About six years ago, Adele Engel decided she needed to start eating better.
“I was faced with a lot of health issues, and one thing I seriously needed to look at was my nutrition,” the Panorama resident remembers.
Today, she’s the creator of Essential Nutrition Mix, a nutritional shake line that’s finding surprising popularity in the US and Canada, filled with ingredients that half a dozen years ago she wasn’t even aware existed.
Engel’s journey started with a number of courses on nutrition and lifestyle, featuring a lineup of health and wellness gurus that included Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra. But it was a talk on super foods — goji and acai berries are two more mainstream examples — she attended in Calgary that most directly inspired Essential Nutrition.
It wasn’t easy going at first. For one, ingredients like maca, mesquite and lacuma weren’t the sort of things Engel could find at her average grocery store.
“There are names that appear on the ingredients list of (Essential Nutrition) that I didn’t know how to pronounce or spell,” she says.
Another conference, this time in Los Angeles, inspired her to start using her newly sourced ingredients in smoothies — which presented its own set of challenges.
“I made a lot of really bad tasting smoothies to begin with,” she says with a laugh.
“My husband was the guinea pig and I’d say, ‘what do you think of that one?’ And he’d be like, ‘well, I’m not sure.'”
Over the course of the year she fine-tuned the recipe. At the same time, she says her health “just took off — and I got very good at making good smoothies.”
By then, she had something similar to the shake she sells today: a chocolate butterscotch base, made without allergens such as corn, soy and dairy, and filled with everything from oat grass juice to burdock root.
Soon, her friends were asking Engel to mix them smoothies as well. Then the calls started coming in, from others aware of her work through her nutritional contacts.
“People with different needs started calling to get me to make them the shakes,” Engel says.
“People with Crohn’s, Colitis, cancer, arthritis, peak performance athletes, just Joe Smith on the street who wanted to feel better and doesn’t like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.”
Engel sells the shakes in quantities of 20 or 30 at a time on her website, essentialnutrition.ca.
Much of her business, she says, appears to be coming from word of mouth. And word is getting around.
“I’m kind of caught off guard with how quickly this has taken off,” she says.
“I have people sending it to Mexico and Brazil and all over the US and Canada. Just driving up and down the hill to the post office has caught me by surprise.”
In the coming weeks, she’s set to add another component to the business. She’s just finished taste tests on a second shake formula, Essential Yoga Fuel, which will come to market in the next few weeks.
The new mix already has a waiting list.