Scrolling through Instagram or even just walking down the street you’re likely to see tons of smoothies, smoothie bowls, and “nice creams.” Sometimes making these at home can be a hassle, and buying them every day can get expensive. Enter Sweet Nova, a straight from the freezer solution to your breakfast, dessert, and snacking needs! We chatted with founder Caroline Tseng about why she started Sweet Nova, how she created the product, and their shop and delivery services.
Downtown: What was the impetus to start Sweet Nova?
Caroline Tseng: I’ve always been obsessed with health and wellness but was a terrible cook, so my go-to way to get real, whole, plant-based foods in my diet was making smoothies. With how busy my former job in advertising was even making smoothies was too cumbersome of a process, and I’d often have to rush out the door in the morning having skipped breakfast. I thought to myself, “What if I could freeze a smoothie and just grab it and go?” Freezing produce actually locks in nutrition and also prevents it from going bad. That’s when we had our lightbulb moment and ended up putting a whole food smoothie into an ice cream form!
Downtown: What were your concerns in creating the product? What was most important to you?
CT: One of the biggest concerns we had was the ongoing balance between taste and nutrition. Unfortunately, if you have too much of one, you have too little of the other. At the end of the day though, we wanted to make sure the product was good for you AND tasted good. We tested over 100 recipes to find that perfect balance!
Two other big concerns were using whole ingredients and reducing sugar levels. We are very anti-hyper-processed ingredients such a protein powders. We know that people are obsessed with protein these days, but we wanted to incorporate protein in a whole food, plant-based way. That’s why we ended up with hemp seed hearts as a core ingredient in all our flavors. On the sugar side, I worked closely with Sweet Nova’s Lead Dietitian Nutritionist Tanya Freirich to look for the best solution and make sure that we weren’t going above AHA’s recommended levels of added sugar (less than 25g a day for women, less than 37.5g a day for men). We ended up having no added sugars in our Sunflower Cacao Protein flavor (it’s just sweetened with dried dates), and using only a touch of unrefined maple syrup (5g in each tub) in our Matcha Kale Energy and Pitaya Blueberry Antioxidant flavors.
Downtown: How does Sweet Nova work?
CT: It’s super easy! You literally just grab it from the freezer, grab a spoon, and you’re good to go. That’s it. No blender required. The products also last A YEAR in the freezer – no more wilted spinach in your fridge 🙂 They’re perfect for breakfast, a snack, or of course, an actually good for you evening treat.
Downtown: How did you decide to be both a store and a delivery service?
CT: My POV is, to win in the marketplace today, you kind of have to be cross-platform. It feels stale and limited to only be available via one channel. Case in point: every other day there’s a cool new e-comm brand opening up a physical store or pop-up in Soho (I’m looking at you, Glossier, Casper, and Parachute). For food, it’s even more important to have a physical location because the best way to get people to fall in love with your product is to taste it. We also wanted to be able to interact with the local creative community in NYC, which is why we decided to open up a booth in the gorgeous Canal Street Market. Canal Street ended up serving as both a retail spot and also a distribution point which worked out perfectly for us.
Downtown: What makes your products different?
CT: Kind of everything! Our product is so different that sometimes it takes a second for consumers to get it…but the ones who get it love it immediately. It’s really cool to see when it clicks and customers tell us why they’re so excited that this product is out on the market. To be more specific and not repeat myself too much, we’re a banana-based superfood “nice cream” that is dairy-free, gluten-free, and paleo, with minimally-processed ingredients that you can pronounce, no refined sugars, and less sugar than an apple in each tub. We also consider ourselves a snack, not just a treat – so it’s not really a dessert, it’s something nourishing you can truly feel good about eating.
Downtown: What are you most excited about?
CT: I’m most excited about our product continuing to serve its true purpose…we hear feedback from customers like “I’m living off this stuff” and “I feel so healthy after I eat it” and it’s great to know that we’ve created a product with so much integrity behind it.
Downtown: What’s coming next?
CT: The next big step is to continue to expand our distribution. This includes being part of the roster of office snacks and wellness-focused grocery stores across the country! If your office/local grocery store could use some amazing healthy snack options, give us a call 😉