Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Feedback Matters

If you’ve purchased Grass Fed Jerky Chews from me more than once, there is a chance you’ve received a handwritten note from me stating my appreciation for your order and continued support. There is even a chance you might have also gotten a Real Salt shaker that my generous partners have sent for me to share with my customers.

The little touches that I add to the already-placed orders is my way of communicating with my customers. Afterall, my business is fairly new and much of it is managed and operated (shipping & handling) by only me. There are days I am so busy I don’t get to partake in any social interaction during the day. These couple of weeks I’ve been preparing for my first ever Market and for you local SF Bay Area customers it’s an order to attend! Thank goodness for family and friends to keep me sane at night after “business hours,” I don’t even know if there is such a thing in a life of an Entrepreneur? :)

And of course, thanks to my customers for going out of your way to email with any questions, suggestions, and absolutely awesome encouraging feedback. You don’t really know how good or bad of a job you are doing until you actually hear from people who are consuming the product you’re working so hard to make available.

So you can imagine how excited I get when I see an email from you! Just recently one satisfied customer wrote with such touching feedback that I really wanted to share with you:

My 2.5-yr-old son (along with my wife and me) continue to really enjoy your quality chews. I take them with me on business trips, we eat them daily at home, and we have started cooking more and more with them because we cannot otherwise get quality, grass-fed beef where we live. My son also likes to have jerky chews cut into little strips and mixed in with his food. "Beef Jerky" was one of the first 10-20 phrases that he learned to say.”

The part where “‘beef jerky’ was one of the first 10 - 20 phrases” this child learned is WOW! Thank you to parents who work so hard to source high quality foods for your children. I am that much more encouraged to continue in my mission to make quality snacks that are so versatile (yes, you can cook with my beef jerky) more accessible!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Boosting Immunity with Grass Fed Organ & Bone Broth

When cold and flu season makes its rounds, the first thing that comes to mind is homemade BONE BROTH. The simple nutrient-dense mixture of slow cooked antibacterial herbs, pastured bones and organ meats, makes for one powerful immune boosting superfood!

Bone Marrow and Beef Heart Broth
Recently, I've been making the highly flavorful bone marrow and beef heart combo soup broth. If you're in the Bay Area, Ca, I highly recommend sourcing your grass-fed meat from Brandon Natural Beef - the company recently added Grass Fed Slow- Cook and Organ Cuts to their product list. And you've already seen me mention that Jerky Chews are made from Brandon Natural beef, too.

While you will find pre-made broths in cans and boxes sold in supermarkets, keep in mind that those preservative-laden and over-salted soups will never come close to the nutrient profile of a homemade gelatin-rich broth that's actually health-promoting.

Don't take my word for it, try preparing this super easy recipe tonight!

  • 2 lbs of marrow bones (feel free to use any bones from pastured animals; necks, feet and wings of free range chickens yield lots more gelatin)
  • 1/2 of beef heart (optional, but healthy for the heart & tastes delicious when prepared in the broth) 
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped in half
  • 2 whole carrots
  • couple of garlic cloves
  • 1 whole onion
  • 1 tbs of apple cider vinegar (helps to draw minerals from bones for better calcium absorption)
  • water
  • salt and pepper to taste (optional)

Place the marrow bones and heart in a large pot or crock-pot. Add vinegar and cover with water. Bring to a boil. A large amount of scum will float to the top; remove with a spoon before adding in the rest of the ingredients: vegetables, herbs and salt. Reduce heat and simmer stock overnight (8 - 24 hours). 

Once ready, you'll find the broth rich in gelatin and containing lots of fat solids at the top. That would be tallow and can be used as great cooking fat. You can also just strain the fat with the rest of the vegetables, which are usually discarded as their flavor and nutrients get absorbed in the broth.

You can now drink the clear broth anytime of the day or add it as the base for sauces, stews, and soups. Enjoy the heart as is or add it to a meal with a homemade sauce. I like to chop up small portions of the heart to combine with my omelet the next morning. Remove the marrow from the bones and spread it over your omelet; remember to devour with the same appreciation as these Paleo Girls! The lucky pet who gets the bones will live a very healthy life.

Such simple recipe for preparing bone and organ broth can be made any time of the year to help prevent and treat infections.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cooking with Grass Fed Jerky Chews

In recent years, jerky has been popularized as nutritious protein after a workout, snack on-the-go, and perfect nosh to take outdoors/camping. However, back in the day, the purpose for drying the meat was to preserve it for a later cookery as refrigeration was not available. When the dried snack is rehydrated in water or broth, it can be added with any desired spices and ingredients to provide a satiating meal.

Some of my favorite family stories are of my grandmother's childhood during World War II. Her family would make the most appetizing dishes out of minimally preserved/canned ingredients. It's just the cutest thing when she bites into Jerky Chews and asks, "Can I soak it in water and cook you a meal?"

I would love a meal made from Jerky Chews, especially when I have no other protein left in the house. I got so busy that I forgot to place an order with Brandon Natural Beef; check them out Bay Area, Ca, as they have tongue and other awesome cuts available this season.

But for now, I will scavenge for ingredients I already have and combine them with my 100% grass-fed beef source - Jerky Chews (also made from Brandon Natural Beef) - Original with Lemon flavor to be precise.

Here's a simple recipe you can enjoy while camping or at home: 

  • 1 cup chopped jerky (2oz bag of Jerky Chews)
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (TJ's Organic Diced & Fire Roasted is tasty)
  • 3 farm-fresh eggs (I used duck eggs thanks to the Mountain View farmers market lady who sells bigger-yolk duck eggs for the price of chicken eggs)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Sea salt to taste (optional)

Soak the chopped jerky in water overnight. Heat the pastured butter in a skillet. Squeeze out the moisture from jerky and add it to the skillet along with tomatoes and salt. Cook for a few minutes and then stir in whisked eggs. Continue to stir very slowly over low heat and you got yourself scrambled eggs with delicious chews.


Meal made from rehydrated (soaked in water) Jerky Chews

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Celebrating my 5-year Paleo Journey with a Giveaway of Practical Paleo!

The winner for this Giveaway has been chosen! Thank you to those who participated and shared your inspiring journeys with eating Paleo! Scroll to the comments section to read those stories.

The differences between merely surviving and living optimally are vast, and I would have never found that out if I didn't give Paleo a shot 5 years ago. It's been a great journey and I'd like to celebrate with a little giveway...

But first, back when I started Paleo I was lucky to have the help of a Paleo friend, but there wasn't much good literature available on the subject. I did pick up a few books upon my friend's recommendation that gave me insight into Paleo and what real food/organic movement is all about: The Paleo Diet by Dr. Cordain and The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. I really enjoyed Pollan's book as it sparked an interest in me to shop at farmers markets more and to get to know the farmers and ranchers that grow my food. 

Since then, the Paleo community has grown significantly and I'm honored to be part of it with my jerky business I started just a few years ago out of my personal need for a traditional, nutrient-dense snack made from quality ingredients, such as 100% grass-fed beef. Knowing the source of my food is very important to me, and I can see it is just as important to most of you. 

Lucky for us, there are very hard working people in the Paleosphere nowadays that are making our transition to Paleo much easier. From Mark Sisson to Robb Wolf to amazing recipe featured on The Food Lover's Kitchen. One of my personal favorite blogs is by Diane Sanfilippo called Balanced Bites, which is a great resource for a more holistic approach to health and wellness. 

Over the last year, I've gotten to meet and bond with Diane - she's been a great supporter of Jerky Chews and even mentioned Sophia's Survival Food brand in her newly released book - Practical Paleo. Diane is very passionate about helping people and just an inspiration with how she is capable of presenting easy to make recipes and breaking down the science behind Paleo in a clear way. In her Practical Paleo book, she does the same incredible job of laying out all the critical points about Paleo with incredibly easy to understand wording, diagrams and MEAL PLANS! All the recipes look very tasty and you don't have to be the Naked Chef to throw them together. In no time, you'll have a better understanding about how your body 'should' work, how certain foods react with your body, and ways to go about improving your health. I really wish I had this resource available to me when I started on this journey five years ago.

So, what's in the GIVEAWAY? A copy of Practical Paleo, of course!! I will also include new flavors of Jerky Chews and Real Salt Shakers!

How to enter:
  • Like Balanced Bites fb page
  • Like my Sophia's Survival Food fb page
  • Share in the comments that you liked the above pages, and if you'd like, mention a little about your paleo/real food journey with us!
  • And, last but not least: This contest is open to US residents only. 
I will announce the winner on Monday 8/27/12, at noon PST!

Friday, July 20, 2012

1st Anniversary - Brandon Natural Beef and Real Salt Giveaway!

The winner for this Giveaway has been chosen! Thank you to those who participated! We now have great ground beef and steak recipes to choose from. Please feel free to check out our partner Brandon Natural Beef for some of the best 100% grass-fed and finished beef !

It’s been ONE YEAR since I took the daring step and moved my jerky production to a family-owned USDA jerky making facility, and it’s been a WILD ride of incredible reviews, shout-outs, partnerships, and personal growth. Most importantly, support from customers has been phenomenal. Your feedback and requests have led to product improvements and inspired new developments that are still to come.

As you probably already know, from the very beginning, I’ve been committed to being a good steward of the environment (blame it on the side effect of eating real food/paleo for many years) - which is why I’m devoted to using 100% grass-fed and finished beef from small grass-ranchers in addition to quality spices, while supporting US-based businesses. If you haven’t already, you can view the video about my philosophy and jerky making process here. No matter the challenges, I’ve stuck to creating a traditional, nutrient-dense snack that anyone can feel good about eating.

Looking at it now, I can say there's nothing better than providing access to a clean ingredient snack and hearing back from people who loved it. Actually, indulging in my grandmother’s homemade aspic dish comes close - Yum!

To celebrate this, I’m teaming up with my partners who are behind the top-notch ingredients that are used for the making of Jerky Chews: 

Brandon Natural Beef and Real Salt have generously agreed to donate absolutely AMAZING prizes! 

Brandon Natural Beef is run by Bob and Lisa, together as a family, they market flavorful 100% grass-fed and finished beef to folks who live in SF Bay Area - and if you’re in the area make sure to connect with them as deliveries are made for free. 
They source the beef from a grass rancher in Colorado who raises the cattle on mountain pastures where they are free to graze all day like nature intended. After hearing from lovely Michelle of Nom Nom Paleo about Brandon Natural Beef a couple months ago, I quickly phoned them to try the beef for myself - she’s right - absolutely delish! Not long after, we partnered so more of you can enjoy their beef in the form of Jerky Chews.

Another critical ingredient used in the recipe of Jerky Chews is unrefined mineral rich sea salt from my FAVORITE brand - Real Salt. The salt is packed with natural trace minerals that are pink in color and found in the ancient salt deposit near Redmond, Utah. 
But why I absolutely love this particular brand is because it makes a huge difference in punching of the flavors of foods, far more than refined sea salt, kosher salt, or regular table salt. And it doesn't hurt that it's also nutritious - as highlighted in the recent posts by Chris Kresser.

Now, what’s this GIVEAWAY comprised of?
And guess what? There are a total of 2 winners that get double of the good stuff! That's like more than $100 worth of goodies! You can thank me here for covering the shipping cost of the boxes because I really really want you to try the products! The giveaway is only advertised through my Facebook page and twitter and website, so feel free to share with anyone you know who might be interested. C'mon, it's 100% grass-fed beef and real salt - crazy to think that someone wouldn't be :P

To Enter:

1. Like Brandon Natural Beef Facebook page
2. Like Real Salt Facebook page
3. Leave a comment here on my blog letting me know that you did that AND how you plan to prepare the meat this summer, if you leave out Real Salt in the will not get picked! Kidding. But seriously why wouldn't you use the two together?
4. And, last but not least: This contest is open to US residents only.

I will announce the winnerS on Tuesday 7/24/12, at noon PST!

Go forth, good luck & have a MEATY summer!!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Prioritizing Grass-fed Beef

In today's Balanced Bites podcast, one of the things Michelle of Nom Nom Paleo talked about is prioritizing expenses in such a way so to have the money for quality, humanely raised food. I couldn't agree more! Since the day I started on this journey of incorporating quality nutrient-dense foods in my diet, I've grown to really value food. I would take Open Space Meats Grass Fed Beef and Brandon Natural Beef over the latest fashionable item any day! 

Just this afternoon, Lisa of Brandon Natural Beef stopped by to drop off ground beef that I ordered for the home. Talk about knowing where your food comes from - I must have squeezed out of Lisa everything there is to know about how the cattle are raised in Colorado. I already knew the bulk of the information from her husband, Bob, and why I chose to source their meat for Jerky Chews, but I was curious to know more and Lisa really did a great job of providing me with a thorough explanation. If you're in the SF Bay Area, I highly recommend signing up for a free delivery service of some of the most delicious grass-fed beef. You, too, can chat-up Lisa or Bob!

I like that ground beef is affordable and can be made into different dishes. My personal favorites are healthy burgers and lettuce-wraps with your choice of seasonal spices and sauces. Yum!

Friday, May 4, 2012

The winner for this Mother's Day Giveaway has been chosen! 
But if you are looking for some great Mother's Day gift ideas, I highly encourage you to consider BEAUTIFUL jewelry and home decor items handmade with high quality from fine porcelain (ancient clay), and of course, bags of Jerky Chews :)

MOTHER'S DAY GIVEAWAY: Win 3 bags of Jerky Chews + Handmade Ivory Shell Earrings (made by our very own jerky fan)! 

Mother's Day is just around the corner and to celebrate, I'm hosting a HUGE giveaway, which I rarely do because I've been holding off for the right occasion and the right prize!

My mom is my biggest supporter and promoter in my business. There have been times over the course of developing my business when my confidence has wavered (i.e. what the heck am I doing with my life?!) and she has always been there to remind me to follow my heart. Somehow in her busy schedule she always manages to find time to help me out. She's truly a SUPERMOM!

In honor of my mom and every other mother who deserves to be acknowledged for her AMAZINGNESS, I wanted to give ONE lucky winner tasty Jerky Chews in each flavor (2oz bags), plus ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL one of a kind Ivory Shell Earrings, handmade from English Porcelain that will make Mom feel even more special and loved.

The earrings I am splurging on for my giveaway are designed and created by Viktoriya Braginsky in her Brooklyn studio. Viktoriya is actually a loyal customer of Grassfed Jerky Chews. Being at the forefront of my business, I get the lovely opportunity to meet (via email or in person) some of my customers who on occasion share with me about their personal endeavors. Very happy that Viktoriya forwarded me the link to her Viktoriya B. Studio shop on Etsy right in time for Mother’s Day!

My loyal fans know how much I love supporting small businesses offering quality products made with the greatest integrity and careful craftsmanship, and I found Viktoriya's work to possess all that and more. Since I like to be transparent with how my product is produced, I asked Viktoriya to share a little more with us about her jewelry and home decor items made from fine porcelain.

Read the interview and then jump to the details of the giveaway!

SSF: How has your mother encouraged you on this business journey?
VB: At a young age my mom helped me form my opinion of what I consider to be beautiful, well-made ceramics.  Today, my mom is my toughest and best critique.  Our taste in ceramics is still very similar and I consider her feedback invaluable.  We live in different states so I can usually exchange my ideas with her by phone or photos but I find it very encouraging when she asks me about my progress, goals and upcoming projects.  

SSF: Why did you decide to work with porcelain?
VB: Porcelain clay is an ancient material and the process of working with it has not changed much overtime.  I find it intriguing and pure since it has been perfect without a need for alteration for thousands of years.  For me porcelain is the most beautiful ceramic because of its translucent delicate quality and unexpected strength.  It is also finicky and can be difficult to handle with but I enjoy that part of working hard to get the desired results.   

SSF: Why do you think it’s important to offer handmade items crafted from quality materials?
VB: In mass market manufacturing products usually go through a long and sometimes bureaucratic process where many compromises are made before an item comes to fruition.  This is unfortunate as so many ideas get lost along the way.  People connecting with their craft is really important, and I truly put a lot of love and effort into every piece that comes from my studio.  There is no better QC then the creator.

SSF: How big is your operation? Where do you work out of?
VB: I design and hand make every item.  Most of my designs require 3 firings, which I also do myself.  This gives me more control over the process.  Everything is made in small batches with the utmost care in my tiny but cozy studio in Brooklyn, NY

SSF: What's your favorite Jerky Chews flavor?

VB: My favorite flavor is Mild.  I’m not that big on spices but this flavor is just the right combination for me.  I love snacking on Jerky Chews when I’m in the studio.  It’s a healthy and filling option when I don’t have much time to spend.

Giveaway: 3 bags of Jerky Chews (2oz) in each flavor, and one pair of earrings! It's a great value giveaway, and all you gotta do IS tell me that Moms are awesome!

  1. Comment on this post on the Sophia’s Survival Food Facebook page! I would just encourage you to like Viktoriya B. Studio's shop on Etsy as she’ll have more awesome items in store you won’t want to miss!!

Contest ends 12:00 pm PST on Monday, May 7th (so we have enough time to nicely wrap and ship)! You have until then to leave your comment and be eligible to win!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Eating Paleo in Japan

About 5 years ago, over New Year’s, I came on a week long trip to Japan with my Japanese college roomie, whose family showed me a really great time around Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo. It was one of the most memorable experiences as I got to meet a Maiko and pose as one, too. :)

AND most importantly, I got to try for the first time real authentic Japanese food (Osechi dishes), although at the time, I wasn’t yet a Paleo foodie.

For my birthday this year, my boyfriend gifted me a short and sweet trip to Japan since he was going to be there for work anyway. Boy, was I elated at the chance to see my college roomie again, and this time visit Japan with a much deeper appreciation for nutrient dense and traditional cuisine.

Guess the first place my friend and I ate at? Yep, you guessed it: sushi restaurant! The smell of the ocean strongly permeated the air of the restaurant, which to me was a sign that the fish must be fresh, and it REALLY was! YUM!

Fresh sashimi platter
Eel bowl and salmon sashimi, fish roe, and crab bowl

I loved how almost every meal I had in Japan was accompanied by some kind of nutritious broth. 

fish miso broth
crab miso broth

On one of the nights, we were recommended a hole in the wall type restaurant that served all sorts of unique fish dishes. No menu in English at this one, so I couldn't tell exactly the name of all fish we tasted, except that they were all equally delicious!!

Octopus and squid with some kind of sea veggies

possibly mackerel?

Lots of different seaweed to be had. Nori is delicious; plain as a snack, or wrapped with fish and veggies.

When the weekend came around and my boyfriend was free from work to explore Tokyo with me, we made it a goal to see as much of the city as possible. This meant we had less time for sit-down meals, and that’s when we were so grateful to have Grass Fed Jerky Chews on hand to help us survive at least part of a day.