The Story of Hope

Like many college students, I endured the common freshman year weight gain when my diet consisted primarily of fast food, pizza, pasta, mac and cheese, and frozen dinners filled with salt and preservatives. I felt sluggish, tired, uncomfortable in my clothes, and for the first time in my life, my self-confidence began to suffer. 

After graduation, I knew I had to take responsibility for my health and I decided to replace highly processed foods with as many whole, clean, nutrient rich foods I could. I also cut out the majority of gluten and dairy from my diet, as I felt extremely better when I eliminated these foods. 

I think its important to stress this was not a diet, it was not deprivation in the least.  In fact, I eat much more today than I ever did when I was unhealthy.  It was replacing foods that had no nutritional value with quality wholesome foods that were packed with nutrients, antioxidants, and essential vitamins and minerals that my body was craving.

Photograph by Kerri Nelson

I was shocked at how quickly and drastically I began to feel better. I lost the weight I had gained, I was full of energy, my skin started to glow, my hair stopped breaking off, and most importantly, I felt good about myself again and had restored my self confidence. I was the vivacious person I had missed so much for too many years. This change positively affected my life in a multitude of aspects, I was finally genuinely happy with who I was. 

After I had my first child, I quickly realized the days of preparing time consuming meals were over, but I was not willing to sacrifice my health again and return to the state I had once known all too well, full of convenient unhealthy options. After searching many store shelves for an on-the go, quick and easy healthy food option, I was very discouraged as all I found were snacks with many processed ingredients, filler “mystery” ingredients I couldn’t pronounce, and candy bars disguised as “nutritional” bars. 

I then decided to combine all the healthiest, nutrient rich ingredients I knew and relied on as staples in my diet and used every nap time for my son to create Hope Bars. After much trial and error, I found the perfect combination that allowed me to enjoy all the healthy ingredients I relied on to supply my body with all the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals I needed while packaged in a quick, easy, on-the-go delicious option.

Photograph by Kerri Nelson

I have always been a big fan of quinoa, as it is literally a nutritional powerhouse.  Quinoa is loaded with antioxidants, contains all the nine essential vitamins and minerals we need, while being packed with protein to keep you fuller for longer. I use quinoa as the main ingredient in all my recipes and combined it with other whole, nutrient rich ingredients to create a nutritious snack that enabled me to continue my healthy lifestyle and supplied me with the energy I needed throughout the day, while keeping me satisfied.

 I started making my bars for family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers and eventually decided to rent space in a commercial kitchen to share my bars with more people looking to improve their health and spread more Hope.