Adrienne Lufkin is the creator, chef, and brain power behind Struesli. Get to know Adrienne and what inspired her to create the best-for-you, grain-free granola on the market.
An Interview With Adrienne Lufkin, Founder And Creator of Struesli
What was your motivation behind Struesli?
Adrienne: "I come from a culinary background and was a private chef for many years. I'm also a Mom and have always been a creative person. So all of that played into the motivation behind creating Struesli, along with my own various health struggles, which many people have. So creating a granola that is healthy for everyone, including someone like me, was a motivating factor."
You've always been creating things in the kitchen. Tell us more about your career path.
Adrienne: "I first started in a restaurant on Nantucket called 21 Federal, working with some amazing, amazing chefs in New England and really got the culinary bug, I guess you'd say. And after I finished my undergraduate degree at Fordham, I went directly to culinary school in New York City. I went to the French Culinary Institute. And from there, I built my clientele and cooked for high profile clients all over the country. And a lot of these clients had dietary restrictions and health issues. So over the course of my career, I learned how to cook gluten-free and grain-free and for diabetics and for people with other inflammatory conditions. So that actually helped me, too, with my own health struggles."
Can you tell us more about your health struggles and how they helped you create Struesli?
Adrienne: "I've had Crohn's disease since I was in my teens. And I've also had chronic migraines since childhood. As I got older and became more knowledgeable about these conditions, I learned that certain foods are inflammatory and can trigger an inflammatory response in our bodies. And so I learned to limit or cut those foods out of my diet, and I also learned how to get creative in the kitchen so that I could make foods for me and for my clients that I felt good about adding to our daily routine. The ingredients in Struesli are anti-inflammatory and really good for you, and it's something I can eat every day and feel good about giving to others, too."
Have you always wanted to create a food product that's available to more people?
Adrienne: "Well, I didn't set out to create a food product, but I knew that a better granola than this didn't exist. And I also knew that I had the ability to create it for myself, my family, and for anyone else, too. And I thought, why not me? So here it is."
Many people might think that standard granola is already good for you, but that's not the case. What's in granola that's inflammatory, and how is Struesli better?
Adrienne: "You're right, many people do think that granola is a health food and it's a staple in many peoples' homes. But most granolas have added sugars or sweeteners and inflammatory oils. I just came to a point where I decided that's not good enough. And there has to be a better way, and that better way is Struesli."
For people who haven't tried Struesli before, what's your elevator pitch?
Adrienne: "I crafted Struesli using the highest quality ingredients, to fit a variety of dietary lifestyles and restrictions, and also to be incredibly versatile. It was truly important to me to create a granola with no added sugars or sweeteners that also tastes really great."
Right on the package, you call Struesli "Granola Redefined." What does that mean to you?
Adrienne: "Well, I was purposeful in choosing the word Redefined. Redefined means a transformation or a different way of looking at things, so I'm disrupting granola as we know it, and returning it to the nourishing food it was always meant to be."
I'm sure many people are wondering about the name Struesli. It's not a word that we've heard before. So how did you come up with?
Adrienne: "You're right, it's not a word you've heard before because I totally made it up. It's a word mash between streusel and muesli. A streusel is kind of a crumbly topping, and muesli is a cereal made up of nuts and seeds, and it's popular in Europe. So I mashed those words together and came up with the word Struesli while I was on a walk one day with my dogs. It sort of popped in my head and I thought, that's it! That's what it's called. It's called Struesli!"
One of the amazing things about Struesli is that, once you taste it, all the possibilities of how you can use it start to come to mind. What are some typical ways and some less typical ways that people can use Struesli?
Adrienne: "That's actually one of the redefining attributes of Struesli is its versatility. Unlike most conventional granolas that have a crunchy sugary coating or a super sweetness to it, Struesli doesn't have that. It's a little looser and more granular, which lends itself to a variety of applications, both savory and sweet.
So, traditional uses would be Struesli on a yogurt bowl or a smoothie bowl or on your chia pudding, but it's also really delicious on a cottage cheese bowl, a salad, on avocado toast, or even paired with a really yummy burrata cheese or added to a cheese board. Really, however you want to incorporate this combination of delicious super foods in your day, it's convenient and easy to do."
What are some of the unique attributes about Struesli that you won't find in other granolas?
Adrienne: "One of the main attribute is that Struesli is based on tiger nuts. So I swapped out the typical oats or other grains and put in the sliced tiger nuts, which are a nutritious root vegetable. I'm not saying grains are bad, but I am saying tiger nuts are better. Another unique attribute is that Struesli doesn't contain added sugars or sweeteners of any kind, and you'd be really hard-pressed to find that in any other granola. And Struesli also has a light and crisp texture that is so appealing in so many applications."
There are many unique attributes to Struesli, and what you're saying about the sugars and sweeteners is so true. I think people might be shocked to learn that there might be upwards of 15 to 20 grams of added sugars in a small serving of many typical granolas.
Adrienne: "It's true, there's really no added sweetener or sugar of any kind in Struesli. And I have to say, you know, it's very frustrating when you see all these packaged foods, granolas, or any other foods on the shelf that say sugar-free, or no refined sugar. To me, that's just code for when you turn it around, there's some other sweetening ingredient in there. And I wanted to create a product that you can be sure that there's no sneaky sweeteners. You can turn it around and you can see there's no added sugars or sweeteners of any kind. And it gives anyone the power of choice. Because you can always add a little sweetener, a drizzle of honey or something, but you really can't take that out of a product. So it was important to me that people now have a choice in a granola with truly no added sugars or sweeteners of any kind."
Could you tell us more about what tiger nuts are.
Adrienne: "Tiger nuts are actually a tuber and they're tiny, but they pack a powerful punch. They're the size of a chickpea and they're naturally sweet, kind of like an almond. They're a good source of resistance prebiotic starch, which is really good for our guts. And they have a healthy amount of fiber, which is good for regulating blood sugar and keeping cholesterol in check. In Struesli, we've sliced tiger nuts really thin and roasted them, so they kind of act like oats but they're airy and light, and that's what gives it the amazing texture that so many people love about Struesli."
What was your inspiration behind creating the Cacao + Coffee flavor of Struesli?
Adrienne: "The Cacao + Coffee Struesli has all the same ingredients of the Original blend, but I really wanted have a more robust, strong flavor profile. And I still wanted it to have all those good for you, nutrient-dense ingredients AND no added sugars or sweeteners. So we sourced really high-quality cacao nibs, unsweetened cocoa powder, and really good single-origin organic coffee that adds even more benefits for you. So I took the Original recipe and I added in these amazing ingredients on top of it and came up with the Cacao + Coffee blend. And it has quite a cult following. People have come to realize that the rich, earthy, robust flavor marries beautifully and kind of counterbalances with a fruity or citrusy yogurt or an acai bowl. It's kind of a match made in heaven."
Now, Adrienne, Struesli was invented in your own kitchen, but it's not still being made in your own kitchen. As a small batch granola, where is Struesli being made these days?
Adrienne: "It's made in a commercial kitchen in Vermont, and I attend the making of every batch. I'm there to make sure that it comes out exactly how I want it to taste."
What is some feedback you've gotten from customers that has inspired you?
Adrienne: "I've gotten a lot of really positive and motivating feedback. Really, I can't say enough how just two simple words, 'Thank You,' has meant the world to me. And it could be, 'Thank you for creating a delicious gluten-free, grain-free granola!' or 'Thank you for creating a granola that, as a diabetic, I can eat on a regular basis.' So, yeah, 'Thank You' has been the most inspiring and motivating thing to hear."
A creative culinary person like you always has something in the works. What's your next dream for Struesli?
Adrienne: "I'd love for Struesli to be a staple in everybody's pantry. And I'd also love to keep adding to the Struesli family. More flavors, and I'm even thinking beyond granola. There's going to be more. Thank you to everyone out there who has tried Struesli and shared it with your friends or family. Your support means the world to our small business!"