Q&A with Samantha Levin of Sam Lives! smoothies

Sam sampling on launch day in Portland, ME

If you received a Just Add Cooking box yesterday, you also got a fun surprise: a bottle of a brand new smoothie called Sam Lives! Sam Lives! describes itself as a wicked nutritious, delicious meal in a bottle. Here at Just Add Cooking, we’re always looking for local companies that are delivering on similar missions to ours: delivering fresh, real foods and making it easy to stay healthy. So we jumped at the chance to give you all a taste of Sam Lives!

We also had the chance to chat with Samantha Levin, the young, energetic founder of the company. She’s got a fun background that many of you New England locals may recognize (we’ll let her tell you about that) and lots of great initiative in bringing fresh juices full of both micro- and macronutrients to the masses. You can check out her smoothies at select Whole Foods in the Boston area. Take it away, Sam!

JAC: Give us your background/how you came up with SamLives?

Sam: In 1992, when I was two years old, my family named their juice business, Fresh Samantha, after me. What started as a small family operation in my grandparents’ basement in Maine, grew into a juice sensation! Now, I’m all grown up, and fresher than ever with my own blends – hence the name, Sam Lives! :) However, unlike Fresh Samantha and other standard smoothies and juices, Sam Lives! has all the macronutrients of a complete meal. And while most meal replacement shakes are made from artificial powders, Sam Lives! is made from fresh, real foods!

The idea to create a delicious and healthy meal for on the go came to me in college. I always found myself writing papers through lunch and running out the door without breakfast. As a major foodie and health nut, microwavable meals and ramen just didn’t cut it! In this fast-paced age, I knew I wasn’t alone in this dilemma, so I decided (with juice already in my blood!) to make smoothies that would actually fill you up and provide you with all the vital nutrients of a full meal.

JAC: Tell us a bit about your philosophy behind the smoothies?

Sam: Unlike most juices, cleanses, and smoothies that only have micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and living enzymes), we make sure our superfood smoothies have these nutrients along with all of the macronutrients necessary for a complete meal:

  • Plant-based proteins from shelled organic hemp seeds, not powder or soy. I make sure there’s a spoonful of whole organic hemp seeds in each bottle so you always get 6-8g of protein – more than a whole egg!
  • Good fats from organic extra virgin olive oil and organic hulled hemp seeds. These are actually known to help the body burn fat and better absorb vitamins and minerals!
  • Complex & unrefined carbs from fresh fruits and veggies – these give your body the energy to thrive!

We blend the fresh fruits, veggies, olive oil and seeds whole to hold onto essential nutrients, like fiber, that are lost when juicing.  We also focus on keeping the organic hemp seeds in each bottle whole, so that you have to chew them. This simple act promotes healthy digestion and releases enzymes that help your body absorb more nutrients! We use cold pressure, instead of heat, to crush pathogens but keep vitamins, minerals and enzymes alive!

For more detailed information on our health-conscious philosophy and process, check out our FAQ.

JAC: How do you come up with your recipes?

Sam: By creating a giant mess in my kitchen! In the chaos, I eventually find a combination of fresh fruits, veggies and seeds that make for a complete meal and delicious smoothie all in one!

My ultimate goal with each recipe is to help improve the American diet. I know (from personal experience!) that people don’t always have time to make themselves a meal during the work or school day. Rather than reaching for processed microwavable meals, fast food, or artificial meal replacement protein shakes, I hope they’ll pick up my wicked delicious, super nutritious meals in a bottle instead!

Bottle lineup 1
Fun fact: Sam’s mom creates all the illustrations for her brand – just as she did for the Fresh Samantha brand back in the 90’s!



Our Top Tips for Keeping the Family Dinner Sacred

We’re looking at summer in the rearview mirror this week. School is back in full swing, and with that comes a myriad of activities and family members, who were easy to corral in the summertime, going in a million different directions. Whether long days have you turning to takeout or busy schedules have everyone grabbing dinner on the go, this is the time of year that family dinners go by the wayside. We all know all the research points to the importance of cooking and eating as a family – better health, nutrition, social skills, grades and more – not to mention a much needed time to disconnect from the day and connect with the people you love.

It all sounds good in theory, but how do you make it work in practice? We help hundreds of families get dinner on the table each week and here are our favorite ways to carve out time for a family dinner:

Be reasonable, but non-negotiable

We’d love to see every one of you have dinner as a family every night. But the reality is, schedules will undoubtedly get in the way. Decide what is realistic for your family, make a plan, and stick to it. It’s so important to be realistic and reasonable so that you feel you’re able to achieve the goal. If this means the family eats together on Monday, Wednesday and Friday but grabs and goes the rest of the week, that’s OK. Make a date, and stick to it!

Involve the whole family

The technique for involving kids in cooking depends on the age of your children, but involving the whole household in meal preparation serves many purposes. First of all, everyone’s invested in getting dinner on the table. But it can also shift the burden off a single person (usually mom!) in getting the meal prepared each night. For older family members, assign each one a night to choose and prepare a recipe. The littler ones can have specific tasks each evening that they take ownership of. Services like Just Add Cooking provide a good guide in terms of giving less experienced cooks specific recipes and pre-measured ingredients so there’s less guesswork.

Choose where to save time and spend money

For some people, grocery shopping and scouring the internet or cookbooks for recipes is a great pleasure. For others, it’s the thing that keeps them from making dinner. Ensure that you don’t skip making dinner due to lack of planning or ingredients by using a service like Just Add Cooking. It’ll give you that extra hour or two at work or with the kids while still maintaining the sanctity of home-cooked dinners.

Mix up standbys with creative new recipes

Without a great meal, your family won’t be rushing to the table. Two things will keep them coming back: standard family favorites and brand new, exciting recipes. Always have the ingredients for the family favorites you can whip up in your sleep on hand. This means there’s never an excuse not to go home and make a quick and easy dinner. If you’ve got a culinary enthusiast in the family, put them in charge of clipping new recipe options out of magazines and cookbooks, and try one or two each week. Or, automate that process with a meal kit service that will deliver new options to you every week.

Need more advice on how to keep your work-life balance as the school year heats up? We’re partnering up with Boston Mom Blog and lots of other Boston area experts for a Back to School Chat tonight at 9 pm on Facebook. Get lots of great tips along with the chance to win some fantastic prizes to make your life easier this fall. Hope to see you there!

boston moms chat