Hey there, nice to meet you. I'm Diane.
Balanced Bites Wholesome Foods was born from a long journey that began more than a decade ago. Before I get into the history and origin story, allow me to first introduce myself to you, so you can get to know me, the owner and creator of these products, a bit better.
For as long as I can remember, I've loved cooking.
I would wake up in the morning in our small New Jersey home to the smell of red sauce simmering on the stove, both mom and dad would be bustling in the kitchen to get food ready for the day or week ahead on what seemed like a never-ending basis.
While many guess that I have "an Italian mama who taught me all I know," my last name and my Italian lineage come from my dad's side. The Sanfilippo family hails from Sicily. So, while my mom was more than happy to start cooking Italian food the moment she met my dad, her German roots certainly didn't bring the tomato, onion, and garlic with them!
As I mentioned, both of my parents were always cooking, seemingly 24/7, so for me to take a liking to creating in the kitchen wasn't a surprise. I love creative endeavors as well as taking care of myself, doing things on my own, and discovering what I enjoy - without being told so by others.
And, so, my interest in cooking began when I was young. From making ravioli for Easter with my dad, to (failed) baking and candy-making attempts with my childhood best friend Lauren (I cook, I really don't bake!), to saving every recipe from school projects or home economics in a scrapbook - I was always into some kind of food project.
Through college I recall always wanting to cook, but not truly knowing much about how to do things from-scratch. I ate, like many of us probably did, lots of pasta, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, and Steak-Ums (oh boy!).
But, cooking shows on television became an ever-growing trend. While I began watching Frugal Gourmet and Yan Can Cook with Martin Yan, I continued learning how to combine and layer flavors from folks like Lidia Bastianich and Emeril Lagasse and took technique tips from Alton Brown and fast-paced shows like the original Iron Chef from Japan, complete with subtitles!
Cooking quickly became part of my everyday life, and helped me when I wanted to change my eating habits from what we all previously believed to be healthy in low-fat/high carb meals, to a more real-food based approach.
So, when healthy eating became a priority for me, I knew that my own cooking would be the foundation for it all. And, when my passion for nutrition began to grow, combining it with my passion for cooking was a real no-brainer.
The Origin of Balanced Bites Wholesome Foods
As an athlete, I was always interested in how nutrition fueled our bodies, and how the balance of what we're eating - protein, carbs, and fat - contribute to our health. At first, I began cooking meals casually for friends, balancing their macros and adding more protein than other meal services would offer while avoiding gluten and unnecessary additives like excess sugar or anything artificial.
After a few months, I decided to make it official and get a food safety certification and I began renting commercial kitchen space in Emeryville, CA two days per week to cook meals for my clients. I had refrigerator and freezer space as well as shelf space all set for my business, Balanced Bites, in the kitchen. I kept my spices and extras like onions, garlic, lemons and limes ready to go and shopped fresh for produce and high quality meats each week before cooking the meals.
So, before I was ever a New York Times bestselling author and even before I was traveling the country to teach seminars, I was in a kitchen making meals and studying and teaching nutrition for years!
I found a cooler being sold on Craigslist by a deli that was going out of business. It was brown. And dirty. But I had a vision. I cleaned it up, ordered new shelves for it (amazing what you can do when you google), covered it in white contact paper, and had a new plastic sign for the top with vinyl lettering made to customize it with my logo, tagline, and website. All installed by me as well, thanks to training from my former boss when we used to apply vinyl lettering to trucks together in the early 2000s.
In early 2008 I was open for business! I was delivering meals to clients around San Francisco and dropping cooler bags off at a gym downtown for people to pick up after their training sessions. I also left extras of meals like salads, hard boiled eggs, and fresh spring rolls for grab-and-go options in the cooler.
Running Balanced Bites as a meal business back then was a blast, but it left me feeling totally burnt out. I also had this sense that I wasn't really teaching anyone anything by doing the work for them. At the time, this was before I had worked as a nutrition coach much, it was the early days of that business as well.
By mid 2008 I had closed the doors on Balanced Bites as a local meal business. It was more than I could handle physically, with just one kitchen assistant, and doing the rest of the work on my own - from planning, prepping and shopping, to cooking, labeling, and delivering.
I had already been studying nutrition for several years, partially on my own as well as with the CHEK Institute, but I decided that I needed to learn more. So I went on to get a Holistic Nutrition Consultant certification from Bauman College in Berkeley, CA. I worked with clients for several years beginning at this time.
While working with clients 1:1, I also taught half and full-day nutrition seminars for several years in CrossFit gyms across the United States, co-hosted 400 episodes of a weekly health radio show (The Balanced Bites Podcast), and went on to write my first book, Practical Paleo, which went on to become a New York Times bestseller - on the list for nearly two straight years.
In 2013, I published my signature program, The 21-Day Sugar Detox guide book, which had previously only been an eBook, which also became a New York Times bestseller. Since then I've gone on to publish The 21-Day Sugar Detox Cookbook, co-authored Mediterranean Paleo Cooking, and an updated and expanded second edition of Practical Paleo which released in September of 2016.
In 2016, I launched my very first food product line: Balanced Bites Spices. These organic spice blends feature recipes found in all of my books and beyond.
I went on to publish The 21-Day Sugar Detox Daily Guide in January of 2018 and, most recently, Keto Quick Start: A Beginner's Guide to a Whole-Foods Ketogenic Diet with over 100 Recipes.
In late 2018, I was presented with the unique opportunity to transform my recipes into ready-made, frozen meals to be offered for sale - and I said YES! We decided to launch with meals inspired by or directly from recipes in Keto Quick Start to align with the launch of the book, and will continue to introduce new meals as time goes on. In January 2019, we launched the first ever Balanced Bites Meals, frozen, for sale nationwide in the United States for you all!
While we have been giving back to the community in many ways since the beginning of Balanced Bites, in 2020 we officially launched a number of charitable giving initiatives to enable you to donate through your purchases of our products.
We also continued to bring you new products through our launches of infused salts, super blends, nut mixes and granolas. And we expanded our retail presence with the opening of our first brick-and-mortar shop in San Francisco, where customers can enjoy shopping for Balanced Bites snacks, spices, meals, and more in person!