Janie Hoffman grew up in Danville and dreamed of California, where she is now.
Her San Diego-based Mamma Chia has that California groove to it, taking a seed from Mexico full of nutritious things and making fruity beverages out of it.
Chia is that stuff you usually see on TV: Chia Pets, Chia Elvises, etc.
But the Mayans and Aztecs made a nutritious dish from Salvia hispanica for centuries, and Mamma Chia founder and CEO Hoffman notes it’s a good source of protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
After graduating from Schlarman High School in 1985, Hoffman made her dream come true by matriculating at California State University-Long Beach.
Hoffman is careful to say that she makes no health claims for her beverages, but does say eating a healthy, balanced diet, combined with meditation and exercise, have helped her with auto-immune problems that developed in her 20s.
What she created in her San Diego kitchen became a national brand in September 2011.
This month, she was named “Person of the Year” at the 10th annual BevNET Best of 2012 awards.
Hoffman said the market for products like chia is growing.
Supermarket chains such as Vons and Albertsons are now stocking products like Chia & Fruit Clusters from Dole and Apple Crumble Love Crunch from Nature’s Path on their shelves, according to Time Magazine.
Hoffman never had a chia pet while growing up in Danville.
“When chia came into my life, I immediately noticed the benefits in terms of vitality and strength,” she said, adding once again that she is not claiming health benefits for her beverages.
She does believe that “switching to organics was big plus for me. I’m a big believer in food that is not sprayed with pesticides. But there’s not one magic bullet.”
Her husband, Lance Hoffman, works in green technology.
“He’s my biggest cheerleader,” she said.
Mamma Chia will launch new organic food lines, including snacks, Hoffman said.
She won’t give away her beverages’ trade secrets but offers a recipe for a drink that should be used in moderation.
Her margaritas “kind of taste like drinking liquid Jell-O,” she said.
The non-alcoholic fruit drinks sell for a suggested retail price of $3.49 per 10-ounce bottle.
More information is at www.MammaChia.com.