Written by Sason Bishope Parry
Ah, mornings, that time when the sun rises, alarms go off, or the snooze button gets pushed, coffee is boiling, rush hour traffic, and more. With all of these things happening so early in the day, it’s crucial to plan so that nothing is missed. Many experts highly consider mornings to be one of the most essential parts of your day. It’s a time to get up, get dressed, and get your mindset geared up to take on all the tasks and goals you’ve set and work towards your dreams. Making good choices and having healthy habits in the morning sets the intention that can often dictate whether we will have a good or a bad day. One positive thought we feed our mind can brighten our whole day; the same goes for what we feed our bodies. Some good choices to start the morning off right include meditation, practising gratitude, and having a good exercise regimen. A healthy lifestyle is paramount to good living, which includes healthy food choices. What we feed our body and our mind is what we ultimately become. It’s been said that the best and most essential meal of the day is breakfast. That old 20th-century quote comes to mind, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” This quote originated from Dr. Adelle Davis, who wrote a book entitled, “Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit”, in 1954. However, in our world, where most people are moving faster than the speed of light, eating breakfast can be challenging and often missed. So many things can get in the way, including waking up late, rushing to work, dealing with family, and other things that can create rush and chaos. Then, some try to make up for this missed meal by doubling down on bigger lunches and dinners, which can lead to indigestion problems, overweight issues, fatigue, and more.
So, having a quick and convenient solution to eat a healthy and tasty breakfast on the go is a must. One new and innovative vegan company and its founder are looking to fill that nitch. Introducing: HEALTH BEAR FOODS. The company was founded by health enthusiast Lisa Matar when she saw the necessity for a convenient, no-sugar-added, plant-powered, protein-enriched breakfast.
“Health Bear was born as a solution to fill a void that I felt needed to be filled in the plant-based breakfast market.” – Lisa Matar – Founder
A native Californian, Lisa attended university at San Diego State, majoring in graphic design and visual expression. From an early age, she always gravitated towards trying to live a healthy lifestyle. Later in life, when she became a mother to two children, spending many hours in the kitchen preparing healthy, sugar-free, and super food-dense meals for her young family became a priority. Tragically, in 2017, at the age of 42, Lisa‘s brother died suddenly of heart disease-related complications. Many years previously, her father also passed away from complications of heart disease at the age of 56. These tragedies led Lisa to be even more proactive about living a healthier lifestyle, which included her responsibilities of raising healthy children. Understanding that food is medicine and with her family’s looming history, Lisa became committed to ensuring she could provide the most powerful, nutritiously dense, and delicious foods available for her small children.
After seeing a naturopath doctor and being told that she was allergic to many animal foods, Lisa decided to adopt a plant-based diet. Sadly, she realized the selections for plant-based, healthy breakfast options were very limited. Seeing the opportunity in the problem, she knew there had to be a better way to start the day. After brainstorming many ideas and using her learned skills from San Diego State, Health Bear Food Company was born and launched in 2019, with its first product being gluten-free, plant-based, instant oatmeal in a convenient cup. She went even further, ensuring that no sugar was used, and instead opted for the plant-based monk fruit sweetener. Monk fruit is a great sugar substitute, because its 250X sweeter than sucrose, has zero calories and doesn’t change your sugar levels, making it a healthy, natural option even for diabetics. Lisa thrives in stating that Health Bear uses only natural ingredients, is loaded with nutrients, and each serving has a whopping 12 grams of plant-based protein.
“With some competing oatmeal products being formulated with sugar, I wanted Health Bear to be viewed as a healthy, sugar-free alternative that only uses monk fruit. Other ingredients in my formulations include chia, flax, hemp, and pea protein. So, I’m happy to say that each cup of Health Bear oatmeal is vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, high in fibre, and contains up to 12 grams of protein.” – Lisa Matar
With Lisa’s creative and fun mind constantly at work, she wanted a company slogan that represented her brand and herself and landed on “fun fit food.” The catchy slogan is brought to life in the company’s colourful and thorough packaging, package design, and digital footprint, which Lisa also created. Shortly after launching the company, Lisa realized it’s how rewarding it was to support people on a mission to better their lives, and this fueled her passion for healthier food options even more. As part of her mission to help others, in 2022, Health Bear partnered with Opportunity International to help raise funds for their agricultural finance fund, which empowers female farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.
“I wanted to make a difference when I learned how challenged female farmers were in parts of Africa due to many disadvantaging factors- climate change. Health Bears partnership with Opportunity International helps these women with solutions so that they can thrive as farmers, break the cycle of poverty, and send their kids to school.” – Lisa Matar
The company has been off to a great start with positive customer feedback and reviews, raving about how delicious, healthy, and convenient Health Bear oatmeal is. Trying it myself, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by how good it tasted and how filling and convenient it was to make. Not to mention, as a vegan, who has also given up sugar and gluten, Health Bear oatmeal seemed like a good choice. Health Bear and Lisa Matar have also been featured on many TV shows and online video channels. Lisa Matar is often found at many food festivals, especially vegan ones, where she’s been an inspiring spokesperson, always on hand to educate and sample the products and engage with customers. Health Bear products are currently sold online on their website and available at many food stores. For a complete list of where to find Health Bear oatmeal, visit www.healthbearfood.com
The plant-based food market has exploded in recent years and is expected to continue growing as more and more people adopt a healthier lifestyle, including veganism, for multiple reasons. Not to mention in our world where everyone seems to be on the go, having a convenient, healthy, plant-based breakfast option that takes minutes to make seems like a no-brainer. This is all excellent news for Health Bear and Lisa Matar, who hope to continue building their business into a household name and brand that customers can trust and love. The launch of her company in 2019 was a crowning victory in combating her food-related ailments and something Lisa is exceptionally proud of. Her journey with Health Bear is just beginning as she has big plans ahead with her eyes set on seeing Health Bear expand its footprint to include all grocery stores nationwide. With her drive and passion, the skies are the limit for Health Bear Foods.
I recently had the opportunity to meet and chat with Lisa Matar, founder and creator of Health Bear Foods, at the World Vegan Festival in San Francisco.
Sason Bishope Parry: How is life treating you? Do you live in San Diego?
Lisa Matar: My heart and cell phone area code is from my hometown of San Diego- I currently live in Los Gatos.
SBP: Are you vegan, and if so, when and how did that journey come about?
LM: I consider myself a Flexitarian. I started down the plant-based path when I visited a naturopath doctor who, after running bloodwork, told me I was allergic to eggs and milk. Soon after I removed the eggs and milk, I could feel the inflammation leaving my body. I was sold- removing animal products was easy. I must admit, I am a sucker for prosciutto and birthday cake, so there are a few times a year that I will go off the rails for a moment.
SBP: Tell us about your company Health Bear.
LM: My favourite subject! I started the company right after that fateful visit to the naturopath because removing the eggs and dairy had me soon realize breakfast options are slim for the vegan crowd. And of the options that did exist, they were sugar-laden. Not an option for me! So, I devised some recipes that soon became formulas, and we were off to the races.
SBP: Your oatmeal is not only vegan and gluten-free but sugar-free, too. How is it so delicious?
LM: Quality ingredients! Even before we were certified organic and gluten-free, I always sourced organic ingredients because I knew that meant the nutrition would be higher and the taste more delicious. I always will bet on quality! Sweetening with monk fruit instead of sugar was a no-brainer.
“It’s not hard to look in your spice cabinet to see what you can put in your oatmeal. That’s how HealthBear started – I wanted to offer different flavours of oatmeal using ingredients people are familiar with and that they probably have in their kitchen.”- Lisa Matar
SBP: What gave you the idea to come up with vegan oatmeal?
LM: Just so few options for breakfast as a vegan! Oatmeal was always there, but wow, the sugar! I also know how important fibre and protein are for all people- so adding pea protein and superfoods was an easy decision. I knew I could do oatmeal better than anyone on the market, so I leaped!
SBP: You push your oatmeal as plant protein. What do you say to those naysayers who frown on veganism and plant-based foods as lacking protein and nutrients?
LM: I can understand how someone may think that because there are plenty of ‘junk food vegan’ options out there. Yes, there is a time and place for everything, junk food included. But if you want to be a healthy eater, there is no better way to go than vegan. Tell me how legumes, rice, all of the glorious veggies and fruits, whole grains, and nuts can be bad—or lacking? Please try! Just with every other ’style’ of eating, if you make healthy decisions, you will have absolutely enough nutrients to thrive as a vegan.
SBP: What inspired you to come up with the idea for oatmeal in a cup?
LM: At the time of Health Bear’s inception, I had two young children at home, and it was always an absolute shit show to get out the door on time for school. Very often, I would screech out the driveway and say to myself, ‘Grrr! And after all of that, I had not even eaten breakfast! When you are eating plant-based and do not want sugar, finding yourself on the road to the gym or office on an empty stomach is a real problem. I wanted to solve it, so we put Health Bear in a to-go cup and made sure it was easy to prep in a minute.
SBP: Do you sell other vegan products besides oatmeal?
LM: Not yet! Many more ideas are buzzing around, and I meet with my food scientist regularly to dream up more ultra-healthy vegan fare.
SBP: Have you always been into healthy food?
LM: Yes! Sadly, I grew up in the 80s, and the era of Jane Fonda workouts and the original Super Models had me feeling like a cute little blimp, so I’ve been on a diet for most of my life. Fortunately for me, I grew up and got over it. The good news is that my interest in healthy eating stayed with me, and I will forever love healthy food.
SBP: Does Health Bear support any animal groups or non-profits?
LM: Yes! Opportunity International has an Agricultural Finance Fund for female farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa that I support. I learned how challenged they are due to many disadvantaging factors- one of which is climate change, which ticks me off because they have virtually zero carbon footprint- yet they are the ones taking a significant hit with our dysfunctional climate. Opportunity International helps them with solutions so that they can thrive as farmers, break the cycle of poverty, and send their kids to school.
SBP: What inspired you daily?
LM: My children and their friends, I am a proud role model… and I love that. For health reasons, I do not drink any alcohol. I show the kids, through my examples, that it’s fantastic not to drink- it’s my competitive advantage in life, and they could use it, too. It’s hard to get into college, pass the test, get the hot girlfriend/boyfriend, make it on the football team, etc. You need every advantage you can get to advance in life, and one of the easiest ways to gain an advantage is with the health of your body and mind. Do not drink or do drugs! It squashes your power!
SBP: What did you think about this year’s San Francisco World Vegan Festival?
LM: I am always inspired to see other entrepreneurs out there kicking ass! And the spectators love seeing how many committed people there are to our way of living.
SBP: What is your favourite vegan food and product?
LM: You are going to laugh. Chipotle! I say I am Mexican by ingestion, not by blood. Mexican food is the best vegan. Beans, rice, guac, corn, tomatoes. Hot sauce!
SBP: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
LM: Launching my brand and having the faith in myself to do it. This takes a lot of nerve, and I’ve got that!
SBP: Do you see veganism and the plant-based market growing?
LM: Yes- especially while travelling. It’s easy to see in our own daily lives how many vegan brands are in our inner circle- but when you go to Germany and see vegan ice cream, you know we are not alone! I also notice a widening of plant-based products when I go to the food shows to promote my brand.
SBP: What’s next for Health Bear and Lisa Matar?
LM: I have something new to learn about (it never ends!). Capital funding! It’s time for me to grow, as I have laid down the foundation, and I’m off to a great start. Now it is time to hire more people, add new products, do more food shows, hit the road etc. Equity Funding, Venture Capital, financing debt, etc.
For more info and to purchase Health Bear Products, go to:
For product videos and demos go to:https://www.youtube.com/@healthbearfood370/videos?view=0&sort=dd&shelf_id=