Joyce Gass + Ellie Josephs of OH BAR
Today I’m sharing with you an interview with two lovely women, Joyce Gass and Ellie Josephs. Joyce and Ellie have created a raw energy bar friendly for those of you who vegan and/or are allergic to gluten and nuts. Their OH BAR, the OH being an acronym for Organic Health, is absolutely delicious and filling! I had the chance to meet Joyce and Ellie in their kitchen to watch how they make their OH BARs, but I promised I wouldn’t show all the steps! ;)
Here is a peek into their process of making these yummy bars, along with their interview of what inspired them to branch off and pursue making energy bars and how it is rewarding to them!
You both come from different backgrounds other than the food industry, could you tell us a little more about yourselves?
“Yes, that is so true. I (Joyce) came from a background in special education and working with mentally and emotionally challenged folks of all ages as a mental health specialist. Then I went on to become a massage therapist, a teacher of massage, t’ai chi, and other supportive modalities until finally becoming the Director of the Institute for Psycho-Structural Balancing, a holistic therapeutic massage school in Culver City. All of these experiences have occupied the last 35 plus years of my life! I continue to have a massage practice though on a much smaller scale since we have embarked on our OH BAR journey.”
“I (Ellie) came from a background in music. I was a serious French horn player in New York, went to Music and Art High School, The Manhattan School of Music and performed in local orchestras in the New York area. When I moved out to
Los Angeles, I got a job at the L.A. Philharmonic as their Production Coordinator. For many years I had a deep curiosity about massage therapy. While still working at the L.A. Phil, I decided to go to school and become a massage therapist. That’s were Joyce was teaching and where we met. I haven’t looked back since. 27 years ago!”
What was it that inspired you both to create OH BAR?
“A few years ago we decided to go on a raw food diet. We were busy soaking, sprouting, learning how to create nutritious raw food and having a great time! Being food enthusiasts already with a love for the kitchen and all things related, we wanted to come up with a raw, nutritious energy bar that would be a perfect grab and go complete food. We were craving an energy bar that was pure, had no sugar, was high in protein, fiber and balanced with good fats and carbs. We experimented around with recipes and came up with the two OH BAR flavors, our Original and Cacao/Goji Berry. We, of course, started out in our kitchen, sharing the OH BARs with friends and family. Then before we knew it the bar took off!”
Why was it important for OH BAR to be raw vegan?
“We wanted the OH BAR to be raw and vegan mostly because that was what we were practicing. But we also understand the value of raw food and how it increases our energy, vitality and overall sense of well-being. Given our healing background, we wanted to create a bar that was life giving and not depleting to the body. Something that was healing and full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and nutrients. We knew if we kept the temperature low in the dehydrator, didn’t zap the bar with high baking heat we would maintain the integrity of the nutrients. We really wanted to make a bar that was the perfect energy food filled with vitality and health! We feel we have accomplished that with the OH BAR!”
Do either of you follow a raw vegan diet or have in the past? If you no longer do would you consider trying it again? If you do what are the positive changes you’ve noticed in following this diet?
“When we followed a raw food diet we felt great! Our skin was glowing, our eyes were clear, we had amazing energy. We were raw vegan strictly for about a year and a half. Time passes, our bodies change, the seasons change and we both felt like we needed to introduce some lightly cooked foods, fish and chicken. All organic of course! I (Ellie) in particular found myself needing more animal protein. We have to listen to our bodies and really tune into what is needed. Our current diet is probably 75% raw; 25% cooked. We always buy produce from local organic farmers and only eat organic poultry. We have actually given up eating fish for the most part given the sad situation in our polluted oceans.”
You have two flavors of OH BAR’s, The Original and Goji Berry. Which is the most popular? Which is your personal favorite? Do you want to add to the list of flavors you offer?
“Yes we have been focusing on our two flavors of OH BARs. We also make a raw granola OH GRANOLA and sell that in a few different venues. The granola is not a retail item. From our sales, it seems that the Original is a favorite but the Cacao/Goji is also a great seller too! It offers increased anti-oxidant benefits given the raw cacao and raw goji berries. Two amazing super foods! We are considering a third bar and have some ideas but want to continue focusing on our two OH BARs at this time.”
What has been the most rewarding part of starting OH BAR?
“The most rewarding aspect of starting our company Four Hands Healing Foods, home of the OH BAR, is the amazing position we are in to educate and help people make healthy food choices. We are passionate about awakening the body’s own healing potential via a healthy lifestyle and mindful eating. Getting a chance to share that passion with as many people as possible is a gift. The OH BAR is a vehicle for us to do that. Education empowers people to make healthy choices with a sense of peace and joy.”
What key component really sets OH BAR from the rest of the bars out there?
“It’s hard to pick one key component that sets OH BAR apart from all other bars out there. Not only do we touch each and every bar with love, as it is hand made, hand packaged, hand labeled, hand boxed in cases but we bring a sense of healing to everything we do. More specifically OH BAR is not filled with refined and processed ingredients, chemicals, or sugar! All the bars out there either have high sugar or agave causing a spike in our blood sugar. We use coconut nectar, which is a low glycemic sweetener and rich in amino acids. We feel this has been revolutionary for our genre of products. And the OH BAR contains no grains, which can be inflammatory for some folks. It’s NOT a granola bar! Every single ingredient in our bar is enzyme rich and life giving! That’s the truth!”
Where can we find OH BAR?!
“You can find the OH BAR in a variety of locations mostly in southern CA. If you go on our website: www.ohbarorganicenergybar.com there is a map showing all the locations where the OH BAR can be found. The location is marked with our logo. Eat with joy and vitality!"
Written, Interviewed, Styled & Photographed by: Kristen Tola Hettich + Lisa Palley (Portrait)