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Oda+Lassen, Lassen's+Origin+Story, Lassen's+Anniversary

The First Ten Years — Expansion!

Open to Growth

I’m not sure what Oda had in mind for the future of her business when she opened that first little Health Food Store in 1971, but I do know that she always wanted to keep learning and growing. She continued to expand product offerings and to serve her community. She was fulfilling her mission — to provide her community with healthy, quality products, and to teach them about natural remedies. The store had outgrown that first location within a few years, and so Oda moved across the street to a larger store. The business flourished at that location as well.

In 1980, Oda and Hilmar decided that they were ready to expand the business further. The original store was doing well, and they felt that the next door community of Oxnard had a need for a Health Food Store. There were many customers who made the drive to Camarillo, and so they felt there was an untapped market there. They looked at many locations and found one that was suitable.

Oxnard+Lassens, Lassens+History, Lassens+expansion
I believe that I painted that “Opening Soon” sign that hangs in the window!

One factor that helped them in their decision to open another store was that their son, Peter, was to graduate from college in December of 1980. He was anxious to contribute to the family business, and was looking forward to a new challenge. They knew that he and his wife (that’s me!) would help them open and run this new store. Their daughter, Doris, was already working in the original store in Camarillo, and along with the other employees, Oda and Hilmar felt that they had enough help that they could put some energy into this new project.

The shopping center looked very different in 1980 than it does now, but the core of the business is the same: Friendly, knowledgeable staff; healthy, quality products; beautiful organic produce. As an English Major and teacher, the business of Health Food was new to me, but healthy eating was not. I grew up in a home that emphasized nutrition — we didn’t have much fast or junk food at our house! So I found it exciting and new to learn so much in such a short period of time. While Hilmar and Peter worked on the logistics of getting the equipment, refrigeration, and shelving set up, Oda taught me the day-to-day operations and customer service, as well as product knowledge. It was a whirlwind few months until our opening day, in March 1981.

Oxnard+Lassens, Oxnard+expansion, Lassens+History
This photo was taken in September 1981 — six months after the Oxnard store opened.

The Oxnard store was not an instant success. There were many days when we only sold for a few hundred dollars. We started each day with the shelves completely faced — all of the product brought to the front of the shelf — and I remember how thrilling it was to walk through the store at the end of each day and see what people had bought. It was especially exciting when we would hear a shopping cart pulled out of the row of carts, since that probably indicated that someone was going to buy more than just what they could carry in their hands. When we took a day off, Oda or Doris would come cover for us in Oxnard.

We finally sold enough to warrant hiring our first employee, Rosie. That brought with it a whole new set of responsibilities and a very steep leadership learning curve. I think we were learning as much as she was!

Throughout it all, Oda was a steady and reassuring guide. When it came to the business she  was clear-eyed and focused. She was rarely ruffled. She knew what she stood for, and her decisions reflected her vision. In the more than 37 years since we opened that second store, and the other stores after that, her influence has never left us. Passion. Commitment. Respect. It’s in everything we do. We are always striving to provide The Best of Everything Good!

Love,

Lassen’s

healthy+fats, ketogenic+diet

Can Fats be Healthy? Yes!

Times Have Changed!

healthy+fats, ketogenic+diet

It wasn’t that long ago that fat was a dirty word. I recall attending a gym class where the teacher advised choosing all-sugar treats (such as Starburst or Skittles) over treats with any fat at all.  Many were excited to see no-fat products on the market — cookies and cakes made without fat. It was easy to get caught up in the no-fat craze.

But just a few days of unnaturally cutting fats completely out of your diet leaves you feeling hungry, tired, and grumpy and, frankly, unhealthy.  The fats in those products were generally replaced with a real dietary villain — sugar — as well as other refined carbohydrates. So you ended up with the spikes and dips in energy that come with a high sugar diet. Not a happy place to be.

And it’s true, there are unhealthy fats — Transfats (fats that have been hydrogenated) can increase the risk of several chronic diseases (heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, among others.) We want to avoid those, such as refined fats and oils (think margarine and corn oil).

There are also very serious possible effects of eating no fat. This article from Dr. Axe mentions poor brain function, compromised heart health, hormone imbalances (including fertility issues), overeating and weight gain, among other problems. I knew a young woman who desperately wanted to get pregnant, but had stopped menstruating when she turned to a practically no-fat diet in order to control her weight. Yes, things went this extreme.

Fortunately, the pendulum has swung away from that craziness, and we are in a much healthier place as it relates to dietary fat. In 2015 the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee sent recommendations to the Government that advised against restricting dietary fat, and had no upper limit on total fat intake.

healthy+fats, ketogenic+diet

And that’s good news, because including healthy fats in your diet will help reduce hunger and cravings, help you feel satiated (satisfied), as well as help with energy and brain function. The supplements that you take will be better absorbed, as well as the nutrients in the food that you eat — all fat-soluble vitamin as well as calcium. Your liver will be protected from damage. Your “good” cholesterol will go up and your “bad” cholesterol will go down. You will even burn fat more efficiently! These reason and more are why the ketogenic diet has become so popular lately.

But we all have to careful about which fats to choose. The fats from raw dairy products, coconut oil, grass-fed beef, nuts, avocados, and much more are beneficial to our health. Here are some healthy fats to choose.

healthy+fats, ketogenic+diet

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Butter (especially raw, but from grass-fed cows as well), Ghee (clarified butter), and Coconut Oil. The Danes have been right all along. Butter and Ghee contain healthy Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are essential, and our bodies don’t produce them; we have to get them from our diets. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, high in antioxidants, is great for brain and cognitive function, and even lowering blood pressure. Make sure you choose Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, since processing can eliminate many of the healthy benefits.

Avocados, Full-fat Dairy, and Eggs. One of my favorite lunch go-tos is a half of an avocado, chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, topped with a squeeze of lime and Mexican spices. If I’m extra hungry I’ll add some full-fat cottage cheese. If you prefer, add a hard-boiled free-range organic egg for even more protein! This lunch will keep me satisfied for the whole afternoon. An avocado has the advantage of being high in protein, as well as vitamin E, folate, and of course healthy monosaturated fat.

healthy+fats, ketogenic+diet

Nuts, Seeds, and Dark Chocolate. A handful of nuts is full of super nutrients, including healthy fats. Add a chunk of dark chocolate — at least 70% cacao (to reduce the amount of sugar) and you have an energy-boosting snack.

Omega-3s from Seafood, and Grass-fed Beef. Make sure you choose wild-caught, sustainable varieties, and Grass-fed, Organic beef for the best nutritional punch. Both are higher in Omega-3 fatty acids, and high in protein as well.

healthy+fats, ketogenic+diet

Lassen’s carries many healthy fats in many forms and varieties — including brands such as Bulletproof, which are formulated to take advantage of the nutritional strengths of these fats. This is not a new bandwagon for us — Lassen’s has carried these nutritious and healthy (as well as delicious!) products since day one in 1971!  Come see our selection!

Love,

Lassen’s

Lassen's+Natural+Foods, 2018+Expo+East, 2018+Natural+Products+Expo+East, Expo+East, Cauliflower+Bites, Delicious+Healthy+foods

Finding New Products at Expo East!

We’re on the Hunt for Great New Products!

September has brought us to Baltimore for the Natural Products Expo East Trade Show. We love attending seminars and meeting producers — it’s exciting to see the creativity and great new products!  Here are some of the fun and delicious things we’ve see at this show!

Natural+products+Expo+East+2018, 2018+Expo+East, Natural+products+expo, expo+east, lassens+natural+foods+store

I love DEET-free repellents!

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There are a lot of great new entrants in the drink category — this watermelon was delicious!

lassens+natural+foods, 2018+Natural+products+expo+east, Expo+East, 2018+Expo+East

Tasty new dressings!

lassens+natural+foods, 2018+Natural+products+expo+east, Expo+East, 2018+Expo+East

This brand has new offerings — Yum!

lassens+natural+foods, 2018+Natural+products+expo+east, Expo+East, 2018+Expo+East

New offerings in the Chip Aisle

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Apple Cider Vinegar Drinks are a lot of fun — and healthy, too!

lassens+natural+foods, 2018+Natural+products+expo+east, Expo+East, 2018+Expo+East

This company had these biodegradable cloths — one towel replaces 15 rolls of paper towels. And they biodegrade in less than 3 months!

lassens+natural+foods, 2018+Natural+products+expo+east, Expo+East, 2018+Expo+East

Want an easy side dish? Craving Tater Tots? Try these Cauliflower bites. From Freezer to oven to table. We are definitely bringing these into Lassen’s!

lassens+natural+foods, 2018+Natural+products+expo+east, Expo+East, 2018+Expo+East

Grain-free offerings were abundant at Expo East, and this one was tasty, for sure.

lassens+natural+foods, 2018+Natural+products+expo+east, Expo+East, 2018+Expo+East

Hu Chocolates’ new products feature cashews, almonds, and dried fruit. Delicious.

lassens+natural+foods, 2018+Natural+products+expo+east, Expo+East, 2018+Expo+East

Dahlicious has new Cashew drinkable yogurt, and their almond yogurts are smooth and creamy.

lassens+natural+foods, 2018+Natural+products+expo+east, Expo+East, 2018+Expo+East

This French Yogurt was very tasty — I liked the Pressed Lemon in the ceramic container. The flavors were very subtile and the creamy texture was divine.

Watch for the new products coming up soon at a Lassen’s near you! I didn’t get a photo of Justin’s new Cashew Cup, but it should arrive soon in the stores. It is delicious!

Love,

Lassen’s

 

 

 

danish+recipes, Oda's+recipes, cabbage+recipes, danish+creamed+cabbage, creamed+cabbage

Danish Creamed Cabbage

The first time I had Oda’s Danish creamed cabbage was at Christmas time. After a fancy Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas Day offered a more laid-back menu — Danish Frikadeller (meatballs) and creamed cabbage.

danish+recipes, Oda's+recipes, cabbage+recipes, danish+creamed+cabbage, creamed+cabbage

Cabbage is one of those nutritional unsung heroes — full of dietary fiber, vitamin C, K, and B6. It’s also a great source of potassium, manganese, magnesium, copper, and folate, to name a few. It’s versatile and delicious, too! The Danes use cabbage in many recipes, and this side dish is one of my favorites.

danish+recipes, Oda's+recipes, cabbage+recipes, danish+creamed+cabbage, creamed+cabbage

Danish Creamed Cabbage

Serves about 8

You’ll Need:

  • 1 head green cabbage (about 3 lbs)
  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 6 TBSP flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • Reserved cabbage water, about 1/2 cup
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Cinnamon sugar or nutmeg or cardamom

danish+recipes, Oda's+recipes, cabbage+recipes, danish+creamed+cabbage, creamed+cabbage

Instructions:

  • Wash cabbage head, cut in quarters, removing stalk
  • Cook in covered saucepan with 1″  salted water until tender
  • Drain, reserving water, then press out moisture ( I use a wooden spoon)
  • Chop and squeeze out more moisture
  • Make white sauce:
    • Melt butter, add flour and whisk
    • Add milk a little at a time and whisk until smooth
    • Add reserved cabbage water a little at at time until sauce is the right consistency, stirring constantly. You’ll want to keep it a little on the thicker side, since the cabbage will give up some moisture
    • Season with salt and pepper to taste
  • Add cabbage to white sauce, stir to combine
  • Serve with cinnamon sugar to top ( the traditional Danish way) or salt and pepper. I’ve also seen some people sprinkle nutmeg or cardamom on top.

danish+recipes, Oda's+recipes, cabbage+recipes, danish+creamed+cabbage, creamed+cabbage

 

danish+recipes, Oda's+recipes, cabbage+recipes, danish+creamed+cabbage, creamed+cabbage

 

danish+recipes, Oda's+recipes, cabbage+recipes, danish+creamed+cabbage, creamed+cabbage

 

danish+recipes, Oda's+recipes, cabbage+recipes, danish+creamed+cabbage, creamed+cabbage

Enjoy!

danish+recipes, Oda's+recipes, cabbage+recipes, danish+creamed+cabbage, creamed+cabbage

Love,

Lassen’s

Oda+Lassen, Lassen's+Origin+Story, Lassen's+Anniversary

Happy 100th Birthday to Our Founder, Oda Lassen!

Celebrating a Life Well Lived

Monday, August 20, 2018, is the 100th Anniversary of the birth of our Founder, Oda Lassen. Although we lost her in 2013 (at the age of 94 1/2), her spirit and spunk have stayed with us.

I wrote a few weeks ago about how at the age of nearly 53, she bravely opened the first Lassen’s in 1971 (you can read that post here) and this week I just want to celebrate the person that she was.

Oda+Lassen, Lassen's+Origin+Story, Lassen's+Anniversary

Oda was unafraid to say what she thought. I don’t know if it was the fact that English was not her native language that made her so blunt, but she would just tell you what she thought. When some of our boys were teenagers with long hair, she complained to me about it. I told her it was just hair and not a big deal, and she replied, “But it looks so awful!”

Oda was very willing, and often anxious, to pass on her wisdom, regularly with humor. She had heard someone say that the only reason you should raise your voice at home is if the house was on fire. One day she came into my house and caught me yelling at — well, who knows what. She just said, “Where’s the fire?” That made me laugh, and, as you can tell, I don’t even remember what all the yelling was about.

Oda+Lassen, Lassen's+Origin+Story, Lassen's+Anniversary
Lassen’s first logo — very proud of the Viking heritage!

Oda had a quick wit. During a Sunday dinner she scolded one of her grandchildren for being so sassy. He replied, “Well, I can’t help it since I got it from you!” She shot right back, “You couldn’t have gotten it from me because I’ve still got it!” She was well into her 90s and hadn’t skipped a beat.

Oda was very smart. She loved learning everything that she could about Natural Foods and Supplements. She was constantly reading and studying so that she could help her customers in the store. She also loved to read magazines that carried stories about people and products, and in the 1990s was even featured in one of the bargain magazines with an article about how Green Magma had helped her arthritis. That laminated article was on the wall of the store for a long time! She was very proud of that!

Oda+Lassen, Lassen's+Origin+Story, Lassen's+Anniversary

Oda also had quite a head for math, and could keep track of every expense and sale. She watched the books very closely, and didn’t make risky moves in the business. This vigilance carried into her personal finances — If we went to a store together and she paid for both of our items, you can bet she would make sure that she was repaid in a timely manner, and to the penny!

Oda+Lassen, Lassen's+Origin+Story, Lassen's+Anniversary
Lassen’s sponsored the Miss Camarillo Pageant in the late 70s, and this was their portrait for the program. Looking dapper!

Oda put her familiy first. She had a large family — seven children — and a large extended family but everyone knew that she loved them. Most of all, her husband Hilmar knew it. One day I was at her house in the morning when she left for work at the store. After a few minutes she came rushing back into the house with an explanatory, “I forgot to kiss my husband goodbye!”

There was no greater Bedstemor — Danish Grandmother — than Oda. Sometimes, when my kids were little, she would call me and tell me I needed a break. She would drive to our house, pick up the children, and take them for a walk or to the park while I had some time to myself. She was also a great Svigermor — Danish Mother-in-law. One of her daughters-in-law tells about how Oda would show up at their front door with a broom, mop, and bucket and announce that she was going to mop their floor. She’d sweep and mop, then be on her way.

After she and Hilmar downsized from their home, they came to live in a granny flat next to our house. Our children grew up with Bedstemor and Bedstefar just a few steps away, and that enriched their lives every single day. I would often go see what she and my children were up to, and they were making cookies together or watching Shirley Temple or Disney movies, or just sitting on the couch, Oda patting their little legs, listening to music. When the grandchildren were babies, she was in heaven. She would swoop up a screaming baby, hold him close, and dance and sing  until he calmed down. Her trick was to sing louder than the baby was crying. She had a special “dep-a-dep” song that all of the Lassen children, grandchildren, and most of the great-grandchildren can still sing.

Oda+Lassen, Lassen's+Origin+Story, Lassen's+Anniversary
Oda with her first employee, Jennie.

Oda was blessed with beautiful olive skin (not a standard pale Dane!) and a thick, full, head of hair. I liked to tell her that she had enough hair for three people, and several of her children — including all of her sons — inherited that thick hair. So lucky!

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t miss Oda. She was a woman of incredible integrity and perseverance, even in the face of real hardship. Honest, hard-working, and loyal, all of us in her personal and business family knew that we could count on her, no matter what. There are so many things that we have been able to accomplish and experience because she paved the way. It is our quest to honor the legacy she left for us. It’s what give us our values: Passion, Commitment, and Respect.

Happy birthday, Oda!

Love,

All of your family and team at Lassen’s

bulk+almonds, organic+almonds, almond+butter, organic+almond+butter, yemetz+family+farms, organically+grown+almonds

Our Bulk Almonds are Local and Organic, too!

Brought to you by Yemetz Family Farms!

Lassen’s is committed to supporting organic and local farmers, and that applies to how we source our bulk items as well. A case in point is our bulk almonds, grown in the Central Valley of California.

bulk+almonds, organic+almonds, almond+butter, organic+almond+butter, yemetz+family+farms, organically+grown+almonds

A few of weeks ago I visited George Yemetz at his almond grove just north of our Fresno store. It was easy to know when I was at his farm when I saw almond trees with green underbrush. Most of the almond groves have bare ground all around, indicating that toxic weed killers have been applied all around the base of the trees. But organic groves are easy to spot!

bulk+almonds, organic+almonds, almond+butter, organic+almond+butter, yemetz+family+farms, organically+grown+almonds

Producers and manufacturers usually have amazing stories, and George sure does! His parents and grandparents fled Stalin’s Ukranian atrocities in the 1940’s, and settled in the Los Angeles area, where George was raised. Ukraine was known as the Bread Basket of Europe, so they were watching for agricultural opportunities. They had gardens in LA and around 1980 when the chance to buy farmland in the Fresno area appeared, they jumped at it. George learned all he could on his family farm, and in 1997 bought 12 acres of untilled land. He had a mentor that encouraged him to farm organically, so right from the start his almonds have been grown organically and sustainably. He has expanded his acreage by another 11 acres, and has his eyes open to further expansion in the future.

bulk+almonds, organic+almonds, almond+butter, organic+almond+butter, yemetz+family+farms, organically+grown+almonds

Almond trees live about 25-30 years, but don’t produce for a few years after planting. George said it took five years before he was able to break even, and the 2008 recession was difficult. Add California’s long drought into the mix, and needless to say it’s been a challenging decade for farmers, including Yemetz Family Farm. But George has been able to keep his trees healthy through a strong soil ammedment program (using the manure from an organic chicken ranch nearby), and his own well water. The groves are mowed every three weeks which helps keep the soil around the trees healthy and cooled.

bulk+almonds, organic+almonds, almond+butter, organic+almond+butter, yemetz+family+farms, organically+grown+almonds
If you’re wondering, yes, almonds and peaches are in the same family!

George grows two varieties of almonds — Carmel and Nonpareil. Nonpareil is the premier variety, but Carmel is harvested about a month later, making harvesting and processing more convenient. Both are wonderful almonds for all kinds of uses. Almonds are harvested by equipment that shakes the trees, then blowers and sweepers gather the almonds. They are processed by hulling and shelling, then these organic almonds are frozen to kill any moths or other pests. Yemetz almonds are never heated at all, so they are truly raw. 

In about 2007 there was a big almond processing operation that had an problem with salmonella, so laws and regulations were put in place that require pasteurization of all almonds. Most organics use steam pasteurization, but conventional operations use chemicals (!!) to pasturize their almonds. Ick! 

bulk+almonds, organic+almonds, almond+butter, organic+almond+butter, yemetz+family+farms, organically+grown+almonds

George is a true believer that we have a choice  — we can pay a bit more now for healthier, organic food, or we can pay the doctor later when our health suffers. It’s certainly a belief that we at Lassen’s share. We are proud to count on such a strong commitment from our farmers and producers to help us bring your family the Best of Everything Good! 

Look for our beautiful bulk almonds and Lassen’s brand Almond Butter, brought straight to you from Yemetz Family Farm!

Love,

Lassen’s

Origin+story, Lassen's+history, lassens+history, Oda+Lassen, Hilmar+Lassen, Lassens+grand+opening, the+best+of+everything+good, we+care+about+your+health

Lassen’s Started with a Brave Woman and a Problem to be Solved

Oda Saw She Could Help Solve that Problem

When I came into the Lassen family and learned that Oda owned and ran a Health Food Store, I just sort of thought, “Oh, that’s cool.” It wasn’t until about ten years ago that it really hit me how astonishing that was.

Oda was born in August, 1918 — nearly one hundred years ago. That means that when the first Lassen’s store opened in 1971, she was almost 53 years old. Fifty-three. At a time when most are thinking about the end of their careers, she bravely began one. But she was driven to do so because she saw a problem and she knew she could help solve it.

As mentioned in previous posts about Oda (read about her childhood, growing up, love of good, healthy food, during World War II in Denmark, immigration to America, and settling into a new country) she felt very strongly that quality food was extremely important.  She had lived through food rationing as a young mother during the WW II in Denmark, and knew what it felt like to not be able eat or to feed her children healthy food.

When the Lassens arrived in America in early 1952, the industrial packaged food trend was really gaining steam. Oda was appalled. She was horrified with much of American food — low quality, pre-packaged, tasteless, full of refined sugar, salt, preservatives and artificial ingredients, and definitely lacking in nutrition. This did not seem like progress to her. She knew how vital quality food was to overall health — she’d lived without it during the war and knew how detrimental that could be! She knew that families needed acess to more healthy foods as well as information about natural solutions to health issues. 

So once her youngest children were in school and more independent, she decided that she could do something to solve that problem. She took a job at a local Health Food store, and devoured as much information as she could. She took advantage of every opportunity, even questioning the way the owner ran the business. She was disgusted with much of what he did, from his product mix (junk food right next to the supplements) to his habits (smoking fat cigars in the office.) When he let her go in favor of a younger woman, she decided that losing the job was a blessing — that she could do better. She wanted to help her community to be knowledgable about natural remedies and have access to healthy, nutritious foods .

The idea to open her own store began to grow and expand, and as she discussed it with Hilmar, he said he would help her do it. They found a little store to lease on Pickwick Drive in Camarillo, and got to work. They made plans and recieved permits, then built and set up everything. The shelves were cleaned and stocked. They opened the doors for business.

origin+story, Oda+Lassen, Hilmar+Lassen, the+Best+of+Everything+Good, We+care+about+your+health,

Forty-seven years ago this week, on July 6, 1971, Lassen’s Health Food Store held its Grand Opening. This ad ran in the local paper. People began to shop at the little store, and Oda gained more confidence. At first the divider between the selling area and the back room was close to the front of the store, but as her sales volume grew and as the product offerings expanded, that divider was moved back farther and farther. After a few years she moved across the street into a larger store, and that store has been expanded another time since then. 

Origin+story, Lassen's+history, lassens+history, Oda+Lassen, Hilmar+Lassen, Lassens+grand+opening, the+best+of+everything+good, we+care+about+your+health

This was very much a family undertaking, as shown here with a teenaged Anna. All of the Lassen siblings spent plenty of time after school and during the summer dusting shelves, stocking product, bagging nuts and dried fruits, and helping customers. Hilmar did the produce run to LA and served as the handyman, while still maintaining his masonry business.  But Oda was the hub of the business, and her customers remained loyal to her well after her retirement. 

Origin+story, Lassen's+history, lassens+history, Oda+Lassen, Hilmar+Lassen, Lassens+grand+opening, the+best+of+everything+good, we+care+about+your+health

It was a big step when Oda was able to hire her first employee, Jennie. She became a wonderful asset to the business, and almost part of the family. You can see that there is a lot more product on the shelves than in the previous photo!

Many people told Oda and Hilmar that the Health Food craze was just a fad, and would never last. But Oda knew that this wasn’t just a hippie thing — it was a basic, human, need to nurture bodies, strive to heal naturally, and to take care of the earth.

All along the way, Oda kept uppermost in her mind her purpose to provide families in the community with healthy,  nutritious, high quality foods and supplements. In those early days organic foods were difficult to find, but she sought them out wherever she could. And of course, the organic standards were not codified into law at that point, so she had to be extra vigilant in checking ingredients and manufacturing practices. 

Origin+story, Lassen's+history, lassens+history, Oda+Lassen, Hilmar+Lassen, Lassens+grand+opening, the+best+of+everything+good, we+care+about+your+health
This article in the local paper appeared a few years later, when there were more supplements on the shelves! Oda’s friend Gerda is on the far right of this photo — even her friends helped when they were in town!

There were plenty of discouraging times, but Oda continued to build on her foundation of caring about everyone who came into the store. She learned more as she attended seminars and read everything she could so that she could help them with their health concerns. 

Now, forty-seven years later, we at Lassen’s strive every day to build on Oda’s foundation of caring about our communities. Our dedicated buyers constantly search for the highest quality healthy, sustainable, and ethically produced items.  We feel grateful to have so many great producers, many who live and produce locally. Our knowledgeable staff is trained and anxious to help you find solutions to your health needs. Those are traditions that Oda started so many years ago — supporting both suppliers and the community. 

Thanks, Oda, again for setting us on this path!

Love,

Lassen’s

 

Dessert

We Call it Dessert, and it’s Perfect for Summer!

A Delicious, Rich, Summery Treat

Danish+recipes, danish+dessert+recipes, buttermilk+desserts, summer+desserts, creamy+desserts, Kærnemælkfromage

I love to make this Danish dessert whenever we have guests come to dinner because it is different from anything they have ever had. We always make a game of having them guess the main ingredient, and they can never figure it out. It’s simple to make and so delightful — rich, and yet light.

So, drumroll…

The secret ingredient is buttermilk! Kærnmælk, in Danish.

So here is it is: kærnemælkfromage, Buttermilk Dessert

Kærnemælkfromage

You’ll need:

  • 1 TBSP unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar (depends on how sweet you like your desserts)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup cream, whipped until stiff

Instructions:

  • Dissolve the gelatin in the cold water in a 2-quart saucepan, and then put on the stove over low heat. 
  • Stir constantly until disolved (which will take less than a minute), then add the sugar and stir until dissolved
  • Remove from heat and add the vanilla, orange juice, and buttermilk; stir to blend well
  • Place the saucepan in the refrigerator to cool and gel
  • Check in about 30 minutes. When the mixture starts to firm, whip the cream
  • Pour the buttermilk mixture into the whipped cream, and blend with a wire whisk until smooth
  • Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until firm, about an hour
  • Serve with Danish Strawberry Pudding (Jordbær Grød — the recipe can be found here). It’s also wonderful with fresh berries
Danish+recipes, danish+dessert+recipes, buttermilk+desserts, summer+desserts, creamy+desserts
I like Great Lakes Kosher Gelatin (we carry this in our Supplement Department, so you should be able to find it there) or Knox, which is found in our Grocery department
Danish+recipes, danish+dessert+recipes, buttermilk+desserts, summer+desserts, creamy+desserts
Dissove the gelatin and the sugar over low heat, stirring constantly
Danish+recipes, danish+dessert+recipes, buttermilk+desserts, summer+desserts, creamy+desserts
Add vanilla, buttermilk, and orange juice and stir to blend
Danish+recipes, danish+dessert+recipes, buttermilk+desserts, summer+desserts, creamy+desserts
After the buttermilk mixture stiffens (it doesn’t have to be this stiff — it gelled really quickly this time!) whip the cream, pour the buttermilk mixture into the cream and blend  with a wire whisk until smooth
Danish+recipes, danish+dessert+recipes, buttermilk+desserts, summer+desserts, creamy+desserts
Pour into a bowl to chill
Danish+recipes, danish+dessert+recipes, buttermilk+desserts, summer+desserts, creamy+desserts
It looks like ice cream, but it’s a totally different experience! You’ll love it!

Try this amazing dessert!

Love,

Lassen’s

 

health+ade+kombucha, focus+on+local

Still Focused on Being the Best Tasting and Highest Quality Kombucha!

Where We Check Back in with Daina, Justin, and Vanessa

It’s hard to believe that it’s been three-and-one-half years since I last interviewed Daina at Health-Ade (read about my visit here) so recently a few of us headed to Torrance for an update. What we found was amazing! They have gone from a little three-person start-up in 2012 to a massive operation, but the spirit of small, hand-crafted quality still permeates everything in the building.

health+ade+kombucha, focus+on+local
image from health-ade.com

This time Vanessa showed us around. She, Daina, and Justin started brewing kombucha in a closet just a few years ago, and now they are a national company. They brew 120,000 bottles of kombucha every day! 

health+ade+kombucha, focus+on+local
Daina, Justin, and Vanessa in 2014

The forces that drove these three when they first started Health-Ade are the forces that still drive them today. They still brew in 2 & 1/2 gallon glass jars — 60,000 of them every week. No plastic! They still use the highest quality ingredients possible. Their ingredients are Organic! They filter their water. They source responsibly. The leftover tea bags, SCOBYs, and juice pulp are all composted. And so much more. 

You have to see it to appreciate the scale of this operation. There is fifty-thousand clean, organized square feet of activity that pumps out 320,000 cases of Kombucha per month — that’s just a bit of an expansion from the 35,000 cases per month they were producing in 2014! 

health+ade+kombucha, focus+on+local
image from health-ade.com

And each batch rests for 1-3 weeks while the kombucha develops just the right amount of bubbly probiotics that are so crucial for a healthy gut.

 image from health-ade.com

Thanks for hosting us, Vanessa — We love Health-Ade! It’s great to see how you’ve grown!

 image from health-ade.com 

Love,

Lassen’s

Hilmar+Lassen, Oda+Lassen, Origin+story, Danish+Immigration, Lassen+Construction

From Immigrants to Entreprenuers

When the Hilmar and Oda Lassen family immigrated from Denmark to California in the early 1950s, their first order of business was to find a way to earn a living. Hilmar and Oda had always been hard workers, and the trial of the German occupation of Denmark during World War II had strengthened their persistence in even the most challenging times. In preparing to immigrate, Hilmar learned the bricklaying trade  in Denmark before they set sail. When they got here, however,  he found that the American method of laying bricks was different than the Danish way. So the best job he could find was a bricklayer’s assistant. He took the job, learned the American method, and struggled to learn English.

They settled in the San Fernando Valley, and the girls entered school. Hilmar and Oda took English lessons — he didn’t like to study, but she did. Oda told me that she would do Hilmar’s homework for him. She was very motivated to learn, probably because she was not out in the working world and wasn’t about to have the practice that he did. There were no dual language programs in the 50s, so Bee, Ida, and Doris had to just learn on their own. For the first six months they felt completely lost, and came home crying from school every day. But within a year they were pretty much fluent English speakers.

Hilmar+Lassen, Oda+Lassen, Origin+story, Danish+Immigration
Hilmar Lassen and the five younger children. Left to right: Anna, Peter, Hilmar, Jimmy, John, and Doris. 1964

The years went by and Oda and Hilmar had three American-born children — Anna, Peter, and James (Jimmy). Hilmar earned his Contractor’s License and they became American citizens. Hilmar traveled all over Southern California, building everything from block walls to custom homes.

Hilmar+Lassen, Oda+Lassen, Origin+story, Danish+Immigration, Lassen+Construction

The Lassens began to live the American dream, even buying a house in San Fernando. In 1963, Hilmar decided to build a spec house in the little Ventura County community of Camarillo. It was mostly avocado and orange orchards then, and there was only one stop sign in town. One Sunday Hilmar brought the family to Camarillo to see the house, located behind the Catholic Church on Las Posas and Crestwood. They attended church in town, and liked the community so much that they decided to not sell the spec house, but instead to sell their house in the Valley. So in December 1964, the family moved into that house and began to sink their roots deep in Ventura County.

Hilmar+Lassen, Oda+Lassen, Origin+story, Danish+Immigration, Lassen+Construction
Hilmar was never afraid of heights, as shown here. He worked on 25-foot high scaffolding well into his 70s, even at age 76 when he built the fireplaces on our home

Hilmar stayed busy in the construction business. He became not just a bricklayer, but a craftsman — even an artist. When I first came into the family in the early 80s, we would often take Sunday drives and Hilmar would show us what he was building, and also point out other jobs he had done over the years. He built the first Taco Bell in Camarillo on Arneill Road, which is now Hector’s Fresh Mexican Food. He loved to tell how he built the fireplaces and other brick and stone work in Ronald Reagan’s house in Pacific Palisades.

Hilmar+Lassen, Oda+Lassen, Origin+story, Danish+Immigration, Taco+Bell+Camarillo, Lassen+Construction
One of Hilmar Lassen’s Masonry jobs — the first Taco Bell in Camarillo

All the while, Oda was very busy holding down the fort at home with those seven children. She nurtured and taught them, and ran them to and from their activites. The Lassen siblings enjoyed their family life, learned, and grew. John enjoyed scouting, eventually earning the rank of Eagle. Peter especially loved the American pastime, baseball. The older ones left for college, married, and the grandchildren began to arrive.

Lassens+origin+story, Hilmar+Lassen, Oda+Lassen, Peter+Lassen, Immigration+from+Denmark, Lassen+family
Peter in Little League — probably about 1967

Once all of the children were in school, Oda began to work outside the home. She had always been interested in the area of health, and one of her jobs was at a local Health Food Store. The job was short-lived however, as she was fired — mostly because, according to Oda — the owner wanted to hire a “younger, more attractive” woman. But even if Oda had not been let go, she was disgusted with the way the owner ran the business — selling healthy items right next to processed and definitely unhealthy foods, and smoking big cigars in his office. She was ready to strike out on her own.

Lassens+origin+story, Hilmar+Lassen, Oda+Lassen, Peter+Lassen, Immigration+from+Denmark, Lassen+family
Here’s the Lassen family in front of the home that Hilmar built. He is holding their first grandchild, Nancy, and all of their children are in the photo. Their son-in-law must have taken this picture! Left-right: Bee, Doris, Anna, Ida, Oda, Peter, Nancy, Hilmar, John, Jimmy. About 1965.

Next Month — Oda the Brave decides she can do a better job herself, and  leaps into another adventure!

Love,

Lassen’s

Danish

A Danish Taste of Summer! Jordbær Grød

The Fields are Bursting with Berries!

Danish+Strawberry+Pudding, danish+recipes, strawberry+recipes

This Danish Strawberry Porridge is one of the first Danish recipes that I tasted when I met the Lassen family. Simple and tasty, it takes advantage of the beautiful fresh berries we have in California. It makes a wonderful stand-alone dessert (served with cream or coconut cream), but can also be used as a topping for cheesecake or rice pudding.  

You’ll Need:

  • 4 lbs fresh strawberries
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch

Danish+Strawberry+Pudding, danish+recipes, strawberry+recipes

Danish+Strawberry+Pudding, danish+recipes, strawberry+recipes

Danish+Strawberry+Pudding, danish+recipes, strawberry+recipes

Instructions:

  • Wash strawberries and remove stems, place in heavy pot
  • Pour sugar on top of the berries, stir, and place over low heat. Cover
  • Open up the vanilla bean lengthwise and open it up, then scrape the inside with a knife to remove the soft insides with the seeds. Add both the scrapings and the bean to the berries and sugar
  • As the berries heat up slowly, they will soften and release juice, so watch carefully so they don’t burn. (Some recipes add some water, but I generally don’t. Just keep the heat low until the berries are soft and juice has formed.)
  • Once the berries are soft, bring to a slow boil

Danish+Strawberry+Pudding, danish+recipes, strawberry+recipes

Danish+Strawberry+Pudding, danish+recipes, strawberry+recipes

  • Meanwhile, mix the cornstarch in the cold water, stirring carefully
  • While stirring the berries, pour the cornstarch water into the pot, and stir until thickened. This will happen quickly
  • Remove from heat and cool, then remove the vanilla bean
  • Serve warm or cold with cream or coconut cream

Danish+Strawberry+Pudding, danish+recipes, strawberry+recipes

Enjoy this wonderful, summery dessert!

Love,

Lassen’s

Amy's+Kitchen, Organic+Prepared+Foods, Healthy+Frozen+Foods, Non+GMO, Amy's+Organics

Amy’s — a Natural Foods Staple for 30 Years!

Amy’s is a California Original!

When we visited Northern Califoria this year, we were excited to tour Amy’s Kitchen in Petaluma. We were surprised and impressed with their hands-on approach. I expected floor to ceiling stainless steel machinery doing all the work, but what we saw was hundreds of dedicated workers hand making and packaging Amy’s products. 

More than 30 years ago, Rachel and Andy were expecting a baby, and there wasn’t anything in the store to satisfy the need for healthy, convenient, ready-made meals. With Rachel on bed rest, they realized that there were likely many others in the same boat. Once their baby was born, they started making their first recipe, Pot Pie, to sell locally. Their daughter Amy and Amy’s Kitchen were born in the same year!

They launched their company, thinking that they would just make those delicious Pot Pies, but requests for more variety started coming in. They started adding other products, from Pizza to Canned Soups. They heard about people with allergies, food sensitivities, and special diets, so Vegetarian, Vegan, and Gluten-Free offerings were created. Since Organic is also non-GMO, Amy’s is also committed to GMO-free ingredients.

Amy's+Kitchen, Organic+Prepared+Foods, Healthy+Frozen+Foods, Non+GMO, Amy's+Organics

Amy’s has always been passionate and committed to organically grown produce, even in the beginning when there was no Organic Certification. They work closely with their farmers to make sure they have the best ingredients possible.

And now, thirty years later, Amy’s is a household name. You can read more of Amy’s story by clicking  here.

When I had busy and active kids at home, we almost always had Amy’s Burritos in the refrigerator for a quick snack before gymnastics or soccer. The cheese enchiladas were also a favorite, and it’s fun to see my grandchildren enjoying the same products!

Amy's+kitchen, amys+kitchen

Amy’s has a desire to change the face of fast food, and in 2015 they opened Amy’s Drive Through in Rohnart Park. It’s a sustainability model, with solar panels and a living roof.

Amy's+Kitchen, Organic+Prepared+Foods, Healthy+Frozen+Foods, Non+GMO, Amy's+Organics

They have delicious burgers, fries, shakes, pizza, burritos, and much more. I hope they bring their Drive Thru to Southern California!

Amy's+Kitchen, Organic+Prepared+Foods, Healthy+Frozen+Foods, Non+GMO, Amy's+Organics
yummmmm… Chili Fries!

I love visiting the producers of our amazing products! Thanks, Amy’s for hosting us!

Love,

Lassen’s

Amy's+Kitchen, Organic+Prepared+Foods, Healthy+Frozen+Foods, Non+GMO, Amy's+Organics

Amy's+Kitchen, Organic+Prepared+Foods, Healthy+Frozen+Foods, Non+GMO, Amy's+Organics