6 posts categorized " The Chef Speaks! "


Omar Epperson

If you've ever enjoyed a Lithe smoothie or tucked into any of our a la carte Lithe meals, you have experienced the artistry of Omar Epperson, one of just a few sets of hands that bring us the lean, local, seasonal and (mostly) vegan Lithe Foods that have been designed specifically for our Lithe lifestyles.  

Having grown up in Germantown, Omar is no stranger to the food scene in Philly and knows the bounty of our regional foodshed well. But he wasn't always interested in becoming a chef. Prior to joining the U.S. Army (he's a Combat Engineer) to help pay for his college tuition in 2007, Omar was hoping to nab a job as a barrista at a local Chestnut Hill coffeeshop to help make ends meet. They did indeed hire him, but all set in the coffee department, they asked him to try his hand at baking (and cooking) in the back.

Turns out, Omar was a natural and stayed on for almost 4 years turning out delicious treats, sweet and otherwise, to go with the constant stream of warm, frothy drinks being sipped there. Realizing he could make a career out of his penchant for pastry, he enrolled in the Restaurant School in West Philly to learn Pastry Arts. After 2 years, and a stint at a local eatery, Omar came highly recommended to Lithe Foods where he says his education really began. 

What did you know about Lithe Method before you became a chef for Lithe Foods?

I knew that it was a workout that ladies were going crazy over. That it was a big deal in Philly.

What did you think of the concept of Lithe Foods when you were introduced to it?

I thought: This is crazy! I was so excited to learn about healthful ingredients like quinoa and tofu and millet. Ingredients that I knew about, but hadn't really worked with extensively. I was looking forward to the challenge of enhancing them and making them into something delicious and also good for you. I was truly wowed by the whole thing.

What is your favorite part of the job?

I love knowing that I'm not just putting food on a shelf or even just providing fuel for a workout; I'm giving women the proper nutrition to live a lifestyle. I love giving women the treats they love, but in a healthy way. When I help turn a cheesteak into something healthful AND tasty, I feel like a magician.

Who comes up with the recipes?

Lauren and the Lithe Foods team comes up with the recipes. She (Lauren) always has fresh ideas about healthy versions of things everybody loves. After she's worked on it for a while, in her own kitchen, and feels good about it, she hands it off to me to see how it fares in larger batches in our commercial kitchen. Then I'll tell her how it's working in the bigger quantities, and give her feedback to take back to her drawing board, if need be. It's a great little dance where she's the lead.

Has working for Lithe Foods changed the way you cook at home?

Absolutely! It's definitely made me realize I don't have to eat meat every single night or with every single meal. I've learned that I can scramble tofu for breakfast in the morning, instead of eggs. I can use quinoa instead of white rice. If I'm in the mood for chicken, I can prepare some tofu in the style of chicken and enjoy it just as much. It's really been so eye-opening for my own diet.

What are your favorite Lithe Foods?

I love the pizza bites. I could eat them all day. And the Winter Recovery Smoothie. And the Lithe Mojito.

You are getting deployed in the next few weeks. We are going to miss you tremendously! Where will you be going?

I'm going to Kuwait for a year. I'll really miss the kitchen, but definitely hope to be back and cooking Lithe Foods again by this time next year. In the meantime, I know that no matter where I end up, I will take along the things Lithe Foods has taught me and bring that healthy, balanced perspective to every meal I make.

Image of PFC Rice and PFC Epperson from Charlie Company 55th BSTB of the PA National Guard conducting demolition training at Fort Indiantown Gap in Annville, PA (10/10/2011) and Omar outside of the Lithe Foods kitchen via Lauren







Our delicious and nutritious Lumberjackie Soup was featured in SHAPE Magazine.  Give it a whirl at home.  It's easy and super filling.  Don't feel like slow-cooking?  Grab it at the studio in January!

WE WANNA KNOW! 1 Dec 2011

Lithe Foods Survey


What are you eating?  As you know, we're mostly vegan and we always will be.  Why?  For SO many reasons (I'll get into that another day).  A big one is just giving you the best food out there for you (veggie based!)  Heavier foods, including red meat and pizza, require more of your body’s energy to digest. This ultimately limits the amount of time your body spends on its rejuvenation and restoration work. After eating a Lithe Foods diet filled with veggie-centric meals, you'll gently boost your body and feel good

Many of you have requested Turkey and Chicken dishes and we're proud to offer you Lithe Foods options for all the meat eaters out there.  Try our Chicken Wrap and let us know what you think!  What's next?  Lithe's Italian Wedding Soup with Turkey Meatballs, Turkey & Kale Pho Soup and our very own Chicken Caesar Salad.  Wanna taste our take on other food items that you love?  Tell us what you want here!


Chef Hooks

Dear Lithers,      

Six of the ten leading causes of death are linked to poor nutrition. If you look at dietary guidelines from the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Center for Disease Control, and the American Dietetic Association they are all saying the same things.. eat more veggies, fruits, whole grains and live longer!

Here is a quote from the American Heart Association, "More women die of cardiovascular diseases than from the next four causes of death combined, including all forms of cancer. But 80% of cardiac events in women could be prevented if women made the right choices for their heart involving diet, exercise and abstinence from smoking."

Here are a couple other numbers for you from the World Cancer Research Fund:
66-75% of Stomach Cancer is Preventable by Diet
66-75% of Colon/Rectal Cancers are Preventable by Diet
33-66% of Liver Cancer is Preventable by Diet
33-50% of Breast Cancer is Preventable by Diet

Statistics focusing on the subject of chronic illness and disease might seem a little grim but I actually get really excited about numbers like this because that means we can do something about it!! It's incredible empowering once you realize that the choices you make are the key to taking control over your own health and happiness!

So what does eating "right" actually mean? Well, it can mean a lot of differing things to a lot of different people. There is no formula that will lead to optimal health for every single person so I encourage everyone to do your own research and listen to your own bodies cues in order to feel your absolute best.

Here are some simple guidelines that I really love that are recommended by Brenda Davis, a Registered Dietitian:

-Eat a variety of foods
-Choose most of what you eat from plant sources.
-Eat five or more servings of vegetables and fruits each day
-Eat six servings of whole grain bread, pasta and cereals each day.
-Eat high fat foods sparingly, especially those from animal sources.
-Keep your intake of simple sugars to a minimum.

The world Cancer Research Fund also put out a list of the most harmful dietary components which included: alcohol, meat, animal fat, saturated fat, dairy products and salt. This is the reason why there are so many plant based meals coming out of the Lithe Foods kitchen. We try our best to produce foods that you can rely on to be health promoting and not have to think about. If veggies, fruits and whole grains are the things that are going to give you a fighting chance against heart disease and other awful conditions then I will do my best to make them taste delicious so you'll actually want to eat them!

Best Wishes,
Chef Lauren Hooks

Image of Chef Lauren Hooks skating (Yep, she's a Roller Girl!) via Lauren



Image of Chef Lauren Hooks with her bees via Lauren



Image of Chef Lauren Hooks at Camp Lithe making our Tofu Scramble Yuba Wraps via Anne Falasco

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