*This post is sponsored by Fitfluential on behalf of NOW Foods. All opinions are my own!
Last Thursday and Friday I had the opportunity to travel to a suburb of Chicago, eat lots of food, finally connect with some bloggers that I’ve known online for awhile now, and learn a LOT about the NOW Foods company.
Sidenote: Ever since I started this blog, I’ve thought that it’s an incredible opportunity when I see other bloggers go on events like this. To be selected to participate in this was so amazing and I’m so grateful to NOW Foods and Fitfluential for making it happen.
Before I delve into the itinerary, for anyone unfamiliar with NOW Foods, they are a natural products manufacturer. They have several different lines of products:
Their quality control process is top notch as you will read a little later and they have done a tremendous job in growing their company to one of the largest independent manufacturers of natural products in the U.S.
The NOW Headquarters is in Bloomingdale, IL, which is only about an hour’s drive away from Chicago. Technically it’s only about 25 miles, but yaaaay city traffic.
I arrived at the Hilton Indian Lakes Resort Thursday afternoon and the weather was BEAUTIFUL.
As I mentioned in Friday’s post, I got there super early so that I could take full advantage of their pool. The resort was really nice and we each got our own hotel rooms which was amazing. Does anyone else really love solo hotel trips? Not that I make them very often, but when I do I get super excited.
I spent about two hours at the pool, then headed inside to freshen up for our big group dinner that night. Other bloggers were flying in and I didn’t get a chance to see many people until we all met together in the lobby. LOOK — another time I am wearing a skirt.
We all went to dinner at Glen Prairie Restaurant, which uses local ingredients from local farmers. Everything was delicious, but I didn’t get the best pictures since the lighting wasn’t ideal. You’ll have to imagine my brownie sundae for dessert.
This was our first time meeting Jim Emme, NOW CEO, and Dan Richard, the son of founder Elwood Richard. We heard some background on the company which was really interesting.
After an epic three hour dinner, we headed back to the hotel where many of us went immediately to bed after a long day. Some of us were just tired from lying in the sun.
Susie was one of the bloggers on the trip, so it was good to see her since now she lives in Lincoln Park which feels like 2156477 miles away even if it’s only like 3.
Friday morning we had to meet in the lobby AT 6 am so that we could catch a shuttle to Lifetime Fitness. This was legitimately the largest gym I’ve ever seen in my life and had more treadmills than I could even count.
We did their C9 workout, which was a collaboration between Target and Lifetime. Target’s athletic line is called C9, so the workout focused on working 9 different body parts. It was split up into three main sections where you would focus on three different body parts, then a cardio blast for 45 seconds. Now that I teach classes myself, I’m much more aware of everyone’s form around me and how difficult it can be sometimes for instructors to try and keep the energy up (especially at 6 am!).
It was a great way to wake up, but the extended yoga part we did at the end brought me right back down into sleepsville. I should probably take some time to slow down now and then, but that morning it wiped me out!
Once we finished, we were treated to protein shakes using NOW plant protein powder and a variety of fruits. This bottle is amazing because the bottom twists off so you can store powder or other snacks.
When we got back to the hotel, we had about 90 minutes to shower and get ready to head to the factory. The buffet was decent, but hotel breakfasts are never really my favorite. I took my tea back to my room, did a little work, and got ready for the day. I love being done with workouts so early in the morning.
We got to sport some HOT plant-appropriate attire.
And then we embarked on an amazing look inside the NOW plant. Do you remember watching Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood as a kid and he would go on factory tours and show you how things like crayons were made? I always found that fascinating. So yes, you can also find me watching How It’s Made whenever it’s on.
The packing and sorting process at NOW is top notch and they have less than a 0.05% error rate.
The main thing that impressed me about this facility was their $40 million quality and testing lab. I forgot how much I love chemistry, so being back with all my beloved machines was so great. There is some SERIOUS quality control going on in this lab. From the moment the ingredients arrive, they are tested to make sure they are what they say they are, then tested at every point during the process. Samples of every lot are kept for YEARS, so if any issues come up, they are able to test the exact same product.
Seriously, I have never seen such a thorough testing process.
Our guide also explained to us why NOW’s stevia is so much less bitter than other commercially available products. Different extraction process = better product.
I wanted to play in here all day.
Following our plant tour, we headed to the NOW corporate offices where we chowed down on catering from Whole Foods.
We listened to an interesting presentation by Dr. Wendy Bazilian on different food tribes (paleo, gluten-free, low-calorie, raw, vegetarian/vegan, etc.) and how those food choices require different fuel for athletic performance.
Next, we sampled some of the NOW personal care line by making our own bath soaks and surface cleansers using essential oils. Laura is perplexed? Dumbfounded?
The last stop on our tour was their kitchen, where we learned more about their food products, which are 100% non-GMO. Their R&D chef, Suzy, was the most adorable person I have ever seen and her enthusiasm towards the food was contagious.
We all took part in an oil tasting, which apparently is a serious thing with events and everything. We sampled all of their oils, from olive to pumpkin seed. I can’t say that I loved drinking small amounts of oil, but the experience was great and I greatly annoyed Megan with all my slurping (which means I’m doing it right). Ha.
We also tasted their flavored coconut oils, which were MAGICAL. They have a garlic and a butter flavor, which can be used on veggies or popcorn in place of butter itself. I brought some of the garlic home, so it’ll be interesting to try out!
After the tasting, we made our own vinaigrette dressing which I ruined by dumping all sorts of pepper and oil in, so I slid that nicely to the side.
We then made mason jar salads to use the dressing on, which I am actually eating as I write this post (sans dressing).
Since this was our last event before heading home, I made sure to grab some more pictures. Don’t worry, she still liked me even with all my slurping.
Susie, Megan, Ashley, and MOI.
I headed back home around 3:30 pm and if you want to know what happened after that, just start reading yesterday’s post. I had SUCH a great time and I loved going in depth to learn more about this company. It definitely opened my eyes about how important quality is in our natural products and just how hard they work to make sure we are getting the best stuff we can!
NOW — (ha, get it??) For one lucky winner, NOW Foods is shipping you the same products that we were given (and it’s a LOT).
Simply enter using the options below! The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only 18 or older and will last for one week, ending next Tuesday, 6/14 at midnight central time. Good luck!
If you’re interested in learning more about NOW Foods or just chatting with some awesome bloggers, we will all be participating in the #NOWGetFit Twitter party on Thursday, June 16th at 9 pm EST, so come hop in!
This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of NOW Foods.
- Do you buy any NOW products?
- Have you ever been on a factory tour?
- Did you know about oil tasting??