I am absolutely THRILLED that the incomparable Joe Winke, CEO of Healthy Surprise is the very first male Reader Of The Month. I felt incredibly honoured that Joe chose to help launch his new Gluten Free Surprise box here for Celiac Awareness Month with an incredibly generous giveaway - 6 months of Gluten Free Surprise Boxes delivered to you door. Do NOT miss out on entering this amazing giveaway, and experiencing Joe's delicious healthy snack boxes and superior customer service.
I first met Joe when I won a Healthy Surprise box at the TechMunch LA 2011 Food Bloggers Conference. I was SO excited. A box of vegan, gluten free snacks made out of whole foods! I could eat EVERYTHING! It was like his company was made for me! I was familiar with some of the natural food companies, but also discovered some amazing new companies that I otherwise would never have known about. I was buzzing!
I called Joe to thank him, he immediately invited me to lunch, and a wonderful friendship was born. I am SO grateful to have Joe in my life. He is one of the smartest, most motivated, generous, and inspiring people I have ever met....and absolutely hilarious! I am constantly amazed at what he accomplishes, and how his entrepreneurial mind works. Every time I am around him, I feel like a hungry sponge! I just soak in his energy and leave thirsty for more!
When recently travelled together to the Nourished Gluten Free Food Blogger's Conference and The Gluten and Allergy Free Expo in Chicago and we had a blast! I didn't stop laughing for the whole weekend. But I also felt like I was in a business class for the weekend, Joe constantly asking me, "What can I do for YOU?" He is always offering to help me, and I am humbled and so grateful by his life philosophy and the way he moves through the world - with generosity, wonder, hunger, and love.
Joe, thankyou. You inspire me. I just love you!
For the first 15 years of my life, I ate like a pig. Growing up in an Italian household, I was constantly barraged with delicious pastas and pies! I was constantly fed and reminded that I had never eaten enough. "Joe - finish your plate" or "Joe you haven't eaten anything - have some more!" I was overweight my entire childhood. The fat kid in dodgeball, I was always picked last and was even renamed: Joe "Twinkie" Winke. I had low self esteem and confidence. I didn’t realize it then, but food and eating had a lot to do with my self image and confidence.
Food was a constant, immutable part of my childhood, as was my understanding of my weight. The possibility of eating and looking differently simply didn't exist in my mind - my life was too structured and I had too little impact over my food choices.
This first started to change around high school. Hormones have an incredible ability to shift your perspective. I realized that maybe a date to the prom was more important than that second bowl of ravioli (sorry Gram!). I started thinking more about how I ate, and as a result consumed less pastas and more chicken breasts. There was a point where I must have eaten two to three chicken breasts a day. For some reason it was understood as the universal lean food that a young man could eat which would simultaneously make him lose weight and gain muscle! Whey protein shakes entered my life. I started exercising and working out as part of a regiment for the first time. This was the first time I started to think consciously about food and seeing how it could impact my life.
Through college I played with some diets. The goal was always to get 'ripped'. Eating for health was never even a consideration. I saw other guys in my fraternity get in 'great shape' by eating what I can only call 'drastic diets'. A buddy of mine went 60 days eating nothing but lean meats every meal for a month. 'Lean', but not 'healthy'. Nothing grass-fed or organic, just tuna fish out of a can or gelatinous turkey slices. I was impressed with his discipline and results, but not his technique.
Up until this point my relationship with food had been a battle - always trying to fight food, resisting it's temptations. Never working together to see what we could accomplish!
Throughout and after college I immersed myself with learning about business, reading every book I could find. I devoured as many books as I could, and eventually I started to see the same themes repeating over and over again. I realized that to get to the next level and put these principles in action, I needed to stop working on my business and start working on myself. I stopped reading books about how to form a corporation and started studying how to start a positive habit.
I immersed myself in the world of personal development. I went to workshops and lectures, read blogs and books. I started to think consciously about what was institutionalized in my life. Why did I have a job? Why did I connect certain people? Why did I eat the foods I ate everyday? Why can’t I eat dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner?
I realized that I needed to master my diet and body to master my mind. Without control of the most basic of desires and the proper fuel - how can one possibly grow to their full potential?
My focus turned to health and fitness. I experimented with food and principle. I tried to ask myself poignant questions about what it meant to eat certain foods, both for myself and my community. I asked other people, and quickly learned this was *not* a way to make friends! I became a vegan, and started eating organic for my health. I purchased a high speed blender, and subscribed to incredible blogs like Healthy Blender Recipes. Shortly after, my clothes falling off of me, I found improved clarity of mind, better sleep, and boundless energy. I found myself working smarter and excelling professionally. My confidence and self image got better with every meal!
For me, the biggest pain point in eating healthy was convenience food. Airports, gas stations, fast food – all the 'food' available is horrible. I started to eat nuts at gas stations until I realized how salted and processed they were. One in three stations would have a banana, orange or apple - but they were never organic and always bland.
Traveling a lot, snacking is a large portion of my diet and it's hard to snack well without spending lots of time researching products and companies. I wanted to solve a legitimate problem for myself and others through a sustaining and growing enterprise, so I knew I would have to build a profitable company . I wanted it to be easy, efficient and fit into the time-starved lifestyles we are all facing more frequently.
I realized this was a great opportunity to solve a huge problem and bring together my three passions: wellness, business and personal growth.
Healthy Surprise was born.
As a snackologist, I don't come up with traditional recipes per se. I have the pleasure of putting together our delicious snack boxes each month. No one wants too much savory or sweet! I have lots of fun trying to pair my snacks with more traditional foods. I've found the Cinnamon Skinny Crisps in this month's box are very versatile. I'm using them to channel my childhood Twinkie-Winke Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal by pairing with almond milk. They are also great alone with a banana when on the run. And for a late night snack, scooping up some peanut butter with a little bite of raw chocolate is divine!
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