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Mareya Ibrahim, Fit Foodie, Author, and Entrepreneur
Mareya Ibrahim is also known as “The Fit Foodie,” a nationally recognized food safety and clean eating expert, an award-winning entrepreneur, television chef, author and inventor. She is the CEO and founder of Grow Green Industries, INC. and the patented co-creator of the eatCleaner®, eatSafe™ and eatFresh™ line of all natural and organic products that help offer cleaner, safer, longer lasting produce.
You are a nationally recognized food safety and clean eating expert, an award-winning entrepreneur, television chef, author, inventor, and mom! How do you juggle it all?
Life is busy, that’s for sure! I’m a single mom of two teenagers, and first and foremost, they’re my priority. I build my schedule about making sure I’m available for them, so calendar management is my sanity saver. Here’s what I do:
- I get up an hour before the kids and review tasks for the day, listen to a motivational message – I love podcasts - and do some yoga, take a walk or strength exercises to get my blood pumping and my head on straight.
- I schedule movement for 5-6 times a week. I say movement because my goal with this is to strengthen my mind, body and have some ‘me time’ that brings me joy. This is critical for stress management, and a non-negotiable. My kids definitely appreciate this.
- In our house mealtime is sacred. All electronics off! Time to talk and connect, especially with teenagers. I have them get involved in the process, too
- I schedule time for creativity – writing, developing new products, recipes and testing concepts, all around an end-goal of continuously being innovative in my approach to food and our brand position.
- I limit my social media interaction to just 15 minutes a day. It’s very easy to get sucked into the abyss of it all, but I literally put a timer on it and when it’s off, it’s done
- If I have to do weekend work events, I usually bring my kids along with me to help and get involved, and generally they love it :-)
How did you decide to start Eat Cleaner?
I’ve been in the culinary world my whole career – touching, preparing, sourcing, marketing, writing and promoting food. When my dad was diagnosed with cancer, I had just had my youngest son and felt as though the ground had fallen beneath me. My dad has always been my rock. He was told to avoid raw food, including produce because he became autoimmune compromised after having his bladder removed. I thought, this is crazy! The very foods he should be eating to strengthen his immune system and blood are what he needs to avoid? I knew we needed to come up with a better solution for cleaning produce properly of wax, pesticides and agricultural waste, so people didn’t feel helpless thinking they could get sick by eating a salad. That’s what sparked the fire. Eat Cleaner was a natural way for us to help others that care about their families take a small step towards improving their health. Also realizing food waste is a huge problem, Eat Cleaner is the only patented, lab proven way to wash AND help your produce last up to 5x longer. It’s a game changer in that solves the two biggest issues facing the food world – food safety and food waste.
What is one thing people misunderstand about cleaning produce? What should people be aware of?
Most people have never been educated on how to be food safe in the kitchen. Since leafy greens are the number one cause of foodborne illness, you really need to make sure those are effectively cleans and water alone is just not going to cut it. That’s why we created Eat Cleaner, the only line of lab proven, all natural and patented products to cut through what water can’t. We don’t clean anything with just water alone, so why shouldn’t we clean the produce that comes from the ground that is fertilized something specifically designed for that? So many countries around the world have been doing this type of cleaning. The fact is, any non-water soluble material is just not going to be removed with water alone and most produce is waxed. Wax traps bacteria and residue under the surface and unless you’re cleaning that off you really aren’t cleaning. And we’ve made it so easy to not only clean but it’s done your produce shelf-life so you’re getting produce that last up to five times longer. It really is a win-win.
If you could share one surprising thing about yourself, what would it be?
I am a huge boxing fan. I love the intensity and strategy of the mano-a-mano. I also do a boxing workout regularly.It’s very empowering to punch a bag and feel the power of the ‘snap’ when it hits.As a woman, we’re not really raised to punch and hit, but it’s not about aggression to me – it’s just a release.
I’m also an archer. My prize possession is my compound bow, and it stays right in my room under my bed, so don’t even think about breaking into my house lol.
You are known as the “Fit Foodie”…how did this name come about?
As someone who eats and breathes the fit life, I like to empower others to rethink their way to wellness. The number one most important choice we make at least three times a day is what you put into your mouth. By using food to boost immunity and supercharge ones body's metabolism with palette pleasing, easy to make food tips and meals, you can reshape your mind, body and happiness factor. Food should be delicious, nutritious and fun – not drudgery. Being fit is a lifestyle, not just the shape of your physique or if you have a six pack. It’s your whole outlook and being the best you so you can serve your God-given purpose on this earth.
Who has been your most impactful mentor throughout your career and what has set them apart from everyone else you have worked with?
I had a major ‘fan-girl’ moment when I met George Foreman. I grew up watching him box, but what made him a role model is how we takes care of his family and health, too. As a world-class athlete, mega-successful entrepreneur and humble family man, George exemplifies the qualities I uphold in my business. He put his ‘George Foreman Approved’ stamp on our Eat Cleaner product line, and that is tremendous.
My true mentor, though, is my first boss in the food industry, Joan Boykin. She is a strong and powerful woman with infinite class, and I learned how to interact with people based on how she treated others. She is always fully engaged and brimming with love and joy when you speak to her, and her professional success and family involvement is so admirable. She really is a ‘woman’s woman’.
You wear many hats and are often on the go…what do you do while on the road to alleviate stress and stay fit?
Eating well, hydrating and being active – whether it’s walking the stairs in the hotel, checking out the city I’m staying in on foot or finding a local studio to do yoga, that all serves the ultimate purpose of alleviating stress, staying fit and feeding my curiosity about where I am at that moment in the world.
You are setting a powerful example to females in the culinary and entrepreneurial worlds. What advice would you give to young women aspiring or who are just starting out?
Know who you are, and set your priorities and goals around staying you.
Do your research and know your competition inside and out. Find a way to be strongly differentiated, and not just based on cost.
In the beginning especially, you need to do the work, and commit to being in it for the long haul. Overnight successes are a big bunch of BS. Nothing will longevity will exist if it doesn’t have a solid foundation. It’s not enough to ‘just do it!’ and hope for the best
Find a mentor who you want to model in terms of their values and acumen. Walking with someone who has already been down the road will save you from potential heartache and disaster over your business.
What is your advice to those who want to eat cleaner but aren’t sure how to get started?
This is the best way to start with a lifestyle change, one healthy bite size at a time. Once you have mastered your new healthy habit then go ahead and add another healthy habit. Before you know it, you will accomplish so much that you’ll realize you hit the reset button to a fit, healthy and happy lifestyle in no time at all. I actually developed the “Fit Foodie Filosophies” in my first book, The Clean Eating Handbook (https://eatcleaner.com/the-eat-cleaner-handbook/) that helps guide people looking to make the change to clean eating.
What do you see in your future plans? What can fans expect next?
I have a new book coming out in May 2019 called ‘Eat Like You Give a Fork’ with St. Martin’s Press that will be the ultimate guide for a solid foundation of healthy mind-body-soul eating, leading with a taste bud reset and 8 core strategies to help you live your best fit life. I also plan to launch at least new products next year to round out our Eat Cleaner lineup and our focus on food safety and shelf life extension. Our goal is to make Eat Cleaner a household name, because once you start using it, you can’t imagine your life without it! You’ll eat more safe, delicious produce than ever before. We are also focused on growing our institutional usage of Eat Cleaner products to every restaurant, juice bar, salad bar, deli, produce processor and others preparing food for you.
If you had to go to a deserted island and could only bring 3 things to eat, what would they be?
If you had to go to a deserted island and could only bring 3 things to eat, what would they be?
So this is a really interesting question because of course, I’m getting strategic about what would provide sustenance but also bring me real pleasure. I could fish and eat seaweed for protein. So I’d want to make sure I had produce and good fat to round out the nutrition profile. So…
#hassavocados #arugula #darkchocolate