The dynamic duo that founded Countertop Foods, Jamie Kantrowitz (left) and Nicole Rice (right). Learn more below.
Figuring out how to create food that is both flavorful and healthy can sometimes feel like the ultimate conundrum. We want our food to nurture our body, but we would also like to give our taste buds a treat and enhance our eating experience. Nicole Rice, Co-Founder of Countertop Foods saw this need and embodied it with the support of her business partner Jamie Kantrowitz. What transpired was the birth of a business that helps people create delicious food with maximum health, in minimum time. Their products re-imagine every day staples like butter, sweetener and seasonings into minimally processed, easy to use, insanely delicious, functional blends that turn the foods you already love into superfoods. We spoke with Nicole to get the inside scoop on the benefits of Countertop, and how to make the most out of these phenomenal products. These divine creations are featured in Goop, Vogue, Instyle, Well + Good, mindbodygreen, and Real Simple.
Living Wholly: How did you and Jenny, the Founder of Living Wholly meet?
Nicole Rice: Jenny and I originally met through her midwife Elizabeth Bachner from GraceFull Birthing. She was looking for postpartum support after her home birth and I worked with her when she was living in Venice.
Living Wholly: What do you remember being significant about this relationship?
Nicole Rice: We talked about so much. We had these deep conversations about spirituality and growth and would process so much. We would cry a lot together. It was a wonderful time of support - I always felt so welcomed and valued by Jenny and Frank. Being a doula means “to serve” and they were so appreciative of that.
Living Wholly: How are you serving the world and contributing your gifts?
Nicole Rice: I love to help people on a very basic level. I have a passion for supporting people to understand their body, and their mind-body connection. So, Countertop was developed from a place of wanting to encourage people to get back in the kitchen and cook. Many of us experience a great amount of self-inflicted guilt that can be greatly minimized by making shifts in our daily lives – I think this can especially happen with food, because food is something that so much of our guilt stems from. I eat pretty healthy, but I often make myself feel guilty about my eating habits, even though I don’t have any reason to.
When I began practicing Ayurveda, so much of the guilt flowed out of my life by realizing that I could do little things, like adding some spices to my meal, to change my palate and triggers. I want to help people feel better about the choices they make.
Living Wholly: What inspired the conception of Countertop?
Nicole Rice: I met my business partner, Jamie Kantrowitz, because I was her postpartum doula. So, when we created Countertop it came from a place of wanting to help women make little choices that could help them recover after delivery. It has blossomed from there.
Living Wholly: Can you talk about how Countertop utilizes the functional power of herbs and spices?
Nicole Rice: It has much of the ethos of Ayurveda – the belief that so much starts in the digestive system. So, adding certain spices to a meal can help with this digestion, or help to slow things down if needed. Some people have digestive systems that are just too hot and fast - many people think that’s great, but this could lead to inflammation.
Ayurveda gave me a knowledge of spices that I just fell in love with. The healing properties of these spices – spices that have been around for such a long time – are just incredible. Spices are like nature’s medicine that you can use at every meal.
Living Wholly: Are there any Countertop products you would recommend for new moms?
Nicole Rice: We developed Mother Honey with new moms in mind. Warm drinks, oatmeal, anything that’s warm and rich is really beneficial for new moms. So, put a spoonful of Mother Honey onto oatmeal, into rice pudding – whatever sounds good. It will give you an energy boost.
It’s really lovely as it’s made from raw avocado honey, which is a really grounding honey that we’ve filled with ingredients like turmeric, moringa, cumin, fenugreek, oat straw and coconut oil that all boost breast milk production and nutrient density.
Living Wholly: What are three of your favorite products that you sell? And why?
Nicole Rice: I love Golden Butter – it’s the new cooking oil. I use it as an olive oil replacement. It’s an easy way to add flavor to any meal and is incredibly versatile.
Golden Honey is another of my favorites - I use it as a daily tonic, where I take a spoonful of it to wake up my digestive system. I also add it to oatmeal and toast. In addition, it can be used on the skin as a facemask or salve. For example, I recently cut my leg and after putting Golden Honey on it, the cut scabbed over in two days. It’s one of those products that’s so handy.
We also launched a product called Cocoa Butter that’s a sweet butter. There are so many spices in it - like cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla bean, and more - that can help you feel and look better.
Living Wholly: Why do you think turmeric has become so popular?
Nicole Rice: It is a superstar. It’s beneficial for almost everyone. But, I’m a little dubious of turmeric capsules, because taking high amounts of turmeric for long periods of time isn’t great. Turmeric loves fat and food and wants to be cooked – so it will be absorbed in your body easier when you cook it into food. I will occasionally use it in high doses if I have a lingering cold, but, I don’t think it’s beneficial to take it in large amounts every day - it’s best in small amounts, with food.
Living Wholly: How has using your products impacted your whole-being wellness?
Nicole Rice: I really don’t get sick – especially for someone who works in the start up world, and sometimes works 14-hour days. Countertop products have allowed me to have a good digestive system, and feel good about what goes into my body. I feel like our products help me empower my food by enhancing them with added nutrients. I love the feeling of cooking something and feeling so good about how it tastes and makes me feel.
Being able to work with spices that are put into really nice easy blends is wonderful - everything that goes into our products has meaning. For example, I wouldn’t only put vanilla bean in a blend because it tastes good - I put it in because it promotes serotonin and is a really feel-good spice. And luckily, a lot of the spices that make us feel good also taste great. Cardamom, for example, helps eliminate gas, soothe stomach conditions, and tastes fantastic. The whole body experience – mind, body, and spirit - is positively impacted when you’re working with Countertop products.
Living Wholly: Why do you feel that it’s important to only use pure and minimally processed ingredients?
Nicole Rice: We’re all pretty educated now on the impact of highly processed foods. You can see and feel how the body has to work harder to process them. It’s amazing that we can get through each day with so many processed foods in our system, because the body has to work so hard to maintain homeostasis. For example, say you have a high sugar and high caffeine drink - you don’t think much of it, but your body might go into some form of toxic shock that you don’t even realize.
So, putting less pressure on your system is going to benefit you now, and later in life. And it’s not even really about the immediate results for me. Even though these spices will help you feel lighter and clearer now, I have a goal of being 80 and not being on a ton of medications, or having a fading mind.
Science has proven that more unprocessed food will reduce inflammation and take pressure off the organs. They also, make it easier for the body to eliminate what’s not needed. Eating seasonally and locally is great because the food doesn’t have to be preserved by chemicals. And, it’s empowering to know what’s in your food, and how your body breaks it down.
Living Wholly: What are some of your favorite ways to incorporate Countertop products into your life?
Nicole Rice: I love rice. It’s a wonderful grain that’s gotten a bad rap. I believe that white basmati rice is the king of rice. But, you do need some help digesting it. So, I make a golden rice by cooking the rice on my stovetop, or in my rice cooker, and throwing in a tablespoon of golden butter. All of the sudden you have this rice that has an incredible golden color and subtle richness. Golden butter makes every home chef look like a professional. If you cover a chicken in golden butter, and stick it in the oven, it’s so delicious that everyone thinks that you’ve been cooking your whole life.
I also put Cocoa Butter in my coffee. You get this creamy, buttery coffee that’s just delicious. You also get a more sustained level of energy.
Our spice blends also, make life so easy. Throw some of our poultry blend onto potatoes and roast them, and you have these amazing aromas coming out of your oven. These blends make cooking from home look like child’s play.
Living Wholly: What does your typical food and drink routine look like?
Nicole Rice: I start my morning with a cup of tea. I also have a spoonful of golden honey while my kettle is boiling. I then do some meditation and take my dog for a walk, which is followed by toast when I come home. I love Dave’s Killer Bread, either with Golden Butter, avocado and tomato, or almond butter. I also make my own granola with Countertop spice blends.
I then have a coffee on my way to work, and definitely try to get in my two liters of water throughout the day. I notice that in the summer, when I don’t do this, I get a little high strung. The older I get the more important water is.
Lunch is usually on the go. I work in an area of LA that has a lot of taco trucks and a wonderful Indian market, so I’ll often grab lunch from one of these spots.
Dinner is pretty simple at my house. If I don’t go out to catch up with a friend, I usually eat something easy like eggs, or even French toast! I always have some kitchari on hand and will often mix it with veggies for a quick and healthy meal.
Living Wholly: What are three ways people can begin to transform their health?
Nicole Rice: Not eating on the go is a big one. Take some time to acknowledge what you’re eating by putting your phone away and turning off the television. Even if you’re eating takeout, put it on a plate and focus on the person you’re eating with. It’s all about enhancing that mind-body connection, which can help to shift your perspective of food. This connection helps you recognize that you’re fueling your body, instead of just fulfilling cravings.
Water is also super important. We should all be drinking more water - it can help to eliminate headaches and major digestive issues, and can support the health of your organs.
Rest is crucial. I think most people are tired. After being a doula for twelve years I embrace rest in so many ways. Even resting your food for a moment before you eat it, and catching your breath, can be incredibly helpful. We use the excuse “I’m just too busy” all the time, so, I make sure to avoid that excuse by taking time out to take a bath, do a facemask, and listen to my favorite podcast. My doula clients really helped to educate me on self-care.
Living Wholly: What does living wholly mean to you?
Nicole Rice: There is something about living in truth, and looking at yourself in the mirror and saying, “yup, I am who I am, and I honor every part of me” that is so powerful. Living in the here and now, and loving who I am is crucial. Learning how to live in that truth and love has been a journey, but a great one.
In a world where optimal health can often feel like an impossible state to reach, Countertop is offering products that make the enhancement of our health as easy as mixing some health-potent honey in a cup of tea, sprinkling nutrient-dense spices onto rice and veggies, or spreading mega-nourishing butter on a piece of toast. Yes, please!!!
We’re EXCITED TO ANNOUNCE the launch of Countertop in our online shop. And as an added bonus, the first TEN orders will receive FREE SHIPPING on us! Use promo code: welovecountertop. Click here to explore the wonderland of Countertop products and elevate your whole being. Enjoy the flavors, function and nourishment!
to optimum health,
p.s. want new recipes to inspire you to easily integrate Countertop's medicinal collection of spices, honeys and butters? Click here for a plethora of options.
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