Tag Archives: Stephanie Rayburn

Have You Tried: Wheat Grass – A Clean, Lean, Green Nutrition Machine

By Stephanie Rayburn, Sales Trainee for High Quality Organics

Photo courtesy of FitSugar.com

Photo courtesy of FitSugar.com

Walk into a juice bar or café these days, and you may be surprised to hear the person in front of you order a round of shots for the group.  Shortly, you see the fresh squeezed juice shots are delivered to their table-  small cups of almost neon-green liquid, usually with a small wedge of orange for chasing.  You may observe a variety of expressions on the faces of the juice-drinkers, as they either sip or bolt down the juice, possibly grabbing for their orange wedge chaser or cooly passing it up.  From the pleased look on the experienced wheat-grass drinker’s face to the skeptical and possibly grossed-out look of the rookie juicer, your interest may be piqued enough for you to step up to the counter and have your own first wheat grass experience!

wheatgrass-powder-212x213While some like the potent, fresh-squeezed taste of the young wheat plant Triticum aestivum, many prefer to glean the health benefits of the plant by adding the dehydrated powder to smoothies, soups and other treats.  Wheat grass powder is a common ingredient in protein drink mixes, health bars, snacks and whole-food vitamins.

Although the supplement was introduced in the 1940’s, it is quickly gaining in popularity as a powerful super food.  And it’s no wonder- the grass shoots contain an extremely high concentration of nutrients such as vitamins A, C and E, calcium, iron, magnesium, amino acids and chlorophyll.

Organic Wheat Grass Powder Supplement Facts

Charles Francis Schnabel, an agricultural chemist in the 1930’s, conducted a series of experiments with young wheat Ggrass and was the first to market the powdered dried in cans labeled “Schnabel’s Powdered Grass.” Among the many health benefits of wheatgrass touted by Schnabel and others are: the immunity boosting, detoxification, and aid in digestion by killing harmful bacteria. Others have used the green to fight cancer, anemia, diabetes, constipation, infections, skin conditions, ulcerative colitis, joint pain and many other health problems.

While the grass can be grown slowly over winter in temperate climates, it is often grow in a greenhouse in just eight to 12 days.  The grass is harvested when it is around seven inches high, immediately juiced and consumed or dehydrated into a powder.

High Quality Organics sources certified organic wheat grass powder from China. When we’re not selling it, we’re busy experimenting with it.  Here are some of our favorite uses: smoothies, salad dressing, guacamole. Other ideas include adding it to hummus, pesto, vegetable dip, baked goods (you’ll have to add extra sweetener to compensate for the wheat grass flavor), soups and sauces.

StephLakeTahoe

Steph is passionate about organics and the sustainable agriculture practices the industry encourages. With experience from the Peace Corp and National Forest Service, she brings a diversified and resourceful skills set to HQO’s growing customer service and sales team. On the weekends you can find her hiking in the pines of Lake Tahoe and enjoying the music and craft beers of Reno.

Vanilla (Spice, Not Ice Silly!)

By Stephanie Rayburn, Sales Trainee for High Quality Organics

Plain ‘ol Vanilla?  Actually, Vanilla is quite an exciting flavor:
 exotic, well-traveled, a little mysterious- and has a great story to 
tell.

Photo Courtesy of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Photo Courtesy of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

You may know that the lovely vanilla bean, pieces of which you see
 speckled throughout your scoop of ice cream, actually comes from an
orchid.  The potent oils of the dried black pod and bean are known to 
calm, soothe and make delicious and versatile deserts.

It is thought 
that the Totonaco Indians of Mexico were the first to cultivate the
 pale white orchid flower.  As the Aztecs and then the Spaniards came 
to rule the region, the secrets of the vanilla bean were carried 
outside the tropics and into the greenhouses of European royalty.

Melipona Bee Courtesy of Pollinators.comAlthough the vanilla bean quickly became a trendy drink for the rich
 (a pre-cursor to the vanilla latte, perhaps?), it remained rare and 
difficult to procure. The key to the successful propagation of the
orchid is the special symbiotic relationship with the Melipona bee. In keeping with the sweet and pure reputation of Vanilla, the 
stingless, dainty bee mysteriously buzzes in to pollinate the orchid 
on the one morning a year that the flower blooms. The bloom, if not 
pollinated, wilts and drops after just a single day and the
 opportunity for vanilla bean production is lost for a full year.

It was not until the mid-1800’s, when a 12-year-old boy from the 
French colonial island of Reunion discovered the method of hand
 pollinating the Vanilla orchid, that the bean became widely
 cultivated.

Vanilla Bean & Powder from iFood.tvA global fervor for the flavor has led to the cultivation
 of over 60 varieties of Vanilla orchids; from the rich, spicy Tahitian variety to the 
highest quality Madagascan vanilla used in Bourbon.

The uses of this fragrance and flavor go beyond just pleasing the 
pallet and the nose; vanilla has long been utilized as a soothing and sensual tonic with many health benefits.  Keep calm my friends, and reach for the Vanilla!

StephLakeTahoeStephanie (often referred to as Steph) is from many beautiful places, including East Texas (she still lets the occasional “ya’ll” slip), Oregon, Arizona and West Africa, where she served in the Peace Corp.  She is most in her element when traveling and exploring, and is loving her current adventures in ‘The Biggest Little City’ she’s ever lived. 

Steph is passionate about organics and the sustainable agriculture practices that the industry encourages, but her favorite part of being on the High Quality Organics team is the wide range of fun characters she gets to work with! Steph has a twin sister (fraternal) and an older brother who live in the area; her mom is a self-taught herbalist, and HQO’s biggest Facebook fan.  On weekends you can find her hiking in the pines of Lake Tahoe and enjoying the music and craft beers of Reno.

A Rookie’s Recap of Natural Products Expo

By Stephanie Rayburn, Sales Trainee for High Quality Organics

I had a “lightbulb on” moment as our marketing manager and I pulled up to the Natural Products Expo West; dropping off gallons of our HQO-special lucuma ice cream. As we drove into an organized chaos of cars, people, fork-lifts and pallets piled high with products and equipment I said, “Ohhhh… Now I get it…!”

ExpoWest Logo

Expo West was bigger, better and more awesome than anything I had previously envisioned! The next several days were a whirl-wind of high-energy excitement and hard work.  As I passed out samples of the ice cream and our crowd-pleasing Organic Masala Chai tea, made contacts and scanned badges, I also observed the art of networking, as showcased by our ever-on-point sales team.

I quickly learned to carry a stack of business cards around as I hunted for the best snack samples — almost everyone uses organic spices and vegetables in their products and many companies are growing and looking for new suppliers.  I met several of our current customers and got to taste for myself what they did with HQO ingredients; products that I had only known by item number, like “24 decorticated cardamom,” took on a new life for me in the delicious treats I sampled.

Numi Savory TeasSince I shamelessly frequent the organic and bulk (read “yuppy and hippy”) sections of grocery stores, I was surprised to find so many products at the show that were not yet on my radar.  How about Numi’s vegetable teas? Carrot curry tea… “Not quite soup, but more than tea!” Yuba, a tofu alternative with amazing texture and an appealing, less-processed and more natural look. Also, coconut everything! Coconut oil, nectar, butter… coconut dried, pressed, spreadable, drinkable, crunchy, creamy, hot, iced… YUM! Chia seeds were huge, both the black and white types that HQO brings in.  New crackers and chips were around every corner, featuring flax, sesame, and hemp seeds.  Powdered greens and dehydrated vegetables were popular in bars and raw snacks,  some made with HQO-created proprietary spice blends.  Interesting new botanicals, such as the mineral-packed South American root “maca,” the tropical super-green called Moringa, and kava, a South Pacific drink known for its relaxing effect. There was quite a bit of interest in and knowledge of lucuma, our showcased ice cream flavor- good job HQO for being ahead of the curve on that new trend!

The Expo was, at times, over-whelming and exhausting- but most of all, FUN! We have the best industry, full of people who love to exchange ideas, care about the health of their customers and their planet, and who look at buying and selling as simply creating win-win situations.  I came away from the Expo understanding that the most important thing HQO does is fulfill a need for our costumers, allowing them to in turn serve their customers with delicious and healthy products.  As we packed up the booth, our marketing manager was already analyzing, reflecting and scheming about next year! Onward and upward!

StephLakeTahoeStephanie (often referred to as Steph) is from many beautiful places, including East Texas (she still lets the occasional “ya’ll” slip), Oregon, Arizona and West Africa, where she served in the Peace Corp.  She is most in her element when traveling and exploring, and is loving her current adventures in ‘The Biggest Little City’ she’s ever lived.  She is passionate about organics and the sustainable agriculture practices that the industry encourages, but her favorite part of being on the High Quality Organics team is the wide range of fun characters she gets to work with! Steph has a twin sister (fraternal) and an older brother who live in the area; her mom is a self-taught herbalist, and HQO’s biggest Facebook fan.  On weekends you can find her hiking in the pines of Lake Tahoe and enjoying the music and craft beers of Reno.