ReciPower.com offers new approach to healthy eating

Currently in the alpha stage of development, ReciPower is an easier way to keep children eating healthy during the critical stages of their development. Specifically, the website is a tool that facilitates meal choices that focus on not only nutritious food choices, but also convenience. By entering basic information in a set number of fields, the system provides users with a healthy meal plan with certain food selections, as well as the approximate total cost.

The system is also flexible, as it also gives the user the ability to mix and match different meal choices. If the current meal selection is not to your liking, you can easily replace it with a brand new meal choice, with the grocery list changing automatically. The website essentially cuts out the organizational aspect of healthy eating that plagues so many attempting to change their eating habits. Counting calories, making lengthy lists, and planning nutritious choices ahead of time is inconvenient and tiresome.

I was given the privilege of having  test run of the alpha version and I was nothing short of impressed.  I input certain key information such as how much money I had to spend on a given day, the number of people I was planning to feed, and if I had any sort of special food considerations such as wanting gluten free products. I won’t reveal all of the questions asked in order to make the personalized meal plan, but upon the completion of this information, I was instantly given an array of diverse choices.

I was given the choice of a protein based meal such as garlic-basil halibut, a complex carbohydrate such as pasta with garden vegetables, and a more unique dish with quick quesadilla pockets. The pictures presented for each item are attractive, yet this is overshadowed by the convenience of the other features. With five meals recommended to me, I was given the option to swap them out for others, or keep them on my list.

This customization ability not only makes the system cater to certain tastes, but also a budget.If I’m committed to a budget on a certain week, I can choose to include cheaper options in my plan such as slow cooker wild rice soup. On the other hand, perhaps if it has been a lucrative week in your professional life, you can choose to add more expensive options such as the salmon potato scramble. When a particular choice is selected, it even displays the exact ingredients needed for preparation, and cooking instructions.

ReciPower is a convenient tool for selecting healthy meals at your convenience. By taking account of the money you have to spend, the time you have to prepare, and how frequently you shop, it’s a system that nearly anyone can get used to. And with the obesity and diabetes rates rising at the current rate in the United States, it’s tools like this that may be the future of healthy, yet convenient, eating.

Spencer Donnelly

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Weekly Recap: April 15th – 19th

Boulder Food Rescue seeks to correct waste

This post by Spencer investigates how a local Boulder firm is making a positive use of previously wasted perishable produce. Boulder Food Rescue is not only benefiting the underprivileged, it is also doing so in an environmentally friendly way.

The Natural-Products Space

Samuel analyzes the distribution of local natural products companies in terms of revenue and employment activity. The layout of annual revenue is surprising, even to Boulder residents.

Sushi Zanmai’s Keys to Success and Why You Should Eat There

David conducted an interview with a manager from the local sushi restaurant Sushi Zanmai. He extracted keys to success for the establishment’s survival and what makes them different from most conventional Japanese venues.

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Spencer Donnelly

Sushi Zanmai’s Keys to Success and Why You Should Eat There

Sushi Zanmai is a popular sushi restaurant in Boulder, Colorado and has been around for 28 years. By winning the Best of Boulder in both the Japanese and Sushi category, it has proven to be apart of the elite sushi restaurants in Boulder. One may wonder what has attributed to their success and why so many customers keep on returning. In order to find this out I had an interview with Younghye Kim, the resilient manager at Sushi Zanmai.

Younghye Kim has worked at Sushi Zanmai for quite sometime now. She started working as a busser, worked her way up to a server, and for the past several years has been hard at work as the manager. Her eccentric and upbeat character makes her a fun and caring manager, but when it comes down to business, she does not joke around.

I asked Younghye why Sushi Zanmai has been so successful in such a competitive area and her reply was, “because the consistency of good service”. At Sushi Zanmai, the employees welcome each customer with a warm welcoming by screaming irrashai, which is the Japanese word for welcome. Another factor to Zanmai’s success is the ability to recognize returning customers and connecting to them on a personal basis in order to make them feel like a valued customer. In addition to these factors, Younghye’s organized managing skills and treating employees with respect are big factors in running such a successful business. Younghye views her employees as a family and treats them as such. Employees enjoy a free meal after work everyday and during that time, they socialize about their personal lives. Zanmai employees also hangout outside of work by attending work parties and gathering to eat food such as Korean barbeque or dim sum on a regular basis.

Additionally, I asked Younghye why customers should choose to dine at Sushi Zanmai over the other numerous sushi restaurants in Boulder. She answered, “Sushi Zanmai has a very upbeat, loud, and fun atmosphere that you don’t expect from most Japanese restaurants”.  This atmosphere is exemplified every Saturday night at 10, where Sushi Zanmai hosts a karaoke night that attracts many customers and karaoke regulars for a crazy and fun night. In addition to the atmosphere, Zanmai can provide fresh fish because they go through their fish quickly and provide not only traditional Japanese food but also Americanized Japanese food. History tells why Sushi Zanmai has been so successful because they have been around for 28 years, and it does not seem like they will be leaving anytime soon.

For further information on Sushi Zanmai visit their official website here.

For further information on the Best of Boulder make sure to pick up their next issue or visit their facebook website here.

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The Importance of Customer Service Within the Food Industry.

Customer service proves to be one of the most important keys to the success of the food industry. A lack of customer service makes the customer feel unwelcomed and disengaged from the restaurant. There is a common saying in the restaurant industry that states people will come for the food, but will come back again for the service. The atmosphere of a restaurant is an important factor to the success of the business and poor customer service results in an atmosphere that drives away potential customers that would come in on a regular basis.

Having serving experience in the restaurant industry allows me to have an insight of what brings back customers on a regular basis and how my hospitality towards the customer attributes to it. Serving at Sushi Zanmai, a restaurant that recently won the best of Boulder award, allowed me to serve customers who I catered to on a regular basis. What I found to be true is that providing a warm welcoming and simply remembering the name of the customer will offer incentive to come back again. Another factor in providing great customer service is remembering what a customer orders regularly because it shows that you remember them and they are a valued customer.

A prime example of a business that shutdown due to a lack of customer service is Jimmy and Drew’s, a Jewish deli in Boulder, Colorado.  Jimmy and Drew’s has recently gone out of business and been replaced by Thai Kitchen. This Jewish deli was the only one of it’s kind in Boulder and was a thriving business only a few years ago, but has gone downhill since. At one point, reputable magazines such as Esquire magazine and The New York Times praised Jimmy and Drew’s. One might wonder what has changed since then, and surprisingly enough it is due to the customer service of the business. Douglas Brown, writer at The Denver Post, wrote that the last time he went to Jimmy and Drew’s there was terrible service from college students who refused to acknowledge him and were not even able to make everything on the menu. It comes to no surprise that shortly after Jimmy and Drew’s closed down. This goes to show the real impact that customer service has on a business.

To read more on Douglas Brown’s article on Jimmy and Drew’s go here.

To read more on why restaurant owners and chefs think customer service is important go here.

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Local Boulder firm spurring fresh approach to food and money

Slow Money is a local Boulder organization that is dedicated to changing the way that Americans as well as the rest of the world thinks about food and finance. Although they have a series of seven major principles that drive their vision, their basic message emphasizes that “we must bring money back down to earth.” This is encompassed by the core of their movement that argues that in the food industry, money is “too fast.” The central point being made is that companies are too large, and the finance of these companies is too complex to be efficient for everyday consumers. The belief that as a society, we must invest in food, farms, and fertility is central to Slow Money’s theme of rebuilding our economy, starting with creating new relationships and critical sources of capital in small food enterprises. Slow Money’s principles and main message can be found HERE.

I agree with this approach to food and nurturing local economic outlets before throwing your money at large corporations. It does not take more than one viewing of the documentary Food, Inc. to grasp that our modern food system is essentially an assembly line controlled by giant businesses. In 1970, thousands of slaughterhouses existed in the United States that produced the majority of beef nationwide. Only thirteen exist today, all controlled by major corporations with billions in annual revenue. I am not against efficiency in the market place, I am however against the side effects of this type of production.  Although the current system provides the best price for the consumer, it ignores dangers of the assembly line system. The food that has been made extremely cheap to buy and produce is very unhealthy when compared to alternatives. This availability and low price is also contributing to the rise in obesity and diabetes in the United States. 1 in 3 Americans born after the year 2000 will contract early onset diabetes, while minorities will have an even higher rate, at 1 in 2 suffering from early onset. This is only a brief summary of my distaste for the current food system in the United States, though I do see the economic appeal due to the business efficiency that it provides.

Slow Money is a movement that I am much more supportive of. Their main goal of making 1 million people invest 1 percent of their money into local food systems is a wonderful idea. I take this point of view not only because I would like to see a healthier and happier country, but because I think it contributes positively to local economies. By supporting local food organizations that care about the consumers that they provide their products to, this would make a positive impact to the health of local citizens. Whether it’s organic, locally grown, or just plain health oriented, contributing to the Slow Money movement seems like a much more viable alternative than continuing to buy into the large food corporations that ignore health and ethical issues with their behavior in sight of their fat bottom lines. I wish to blog more about this in the future, as I have much more to say on the issue.

Spencer Donnelly

Read more about Slow Money HERE.

Food, INC facts are HERE.

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Food Trucks Making a Debut in Boulder Parks This Summer

Food trucks in America have gained a large following and popularity throughout the country. Because of this trend, it seems that the city of Boulder is conforming by allowing food trucks more room to roam the city. This will allow those who wish to sell their food a more cost efficient and less risky way to do so. In addition, it will provide citizens of Boulder closer locations for food and beverages and more business opportunities within the food industry. This new addition of food trucks in Boulder will assist in the growth of the food industry throughout the city.

The city of Boulder plans to implement these food trucks within Boulder city parks and for late-night business in downtown Boulder for intoxicated college students. These food trucks will be allowed within the Tom Watson Park, Foothills Community Park, North Boulder Park, Harlow Platts Community Park, East Boulder Community Park, and the city’s downtown Municipal Campus during the summer.  Number of allowed food trucks and hours will differ between each park. If the Boulder City Council approves the summer pilot program, the food trucks will be able to operate in downtown Boulder this summer.

Numerous downtown Boulder restaurants are concerned about the possible increased competition from these food trucks. At this point, city officials have restricted food trucks from operating within 150 feet of restaurants and residential districts. These restrictions have drawn complaints from food truck owners because they hinder their sales, but restaurant owners are more concerned with their own businesses. Downtown Boulder restaurants pay expensive rent and are in possibly one of the most competitive food areas in the country. All this in mind, the city officials are working on a solution to cater to the needs of both restaurants and food trucks along with what is best for the city’s economy. It seems that the future is bright for the business of food trucks within the city of Boulder.

For further information on food trucks within Boulder go here.

For further information on the mobile food vehicle pilot program for parks go here.

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Food Share issues corporate challenge

Community Food Share is a food bank that serves both Boulder and Broomfield counties. One of every six people in these counties is under the poverty line working with about $29,965 per year for a family of four. This totals about 59,000 people that are living below the poverty level between the two counties. An additional 13,000 children are on the free lunch program in St. Vrain Valley and Boulder Valley school districts. Community Food Share has been delivering meals for the past 32 years and distributes more than 7.5 million meals annually. These meals have been collectively valued at $12.5 million dollars.

The company is currently recruiting corporations for the annual “Compete to Beat Hunger” Corporate Challenge. The purpose of this event is to raise money and food for the food bank. Last year’s winner, WhiteWaves Food Co., raised $225,185 and 5,360 pounds of food.

Competing businesses get 10 points for each dollar donated and one point for every pound of food donated. How the competition works can vary among companies but many have come up with clever fundraisers to create their donations. Among the competing business this year are Amgen, Ball Corp, Remax of Boulder and last years champion WhiteWaves Food Co.

The competition focuses not only on the donations but also on educating businesses about local hunger and poverty issues leading to a more direct form of involvement. It raises a friendly competition among local businesses creating a more connected network within Boulder and Broomfield counties.

Community Food Share not only helps with the county poverty and hunger problems but also helps cut down on the food waste. Grocery stores usually throw out millions of pounds of food per year just within Colorado. This includes damaged foods, items close to their sell-by dates and products that aren’t selling well. Community Food Share takes these unwanted foods and puts them to better use in their food bank. They also benefits from two major food drives a year, one based out of Longmont and one in Boulder.

The success of this local food bank has lead to the purchase of new and larger facility based in Louisville. CEO Jim Baldwin commented on the purchase saying that “With our central role in the community’s fight against hunger and food insecurity, Community Food Share recognized the need for expanded facilities to better serve the growing number of families, individuals, and nonprofit agencies that depend on our food distribution services.”

You can read more on Community Food Share and “Compete to Beat Hunger” at the following links:

Food Share issues Corporate Challenge

Community Food Share Purchases Expanded Facility in Louisville

Community Food Share