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Ree Dolnick on Family Values and Cooking with Love

Ree Dolnick on Family Values and Cooking with Love

Ree Dolnick has created a whole range of healthful cookies and energy bars that nourish both your body and spirit. In this interview, she talks about why it’s important to get kids involved in the kitchen and cooking with love.

Q: What is your own favorite personal family kitchen memory?

A: Oh, boy, there's so many. I was always in the kitchen as a kid. I do have a distinct memory of this one time my mom was trying to make kimchi - that’s spicy pickled cabbage if you’re not familiar with Korean food.

There was always this big production whenever Mom was getting ready to make kimchi. She'd try to shoo me away and I'd just kept getting in the way. She finally gave up and let me help out with mixing peppers and things. I can’t remember how the kimchi turned out, but I do know that I made such a big mess. My whole family laughs about that now, but I think the excitement of being active in the cooking process stuck with me.

Q: What's your favorite recipe to cook with kids and family members outside of the Jeca products, of course?

A: With my daughter, one of the first things that we made together were little cutout cookies. I would make the dough and she always had fun punching out the different shapes and figurines. That's always easy and fun with kids. As she got older, I think what I enjoyed most with her was actually involving her in the entire process of cooking - going shopping and picking out really fresh produce, bringing it back home and showing her the best ways to cut or peel or prepare ingredients, and all the while talking to her about how to combine different flavors and spices, and what goes with what. I felt happy being able to share my experience with her, I think she learned a lot, and it was a really wonderful way for us to spend time together.

Q: That time was so important to you, in fact, that there's a bit of a story behind the name Jeca, isn’t there?

A: Right. My daughter, Jessica, she represents everything that's good, and pure, and honest in my life. So I used her childhood nickname as inspiration because I wanted the company to be a manifestation of my love for her and how I want only goodness and health for her in her own life. So the name is an indication not only of what the product means to me but also symbolic of what we stand for and the values we wish to promote.

Q: Jeca Bars and Cookies are made with love. That's an actual ingredient that's put in them. Finally, what are some general words of wisdom you'd like to pass on to busy working parents trying to balance work life and healthy food?

A: Wow, I can’t claim any great wisdom, but I can definitely relate to the difficulties of being a working parent. I know what it’s like to work full-time, and also to be taking care of family - the struggle of assembling a healthy meal for the ones you love even when you’re just so exhausted. It’s hard, but I think the key is to try to plan ahead of time and make sure you have the right ingredients available.

There are all kinds of strategies - cooking on weekends for the whole week, making crockpot meals in the morning so it’s ready to go for dinner, learning which vegetables you can stir-fry in just minutes and throw together with some brown rice - I would recommend experimenting to see what works best for you. Getting everybody involved in the preparation is also a great way to spend some family time together..

Healthy Eating and the Jeca Brand

Healthy Eating and the Jeca Brand

In this interview, Ree Dolnick, the Founder of Jeca Energy Cookies and Bars, speaks about the interwoven relationships of food, culture and health and how they influence her company.

Q: Jeca Bars are yummy and could be promoted as simply tasty snacks, like many other products out there. Instead, for you, how important is it to the aims of Jeca to generate interest from customers and partners through educating your market about the benefits of healthy eating? How intrinsically important is the message of healthy eating and healthy lifestyles to the Jeca brand?

A: I think it's extremely important, and it's very intrinsic to the ethos of our company that there many, many tasty snacks out there, not necessarily all healthy, and therein lies the problem. They're too tasty, but with no substance, and we're just consuming them with no control. I think with our productneeds to have the two components - of course, it's going to be a healthy snack, but don’t worry because it's still going to be delicious.

I think it really comes down to this issue of over-consumption. Why do we eat so much, or so badly, even when we know that it’s not good for us? Our food has to satisfy our nutritional requirements but also our (perhaps unfortunate) biological cravings. So often products that are marketed as “health foods” are tasteless or a strange texture, or otherwise offputting in how non-foodlike it seems. We want to provide an option where you’re familiar with the vehicle - a cookie or bar - and it’s made with really wholesome ingredients, but the flavors are so bold and exciting that you truly will be satisfied with just one.

Q:  How important is healthy eating to ensuring maximum energy and enjoyment of life? Feel free to go nuts on all the science stuff here, Ree. As a scientist yourself, give it to us. What are the physical benefits to living a healthy life and eating the right foods?

A: I think it's critical. I really believe that keeping your whole body healthy and full of energy is the key to happiness and longevity. We all know that “hangry” feeling! But seriously, I think a lot of focus on healthy eating has been about nutritional requirements and not enough attention is paid to the emotional effect that feeling either unsatisfied or constantly trying to deny your cravings can have. On the other hand, if your body is nourished and you are emotionally positive, life is yours for the taking. I’m of the opinion that keeping up your energy is a key component of feeling fulfilled and happy, which releases more and more happy hormones, and the benefits just stack up. I can’t emphasize that enough.

Jeca Cookies

Q: Why is Jeca personal to you? What need arose in your life for tasty ways to quickly boost energy?

A: Well, working in research, I didn't always have regularly scheduled times throughout the day to be able to eat. Some days, I would be running so behind and feel so low on energy, I was really cranky and felt like I couldn’t think - it was awful!.

I knew I needed some way to get an energy boost, a way that was quick and convenient. But I couldn’t find anything at the store that I felt was truly healthy and nourishing. So, I decided to make my own bars to take to work and tide me over until meal times. My friends and coworkers noticed, and started clamoring for me to sell them to solve their own struggles with similar situations.

And that’s how Jeca was born! Contact us to learn more.

 

Ree Dolnick on Healthy Eating and its Intrinsic Importance to the Jeca Brand

Ree Dolnick on Healthy Eating and its Intrinsic Importance to the Jeca Brand

For Ree Dolnick, the Founder of Jeca Energy Cookies and Bars, healthy eating and helping others make good choices is at the heart of everything she does. Here she explains the central role championing a healthy lifestyle plays in the Jeca Brand and her plans to take her message mainstream.

Q: Now, Jeca is still pretty new, but you're having lots of amazing conversations and getting lots of great response so far. How have you so far got around finding people to work with you on Jeca and partners to help spread the message, that care as you do?

A: I think a lot of it is by word of mouth. Someone will try the cookies or bars and say, "Oh, you know, a friend of mine is also interested in [healthy eating]/working on this food project." Or they’ll say,"Have you considered selling at such and such place? I shop there for all my health foods and I would love to see your product there." Those kinds of personal connections are what's propelling us currently, and we love the organic way that’s allowed us to grow. It’s put us is a good place where we can start reaching out to larger and more distant partners to broaden our reach..

Q: Many health brands in the U.S. confine themselves to a very small niche, limiting their potential growth. What do you think is the secret to tapping into the mainstream market? You've got a product which people might consider to have a niche audience and your plan is to bring it out more to a wider audience because the benefits frankly are there for everyone. How do you do that? How do you educate a wider audience about eating the right types of foods, which are just as affordable and just as yummy?

A: Well, I think you're right in that our products might appear to fit into a niche or appeal to only a small group of people. They definitely are unique. But if you dig a little deeper I think you’ll find that more people are becoming more aware of what theyconsume and how important it is to make good choices. I really think anyone would choose the healthy option if it didn’t mean compromising on taste or pleasure or price.

, Which is why we would like to emphasize that while we can promise you our product is good and healthy, it's also very tasty. We want to show people you don’t have to choose between health and flavor, and in fact, these products are so flavorful and delicious that they’re more than just a snack. It's sort of a snack cuisine or a cookie cuisine that we’re introducing to the market.. By pushing the envelope of what a snack can be, I think we can reach people who don't want health to be their only criteria..

Q: On the note of pushing the envelope, so to speak, what other companies inspire you the most?Perhaps they're outside the food market, other brands which you respect, and they touch you and speak to you in a way that you think they're making a difference, and they're genuinely engaging with their audience.

A:, Oh that's an easy one! This company is food-related in name only  but I think Apple is really amazing.  hey have taken some really complicated technology and created a product that is very sophisticated in terms of programming, letting the technical aspects run in the background so that the user interface is very accessible and simple to use.

They've transformed how our society works. I would love to be able to effect a similar model of change,, maybe not on that scale, but to transform the way people snack and make decisions about food in general would be so great.

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