The Healthy Nerd

Necessity brings innovative and health-based food ventures

Putting health and nutrition first, many a health nerd has helped advance the creation of foods for a population with diverse nutritional requirements.

Let’s dive into the stories of two local health-based startups, both women owned, one helping those desiring a more disciplined, streamlined approach to personal meal management, another providing satisfying, good-for-you grain-free organic baked goods without fear of consuming gluten.

ChopChopGirl: Meal prep for success
Many of us know we need to eat better yet feel overwhelmed with our busy lives and driven to make unhealthy food choices due to cravings and the lack of time. A poor diet can leave us drained, undernourished, overweight or worst of all, candidates for illness and disease. Paige Kimball found herself in a similar situation, combating chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia while seeking the energy to care for her family and work as a personal trainer and fitness instructor.

Being passionate about health, bodybuilding and whole foods, Kimball went into high geek mode and took on a new approach to her eating.  She expanded her food preparation system into a meal-in-a-jar planning and preparation system called ChopChopGirl. Kimball company offers clients weekly shopping lists as well as cooking and assembly instructions that include food combinations and pantry staples designed to pack nicely into a Mason jars.  Using her system, meal preppers save hours in the kitchen, waste less food and save money over time.  Kimball discovered that most of her students needed more support with healthy eating than with exercise.  And that support with healthy, regular meals was the missing key for people meeting their health and fitness goals.

Why a Mason jar?
Who doesn’t want to turn this whole “plastic is getting out of control” thing around? Kimball chose the Mason jar for ChopChopGirl not only for its traditional significance but also because it is a beautiful and environmentally responsible way to present food.  She shares that, “as a watercolor artist, I can appreciate the transparency of glass, and the ‘art’ I create with colorful fruits and veggies.”

What ingredients do you use?
ChopChopGirl’s meal plans are plant-based yet protein rich, and they contain beneficial ratios of lean proteins, veggies and healthy carbs and fats, providing a satisfying variety of foods and snacks each day of the week.

Meals change each week to keep taste buds interested. This system allows one to complete all meals for the week in their own kitchen in one prep session, ready and available in 24 Mason jars for the eating. By using the correct size jar, portion control is ensured, and jars can fit into any place a water bottle is likely to be found: car cup-holders, backpacks and gym bags, even grocery carts and baby strollers.

“Our clients are guaranteed to lose or maintain weight—and even put on muscle if they subscribe to and follow our online plans,” Kimball says. While each individual has different goals, ChopChopGirl meal plans are guaranteed to improve health and vitality.

Where did Kimball get all her meal ideas and health smarts? Kimball admits that her meals and menu plans mostly come “straight out of my head, although I do research new recipes and the latest innovations in nutrition,” she says. Scanning through a typical weekly meal plan starts with a shopping list, surprisingly simple and straightforward, that directs you every step of the way, from to how to wash, slice, marinate, cook, season and layer the food—everything one needs to get meals packed and ready to go in one fell swoop. The same four steps are always used in the kitchen, creating a predictable framework for meal-prep sessions to help the habit stick. “Weekend shopping and chopping lead to weekday vitality,” Kimball says.

How does one get started?
For those who want to learn to meal prep in a casual group setting, a meal prep class can be booked for family or friends (or gym buddies). Kimball also loves giving meal-prep presentations, weight management or body-image consultations, grocery-shopping assistance and kitchen cupboard/fridge makeovers. Her favorite part of healthy meal prep is providing meals for retreats and assisting working women who need extra support with health and fitness.  She is currently accepting a few private corporate clients for whom she hopes to meal prep and train to meet specific health and body goals.

This year, pre-made ChopChopGirl complete meals and even freshly pre-prepped kits will be available for those who wish to create their own customized meals for home or work.

ChopChopGirl meals and meal prep kits will be available at Hello! Bulk Market in their new west-side location on the main floor at Project Open (355 N. 500 West, SLC).

The Loaf: Grain Free Organic Breads and Cookies
To the many individuals who suffer from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and inflammatory issues, gluten spells trouble. At least, it did for Johanna Dasteel, owner and creator of The Loaf, a newly USDA certified organic and grain-free bakery in Murray.

In 2010, after suffering for several years, Dasteel was advised by her doctors to reduce her sugar intake by eliminating grains. In doing so, she noticed a remarkable drop in her symptoms, including migraine headaches, fatigue, acne, low blood sugar and inflammation.

Going grain-free, Dasteel found she missed sandwich-style bread and cookies, so she began getting geeky with her baking. She started playing around with alternative flours such as almond, coconut and non-dairy ingredients, and her work and dedication paid off with delicious results.

From a baking standpoint, gluten is not only a component of the grain, but it is often added to a bread recipe because it lends a desired elasticity to the dough, and chewiness to the bread. Forgoing gluten, Dasteel had to experiment and combine the right ingredients to bring that satisfying chewy bite to her grain-free loaves.

Her first triumph, a sandwich-style bread made from almond flour and coconut fiber, can claim that it is non-GMO, grain-free, dairy-free and gluten-free—made with all paleo-friendly ingredients. Dasteel began sharing her baked goods with friends and family; she reported that even those without gluten or grain issues kept requesting to purchase her baked goods.

Deciding to start a business, Dasteel got some help from the Kickstarter program and opened the Loaf, her own bakery kitchen space. Following her almond bread, Dasteel added to the lineup with other loaves, including a traditional Irish soda and cinnamon raisin bread.

Are you craving a vegan, rich and soft grain-free chocolate chip cookie? You don’t need to sacrifice your sweet tooth going grain-free. The Loaf combines organic ingredients such as almonds, cocoa butter and coconut fiber with dark chocolate chips, real bourbon vanilla extract and unrefined maple syrup and molasses. Warming them up slightly before eating, they become soft and gooey, and paired with a cup of coffee or tea—so good!

You get what you pay for
According to Google, Dasteel notes that there are more than 100,000 internet searches for grain-free bread are made every month, but only a handful of grain-free loaves of bread are hitting the mark, and none are certified organic or non-GMO. Recently, gaining its USDA organic certification, The Loaf claims to be the first and only organic paleo bakery, which is quite an accomplishment. By following rigorous baking standards, including using top-quality natural ingredients, the price points are higher but completely worth it.

Your loaf never touches plastic.
Going considerably beyond the requirements of avoiding ingredients like grains and dairy, the packaging is another huge health consideration for all The Loaf’s baked goods. The term “estrogenic” refers to the hormonal-like effect that can occur when foods are in contact with any (even BPA-free) plastics. To combat this, parchment paper is used to protect baked goods, which lends an almost an ‘old world’ aesthetic and adds an environmental benefit as well. When plastic is considered necessary for freshness, frozen loaves and cookies are wrapped in natural parchment first, to prevent any direct contact, which creates a barrier that keeps plastic from leaching into the food.

The Loaf Bakery
917 E. Vine St., Suite B, Murray

In the freezer section at:
Fairweather Natural Foods, Park City
Liberty Heights Fresh, SLC
The Market, Park City

Food geeks unite, let’s find your tribe.

Foundry of Flavor
When Jared Brockman commuted for work, his after-hour workouts were a prime part of his day. At one of his workouts in Texas, he brought along protein powder in one bottle along with a separate bottle of water. “By the time I blended them and shook it up, it was a warm protein shake,” he says.

He thought about those warm shakes when creating the idea for his own business. “I knew I would love to have something to eat right after my workouts,” he says. Wondering if he could compete with Jamba Juice, “who had been around forever,” he decided to create his own shakes with all healthy ingredients rather than using sorbet, ice cream or sugar. That idea was the beginning of Protein Foundry, a restaurant that Brockman and his wife, Chelsa, opened in Cottonwood Heights in 2016. There are now two other locations in South Jordan and Draper.
“A foundry is a place where people mold and shape things. Once an item is formed, you’ve got to break it away,” says Brockman. This concept inspired the name of “shakeouts,” protein shakes that are the initial listing on the Protein Foundry menu. “Our shakeouts are specifically designed to energize, restore and give you the right attitude for an active lifestyle,” says Brockman. He formulated the first shakeout, called “Elevate” from a blend of unsweetened almond milk, bananas, strawberries, organic peanut butter and chocolate protein. He created “Elevate” three years before opening Protein Foundry, and it remains popular at the restaurant today. It’s a flavorful accompaniment to Protein Foundry’s gourmet toasts. Each of the 10 varieties of shakeouts comes with a heaping scoop of whey protein, for a total of nearly 30 protein grams. Add-ons for shakeouts range from berries to nuts to kale and spinach.

After researching, then blending and trying “a ton of different shakes,” Brockman created the current Protein Foundry menu that consists of shakeouts, acai and pitaya bowls, gourmet toast and Greek yogurt bowls. Both acai and pitaya bowls are blended with a mixture of fresh fruits and veggies for a thick smoothie base that is topped with fresh fruits, nuts and granola. It’s possible to ask for a scoop of vanilla or chocolate protein to up the protein count.

Acai is a grapelike berry found in South American rainforests. Rich in antioxidants, high in fiber and anti-inflammatory, they are considered heart healthy. Among the acai bowls, customer favorites include The Rio, blended from organic acai, strawberries, blueberries, bananas and unsweetened almond milk and topped with organic hemp granola, bananas, strawberries and blueberries and the Chocovado, crafted from organic acai, avocado, strawberries, cacao powder, banana, cacao nibs, strawberries and unsweetened almond milk and topped with organic hemp granola, banana, organic peanut butter and hemp seeds. The Acai Kicker is a popular shakeout with coconut milk, organic acai, banana, organic peanut butter and vanilla protein.

Pitaya, also known as dragon fruit, is grown in Central America and Southeast Asia and known for its refreshing flavor and vibrant pink color, along with its immune-boosting qualities because of its high vitamin C content and antioxidant properties. The Pura Vida featuring a smooth blend of pitaya, strawberries, pineapple, banana and coconut water topped with organic hemp granola, vanilla Greek yogurt, strawberries, raspberries and goji berries, is a popular customer favorite.

“While you don’t have to wear workout clothes to come in, a lot of our customers do stop by after going to the gym or a crossfit class,” Brockman says. “They replenish their bodies before they go home and get ready for the day.”

Protein Foundry
6909 S. 1300 East, Cottonwood Heights

—By Carolyn Campbell

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