HBK Incubates member Barley + Oats is a meal delivery service for new moms. An emphasis on postpartum or breastfeeding “super foods” sets Barley + Oats in a category all its own. Add to that a focus on sourcing organic and local, and combining unique plant-based ingredients and flavors, and it’s a recipe for entrepreneurial success.
We sat down with founder Ashly Yaschin to ask her a few questions about eating healthy through a cold snap (check out her recipe for vegan Sweet Potato-Black Bean Tacos) and what to expect from Barley + Oats in the new year.
What inspires your dishes?
Since our dishes are designed for new mothers at a special time of healing and bonding, they are meant to be comforting and “warming.” I draw a lot of inspiration from dishes I enjoyed as a child that weren’t exactly health-supportive but that made me “feel good” and nurtured. I reinterpret these into health-supportive recipes that utilize nutrient-dense foods to help nourish mother and baby. My healthy eating philosophy is based around plant-based whole foods, organic and local whenever possible. I do believe high-quality, organic animal protein can be healthy in moderation, but I do encourage ethically sourcing that protein. I believe strict limitations can be counterproductive to developing healthy eating habits and healthy relationships with food.
How did Barley + Oats originate?
The concept for Barley + Oats began when I was pregnant. At the time, I was a student at the Natural Gourmet Institute. I knew that I wanted to maintain my healthy eating habits and to nourish myself with lactogenic foods and time-honored recipes in the postpartum. However, I knew that I was not going to be up to cooking several hours a day in the early weeks following birth. My husband doesn’t cook and my family isn’t close by, so I began to look for alternative options. Seamless had little to offer in the way of organic delivery and variety. I saw a need for a service that helped nourish new moms so that they could nourish their babies and began to do the market research to support it. I got an overwhelmingly positive response from every mother I talked to. I was producing out of my home for friends and family before joining HBK Incubates in September 2014, four months after giving birth to my first child.
What foods should we focus on eating in January?
Winter in New York can be pretty cold, so I wouldn’t recommend turning exclusively to green juices and salads; definitely not the best choice in 14-degree weather. However, we do still want to focus on cleansing foods in January to help clear out that holiday build-up and support the liver after a season of merriment. Greens are definitely great for that. In general, look for foods that are easy to digest (cooked veggies, fermented foods, soaked grains and nuts), high in soluble and insoluble fiber and rich in phytonutrients (a variety of different colored fruits and vegetables). Digestive herbs and spices like fennel seed, cinnamon, ginger and cayenne are great for helping the body’s processes of elimination and aiding in cleanse as well.
For those looking to make easy changes: reduce caffeine, reduce sugar, replace grab-and-go packaged snacks with whole fruits or veggies, increase water, increase plants and savor your meals.
My Simple January Detox Menu (One-Day Sample):
Upon Waking: Dandelion Tea
Breakfast: Amaranth Porridge with Homemade Almond Milk, Date Paste, Cinnamon, Nutmeg + Allspice
Lunch: Kale Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Avocado, Carrots, Roasted Beets, Sunflower Seeds + Lemon Tahini; 1 Cup Organic Chicken Bone Broth
Snack: Beet, Fennel, Apple, Lemon + Ginger Juice; Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower w/Garlic + Black Pepper
Dinner: Quinoa Bowl with Garlic Sautéed Kale, Roasted Chickpeas, Steamed Squash, Pickled Onions + Dandelion Pesto
Dessert (optional): Poached Pear or Dried Fruit
Where do you source your ingredients?
One of my favorite suppliers is Norwich Meadows Farm from the Union Square Greenmarket. It’s an organic farm based out of the Hudson Valley with exceptionally high-quality produce. I like Two Guys from Woodbridge for my micro greens, and TerraSoul for nuts. For health-supportive baking staples, I love Ace Naturals.
Where do you see Barley + Oats in the future?
In the early part of 2016, we will be testing overnight shipping outside of the city. I’m pretty confident that we will be able to deliver the food fresh without sacrificing quality.
In five years, I would like to be a nationwide name (similar to Nutrisystem but with a much different purpose and very different ingredients of course). I’m also looking at producing a postpartum cookbook. Eventually, I’d like to expand our offerings to aid in fertility and helping women to get pregnant, as well as meal delivery and snacks for during pregnancy.
What’s your advice for other women entrepreneurs entering the food space?
Work hard and share, share, share! From sharing your food with others to sharing your ideas and soliciting feedback, sharing can only help you grow. What I like most about working at HBK Incubates is being around so many kind and inspiring food entrepreneurs. Everybody is so friendly and willing to share advice on everything from packaging to sourcing, to help with whatever business issues arise.