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Nurture Me Nature®

Friday, December 1, 2017
filed under: Utilization/Trade: Confection-Non-oil

Marina Levit grew up in the kitchen, watching her mother and grandmother prepare meals for their family in the Ukraine. It was there she learned to play with food and experiment with it, rather than to just follow a recipe.
       She never dreamed those hours spent in the kitchen as a child would influence her future career. But after a visit to Africa in 2001, Marina became sick with H-Pylori, bacteria that live in the stomach. A year of antibiotics destroyed the bacteria, but left Marina unable to digest many foods — including eggs, dairy, sugar, starches, yeast, gluten and nuts — without pain.  She started eating and cooking differently, and she began her search to create tastes and textures in foods she was used to without the ingredients she could no longer eat.  Nurture Me Nature® was the result.
       Jody Kerzman visited with Marina about her products, and her determination to make flour from sunflower seeds.

Explain for us the idea behind Nurture Me Nature®.
       Nurture Me Nature is the result of my health issues. My immune system and my digestive system were compromised. After my year of antibiotics, I was suddenly allergic to everything. I couldn’t tolerate anything, not even gluten-free foods. I tried a paleo diet, which is based on nuts, not grains. Almond flour is commonly used in paleo cooking. I could not eat that, either.
       Nuts are on the top eight allergy list, so I thought, Why not try sunflower seeds? Sunflower seeds were one thing I could eat without getting sick. So I decided to see if I could make it into a flour to use in baking. I am a cook by trade, and a life without breads and cookies didn't make sense to a Ukrainian soul. I spent many hours playing with seeds and spices in the kitchen, creating, recreating and recreating again, until I was completely happy with the breads and cookies I created.
       Then I shared my cookies and breads with family and friends and got wonderful feedback. Some of them suffered with digestive problems and other health issues, while others were totally healthy and could eat about anything they wanted, but simply loved the taste of my breads and cookies — the feeling of consuming a healthy product — and wanted more of it.
       So I started selling Nurture Me Nature® Baking Mixes. It was a slow process because I wanted to make sure the product we were selling was the best possible product we could make. It took a year of testing various recipes and packaging at the farmers’ markets before I scheduled the first production run.
       We currently offer three mixes: a banana and cake baking mix, a chocolate pancake and cookie baking mix, and a pizza crust and bread baking mix. All are nut-free and paleo.
What makes Nurture Me Nature products stand out?
       Our mixes are the only mixes in the world that made from sunflower seeds. Nurture Me Nature is the world's first and only company to make paleo, nut and gluten-free, seed-based baking mixes. We use organic ground sunflower seeds and flax seeds as the base for all of our mixes. Our baking mixes are USDA-certified organic and non-GMO and CSA certified gluten free. They are produced in a dedicated gluten-, nut-, allergen- and soy-free facility. The Nurture Me Nature mixes are free of: nuts (except for coconut), gluten, grain, tapioca, arrowroot, potato starch, xanthan and guar gums, GMO, MSG, soy, dairy, eggs, yeast and added sugar.
Marina Levit
What kinds of challenges have you faced along the way?
       The biggest challenge has been finding organic sunflower to use for the flour. We use organic ingredients of the highest quality, so while we can buy USDA organic certified sunflower seeds from China for 30% less than what we pay in the United States, we choose to pay more and buy domestic seeds. I would love to find an organic grower in the U.S. who can sell me dehulled seeds. I have been looking for an organic farmer to buy my seeds directly from for a long time now without success. I did find organic growers who sell seeds still in the shell, but I don’t have the equipment to dehull them. I hope that an organic grower who has hulled seeds and wants to support my product line, will contact me after reading this article. My email is:
       There have been other challenges and lessons as well. Our first mixes came out in 2015. We just released new mixes two months ago with brand new packaging. The first mixes we made had baking powder instead of baking soda. Baking powder contains a little corn starch, so we couldn’t call those mixes paleo. Plus, some people are allergic to corn starch. We want to make a product that everyone can enjoy. So we recreated the recipe to make it paleo. That took me about two years, and my brownie recipe took me over a year and a half (and more than 350 attempts) to perfect. It’s difficult to create a pastry without corn starch, but we did it! Seventy percent of the brownie mix we sell is sunflower seed.
Why sunflower?
       Sunflower satisfied my need for protein.  It’s very low in carbs and very high in protein and oils. It just works. I first started grinding them in my mixer at home to see if I could make a flour from the seeds. It was a success taste-wise and didn’t make me sick. So I started making breads, cookies, pancakes and pizza crust.
Approximately how many pounds of sunflower do you use each year?
       It takes a lot of sunflower seeds to make flour! Our banana pancake mix is 63% sunflower seed flour. Other mixes have the same composition. They all have organic sunflower seed flour as the base.
Where can Nurture Me Nature baking mixes be purchased?
       Our mixes can be found in some larger natural grocery stores and on our website,
Are you doing advertising, PR, social media or grassroots efforts in product promotion?
       We are a very small company. It’s a family owned business, operated by my husband and me. My best friend has a chocolate factory in San Diego, Calif., so we package and produce our mixes there. Little by little my company keeps growing. We do have a presence on all social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
What does the future hold for your company? New products? New promotions or marketing strategies?
       I’m already thinking of the next thing, which will be a bakery. I am a cook and I love the kitchen. Kitchen is my medication. When I create recipes I am in it 100%. This is fun for me.                                             
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