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February 6, 2013

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Trade Show Season has Started!

Trade show season started a couple of weeks ago.

One of the strategies that we use to bring our products to market is to attend trade shows. (In the rest of the world, they are called exhibitions). These shows, which seldom are open to the public, is an opportunity to share our products and the Enjoy Life story with members of the trade.

Trade can come in many forms:

  • Distributors
  • Retailers
  • Restaurant buyers
  • University and College Cafeteria buyers
  • Distributors from other countries

You get the idea. We go to these shows to meet as many qualified people as possible, showing our products, sharing our uniqueness, and if it is a good fit, starting a business relationship. It might seem a bit antiquated in this day of digitalness, but there still is nothing better than having a face-to-face meeting with prospects, customers, and business partners.

The Enjoy Life Team at NASFT Winter Fancy Foods in San Francisco.

As mentioned at the opening, the trade show season started this past week. We packed up our wares and headed to San Francisco for the NASFT Winter Fancy Foods event. This is a major trade show for the Specialty Gourmet industry, which is growing so fast, they have two of these shows per year, Winter version in SF and Summer version in NY.

Three full days of standing on our feet for 7 hours per day, handing out samples, talking to prospects, meeting with customers, and introducing and sharing the Enjoy Life story. Our ultimate goal is to be ubiquitous; we want our customers to be able to find our brand wherever and whenever they shop. The only way for this to happen is if we are in more stores with more product in more cities more often.

People who work trade shows find them tiring. Fair enough, they are not easy. You are standing all day, bathroom breaks are at a minimum, you are saying the same thing over and over, answering the same questions from different people. You are living out of a suitcase, wearing a logoed shirt so you are far from fashionable, getting up early, going to bed late. And if the show is on the west coast (which this was) and you work with someone who is cheap (which I am) you have to take the red-eye flight back home which means you lose a whole night of sleep, arriving home at 5:30 a.m. feeling as if you have just sat up in a chair all night, which you did.

Here is the crazy thing…I love shows! Always have. The year that I got married, I attended 45 shows (different company) including a show that fell smack dab in the middle of my honeymoon, where my then wife of three days worked the booth by my side for an additional four days. (free help you know…aren’t I a romantic?)

You have to be at these shows if you want to grow the business. Fortunately for us, a lot of our competitors choose to limit the number of shows that they will attend each year. They make excuses as to why a particular show is not right for them. Slow traffic, not the right prospects attending, bad time of year, bad city, etc.

But here’s the thing.

Woody Allen, the director, is credited as once saying : “80% of success is simply showing up. ”

He’s right. You have the be there to get new business. If you don’t show, it is hard to grow. We’re there. Every show.

Trade show season has started. I may be the only person around who feels this way, but it is my favorite time of the year.

See you at a city near you….

- Joel

January 4, 2013

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A Gluten-Free Lifestyle?

Have you noticed that there are many food companies who treat gluten-free foods as a lifestyle choice? They have recently jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon, because they believe that there is money to be made by promoting gluten-free as a lifestyle. And they are right about the profitability; today, companies can make money promoting gluten-free as a lifestyle fad.

But how long will this last? Promoting fads will only work until the next fad comes along.

We know better. For most people, eating gluten-free food is not a lifestyle choice; instead it is about life itself. It is a necessity to allow people who live with Celiac disease or gluten intolerances to live a normal, healthy life. It is a requirement to remain healthy, and to live day to day without illness or negative reaction.

We’ve been focused on providing solutions for this community for over 10 years. When few companies knew what gluten-free was, we were developing products that tasted great and were safe for all to enjoy. While some companies have recently jumped in because they recognize there is money to be made, we have been developing our expertise month by month, for the last 122 months.

Here’s what has changed since our early years…

  • Our products taste much better than they did 10 years ago
  • The number of products that we sell has expanded 10x
  • The number of stores that carry our products has multiplied 20x
  • Our sales have grown dramatically (thanks to our great customers)

Here’s what hasn’t changed…

The founder of the company, Scott Mandell, the man who had the vision to start this company over 10 years ago, remains CEO of the company to this day. His name is on every product that we sell. While other companies have been acquired by large corporate controlled entities, we remain independent with one primary focus:

Providing great-tasting, SAFE products for all people to enjoy and eat freely.

Taste, Trust and Love. It is what we strive for every day of every month of every year. And we’ve been doing this for 3660 days and counting.

- Joel

January 2, 2013

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We’re Back!

Hi.

Let’s try this again. Back on January 17, 2011 almost 2 full years ago, I introduced myself to you, along with introducing our two associates who also had joined the company to establish the new Enjoy Life Foods marketing team. I had joined the company as the Chief Marketing Officer and Kasey Moss and Alina Tylman joined as Marketing Associates.

A lot has changed since we joined, but what has remained consistent is the fact that we all still remain a part of the Enjoy Life team. Both Alina and Kasey have taken on significantly additional amounts of responsibility, and I am now running both Sales and Marketing, with my revised title being Chief Sales & Marketing Officer.

What also hasn’t changed is that we continue to help guide the brand, raising its awareness, engaging with our consumers and supporters, developing new products, and working tirelessly to bring you the best tasting products that are safe for all who want to eat freely.

Looking back on the last blog post, here is what I promised on January 17, 2011:

Here is our commitment to you….

1. The blog will offer a window into the company, sharing intimate details as to what we are doing, and how we do it.

2. The blog will offer transparency. We will not only share the good things, but we will share the challenges that we face, and how we work through the issues.

3. The blog will not have a corporate voice. That is what press releases are for. Instead, the blog will be personal.

4. The blog will be updated regularly, we promise. And we’re serious.

5. The blog will be interesting. It will be worth reading, and worth subscribing to. If we are committed to one thing, this is it. WE WILL NOT BE BORING!!!

And here are the promises that we kept. None. Zero. Well, true, we weren’t boring, but not hard to do when you are non-existent. Sorry about that.

Over the past 2 years, we have connected with you via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, E-blasts, and over 100 annual consumer events around the country, but we never did get the Blog going. No one’s fault but my own.

Here is my commitment to you now that we are in 2013, and this one I will be able to keep. We will post on a regular basis, but we are not necessarily committing to what regular means. It will be at least once per week, but could be more. It all depends on what we have to say, and how interesting it really is.

Here is the other commitment. This is not going to be an Enjoy Life corporate blog as much as it is a blog from the point of view of the Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, along with other members of the marketing team. Some days I will share with you specific details about what’s happening within the company, and those posts will provide the window into the company to which we had previously committed. Some posts will feature the voice of Kasey or Alina, providing a different perspective from the marketing team as they continue to execute the great work on which they focus their efforts. Some days we will talk about things happening within the industry, that have little to do with our company. Some days we will simply talk about sales and marketing in general, and hopefully these conversations will provide an insight as to how we make the decisions that we do.

Finally there will be days when I personally share a rant. I do that on occasion, and these days can be fun, embarrassing, troublesome, and cause people to rant right back at me. That’s okay; it is an opportunity to have a good-natured dialogue. We will always welcome your comments.

So there you have it. The blog plans for 2013. It is a view of the world as seen through the eyes of the Marketing team at Enjoy Life Foods. All opinions are our own; the company is not responsible for what we write, what we have to say, and what controversy we may cause. And I’m sure it will happen.

More to come, I promise! Seriously….

- Joel

Connect with me:

Twitter

LinkedIn

January 17, 2011

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Our Commitment To You

We would like to wish you all a very belated Happy New Year from all if us, here at Enjoy Life Foods! Obviously, the fact that we are wishing you New Year’s wishes and it is the middle of the month is indicative of the subject matter of this blog post.

Joel

Let me introduce myself. My name is Joel Warady, and I’m the new Chief Marketing Officer for Enjoy Life Natural Brands. While I have been involved with the company for the last eight years in various advisory roles, effective January 1, 2011 I joined the company on a full-time basis, to head the marketing and communication efforts for the company. It’s an exciting opportunity and I truly feel that I have one of the best jobs in the world.

Kasey

Alina

Joining me on the marketing team is Kasey Klippstein and Alina Tylman. Both, while new to Enjoy Life as full-time employees, have been working on Enjoy Life projects in a consulting role for the past couple of years. Suffice it to say, that although we have a brand new marketing team, we have over 12 years experience working on the Enjoy Life brand, and more importantly in the gluten-free, allergy-friendly space.

Which leads us to this blog.

As a company, we have not been as committed to posting on this blog as we should be. While there was some regularity, trying to post twice a week, the blog never seemed to gain significant momentum. There did not seem to be a real reason for being. It seemed that the blog was a great opportunity for different people in the company to talk about things that were important to them, but there was not a cohesive direction for the conversation. And we lacked true consistency; the fact that this is the first post of the New Year is indicative of that.

All that is going to change.

Here is our commitment to you….

1. The blog will offer a window into the company, sharing intimate details as to what we are doing, and how we do it.
2. The blog will offer transparency. We will not only share the good things, but we will share the challenges that we face, and how we work through the issues.
3. The blog will not have a corporate voice. That is what press releases are for. Instead, the blog will be personal, written by various members of the Enjoy Life team, from their point of view, not the company’s.
4. The blog will be updated regularly, we promise. And we’re serious.
5. The blog will be interesting. It will be worth reading, and worth subscribing to. If we are committed to one thing, this is it. WE WILL NOT BE BORING!!!

There you have it. Our blog New Year’s resolution, 17 days late. Thanks for sticking with us, thanks for your understanding, and most of all:

Thanks for being such great fans and supporters of the Enjoy Life brand! 2011 is going to be a very exciting time for the company, and we will be sharing all of the details with you via our blog, our Facebook page, our two Twitter accounts, and newsletter.

We love being connected to you!

December 15, 2010

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Time to Get Cooking!

If you’ve been a fan of Enjoy Life for a while, you are probably aware of the recipes we send out by email blast and Facebook every month.  We’ve been doing this for a while, and now we think it is time we took a step back and let you show us how you use Enjoy Life products in your baking and cooking. Because who knows more about how to use our cereals, cookies, bars, granolas, chocolates and bagels than you?

So put on your apron, turn on your oven, hit that skillet with a little oil, and think about the most creative and interesting things you like to make with Enjoy Life products.

Are you a candy-making machine? Then share that with us!

Have a secret stuffing recipe that uses Crunchy Flax? Let’s see it!

Is your allergy-friendly seven layer bar the talk of the neighborhood? Then we’d love to talk about it here too.

The sky’s the limit – sweet or savory, crunchy or crispy, vegan or meaty – as long as your recipes are free of the top 8 allergens (fish, shellfish, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, gluten and wheat).

We’re looking for 24 recipes that we will be sending out over the next 12 months, two a month. When we put together recipes, we like to think about the holidays and celebrations around each month (did you see our Halloween treats?) and you should too as you craft your own brilliant recipes.

You can submit as many recipes as you like as long as each of them contains at least one Enjoy Life product.

Once we receive your recipes, we’ll look them over. We’ll cook up our favorite recipes in our kitchen, take a picture of the results, and let everyone in the office taste them. If your recipe makes the cut, we’ll announce it on Facebook and Twitter! Throughout 2011 we’ll send out these recipes to everyone on our mailing list and post them to Facebook and our website.

So, what do you have to lose? Get cooking!

CLICK HERE to enter in your recipe! All recipes must be entered by 1/31/11.

December 8, 2010

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All About Chocolate

As I sit at my desk this December morning, the thermometer tells me its 12 degrees outside. Snow is on the ground and there’s ice on the sidewalks. Yet I’m in a festive holiday mood because I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to make with chocolate this weekend. I know that no matter what I make, someone is going to be excited to try it. No one is on a diet yet and with Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips and Dark Chocolate Boom CHOCO Boom™ Bars, even those who usually can’t eat chocolate can dig in without worry. Because it is made in a dedicated nut, soy and gluten-free facility, and has only three ingredients (cocoa butter, cocoa liquor, and sugar) it is safe for those who are allergic to the rest of the Big 8.

Unless you actually have a chocolate or sugar allergy, eating a nice bar of chocolate or a handful of chocolate chips shouldn’t be a problem. In its most basic form, chocolate is produced by the picking, fermenting, roasting, winnowing, and grinding of cocoa beans. The cocoa beans are then sweetened with sugar and optionally flavored with other ingredients like vanilla, then conched (blended) and tempered, and made into bars. Chocolate is as simple or as complex as you want to make it.

When a cocoa bean is ground, it produces two components that can be mechanically separated – cocoa liquor and cocoa butter. Just to add to the confusion, the cocoa liquor isn’t alcoholic and the cocoa butter isn’t made from dairy. They’re just terms that the industry uses to describe the defatted cocoa mass or solid (the “liquor”) and the fat (the “butter”).  When a manufacturer makes chocolate from simply grinding beans and adding flavor and sugar, the method is called “bean-to-bar.” Bean-to-bar manufacturers are mostly small specialty companies producing high-end chocolate bars that fetch a premium price in the store. Only a small percentage of chocolate that is produced today is bean-to-bar and those manufacturers proudly trumpet this fact on their labels.

What makes many chocolates unsafe for more sensitive consumers are two things: the addition of soy lecithin and the presence of nuts in the plant where the chocolate is prepared into bars. Lecithin isn’t a necessary ingredient in chocolate, but its use allows manufacturers to more easily blend (or “emulsify”) ingredients that would otherwise behave like oil and water. It also allows them to reduce the amount of cocoa butter in their chocolate bar and replace it with other vegetable fats, if desired, in order to save money. At Enjoy Life, we think chocolate bars should be made with 100% cocoa butter, so we add a little more to our recipes to get them to emulsify (blend) without soy lecithin. We think it makes the chocolate taste better!

Nuts are a bigger problem for most chocolate makers. Our chocolate room is completely nut-free, and our ingredients are stored away from potential allergens and wrapped up to keep them safe for everyone. There has never been a nut in our plant or on our equipment and there never will be.

Sometimes when you buy a chocolate bar or chocolate chips, you’ll notice a white “bloom” on the surface of the chocolate, which looks a little like mold. This is called chocolate bloom and happens when the fat from the cocoa butter separates from the chocolate liquor, and rises to the surface of the bar or chip (or truffle!). This doesn’t impact the quality of the chocolate bar at all and often happens when chocolate is stored in improperly warm temperatures. When the chocolate is melted and used in a recipe, the bloom goes away. It will come back if you are making your own chocolates and don’t temper the chocolate first, but it isn’t anything to worry about.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get started on my holiday baking and candy making. I have a great idea for some dairy-free caramel truffles that I’ll drench in a layer of melted and tempered Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, and some salted buttery caramels that I’ll flavor with our chocolate. Yum!

December 3, 2010

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Just Diagnosed… Again

So how are your allergies? For me…not so good. This summer and fall were really a kick in the fanny. I limited my outdoor activities and didn’t even attend a single football game this fall, which is almost blasphemy here in Texas! Unfortunately, I realized after my allergies followed me all over the country in my weekly sales jaunts, that perhaps it wasn’t just the weather (no picking on me for not being the sharpest tack in the box). Anyway, since I am very fond of breathing, as I am sure you are too, I was off to visit my pulmonologist (multiple times). On my last visit two weeks ago, I was an official pin cushion, and endured the allergy testing on my back.

About five minutes into the test, I found myself thinking “this is great, I don’t feel anything on my back, maybe my allergies have improved.” For all of you that have bad allergies, this line of thinking is known as DENIAL. Now that we have that out of the way, I am sure you can jump ahead and anticipate, just like one of those very fun but very predictable chick flicks, that not only do I still have my allergies, I am also the proud recipient of even more!  Yes, just call me an overachiever.

My doc says we can put my allergies into to buckets…one is the size of a dump truck and one is the size of a wheelbarrow. The environmental (aka dump truck) isn’t fun, but can certainly be addressed via medication. The food allergies may be a wheelbarrow in size, but were a much larger surprise for me. I anticipated that I would add one or two to my list, which already consisted of wheat, barley, rye, cantaloupe, and grapefruit, but what I didn’t expect was adding peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, apples, bananas, oranges and peaches. Seriously?

I am sure like all of you that have tested positive for food allergies you quickly start rationalizing the situation. “Well I only eat peaches a few times a year when they are in season so that won’t be a big issue, but this fish business… I’m chapped! How can this be? My dad was a commercial fisherman in Alaska…I ‘m not allergic to fish…it just can’t be!” As if I can make a difference by willing it away.

I’m a couple of weeks into this new development and still trying figure this whole thing out. It can be challenge working on the road with food allergies and celiac disease, but I am not new to this process. And while it took a few minutes to get my head around this new information, I quickly started looking for the bright spots. Corn and dairy are not on the list, which means I can still have my beloved TexMexChocolate and strawberries are not on the list…need I say more? LOL!

November 23, 2010

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Thank You For Your Trust!

Since I started my position as President of Enjoy Life Foods 8 months ago, I have had the opportunity to learn in more detail about this particular segment of the food industry, the assortment of allergy-friendly products out in the market place, our various competitors, quality levels in Enjoy Life’s product categories, and the retail space where our products are featured. But most importantly, I appreciate the wonderful opportunity to meet and engage in very interesting conversations with consumers just like you.

The more consumers I meet, the more I learn about their lifestyles and the food diet limitations they or their loves ones have to deal with, day in and day out. The more consumers I speak with, the more I understand the role Enjoy Life products play in their everyday lives or the lives of their loved ones. The more consumers I meet, the more I learn about the importance of our brand promise and what this means to them. The more consumers I speak with, the more I understand about their daily frustrations with cross contamination and other important related issues, which people without diet restrictions will never even have to consider.

All these great conversations provide me with wonderful and very valuable insights.

Learning more and more about this on a daily basis, I honestly have to say that I never thought a brand could develop such an incredibly strong bond and relationship with consumers, which are clearly being fed by a very important value: trust. And because this value is so important, I can only say to you…Thank you!

Let me share my perspective. Trust is a human value that is very hard to earn and it takes time to grow, especially when your life and well-being are on the line. Trust is about consistency. Trust is about commitment. Trust is about being strong and delivering the same quality and safety every time. Trust is about keeping a promise and never breaking it!

On the other hand, trust is also a very fragile value – what can take years to build can be destroyed in a split second. As I see it, trust is so fragile that once broken, it can rarely be regained. Here at Enjoy Life we take trust very seriously. So much so that it is part of our organizational culture, so we make sure we never break our promise to you. With this in mind and on behalf of everyone at Enjoy Life Foods, I can only say to you:

Thank you for trusting in our products and our brand promise to you.

Thank you for trusting us with your most precious relationships – your family and friends.

Thank you for letting us help you manage you days and diet, by bringing peace of mind to your life.

In the humblest way possible… Thank you for your Trust!

November 11, 2010

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Five of My Favorite Ingredients in My Gluten-Free Pantry

Cooking and baking are my twin passions. Even though my work is in product development, I spend a lot of time at home cooking for friends and family, and baking treats that everyone can eat. I try to keep my baking relatively healthy; rather than going for light-as-air cupcakes and jelly rolls, I like making whole-grain based crusts and doughs, pastas, and cakes. So you won’t find potato starch in my pantry and corn is verboten. Here’s a list of some of the items I keep handy when I need to get some baking and cooking done:

1. Grapeseed oil: made from the leftover pomace (seeds) from the winemaking process, the best grapeseed oils are extracted by a heated expeller press, not with the solvent hexane. Neutral tasting and with a high smoke point (428 F), grapeseed oil can be used in baked goods as a substitute for canola, safflower, sunflower, and even peanut oils. It can also be used in cooking.

2. Chickpea flour: also known as garbanzo flour, chickpea flour can be used in baked goods in small amounts (it has a slight “beany flavor”) or as a thickener in soups. I use it in chowders because of its flavor, texture, and color when cooked. Chickpea flour can also be used to make savory pancakes and crepes, and is common to many world cuisines. In Ethiopia, this flour is the heart of wat, a chickpea-based puree eaten with injera bread, which is made with Teff flour.

3. Powdered Agar Agar: although pricey (I pay about $64/lb at my food coop and buy one ounce at time), this seaweed-based gum can be used to make vegan gelatin-style desserts (try it with pineapple!) or baked goods. It is typically used in small quantities, in place of xanthan or guar, although you’ll need about 25% less. I also love konjac root powder, which performs even better in baked goods, though it is much harder to find.

4. Teff Flour: I love the nutty, slightly sour taste of teff, the smallest of the ancient grains and a protein and nutritional powerhouse. Most of the teff in the US is grown in Idaho. There are two types of teff on the market: light and dark. I like the light variety best and use it in combination with other gluten-free flours in baking.

5. Home-made vanilla extract: concerned about hidden gluten in your vanilla extract? Making your own is very easy, although not very cost-effective. Take two vanilla beans, cut them in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with the dull side of a knife. Place the seeds and the beans in a glass jar (mason-style will do), and cover with three ounces of alcohol of your choosing (I like rum for its strong caramel notes, but you can use vodka or any other spirit you like). Seal the jar and store in a cool dry place for at least 7 days before using. I do not strain my vanilla because I like the small, crunchy beans, but it can be strained through a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer.

What are the five essentials in your pantry? We’d love to hear about them!

November 2, 2010

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Goblins & Ghouls

This past weekend was filled with creative costumes, celebrations and eating more than your fair share of sweets. For people not having to worry about allergies, Halloween is typically a free-for-all – eating as many different types of candy as you can get your hands on (at least it was for me when I was a kid!). Being a part of Enjoy Life Foods for over a year now, my mindset has really changed about how I view foods, especially in public places. I now constantly have several questions running through my mind, such as:

“Is the person sitting next to me on the airplane going to be ok if I munch on this bag of fruit & nut trail mix? Would they let me know if they have a severe peanut or tree nut allergy, or would they just hope that my contaminated hands steer clear of anything that they might touch?“

How would you react in this situation?

I had the same thought this past weekend, as I was handing out our tasty allergy-friendly and gluten-free Snickerdoodle cookie packs, wondering how parents of food-allergic children would make sure that everything their little ghoul or goblin takes home with them will be a safe treat and not turn into a scare!

How do you make sure that the sweets given to your child on this treat-ful day are safe for their bellies? What safe and tasty treats were you handing out for Halloween?