Meet Little Tucker

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Little Tucker is an absolute necessity here in Calgary. Laura, the wonderous woman who created it, is an absolute genius when it comes to taking the sugar and gluten filled treats we crave and making them healthy. For anyone who is trying to improve their health and diet, Little Tucker fills in the gap and makes changing your life style a little bit more bearable. As someone who has had to cut out gluten, dairy and refined sugar, I can speak to how fricken hard it is to change a lifetime of ingrained, unhealthy habits - these treats are how I got through it. The way Laura runs her business is inspiring to me. She not only focuses on healthy eating, but a healthy life, both for herself and our community. Read on to learn how she accomplishes this, what her goals are and her advice for you.

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Tell us a little about how you got started.

I moved to Canada about three years ago after realizing that the career path I was taking back home in Australia was one that wasn’t fulfilling my adventurous, creative side. It was time for me to start something I was truly passionate about - creating healthy snacks that are wholesome, properly fuel, and all natural. I started Little Tucker as something I thought would be a hobby for me, attending local farmers markets and selling my raw vegan bites. It only took a few weeks before it became a full time job and not long after that, that I began stocking with local vendors. The way the product was received blew me away. Since then, I have spent the past year and a half being fully committed to making healthy snacks, treats and small meals that suit Calgarian’s lifestyle and dietary preferences.

Why raw food?

For me, eating a mostly plant based, 70% raw diet, has played a huge roll in bettering my energy levels. Eating raw, natural ingredients means that your body can fully absorb all the nutrients and minerals to its full potential. There are many reasons as to why incorporating more raw foods into your diet can help you - promoting gut health, mental focus, improved digestion, weight loss, decreasing the risk of disease. I don’t actually encourage people, especially those in colder climates like Canada, to eat a fully raw diet. It can be very unsustainable for some people. For me it’s just all about balance and eating as many nutrient-dense, raw, plant based foods as possible!

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How did you learn how to cook?

I don’t really remember a time when I ‘learnt’ how to cook. I’m Italian, and to be honest I think it’s just in my blood! I grew up surrounded by a family who valued food very highly, and my parents always taught me to have a healthy relationship with it. I watched my parents spend hours to prepare a meal for us kids, my Dad frequented the local market often to get fresh produce, and my Nanna loved having us in the kitchen to teach us how to make traditional food - like making pasta from scratch. I loved being in the kitchen from an early age, and definitely take after my Mum in that I love entertaining and cooking food for others to enjoy. The kitchen is just a happy place for me, and cooking is something that I’ve always loved.

Where do you get inspiration for recipes?

To be honest, I make things that I know I enjoy eating in the hopes that others will like it too! A big reason I started making my energy bites is because I really struggled at the grocery store when I quickly wanted to pick up a granola bar or something. Once I started reading the packages, I found so many products that promoted themselves as ‘healthy’ included hidden ingredients that I just didn’t want to be putting in my body. So my recipes are a big reflection of the types of food I like eating, and the ingredients I like to eat everyday. I am also inspired hugely by the Australian food scene - everything is so fresh, vibrant and beautiful and I love watching the health food movement grow over there in a way that it has more or less taken over the traditional ‘meaty’, excessive ways of eating.

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What is your favourite thing you’ve ever made?

That’s hard to say! My peanut butter energy bites are a pretty huge snack staple for me so they’re probably my fave! It combines natural nut butter with a tonne of seeds and superfoods - like maca powder, cacao powder, chia seeds, flax seeds buckwheat groats. That recipe took me a long time to perfect so I’m always so happy with the way it turned out - so gooey and yummy!

Where can we find your products?

You can find my products at a bunch of cafes and organic markets in town including Wild & Raw, Amaranth, Blush Lane, Monogram, Vitality Tap & Philosafy to name a few. You can check out my website for a full list.

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Do you have any other projects you’re working on that you are passionate about sharing?

I am very passionate about giving back to the community and supporting local organizations who help people in need. A percentage of profits for energy bite sold goes to the Mustard Seed to help the homeless in Calgary. The Mustard Seed help these people by providing employment services, housing, education and warm meals. Calgary is a community that has done nothing but help and support me since moving here and starting a small-business, and just being able to give back in this very small way is highly important to me.

What do you think people could use more of – both in their diet and in their lives?

Simplicity. People can find it overwhelming at first when they start trying to incorporate more of a natural way of eating into their diet. I always encourage people to just take it back to the basics and eat simple, wholesome, natural ingredients. I know it’s hard at times, but people also need to give themselves more time. More time to care about what they’re putting in their mouths, and appreciating how it got to them. I find most people actually enjoy what they’re eating a lot more when they have sourced and prepared it themselves. Just take time once a week to go buy local produce - it makes all the difference when you actually meet the people behind your food and you will appreciate it more when you become more mindful of the effort and love it took to get it to you.

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What is your ultimate goal, both personally and professionally?

To create food that makes a difference to someone. Whether it be someone who has food restrictions and finds it impossible to treat themselves, or someone who appreciates high quality ingredients in a food market that is dominated by synthetic and refined products. I want to show people how appealing food can look and taste when only natural raw ingredients are used - and that you can have your cake and eat it too!

What advice do you have for those starting their own endeavours?

To never lose sight of why you started. There are definitely days where you will struggle and it will be very challenging, but bringing it back to the real reason why you took the leap in the first place always helps me to take a breath and continue pushing hard for it.

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Biggest reward being an entrepreneur? Biggest struggle?

For me, the biggest reward is hearing from happy customers. Being stopped by someone while I’m stocking a vendor for them to tell me how much they love what I do and how much they appreciate finally having a product like mine on the shelves puts a huge smile on my face. And my biggest struggle would probably be having the patience and faith to understand that my end goals will be achieved if I keep giving this everything I have. Running a successful business doesn’t happen overnight, and for someone who is very driven, it can be hard for me to take it slow and let my end goals unfold organically. I’m having to learn to take it one step at a time and have faith that it will happen!

How do you define success?

If at the end of a 10 hour day at the kitchen I come home with a full heart, I know I’m succeeding at what I wanted to. I can very happily and honestly say, that there has not been one day where this has not been the case.

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How do you find balance? What does balance look like to you?

It took me a while to find it, but I make sure I give myself down time so that I don't burn out. I have committed to a healthy lifestyle - and this doesn’t just mean in the way I eat. It also means being able to take time to myself to be as mentally healthy as I am physically. The week days are usually a crazy time for me, so Sunday is the day where I take myself to the mountains, for a big walk by the river with my puppy, to a float spa, or just chill at home with a delicious dinner and a movie.

What do you feel is the most important thing in life?

To surround yourself by people who lift you up. I’ve learnt not to waste energy on those who don’t make you a better person. For me, friends and family are what I put most of my time and effort into, and making sure I put myself out of my comfort zone to meet new people and create new relationships which teach me how to grow.

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How are you trying to make a difference in our world?

As much as I have always had a healthy relationship with food, I know this is not the case for many people. It saddens me to know that a lot of kids these days who are fortunate enough to have access to millions of different food options, are not being taught the proper way to nourish themselves. I would just love to make a difference in the way people view food and the importance of what they are fuelling their bodies with. I am not someone to put restrictions on enjoying food - I definitely still treat myself - I would just love to see more people value a balance in their diet and lifestyle.