Olive Natural Zing!

Leave it to me to come up with a title like that; if you say it really fast, it almost sounds like, "I love Natural Zing," doesn't it? I guess you could also focus on the "live" part (of O-"live"), as the company is a big part of the owners' lives.

When I first met them at the Washington D.C. Green Festival a couple years back, I was surprised to find out that this online store was run by such a sweet down-to-Earth couple (Jeff Rose, pictured above, and his wife, Helen, shown below). The reason the service always seemed to be personal was because of the real people behind the scenes.

Now whenever I place an order, I am even more impressed with how everything arrives in a timely fashion and with all the items I selected. Sometimes, if there is a special offer going on, I'm also happy to find that, too.

For instance, Natural Zing is currently tossing in a 15.7-ounce jar of these Peruvian Sundried Salt-Free Olives with any purchase of $60 or more. Just enter the promo code: "salt free olive" in the comment section at checkout (you can also tell them shannonmarie sent you).

Lucky for me, I've also got an extra jar to giveaway on my site. If you're interested, stop by this post (which looks a lot like the one you're reading now) to find out how to enter.

Also, don't forget about the Natural Zing's review contest. Check out Helen's previous post for more details (the winner gets a $50 Natural Zing Gift Certificate, so it is definitely worth entering; I would, too, if I was eligible).

So if you win/purchase the olives, what should you make with them?

I found that they take a little getting used to on their own, but they make for a perfect blank canvas for getting your creative juices flowing. They can be sweet, as I snacked on some wrapped in dates. Or, they can be a savory, like in THIS RECIPE:

Thanks to Jeff, I have this one to share. He is a little like me, tossing a few ingredients here and there, but in the end, the results are quite tasty. Just blend together 1/2 cup of the olives (make sure you remove the pits) with 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (the ones on the site are quite delicious, containing just the perfect amount of sea salt), 1/4 cup olive oil, some garlic and herbs (I just used a bit of herbs de Provence, because that's what I was in the mood for).

Originally meant to be served like a dip, I turned it into a meal by reducing the olive oil to just a drizzle and tossing the sun-dried olive/tomato mixture with some zucchetti (zucchini cut into noodles with my spiral slicer I purchased from Natural Zing). I freshened it up a tad with a squeeze of lemon juice (it always brings new life to these things), added thinly sliced massaged baby spinach (I'll explain the thinly sliced/massaged part when I post about this DVD), sprinkled it with hemp seeds and garnished it with a slice of lemon and more olives.

Make sure to check out all that Natural Zing has to offer, so you'll be ready to enter the giveaway. And, don't forget to read the following Q&A with Helen Rose:

Q: Tell us a little about your story. How and why did the two of you adopt a raw vegan diet? What made you decide to turn this lifestyle into a business?

A: "Jeff and I are one of those few couples who have been lucky enough to travel the adventurous road to vegan raw food together as a couple, primarily beginning with Jeff’s interest in food and health.

"Married 16 years ago, we started our lives together on the corporate fast track living unhealthy lives, yet trying to find health. We each had our own health issues: anxiety, depression, addiction, heart issues, pre-cancerous tumors and we were both 30 to 40 pounds higher than our ideal weight.

"In searching for ways to improve our health and the quality of our lives, we started with vegetarianism, then veganism, and finally raw veganism in 2002. Becoming a raw vegan became not only a way to eat but a life-style -- a new way of thinking, prioritizing and a new openness to the possibilities of the blessings of life. At the time there was little support and few resources for a raw foodist, so in 2003 we started Natural Zing to try to fill that void.

"Natural Zing has grown because the community has wanted it to grow. If the community needs us, we’ll be here serving their needs as best we can. We still own, manage and operate Natural Zing with the same passion and sense of adventure that started us down this path so many years ago.

"Since then, we have not only grown our business successfully, but, we have also grown our family and are raising our young family in the raw food life-style."

For more on each of our stories see links below:
Jeff’s story: http://zingbabies.blogspot.com/2009/04/jeffs-raw-food-story.html

Helen’s story: http://zingbabies.blogspot.com/2008/10/my-story.html

Q: I don’t think most people realize how such a big player in the raw food world is actually a small family-run business. How do you handle all those orders and daily operations? How important is it to you to maintain that personal touch?

A: "We work long hours. We ship orders fast and take care of customers. That is what we do and we love it. Thankfully, we also have developed a great staff that cares about our customers, too. Some of our staff have been long time customers, and others are new to raw food and are very excited.

"Maria Dormer was a long time customer and has been with us since 2005. We have these young sports-oriented guys in the warehouse who take pride in their work and make it a challenge to see how many orders they can get out the door – with care.

"Jeff is a hands-on manager. I honestly don’t know how he manages all that he does. He wears so many hats … managing employees and meticulously managing inventory levels. He personally takes the pictures of the products and is usually the one to write or approve each product description. He researches new products, as well as handling an array of topics and business issues that come up every day. And he will still answer incoming calls.

"I am a full-time mother and a part-time Natural Zing worker. I work two days a week taking customer orders, as well as handling project management, marketing, human resources and accounting supervision.

"On very busy days, we both drop everything to help pick and pack orders. It is important to us to ship orders out to our customers quickly … and our customers appreciate it. We love taking customers calls and staying in touch with the customers. We also use Twitter and other ways to try to stay connected to our customers. We are busy and we love it … good thing we eat raw food to help us stay energized."

Q: How has the business grown/changed over the years? What are some of the new products?

A: "When we started we had to provide a lot of education to our customers; now we have people who are not in the raw food movement saying, “hey Dr. Oz was talking about that on Oprah.” We have grown much larger than our egos need. We are here to serve the community and grow as the community needs us to grow.

"Our product philosophy is to build a customer base for every product, so we can have regular fresh shipments coming in. We store product refrigerated. We want the food as fresh as possible. That makes a big difference to the customer.

"We also look for high integrity products. We will continue to add new products as we go along. Because of our philosophy, we may not be the fastest at getting new products, but we feel like our customers appreciate the care that we take with all the products we offer.

"A good example is Lydia’s Organics. We’ve had Lydia’s Organics whole product line since day one, and they are still great products that people need to try."

So check out our other new items:
Unsalted Peruvian Olives
Power Wrap Marsala
Pecan Love Cups
Ormus Supergreens
Acai Powder
ChocAlive Truffles
Cinnamon Powder, 5% oil
DVD: Healing Herbs & Wildfoods by Bridget Mars

Things soon to be arriving or just in:
Pistachio Butter
Macadamia Brazil Nut Butter
Maqui Berry Powder
Books and more books …

Q:I love the fact that you are raising your children with some of the yummiest food available, such as fresh fruits and veggies from your garden and items from your online store. What do they enjoy best?

A: "From the fresh variety they love berries … strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, black raspberries, blueberries …. They also love celery, chard, carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, apples, oranges, figs. Our 3-year-old son has a salad with us every evening, and our 1 ½-year-old daughter has everything except the green leafy stuff (she needs her 2 year molars to help break them down.)

"From the dried and packaged varieties, they love goji berries, mulberries, dried mango, Gopal’s Power Wraps, Organic Food Bars (green), flax crackers, Lydia’s crackers, Lydia’s spirulina bar, kale chips, dulse, all kinds of nuts, and OLIVES! They are pretty easy to feed. In the summer, they’ll just start picking food out of the garden and eat it. We’ve eaten lunch that way more than once."

Q: What does the future hold for Natural Zing?

A: "We’ve been investing in new technology to make our operations more efficient and less costly, which will position us for easier expansion of operations, inventory, etc. Some of these new technologies will result in new features and services for our customers.

"Natural Zing is often looking into areas of need or voids to fill; we will continue to bring you some new exciting products.

"Many have called Natural Zing the best kept secret in the raw food community. This is probably true. We don’t market much; we are happy to grow steadily. However, we do offer services that we expect will continue to grow, such as our wholesale business, selling to natural food stores, cafĂ©’s, and food manufacturers. We also offer fulfillment services to raw food manufactures, raw food websites, authors, talk show celebrities, etc. We expect that as we make more businesses in the community aware of these services that this will continue to grow."

Shannonmarie, a.k.a. "Rawdorable," also posts on her blog of the same name, www.rawdorable.blogspot.com.