harvest. I know people who drizzle with our mature harvest, so it’s not set in stone.

It really depends on what you like, but generally, early harvest is better for drizzling over salads. Hummus, cheese.  Sometimes  I dip my bread in it. 

That’s a tradition we have in Turkey sometimes, find a piece of bread and dip that into your olive oil, and that’s a good breakfast. 

Mature harvest is for everything else. Cooking, baking, marinating. A lot of people are saying that they use it for marinating.

 

Anything else you want us to discover about olive oil?

 

Berk: Our goals are twofold.  One is, olive oil is a very healthy product for human consumption, There is research showing that the positive effects on health of olive oil, daily consumption of olive oil. We believe that a product that is so healthy for humans should do no harm to the environment.

It’s production should not cause any more trouble to our Mother Nature. That’s why we’re not using fertilizers. That’s why we’re not using pesticides. We think there’s a solution in nature to resolve any problem that these things claim to be curing. That’s number one, producing as environmentally friendly as possible.

Number two is to introduce to the world the intricacies of Turkish cuisine. It is beyond  just kebab. It is just one meal in thousands of distinct and unique recipes. And the way that we treat these recipes are not just a list of ingredients.

To us, these are stories from past generations and that Turkish cookbook has 550 very distinct recipes. Each recipe is associated with a specific region or maybe sometimes even a village. 

 

It almost sounds Farm To Table.

 

Berk: Exactly. That’s the goal. We’re small batch and we have really certain values and principles.

 

Are there any specific health benefits that you wanna cover?

 

Berk: There are a lot.  There are a lot of research.  I’m not a scientist. I’m not a doctor. But consuming olive oil daily helps with chronic diseases. Cardiovascular diseases. Type 2 diabetes, and many more.

We have lab reports showing the amount of antioxidants in our olive oil, which is around 500 milligrams per liter, which is a high amount. Consuming antioxidants is healthy. Olive oil has anti-inflammatory effects as well. 

When you consider all of these things and if you consume fats, why don’t you switch to a healthy alternative where research shows that its consumption helps you.

That’s why as a layman I recommend consuming olive oil on a daily basis. 

 

Berk, you’ve given us a lot of good information. You’ve given us a lot of tasty ideas.

Let’s talk about how to buy and how to, how to where we can buy your olive oil.

 

Berk: We’re available online at heraclea.co. There is no “m” at the end. 

We will very soon be available on Amazon.

If you are in New York, we will soon be available in NoHo. Manhattan. Then if you are in Seattle, very soon we will be available in a grocery chains in Seattle.

Hopefully by end of this year we will be in over a hundred physical locations 

 

Searching for Dad’s perfect gift? Adventure, Family and Lessons ‘Near Death Lessons’ Memoir by Chris Jankulovski on sale at Amazon now

Fathers Day is coming up and every family is searching for Dad’s perfect gift.  Chris Jankulovski’s book Near Death Lessons offers story of family, adventure, motivation, and life lessons.

Today I had the opportunity to sit down with Chris Jankulovski (via zoom) to talk about his Father’s Day wishes, business success, family, health concerns, empowerment and more.

The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  Watch the full conversation on our Youtube channel.

 

Congratulations on your new book, Near Death Lessons. 

 

Thank you. Been a journey to get it out there, but I am so honored and privileged to do this work. 

It is an inspiring and a motivating book, and I would say equally important is not only is it inspiring and it’s motivating, but for somebody who wants to break-through, you actually give us the lessons that you use to accomplish it so we can follow those lessons as well.

 

 

What was the hardest part of writing the book for you?

 

Friends tell me, Chris, you gotta write a book, man. Seriously, you’ve got some wild stories. It almost killed me when the tumor bursted in my head. I couldn’t walk, couldn’t talk. I was in bed for three months.

I knew that the moment I could stand upright, I wanna write a book for my sons. I want them to know who their father was.  Because yet again, I just confronted a serious adversity where 60% of people normally die on the operating table. I somehow survived it. I’m the lucky 40%, and I just had my operation one month before the birth of my second son, Billy.  And I wanted my six year old and my new son to know who their father was.

I’ll give you a timeline.  We’ll plot it all, and then we’re gonna give it to a ghost writer who’s gonna somehow be able to direct our story. Then we’ll put the muscles in it, and then we’ll build it all up.

And that’s the journey I went on until I gave it to an editor who completely shut it down and it took me about a a year to correct everything. No kidding. 

 

Okay. So how long from the moment you started with your writer through the editing process, what was the timeline from inception to on the shelf?

 

Oh wow. So the first year after my brain operation, I’m still writing this book. A year later, I’m in the pool, rehabilitating [with the book] still in front of me.

I’ve got this diagnosis of doctors telling me, Chris, you gotta have these cancers removed asap. They’ve taken off. I don’t know if your kidney is gonna survive removing six cancers. You might be on dialysis. Doom and gloom.

I’ve just gone on a journey of learning how to walk and talk for eight months. I’ve got so many defects going on. 

My tongue didn’t half work. I couldn’t even talk. It was affecting my speech. So I’m there in this scenario and at the height of my worst moment in life, I’ve got this outlook. That’s a disaster. 

'Near Death Lessons' by Chris Jankulovski

I’m trying to run in the pool because I’m learning how to walk properly and I’m about to confront this adversity again.

I’m thinking: Why am I buying a future that no one knows? This is all just estimates, predictions, guesswork. I don’t have to accept this. What if I dare hope that the best is yet to come? Why don’t I look forward to the life ahead of me? That it’s the best? 

And that was the most pivotal moment in my life because, I went from a $4 million house to a $16 million house.

Eight months later, I go off to double my business from 8 million to 16 million. I go off to do all these things, and now I’m in America taking it to another level. 

I was in the hospital room, that’s year one by the way.  I bargained for my life because things were not looking good, that’s when I decided to take my story public.

And since the moment I’ve taken the story public. I wrote the book initially because I didn’t want to give any advice to my sons because I didn’t want them to hate me from the grave. I didn’t wanna just share my story. I wanted to share the lessons.

I wanted to share the things that have transformed my life. So I hired a resilience consultant, and I said to her, can you please read my book? Put a spotlight on how I respond to adversities compared to a more common response because I just keep bouncing back stronger.

She read my book five times. We ended up having 26 zoom sessions, and then from that we unearthed 11 distinctions. We gave those to instructional designers which then they came back to me with the five life lessons that I shared in the book.

That’s a heck of a journey. Tell us about some of the diagnoses you’ve had all the way back from your teenage years.

 

So at the age of 19, we went to a specialist clinic to understand what was causing tumors in my eyes. The doctor was puzzled.  There was this new genetic testing going on. So I had the genetic test done.   I [was diagnosed] with Von hippel-lindau syndrome. A hereditary condition, means maybe your mom and dad have got it. I go, no one’s got it, okay?

The average life expectancy is 30 years, so you’re probably gonna have a short life and you’ve probably got cancers now. 

I was like, what? I’m gonna be dead by 30. What do you mean? That was my brutal wake up call and I went to my car and I cried.

I couldn’t relate to anyone with this problem. I told my parents, I told my friends, I couldn’t connect with anyone about this. I just decided to ignore it. I thought if I pretended deep down I never got this, perhaps it would disappear.

So that’s what I did. I ignored it from the ages of 19 to 32 when my first brain tumor finally caught up. And when it did, it almost killed me. It was so big –  five centimeters. I had to contour my body to go to the toilet and had these weird electric shocks running down my spine.

When I got the operation, I transformed. I looked at the sky and I said, God, kill me. I’ve had enough of living this victim life. I’ve had enough of being disempowered, always reacting to my circumstances.

I choose to focus on life. I choose whatever happens. I’m gonna choose to make the most of whatever life I have, but I’m not living like that anymore.  So that was a pivotal moment. 

I’m now 50, so I’ve had a good run for the last six years. At age seven, my appendix burst, almost killing me. Two weeks in hospital. At the age of 21, I almost drowned. 

But one of the first times I crossed over, out of body kind of experience and a different time dimension was a few years later, 25, when I woke up [during] an eye surgery, I felt the needles sliding on my eye, like on an egg, and they’re poking in.

I woke up and flatlined. I was looking down at myself.  I could see the machine flat-lining until everything went white. And then I felt like I was in a different time dimension. I just felt ‘Whoa. Where am I? Let’s go. Hey, I’m not going anywhere. It’s my sister’s wedding soon. And then I snapped back into life again with the nurses all about to zap me.

So that was at 25 and then at 32 is the brain tumor. And then two months later was the removal of my right kidney because it was occupied by cancers. Some as large as four and a half, five centimeters. Which is way too dangerous. They’re all very aggressive..

The reason why I called that a near death experience as well is because I survived my cancer battle and it didn’t spread. It killed my dad, it didn’t kill me. And then two years later, I had to remove four large cancers from a remaining left kidney. 

A decade later, another six cancerous kidneys.  Before that one was the second brain operation to remove two tumors in my head, and that was the most serious. 

 

Let’s talk about a deliberate life. You mentioned it in your book, what does a deliberate life mean to you and what are the main steps? How do we get there?

 

I have nearly died, came back to life, and every time that happens, it’s like a reset button in my heart.

Everything’s up for grab: my values, my behaviors, my patterns. Because I’m back again. You go through many of these experiences.

Everything you’ve been holding true gets re-evaluated, and therefore, all of it – fears, insecurities, all gets washed away. And what remains is what’s most important and true. For me, every time I go through these experiences, I get an onion layer experience. I get more to the core of who I am and who we are.

All of us, including me, are remarkably powerful. I can’t believe the more I get to me and the core of my authentic me, the more energy, the more light, the more vibrancy, the more drive, the more of everything is there. 

I’ve always been spending money looking for advice and solutions outside myself.  Deep down, the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my life was when I meditated in silence for three weeks in India.  Silence. Every time I nearly died, I’d go into this black void. Vibrancy, energy, and I don’t understand why I’m still consciously pressing, but then when I return, now I know I’m gonna say something really taboo, but life and death coexist in my mind because when I close my eyes and I’m in this black void, if I can meditate to a point where I’m outside of my sense of skin, brain patterns, feelings, and just be presently alert of my awareness.

Man, that’s the same space I go to when I’m in a different time dimension. Hence why I believe that life and death coexist and that fuels me. That just fuels me even more because our mortality is what should fuel all of us. Why? Who are we to take our time for granted here? 

This drop of time that we have here, how selfish of us to be caught up in our own doubts and fears and insecurities. We are so much more than that. 

There is just this magic and energy in us that wants to drive. Follow that drive, follow that energy. Don’t restrict it.  It communicates in feelings and glimpses of vision.

I live a deliberate life because of these adversities, and I keep coming back to life.  I wanna optimize. If I’ve got anxiety. If I was to listen to Steve Jobs, live as if it’s your last day of life. I get anxiety. I can’t be strategic, I can’t plan. I’m always challenged every year with my scans.

So the way I play this game is every year when I get a MRI scan for my brain and spine and kidneys and all this stuff. When I get the results of those scans towards the end of the year, I see them as a certificate to go live life to the fullest. So I get this scan results. I go, yes, I’ve got a free run.  Then that following year, I’m bolting. I’m a hundred percent, I’ve got one more year to live. I see every year as if it’s another year to live. 

What I’ve realized over 30 years of doing this is,  I can’t live deliberately, so I can’t live my life to the fullest every year unless I’m living deliberately and I can’t live deliberately unless I have clarity with what I wanna do, because otherwise I’m spending time on all these things that aren’t important.

I linked my goal to an image and I put it on a board because visually I know that the only way my subconscious relates to this is by image and feeling. Now, I know people call it vision boards, but they’ve got it all wrong. You gotta really link an image to a goal.  That image needs to excite you.   That simple solution allowed me to focus my energy throughout the whole year towards these things. 

 

You offer a ‘free gift’ in your book.  Can you give us a sneak peek of what it is?

 

Since I’m talking about life so much and living life to the fullest I wanted to show people the 10 things that were often affecting me and stopping me from living a life to the fullest.

What does success mean to you? It’s different for everyone and so is living life to the fullest.  But, for people who are driven, success-oriented, ambitious people,  they would relate mostly to this because that’s who I am.

I wanna spend more time with my family. I wanna smell the roses. I wanna see how far I can go and I wanna see the kind of impact I can make because I don’t wanna just pass and it never even be known that I even existed.

So living life to the fullest means you are embracing your true power. You are embracing and optimizing your most important resource,  your time. You are embracing the fact that you’ve got an ability to create. 

So if we can do these simple things, we can achieve our dreams. That’s as simple as that. If we’ve got the right mindset, if we stop responding to life as if we have got no control, if we are always victims of it, I’ve been thrown these incredible blows from the universe.

So many battles outside of my control. I refuse to not take responsibility. I actually take responsibility. Look, the tumors happen genetically, but I take responsibility. It’s a game. Okay? It’s just a game. It’s a game of self-empowerment.

 

Chris Jankulovski’s book, Near Death Lessons on sale at Amazon now.

If we want more from you, where do we find you? What’s your website? Where do we find you on social media?

 

I’m building ChrisJankulovski.com and then you’ll be able to access other things. 

 

What does the future look like for you?  What are you gonna be up to next?

 

I’m developing my personal brand and what that represents to the world.  What that represents to the American people.  What I strive to do in terms of impacting.. 

I’ll be working very heavily on my business, but I’ll also be putting myself out there to meet people, to talk to people and more media of course.

When I said I’m gonna inspire millions, this is the deal. And that deal isn’t just writing a book. That deal is to connect with people. One-on-one or in groups or to speak, and not because I’m looking to become a speaker, but because I’m looking to deliver this incredible energy, this incredible passion, this incredible lessons and distinctions with no bullshit on what gets results and how what you gotta do to optimize your most important time here on Earth.

Chris, I wish you huge success with the book Near Death Lessons. I think there’s so many lessons about either launching a new life or breaking through.  It’s a great New Year’s. Gift and a great Father’s Day gift. 

Thank you mate. 

Honey’s Health Power is getting Rediscovered and Mellody Food’s Darko Mandich is leading the way

The magic and power of honey is getting Rediscovered and Mellody Food’s Darko Mandich is leading the way

Honey has been a staple in my people diets for their whole.  As a result, many of us take it for granted.  But that’s changing thanks now.

Let’s find out in an exclusive interview with Mellody Food’s Darko Mandich.

Darko Mandich is a food entrepreneur in San Francisco. After spending almost a decade in the European honey industry as a business executive, Darko committed to reimagining the honey industry to become sustainable. Darko immigrated from Europe to California to launch Mellody, the world’s first plant-based honey brand. Darko is an advocate of saving the bees and wild pollinators.

Mellody Food's Darko Mandich

Mellody Food’s Darko Mandich

 

Recently, I had a chance to talk with Darko.

Why honey? Was it a personal passion or where did the interest come from for you?

Honestly, at that time, it was a great opportunity and a very interesting company that had many different divisions all related to food and agriculture.

It’s my grandma’s fault that I got into the food industry because I remember when I was a kid, my grandma and my mom and dad, they were running a tiny tavern in the Mediterranean coastline.

Seeing people gathered around the food, seeing people running around prepping the food. In my family, whenever we would have guests visiting our home, there’s always gonna be like plenty of food. And I think that subliminally inserted in my brain. Even though I pursued business and entrepreneurship, that’s something that excites me. In the background of all of that was food. I don’t mind that because I’m a foodie myself.

 

Honey is being Re-Discovered. Why did honey become so important to us today?

 

There’s so many angles to that. If you ask consumers in the US their preferred sweetener is honey. Why? Because people understand that honey has the sugar part that gives you a kick, gives you energy; but honey also has a very exciting non sugary part to it, which makes it a better for you. I would say [it’s] the best sweetener out there.

Also, there’s something about the mythology of honey.

There’s this Greek goddess of honey. Honey has been presented as a divine product across many religious books in different religious and history is telling so many interesting stories about honey.

Around 200 years ago, they unsealed Egyptian pyramids, got inside, found a bunch of things, and amongst others there was honey in a pot. And you know what? That honey was edible. And no food in the world would actually stand against that shelf life because, [of honey’s ] special combinations of sugar acidity, pH. Now I’m nerding up.

 

But the thing is, honey is very special. It will never go bad. There’s kind of official shelf life to honey, but honey will actually never go bad.

And I think if you connect all these things and consumers looking for better solutions, looking for something that can satisfy them, not only on a taste, but on a nutritious level, honey [has] become so popular. I had a chance to witness this across my decade old career in the US and before that in Europe.

And look, I was very excited about honey. I didn’t know much about it when I joined that [first] company, but when I started learning about it, I was like, ‘Wow, this product is really amazing.’

 

Is the honey currently available at Eleven Madison Home?

 

This is the product from a direct to consumer collaboration. We just launched with three Michelin star, Eleven Madison Park in New York City.

Eleven Madison Home's The Specialty Tea and Honey Box featuring Mellody Honey

Eleven Madison Home’s The Specialty Tea and Honey Box featuring Mellody Honey

 

 

Yeah, the honey is currently available. The Specialty Tea and Honey Box launched for the Mother’s Day collection and Earth Month.

It’s a specially curated box of artisanal teas coming from different parts of the world with honey and also amazing, shortbread cookies. All plant-based, also made with our honey. That’s available right now

Sometime very soon a standalone jar [of honey] will also be available to Eleven Madison Home.

Eleven Madison Home's The Specialty Tea and Honey Box featuring Mellody Honey

Eleven Madison Home’s The Specialty Tea and Honey Box featuring Mellody Honey

 

Tell us again what’s available, how to find it; and how to follow you and support you.

 

Yeah, follow us on Instagram and TikTok at MellodyFoods

In terms of purchasing, head to ElevenMadisonHome.com and you can purchase it there.

Saving the bees is learning more about them. Learning more about pollinators and you can do that on our social media.

And finally, if you’re equally passionate about bees and plants as we are, ask your favorite restaurant to reach out to us to offer Mellody in your favorite restaurant. It can be a vegan restaurant on non-vegan.

We are gonna work with all the restaurants that reach out to us where people ask to see our product offered, either on the menu, either within a meal, or just if you order a cup of tea and you want a side of Mellody.

 

NYC Foodies want to know, what does Plant-based Honey Pair Well With?

LA Foodies want to know, what does Plant-based Honey Pair Well With?

You keep reading about plant-based honey. The environmental story, the nutrition.  But how does it taste?  What can you pair it with?  Let’s find out in an exclusive interview with Mellody Food’s Darko Mandich.

Darko Mandich is a food entrepreneur in San Francisco. After spending almost a decade in the European honey industry as a business executive, Darko committed to reimagining the honey industry to become sustainable. Darko immigrated from Europe to California to launch Mellody, the world’s first plant-based honey brand. Darko is an advocate of saving the bees and wild pollinators.

Mellody Food's Darko Mandich

Mellody Food’s Darko Mandich

 

Recently, I had a chance to talk with Darko.

 

You said you are a foodie. What are some incredible food pairings that you recommend with this honey?

 

When I like to talk about food, I always like to join food and beverage.

What does Plant-based Honey Pair Well With?

What does Plant-based Honey Pair Well With?

 

I’ll start with beverages first. I think this honey is perfect for mocktails and cocktails. It gives just enough of sweetness that someone is looking for in their alcoholic cocktail or non-alcoholic cocktail.

 

Will Plant-based Honey pair well With baklava

Will Plant-based Honey pair well With baklava

 

In terms of food, I would split it into savory and sweet. Sweet applications are my favorite, I just have a sweet tooth. My favorite dessert is Baklava because it comes from the part of the world where I come from. My wife, who’s a home chef, [used our honey to make] baklava and it was amazing.

 

We did an amazing collaboration with an upscale Italian plant-based restaurant in San Francisco Baia. They created this amazing, vegan panna cotta with our honey on top. It was culinary mastery developed by Chef Joshua Yap, who started working with Chef Matthew Kenny, who is also a well-known, plant-based chef.

 

Will plant-based honey pair well with a burger

Will plant-based honey pair well with a burger

In terms of savory applications, that opens a whole new world of opportunities. How we interact with stuff like pizza and honey, burgers and honey. Obviously honey and vinaigrette and olive oil, used as a dressing for salads, honey mustard, just name it.

 

What’s next for Mellody? What are the next steps out there for you?

 

Getting into as many restaurants as possible in this country. People are inquiring about the standalone product [separate from the speciality box] get it very soon at Eleven Madison Home.

Working on getting this product to as many people as possible, and just to invite everybody to participate in this mission of creating the sustainable future of honey.

I’m just excited about every tiny step in this journey until melody becomes the word for honey.

 

Eleven Madison Home's The Specialty Tea and Honey Box featuring Mellody Honey

Eleven Madison Home’s The Specialty Tea and Honey Box featuring Mellody Honey

 

Is the honey currently available at Eleven Madison Home?

 

Yeah, the honey is currently available. The Specialty Tea and Honey Box launched for the Mother’s Day collection and Earth Month.

It’s a specially curated box of artisanal teas coming from different parts of the world with honey and also amazing, shortbread cookies. All plant-based, also made with our honey. That’s available right now

Sometime very soon a standalone jar [of honey] will also be available to Eleven Madison Home.

Eleven Madison Home's The Specialty Tea and Honey Box featuring Mellody Honey

Eleven Madison Home’s The Specialty Tea and Honey Box featuring Mellody Honey

 

Tell us again what’s available, how to find it; and how to follow you and support you.

 

Yeah, follow us on Instagram and TikTok at MellodyFoods

In terms of purchasing, head to ElevenMadisonHome.com and you can purchase it there.

Saving the bees is learning more about them. Learning more about pollinators and you can do that on our social media.

And finally, if you’re equally passionate about bees and plants as we are, ask your favorite restaurant to reach out to us to offer Mellody in your favorite restaurant. It can be a vegan restaurant on non-vegan.

We are gonna work with all the restaurants that reach out to us where people ask to see our product offered, either on the menu, either within a meal, or just if you order a cup of tea and you want a side of Mellody.

 

NYC Foodies curious about Plant-Based Honey Taste? Mellody’s Darko Mandich reveals the Surprise

NYC Foodies curious about Plant-Based Honey Taste? Mellody’s Darko Mandich reveals the Surprise

New York City.  The Big Apple.  One of the top foodie destinations in the world.  Known for its adventurous foodies and curious eaters.  Plenty of people are already in line to try plant-based honey, but what does it actually taste like?

People might worry there’s a “laboratory” flavor?  Has it lost its texture? Vibrancy? Is there a “diet” feel to it?

Exclusive Interview with Mellody Food’s Darko Mandich.

Darko Mandich is a food entrepreneur in San Francisco. After spending almost a decade in the European honey industry as a business executive, Darko committed to reimagining the honey industry to become sustainable. Darko immigrated from Europe to California to launch Mellody, the world’s first plant-based honey brand. Darko is an advocate of saving the bees and wild pollinators.

Mellody Food's Darko Mandich

Mellody Food’s Darko Mandich

 

Recently, I had a chance to talk with Darko for nearly an hour.

 

Let’s talk about the honey. What’s the taste profile?

 

There are three aspects of products that people care about. Number one by far is taste. Number two is price, and number three is nutrition.

In terms of the taste, what we’re really after is the best tasting honeys that are made by bees. 

The taste has to match rare honeys that you would find in parts of Europe; France, Italy. Very high quality Acacia honey, specifically.

If we talk about New Zealand, Australia, that’s Manuka honey; and we’re matching that.

So no compromise there.

Moving to the price, I grew up in poverty and I really want to make sure that everybody has access to this product at some point. But it’ll take us some time. So right now it’s premium quality, but it’s also premium price.

In terms of nutrition, we wanna do better than honey coming from bees. How? First and foremost, honey made by the bees contains a certain bacteria that’s called Clostridium. With our product, without the bees [there’s no Clostridium] bacteria.

I’m really proud to say that our product is allergen free; and that for people with allergies to honey and pollen, this is gonna be neutral.

Finally in terms of super ingredients or superfoods, our honey has more than what’s usually found in some of the honey types made by the bees.

The sugar profile is the same, the calorie content is the same, but the twist is there’s a little bit more of certain powerful active compounds that come from the plants.

 

That’s absolutely incredible. It’s enhanced honey. Is there a better word?

 

I like to call it a plant-based honey. And that category of plant-based honey is already elevated to the level of being enhanced compared to bee-made honey.

 

I’m really happy that Melody is starting this category. We are the world’s first plant-based honey.

There’s exactly one same sentence that we get to hear across 5,000 people that were involved in tasting this before it hit the market.

That sentence is: It’s honey.

People taste it, they’re amazed with it, and they say, “Oh my God, it’s honey.”

There are certain plant-based products that have their heart in best place in terms of mission and impact, but are just not delivering on [flavor] expectations. We just want to make sure that people across different categories of nutrition say that this is honey and that they love it.

Eleven Madison Home's The Specialty Tea and Honey Box featuring Mellody Honey

Eleven Madison Home’s The Specialty Tea and Honey Box featuring Mellody Honey

 

Is the honey currently available at Eleven Madison Home?

 

Yeah, the honey is currently available. The Specialty Tea and Honey Box launched for the Mother’s Day collection and Earth Month.

It’s a specially curated box of artisanal teas coming from different parts of the world with honey and also amazing, shortbread cookies. All plant-based, also made with our honey. That’s available right now

Sometime very soon a standalone jar [of honey] will also be available to Eleven Madison Home.

Eleven Madison Home's The Specialty Tea and Honey Box featuring Mellody Honey

Eleven Madison Home’s The Specialty Tea and Honey Box featuring Mellody Honey

 

Tell us again what’s available, how to find it; and how to follow you and support you.

 

Yeah, follow us on Instagram and TikTok at MellodyFoods

In terms of purchasing, head to ElevenMadisonHome.com and you can purchase it there.

Saving the bees is learning more about them. Learning more about pollinators and you can do that on our social media.

And finally, if you’re equally passionate about bees and plants as we are, ask your favorite restaurant to reach out to us to offer Mellody in your favorite restaurant. It can be a vegan restaurant on non-vegan.

We are gonna work with all the restaurants that reach out to us where people ask to see our product offered, either on the menu, either within a meal, or just if you order a cup of tea and you want a side of Mellody.

 

NYers want a ‘Chocolate Epiphany’ Honeymoon Chocolates is ready to help

Ready for your ‘Chocolate Epiphany’ ? Honeymoon Chocolates wants to help.

Have you ever felt better after a good meal?  The flavors that linger.  The euphoria that captures your attention.  You’re inspired.  You can’t help but smile.

NYers want a ‘Chocolate Epiphany’  Honeymoon Chocolates is ready to help

 

Today we’re talking with Honeymoon Chocolates’ Cam Loyet.

 

You use the phrase ‘Chocolate Epiphany’.  What does it mean to you?

So up in Bloomington, Illinois, where Hayley and I met there’s a restaurant called the Epiphany Farms it’s farm to table. It’s expensive because you’re getting the highest quality meal. We were only college students. So we really couldn’t afford it, except for once a year. Every meal I had there, I had what seemed like this Epiphany with food where everything tasted better than any meal I’d had in the last 4 weeks. It was just incredible and we hope that you know our chocolate can do that for our customers. 

 

It’s this experience where only a single bite can tide you over or a little bit goes a long way, because not only was the flavor so incredible, but it lasts 5 or 10 minutes, the flavor in your mouth just lingers. 

 

That’s where “Chocolate Epiphany“ comes from being sweetened with honey. It doesn’t have to be sweetened with cane sugar.

 

Honey is as local as it gets and it’s as unrefined as it gets with the sweetener completely untouched, raw unfiltered honey.

 

A lot of our competitors use coconut, sugar, monk fruit or stevia, and those are all processed ingredients, one way or another.  Even cane sugar is processed. 

 

So we’re doing our best to create this experience through chocolate and communicate with our customers; and hopefully it becomes an epiphany in the process.

 

Honeymoon chocolate is a love story, a health story, a delicious flavor, story  and an environmental story.  What else can we add to that?

 

It’s definitely a love story, my girlfriend at the time, now my wife; we met at Illinois Wesleyan University, and started this crazy business of sweetening chocolate with local honey. Yes, we need chocolate with local honey.  And it’s a bittersweet journey. We instantly found out all of the trials and tribulations of owning our own business.  

 

Also the cocoa supply chain. It’s a lot like the diamond industry where there’s a lot of slave labor and a lot of issues with those who really do all the hard work and effort.  There’s a lot of effect we can have as we scale.

 

Yeah, a love story. It’s sweet.  It’s romantic. That’s one of the main reasons why we named it Honeymoon Chocolates because it always has its place at romantic events.

 

We do our best to attract those who want to gift our product. A lot of our customers do gift our chocolate.  

 

It’s environmental as well. It’s all compostable packaging. We have a goal of using only clean energy in the future, but again, it continues to be bitter sweet because chocolate is a very power hungry industry. It takes a lot of effort and energy to manufacture chocolate. It takes a lot of effort and energy just to get the cocoa here.

 

There’s a lot of effort in our industry to be transparent on the energy that is being used in the emissions and our goals to be a bit more transparent on that as well. But we do our best.

I never want our Honeymoon Chocolates wrapper to be out on the streets blowing in the wind without the ability to biodegrade or compost. So we go a little bit more a little bit above and beyond.

Visits Honeymoon Chocolates at: https://hmchocolates.com 

On Instagram, at: www.instagram.com/honeymoonchocolates

On Facebook, at: https://www.facebook.com/honeymoonchocolates

 

 

8th Wonder Organic Sparkling Superfood Tea Launches in Pop Up Grocer New York City

8th Wonder Organic Sparkling Superfood Tea to Launch in Pop Up Grocer New York City

8th Wonder Tea is excited to announce their launch at Pop Up Grocer New York City for their line of organic sparkling superfood teas. 

8th Wonder Organic Sparkling Superfood Tea

8th Wonder Organic Sparkling Superfood Tea

 

A retailer that curates natural and innovative brands from a variety of small businesses, on March 3rd Pop Up Grocer will begin carrying all five of 8th Wonder’s flavors including their newest release – Organic Sparkling Matcha Cherry Blossom Reishi Tea.

“8th Wonder is beyond excited to join the ranks of other game-changing and disruptive brands in the natural products sector by participating in the Pop Up Grocer event starting in March,”

said Reed Rush, CEO and Co-Founder, of 8th Wonder Tea. 

 

Pop Up Grocer showcases the best and the boldest of innovative brands that are pushing natural and organic consumer packaging good trends into mainstream consciousness.

8th Wonder Organic Sparkling Superfood Tea

8th Wonder Organic Sparkling Superfood Tea

Just as 8th Wonder is devoted to elevating the timeless ritual of tea drinking into a modern and accessible affair for the masses, Pop Up Grocer is transforming the mundane concept of grocery shopping into a more luxurious and immersive experience for the 21st  century.  

Containing real fruit juices, 8th Wonder is infused with ancient superfood ingredients like cardamom, ginger, ashwagandha, chai, and apple juice.

8th Wonder Organic Sparkling Superfood Tea

8th Wonder Organic Sparkling Superfood Tea

8th Wonder organic sparkling teas contain no added sugar, sugar alcohols, GMOs, or artificial ingredients. Additionally, 8th Wonder is certified organic, Whole30 approved, non-GMO project verified, paleo, vegan and Kosher certified.Offering gut health and immunity in addition to their delicious taste, 8th Wonder is packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, anti-inflammatory properties, and other benefits that may help reduce inflammation throughout the body and the risk of chronic diseases.

On a mission to promote emerging brands from underrepresented vendors while attracting shoppers who are conscious about what they eat, most of Pop Up Grocer’s brands are vegan, women, LGBTQ, and minority owned.

With Pop Up Grocer’s customers enjoying shopping in their out-of-the-box and healthful format, their space offers a retreat from large stores where those following specific, or restrictive, diets have to do a lot of searching to uncover the items they can consume.

According to the Global Organic Tea Markets latest research report in November 2022, the growing consumer preference for safe, chemical-free, and healthy consumables, is one of the most important factors driving market expansion along with a shift in lifestyle and growing demand from the personal care industry.

“As a premium product, 8th Wonder could not be more excited about revamping expectations around how natural products and purveyors like Pop Up Grocer can revolutionize and evolve traditional norms around shopping and consumption,” added Rush.

“Seeking out the first in class, and most intelligent in design, when it comes to our daily choices we can ultimately drive sustainable change in the market while empowering consumers to demand higher standards and better quality from our goods.

As a springboard for brands who are working to bring about these much needed shifts in product development, Pop Up Grocer is the ideal creative outlet.”

Launching on Amazon in November 2022, 8th Wonder has been available at select specialty grocers including Whole Foods in the Rocky Mountain region, and at Mother’s Market and Kitchen and Lassen’s Natural Foods and Vitamins in Southern California, in addition to their direct-to-consumer e-commerce site.

 

For more information on 8th Wonder Tea, visit: https://8thwondertea.com/.

 

8th Wonder Tea makes earth-conscious sparkling teas

 

8th Wonder Tea makes earth-conscious sparkling teas that deliver the enhanced benefits of organic, superfood ingredients to fuel the body and mind. Capitalizing on the popularity of sparkling beverages, 8th Wonder offers the healthy attributes of premium teas by using the finest ingredients.

 

Containing real fruit juices, 8th Wonder is certified organic, Whole30 approved, non-GMO project verified, paleo, vegan and Kosher certified.

 

Infused with ancient superfood ingredients, 8th Wonder contains no added sugar, sugar alcohols, GMOs, or artificial ingredients. 8th Wonder comes in five flavors and is available on Amazon. For more information on 8thWonder, visit: https://8thwondertea.com/.

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