There's no reason to keep it a secret: Fall is our favorite season here at Irving Farm. It's the time of year when lattes taste richer, the tang of hot local cider warms your tongue, and the leaves just look that much brighter with a side of spicy chai. It's natural, then, that it's during our favorite season that we're proudly launching our new Organic Pumpkin Seed Milk, made locally by Jnana Organics in Mt. Kisco, New York. This milk alternative is packed with antioxidants, vitamin E, zinc, iron, copper and manganese. It's lactose-free, cholesterol-free and an excellent plant-based protein. It's also more sustainable than almond milk, and it's completely delicious. We sat down with Jnana's Patricia Trongone to talk superfoods, emotional eating, and how the right food can balance your chakras.
IFCR: Can you give us some personal details about your journey and how you arrived at this moment in your life, producing organic seed milks in Mt. Kisco? Where did you grow up? When did you first discover yoga and healthy eating?
Patricia Trongone: My journey into yoga and nutrition started as a young teenager. I studied yoga and meditation long before it was popular. I was later drawn to the Buddhist teachings and deepened my yoga practice at the same time, both in NYC and Japan. All lead me to self-publish The Chakra Mantra Cookbook (2000) which is a vegan, spiritually-inspired, color-coded book consisting of meditations, prayers, mantras and recipes that support the Chakra energy centers in the body. Healthy food has always been a passion growing up in New Jersey. I further enhanced my learning at both Integrative Nutrition and the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC. After moving to Westchester and wanting to create a healthy lifestyle for my family, I put my background to work by launching Jnana Organics—Nourishment for Body, Mind and Spirit. Jnana is a Sanskrit word that is pronounced Yah-nah and means "self-knowledge". How did your relationship with Irving Farm begin? My business partner Gil Kernan, suggested we add organic coffees to our menu to address the many requests from our customers. We spent many months testing and researching brands and roasters. We concluded that Irving Farm best aligns with our fundamental principles on sustainability and on utilizing the highest integrity ingredients. Plus, we love the team!
Pumpkin seed milk is not included in your product list on the Jnana website. Is this something that you're producing exclusively for Irving Farm, or is it a new venture? Our small factory is an ongoing food laboratory where we work on recipes and develop interesting tastes. Around the time we began talking to IFCR, we discovered that the health benefits and taste of the pumpkin seed milk were compelling. Pumpkin seeds also stack up better than the nut milks in terms of sustainability. Today, it is made exclusively for IFCR, but we plan to roll it out in other venues. How do you see coffee fitting into your mission of creating healthy, affirming, mindful, and stimulating food options? Although at Jnana Organics we are offering Vegan, Organic, Non-GMO, Sustainable Green Juice Detox Programs, our customers regulate the pace of their cleanse. We don’t suggest that you go “cold turkey,” because giving up too much all at once may cause unwanted symptoms, such as fatigue or headaches etc. (Most of our customers are coffee drinkers.) We recommend [they drink] cold-brewed Organic Farm Brew Irving Farm coffee, which we soak overnight and add to our vegan milks to make it more alkaline. It's a big hit at the local Farmers' Markets. Lots of customers will have their coffee first, followed by a green juice. We also have experimented with ground coffee in our chocolate truffles. Made with superfoods and the highest quality ingredients, these truffles are healthy enough for breakfast! Everything in moderation, rotating your intake with the seasons and relying on your intuition are key principles. We generally eat to satisfy a corresponding emotional need and/or have trigger foods when under stress. Knowing intuitively what your body needs at any given moment helps to create balance.
Most coffee lovers are new to pumpkin seed milk. What do they need to know? Pumpkin seeds are a healthy, superfood non-dairy alternative with a smooth and creamy texture, that doesn’t curdle or separate in a coffee beverage. Pumpkin seeds are packed with antioxidants and provide a great source of all the different types of Vitamin E as well as Zinc, Iron, copper, manganese, and it’s a good plant-based protein. It is lactose-free, cholesterol-free and supplies the body with a good source of fatty acids needed to burn fat. It's easier to digest and more sustainable than nuts. The health benefits are truly endless. Thank you so much, Patricia! Try Jnana's Organic Pumpkin Seed Milk as a dairy alternative in our cafes and tell us what you think via Twitter and Facebook!