This post was sponsored by NOW as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
I'm sure that most moms want to make the best decisions for their families. I know I do. But, with all the natural products popping up on the market, it can be hard to figure out which products are best and which brands you can trust. That's why I was eager to participate in an immersion event with NOW Foods.
NOW is a trusted manufacturer of natural products that has been around since 1968. Yes, 1968! They've been making natural products before making natural products was even a thing. It all started with Elwood Richard, a pioneer and legend in the industry. As an athlete, Elwood was committed to living a healthy lifestyle and using natural products. He opened his first natural health food store in 1962 and founded NOW Foods, purchasing healthy foods and supplements in bulk quantities and maintaining a low overhead, so he could compete with grocery chain prices. It wasn't long before other health food stores saw the value in the high-quality products NOW Foods was manufacturing, so they began to providing their goods to other stores and expanding their lines. Almost 50 years later, the brand is still owned by the Richard family and NOW continues to provide value in products and services that empower people to lead healthier lives.
After reading more about the brand, I couldn't wait to travel to Chicago for the #HealthyFamNOW immersion event. I was completely ready to soak up all I could about NOW and their product lines.
Getting to Know NOW Foods
The first activity planned was a welcome dinner with a twist; we were going to compete in an "Iron Chef" competition. As soon as we entered the event space, we shook hands with Jim Emme, the CEO of NOW. He was so down to earth that you'd never know that he manages such a large operation. I've been to a few brand events in the past and it said so much that Mr. Emme took the time to personally introduce himself and get to know us better. After being around him for a little while you could tell that he values each and every one of his team members. He certainly made me feel like a member of the NOW Family.
Back to that Iron Chef competition. After an overview from Dave Rosenberg, Foods Category Manager, and Bryan Morin, Foods Marketing & Sales Specialist, we were given a little cooking lesson from R&D Chef Suzy Singh. I feel like I'm a pretty good judge of character, and let me tell you, these people were passionate about the products they were telling us about. Not only did they have pride in them (they did create most of them, so of course they'd be proud), but you could tell they genuinely wanted to create food that would help people live better, healthier lives.
Have you ever made your own ketchup or barbecue sauce? I hadn't, but Suzy showed us how easy it is to make food that we can feel good feeding our children. She also showed us how to make our own chicken nuggets. I've tried making these from scratch before, but for some reason, my kids really like the frozen ones. By the end of the day I'm usually too flustered and mentally tired to fight them on it, so I relent.
My fabulous teammate, Danielle Faust of Ok, Dani
Suzy gave us a quick recipe that I know my kids would actually eat and enjoy. Plus, I can make them ahead of time and then reheat as needed. Brilliant! These are exactly the kinds of simple solutions I'm trying to fit into our lifestyle.
Photo courtesy of the incredibly talented Elisabeth McKnight
Then, it was time to take it outside for a major showdown. The influencers were split into teams to create our own unique recipes utilizing fresh ingredients and NOW Food products. This was my favorite part of the entire event. Our small group worked together to create a yummy chicken dish with a side of quinoa (by the way, you NEED the Q Cups from NOW in your life; they're so, so good and insanely convenient). This gave us the chance to truly experience the NOW products in a hands-on way.
While our team didn't score a prize or bragging rights, I felt like I walked away with some very do-able mealtime ideas. That's a win in my book! After a yummy dinner featuring even more of NOW Foods, we headed to bed for a bright and early start.
PiYo! That's how the second day of the NOW immersion event started. 7 AM Pilates + Yoga on a rooftop right outside of Chicago was pretty fantastic. I have to admit that I'm not in the best shape of my life, but this workout rekindled a little something inside of me. This event has inspired me to make an action plan. Once my little ones start school in a few weeks I plan to start working out again regularly. I'm also planning a bit of a dietary overhaul, with the addition of NOW Sports Nutrition supplements.
After hearing from John Urban, the NOW Sports Brand Manager, I really think that protein powder may be exactly what I need for better weight management. Replacing a lot of the empty calories I eat with high-quality protein powder is something I plan to test in the months to come. Athletes from around the globe trust NOW Sports since they offer only natural, unadulterated nutritional supplements that you can trust to be pure, safe, and effective. If it's good enough for Olympians, it's probably good enough for me... this is where I'd insert a winking emoji if WordPress had that option.
Another fun, hands-on part of the event was the "Keep It Clean! DIY Natural Health & Beauty Recipes for Your Daily Routine" segment. Tina Tews, the NOW Solutions Brand Manager told us that most women end up using over 200 chemicals in their daily beauty routines. OVER 200?! I felt like I could really reevaluate a lot of the products I'm using. The great thing about the NOW brand is that they carry so much more than just food and supplements. Among their 1,400 high-quality, natural and affordable product are also health and beauty products and essential oils.
A head ease roll-on blend made from NOW products.
I've only just begun to dabble in essential oils, but I know one thing from checking out the popular brands: multi-level marketing companies are charging a LOT for their products. Most oils are packaged as 0.5 liquid ounces (15mL) and can cost anywhere from $13-$48. For example, one brand's 15mL bottle of Lavender retails for $28. You can get 60 mL of NOW's Lavender Oil for a fraction of the price. I'm talking 4 times as much oil for less than half the price of a tiny bottle from other brands. The value here cannot be beaten. Especially for oils that are Non-GMO Project verified.
If you're thinking that maybe there's a difference in quality to explain the price difference, I'm not really sure there is. NOW is committed to offering the purest and most potent natural essential oils available, and that comes from sourcing the very best natural ingredients for its products (and not only for their oils, this is true for every single item they produce). They've got a suite of in-house laboratories that are equipped with the latest instruments and technology so their technicians can accurately assess each essential oil's identity, purity, and safety. I had the opportunity to tour the NOW manufacturing plant and got to see everything from the product packaging lines to the behind-the-scenes laboratories.
I had the opportunity to tour the NOW manufacturing plant later that day and got to see everything from the unloading docks to product packaging lines to the testing laboratories. I spent almost a decade in the medical field at a large university hospital and let me tell you, the sophistication and sheer amount of the lab equipment they have is incredible. Neil Levin, NOW's Nutrition Education Manager guided our and joked that their labs were the stuff that researchers dreams are made of. He commented that when chemists and other researchers have visited their facility that they remarked they'd never got to see many of these machines in person.
CEO Jim Emme also joined us at the manufacturing plant and I noticed in the fringes of the tour he'd make small talk with almost every employee he saw. Again, I felt that sense of family and it seemed like the employees really enjoyed working at NOW.
One thing I noticed over and over during our tour was NOW’s Quality Control and Quality Assurance programs. Mr. Levin explained that trucks don't simply drop off the raw materials for NOW's products then leave. Testing is done on all products that are received, from ensuring there is no contamination in the packaging to testing the purity of the product themselves.
Check out this video to see everything that goes into making quality NOW products:
Another theme I took away from our plant tour and the event, in general, is NOW's transparency. I know that's a buzz-word and might be overused, but NOW has been transparent since before being transparent was cool. They want you to know what you're putting in or on your body. For example, John Urban showed us a comparison of labeling between a popular protein powder and a NOW protein powder. Whereas the popular brand listed a "blend" of some sort, they didn't really tell you the ingredients IN the blend. NOW lists every single thing that's in their supplements on the label so there's no confusion about what you're consuming.
From food products to their variety of over 900 supplements to beauty products, NOW offers a comprehensive approach to personal and family wellness that most people can actually afford. I feel like I could go on and on about how much I enjoyed my time at the NOW immersion event and how excited I am to explore their products. And, speaking of their products, NOW sent me home with over $500 worth of items and I'm excited that I can also give away a product pack to one of you!
One lucky person will receive a NOW product pack worth $500! Please note, contest entrants are only eligible to win once per sweepstake, per household as part of a campaign sponsored by Influence Central.
Open to the US only, ages 18 and up. Ends 8/19/17 at 11:59 PM EST.
Enter using the Giveaway Tools form below. Good Luck!
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of NOW. All opinions are my own. One winner will be randomly selected using the Giveaway Tools random selector and notified via email. Once notified, the winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Google. Void where prohibited.