Living Prana makes organic, grain-free, gluten-free and vegan pancake and waffle mix. These aren’t your typical pancakes though, these are made with nutrient-dense, superfood ingredients like spirulina, mushrooms and adaptogens. So instead of a carb crash after breakfast, you can take on the day feeling great, with sustainable energy! I had the chance to get inside scoop with the co-founders of Living Prana, Brian and Ryan:
EE: Tell us a little about yourself
Brian: I’m a man who’s lived many lives. Born and raised in New Jersey right outside of NYC
in a humble, hardworking and loving family. My mother was a teacher and father a
carpenter. I’ve lived in Miami, Dallas, Los Angeles and now Maui, HI. I studied accounting and finance in college, and became a Chartered Financial Analyst for a deeper understanding of business, finance and economics. I’ve invested in, advised and built businesses across many industries over the past 15 years, working shoulder-to-shoulder with many entrepreneurs and leading growth for some large companies as well. At what most would call a recent apex in my career, I walked away from everything as Covid hit to find greater alignment of my professional efforts with my life’s purpose and leave a meaningful impact in this lifetime.
I struggled with my physical health essentially since childhood, compromising my diet and exercise due to stressors from my environment, career and relationships. This
peaked in 2015 when I ballooned to 227 lbs. I was engulfed in stress driven by a high
achieving leader in a demanding corporate role and getting engaged for all of the wrong
reasons. This crushed my mental health, and the more down I got, the unhealthier
decisions I made…it was a vicious self-fueled cycle. When I woke up to make significant changes to my diet (eliminating dairy, minimizing refined carbs, and introducing high-value functional foods), I gained the energy and confidence to break the downward spiral, losing 65 pounds over six months that essentially saved my life. From that day, I found renewed purpose to help others optimize their well-being through healthy decisions. I didn’t know that would be a conscious food business at the time, but I couldn’t think of a better way to spread healing through my personal experiences.
Ryan: Born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska with a football literally placed in my hospital crib,
you could say I was born to be an athlete. Health and fitness have always been priority.
A few years after moving to LA in pursuit of fame and fortune as an actor, — gaining
notoriety by playing the first ever gay character on Days of Our Lives — I entered my
transformative “Saturn Return” that thrust me to pivot away from the dramatic arts and
into the healing arts, yoga and astrology, I found a master bodyworker with whom I
would spend the next decade-plus studying and apprenticing. A radical shift came by
way of leaving Traditional Chinese Medicine school to go to India, and upon my return
discovering my home was infested with black mold. With my hair falling out as rapidly as my mental and physical health declined, I discovered the mold toxicity levels in my body were bordering on lethal.
Thanks to the assistance of gifted healers and nutritionists, I slowly climbed my way back to life. Along the way, I discovered the health-enhancing benefits of functional foods, the curative benefits of plant medicine and explored ways I could enhance my body and brain’s capacity to absorb specific nutrients through unique combinations of superfoods, adaptogens, medicinal mushrooms and nootropics. Like so many of the trials and tribulations in our lives, these challenges made me stronger and guided me to better know who I am and what I’m here to do. After working for twenty years as a holistic healthcare practitioner, I’ve seen time and again the body’s ability to heal itself when given the support and supplementation it needs. Combining my childhood love of pancakes with the nutritional knowledge I acquired out of necessity, to co-found a functional food company inspired to help people optimize their health, is a massive blessing in an already blessed life.
EE: How and why did you start your company?
The original superfood pancake mix was created five years ago when Ryan was at
Burningman (2017). After more than a week in the Black Rock desert, he found himself
in need of replenishing and nourishing his body with the superfoods and adaptogens he
would normally mix in a smoothie. Without a blender, he threw them all together in a
pancake mix and voila, PranaCakes™ were born. A few years later, using mushrooms
and adaptogens that promote focus, clarity and mental sharpness, BrainCakes were
created through Ryan’s desire to overcome his caffeine addiction and off-ramp from his
regular morning cup of coffee. After a few years of sharing these two mixes with friends
and family, with the common feedback that these are the best pancakes ever, Ryan met
Brian at a retreat in Spring 2021, and the essential pieces came together to transform
these incredible recipes into products commercially available for everyone to enjoy!
Through a shared purpose fueled by personal health challenges that were healed by
functional foods and dietary changes, Living Prana TM was created as a platform to
enable people to take control of their well-being. After researching the substantial health
crisis caused by gluten, grains, eggs, dairy and other inflammatory ingredients, Brian
and Ryan reformulated the original recipes to eliminate these disease drivers and
replace them with nutrient-dense plant-based ingredients. The result was the first
certified organic, vegan, gluten-free, and grain-free pancake & waffle mix that actually
tastes and feels great!
Our WHY has been clear since before we met… we are each fulfilling a dharma rooted in service to the universal and ecological reciprocity needed for us all to live longer, healthier and happier lives.
How and Where are your products made?
As a new, bootstrapped food brand, we developed our production process and supply
chain to minimize food compliance and safety risk as well as leverage proven processes
from trusted partners instead of designing everything from scratch. This enables us to
focus our initial capital investments in ways that best set the company up for sustainable
success. We secure our ingredients from vetted U.S.-based suppliers that maintain high quality standards from their local sources.
Over 98% of our ingredients are organic-certified. Our packaging is digitally printed in the U.S. It is made with 75% post-consumer recycled material and designed to minimize material waste due to excess empty space inside the package. We outsource manufacturing and fulfillment. After interviewing nearly a dozen contract manufacturers (co-packers), we decided to partner with a company in the Midwest that specializes with our product type (packaged dry mixes), maintains great food compliance and safety, and carries the certification capabilities that hold our products to high quality standards. This co-packer blends our ingredients then packages the final product. The finished product is then shipped to two warehouses strategically located to minimize the distance our products travel to reach the majority of our customers.
Has this journey taught you anything?
Launching a product-based business from the ground up has brought so much
awareness and learning to each of us. Some key awareness we’ve honed in this
process include: Do not compromise on your values, and as a food company, safety and
transparency always comes first, Release timelines and avoid moving unnecessarily against the grain. These are two sources of self-inflicted suffering that will create unhappiness and distract you from accomplishing your mission.
Our impact, reputation and brand are larger than any of us individually. Stay humble and focused. Check any ego at the door. Delays and unexpected challenges are inevitable. It’s how you address them, communicate, and evolve that matters most. Call in support and lean on trusted resources to succeed. Utilize your network, build a great team that is empowered and inspired by you. It doesn’t matter how talented or motivated you are, there is only so much you can accomplish on your own.
What are you most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others?
We are functional food pioneers helping people thrive through organic, nutrient-dense
food products that are convenient, delicious, and nostalgic. We are rebooting
traditionally unhealthy meals by replacing commonly used, unhealthy ingredients with
superfoods, mushrooms and adaptogens so people can enjoy indulgences in a way that
actually promotes great health, happiness and longevity. We’re at the cutting edge of
bringing targeted functionality into packaged foods that restore well-being by supporting
natural energy, vitality, mental fitness (cognition, focus, clarity) and balanced immunity.
Our food is designed to be enjoyed by the masses. By eliminating dairy, eggs and
grains in our flagship pancake & waffle mixes, we enable people with even the most
sensitive digestion to enjoy healthy indulgent meals without destroying their health.
People with many digestive diseases revere our pancakes for bringing a healthy
indulgence into their lives in a convenient way.
We are proud that Living Prana TM is a platform to help people optimize their health and
longevity after we each healed significant health crisis through functional superfoods
and significant dietary changes. This inspired the creation of the first organic, vegan
superfood pancake & waffle mix that actually tastes and feels great when mixed in
Is your company sustainable in any other ways?
Even before going into production for the first time, Living Prana became a 1% for the
Planet Member, pledging to contribute at least 1% of its annual revenue to
environmentally conscious philanthropic causes as a foundational investment in ethical
business and the future of our planet. 1% for the Planet works to prevent
greenwashing, certify reputable giving and provide accountability for environmental
giving. We currently focus our support to projects within areas of the world where our
superfoods are grown.
Our packaging is made with 75% post-consumer recycled plastic, meaning it has
already been recycled before becoming a part of our packaging. This minimizes the
number of single-use plastics permeating our planet. The remaining 25% is important
to protect the safety and shelf stability of our food products. The packaging is digitally
printed in the U.S., a process requiring less energy consumption and much shorter
distance to travel than many companies securing cheaper packaging overseas.
We designed efficient packaging with an effort to minimize the empty space inside,
which excess packaging has been too common in the packaged food industry for
decades. This mindfulness reduces the material required to store an equivalently sized
product safely and effectively.
What do you ultimately hope to achieve through your brand?
Our goal is to empower people to make healthier food decisions that elevate their
wellbeing and ultimately to demand a higher standard from the companies that
manufacture their food. We believe that you can have your cake and eat it too… so we
will reboot other unhealthy product types, alongside our pancake & waffle mix line, so
that access to convenient, nutrient-dense functional foods becomes the predominant
offering across grocery aisles, in the home and on the go!
Try Living Prana for yourself, available on LivingPrana.co
Use Code: EVERYDAYWITHERIN for 15% off!
and be sure to follow them on Instagram @living_prana
If you like easy vegan food, you’ll love Core + Rind too!
Note: This article contains affiliate links or codes, this means if you make a purchase I may get a small percentage of the sale (at no extra cost to you). As always, I only recommend products that I have tried and truly love.
Until next time…