Made in Nature: Ancient Grains for the Modern Kitchen

By Dave Soref

We all turn to convenience foods sometimes, and when we do, we usually find ourselves looking at the label and wishing there were more recognizable ingredients and a whole lot less sodium, even in the organic brands.

Made In Nature, a longtime seller of organic dried fruits, has taken significant strides toward these ends with the debut of its heat-and-serve line of exotic-grain-based dishes called Ancient Grain Fusions, which cook in 2–4 minutes on the stovetop or, if that’s not convenient enough, 60 seconds in the microwave.

Made In Nature was founded nearly twenty-five years ago and has been committed to the principles of sustainable, organic farming from the beginning. “We have a really deep history here,” says Wendy Goldner, Made In Nature’s vice-president of marketing. “The original founders were tied into organic culture and philosophy, and these values have always remained at the heart of the company’s mission.”

Travel is also part of the company’s mission in order to source healthy and unique ingredients. “We’re always seeking out the highest-quality, best-tasting ingredients from the places where they traditionally grow,” Goldner explains. “We went to Turkey and had delicious home-cooked meals made from the recipes of grandmothers—meals that featured figs, dates and local grains. We noticed that each kitchen seemed to have a pot of slow-cooking ingredients on the stove, and we said to ourselves, ‘Wow, I wish I had time to cook like that at home.’”

Don’t we all?

Goldner points to a conundrum facing the modern household: a growing awareness that one of the easiest ways to stay healthy is to eat healthy food, but that having the time to cook these days is an increasingly rare commodity.

“This was our challenge with Ancient Grain Fusion. How can we make it convenient and fast while maintaining the flavor and nutritional integrity? Getting the right combination was hard work, but we like the results.”

Each serving contains a surprisingly low amount of sodium. “We wanted these meals to be available for people with different kinds of health considerations,” Goldner continues. “Our goal was to stay under 200 mg of sodium and still let the food speak. It was a challenge to get there, but we did it. We are under 190 mg per serving, whereas our closest competitor in the field has 350 mg, and similar commercial products have anywhere from 900 to 1,200 mg.

“Every meal has a robust list of ingredients—real food ingredients,” Goldner emphasizes. “Stuff you can pronounce. So the salt isn’t missed as much.”

There are six Fusions in all: Moroccan Bazaar, Cuban Mojo, Tuscan Garlic & Tomato, Mediterranean Feta, Santa Fe Fresca, and Thai Coconut. Each combines an organic mix of grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. Five of the flavors are vegan, while the sixth, Mediterranean Feta, is vegetarian, providing a convenient protein source for non-meat eaters.

As the name indicates, each Ancient Grain Fusion contains a blend of grains that includes longtime cultivated grains and seeds, such as amaranth, quinoa, forbidden rice, freekah and canahua, which are often higher in protein than our modern staple grains.

“It’s not just that the ancient grains are higher in protein, but the combination of ancient grains, fruits and legumes means complete protein in each bag,” Goldner points out.

“Each package is foil lined and ready to go. Everything is already precooked,” says Goldner, who suggests enjoying Ancient Grain Fusions by themselves, as a side dish, or as an added ingredient to many different kinds of meals. “You could mix some of them with eggs for a nice breakfast burrito, for example.”

Like all Made In Nature’s products, Ancient Grain Fusions have no added sugar, no preservatives, no artificial colors or additives, and are non-GMO certified.

Find out more about Made In Nature and their organic products at www.madeinnature.com