Talking With the Co-Founder of Garden Lites by Toby Amidor in Grocery Shopping, December 8, 2012
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This line of gluten-free frozen dishes, soufflés, and veggie muffins has taken the market by storm. I spoke with Garden Lites’ co-founder Jeff Moskowitz to find out the secret of their success.
Q1. How did you come up with the idea of creating Garden Lites foods?
I wanted to make foods that would help people live a healthier lifestyle. There’s no healthier food than vegetables, but people seem to look at veggies as something they HAVE to eat versus something they WANT to eat. I wanted to change that perception.
Q2. You have a delicious line of soufflés. Are they meant to be eaten on their own or can they be used in cooking?
Our consumers eat them for breakfast, lunch or a hearty snack as well as cut them up and serve as a side dish. The soufflés also make a wonderful ingredient. We started a partnership with Meatless Monday where we post meatless recipes using our soufflés on our social media and cross promote it on Meatless Monday’s Facebook page. That has been very successful. We have a lot of really amazing recipe ideas (like our Veggie Lasagna below), which you can find on our website. We will also be expanding our recipe section on our new website starting in January 2013.
Q3. Soufflés have a bad reputation for being high in calories and fat. What’s the secret to making your soufflés healthy and delicious? (I’m a big fan of your butternut squash flavor.)
We make it first and foremost all about the veggies, which are naturally low in calories and fat. We then add egg whites for lean protein and then just add our select spice blends.
Q4. Are all of your products gluten free? Could you tell us why it was important to create gluten-free products?
All our products are and always will be gluten free. The thing is, most prepared gluten-free foods found in your local market are quite high in calories and fat. People who eat gluten-free foods are constantly reaching out to us, thanking us for making gluten-free foods that not only taste good, but are actually really good for them. We feel that we are fulfilling a very important need for that community.
Q5. How can your foods fit into a weight loss plan?
Our foods are really a fantastic way to help with weight loss. They are all low in calories, high in fiber and because of all the egg whites, they are also high in lean protein which means you stay fuller for longer after you eat our foods. Studies have also shown that eating 5-6 smaller meals a day is a much more effective way to lose weight because it staves off hunger and keeps your metabolism revved up. At 7 ounces and 200 calories or less Garden Lites really are the perfect mini meal.
Q6. I tasted your zucchini-chocolate muffins at the Food & Nutrition Conference in Philly this past October—and they were delicious! How do you come up with your flavor combinations for any of your products?
We just keep ourselves open to any possibility. In the testing phase of any new foods, we give ourselves permission to fail. Because of that we’ll try things that may seem a bit out there, but in the end, they’re quite good.
Q7. What makes your frozen dishes better or different from typical frozen meals?
The problem with a lot of frozen foods is that in order to make them more efficiently and for less money, companies over-process the foods and fill them with a lot of unnecessary ingredients. We simply don’t do that. We use premium vegetables and ingredients and make our foods in small batches and slow cook them. I love standing in front of the ovens and just watching all the soufflés slowly rise as they bake. We’re really just doing what I would do in my home kitchen, just on a larger scale.
Q8. Do you have plans to expand any of the lines of products? What can folks expect from Garden Lites in the upcoming year?
We’re very excited about our new Veggie Muffin line; we’ll have 5 flavors; Zucchini Chocolate, Carrot Berry, Veggie Blueberry Oat, Zucchini Banana Chocolate Chip and Golden Corn. They are all 120 calories and 5 grams of fiber for each 2-ounce muffin, filled with veggies and they’re also gluten free. Most importantly they taste great! We also have some new soufflés like our Veggie Chilli & Cornbread Melt. It has a corn bread soufflé base topped with veggie chili and a cheddar cheese sauce. It’s amazing.
1 each Spinach, Butternut, and Cauliflower soufflés, defrosted overnight and cut in half horizontally
1 (24 ounce) jar pasta sauce
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped fine
8 gluten-free or regular lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
We recommend using a 9 x 5 loaf pan to stack all of the layers.
- Mix together the ricotta, egg, and basil
- Start the layering process by spreading ¼ cup pasta sauce on the bottom of the dish. Top with 2 noodles, the 2 spinach soufflé “discs”, 1/3 cup ricotta mix, ¼ cup mozzarella, 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, and 1/3 cup pasta sauce. Continue the layers with the Cauliflower and Butternut soufflé. The last layer will be noodles topped by 1/3 cup pasta sauce, ¼ cup mozzarella and 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese.
- Bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes.
Nutrition Info (per serving)
Protein: 22 grams
Carbohydrates: 47 grams
Fiber: 5 grams
Fat: 12 grams
Garden Lites is a Classic Cooking, LLC brand based out of Queens, NY that produces delicious vegetable soufflés and dishes. Since 2008, Garden Lites has raised the bar in healthy foods by delivering full flavor without sacrifice. For more information on the brand and products, please visit their website or call (718)439-0200.