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    The Wonderful Work of the Food Equality Initiative

    The Wonderful Work of the Food Equality Initiative

    Living with dietary restrictions and food allergies is tough enough on its own. For low-income individuals and families, though, it’s almost impossible to afford quality food that is allergy friendly. Many low-income people rely on local food banks for their groceries, but not many food banks have an adequate supply of safe foods for those on restrictive diets.

    Emily Brown realized how much of a problem this was when her daughter, at age 1, was diagnosed with multiple food allergies. With assistance from the Women, Infants and Children program, Emily tried to find safe and nutritious food within her daughter’s dietary restrictions. That’s when she noticed a gap in the system and in the spring of 2014, she started the Food Equality Initiative out of Overland Park, Kansas.

    “When we started this a few years ago, nobody was talking about this issue,” Emily said. “Nobody was connecting the dots between food allergies and the high cost of food and the impact it can have on families, particularly low-income.”

    The first (and still only) organization of its kind in the country, FEI provides allergy friendly food and nutritional education to low-income individuals and families. FEI distributed over twelve thousand pounds of food in its first year open, all gluten free and allergy friendly. About 20 families rely on FEI for some or all of their food supply every month and the number of clients is growing. A second location is set to open in Kansas City, Missouri in late July.

    “Everything we do is very intentional. We put a lot of effort and thought into what goes on the shelves and the systems we use here,” Emily said. “For those of us with food allergies, it’s a condition and it’s only really managed by what you put in your mouth. That’s the preventative treatment. If you don’t have that access, you just can’t maintain your health. And we’re seeing research that supports the work we do. We look at the work we’re doing here as a model.”

    FEI relies on business sponsors to minimize out of pocket costs and Ona just happens to be their July Sponsor of the Month! Our own business began with food allergies and seeking out quality food that fit within a restrictive diet. Ona founder and owner, Chris Feuille, had health issues several years ago that forced him to eliminate all gluten, grains and dairy from his diet. Still craving sweets, his kitchen experiments with honey and nuts eventually became the Ona products we have today.

    Read more about the wonderful work the Food Equality Initiative does on their website: http://foodequalityinitiative.org/about-us-2/

    What's on the Wrapper!?

    What's on the Wrapper!?

    Now on our fourth generation of packaging, we have a few changes we’d like to introduce! Product packaging is a jumble of labels, numbers, words and symbols, trying to provide consumers with as much information as possible in a small space without coming across as completely chaotic and overwhelming. Like that sentence!

    Our new packaging includes some recent certifications we’ve obtained. These certifications take time, money, paperwork and patience. We have patience!


    Ona Cookie Wrapper

    In 2016, we became certified Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, and began a sponsorship with the Pollinator Partnership. All of this and more is on our product packaging. We want our customers to get a sense of what Ona is and the effort we put in to maintaining high quality standards of the product they’re holding.


    Non-GMO Project Verified

    After more than a year of inspections, investigation, communication (lots of emails), and waiting, Ona obtained the Non-GMO Project Verified status.  In order to become Non-GMO Project Verified, we had to be completely transparent about our ingredients: where we get them, the non-GMO practices suppliers use to grow and process their products, how they keep that product separate from high GMO risk products, and how we do the same once they are in our facility. For our honey supply, we had to provide documentation that bees weren’t foraging on high risk crops. It’s a rigorous examination of every step in our supply chain!


    Fair Trade Ingredients

    Our Fair Trade Certified symbol means that we use fair and equitable trade practices at every level of our supply chain. Fair Trade USA made sure we buy from certified Fair Trade farms and that we’re buying at fair trade prices. We do this to support farmers in developing countries, their environment and communities, and to promote better working conditions for them.


    CCOF Organic     USDA Organic

    Two more new additions to our wrappers are the USDA Organic symbol and The California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). Organic means that the producers from whom we get our ingredients use natural practices to the grow their crop. This means maintaining soil and water quality, wildlife, avoiding synthetic fertilizers and genetic engineering, and using natural methods for pest and weed management. CCOF confirmed that our ingredients are organic by checking into the practices of our ingredient suppliers and that they are in compliance with the USDA Organic standards.


    Certified Paleo

    The circle with the P in it stands for our official Paleo certification by the Paleo Foundation.  This means our products do NOT have: grains, dairy, soy, legumes, artificial coloring, preservatives, artificial sweeteners. That was an easy one as MOST of our recipes never contained any of those! We do have two peanut products that are not paleo and still delicious.


    Certified Gluten-Free

    Next is the Certified Gluten Free logo from the Gluten Intolerance Group. They tested our products and individual ingredients to ensure we were below the FDA’s maximum gluten level of 20 parts per million to be considered gluten free. Gluten Intolerance Group holds even stricter standards. To pass their gluten free exam, our products and ingredients have to contain less than 10 ppm gluten. Again, that one was pretty easy as our ingredients are inherently gluten free and high quality!


    Why become certified Kosher? We don’t use meat or dairy in our products or even in our facility. Kosher certification is another way we show that our products are high quality. To be kosher, products have to be grown and processed in compliance with a set of complex religious rules. We get our nuts, seeds and oils from Kosher sources and nothing that isn’t kosher touches anything in the kitchen where our products are made.


    What is GAPS? It stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome and it’s a condition that establishes a connection between how our gut goings-on change our brain. This diet program is used to treat conditions like ADHD / ADD, schizophrenia, autistic spectrum disorders, as well as immune system and digestive problems. GAPS diet avoids processed foods, and prefers organic food, natural fats like coconut, unrefined sweeteners, no chemicals, artificial coloring or sweeteners. Nut flours allowed in moderation. Ona cookies and bars meet all the criteria so those on the GAPS diet can enjoy them!


    What is SCD? It stands for Specific Carbohydrate Diet. It’s a way to treat digestive conditions that are a result of damaged gut lining, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and diverticulitis. This diet allows foods (carbohydrates) based on their chemical structure. Simple, easier to digest carbs like fructose, are allowed, while complex carbs like starch and lactose, are not. Honey is the only sweetener allowed on this diet!


    Pollinator Partnership  Bee Friendly Farming

    Your purchase keeps bees happy! In May 2016, Ona began donating a portion of every product sold to the Bee Friendly Farmer program, which is a part of the Pollinator Partnership, the world’s largest non-profit 501(c)3 organization that is devoted solely to protecting pollinators and their natural habitat. The BFF program requires its farmers to provide exceptional habitat for their pollinators. For more details, see our June 1 blog or check out the Pollinator Partnership website!

    We're Non-GMO Project Verified, Organic, Fair Trade, Gluten-Free, Paleo, and Kosher Certified, friendly for GAPS and SCD diets, AND we support sustainable bee friendly farming. Oh, and our products are delicious! Which makes it easy for you to help support all that we do for our community and environment!

    WHY power versus WILL power by Tandy Gutierrez

    WHY power versus WILL power by Tandy Gutierrez

    Know Your WHY.

    Be in love with your WHY.  

    I am constantly guiding clients and M&K members to know your 'WHY'.

    What the heck IS a WHY?

    Why do you want to be healthier?
    Why do you want to be more fit?
    Why are you doing the Reset?
    Why are you getting on the mat?
    Why did you become an M&K member?

    Your WHY is the thing or things that keeps you so emotionally connected and bound to your actions that you cannot fail and will very rarely falter. Your WHY is the thing you've taken time to think about, to journal about, meditate on, pray for, cry and scream over. It’s the thing you may really never want to tell anyone out loud. 

    Your WHY is yours. It motivates and terrifies you at the same time. It is your hearts true wish and greatest fear. These two things are always so closely intertwined. When you know your WHY it's simply a matter of changing patterns, practices and habits to get to your goals. (Which is where I come in). 

    Knowing WHY you are doing something is far more powerful than just feeling that you 'should' do something. You can 'should' yourself endlessly and never connect to your body. If you never connect to your body in a genuine and real way you simply won't make progress or get to your results. If you're only working out or eating clean because you know you 'should' or because your doctor, mother, best friend, partner told you need to.....it'll never stick. You have to do things for yourself, because YOU want to. You need to feel and taste it and be so 'in' your WHY that there is no derailing the step-by-step and day-to-day. Or when you do derail, you IMMEDIATELY hop back on, minus the guilt and ugly self-talk. You simply say ‘Well, that happened. I’m human. I’m learning. I’ll continue to practice. I’ll start again, now’.

    Know your WHY. Get emotionally bound to it. Journal, post, email it to me if you are so inclined.  Dig into yourself and know why you're doing what you do. Make an active choice rather than simply filling time and marking off days.

    Originally when we launched this business my WHY was to thrive, not just survive for my boys. I was terrified that I'd die and that my boys would no longer have a mom. I didn’t tell anyone this for an incredibly long time. I'd lived my life in limbo of feeling motherless (I'm adopted) and I didn't want any portion of that story for them. I kept loosing weight no matter what any doctor or practitioner or nutritionist advised. I was getting to the place of jitters, heart flutters and I was terrified of organ failure. Keep in mind, I didn’t look ‘that sick’ on the outside. After a life of ups and downs with my health pre and post kids, I finally snatched up my WHY (my boys) and committed to following my instincts, knowledge and intuition. I wrote the M&K Food Reset, I only did my own 30 minute workouts 2-6xs a week, I took momma 'time outs' when I needed to, rested with my boys more than I felt comfortable with, even when it hurt to ask for help and I let myself heal through self care, connection, awareness and listening to my gut instincts. 

    My health had taken such scary twists and turns. It was not simple. It was not a straight forward 'success' of bells and whistles. I had emotional meltdowns, arguments with family members about all of it, the food, the results, all the tests that came back negative of ‘real’ issue. There weeks I felt terrible and felt like a failure and I had setbacks. But each time I went back to my WHY. I thought about how sad, hurt and alone they would feel minus a momma for all the parts of their lives and I warriored on. Slow. Steady. Committed. And eventually, healing happened. My energy levels increased, depression came less frequent, anxiety just didn't crop up, I started to put on a little weight, my acne cleared up, stomach distress lessened and 1.5 years later...I was at my healthy goal weight, with clear skin and far less bowel issues. 2 years later there was more upswing, stronger, more muscle on my body, better bowel health and if I stick to the foods I knew worked for me I had zero belly issues. 3 years later I’ve added in many foods that I couldn’t touch most of my adult life, I can workout past the 30 minute mark without complete wipe out the week following, I don’t fear anxiety, panic or depression. I can focus on the incredibly deep and challenging experience of being a mother and be present for their experiences rather than being consumed by mine.

    I had finally figure out how to not only manage my lifestyle and issues but to make progress in a calm thoughtful, consistent manner. My WHY won. My WHY saved me.

    My WHY now changes from time to time. So will yours. That's normal. But I always have one. I still go back to the original one. It's the strongest. It's the WHY that makes me smile and cry at the same time. It's the one I'm bound to at my heart and therefore bound to in m actions.

    Fitness is just like life, it's continually evolving. But the things that wake you up inside with equal joy and fear are the things that will guide you to your successes. 

    Once you really connect to your WHY try writing out 10-50 reasons WHY you want it. By the time you finish you literally won't have room for excuses, you'll be so engrained with your WHY. Your choices and habits will simply be what you do rather than be a struggle. 

    WHY power allows you to make choices and proceed with care rather whereas willpower forces your had to avoid things but never rewards you with you long term goal.

    For years you have tried to push through with willpower. You pushed. Forced. Held strong and resisted 'breaking'. You white knuckled through a 'diet' or workout for 30, 60 or 90 days. Willpower is rigid and short lived. Willpower is forced. Willpower is actually weak. It can't bend and curve and navigate with education. It simply stands stock-still. Holding its breath till the short term time is up. Willpower doesn't last. It's mean spirited and disrespectful to your body. It forces you through things that aren't comfortable rather than educating you to twist and turn with the ups and downs of life. Willpower causes stress. WHY power soothes and calms because it carries the care of the bigger picture.

    Willpower is a noun. It means the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action. Willpower is inherently based in the short term decision making. It doesn't teach you how to adjust, choose, embrace, or evolve for the long term. Willpower says 'NO' whereas WHY power says, not right now because 'insert goal here _______' is worth far more to me in the long run then this 'insert food, tv show, beverage, inertia here ________' will never mean to me and the life I want.

    Willpower delays instant gratification, by definition. WHY power ensures long-term gratification.

    WHY power instills that you have a hold on the bigger picture and are willing to live by your moral compass rather than your reptilian response for immediate pleasure. 

    Final note: You've got to simply not care what anyone else thinks about you. Not your family, your partner, your teachers or even your friends. You have to love and want your best self and know that by taking care of you, you can better take care of others, be a positive force in the world, create, solve, assist better. Do what you need and want for you to be at your best. Tune out the junk, the grumpy gusses and the nay-sayers. This is your journey. Not theirs. If you don't stand up and hang on to your WHY no one else will. WHY power lasts a lifetime, Willpower lasts 30-90 days. Which power are you claiming for your fitness & wellness?


    Gutierrez is an internationally recognized Pilates and fitness instructor to celebrities, athletes and everyone in between. Former regional director of Pilates for Equinox Fitness Southern California region, co-founder of Mat & Kitchen (matandkitchen.com) and mother of two boys. Tandy has a background as a professionally trained dancer with 20 years of injury and movement to draw from. She has been featured in Elle, Seventeen, Allure magazines and many more. Consistently ranked as one of the top Pilates instructors in the U.S. In over 15 years of study, practice and teaching she has honed a unique style of Pilates, Yoga and strength infused fitness that is both kind and intelligent and extremely effective. She has also developed a complete food and self-care lifestyle that supports her fitness regimen known by her member community around the world as "The M&K Life".

    Bee-gining a New Partnership: WBK Pledges to Bee Friendly Farming Program

    Bee-gining a New Partnership: WBK Pledges to Bee Friendly Farming Program

    WB Kitchen, maker of Ona cookies and bars, is collaborating with the Pollinator Partnership to support the Bee Friendly Farming Program, which encourages farmers to provide pollinators with a healthy living environment. 

    Pollinator Partnership (P2) is the world’s largest non-profit 501(c)3 organization that is devoted solely to protecting pollinators and their natural habitat. Businesses big and small work with P2 to promote their mission and sponsor events and programs.

    Kelly Rourke, Program Coordinator at P2, says they really enjoy working with small businesses. “It’s a great way to act locally, to get people involved and to spread the word about pollinator issues. We’re able to reach a more specific audience and it’s a group of people who might be more inclined to take action and dig deeper to learn more.”

    WB Kitchen is pledging a portion of each product sold to P2, specifically the Bee Friendly Farming (BFF) Program. This program requires farmers to meet certain criteria to provide pollinators on their land with exceptional habitat. Rourke said, “There’s a certification process and it’s more involved. It encourages the use of best management practices and reducing or eliminating the use of chemicals on the land.”

    In addition to chemical alternatives, farmers must use 3-6% of their land for bee foraging, provide clean water for bees, ensure a variety of flowering plants remain in bloom throughout the growing season, and provide features like hedgerows and natural brush where the bees can nest and mate.

    WB Kitchen owner and founder, Chris Feuille, wants to spread P2’s message about safe and sustainable bee farming as these have such an impact on the quality of honey produced. And honey is a key ingredient in WB Kitchen’s ONA products.

    “Pollinators, especially bees, are very important to us as we sweeten our products exclusively with honey,” Feuille said. “Learning about bees, honey, and the issues involved with farming can get people to focus their energy on actually making changes and educating others. Working with Pollinator Partnership is a win-win. It touches on our connection to bees and honey.  It also allows us to educate others on the farming aspect and how much of an impact farming techniques have on bees.”

    Education about pollinators is the primary goal of P2 and WB Kitchen’s involvement with the program. A bee symbol as well as the Pollinator Partnership logo will be added to the line of ONA product wrappers in July.

    “Putting the bee on the wrapper means we can raise awareness for P2,” Feuille said. “People have an emotional connection with bees. The human species would have a very hard time staying alive without the bees and other species of pollinators. They are a cog in the wheel of life and by putting the BFF symbol on our wrapper, we’re allowing people the opportunity to dive deeper into the issue and go down the path of knowledge where action begins.”

    The Gut Brain Connection 101

    The Gut Brain Connection 101

    By: Clara Wisner

    May 13, 2016


    The gut brain connection is one of my favorite new topics. There is an incredible amount of new research coming out on this subject daily, and all of it is super interesting (especially if you are a gut-health nerd like me!).

    Therefore, I wanted to give a general overview about this topic, so that the person who won’t spend tons of time pouring over the research can still make educated decisions about their gut and brain health.

    First off, there are few concepts you need to be familiar with.

    The Gut: small intestine

    - actually located where we generally refer to our stomach

    - a part of the GI tract, which also includes the large intestine, stomach, and colon.

    - the gut is our interface between the outside and inside world, separated by one-cell-thickness. These cells are called “enterocytes".

    - The resident microorganisms in our gut, outnumbering by 10:1 our human body cells, develop an ecosystem through postnatal exposures, in the vaginal canal, through breastfeeding, and the immediate environment.  This means we actually contain more bacterial DNA than human DNA!

    Fight or Flight vs Rest and Digest

    - Body has two key systems:

    - Fight or Flight (sympathetic nervous system): our body diverts all its resources towards immediate survival.  It is ready to fight or flee. Digestion doesn’t happen, our body is ready to use any energy it has on the task at hand, not more long term health tasks like reproduction, digestion, or rebuilding immunity.

    - Rest and Digest (parasympathetic nervous system): Should be the dominant state. Digestion happens, we detoxify, we build and circulate hormones, rebuilding or immune system and structures, etc.

    - This is huge for the gut brain connection because, as we’ll see, when we are in a fight or flight response, our brain and gut don’t communicate well, and problems arise.

    The gutbrain axis refers to the biochemical signaling taking place between the GI tract and the nervous system, often involving intestinal microbiota, has a lot to do with healthy brain function. 

    Vagus Nerve:

    - The vagus nerve is the tenth cranial nerve, and runs from the spinal chord into the digestive tract.

    - Connects with the ‘rest and digest’ control of the heart and digestive tract.

    Leaky Gut

    AKA Intestinal permeability.

    When the “tight junctions” in the gut’s single cell layer get inflamed and loosen allowing junk to get through and into the blood stream, causing a whole host of health issues.

    (refer to picture)


    Enteric Nervous System:

    - The gut has a mind of its own, the "enteric nervous system". 

    - Sometimes it’s hard to imagine having a brain in our gut, since we’re used to thinking of the brain in our head, but really the brain is a complex web of nerve impulses, neurons, neurotransmitters, etc., not the structure necessarily.

    - The gut's brain or the "enteric nervous system" is located in the sheaths of tissue lining the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon.

    - it is a network of neurons, neurotransmitters and proteins

    - it zaps messages between neurons' support cells like those found in the brain proper

    - a complex circuitry that enables it to act independently, learn, remember and, as the saying goes, produce gut feelings.

    • Your enteric nervous system would function completely if severed from the spinal chord.
    • The gut contains 100 million neurons, more than the spinal cord
    • Major neurotransmitters like sertonin, dopamine, glutamate, etc. are in the gut and made in the gut
    • The gut is rich source of natural benzodiazepines- the family of psychoactive chemicals that includes xanax and valium,
      • Could have to do with why high anxiety is related to gut health.


    The Gut-Brain Axis: How the Gut Affects the Brain

    1. When there is destruction of beneficial microbes– from antibiotics, birth control, processed foods, chemicals, stress, etc. leads to an increase in pathogenic yeasts and bacteria. This leads to:
    • Leaky gut
    • Chronic low grade inflammation
    • Inflammatory cytokines and other toxins damaging and crossing the blood-brain barrier
    • Inflamed brain
    • Decreased nerve conductance
    • Depression and reduced vagus nerve communication
    • And the whole cycle begins again….
    1. Dairy and Gluten– These contain opiate like substances that come from the improper break down of the gluten and casein proteins found in grain and dairy products. These can replicate the symptoms of a drug addiction in both children and adults and affect the functioning of the brain.

    - When we are struggling with leaky gut or any neuro issues, these should be the first to get cut out of the diet.


    What can we do to make sure our gut-brain communication is healthy:

    • Limit/Remove inflammatory foods: gluten and dairy, in particular
    • Drink bone broth daily to heal the one-cell layer lining your gut
    • Eat sauerkraut/fermented veggies daily to support good bacteria growth
    • Mitigate the amount of toxins we are taking in to minimize the destruction of beneficial bacteria. Avoid: NSAIDS (Tylenol, IBprofen), toxic cosmetics, toxic cleaning products, plastics of all kinds, do not cook on Teflon pans, etc.
    • Stimulate the vagus nerve by:
      • Gargling
      • Laughing
      • Deep breathing/Meditation
      • Singing
      • Spending time in uncomfortably hot or cold environments has been shown to stimulate the vagus nerve. So go outside without a coat on a chilly morning or opt to not turn the AC on in the car.
    • Address digestive issues ASAP because, as you can see from this article, digestive issues can quickly lead to neurological issues.

    This is a very basic overview of the gut brain connection, but I hope it guides you to make healthier decisions in your every day life.

    If you are curious about your digestive or neurological symptoms and how they might be healed through nutrition and lifestyle, feel free to book a complimentary 30 minute health breakthrough phone session with me by clicking the link [https://app.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php?owner=11981366&appointmentType=1024424 ].


    Clara Wisner is a Certified Nutrition Therapy Practitioner and Lifestyle Coach. She attended school at the Nutrition Therapy Institute in Denver, CO from 2012 to 2015. Clara Wisner is also a Certified Primal Expert and a Certified Sugar Detox Coach. She has a B.S. in Resource Conservation and a B.S. in Economics from the University of Montana. She specializes in helping women ditch toxic habits and release the self-sabotaging beliefs that keep them from creating the health and happiness they desire with her unique approach that addresses mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health. She is a world traveler and is working on cookbook tentatively called Global Superfoods: 10 Traditional Recipes for Cutting Edge Health. Clara organizes the Paleo Pop Events in Denver, helping to create a healthier, stronger, more connected community. She currently lives in Denver, CO with her husband and the paleo puggle, Ooli. In her free time she Crossfits, cooks, writes poetry, walks dogs (other peoples’ and her own), listens to A LOT of podcasts, reads fantasy novels and also loves to read about biology, neurology, and marketing. 

    Follow Clara on: 

    Her website: http://www.revolutionarylifestyle.com/

    Facebook: http://facebook.com/therevolutionarylifestyle

    Instagram: http://instagram.com/therevolutionarylifestyle

    Twitter: http://twitter.com/revolutionaryls