Today on The Clean Body Podcast, host Lauren Kelly talks to Ashley Nickelsen, the founder of B.T.R. Bar, about overcoming body shame, improving self-image, understanding ingredients on food labels, and learning to build a relationship of joy with food.
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Um, growing up as an overweight child, I think that, you know, it was probably teased a bit, but, you know, I was, I was bullied a lot. And I was teased so much that. I was bullied a lot as a child, but I always felt self-conscious. I was a competition dancer. I was, you know, I was one of the overweight competition dancers. I always had to have a different size than everyone. So I think as a kid, it always made me feel aware of the fact that there was something different. And then I was like, screw this, I'm taking control of my health. I just took control of it in the wrong way. And no matter, however, small I got, it was never enough. Welcome to the clean body podcast. I'm Lauren Kelly, a certified nutrition therapist, and soon to be specialized holistic cancer coach with a certification in cancer biology from UC Berkeley. I am so grateful that you're here. This podcast introduces you to the souls and brains behind some of the cleanest food beverage and lifestyle products on the market, because what you put on in and around your body matters from cookies, bread, and mushroom superfoods to adaptogenic lozenges, clean medicines, organic mattresses, and fluoride-free toothpaste. We'll explore how the brands came to be how scientific studies drove decisions about ingredients and materials. And most importantly, how the product support all the physical and mental microscopic miracles that occur in your body every minute of every day. Thank you for being here. Let's get this started. Hi everyone. Welcome back for another week of the clean body podcast. I'm your host, Lauren Kelly. And thank you. Thank you. Thank you for being here today. I am talking to Ashley Nicholson, the founder of BTR bars, and we touch on so many topics underneath the wellness umbrella. As many can relate to Ashley's health journey started when she was very young in her childhood, but things really kicked into high gear. After her parents were diagnosed with rare forms of cancer. It was at this point that Ashley went on a real health journey. One that brought her to some, not always healthy corners, which we talk about, but she finally arrived at her version of optimal wellbeing. And it was this very journey that led her to creating BTR bars at company that provides functional super food bars with no harmful ingredients, including natural flavors, which we get into and with a mission to end mindless snacking for good. Now in this episode, Ashley and I discuss our own childhoods growing up and dealing with bullying, which resulted in poor self image and how we overcame health obstacles that have been thrown our ways. It's something I really haven't talked about in previous episodes. And of course we get sciency. Ashley has a master's in food studies. So we break down some of the most common ingredients you probably see on food labels, I'm talking the good, the questionable and the just stay away. The episode is a vulnerable one that touches on a lot and the energy Ashley brings to it is next level. I was so appreciative of everything she gave to the show. Now, before we do get started, I wanted to take a minute to tell you about the synchronicity show. It's a podcast for those who are looking to take their lives to the next level and learn powerful wellness business and life strategies that will help get you there. Each episode is hosted by my friend, Kevin McCarthy, and he deconstructs the lives of world class performers. Those who are at the Zenith of their careers and teases out the habits, routines, and the rituals that are necessary to live a happy, healthy and fulfilling life. The show is basically unlocking your true potential crafted into a recipe for your ears. The synchronicity show is available on all major podcast platforms and complete show notes can be found at Kevin [inaudible] dot com slash podcast. So be sure to check that out. It's something that I If you like this episode as always, please rate, review, subscribe, share it with a friend. It helps out so much. And I so appreciate your ongoing support. And if you want to try BTR bars, which I highly suggest you can use the discount code, clean body for 10% off and free shipping, just go to eat BTR bar.com and use the code at checkout. Okay. Thank you again for listening and let's roll in to the latest episode of the clean body podcast. Ashley, welcome to the clean body podcast. I feel like we are soul sisters already. I am so excited to talk to you. How are you doing today? Uh, thank you so much. Lauren loved that so much. I am so honored to be here and I feel the exact same way. So I've been looking forward to this all week. For people listening, Ashley and I have probably traded maybe five sentences, but it just feels like we've known each other for a lifetime. So this is going to be a good one. I feel like the energy is going to be there, but before we hop into BTR bars, um, which by the way, I used to call them better bars until I like dug on your website and found the acronym for BTR, which I love. And we will explain that soon, but I would love to first start with your story and your journey to health and wellness and starting this company. Yes, absolutely. I, if we had three hours, I could go on and tell you all the details, but I'll give you the, give you the high level. So my health and wellness journey has been very interesting and has definitely been by my family and the people around me. I think that I've always, I was always an active child. Um, but I had always been overweight as a child. And I think that that came from, you know, I come from a very large Italian family. We love food, but I don't think we always ate the healthiest when I was a kid and growing up in New York city, you know, you're so used to like, oh, well let me grab this on the go I'm, you know, I'm have this hustle lifestyle. I feel like even as like a seven-year-old I had a hustle lifestyle and I think that it really, it took me into my early twenties and my, my mom's cancer diagnosis for us to really be like, whoa, what we're putting into our bodies is, is impactful and is meaningful. And I think when, when my mom was diagnosed with cancer and she had been losing weight just unknowingly, she was misdiagnosed for many, for many, many months. And then when she was finally diagnosed with cancer, my, my father and I were like, we were all kind of an overweight family. And we were like really shocked by this because our, everything else in our lifestyle besides the usual stress was, was pretty healthy. And we really took to this and we were like, you know what, let's change the way that we're eating. And I took this probably too intensely, I think at the time, um, you know, my mom and then my dad was diagnosed with cancer. I think that I was really looking to control things. And I think that I took it way to the next level. And I definitely formed some type of disordered eating. I don't know if I would call it an eating disorder, but it was definitely disordered eating where I was like, counting my calories, counting my macros. I also am. I still work out pretty consistently, but I was a former marathon runner. It was, I really wanted to do things that I could control. And I, so I think my, my health and wellness journey has definitely been of a sudden I realized, you know, what we're putting into our bodies has such significant meaning. And I really want to make a change and do something to be healthier. But in my mind I was thinking, okay, well, skinnier must be healthier. And it wasn't. And it was just crazy to see the things that I was consuming, you know, eating 1500 calories a day. I was eating all of these like hundred calorie snack packs. I think they still exist with all of these crappy ingredients and quest bars. And I was personal trainer, like all of these things. And I was like, well, I must be healthy because I lost all this weight. I went from probably 180 pounds to a hundred pounds. So I lost 80 pounds in my journey. And this was all when my parents were, when my mom was sick and it was, it was crazy because everyone was like, oh, you look so great. You're, you know, you're still healthy. You're running five miles a day, but I did not. I still didn't feel good. And the, the other part of that obviously is I was, I was a caretaker. So it was constantly, you know, going between chemo appointments with my mom and dad and doctor's appointments. And we were just, we were constantly eating packaged food. And I, I had this moment where I was like, what am I actually eating? Like it's 150 calories and it's 20 grams of protein. So that looks good. And that's where I really started to dig into, into the labels. And I have a background in biochemistry and this was a little before I started my master's in food studies and nutrition. I was like, this is, let me dive into, what's actually, what's actually on this ingredient panel and what we're eating. And I would see all these things like digestion, digestion resistant, maltodextrin. I'm like, what the hell even is this? And I started to do my own research. The maltodextrin that is on so many ingredient labels. Yeah. It's mind. Blowing. And I've actually, I have an Instagram real that's, that's going to go live today on our Instagram accounts, all about these ingredients, like poly dextrose, ISO Malto oligosaccharides. I can't even pronounce these things. And I have a biochemistry background. You should not need a textbook. You should not need Google when you're reading your ingredient label. And so this was all kind of stirring in the back of my mind and obviously between my own health and wellness journey and my parents, you know, being diagnosed with these rare forms of cancer, all of these things were really sticking. And my parents both unfortunately passed away at three years apart from each other. And it was, I mean, my life is still shook every single day from this, and I'm an only child and it's definitely been this experience where I wanted to fulfill their legacy. And I think back to what I was doing when they were alive. And the last thing I was doing was really making these little bites. So, you know, in the kitchen, I was like, oh, let me let me do something myself that has all these clean ingredients and superfoods and adaptogens and little did. I know that that was going to eventually become BTR bar at the time. These were these, you know, BTR bites and they were plant-based so they have plant-based protein in them. So the recipes have definitely changed since then, but the base is actually quite similar. So, you know, we use nut butters, we don't use any natural flavors. We have a super, super transparent clean label, and we have a reason for why we use every single ingredient. And it's just, it's crazy that this idea kind of came from this, the simple concept in a hospital cafeteria and, you know. Yeah. Crazy, not crazy. It is exactly how it works. If you're open to it, you know, like we get so many things brought into our lives through frankly situations. The fact that your parents had cancer and were sick is. It sucks so much. I'm emotional, just listening to your story, but it is, it brought you to where you're supposed to be. And they were part of that journey. And it's so hard to swallow both of those pills, you know, that you had to lose your parents to find your place in this world. Now it's just too much. Sometimes this universe brings us way too much, but we can handle it supposedly. Supposedly yes it's. And I feel them in every aspect of the company. So I'm pretty spiritual person. I feel very connected to them. And, uh, you know, they they're were my best friends. So, you know, every decision I make for the company, I can feel them. And it also, at the same time, you know, I work for myself. A lot of people are like, oh, you have so much freedom, but I have so much pressure and so much, there's so much at stake here personally, to make them proud and to make sure that I'm doing something and bringing something into the world that needs to be here amongst the tens of thousands of protein bars that already exist in the market. So there's constant pressure every day to, to, to do that and to do that correctly. So yeah, so my, my health and wellness journey, it still fluctuates as well. It's, you know, given the fact that I am, you know, sitting in front of a computer probably 14 hours a day, and you know, now we're starting to do a bunch of business travel and, you know, literally dedicating my life to this. How do I take a step back and also take care of my mental health and my eating? Okay. Like the good thing is that I'm eating BTR bars, but the rest of my day, what does that look like? So the health and wellness journey is still it's, it's a journey. So it's, it's constantly changing and, you know, making sure that I'm being a good role model for the company. And when we start to hire people, am I being a good role model for them? So all of these things I'm thinking about daily, but yeah, that's, that's my journey. I can feel your parents, like in the room with you guiding you like a hundred percent, I can feel their spirit. It was conversation. Like it's amazing what you're doing is amazing. And there are so many things from what you just said that I want to dive into, and I want to first tell you that orthorexia is actually an eating disorder of, um, and it consists of you obsessing about your food. And that is so common. When people shift to a quote, unquote healthy lifestyle, they become over obsessive and they almost create this fear and anxiety with food because it's like, no, no, no, that's so bad. That's going to ruin every, all the hard work I've been doing. And that sends you down a whole other unhealthy lifestyle path. And so, you know, especially for the clean body, the purpose is creating a healthy relationship with food. And if you want ice cream eat the ice cream, but eat real ice cream, don't eat the like sugar alternatives, like eat the ice cream that tastes good to you and enjoy it and be mindful. And so that is 100% a thing. And I'm so glad that you brought it up because I think a lot of people deal with that. Totally. And that's, that's where our mission really comes from as well as, you know, we're on this mission to end mindless snacking, not that mindless snacking, like, you know, happens from time to time, but identifying, why are we snacking? Why are we doing this? Like I remember years ago thinking about, okay, I just ate lunch. So what am I going to eat for my snack? And I have to plan my snack. And then what am I going to eat for dinner? And I was constantly about food and food is fuel. And we want to make sure here at BTR bar that we're, we're taking care of that. We're thinking about everything for you. So you can just enjoy your experience because food also has this, this connection to your soul. And you know, when I, when I still have like a big bowl of pasta, I think about, you know, when I, my childhood and, and taking me back to, you know, being on the table with my grandparents, cooking with ingredients from Italy, and it's, there's just so much connection with food. And we want people to feel that with BTR bar. So it's this where flavor and function intersect. It's not only food is fuel has to be delicious because there are a lot of healthy. I'm putting it in air quotes, but healthier alternatives on the market, but they taste like cardboard. Like I'm not going to eat. I don't want to eat something every day. That is, you know, I used to eat rice cakes and plain, because I was like, oh, I can't have too much peanut butter. So I would eat them plain. And it wasn't an enjoyable experience. So really we're trying to kind of make the best, the best of all worlds here at BTR bar is you get that functionality, get those clean ingredients and that clean label. But you're also getting something that is delicious and inspired by dessert, like flavor itself. Yeah. Don't get me wrong. I love food. I think about food more hours of the day than I probably think about anything else, but it's because it brings me joy. And so I just want to like shout out a caveat to like all of this. If you think about food right now, think about a certain type of food. And if it's bringing you anxiety or fear or stress DMS, because you need to work on your relationship with a healthier place and thinking about food should just bring you joy. I'm specifically thinking about a slice of sourdough bread with grass fed butter. I like to put salt on my bed. And so that is what I'm thinking about. Just a random tangent for everyone listening. That sounds delicious. I buy sourdough bread from a local baker who uses ancient fermentation processes. I love just saying that term local sourdough is where it's at. So if you don't have some, you should definitely look into finding a local baker, but before we dive even deeper into BTR bars, which there's a lot to dig into there, I want to talk about this idea of self image and body shame, because as you were telling your story, I realized I haven't spoken about that in any episodes. And that experience of self image and having an unhealthy self image creates so much stress that it doesn't matter if you're eating all the healthy foods in the world and working out every single day, your cortisol levels are through the roof and creating inflammation in your body and preventing you from having the cleanest body that you want. So talk to me a little bit and I'll share my story too, and we can just be vulnerable and sisters in this journey. But talk to me about your self image. Oh, wow. So that's also a rollercoaster, but I have to say confidently now that when I look in the mirror, I am 100% happy in w with, with my image personally, professionally, spiritually. And, but it took time to get there. So it is, yes, I'm in my early thirties, it took time. I think growing up as an overweight child, I think that, you know, it was probably teased a bit, but, you know, I was, I was bullied a lot. And I was. Bullied a lot as a child, but more because of my I'm a nerd and I love it. I love learning. I love, you know, I was the kid in third grade that was, you know, read a book at lunch and recess, and everybody would make fun of me for that. But I was never really teased for my weight, but I always felt self-conscious. I was a competition dancer. I was, you know why I was one of the overweight competition dancers. I always had to have a different size than everyone. So I think as a kid, it always made me feel, I would say less than like, I was a pretty confident kid, but it made me feel aware of the fact that there was something different. And then, you know, when all of this happened with my parents, I was like, screw this. I am taking control of my health. I just took control of it in the wrong way. And no matter the however small I got, it was never enough. It's like, okay, I'm 120 pounds. I can be smaller. I can be healthier. I can be eating cleaner, but I wasn't. Mad. I remember those days of having like a number and no reason behind the number, I just wanted to hit that number. And it didn't, there was like no validity to it, but I was like, one 10. I'll be so happy when I'm one 10. Yup. What is that? I don't know. I had the exact same thing. It was super anticlimactic. And then it was actually, and then it got a little scary because I actually went under a hundred and I was, I, that was like my goal. I was like, well, I'm five feet. So I want to be under a hundred because that's technically what the BMI says is like still healthy. I know, but I started to, like, I had no energy levels. I was losing my hair. I was, I was going in the opposite direction of where I wanted to be, but I needed to be in control of something. And I saw my mom losing all this weight. I was like, I'm in this journey with her. It was this weird, really like screwed up thing going on in my mind. And finally it actually, it took me before I started BTR bar. Um, I took a job at a supplement company and I was the first hire at this supplement company. And it was such an awesome experience to be able to bring products to market that you believe in, you know, our philosophy was food is medicine and it was great experience, but I had to travel and this was my first time being like, oh my God, I can't meal prep. I can't bring my food scale everywhere with me. And I remember this one trip to LA and stepping foot and Erewhon market and being like, wow, this is what the Mecca, the Mecca of food. This is what healthy is. And I remember having this, like gluten-free vegan chocolate chip cookie and being like, this is like the best thing I have ever eaten. And, but it has no caloric value. What am I going to do? How am I going to log this? And then I said, screw it. And I remember this moment and I gained, I think if teen pounds in like a week, and I've been the same weight since I think I don't even weigh myself anymore, but I think I've been the same weight since then, but it was this eye-opener that I lost all this week. And then I gained, you know, a good 15, probably 15 to 20 pounds in like happiness of happiness, 20 pounds of happiness. And then all of a sudden, it just, the, the label started to melt away and now it was focused on like, what am I putting in my body to fuel me? How am I, you know, like what are these ingredients? And then I started looking in the mirror being like, oh, my, my hair is growing back. It looks fuller. It looks more vibrant. Like my face doesn't look amazing. It, it started to be as opposed to like, how can I get smaller? It's like, oh, wow. Like now I have a booty, like, it's all, it was stuff that felt right. And I think that like, just intuitively I, you know, I just started to have this more, more confidence even though the number on the scale went up. So it's, and it's so interesting that it coincided with, you know, my parents' diagnoses and you know, my parents passing away and trying to like grab straws to control things. And, and then I, and then I just, I let it go. I let it go. And I just started enjoying the food that I was eating and, you know, trying to eat as natural and clean as possible, but not focused on the caloric value. And the macro is, and it was, I mean, I opening, it's just, now I look at food and I'm like, oh, this is a, this is a bowl of gluten-free pasta. Like, I, I like to eat gluten-free because it's, I have some stomach issues and whatnot. It makes me feel good, but like, I'm eating pasta. Like I'm eating it if I want it. And it's, it's been a crazy journey, but I'm grateful for where I am. Yeah. Embrace that booty, your husband loves it, embrace it. And yeah, I mean, I feel so much of your story. Thank you so much for sharing that and being so vulnerable with it. But, you know, shame can come in all forms. And so as a kid, I also did dance, where was strangely aligned in all life things in life. Um, but my shame came, you know, oddly from my hair, it was not my way. I was completely, you know, the same size as everyone else, but my hair is, has a life of its own. This morning. I woke up, I went in into the pool last night. And so I slept on wet hair and it was defying gravity. Like my hair is the curliest thing you've ever seen in life. And I was bullied and shamed. My nicknames were vacuum and Furby and all kinds of things. And that created so much shame and just my physical appearance overall. So if you don't identify with being overweight there, but you had bullying in your life, like it all comes back to the same root and the same problem of obsessing about your physical image. And I, you know, I think the twenties are the hardest decade. You are becoming an adult. You're learning what life is about. You're trying to take ownership of your life. And it's really hard figuring things out. And that was my journey as well during the twenties, I have to say, I loved Erewhon if I could work at Erewhon every day. Like that is, yeah, it's a beautiful place. Um, so if you live in LA, check it out. Um, but 100% learning how to, there are two things I do now for my health and it it's kind of visualization. And I say certain terms all the time. One is my goal is to have my organs look like they're 40 when I'm 80, I love it. And so what does that look like? What am I putting in my body? And the other is this idea of yin and yang. I recently read a book and it talked about yin and yang and yin is calm and yang is fire. And they're foods that create that heat and that fire in your body, which you need a little bit of, but you also really need the calm. And so whenever I approach a meal, I don't think about how many calories or how many macros or whatever I think about how is this going to make me feel, am I going to be putting in or yang? Or is there an even balance between the two and how do I want to feel? And that's all this is about, it's creating happiness, you know, with yourself and your life and your food, because food should be happy. I love that. And I love that thinking about what what's gonna make your body feel happy. What's gonna make your body feel good after, after eating it. And you know, there is, even though our bars have no added sugar and it is a non-negotiable for me, I did not want any sugar in these bars. That doesn't mean that I don't, you know, eat a cookie from time to time. Like when I want dessert, I'm eating dessert, but I wanted to bring something to market that I felt comfortable eating every day, multiple times a day. And I think that that's the, that's the difference is we're really trying to bring this concept of mindfulness to, to the market where, you know, in the protein bar space, it's like, you know, yes, the bars are 150 to 170 calories. Like people do like the fact that they're, you know, a good snack size, but that's not, I wasn't saying like, oh, they have to be 150 calories. I just need a snack size protein bar. I really want people to be thinking about these ingredients, have a purpose. That's why they're in here. And that's why they're going to help me crush my day better. Yeah. I mean, it's all I'm aligned with all of it. I want to start mining your brain for science background. So that's the journey I want to take. Now I can next in this conversation. Talk to me about some of the realizations and specifically some of the shocking information you learned when you were going through your master's program. Oh my goodness. When we started, do we have three hours for the can we can do that. Good. Everything from supply chain to the actual processing of, of product. I think that the thing for me and I learned the most probably on the job and in internships. And I think that's probably where I learned the most in a textbook. It's a little bit harder and you feel a little bit more detached, but when you're actually making a product and even working in the supplement industry. So several years in the supplement industry, I was very proud of my supplement company that I worked at, but supplements are not regulated. And the difference between supplements and now creating a food brand is like night and day with supplements. I'm literally putting a powder in a container and it's like, okay, we'll send it to a lab as opposed to the co-packer that we work with in, in, in here in California, because we do everything in California and try to keep everything as domestic as possible. It's unbelievable. I mean, the FDA audits, the USDA organic audits, the, you know, well, we have to shut the line down because someone's coming in and we have to take a look at this and we're doing this and it just constant regulation and the tens of tests and pesticide verification, pesticide free verification. It's just unbelievable. And I love it because in supplements, I, I just don't know. I just, you just don't know. And you only know when something hits the news, like the, this whole scam with sun aerosol, sunscreens and carcinogens, like you only know when something bad happens, whereas in food there's so much, that's being taken to be proactive to make sure that all of the, the product that you're consuming is, is the best and the best quality. So to me, the biggest thing is why do we have natural flavors in our food? I just like when you go to a high-end restaurant, you're not going to have natural flavor is in your, you know, incredible pasta dish that you're eating. Like why is there natural cheese flavor? And you know, the more that I did some digging, so in, in my master's program, as well as creating, creating these bars, we are one of the only bars on the market to not use that. You're the only bar I found on the market. They exist. But it's, but once again, it's really, really hard to do. And I think the reason why ours are still so delicious. Well, the reason I, the reason I know why we're still delicious is because and nut butters do not need, they speak for themselves. They do not need natural flavors. Even though some nut butters do have natural flavors, nut butter is just so delicious. It gives it that cookie dough texture, but the aspect of natural flavors, mind boggles need like artificial flavoring. You know what you're, you kind of know what you're getting, because it says the word artificial natural, and the amount of people that come to me every day that are like, why do you keep bragging about the fact that there are no natural flavors? And I put natural in air quotes all the time. And like, this is why it's, it's not even the fact that some not the flavors probably are pretty close to, you know, a plant or an animal extract. But the fact that they're not transparent, they don't have to label like, no, even if they're even if natural flavors is the first ingredient in a product and it probably wouldn't be because it's not going to be that much in volume, you would not have to say what's in the natural flavor. Same thing goes with like chocolate chips, right? You don't actually, that's why we say 100% cacao, chocolate chips. A lot of companies leave that out. And you don't realize that you're getting soy lecithin, you're getting maltodextrin or an emulsifier in your So for us, transparency is the most important thing on the label, right? Like what what's actually in the label. And are you telling people what's in it, especially if you have gluten, if you're gluten free, if you're eating vegan, like natural flavors encompasses 50 to a hundred different chemicals and solvents that you have no idea what they are. And a lot of the natural flavors from flavor houses do happen to have maltodextrin, which can be from corn or, you know, something that has GMOs and you don't even know. It's just, that's the thing. That's like the craziest aspect to me. And as you interview flavor houses, there's all these labor houses. They're like, oh, well, we can't tell you it's a proprietary recipe. And I'm like, that means that you have, you don't either know what it is in the actual natural flavor, or you don't want to disclose that because something's a little sketchy there. So for us, that was a non-negotiable. And because of that, it impacts our recipe testing. It takes us longer to bring products to market. There are certain types of products we can't bring to market like a birthday flavor bar. People are like, oh, when you have your anniversary, like your one-year anniversary, are you gonna bring a birthday flavor bar to market? Like, no, we, I mean, we could probably make sprinkles. Is. There even an association of flavor with birthday cake? Because if you think about it, there are so many flavors of birthday cakes out there. Like I know the exact flavor you're talking about when you say birthday cake, and that's crazy, like the fact that our brains have an association with the flavor of birthday cake, are we talking chocolate, we're talking vanilla red velvet. Like, how did we become so associated with the flavor of birthday cake? It's crazy. That's such a good point. And it's the recipe recommendations. We get an always have to be very honest and transparent with our community. Like we don't use natural flavors and here's why, and, and they love it. Like as, as long as I'm doing the education and sometimes I get caught up running the business. Right. I forget, like I have all these posts scheduled to go out in the next couple of weeks about coming back to the educational aspect of the business while still making it fun. Because I don't think like I'm an, you know, my, my, my first master's was in an education, I'm an educator at heart, but also I don't want to be like, lecture-y right. Or teachy when it comes to this, you know, I want people to feel excited about eating something that doesn't have natural flavors because now they know what's in them. I don't want people to be like, oh, I ate something with natural flavors yesterday. I, you know, is that bad? Like, no, like, I just want you to be aware of what's going on. And now there's an alternative and an option that still is delicious, that doesn't have natural flavors. So that's kind of where I'm coming from really. Hard. First of all, I really want you to next time someone asks, if you're putting out a birthday cake flavor, I just want you to be like, I have it. It's called chocolate, like chocolate cake. Have you ever had it? Here's my chocolate bar. But you know, it is really hard. I've talked to brands that have natural flavors in their products. And am I a fan of natural flavors? No, I'm not. Unfortunately the food industry has come a really long way in the last 10 years, but natural flavors is like the next hurdle to get over. And so there are some good brands that unfortunately still have natural flavors and they're in their ingredient label. And like you said, it's not the end of the world. If all the other ingredients are whole ingredients, you're getting fiber. You know, you're getting what you need to feel. Your body natural flavors is not going to kill you. But the more often you can avoid natural flavors the better. So like on Instagram last night, I was messaging with a friend who has a baby and she was sending me food labels. And she was like, it only has four ingredients and it was, um, whole milk. It was a yogurt, it was whole milk, sugar had 27 grams of sugar and natural flavors. And I was in something else. And I think it had like tumeric for color, which is great. At least it's not artificial coloring. However, I was like, it's not four ingredients. Natural flavors can have up to 500 ingredients. So add 500 to that. So their marketing of four ingredients only now it could be 504 ingredients only because you have natural flavors in there. The natural flavors that, wasn't the biggest thing for me, the 27 grams of sugar and one cup of yogurt. I was like, that's a killer. Your children's gut is going to be screaming as soon as you feed it food. But, you know, so I don't want to create fear as we've discussed in this podcast around natural flavors. But if you can find products that are not using natural flavors, 100% support those brands instead. Thank you, Lauren. And that, like, that makes total sense. And that's where I'm coming from a, a market. So I'm a marketer and I'm a digital storyteller. Like that's really my bread and butter in, in food and beverage. And that's, that's where I feel the most comfortable because I can educate and talk to people, but it's really finding this happy balance because I don't want to be that person because I've had the journey right. Of like, this is good and this is bad and you have to stay away from this. And I don't want that to be the case. I just want people to feel really good when they're choosing something. That's actually going to do something in their bodies. So where I'm always trying to find that balance every day. Like I, I put a beam out a couple of days ago with, um, I love my Schitt's Creek names. You should see the best shows, love it. It's all about like, how would Maura feel if she was eating a protein bar with 20 grams of fat? Okay. I loved it because I was like, this is, this is funny, but it's, it's true. But I don't want someone to look at this and say like, oh my goodness, is it bad that I need something with 20 grams of sugar? No, like, it's just be aware of that. And then also if you're eating a protein bar and some people eat bars, two, three times a day, you're, you may be ingesting 60 grams of added sugar from something that's supposed to be doing something better in your body and it's actually causing you to crash. So really just, we're always trying to just bring out this, this mindfulness, like if you're going to eat a cookie own it, get excited. I'm having my cookie with 20 grams of sugar. That's great. And you know, I might feel a little crappy afterwards, but why eat something that's positioned as healthy in the market when it actually has 20 grams of sugar? Like you were saying, this yogurt company, that's like, oh, we're only four ingredients, but then it's got almost 30 grams of added sugar, which is pretty cool. I don't even know how milk was their first ingredient on the label. I was like with 30 grams of sugar, sugar is your first ingredient. It's crazy. It's absolutely insane. Totally. I do want to go backwards a little bit in this conversation. Everything you're saying is such like a gold mine. And I have like four thoughts pop in my head that I want to bring it up, but you're so right about the supplement industry. Anyone can make a pill and make a claim on a box and put it out there. And that's why it says it's not verified by the FDA, which I also need to shout out that there are so many ingredients that get put in food that not all ingredients have been approved by the FDA. So all of those like chemical names that you see on boxes that are quote unquote safe, not all of them have been tested or approved by the FDA because there's not enough time in the day or year to go through all the ingredients that we put in our food, which European countries don't even allow them in their flights. Exactly. And that's how we take it. You know, we take a stand as well. You know, there are certain, certain ingredients that there's just not enough data on like alkalosis. One of them do not use valueless. It's just, there's just not enough data on it. For me. I believe it's still banned in Canada or in some European countries, like anything that there is a band, but it's grass verified. So generally recognized as safe in the U S like anything that has the word general next to it. Why are we doing this? Like, you can make protein bars and snacks with nut butters, with pea protein, with hemp protein that are delicious and are grown here and absolutely amazing. And, you know, have healthy fats and good fiber. So I'm just I'm I get confused. But then I remember that to make our protein bars it's expensive. So that's why people use natural flavor is because vanilla extract is four times as much as using natural vanilla flavor. So I'm like, wait a second. Why doesn't everyone do this with all of their products? And then I'm like, oh, the cough. Yeah. I'll you, Los is 100%. One of those super difficult ingredients. I have so many friends texts me every single day food labels and be like, is this good? Is this good? And ILAs, I'm always like, dude, just eat sugar. Because if you're your body has evolved, understanding what, you know, organic real sugar is your body doesn't know what [inaudible] is. So is it harming you? I don't know. I can't, you know, I'm, I can't begin to tell you what's happening in your body when you consume all you lows, but you don't need to, you know, it doesn't have to be something that you put into your mouth. And so I'd rather you pick up a bar that just says sugar or organic cane sugar or maple syrup or honey, or, you know, all of the natural forms of sugar that are out there on the market. Just play it safe. It's yeah. When there's just not enough research. And now there's more and more research coming out about sugar alcohols. And I'm so happy about that because I used to consume a lot of sugar alcohols and then it was like, wait a second. Why do I like have a stomach ache all the time? And it's from earth. Natal is probably the best sugar alcohol, because it doesn't impact as many people gut wise, but there is some major processing done to create a sugar alcohol, because you're literally like removing some of the compounds and then, you know, dumping it in, in some type of process process and then adding it to your bar. So it, it's really interesting. And I'm happy that there's more and more companies that are really trying to switch out this like, oh, I, you know, there's a lot of companies that used to use maltitol and they still are like, some of the name brands still use maltitol and I'm like, how is this possible? Maltitol, it's a sugar alcohol. So it's just, it's not used as commonly anymore. So many alcohols, they can't keep up. It's just crazy. I mean, arithroid hall is definitely still the number one w one you see in like these keto bars. And that was the thing. Like, it is just really hard to create, even though there's millions of protein bars out there, it is hard to create a protein bar and a snack that is, you know, low in sugar. That's also going to taste good that doesn't have natural flavors. It is so challenging. And every time I go to my co-packer and I work with a really great food scientist, I have a food science background and we have a personal chef and then our whole team of master herbalist and registered dieticians that approve our label before we go to market. It's I mean, there's just so many criteria that we need to hit. My co-packer is like, Ashley, how are we going to get this done? I'm like, we gotta do it. Like this has to happen. These are my non-negotiables we have. And it's also what makes us different and special. Otherwise we're like everyone else in a sea of the same. So I can talk about everyone. At the end. I want to thank you. Thank you so much for taking seriously, that challenge on, because it is a fricking challenge. And, you know, I had in the questions that I sent you this, how does BTR bars compare it to Quito? Because, oh dear God, the keto industry right now it's blowing up and keto means healthy, right? No keto does not mean healthy. Um, and before we go into that, I want Stephanie things I want to talk about. I want to first ask you a super random question. So I drink this brand. I actually have it sitting right here. It's called golden thread, gold, gold thread. I love go through it. I love it so much on their label. They have naturally occurring earth for tall. Is that a thing? Can you naturally occur earth or hall? That's a great question. No, I don't know. Maybe it's from a more natural source. I actually don't know. I've never heard of that before. Yeah. Yeah. Super random question. I just figured, since you have a food science background, I would throw that at you because I'm always like, it does it, it has zero grim sugar. Um, and it has Monkfruit extract, which, you know, Monkfruit is another, yeah. I mean, Monkfruit is way better than all of the sugar alcohols out there actually let's dig into Monkfruit. What is monk fruit? Yeah. So, and because I love talking about Monkfruit cause I think it gets lumped in the same group as Stevia and it's not, and there's nothing technically wrong with Stevia. It depends on where you source it from. So Monkfruit literally is a plant. So it's also referenced on the label as Lou hen go. So, cause it's it, all of the, a lot of ingredients and a lot of amazing adaptogens and superfoods come out of Asia because there've been, they've been used in Eastern herbal medicine forever and Monkfruit is one of them. So Monkfruit actually has some ties to like anti-inflammatory impact and whatnot. And so there's actually some really good benefits to monk fruit, but it also can serve as a natural sweetener. But all you have to do is extract it from the plant, which is the same technically as Stevia, but there are some types of Stevia plants that have like, you have to get pure Stevia and same thing with Monkfruit Monkfruit in the, in the grocery store, you might see a monk fruit, that's combined with a Rutherford hall or combined with Stevia and they blend them together. So you get basically a mouthfeel that's very similar to sugar for us. We use pure Monkfruit so you possibly can taste it. However, if you are sensitive, we tell people that, you know, like they're like, oh, I'm a super taster. I'm super sensitive to CBI. And Monkfruit like, we had the, literally the last ingredient. We have a touch of Monkfruit fruit in there. If you can taste it and you don't like it. And it seems like a little bit better to the tongue, let us know. We're happy to issue your refund. We really want to make sure that we're communicating and being as super transparent as possible with our customers. So Monkfruit is 100% the most natural form of a sweetener without having to add added sugar. And that was the thing that I was looking for. Like, you know, in the future, we'll, especially as we expand in the future of BTR bar, I know that was one of your questions at the end, like the future of BTR bar, we were expanding more into snacks, right? So we'll probably become BTR. And there is, you know, bars are the first thing. And the reason I went into bars is because I was such a bar lover and it needed to be cleaning up. I was like, okay, this, this space, even though there's millions of them out there, it needs to be cleaned up, but we'll definitely situate ourselves more in the snack space. I'd want it to stay at far away from supplements. A lot of bar companies decided like I'm going to make a shake and I'm going to do it. That's great. And dandy. We wanted to, we love food. So I wanted to be in the food and snacks phase forever. We'll we have maybe one or two grams of added sugar. If we do a cookie or if we do a brownie, absolutely. Like, you know, we're going to do coconut sugar. Like I already have it all planned in the back of my mind, but right now you can easily use Monkfruit and have no added sugar and make it the last ingredient. And the ingredients that shine through is not better. Okay. So question for you. When you look at ingredient labels, what sugar ingredients get your thumbs up? I think it also depends on where it, where it lies on the ingredient panel. Like there are some bars out there, some major brands, and I love the fact that they're using, they have a cleaner ingredient profile. They do have brown rice syrup. That is a, probably a down thumbs down for me, not the biggest fan because it is highly processed, but the rest of the ingredient panel looks good. So that's, you know, that's a good thing. But when it's the first ingredient I know by volume brown rice syrup is heavy, right? So that's why it's at the beginning of an ingredient panel typically. But to me that's a little much, I just think that's something that's a 50 gram bar. It's a bar. Like, I mean, if I'm going to eat 20 grams of sugar, I'm going to eat a cookie. Like I'm not going to eat a protein bar. So for me, brown rice era probably gets a down, um, honey maple syrup. Um, I'm not the biggest fan of cane sugar depends though. Like if it's an organic cane sugar that's okay too. I think I really, I really look for a Monkfruit because that, to me, it's like, it's, you're getting that zero grams of added sugar, typically with a monk fruit. And as long as they explain that there's no CDs, there's no earth, we're tall, then we're good. Um, what's some other, oh, and I love organic coconut sugar. That's probably my, my sugar of choice because coconut also has that nice sweet taste on its own. So you don't, it doesn't actually taste like sugar and it's not coining, but it's also super, super clean. And just making sure that it's sourced from a reliable, sustainable source. Sometimes you'll see like Palm sugar and Palm gets a bad rep because of how it's sourced in the body. It has certain impacts, but it's, it's typically because Palm Palm oil and Palm sugar usually get a bad rap because of its sourcing. So as long as you're being open and transparent about where you're sourcing from, I think that's important for any company that's using like a Palm sugar or, but for me, organic coconut sugar gets a thumbs up. Um, honey, depending on how much is in there and maple syrup, same thing. One of the new syrups that I'm seeing, which is really interesting. I'm curious what your take is on it is date syrup because dates are healthy. Like if I see something with days, I have a date almond butter that I love, but it's whole dates now there's dates syrup. So you've got to think about how processed that is in order to get a syrup made from dates. But what is your opinion? You know, you don't even have to come from a scientific perspective on date syrup. Actually. I liked, I liked the syrup. I think from my research, it looks like it's minimally processed and it's cause dates. The great thing about them is you can grind them into a paste. You can, which I liked date paste better than date syrup, but there's probably, I mean, usually it's just, it's a heating process. So then the question is how effective are the dates? That's the only question, but I get it right? Like you need some type of sweetness and date. I would, I would choose date syrup, even over maple syrup and over honey problem. So that's, I'm a big fan and where I'm trying to experiment with like a date paste and a date syrup as well. So I'm a big fan of it. Great news, everyone listening, food scientists I've proved date syrup. That's very exciting. I had no idea what my opinion was on that, but you bring up such a valid point that you can absolutely pound that into a paste. And for people listening, when you heat things, it does end up killing some of the nutrients and the the whole food. So what, you know, temperature that heating that to, in order to get the date syrup, but that's really exciting that it is a safer syrup because I am seeing that in more products. Yeah. I'm excited about it. And I think once again, it also depends on like what's in it because a lot of times there will be additives to the date. Well, I don't want to say a lot of times I have not been seeing too many dates, Arabs with additives, but I'm sure they're going to come to market. It's gotta be specific. Dates are up in a tough. Exactly. I'm sure that's going to happen because the human taste buds are, we're, we're trained for this. Like we it's, the food industry over decades has trained us that pop tarts. That's what everything should be tasting like, and it's, it's just mind blowing. And the good news is that our cinnamon cookie dough bar does actually taste like a brown sugar cinnamon pop tart to some people. Some people have shared that. Um, which is really exciting, but it's, it's crazy that like that's what the taste buds gravitate towards. So I think that people who really are like excited about BTR bars, there are ready. They've already trained their taste buds to realize that like they're not eating 50 to a hundred grams of added sugar a day. Some people like I use this example all the time, my mother-in-law who does not eat healthy whatsoever, like literally eats like Reese's peanut butter cups. For breakfast. I'm not so hard for you. Like, I love my in-laws, but sometimes I'm like, please stop. You're hurting me. You're hurting me because I have to watch you put this food in here. I know. And she's like, Ashley, I don't care. I'm 75 years old. I do not care. I'm like, okay, I get it. And my husband super clean, super healthy, super ripped, like worked out his whole life was a gymnast. So he totally gets what we're doing and super supportive. But my mother-in-law loves the bar. She's like, oh, well it tastes like peanut butter out of the jar. And I'm like, yes. So if we can kind of cross this back, like our target consumer really are these people who are like us that, you know, love eating clean. And then, you know, from time to time, we'll, you know, enjoy and savor food to it's, you know, to its fullest. But then folks that might not be, you know, have the super cleanest, but they're like, oh, this still tastes good. That's if I, if I can do that and we're able to get BTR bars, a little more mainstream that then my, my deed has been done and I have fulfilled my parents. I can see and been able to, you know, bring BTR bars to the masses. Absolutely. That's a beautiful thing. And I've said this in other episodes, but people need to realize also when they start eating quote unquote healthier, um, they often the association is, well, food will just never taste as good as it once did because I have to eat healthier. What you need to know is that those foods like pop tarts, that we've come to associate good taste with it's on purpose, those scientists and those labs wearing those white coats are putting certain ingredients in our food to manipulate our brains into wanting that taste. Exactly. To wanting more and more of the sugar, the sugar, salt, fat Trifacta. Yeah. But it doesn't have to stay that way. Maybe transitioning over, unless you're eating BTR bars, you won't get the same satisfaction. It will not last. It takes, you know, 20 days to form a new habit, 60 days to be that habit 200 days to own that habit. I don't even know how many days it is, but once you transition over your brain will also change with you and you will want to go back. It's just a commitment to your body and your organs. So your organs can look forward to you when you're 80. Yes. Um, before we move on, there was one ingredient that you mentioned that is in so many things. And because of your background, I just kind of want your information on it is soy, um, soy, lecithin. I always get tripped up saying that one, but what is, what's the background information on the ingredient? Because it's on every packaged label. Yeah. It's a struggle. It's a struggle bus ingredient. And even we have a challenge not using lecithin. So lecithin is an emulsifier and it is actually, you know, it's a fatty acid, so it's actually not necessarily, it's not bad for the body, like the body needs it. So the only issue is there. So there's two types of lecithin, typically soy lecithin and sunflower lecithin, and most snacks and bars and yogurts use sunflower lecithin. And we're even, we do not at the moment, although it is so challenging not to because as an emulsifier, it keeps everything together. Nice and tight. So the purpose of it is, you know, when you get a BTR bar, there might be a little bit of oil separation because we're using almond butter, we're using cashew butter. So we're using these natural nut butter. Is that in a jar, the oil rises to the top on a bar. The oil might come off on a rapper a bit. So using a lecithin makes it, so you get your bar and there's no oil. And the Rapper's all nice and clean and everything. And we're, I didn't care about that. I was like, I would rather not use lecithin at the moment. That's a wrapper. It's fine. Right. So, but over time, like shelf life, right? It keeps the whole thing nice and stable and intact. So it is definitely a challenging ingredient to not use the soy aspect of it is extremely it's processed. A lot of soy lecithin might be GMO and might be modified. There are like sunflower lecithin that are actually pretty good that are organic and they're non-GMO and they state that on the ingredient label. So I guess I give that a thumbs up. I think it's so hard because if you're going to eat packaged foods, like there's something and we all do, right. There's something in there that might be an ingredient that your link. I don't, I don't know. I don't know what this is. And that's why it would BTR bar. If someone like I never even called it less often before even studying food science, I was like, oh, it's sunflower electric. Yeah. My brain wants to say lectin. And my, my other side of my brain is like, that's not how you pronounce it. That's, that's how I was for so many years too. I'm like, if you can't, if we can't pronounce it, then I just don't want it on the label. That's kind of how I feel. But I do have conversations with my food scientists every day and they're like, Ashley, it's, it's fine. And it, and it is, it's just the fact that there is a high there's there's processing there and there's processing even with sunflower lecithin, it just much more minimal, but that's, that's the challenge. And I think that for, so I just, in general, whenever we see someone on a label, I think we just have to be aware. I mean, soy isn't everything, especially like all of these Ultimates that we're bringing to market, that people are like, these are so great. They're amazing. And I eat primarily plant-based and I'm just like, but the first ingredient is soy and it's not even non GMO soy. So like what, what are we doing? Like, is this actually good by going ultimately, you know, just because we're not eating grass fed beef, but now we're eating this like super processed. So like, is it good? The food and beverage industry is so confusing even for the time. So I think that when we see soy on the label, especially as women, we just have to make sure that we know that soy can have an impact on certain things. Tell us why hormones, estrogen levels. And one of my really good friends here in San Francisco, um, is a breast cancer survivor. And my grandmother had breast cancer. My mom had a leiomyosarcoma, we've got my great-grandmother had ovarian cancer. So we've got a lot of like female cancers in my family. I stay away from swipe. Is there a ton of research out there that says that soy directly links to this? Not that I can see, but there's enough. There's enough research that shows that soy might have some indirect impacts on estrogen levels. And for me, I'm just like, not about that. I would rather eat. I would rather, even though I'm plant-based, I would rather eat a cage free eggs than eat something with sway. So I think that, that when we see soy lecithin on a label, we, we definitely have to think glance and be like, do I really do I really want that? So I lasted then in there, I think as a packaged food, it's really tough unless you're eating BTR bars to get something without sunflower lecithin. So I think that we can take that with a grain of salt and know like, okay, it's less than it's a little bit processed, but this Um, but with soy lecithin, I would take like a double double-take on that because the reason they're using soy and not sunflower is because it's way cheaper than sunflower. And I think that when you're, if you're going to use something that's processed, you want to try to get that organic non GMO as much as possible. That is so great. I could literally talk to you and just dig around in your brain for hours. And I, you know, I remember learning about soy. It's something I've always stayed away from generally because especially a lot of the soy products, the soy that is used in America, it's not like a great quality soy. You know, we, you almost need to be shipping your products from like Japan or somewhere else to get a great quality soy or someone who's making it locally. There's someone in Arizona that makes hers locally. And I trust that because I can talk to her about how she's making it. But you know, this plant based movement is such a big thing right now. I was fully ready by the way, to transition into talking about ingredients you have in your bar, and you just like bring up all these things that I have to so much. Fun. I love it. I could talk for hours. Tell me to tell me to be quiet when, when you need me to no, no, no, I'm. Loving all of this, but so, you know, I just want to dig into soil a little bit more. Our friend messaged me yesterday and asked me my opinion on these predictions, these food predictions for the next 10 years. And they say in 10 years, you know, 50% of our food will be plant-based and made in labs and blah, blah, blah. Yep. I'm not a fan of it. You know, I understand that we have billions of people to feed and that is really difficult and it's hard on our soil and it's hard on the planet and it's creating this really toxic ecosystem and we need to find better ways. However, my trade off is not having our food primarily made in a lab with chemicals because while we may be saving the planet, everyone's bodies will have our chronic condition. Pandemic is already skyrocketing, and it's going to just take off, like, I feel like the plant-based food industry is what the low fat, low sugar, low calorie industry was in the eighties and nineties that we've now learned is really detrimental to our bodies. And so everyone is backing this plant-based food trend. We don't have studies to know how these chemicals and how these foods are going to impact our biology and our health. And so, yes, we might be solving one problem, but we're creating a whole host of other problems and there's gotta be a better way that was really long monologue, but soy, you know, and these soy products, I would just love for you to, with your knowledge. Cause I'm, don't remember what I learned about soy very much, you know, any, any shout outs you want to give to soy or plant based foods that are hitting the market. Yeah. And, you know, as a plant-based food hitting the market, I am very conscious of the plant proteins that we use. So for example, we use a blend of pea protein. We have hemp protein in our cinnamon cookie dough bar. I'm a huge fan of almond protein because we grow our almonds here in California, love that. Um, and pumpkin seed protein peas, pumpkin seed protein has a ton of magnesium. So you'll find pumpkin seed protein in our Zen bar and our bliss bar to help you relax. So, you know, really once again, going back to what, and I'm, we're experimenting with some new plant-based proteins that are not. So like when I say new plant-based protein, like watermelon seed protein, like things that come from the earth, I I'm in the same boat as you. I feel, I feel like it's exciting. Especially being here in San Francisco, the food tech ag tech space here is blowing up. I mean, literally every day there is a new company that has, you know, raised a hundred million dollars or $200 million in this pre-seed round. And they've never sold a unit of product because they're doing something innovative with chicken made of soy. I, I don't know how I feel about it. I think it's interesting. I think there are a lot of companies that are capitalizing on the fact that this is what's on trend, right? Quito is also on trend, but then people can come to us and say, well, you're also keto friendly. You're also plant-based. So, so I try to put myself in the perspective of, you know, I'm a founder, I'm a business owner, I get it. But is it solving a problem? Like the reason we want to be plant-based is, is yes for the environment, but also because we're, you know, the plants we're growing them, right? So like, they're, they're good for our body. They have certain nutrients that animal based protein can't have. And then in a protein bar it's either way or milk, right? So like it's way or milk that would go in our protein bars. If we weren't plant-based. And about 70 million people in the U S I think that stat is correct, are lactose intolerant or have dairy issues. So it's for us wheat plant based is like the way to go. But when people replace grass fed beef with cell grown beef, like we're seeing like the things like they have to make the meat bleed and I'm like, it just scares me in air quotes. I'm just confused at how that happens, what the processing is. I know a lot of it's proprietary and they're not going to share, but then at the same time, I'm an animal lover. Like I'm not a vegan. Right. I eat, I eat eggs, but I do eat plant-based, um, I eat plant-based cheese. So there's just so much. And I think about this all the time and I don't, I don't like, you know, I think there's a big gray area. Right. I don't want to go to either extreme, but I just want to kind of come back to our stance. It's like mindfulness, right? Like if you're eating a plant, you know, one of these plant-based impossible or beyond meat burger is like, and I've had them and they taste really good, but just are, do they make you feel good? And I've spoken to so many people that are like, I actually feel like crap after eating that. And I'm like, then is it, you know, are you an ethical vegan, or are you doing this for, you know, because you think plant-based is the right way. It's so there's just so many questions that come into our nutrition and into the food and beverage industry and the food and beverage industry, you know, lives on that. Like that's how the food or beverage industry makes money. So it's, it's, you know, a lot of it is in marketing and, you know, are these companies really doing what they're doing because they're saving animals and they're saving the planet? Or is it because that's, what's on trend? I think a lot of companies are doing it because they want to have an impact on the planet. We do, we want to have an impact on people's health and nutrition, but then I think a lot of people are just kind of like jumping on the plant-based fat bandwagon. One thing I think is going to be really interesting. I just need to dig more into it is plant-based plant-based meat. I'm gonna put that in air quotes from congee and from mushrooms. So that's really cool. There's a couple of companies in San Francisco doing some really interesting things there. I don't know enough about the processing of it, but I think that's cool because I am a mushroom lover and fanatics savory. And then of course, functional mushrooms. So I love to cook with mushrooms, but then we have functional mushrooms and BTR bars, and I am obsessed with mushrooms and their benefits and what they can do in the body and just for the overall health. So I think that that trend is, is pretty cool. But then once again, we need to these companies, I wish they would do more education too. Like, how is this need like more behind the scenes? And I think we're, we're, we're getting there, but yeah, I totally agree with you in the next 10 to 20 years, any plant-based is taking over. It is just unbelievable. Yeah. There is one other vegetable that's being used to make air-quotes meat that, um, there's a brand that is super transparent about how they make it. So I'm going to be Googling in my email, um, in a second. So I can find it because I want to shout that out. But what I loved so much about what you're saying is, again, I hate that. I said, I'm scared. I'm not scared. I don't have fear around food and nobody should, but it is just being mindful about what you're consuming. And for example, beyond me, the founder is super transparent and interviews that he is not doing this for health. He says, if you want to have health, go eat a kale salad. I'm trying to save the planet. That's cool with me. You're being transparent. You're not marketing it as this is a health food. So, you know, that's fine. That's, that's one thing. And so, yeah, you know, it's a difficult conversation. Obviously we all want to save the planet. We, I love animals and it's just a difficult issue to figure out, but it does come down to mindfulness and just knowing what you're putting in your body, doing good for the planet and also doing the best you can for your own body and your own experience in this world. Because how you feel is going to impact the energy you put out in the impact you make in the world, then that's just as important as anything else. Totally. I love that. So. Let's go back and deliver on my promise. I can not believe we're already at an hour, but I really want to know about why you chose certain ingredients that are in BTR bars. So cashew butter is a huge ingredient in BTR bars. And I'm curious why as compared to say peanut butter. Sure. Yeah. So we, cashew butter is the main ingredient in our cinnamon cookie dough bar. Our dark chocolate brownie bar, peanut butter is the main ingredient in our peanut butter bliss bar. So cashew butter for a couple of different reasons. So one because of the nutritional profile. So we use, we use a blend of cashew and almond butter in both of those. Um, also because of this. So this is where the food science comes in as well too. So because we wanted it to hit a certain nutritional profile, cashew butter, you know, cashews in general are high in manganese. And we wanted to make sure that there is, you know, vitamin E antioxidants. Like there's so many things that we took into consideration. The cashew butter is actually quite creamy. So it gives that cookie dough like texture, as opposed to, and it has a more of a neutral taste as opposed to peanut butter, which has a very powerful, overpowering case, which is wonderful. I'm a huge peanut butter fan, but making sure that we're not putting peanut butter in all of our bars. So also a lot of people that are peanut free and we wanted to be really mindful of that. The only reason we launched a peanut butter bar is actually because of a consumer feedback. So after being in the market a couple months, people were like, we really want a peanut butter bar. We really want a peanut butter chocolate chip bar. And I was like, are you sure? And I mean, it was literally the most requested flavor. So I said, okay, let's, let's make it. And you know, one thing that we get a lot, but there's always going to be people who have sensitivities and cashews and peanuts are legal items. So if people have a legume free diet, we don't have an option right here. That's what I. Was going to say nuts. They're actually like beans. Exactly. So like, can that be inflammatory shore? Can Brussels prof the inflammatory shore? Like there's, I mean, can broccoli, you know, cause inflammation of course. I mean, if you have a sensitivity to certain things, totally get it. So one thing in the food and beverage space, so any founders that are listening, you cannot please everybody it's, you, you know, might make the cleanest label you possibly can make, but you still can't please everyone. And some people are like, I don't like the taste of cashews. Like it's, it's challenging. And then take notes, iterate. And so for us, I know that because cashews and peanuts can cause inflammation, you know, inflammation and people that eat legally free, we've gotten a couple be like, oh, can you make an almond butter bar for me? So it's on our list. So really being mindful of that, but no matter what, it's going to be challenging. So like I have, I have a thyroid issue. My thyroid issue was from eating too many. That's why I brought up Brussels sprouts. I ate too many Brussels sprouts, too much broccoli and too much cabbage and cauliflower. And all of those are quite orogenic. So what did that do that caused my thyroids to be all over the place. So I saw a naturopathic doctor for a few months and they were like, your thyroid levels are okay. My doctor, of course my medical practitioner was like, you're fine. It's totally okay. My naturopathic doctor was like, how many? Like you're eating super clean. This food log is really clean in air quotes, but like you eat Brussels sprouts six times a day. Is that okay? I'm like, I don't, I don't know. Is that causing something? And they're like, yes, it's going to agentic. When I cut back to one, serving a day, totally fine. He brought the sprouts. They're amazing and delicious. But when I cut back to a normal serving, as opposed to eating them a million times a day, my thyroid levels were fine. So it's. It's so crazy. Cause cruciferous vegetables are so brussel sprouts, great for you cabbage, you should eat them, but they cause stress for your thyroid. So don't overeat. Them that same thing. So we get people all the time, say how many DTR bars can I eat in a day? And it's, you know, you have to listen to your body. But then I also let people know, first of all, there is six to eight grams of fiber in the bars. So that is, we're actually lower fiber than most protein bars. That was very important to me because I want it. Fiber is important. We do not get enough fiber. So I'll preface with that. The majority of the population, 95% of the population gets, does not get enough fiber. So 5% of people eat enough fiber. However, fiber is, can be challenging to digest. So make sure that you're eating one bar at a time, right? Like there's people who eat 2, 3, 4 bars and that's totally fine. I have IBS. I make sure to tell people like if you're eating 15 grams of fiber in a serving, whether they're from beans or whether they're from the BTR bars, just know that's fiber. So you just, once again, it's being mindful and you know, our cinnamon cookie dough bar has Maka. Maka is a cruciferous vegetable. It comes from the same family as brussel sprouts. That's a fun fact about Monica, like being mindful of these things. And you know, we're, we're using 500 milligrams of Banca. That's not a, you know, a ton of Maka, excuse my language there. But it's still something to be mindful of. And we're always trying to provide that education and like do what's best in your body. Do what feels good. And then let us know, give us feedback so we can keep iterating and making the best possible snack that you feel good eating. And then when I say all the time, it's it's from am to PM, right? So like, if you're eating an energy bar in the morning that to fuel you, you don't need to eat like three of that. And that's also why they're so high in healthy fats because you don't actually, you won't, you don't even need to eat three because you'll be full after one. So I think that's when people are consuming these bars with like 20, 30 grams of sugar, they're like, okay, I'm ready for another one. And I'm like, that's 60 grams of sugar because it's going through you. Like it literally is causing you to crave more sugar. Whereas our bar is literally beat one and your fault. Right. Love it so much. Since you mentioned Maka to talk about adaptogens a little bit, I've done so many episodes on adaptogens because so many brands are incorporating them into their products, which is a great thing. But you, on your website, it kind of seems like obviously you name them Zen. And I don't remember all the names honestly, but you have certain adaptogens in the bars for certain feelings. So talk to me a little bit about the type, what adaptogens you want to take at different times of the day to get. The feeling that you wildly. Yeah. So we work with Matt. We're actually in partnership with a clinical herbalist right now. So I'm so excited for our fifth flavor and all of the bars are approved by registered dieticians and herbalists, and they help inform me on what we should be putting into the bars based on the functional benefit that we're looking for and adaptogens as a whole help the body. So regardless of the adaptogens, they're all amazing. They help the body adapt to the body and mind adapt to stress. And so many daily stressors that we have in life adaptogens are just something that, you know, I feel like are really good for people to incorporate into their routine. And that's why we're seeing them in, in foods and beverages. And I feel like I'm actually a little, even though it's early, I feel like I'm a little late to the game because I've been taking adaptogens either in supplement form or in, you know, in tinctures or in powder form for years. I'm like, just-in-time, just-in-time I launched BTR bar probably a little late, but it's okay. It all happens for a reason. So we use specific adaptogens for example, Rishi. So Rishi is in our Zen bar and it's in our bliss bar and this is an adaptogen, a functional mushroom that is literally coined the queen of mushrooms and the queen of immortality because it is, it's such an incredible mushroom. It has immunity boosting benefits. It has beta glue cans, which is part of the immunity boosting benefit action, as well as the fact that it has a calming effect. So in really leading the effort in this like functional mushroom space is four Sigmatic. They've done an incredible job since 2010 or 11. I mean, it's just, they've really made mushrooms mainstream. And I am so excited for that because there's, even though there's not a ton of research on mushrooms, there's more and more research that's coming out. And Rishi is one of the most well studied mushrooms. So we're really trying to use these functional mushrooms benefits in each of the bars that has the specific benefits. So Zen gets Rishi energy or energy bar, which is our cinnamon cookie dough bar gets the blend of mocca and cordyceps because both Maka and cordyceps help boost energy and stamina over. So people say like, okay, well I'm going to eat an energy bar. Is this going to be the same thing as me drinking a cup of coffee? No, it's not. It's not the same type of, you're not going to feel like all of a sudden jittery or this like burst of like energy based on what you would get from like a caffeinated beverage or snack. But over time, the, the market and the cordyceps together to wonders in your body, just to give you this feeling of like waking up and just feeling like ready to tackle the day and the way people describe, especially herbalists describe mushrooms is, you know, they're working, but you don't really know they're working until you stop taking it. So that's the, that's the interesting thing about adaptogens is like, you might be taking something and you're like, oh, okay. I feel pretty good. And then, you know, a day or two later, you like, don't eat a BTR bar or you don't take your mushroom supplement. And you're like, why do I feel terrible? Or why do I feel so tired? And that's how, that's how you know that it's, it's like this thermostat in your body. It helps regulate everything. Yeah. I love lion's mane. You know, when I wake up and I'm feeling a little brain fog or lately I've been dealing with some like motivation problems, I just want to sit on my couch and watch love island for hours on end. I hear you. I hear you. So lion's mane is one of my favorites, but oh man, I could talk to you for hours. My sample pack of BTR bars is on the way I got the email yesterday and I'm excited to try them all and just tell everyone how I feel about them and how they make me feel. And I'm sure it's going to be complete bliss as it's called and said, and I'm just looking forward to it, but what's ahead for the brand. You said you want to go into snacks and I think I can feel that you have big dreams. So tell us a little bit about what's in store. Sure. So we are in the process of, uh, recipe testing, a fifth flavor, which fingers crossed will launch before the end of this year. The process is just so time consuming. It's it's just unbelievable. I wish we could be, you know, I mean, I see some brands that are like, oh, here's our limited edition monthly drop. And I'm like, you go, like, I wish we could do that. We cannot, there are so many ingredients they have, you know, the sourcing process is so like they have to be vetted. They have to be, you know, time tested and you know, it's just, it's so much. Um, but it it's a lot of fun and this, this process is exciting. So fifth flavor coming soon, and I really want BTR bar and BTR snacks. I'm gonna start calling that at that. So we can start moving more into that space. And it's, it'll be like a little tiny rebrand, um, to be healthy, accessible, approachable, and delicious. So really I want people to know that healthy can be delicious. Not everything has to taste like raw kale. And I, I personally like broccoli, but like a lot of people it's bitter. It might people don't it's. I want people to know that you can, you can get delicious out of healthy and then it needs to be accessible and approachable, which means that yes, we sell on our website. Yes, we sell on Amazon. We are starting to meet that big push into retail, which is very exciting and scary, and I'm constantly afraid we're going to be sold out. And I'm pretty sure we are going to be sold out in the month of September, so many things happening and you just go bicker, you know? Exactly. And that's where we're at. We're kind of at this fork in the road where we're like, oh my goodness, like we're actually going to be making this many bars at once. I'm like, oh, it's scary. But it's, it's very exciting. So from bars, we do have a couple of other, um, adaptogenic purpose-driven snacks in the works to expand the portfolio, but top secret for now because we're playing with a couple of different things, but yes, more to come in the snacking space. And we're definitely going to situate ourselves there. So excited. If you need a taste tester, send me all the snacks. We can not hop into the quick hit questions though, until you explain BTR, because it is not better bar or better snacks, it is BTR for a very intentional reason. Oh my goodness. Can't believe I forgot to. I forgot to start with that. And I'm going to do a better job, no pun intended on demonstrating that. We're, I'm also, I'm trying to figure out how to put bold tenacious and resilient, which is what it means on the actual bar itself. Right now it's all over the box, but it needs to be a little bit more front and center. So working on that, so BTR stands for people, tenacious and resilient. And it's my, one of my parents' personal mantras. And I, when I was thinking of what to name the company, I was going through so many names and trying to figure it out. And I was like, you know, I want to do something to honor my parents. And that's not necessarily like too forward in people's faces. So I wanted it to be like, kind of this secret owed to them, but now I'm explaining it and it's been so, so gratifying to kind of see BTR everywhere. You know, I have, I have a phone case and it's got BTR bar on it. And I'm like, literally seeing my parents mantra everywhere and people like, oh, you know, your bars make me feel bold, tenacious and resilient. I'm like, oh my goodness. My parents would, I think they would be so happy and so proud and so excited to see what they were telling me when I was like in kindergarten, I'd be you know, I don't think I took it for granted. I was very at such a great relationship with my parents and still do. Um, but it was definitely something. I was like, okay, mom, okay, dad, like, I hear it. I get it. They were my parents, especially my father had like all these pearls of wisdom and he instilled them in, in me. And he, I have all their letters and their cards. And like my father would write me letters and cards several times a year, birthdays, special occasions with all of these little mantras and sayings. And I have them everywhere in the office. To put them on like all the snacks in the future. Like every snack has some Pearl of wisdom. From your dad. I love that. And I actually, that was um, kind of create. So my, my parents' names were John and Dave is like Donna and Dave isms. Um, and I wanted to put it on the website. Got it, got to come back to that and do that. Aye. It's so good. All the energy that you're putting into your business and the bars and everything that you're doing is so good. I'm such a fan and I'm such a supporter and I'm so excited to see BTR bar and B terror snacks, just skyrocket. I'm going to be singing your praises everywhere. Um, I'm obsessed with you. So, but before I let you go, we have a couple of quick hit questions that we got to hit on. So one of them is what does having a clean body mean to you? Okay. So I thought about this a lot. I think a clean body means to me being aligned and being in flow spiritually, physically, mentally, professionally, which we can not be all the time. Totally get that. But I think that when you feel like you're kind of operating from this, like your highest vibration and you were your best self, I feel like that's what it cleaned body means. It's kind of like this spiritual detox and that's, that's really how I define it. And I think that when some part and some aspect of our life is so inline, the others kind of like fall away. So trying to figure out how to find balance amongst them. So we're in flow and operating from our best optimal self is, is what a clean body means. And it, it seems that that seems like really like self-actualized and very can be really challenging to do. But that's kind of what I'm thinking of is like striving for that aspect because it's not only about what we put in our body, but it's also how we're feeling like I, I could go on and on for I'm a very high stressed person, have a lot of anxiety for random reasons. And it's, that's not necessarily operating at high vibe and my body does not feel clean because it is there's, there's cortisol level. My cortisol levels are through the roof and I'm feeling stressed and my hair's falling out. So it doesn't matter necessarily what you're only putting into your body. It matters what's going on in there too. Absolutely. External is just as important, important as internal too. And I think like striving for that is a lifelong thing, you know, because we have a tendency to fall into bad habits or to tune out what's, what's healthy for us. I'm on a journey to remove toxicity from my life in the form of people, you know, people who create stress and anxiety and unhappiness for me right now, don't have a place in my life and it is just a journey and it's a constant check-in with yourself. Like, okay, how am I doing? Because we do get so in the go go go, I'm also a very go person and a do person. And you just got to find the practices that are going to work for you to stop and be because being is just as important as doing. I feel so relaxed just listening to your voice. So it's like the most relaxing conversation I've had today. So. That's wonderful. Thank you so much for saying that. Um, second quick hit question is what are some lifestyle habits that you couldn't live without? Yes. So number one is my outside time. So I try, I've been really, really trying to be better about this. I go for a walk or run every day. So even if it's 15 minutes outside and I usually have to go to the post office and FedEx and drop off all of our packages, cause we do all of our fulfillment in house. Um, we, my husband and I, we are literally always on our feet and walking. We don't own a car, so we're constantly outside and that is that's my happy time. And I'm like creatively thinking. It's just, it's amazing. Um, and then the second thing is I try to read like 10 to 20 pages of usually it's an entrepreneur book, but sometimes it's a book for fun books. Exactly. Sometimes it's a book for fun, rarely. It's usually some type of like how to better yourself and whatnot and it's um, but I learned so much from that. So I try to spend at night, I can not read in the morning cause like my mind is already doing a million things. So I like to settle down for the night and read 10 to 20 pages and just relax and I fall right to sleep. So those are the two things that are like my non-negotiable. Well, if your hormones are functioning the way they should, your cortisol and your adrenaline is highest in the morning. So that makes sense that in the morning your go, go, go. And then at night your melatonin kicks in and you can relax and you can absorb and you can be. So that makes all the sense in the world. The last quick hit question for ya is what other brands are you loving? And before you hop into it, I did search my Google drive and it's jackfruit jackfruit meat. And there is a brand called Upton's naturals. Who's doing really good stuff in the jackfruit meat industry, but anyways, what brands are you loving? Does naturals does an amazing job. I also love jackfruit and it really does tastes like pulled pork. It's crazy. I mean, I am, I do love jackerd it's it's amazing. Oh my goodness. The brands that I love I could go on for so long. Okay. Um, so, um, I have a lot of colleagues and friends in the space as well, too. So I love Emily from little box. I love, um, Kaylee from sacred serve. A lot of them are female founders. A lot of them are solopreneurs that have built empires on by themselves. And. That I've never heard that. And I love it. It is, it is an interesting world out there. I come from a small founding team of three women and it's, I was like, oh, it's going to be the same when it's just me. Totally not. Um, being a solopreneur. I constantly second guessing things, trying to tap into my parents, trying to, you know, constantly chatting with my advisors. It's a lot. Um, so love those two brands. I also love, like, I'm not necessarily saying I love like obsessed with the products, but I love the, the marketing and the, um, the community that certain brands are building. So I love, um, the Ali pap and poppy and what they're building, I think is just so, so incredible. Um, we could go on for days, Tula ritual. I mean, where, where does it cause I love, I do love ritual is one of the supplement companies. I'm like, they like blow me away. Love them so much. So yeah. I mean, those are, uh, amongst hundreds of brands that I aspire to oat house. I love the, the ladies at go. Nana's like a lot of my colleagues are just, you know, amazing, amazing, incredible people. And I'm just so honored to be amongst them and you know, being on podcasts and with them. And it's just been, it's been an incredible experience these past eight, nine months. So. I can't believe it's only been eight, nine months. What do you mean? Eight, nine months. And that's in speed. Tr bar came out, right? Yeah. So we had a soft launch at the end of 2020. Um, so yeah, so we soft launched like October of 20, 20, but very quickly, like there was like friends and family. We changed recipes a little bit at like our dark chocolate brownie. It's our second iteration of that because the first dark chocolate brownie friends and family were like, it's a little too bitter. And I was like, okay, like let's, let's see. And then I, you know, did some taste tests and whatnot and we changed it. Like we actually didn't relaunch that until February of 2021. So where even though we seem like really old, we are doing it. I'm so. Proud of you. I don't even really know you. And I'm so proud of you nine months. Oh my gosh. Your future is so bright BTR snakes. So great. You're a shining star. I love you so much. Thank you so much for coming on my podcast. How can people get in touch with the brand? Get their hands on products, speak to you or speak to representatives, even though you're a solopreneur, give us all the links. Totally. So best place probably where, where we have all of our flavors available would be eat BTR bar.com. So that is where you can find us. And there is for first-time customers. There's a discount codes. You can give us a try. We also, like I said, we do all of our own fulfillment, which is crazy. I do not know many other companies that do that. So we customize, like we have build your own boxes. We have limited edition variety pack boxes. You can try everything and you don't have to just be like, you know, most bar companies, they're like, here's a 12 pack if you don't like it, sorry. Like we want to make sure that you love your experience. And that is, that's what we're trying to do. So that's where you can find us. And you can talk to me anytime. I'm on LinkedIn, I'm at btr.bar on Instagram and Tech-Talk, it's all me that runs all of the social channels for now. Um, so yeah, you can chat with things, send it, send me a DM anytime. Well, thank you so much. This was such a joy, such an amazing way to start my day. I'm inspired. I think you're inspiring. A lot of people. So thank you for coming on. The claim. Okay, Lauren. Oh my goodness. Had such a great time. Thank you. Hi everyone. I hope you enjoyed that interview. As a reminder, this podcast is for educational purposes. Only. It is not a substitute for professional care from a doctor or otherwise qualified health professional. This podcast is provided on the understanding that medical or other health-related services.