Not too long ago, my version of “healthy” was choosing Subway over McDonald’s and drinking diet soda instead of sugar-filled Mountain Dew. I’d never really heard of food intolerances and certainly didn’t care about reading the ingredients on my food labels.
It wasn’t until a few years ago when I suddenly developed a number of food and skin sensitivities that I began to truly focus on what I put into my body -- and it changed my buying habits completely.
Through consultations with nutritionists and a little trial and error, I’ve been able to zero in on a batch of products that keep the fun in my food while helping me avoid all of the bad ingredients that were making me sick. Following are a few of my favorite Colorado brands, founded by women, that I love to keep around the house.
Bobo’s Oat Bars, Founded by Beryl Stafford
When I found out I couldn’t eat my favorite soft, yummy granola bars to stay full during the workday, I went on a desperate hunt for a replacement. Homemade bars turned out to be my favorite solution, and they felt and tasted great.
But keeping up with a habit of baking food bars each week when you’re as busy as I am can become a serious chore, so I set back out to find a store-bought brand that tastes as good and still meets my food requirements.
I found Bobo’s Oat Bars on a grocery store trip to grab snacks at Whole Foods for a flight I was headed on the next day. My tactic was to buy as many random food bars as I could (spending about an hour reading labels in the aisle) and try them out on the plane to see if they held up to my taste buds and need to feel full. Bobo’s was a winner.
Founded in Boulder, this homemade treat was developed as part of a mother-daughter baking tradition, but became popular in the local community. The gluten-free bars can now be found in over 7,000 grocery stores nationwide. The company is booming too. In 2018, the company expanded into a new facility after experiencing 70% growth in 2017 and 45% in 2018.
Goddess Garden, Founded by Nova Covington
Moving to Denver was a rude awakening for my skin. Back in Michigan, I never seemed to have a huge need for lotions or sunscreen and was never attentive to what was in those products.
Once I arrived in the Mile High City, having a steady skincare routine became a necessity but finding the right tools was hard. I remember nervously picking up new products and crossing my fingers that I wouldn’t get an itchy skin reaction after trying them out -- it was that bad.
It wasn’t until I took a PR job at Natural Grocers (also founded by a woman) that I was able to experiment with some of the best products for sensitive skin. While they definitely cost more, reducing the instances of bad reactions is worth every penny.
After a recommendation on a Fox TV segment with one of Natural Grocers’ resident nutritionists, I decided to try Goddess Gardens. They have a continuous spray mineral sunscreen that’s reef safe, so I can bring it along on trips to the ocean. So far no rash, so I’m super happy with this light and natural product.
It’s no wonder the product worked for me since the inspiration for Goddess Garden came along when Nova’s daughter Paige had an allergic reaction to the synthetic chemicals in sunscreens and other body care products. She sought a solution for her own child 14 years ago, which in turn became one of the leading reef safe sunscreen brands on the market for sensitive skin, carried at over 25,000 stores.
Victoria’s Gluten Free Kitchen, Founded by Victoria Wolf
I remember the very last time I had traditional pizza. It was a deep dish seafood pie from PizzaPapalis in Detroit. It tasted amazing.
I followed my 3 slices with a handful of digestive enzymes and acid reducers, but still woke up for a late night trip to the bathroom to send that tasty meal back down to the ocean. That was my pizza rock bottom, and it was finally time to put away my connoisseur card.
After several years of missing one of my favorite treats I had the opportunity to meet Victoria, the founder of Victoria’s Gluten Free Kitchen. I was hosting a show on public access TV and she came to record an episode where she showcased her award-winning recipe for a dairy-free chicken, bacon, ranch pizza using her gluten-free crusts.
I was taken aback by how incredible the meal tasted and my love for pizza was reawakened. I now buy the crusts to create my own pizza creations at home to share with my family.
I’ve had the opportunity to watch the brand grow from self-distributing to a small number of Natural Grocers stores and local restaurants to now being available in about 80 stores and 150 restaurants. I’m excited to see what’s ahead for this local brand as they continue to reach across the U.S.
Teatulia, Founded by Linda Appel Lipsius
No health journey is complete without learning to savor a sip of tea now and then -- at least that’s how I see it. Tea is a staple of a healthy lifestyle and a great way to replace a soft drink or two throughout the day.
I ran across my first bag of Teatulia tea when someone handed me a gift basket at work full of health conscious foods for me to sample. I ended up falling in love with the concept of steeping tea with a real loose leaf infuser and began purchasing the product as a daily staple to drink at my desk.
One of the Denver Business Journal’s Top Women in Business, Teatulia Founder Linda Appel Lipsius also founded the Mama’hood, which was featured in our Summer 2018 magazine issue.
Teatulia is a certified Benefit Corporation and supports the reduction of poverty in the Tetulia region of northern Bangladesh through the cultivation of one of the largest organic tea gardens in the world. Their teas can be found in restaurants as well as popular stores such as Whole Foods, Kroger, Wegmans, Safeway and Natural Grocers.