Q&A with Founder of Steve’s PaleoGoods

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Steve’s PaleoGoods

Steve’s PaleoGoods

A passion for good food, a healthy lifestyle and community activism inspired Steve Liberati to launch his company, Steve’s PaleoGoods. Steve is the founder of Steve’s Club, a national nonprofit that he started in Camden, NJ to teach disadvantaged youth to grow up valuing fitness and nutrition. Steve’s Club provides teens from tough neighborhoods the opportunity to be involved in fitness and sports instead of gangs and violence. After school, Steve’s Club kids go to CrossFit, where they work out alongside members of their local community and grow stronger – both physically and mentally.

Steve’s now sought-after PaleoKits started as something he created in his own kitchen to make the Paleo diet and “real food” accessible to the kids of Steve’s Club. A portion of proceeds from Steve’s PaleoGoods and PaleoKits benefit the Steve’s Club’s National Program.

We sat down with Steve to learn more about Steve’s Club, his motivations, and the future of Steve’s PaleoGoods.

1.  How did the idea for Steve’s Paleo Goods come to be?

Steve’s Club started in 2007, when I started my first group of at-risk kids on a CrossFit exercise regimen and encouraged them to choose unprocessed foods whenever possible. Many needed to gain strength, most needed to gain confidence, and some needed to lose weight – but they all needed a source of real food they could pack for school. My wife Kristen and I got creative in the kitchen, and the first of my PaleoGoods – the original PaleoKit – was born!

Our PaleoKits didn’t just work perfectly for the kids of Steve’s Club. Before long, they found their way into gym, diaper, computer and carry-on bags of family and friends – and the positive response was overwhelming. Our product was perfect for everyone: athletes striving to improve performance, those following Paleo, Zone™, low-carb and gluten-free diets, kids in need of better nutrition, and those who just love clean food and tasty beef jerky.

We went on to create other PaleoKit varieties, like Coconut and Grass-fed kits. We created PaleoKrunch, our grain-free, gluten-free granola. The PaleoKrunch line has grown to include Pumpkin, Espresso, Cinnamon and Tropical flavors. The PaleoChef line is stacked with healthy dressings and marinades – perfect for salads, meats and vegetables. Every creation is a major “win” for our ultimate purpose: helping you achieve your nutrition and fitness goals while supporting Steve’s Club!

2.  Tell us about some of the flavors. What is the most popular? 

We have over 50 items in our product lineup at www.stevespaleogoods.com ranging from PaleoKrunch (grainless granola), PaleoKits (mix of beef jerky, nut and berries), PaleoChef (line of dressings, marinades and sauces), Dried Fruits and other delicious and healthy paleo snacks and meals to eat on the go. Our most popular flavors include Cinnamon PaleoKrunch cereal, Grassfed PaleoKit, PaleoChef Peach BBQ Sauce and our very popular dried strawberries.

3.  Tell us a little about your background. Have you owned a business before? 

Before starting my Steve’s Club, a 501c3 NJ non-profit, I worked as an exterminator for my father’s pest control business. While working in the crime ridden and drug infested neighborhoods of Camden, NJ I got to meet many of the kids who lived in the section 8 housing complexes that I would visit on a weekly basis. Much to my surprise, I discovered many of the kids had unlimited amount of potential with the necessary ambition to beat the odds, escape their environment and actively pursue their dreams and goals. However, growing up in an environment loitered with drugs, gangs and violence does not make it easy for a kid to become successful. I realized what these kids needed was not a safe place to get away from it all, but positive role models to inspire, coach and provide structure in their life. It was then, Steve’s Club was born. About a year later, I started Steve’s PaleoGoods to help provide healthy snacks for the kids of Steve’s Club and to help fund our club.

4.  Where can readers find the bars?

Readers can find our bars in our online store at www.stevespaleogoods.com or at select Whole Food stores in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Please go to our website to find a list of Whole Food stores we are currently in.

5.  What has been the biggest challenge in launching the company? And biggest reward? 

The biggest challenge in launching Steve’s PaleoGoods was the amount of work involved in building a business from the ground up with no prior experience. Learning the ins and outs of business from marketing to building a website to hiring and managing employees was quite a learning experience in the beginning and continues to be to this day. Every day we are faced with new challenges and surprises that come along with growing a company from small 2 person operation to selling products to thousands of people worldwide.

6.  What is something readers would be surprised to know about you or your business?

Readers would be surprised to know that the first PaleoKit was made in our kitchen. My wife and I would make beef jerky into the late hours of the night when we first started. If anyone has made beef jerky at home, they know how labor intensive it is. First, we would cut up the half frozen meat into thin slices, marinate it overnight and then carefully put on the trays of the dehydrator. We would then add the finished beef jerky to a vacuum sealed bag along with nuts and dried berries.

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Q&A With Founder of RBar Organic

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RBAR

Brian Cornelius / COO / RBar Organic

We all love eating bars on the go – they’re compact, easy, and convenient ways to fill up when there’s not time to stop and eat. But how often do you actually enjoy those bars?

We talked with Brian Cornelius, COO of RBar Organic, and a man on a mission to make food bars that are delicious, healthy and organic. RBar Organic features yummy-sounding flavors like poppy seed and chocolate fudge brownie – all crafted with 7 ingredients or less. Tempted? Read on to learn more.

Q:  How did the idea for R Bar Organic come to be?

We were looking for an organic, delicious option to take on hikes and training rides.  I’m a cyclist and at the time was training three to six hours a day and nutrition was (and is) really important to having a great day.  The road to where we are now wasn’t easy and we blew up a good number of blenders along the way.  But every time I have one of our bars, which is every day, I’m reminded of how very worth it the road has and continues to be.

Q: What makes it different than others on the market. 

The first thing our customers say when they try RBars is that they taste really good.  The bar market has forgotten what food should taste like and that is our first priority; make a delicious tasting product.  Our second priority is to have every product we make USDA certified organic.  We have dried fruits and nuts in our bars, much like other companies out there.  And those dried fruits and nuts were once fresh, grown in a field or orchard and, if they are not certified organic, there is a good chance pesticides are on them.  I don’t want to eat that and I don’t think our customers want to either.  Simplicity is also a significant part of our company.  Every product we make has 7 easily pronounceable ingredients or less, now and in the future.

Additionally, last month we started working with a company called Beacon Group for our labeling and boxing.  Beacon Group provides jobs to people with disabilities and it’s been a lot of fun getting to know these wonderful and hard working people.  I look forward to growing our company with them.

Q: How do you find inspiration for flavors? What is the most popular? 

Inspiration for flavors happens every single day, which means we have a lot of ideas!  We let creativity flow at our company and embrace both our customers’ and employees’ ideas.  Anything and any flavor combination is possible and we’re working toward making some really unique new flavors.  Currently we have six main flavors, Cranberry Cashew, PB & J, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Mint Chocolate, Fig + Almond, and Lemon Poppy Seed.  PB & J is a classic but Lemon Poppy Seed is our most popular.  It actually tastes just like a lemon poppy seed muffin!

Q: Tell us a little about your background. Have you owned a business before? 

I haven’t owned any other businesses before, but I’ve been very lucky to surround myself with seasoned business people, some of whom are now part of RBar Organic.

Q: What is the biggest challenge in owning this business? And biggest reward? 

The biggest challenge of owning this business has been finding a balance between work and still doing and enjoying the things that I did pre-business.  Namely exercise, which if I do make time for I’m always much more efficient and effective in business.  The biggest reward is getting to meet the people involved with the company at every level from the farms we source ingredients from to our customers.  Our business relies so much on the relationships and the trust we build and that process is by far my favorite part.

Q: What is something readers would be surprised to know about you or your business?

Fun fact: I use to be a Cat 1 cyclist and still love training very much.  Athletics are really key to a great day.  Tying into that, our company used to produce bars entirely by hand and in our first three years I hand pressed some 150,000 bars.  Fun!

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RBar Organic

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Chance To Win: Food Fight 5K – Denver

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Food Fight 5K - Denver

Food Fight 5K – Denver

Chance to win: An Entry to the Food Fight 5k In Denver.

 1. Like Catch Carri on Facebook

2. Share this post!

 3. Email carri@catchcarri.com and tell her your favorite way to stay active. (Emails kept private and are used so we can notify the winners).

Do you like to get a little messy? Ever dreamed of being a part of a giant food fight? Then the latest 5K event coming to Denver might be up your alley. Color runs, zombie runs and beer runs are fun and all, but the Food Fight 5K fun run is in a whole new category of wild.

The Food Fight 5k, which bills itself as “the messiest 5K in the US,” is a five-kilometer, untimed race in which thousands of participants basically join together in one great big food fight. At each kilometer, runners are covered from head to toe in different foods, from spaghetti & sauce (yuck!), mashed potatoes (ew), chocolate and flour. But don’t worry, they’re not sending you home covered in slime. The last kilometer ends with the “Human Car Wash” cleaning station. You’ll get clean, cool down and revitalize before the Finish Festival (where you get to actually EAT some food).

Now all that might seem like a GIANT waste of food – but it’s actually quite the opposite.  You’re not going to be throwing real “food” – it’s a mixture of corn starch, water and non-toxic food dye. The Food Fight 5K has a lofty goal of raising more than 7,000 cans of food for a local charity in each city that they visit. The 5K was created by Colorado residents, so it’s only fitting that they kick off their tour in Denver with all proceeds going to Food Bank of the Rockies. The food-themed items that are being tossed at runners are non-toxic and corn starch based.

The Food Fight 5K is scheduled for Saturday, April 19 at Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park (100 Chopper Cir, Denver, CO 80204). Registration is required, click here to sign up!

Food Fight 5K - Denver

Food Fight 5K – Denver

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Denver Runs For Beer In 2014

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Denver runs for beer in 2014

Chance to win an entry to Rocky Mountain Brew Runs!

Easy Entry!

 1. Like Catch Carri on Facebook 

 2. Email carri@catchcarri.com and tell her why you stay fit and which race you would like to be entered to win!  (Emails kept private and are used so we can notify the winners).

 Beer and running just naturally go together. Am I right, or am I right? Lucky for us, Rocky Mountain Brew Runs is giving runners what they have been “thirsting” for for years: combining Colorado’s favorite past times of social running and an ice cold brew.

There are over 70 running clubs in the state and multiple fun runs and competitive races to choose from every weekend of the year.

Colorado is also home to a culture of people who love a good beer.  We host over 20 (and counting beer festivals) across the state and over 140 craft breweries.

Rocky Mountain Brew Runs has partnered with some of the best microbreweries in the state to provide fun, laid back events launching in April 2014.

The events are untimed social fun runs that all start and end at a local front range microbrewery.  Included in the $25 registration fee is a free beer and at select breweries a pint glass or other signature swag, live music and delicious grub from local food trucks.

Rocky Mountain Brew runs will tour 10 microbreweries and runners that register for a “6 pack”  (committing to 6 of the 10 brewery runs) will receive a $20 discount off registration and also a brewery passport to track the breweries they visit and brews they try.

Remember to enter the contest (see details above) for a chance to win

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Denver runs for beer in 2014

Brew Runs

Brew Runs

 

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Epic Bar Q&A – Taylor Collins

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Family EPIC

Epic Bar Q&A – Taylor Collins

 

EPIC Bar - Bison

EPIC Bar – Bison

Do you reach for energy bars when you’re snacking on the go? How about a protein bar before a tough workout?

Pro athlete Taylor Collins and his wife, Katie, always did, until they realized that all that sugar and those highly processed ingredients weren’t really giving them energy – they were draining it!

Determined to create a snack that was truly healthy, energizing, and made with REAL food, they launched Epic Bars. Epic Bars are gluten-free, Paleo friendly, low in sugar and made with 100% grass fed animal based protein. To learn more about the story and the people behind Epic Bars, I chatted with founder Taylor Collins.

How did the idea for Epic Bars come to be? As well as the health benefits. 

The idea for Epic Bars came from a shared desire for a product that didn’t exist yet. Katie and I are big outdoor fanatics and love endurance sports. We have eaten our fare share of sugary bars and gels and eventually couldn’t eat them any longer. It was sugar overload! We both craved something savory, something low in sugar, and most importantly, a product that had whole foods on the ingredient label.

We started imagining what this product would look like, and it was very clear to us that it had to start with an animal-based protein. We wanted to create the ultimate healthy snack, so we decided to use 100% grass fed animals. The nutritional profile of a grass-fed cow is very much superior to a conventional feedlot cow. Grass-fed animals contain 3-5x the amounts of certain vitamins and minerals compared to grain-fed! They are also treated more humanely, and when managed correctly, create a net positive return on the environment. Additionally, with Epic Bars we are tapping into a very ancient source of energy. When you take a step back to reflect, it’s very clear that our human ancestors have evolved consuming diets high in animal protein and fat for over 200,000 years. Only recently have human diets shifted to become high in refined sugars, carbohydrates, and processed protein isolates. Our bodies have evolved to identify and digest animal protein unbelievably well – it’s encoded in our DNA.

We have seen a lot of nutrition bars based with fruits and nuts but this is new territory for many! What challenges have you faced?

The most common challenge comes from people who might not be current on the most up-to-date medical research. Animal meat and animal fat got a bad reputation for a long time and that is still ingrained in popular culture. So, it is sometimes difficult for people to reconsider the outdated medical research that connects saturated animal fats to heart disease and stroke. I think this is slowly shifting, however, and more people are adapting their diets to include more low-carb, whole foods (like the Paleo diet).

The other obvious challenge is for people to comprehend what our product is. People see our wrapper and they think “energy or protein bar.” Before Epic, “energy” bars were only fruit and nuts. So this is obviously difficult for some people to leave their comfort zone and be open minded enough to try.

Our bars are not for everyone, and we tell people that all the time. We think some people thrive on animal protein where others thrive on plant-based material.

Tell us a little about your background. Have you owned a business before?

My background is in rehabilitation. I was a physical therapist interested in nutrition. My partner’s (and wife’s) background was in psychology and women and gender studies. We have always been entrepreneurs, and eight years ago we started a commercial recycling company in Austin, TX. We operated that for 5 years during college. Three years ago, shortly after selling the recycling company we started a whole food, plant-based energy bar company called Thunderbird Energetica. We have always supported each other and shared a mutual passion to make a meaningful and beneficial impact on the world. We are also two of the most competitive athletes you will ever meet. I think that mentality has helped us tremendously as we apply much of the same thought process to running a business.

When did you realize that Epic Bars made it, (so to say?) Did you ever have doubts?

We realized Epic Bars “made it” on the day we launched the product to the public. In truly EPIC fashion, we launched the bars at Natural Products Expo West (the largest natural foods show in the world). Within the first 2 hours of the show, we had signed the 2 largest national accounts in the country! It was amazing! Everyone was talking about it, people’s reactions were incredible, and we walked away with a “NEXT forecast” awarded by New Hope 360 (the organizers of the event). The NEXT forecast was awarded to only a handful of companies that the show organizers felt were doing something truly innovative and category creating.

What is something readers would be surprised to know about you?

One of my favorite things to do in the whole world is to sit around a fire with my wife (business partner) and our chocolate lab after a long hard day at the office. We have a tradition where we howl at the moon for up to 10 minutes. You can feel the stress melt away and our wolf pack bonding. I love it.

EPIC Bar - Bison

EPIC Bar – Bison

EPIC Bar - Turkey

EPIC Bar – Turkey

 

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