Lisa Matar, a Los Gatos mother of two, had just launched her Health Bear line of single-serving, high-protein oatmeals when the pandemic hit.
“Suddenly, all the kids were home and not rushing out the door, and nobody was going into the office,” Matar recalls.
It was time to reimagine her convenience-based approach to her product. She began working on bulk packaging, both to reduce waste and to offer more flexibility to the consumer. The new, multi-serve packaging will be hitting grocery stores across California this fall. Her superfood oatmeal, which contains oats, chia, flax, pea protein powder and hemp seeds, is currently available from her Health Bear website, amazon.com and woot.com in flavors like coconut cardamom and blueberry lemon. Health Bear’s offices are in Campbell.
Matar is from San Diego, where she studied graphic design and fine art. Finding a career in that industry too solitary, she worked in real estate for eight years before moving to Los Gatos, where she became active in the Bella Vista League and St. Mary’s school and church.
Raising two children, ages 10 and 12, in the Catholic school system while her husband works in high tech plugged her into a lot of fun, social “mommy” groups around her kids’ school activities.
When the pandemic shut down in-person classes and everything that surrounds school life, that infrastructure vanished, along with the social drinking atmosphere that accompanied it.
“I decided I wanted to live my brand, which is fun, fit food,” says Matar. Giving up alcohol was part of her goal to achieve the energy and focus she needed to drive her brand—and her health—to the next level. She embraced the “sober curious” movement, driven by a desire for clarity and personal health.
“Now that the kids are back in school, I have five hours a day max to get done what I need to do after working out at the gym,” she says. “No more napping midday because I don’t feel good after having a couple of glasses of wine the day before.
“Being super healthy does not mean a boring lifestyle. I am building a company one day at a time, and I cannot imagine anything less boring. Every day brings on new challenges to tackle.”
Matar also began to think more about the impact of her lifestyle choices on the planet. About four years ago, she started the transition from a meat-based diet to a plant-based one. She’s now gone completely vegan. Her advice to those starting to explore a plant-based diet is to do it gradually.
“I cut out cheese and eggs first, because I thought the production methods were inhumane,” she says. “Then I cut out chicken and beef, focusing on vegetables. I noticed a big change in the way I felt. For a while, I included fish in my routine, but when I look at what’s happening in the oceans, I just couldn’t do that anymore.
“With my relentless vegetable eating, my kids have come around to enjoy a larger assortment of vegetables, including some pretty rough hippie-style salads,” she says. “Also, my daughter has decided against hot dogs and steak and will only eat Impossible hamburgers.”
Among the brands that help make her vegan life “awesome” is Double Rainbow Ice cream. This San Francisco-based brand offers vegan, non-dairy flavors like vanilla and mint chocolate chip. Matar recently met the owner at the Fancy Food Show in Las Vegas, where she also discovered plant-based prosciutto and salami from Mia in Italy.
At the same show, she tried plant-based chicken from rebellious.com. “It was the best, most authentic chicken I have ever tasted. Their slogan is ‘No harm, no fowl.’”
In addition to oatmeal, Matar is working on new formulas for protein shakes, snack bars and cookies.
For more information, visit https://www.healthbearfood.com.