Jessica Grelle always has been passionate about healthy eating. As a mother of two boys, she often found it difficult to fulfill their nutritional needs with foods that they would eat. After studying nutrition and food science in college and working in the food industry for more than 10 years, she embarked on the journey of creating a pasta sauce that was organic, healthy and delicious.
"I had developed thousands of processed food products for grocery stores and other brands. I got inspired to do something that I really believed in for myself — and for my children — when my oldest son, at age 2, decided to refuse carrots and sweet potatoes, which had been a staple for so long,” she said. “I knew he'd survive without them, but I felt better knowing he was getting lots of vitamin A, so I started sneaking them into pasta sauce.
“It became my standard sauce for lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, pizza, etc. Plus, it made me feel great knowing that the whole family was getting an extra boost of vegetables," she said.
After much trial and error, Mama Jess Organic Pasta Sauces were born. They are ready-to-serve sauces and "are as close to home-cooked as you can get!" There are two varieties of the sauce available. The first is Garden Good, which is a classic marinara sauce with five veggies smoothly pureed into it. It has 92 percent daily value of antioxidant vitamin A for adults and more than 100 percent for children.
Another variety is called Bean Good, a tangy marinara sauce with organic white bean puree to boost the protein and fiber content. Bean Good was voted the No. 2 vegetarian product at a recent natural products show.
Grelle’s goal in developing these products is to help Americans consume more vegetables.
"According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the majority of American children currently consume only 4 percent of the required vegetable servings per day. Adults and children need more vegetables in their diets — in the truest, whole food form," she said.
As a busy mom, Grelle juggles the demands of her family and business but says the biggest obstacle in fulfilling her dream was getting her products in front of the right food-industry players. She was able to launch the product officially in March at the Natural Products Expo in California, which is the main show for buyers to look for new natural products coming in to the market. She was able to gain the attention of Whole Foods buyers from the Midwest, which selected her sauces to sell at its stores. The process of gaining organic status with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food Drug Administration also was time-consuming and included a lot of paperwork.
Mama Jess stands to be a convenient option for parents who are looking to increase their children's daily intake of vitamins, protein and fiber. To purchase Mama Jess Organic Pasta Sauces, visit Whole Foods, Acacia Organics in Barrington or online at www.abesmarket.com.
Visit www.mamajess.com for more information.