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Health Food Trends: Is Romaine Lettuce Safe to Eat?

It seems that romaine lettuce is in the news quite frequently these days. Over the past few years, E. coli contamination has plagued the leafy green vegetable, even prompting the FDA to encourage all romaine lettuce in the United States to be thrown out in 2018.

 

Why does this keep happening? And is romaine lettuce safe for you and your family? Read on to find out more about E. coli in romaine lettuce and whether or not you should be clearing out your vegetable drawer.

 

The Source of the Contamination

One problem with the romaine lettuce issue — and one of the reasons why it keeps happening — is that it’s not entirely clear where the contamination is coming from.

 

Most romaine lettuce sold in the U.S. comes from two growing areas: the Salinas Valley in California and the Yuma, Arizona growing region. It’s suspected that contaminated agricultural water in these areas is what leads to the outbreaks. And seasonal factors might play a role: E. coli is carried naturally in cattle, deer, goats, and feral pigs, and these animals may transmit the bacteria more during certain times of the year (fall, in particular).

 

Another problem is that romaine lettuce, or any type of lettuce for that matter, isn’t typically cooked. It’s simply eaten raw. If a strain of E. coli is found in meat, it’s probably killed off when the meat is heated for cooking. But that step doesn’t happen with lettuce, which is one of the reasons the contamination can spread.

 

Is Romaine Lettuce Safe?

So, is romaine lettuce safe to eat? For the most part, yes. The FDA advises consumers that romaine lettuce grown outside four Salinas-area counties (Monterey, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, and San Benito) is safe to eat, as is hydroponically grown lettuce. And improvements in labeling and tracking technology has made it possible to trace the contamination back to a single region. So it’s likely that the lettuce you’ll purchase at your local store has been completely vetted for safety. Still, you’ll want to try to confirm where the lettuce came from before purchasing.

 

What Are Some Alternative Options?

Of course, another option is to avoid romaine lettuce entirely and opt for another healthy leafy vegetable. Kale contains all sorts of beneficial nutrients; collard greens are rich in Vitamin K, carbohydrates, and protein, making them perfect for a post-workout snack. And arugula is a tasty veggie jam-packed with vitamins and minerals to boost your health.

 

We’ll just have to wait and see if the E. coli contamination problem continues to plague romaine lettuce. In the meantime, be careful about what you buy — and consider some delicious and nutritious alternatives.

Is a Career Change for You?

Considering a career change is one of the most daunting things a professional can face. Getting comfortable in a new industry, learning new skills, completely upending your financial structure in some cases… it’s not something to be taken lightly! You’ll want to weigh the pros and cons before making any final decisions. Here are a few tips to help you decide if a career change is right for you.

 

Research YOUR NEW FIELD

It may sound obvious, but you must do your research on the new field that you’re considering. Sometimes, a full-fledged career change isn’t even necessary — just a modification of your current career might be all that you’re looking for. And sometimes, you want the thrill of jumping headfirst into something entirely new. Just make sure you know what you’re getting into, and think about how your previous experience aligns with the new career field.

 

Consider THE FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS

Money isn’t everything, and for many who are considering a career change, it’s not the primary motivator for exploring new options. But it’s important to consider the financial implications nonetheless. You’ll want to be able to plan for any periods where you might be looking for work or figuring out your next move. Having a full understanding of your financial picture when making a career change is imperative — that way, you’ll know what you need to achieve and whether or not a career change is right for you.

 

Think About YOUR LONG-TERM GOALS

Before making any drastic decisions, take some time to think about your long-term goals, professionally and otherwise. What are you looking for out of the future? More time with your family? More control over your schedule? The opportunity to mentor other professionals? These kinds of considerations can make all the difference when it comes to weighing your options.

 

Want to become your own boss? Have the freedom to run your operation while exploring an exciting new career field? Naturals2Go just might be the solution. Contact us today to learn more about this exciting opportunity in the healthy vending industry.

Healthy Lifestyle Tips to Help You Achieve Your New Year’s Resolution

Do you have a New Year’s resolution? It’s the perfect time to set a goal for yourself and go about making it happen. Many of us set resolutions related to healthy living, whether it’s eating better or exercising more — here are a few tips to help you achieve that goal.

 

Map Your Goals

Simply stating your New Year’s resolution often isn’t enough to hold yourself to it. It’s a good idea to write it down physically on a piece of paper, something that you’ll see regularly to remind yourself of your resolution. And try taking some time to map out your goal — where do you want to be after the first two weeks? The first month? Six months into the year? Mapping your goal out in this way gives you micro-goals to focus on as you make your way toward your ultimate achievement.

 

Have Someone Hold You Accountable

One of the big problems with sticking to our New Year’s resolutions is that the only person we’re letting down by giving up is ourselves. When you ask someone else to help hold you accountable to your goals, you’ll be letting someone else down if you fail. Often, that’s all the motivation we need! Talk about your healthy living resolution with a loved one or friend, and ask them to hold you accountable. You’ll be amazed at the difference once you start working toward your resolution.

 

Set Things Up Beforehand

If your New Year resolves to eat healthy lunches, just saying you’ll do it isn’t good enough. Try setting up some pre-made healthy lunches ahead of time and stashing them in the fridge. Then, you can grab one on your way to work. That will keep you on-track much better, and before you know it you’ll be achieving your resolution. And it’s all thanks to the preparation ahead of time!

 

Sticking to your New Year’s resolution isn’t as hard as you think. Plus, when you’re working toward a healthy lifestyle, you’ll feel good — that makes you want to keep working at it. Best of luck on your journey!

Tips to Achieve Your Career Goals in 2020

It’s a New Year and a new decade — the perfect time to achieve your dream of becoming a successful entrepreneur. Whether your career goals are lofty, long-term aims, or more short-term achievements, you can follow a few simple tips to make sure that you reach the end that you’re looking for.

 

Challenge Yourself

As an entrepreneur, you thrive on challenges. So make sure that you don’t become complacent with what you’re doing. Staying on your toes with challenges is your way of maintaining your grit and tenacity — that’s the lifeblood of an entrepreneur. Plus, solving problems regularly makes the other tasks you’re responsible for seem that much easier.

 

Stay Passionate

There’s nothing worse than an entrepreneur who has lost his or her passion. If you don’t remain passionate about what you’re doing, you won’t find success. You have to have the inner drive to make your business succeed, no matter what. That means not letting setbacks get you down and always striving toward the next big success.

 

Ask for Help When You Need It

Even the greatest among us can’t always do everything themselves. Don’t forget to ask for advice or help when you need it. There is no shame in asking for assistance from someone qualified!

 

Be Clear About Your Goals

You must visualize and articulate your career goals because making them too broad or vague won’t work. When you define a goal clearly, it becomes much more manageable. For example, saying, “I want to become a successful entrepreneur” is too broad. Refining that to say “I want to become a successful entrepreneur using the healthy vending machine business to solve a specific problem” gives you a tangible goal to work toward.

 

Don’t Give Up

Last but not least, a simple piece of advice: don’t give up. No one said running your own operation as an entrepreneur was easy. But you are cut out for it — 2020 is your year to make it happen. Don’t sell yourself short and give up before you’ve even reached the starting line.

 

Ready to become your own boss in the world of healthy vending? Start working toward your dreams today! Contact Naturals2Go to learn more.

Best Healthy Vending Machine Products

You may think of vending machines as the place to go for your guilty pleasure snack – a bag of chips when you’re still hungry after lunch, a sugary soda to give you a temporary boost. But increasingly, people are turning to vending machines for healthier options. Will you be ready with healthy vending machine snacks when the opportunity presents itself? 

The important thing is to focus on items that are both healthy and delicious. Healthy foods that just gather dust in your machine isn’t good for your business or your customers. 

Consider why people buy from vending machines. Sometimes they just feel like a snack, but other times, they need lunch or can use an energy boost. Sugary snacks can offer a momentary boost, but healthy snacks can provide sustained energy to get people through their day or at least through to the next meal. That’s when they count on healthy vending companies to provide what they need. 

Best Healthy Vending Machine Snacks 

Take a look at our healthy vending machine snacks list for ideas to keep your customers and your wallet happy. 

Candy Bars & Gum 

Candy is not an ideal snack, but those that offer a combination of protein and fats can tide you over between meals. Some of the most popular options are Peanut M&M’s or Snickers each of which come in under 250 calories and provide a small protein boost. 

Sugar-free gum such as Trident, Orbit, and Extra have earned the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance and are ideal to freshen your breath when toothbrushing is not an option. 
 

Cereal & Granola Bars  

Granola bars are popular anytime option for those requiring a between-meal snack or even a mini-meal. A couple of popular options include Quaker Chewy Low-Fat Granola Bars (about 110 calories depending on flavor) and Nature Valley Granola Bars around 180 calories for two bars). Granola bars are a healthier option than candy bars.  

Chips & Pretzels 

Chips and pretzels offer little in the way of nutrition, but some whole grain options provide a bit of fiber and they make a popular savory snack. Consider options like Baked Lays, Sun Chips, popcorn or pretzels to keep your customers happy. 

Cookies 

Fig Newtons often come to mind when considering which cookies may be on the healthier side. After all, they do offer a bit of fruit and fiber at only 190 calories. But even cookie treats like Mini Chips Ahoy can be a good snack choice. The selling point here is portion size with a single serving coming in at just 140 calories. 
 

Crackers 

Once again whole grain is the way to go. They are tasty and typically don’t contain as much sugar as sweet snacks. Cheez-Its are popular, but Wheat Thins offer a higher dose of fiber. Packaged crackers filled with cheese or peanut butter are high in fat and surprisingly low in protein, meaning they’re not a great choice.  

Fruits

Dried fruit can make a great sweet treat. It does contain a lot of sugar, although it is typically natural sugar. Trail Mix that contains both fruit and nuts and gives this snack more staying power. Think outside the box with items like squeezable applesauce which is great on the go or fruit snacks and leathers. 

Nutritional Bars 

Nutrition bars come under many labels such as breakfast or protein bars. Stock a mix to please a variety of customers. Some bars such as Clif or Luna bars are typically intended as a meal replacement and often weigh in over 200 calories, while items like Fiber One or Nutrigrain Bars are closer to 100 calories, making them more of a snack.  

Seeds & Nuts 

Seeds and nuts are among the best choices for savvy snackers. Peanuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds provide healthy fats, a bit of fiber and a protein boost – usually for about 160 calories for a single serving. Best of all these are popular snacks that will move fast from your vending machine. 

Beef Jerky 

Beef Jerky often gets a bad rap. While it’s often high in sodium and fat, it packs a ton of protein – nine grams in a one-ounce serving. That gives it staying power to stave off hunger for hours, all for only about 116 calories per ounce.  

Best Healthy Vending Machine Drinks   

Even individuals who wouldn’t dream of grabbing a vending machine snack will often purchase drinks. Give them the choice of refreshing water, tasty flavored drinks or even protein drinks that can serve as a meal replacement. Here are some winning options to add to your beverage vending machine. 

Carbonated Soda & Seltzer Water

Soda is not as popular as it once was, but people do still enjoy an occasional treat. Give plenty of space to calorie-free sodas and add both plain and flavored seltzers as options. Even those who have given up soda will enjoy LaCroix or similar products.  

Healthy Energy Drinks 

The most popular option is probably Red Bull, which has a sugar free option. Other choices include V8 +Energy which gets its energy boost from green tea extract. It contains potassium, vitamin C, iron, and B vitamins and comes in several flavors such as peach mango and pomegranate blueberry.  

Non-Carbonated Juices

There are a variety of juice options available, both the familiar such as orange, apple and vegetable, but there are trendier options such as goji berry and acai. This category also includes lower or no sugar Gatorade sports drinks. 

Non-Dairy Smoothies 

Smoothies are a popular meal on the go option. Most people make them at home or buy them fresh, but in a pinch, your vending machine can give them a viable option. Popular brands are juice or kefir based. Protein drinks also fall into this category with brands such as Muscle Milk and Premier Protein available in dairy-free as well. 

Tea & Coffee

Artificially sweetened and unsweetened options are both popular in the tea and coffee category. Green Tea has health benefits and natural sweetness. Coffee brands such as Starbucks offer sugar-free coffee options.  

Water 

Water is one of the top choices for health-conscious vending machine customers. Dasani is a Coke brand, so you will often see it in their machines, but brands such as Polar Spring are also popular.  

Best Healthy Vending Entrées 

Increasingly people are eating on the go, and sometimes they want a full meal. Common options such as instant ramen are loaded with preservatives and sodium. That doesn’t mean there is any shortage of healthier meal options including noodles, pasta, rice, and soup. The struggle is stocking items that are shelf-stable. Consider these options:  

Noodle Dishes 

Choose low sodium or vegan options for healthier noodle dishes. For example, One Culture Foods offers pho, spicy ramen, chicken noodle, and beef noodle soup all made with bone broth. Nissin and Thai kitchen offers a wide variety of flavors that are either low sodium or feature steamed rather than fried noodles. 

Rice & Vegetables

Vending machine rice & vegetables are proof that you don’t have to sacrifice flavor for health. Brands such as Kitchens of India, Seeds of Change and Tasty Bite offer delicious and healthy meal options  

Soups

Soup is a category with a ton of options. The healthy Choice canned soup comes in many flavors. Dr. McDougall’s offers vegan options and several brands have hot and sour, miso soup and more to choose from. Take a look at the nutrition information to find those lowest in sodium and fat.  

Need Help Choosing Healthy Vending Products? 

People are stretched thin these days and are looking for options on the go, that don’t sacrifice quality or nutrition. If you’re not sure what the best healthy vending products are for your business, contact the specialists at Naturals2Go. We’ll be happy to give you options and advice on healthy vending machine franchises.  

 

Healthy Snacks You Can Actually Feed Your Kids

The holidays are one of the busiest times of the year. Between school functions, holiday parties, and family gatherings, you’ll be on-the-go more often than not and may have to feed your kids while doing so. Read on for some grab-and-go snack options that you can feel good about as a parent.

 

String Cheese

The great thing about string cheese is that it comes wrapped in the perfect portable package, making it ideal for those busy holiday times. You might be surprised to learn that string cheese is relatively healthy, too — it offers plenty of protein without a lot of calories. Turn to string cheese for an easy, portable, and delicious snack that you don’t have to think about when your mind is on other aspects of the busy holiday season.

 

Mixed Nuts

The appropriate portion of nuts is an excellent choice for hungry kids, and they can eat them just about anywhere. A nut mix that contains almonds, pistachios, peanuts, or cashews is usually the right choice, as it offers good fats, fatty acids, protein, and fiber, which will help your kids feel full without eating a huge portion. You can even make your own nut mix and pop some into a small container for perfect on-the-go snacking.

 

Healthy Jerky

Jerky is easily portable, and it isn’t messy, making it a good choice for kids on those busy holiday drives. Beef, turkey, or chicken jerky is packed with protein, and kids will love the great taste — make sure to choose a jerky option that isn’t loaded up with extra salt, sugar, or additives so that you know you’re choosing a healthier option.

 

Veggies and Hummus

Hummus — a smooth paste made from chickpeas — tastes great, and it’s great for you. Hummus is packed with protein, so it’s an excellent choice for busy kids on-the-go this holiday season. Pair it with some vegetable sticks (carrots, celery, etc.) or a few healthy crackers, and you have a low-mess, portable snack that offers a nutritional benefit.

 

Don’t let the holidays ruin your kids’ healthy diet. Choose healthy snack options that are easy to take on-the-go, and you’ll have choices that you can feel good about giving your kids!

New Year New You: Be Your Own Boss and Start a Vending Business in 2020

The New Year is almost upon us. We’re all making resolutions this time of year, whether it’s to shave off a few pounds or to spend more time reading. Perhaps your New Year’s resolution is to become your own boss — it’s a lofty goal but one that will pay off in spades.

 

The healthy vending machine business is your path to success. Here are just four of the many reasons why this industry is a great choice:

 

The Best Locations

Finding success in the vending world is all about where your machines are placed. That can seem like a daunting task, especially when you’re just starting. That’s where we come in. Our staff locators will come to work with you in your city, making sure that your machines are placed in the areas that will generate the maximum return. That lets you focus on what matters: getting healthy snacks in the hands of consumers and growing your business.

 

HANDS-ON PERSONAL TRAINING

Our intensive 3-day hands-on training program gives you the insider knowledge to be completely successful with your new business venture. You’ll learn the ins and outs of the vending machine business, including loading, servicing, repairing, optimizing, operator support, financial and tax information, and much more. There’s no better way to be set up for success right from the start.

 

Coaches for Life

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was someone you could turn to with any question, big or small, about your vending machine business? Well, we have that covered. We never want you to have to “figure things out,” so we provide a personal business coach for you for the life of your business, whether it’s six months or 15 years. Your coach is only a phone call or text message away at any time.

 

24-7 OPERATOR SUPPORT

When you sign on for the program, you’ll have full access to VENDPRO, our private online resource center that contains everything you’ll ever need as a vending machine operator. You’ll find training videos, product sourcing information, and even a private forum that lets you communicate with other healthy vending machine operators. It couldn’t be easier!

 

Make your dreams a reality during this New Year. 2020 is your year to become your own boss in the world of healthy vending! Learn more by contacting Naturals2Go today.

Healthy Holiday Snack Alternatives

The holidays will be here before you know it. For many of us, one of the greatest things about this time of year is the food. Of course, most of the options aren’t very healthy, especially when it comes to snacks and treats. Candy bars, chocolate chip cookies, fudge… they’re all delicious, but what if there were healthier options out there?

 

You’re in luck. Let’s take a look at some healthy holiday snack alternatives for you and your family to try this year:

 

Cereal and Granola Bars

Not every cereal or granola bar is a healthy choice, as some are loaded with sugar and sodium. But choosing a healthy variety makes for a great holiday snack that the whole family will love. Look for cereal or granola bars with low sugar levels and no artificial preservatives — stick with bars that have more nuts and seeds than chocolate.

 

Chips and Pretzels

Some chips and pretzels are considered “junk” food, but they’re not all bad. Purchasing chips that are not fried in oil or fat like regular potato chips gives you a healthier alternative. And pretzels that aren’t packed with sodium offer a filling, healthy, and portable snack.

 

Fruits

Simply cutting up an apple or orange makes for a sweet, nutritious, and delicious snack without all the added preservatives and extra sugar. You can also try dried fruit — they’re delicious and make for a portable and delightful bite when you’re on the go during the holiday hustle and bustle.

 

Seeds, Nuts, and Jerky

Almost everyone enjoys snacking on a handful of nuts or seeds. They’re high in protein and healthy fats and can serve as an excellent alternative to sugary candy. Try choosing nuts like almonds, peanuts, or cashews. When it comes to jerky, look for a low-sugar, organic, and MSG-free variety, and you have yourself a delicious snack for the whole family this holiday season.

 

Healthy Cookies

Who said that cookies are all bad? Try selecting healthier cookie options made without excess sugar, salt, high-fructose corn syrup, and other additives. Look for cookies sweetened with coconut rather than chocolate, or made with whole grains.

 

Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you have to pack on the pounds thanks to unhealthy snacks. There are plenty of alternative, yet delicious, options out there. Start your search for healthy holiday snacks today.

Vending Machines in Schools: Tips for Success

Schools make up a big part of the healthy vending business. After all, schools are full of hungry kids who often need a quick snack or meal options, and one or more schools can be found in just about every town and city across the nation.

 

As a healthy vending machine entrepreneur, how do you capitalize on the need for vending machines in schools? Here’s what school districts are looking for in their vending partners:

Nutritious Snacks and Meals

Now more than ever, districts want healthy snack options in their vending machines. Parents don’t want their kids filling up on cookies and chips for lunch, and districts have responded in kind — schools want their machines stocked with things like chef salads, protein-packed nuts, and healthy sandwiches, not sugary desserts.

 

So, you’re perfectly poised to give schools at every level precisely what they want: healthy, nutritious snack or meal options that kids can purchase quickly. And make no mistake: kids will choose the healthy options, as long as they’re placed strategically. Putting a salad in between a pack of cookies and a cheese Danish might not work very well, but a robust line-up of healthy sandwiches and protein bars will entice kids into purchasing them.

A Simple Arrangement

One of the last things that most school districts have time to focus on is the type and quality of vending machines in their buildings. That’s why a simple arrangement with a vending partner is something most school districts are considering. When you provide healthy vending services and clearly explain how the machines work – how the revenue system is set up and what items are available in the machines – you’re offering a straightforward service that lets the school district look good while putting in minimal effort.

 

THE RIGHT PLACEMENT

Some might think that the only place vending machines would be found in a school is in or near the cafeteria. While they very well may be placed there, keep in mind that putting machines elsewhere can also be beneficial for business. Machines near the entrance of the school can generate a significant boost, especially during peak breakfast times; machines near the gym for student-athletes is also a key placement.

 

SMART MACHINES

The last thing school districts want to worry about is their machines getting low and having to restock them. That’s where you come in. Smart machines can monitor their own stock and send an alert when they’re getting low. Modern machines also offer cashless payment and even security measures. These kinds of perks are important for success in schools.

 

 

Are you an entrepreneur ready to make your mark in the world of healthy vending? Contact Naturals2Go today to learn how to get started.