Tasya Kelen is the founder of Isadore Nut Company, a Minneapolis-based business that provides handcrafted, small batch nut mixes designed to be as healthy as they are delicious. Inspired by her grandfather Isadore’s passion for eating natural, whole foods, Tasya developed the idea of Isadore Nut Company with the goal to provide high protein, low sugar snacks with sustainability in mind.
Talk about the beginnings of Isadore Nut Company: Isadore Nut Company was established in summer of 2013 and named after my grandfather Isadore Rosenfeld, a self-prescribed “health nut” who was an ad-man in St Louis in the 1950s and would ask for organic food in the grocery stores. He was ahead of his time but he passed on the importance of eating a clean, healthy diet to my dad, my dad to me and me to my girls.
My greatest inspiration comes from wanting to give my girls - now 10 and 8, and husband and parents the healthiest, best tasting food possible. My mother instilled in me a love of delicious food, and after having children I began playing around more with eating healthier. I began by doctoring a recipe from Gourmet Magazine eight years ago to give a high in protein, delicious nut mix as gifts to friends, which eventually grew into selling at farmers market and eventually stores.
How has Isadore Nut Company evolved? How have you evolved? Started as a whim while involved in a yearlong yoga teacher training and selling in a few pop ups and markets to having a pop up in Ridgedale Mall center court for the holidays, and being sold in 30 stores in Minnesota and around the country
What are your top three most popular nut mixes? The crowd favorite is Zesty Lemon Rosemary, fresh lemon zest and fresh rosemary, then a toss-up between Cinnamon Spice and Cayenne Kick.
Which mix is your personal favorite? My personal fave is Cocoa Kiss - probably because of the chocolate flavor from the cocoas, orange zest and cardamon. Can’t go wrong with chocolate!
How would you describe the flavors experienced when enjoying that mix? Like all of our mixes, the best part is that there is a layering of flavors that takes place. You’re not just experiencing one flavor like cocoa, you get a crunch, the dark chocolatey taste of cocoa, then a hint of cardamom and orange zest. It’s a cross between grown up (read “healthy”) Coco Puffs cereal, and the wafer part of an Oreo cookie, but so much better for you!
What makes your nut mixes set apart in the industry? By all means the two hallmarks of our products is incredibly high quality ingredients. This translates to the biggest, fattest, richest and freshest nuts. We source organic walnuts from 5th generation organic walnut farmers, organic and fair trade El Salvadoran Cashews purchased through Equal Exchange, and GMO free pecans. The quality stands out above all else. The second most important thing is - 4 grams of protein, just two grams of sugar per ounce. But our mixes are only sweetened by local maple syrup of the highest quality from Horners Corners.
How has living in Minnesota impacted your business and products, especially relating to Isadore Nut Co? I think like so many things, doors open based on who you know. I don’t have the greatest connections, but I am connected to people who are connected to people who can sometimes make things happen. But even without the connections, the importance of tenacity in pursuing what I want - be it a new store, or special event keeps me going. And being connected to an extremely vibrant and supportive local food producer scene has been something I constantly rely on.
Why do you think a localized economy is important? The closer we are to our food means the healthier we are. If we buy directly from the farmer or a maker, knowing that person’s story and hearing their passion goes a long way in the success of a product. Environmentally speaking, it’s so important because we’re not spending unnecessary energy to truck food from her to Asia.
Do you feel like Isadore Nut Co. allows you to contribute to something bigger than yourself? Our relationship with small farmers is one of the things I’m most proud of. Knowing that folks in N California have been cultivating organic English walnuts for five generations shows a real commitment to the health of our bodies and the planet. And the relationship with Equal Exchange, a US based Fair Trade food company gives me incredible peace of mind because not only does their product taste good, but when we buy their cashews we know farmers are being paid a fair price for their crop.
Also, in addition to the high quality of the nuts themselves, the herbs and spices we use are all beneficial in multiple ways. It means a lot to be able to tell someone the Cinnamon Spice and Cayenne Kick have turmeric - an anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory, and that we use the cumin seed because it helps with digestion. Not only does cinnamon taste great but it has been proven to reduce sugar cravings and stable blood sugar. Plus, as we are currently in the throws of minus 10 degrees, the warming spice cinnamon creates a fire in the belly.
Is there anything else you would like to add? This season we have teamed up with three friends who are also local food producers: Thumbs Cookies, North Mallow and Maddy and Maize popcorn with a pop-up shop next to the Santa House in Ridgedale mall. This has been an incredible opportunity to have our brand in front of so many people during the holiday season. We hope it’s not the last time.
Give them a try today at www.isadorenutco.com and save 10% off your order with discount code MakeITMN