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Natural Awakenings Lehigh Valley

Informed Foods and Smoothies

Mar 06, 2015 05:31PM ● By Beth Davis

Sean Ward, managing partner of Informed Foods and Smoothies, in Fogelsville, admits he’s always leaned toward a healthy lifestyle. Growing up, he was an athlete. He played sports in high school and college, and had a natural desire to stay fit and be active. Although he says there was no real “aha” moment, his journey toward helping others get healthy began about 25 years ago when he started a small business called Jonathan’s All Natural Lemonade. He traveled to fairs, festivals and more, juicing Golden Delicious apples and lemons over ice—a drink he still serves today. Over time, the business grew, along with his passion for wellness and nutrition.

About 15 years ago, he and his wife, Debbie, launched Jonathan’s Liquids for Life, in Bethlehem, as part of American Hairlines Salon. “It was cool because we got our feet wet,” says Ward. “We served sandwiches, juices and smoothies in about 200 square feet of space. It was a good fit.”

He says he was surprised, yet delighted, that many of their regular customers were high school kids looking for healthy alternatives.

While operating Liquids for Life, he met Paul Wagner, owner of the PROgram, a wholesale supplier of frozen ingredients, specializing in frozen fruit. Wagner became Ward’s frozen fruit supplier and distributor.

In 2005, Ward and Wagner joined forces to open Informed Foods and Smoothies. Since then, the business has continued to thrive and will celebrate 10 years this September. Ward praises Wagner for his belief, patience and devotion to the health and wellness business model as a reason Informed Foods has slowly grown, survived and developed a very loyal customer base and following. “Without that we wouldn’t exist,” he says. He also credits those customers and “word of mouth” for helping the business grow.

“It’s very complicated to be healthy,” he explains. “In today’s world, one day something is good for you, the next day it isn’t. So, it’s beyond confusing for the average consumer to figure out what opinion, advice or trend is best for them. We try to make it easier for people to obtain optimum health by being informed.”

The team at Informed Foods researches their ingredients extensively and constantly develops new and nourishing recipes. “Eating healthy is as simple as knowing the source of your food,” he states. “We are proud supporters of organic farming and farmers’ markets, and use local products whenever we can.” When working with distributors, Ward chooses those who source from smaller farms when he can. Most importantly, he stays educated and develops local relationships to ensure the best quality products.

For those who want to make a change, he says it’s critical not to be complacent. “It’s about being proactive, not reactive. Pay attention to what you chew and swallow.”

Informed Foods offers a yogurt bar featuring real organic plain or vanilla yogurt with an assortment of 15 toppings that includes organic fruit, local raw honey, dark chocolate, raisins, shredded coconut, granola and more; organic juices; warm, gluten-free steel cut oatmeal and grain bowls (millet/quinoa and brown rice) with choice of five toppings; and 18 choices of fruit smoothies. Ward says, “Our smoothies aren’t organic per say. They have organic ingredients, but what we do is offer the choice to make any of them all organic. However, the price does increase.”

Ward recognizes that smoothies sometimes get a bad rap. He says they have become a hot and profitable menu item for most fast food franchises, especially when they are made with cheap, processed, shelf stable ingredients. “This type of smoothie, made with over processed frozen yogurts, partial fruit juices and purees, is over processed, unhealthy and a simple sugar laden drink. To ensure you are getting a true smoothie—a real health-based drink—pay close attention to where you are buying it, how it’s made and with what ingredients. A well-made, health promoting smoothie can truly help ‘feed’ and nourish you when it’s made correctly. Organic nut butters, whey and vegan proteins, organic greens, wheatgrass, pure acai and coconut oil are just some of the wonderful ingredients that add a ton of nutritional density to any smoothie.”

Informed Foods also makes their own all-organic Down To Earth trail mix, a combination of 10 organic ingredients including soaked and low temp dehydrated walnuts, almonds, pecans, and pumpkin seeds, plus dried cranberries, blueberries, sour cherries, raisins, coconut, and chunks of 70 percent dairy free dark chocolate. According to Ward, Down to Earth is one of the most nutrient dense, satisfying and delicious trail mixes on the market. He says the nuts are soaked and dehydrated, which help encourage the production of beneficial enzymes. These good enzymes increase the availability of many vitamins, minerals and other nutrients contained in the nuts and seeds and also make the nuts and seeds easier to digest.

As for the future of Informed Foods, Ward says he would like to see the business expand locally in the Lehigh Valley. “I envision a spot where people can come and hang out, like a coffee shop,” he comments. “I’d love to expand our food offerings and offer more choices, including those from local farmers. People could eat at the café or call ahead for meals to take home. We will always be geared toward informing and creating a community of like-minded people.”

Lucky for customers, Ward is just as enthusiastic about wellness today as he was when he started 25 years ago. “If you are passionate about it and believe in what you’re doing, people will pick up on that. I stay passionate because I truly believe this is where health is based. Our focus should be on how to take care of the body, so it can take care of itself.”

Informed Foods and Smoothies is located at 2374 Seipstown Road, in Fogelsville. For more information, call 610-285-4158 or visit InformedFoods.com.

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