As a new mom, I innocently declared I was going to make all of my baby’s food from scratch when she was ready for solids. And I did, for months. It took a ton of time but it felt so good knowing that I knew what was in her food. After a while though, all the steaming and pureeing got a bit old. I work full-time and there just isn’t a lot of time at the end of the day. That was when I found Yumi, an organic and seasonal baby food that’s delivered to your door weekly.
Yumi is the genius brainchild of Evelyn Rusli and Angela Sutherland, two women who saw a future for organic homemade baby food without all the prep work. What I love about this food is that a lot of the time, the recipes include fruits and vegetables that I wouldn’t think to pick up or wouldn’t want to spend the time peeling, chopping, and deseeding, like papaya or kiwi. The menu they choose for your baby is also decided by her/his age to determine what vitamins and minerals she/he will likely need more of at that time in their life; they deliver calcium-rich foods at 9 months to support bone growth when your baby becomes mobile. All of those different vitamins and nutrients are so important to our baby’s brain development, I felt like I had been given a gift.
I sat down with Angela and picked her brain about their inspiration for starting the first gourmet baby food company.
Laney: Hi Angela, Let me tell you, we’re very excited to have your baby food on the east coast. I’ve been getting my Yumi deliveries for the past few weeks and it’s been such a game changer. Isabella is eating more fruits and veggies and I’m saving hours of my time. Can you tell our readers quickly what inspired you to start Yumi?
Angela: Yumi was inspired by my own experiences as a new parent. When I was pregnant with my first child, I started researching (as we all do) the ways in which I could have the healthiest pregnancy possible, and I came across studies around the “First 1000 Days”, a period of life from in utero to age 2 which the scientific community has identified as the most important time in a person’s life in terms of nutrition. Not only is it important to maintain a healthy diet while you’re pregnant, but it’s also critical to make sure your baby’s earliest experiences with solid foods include things that are fresh, low in sugar, and nutrient dense. Yet, if you’re a busy parent without the time to cook 3 meals a day and need to outsource, all of the products you typically find at the grocery store are highly processed, full of sugar, and have been sitting on a shelf for longer than your baby has been alive. Not to mention, the flavors are quite unappealing (…beef stew in a pouch?). In this day in age where adults can order anything to their doorstep in less than an hour, I saw a hole in the marketplace for something that could be designed just for babies; a freshly prepared, beautifully packaged baby food with the added convenience of being delivered right to you.
Laney: So, what are some specific examples of how a baby’s diet affects them later in life?
Angela: So much happens to a child during the first years of life – neurologically, and physically – it blows my mind! And this is exactly why we have been so meticulous in curating our meals to be mapped against a baby’s development at every stage during those first 1000 days. To give you an example, by age 2, about 80% of the adult brain is formed. During this period more than half of all energy consumed is going straight to the brain. Several vitamins and minerals play an important part in this development. Folate helps close neural tubes early in a baby’s development, while iron carries oxygen to the brain. And it’s incredibly common for babies to be iron-deficient, especially after 6 months of age when they have depleted the iron stores from their mother. Whether or not they have access to our product, we want to provide parents everywhere with more information around what they should be feeding their children, and why, so that they can feel more empowered to make the best possible choices when it comes to mealtime.
Laney: Do you eat really healthy in your everyday life? What’s an example of what you eat in a day?
Angela: I am a huge foodie and love to eat, but given my hectic schedule, it’s sometimes hard to find the time for 3 square meals each day. I don’t drink coffee, so breakfast is usually a cup of tea and a plate of whatever I’m making my kids that morning. Lunchtime varies, depending on the day, but when I do get the chance to break in the afternoon, I’m pretty good about loading up on vegetables, fish and healthy fats like avocado and nuts (…although I can never say no to pasta). Our team often eats lunch together, so it’s fun to try out different restaurants near our office; fortunately, our HQ is located in the heart of LA and we have access to so many different cuisines. I love to cook, so on evenings where I’m not on the road or at a work event, you can find me in the kitchen making a homemade soup or family recipe for dinner.
Laney: What’s your favorite easy beauty food recipe that you and your littles all enjoy? Can you share it with us?
Angela: My daughter and I both love this Mango & Squash smoothie, which is a recipe created by one of our amazing in-house nutritionists. It’s delicious, colorful, and full of great vitamins like folate, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and B6. After I drink this smoothie, I can definitely see a glowy effect in my skin the day after.
For a younger baby, our Mango-Tango Yumi blend has a similar flavor profile with a lot of the same nutrient benefits, and it is so tasty! It’s definitely one of our most popular flavors.
Laney: We love that one! What are your top five tips for living as healthy as you can with your kids?
1- Introduce a variety of healthy foods and exotic flavors as early as possible. When they are small, they don’t know the difference between avocado or ice cream, fish sauce or chocolate syrup – you are in control and can really shape their palate when they eat fresh foods that are all the colors of the rainbow.
2- Cut sugar as much as you can. There are almost too many studies to count at this point which show the damaging effects of sugar, on both babies and adults. Again, when your child is small, they don’t even know what a cupcake is yet! Curtail these kinds of indulgences for as long as you can.
3- Travel! We love exposing our kids to different cultures to expand their minds, perspectives, and palates. Yes, there are always logistical obstacles with little ones, but I think the more frequently you do it, the easier it gets.
4- Spend time together in nature, and being active outdoors. I’m lucky to live in California where the weather permits us to be outside almost every day. We have a little garden in our yard, which is a fun way to give kids an early education about where food comes from.
5- Try not to stress over things that are temporary, or outside of your control. Practice patience, and try to work through those hard phases with your child, looking at it as a teachable moment and knowing the phase will pass eventually.
Laney: Does living clean extend to other parts of your life? What about your beauty products?
Angela: Definitely. Now that my daughter is 4, she really pays attention to everything I eat, wear, say, and do. She has taken a particular interest in watching me get ready in the mornings and asks questions about what I’m putting on my face/body, and why. Knowing that I’m setting an example for her has made me reevaluate a lot of the products in my skincare and makeup routines, as well as how much makeup I wear in general. Just like the food we eat, I try to be mindful about what ingredients are in the products I put on my body and use around the house, always opting for things with fewer fragrances, synthetics and other chemicals.
Laney: Having kids means very little time for yourself, how do you stay in the moment?
Angela: Running a company leaves me little free time, so I am very vigilant with my schedule and prioritize every minute, especially when it comes to traveling or after work activities. Unless I have an essential commitment, I spend as much time as possible with my kids in the morning and before bedtime every day. Same goes for the weekends. My husband and I make it a priority to be fully engaged with the kids on the weekend, and we host Sunday suppers at our house with our closest friends and family. These pockets of time are sacred to me, and I cherish every moment.
Special thanks to Angela!
Photo courtesy of Yumi