Reprinted from: VoyageLA, May 22, 2018
Today we’d like to introduce you to Maura (Mo, the Morselist) Knowles.
Maura, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Soon after I graduated college, I was hired to play Glinda the Good Witch in my first professional acting job in my favorite all-time musical, The Wizard of Oz. During the run of the show, I went in for a simple routine procedure which should have taken a few minutes that turned into an emergency life or death abdominal surgery.
Everything that could have gone wrong, did including nearly flatlining on the table followed by a month in the I.C.U. developing pancreatitis, staph infections, misdiagnoses, you name it. As a survivor of not one near-death experience, but two, my fighting Irish spirit and the support of my family helped me pull through. On a side note, I’ve turned these dramas into a half-hour musical television comedy “Insult to Injury,” which I’m currently pitching to production companies. But, I’m not the only strong survivor in my family.
My dad, Mac, a Diabetic, survived a quadruple by-pass after two cardiac arrests and was put on an incredibly restrictive diet—low sugar, low salt, low cholesterol, plant-based, more fiber, no treats. Knowing first hand how it feels to be handed so many dietary restrictions; you finally get out of being in hell and feel a mini-victory until you are told to quote Howard Jones song from the 1908’s, “you can look at the menu, but you just can’t eat..” when Dad begged me to create something healthy and tasty he could enjoy, my mission was clear and MacnMo’s Morselicious Treats was born. Gluten-free, sugar-free, GMO-free, soy-free, preservative-free, salt-free and Morselicious.
Selfishly, since I have Celiac Disease, I made darn sure they were gluten and more recently grain-free so that I could also indulge. “If I’m going to all this trouble, Dad, I want to eat them, too!” Mom and I trekked to a number of natural food markets, searching for ANY and ALL tasty “legal” ingredients. By the third store, Mom asked, “What in the world do you plan on making with all this?” Shrugging my shoulders, I replied, “I have no idea, but I’m going to do my best to create something magical (a.k.a. ‘MORSELICIOUS‘) for Dad.”
After mixing countless batches, the first few, Dad literally spits out, we finally found a winner. Mom, my sister, and I devoured them and most importantly, Dad relished each morsel, exclaiming, “These are magic!” Translation: MORSELICIOUS! We shared some with our friends, and soon I was taking order requests.
Once I returned to L.A., where I had been acting full time, I found myself juggling an acting career as a micro-bakery business owner. I started getting countless requests from customers who wanted to be able to create their own healthy treats at home, so I began selling my Morselicious Mix along with 2 e-cookbooks. Just this month, May 2018, I launched my brand new grain-free, Paleo-friendly, vegan, gluten-free, low-carb, low-sugar (no added sugar-naturally occurring from the organic unsweetened coconut) low-sodium (no added sodium-also naturally occurring from the unsweetened organic coconut) no GMO’s, no preservatives, blend of almonds, organic coconut flour, organic unsweetened coconut, organic chia seeds and organic spices.
As I became more passionate and interested in all things food and nutrition, I attended and graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN) and became a Board Certified International Health Coach (AADP). I’ve written two cookbooks and continue to create recipes for companies, magazines, collective cookbooks and private clients, inspiring people to live and eat MORSELICIOUSLY healthy! It’s not about deprivation, it’s about having real, tasty, satisfying food. I advocate clean and green eating 85% of the time, allowing 15% wiggle room.
My 21-day detox incorporates exercise, social activities, and the things you love, it’s about the WHOLE picture. You can eat all the kale in the world and be a workaholic and less healthy than the person who eats greens with every meal while indulging now and then, living a fun-balanced life. Who do you think is the overall healthier person?
Has it been a smooth road?
Ha… Not at all. It’s been one heck of a roller coaster ride. Two steps forward, 4 steps back. Stumbles and falls along with exciting strides and wins. It seemed like I learned everything backwards. I had a business before I decided to start a business because people were already ordering and I kept saying, “I’m an actor, not a baker/Morselist.”
Until my sister, finally asked, “if someone else does this and succeeds, will you be upset you didn’t try?” That day I registered Mac-n-Mo’s, Inc. Everyday I seemed to learn yet another 3 letter code; UPC, SOS, NDA, MnM, FDA, INC, SKU, COD, POS… LOL.
Most people have a business plan in place with a strategy team before launching or multiple degrees in that field. I was learning by the seat of my pants or apron. I must give tremendous credit to my first mentor, Chef Larry Bressler, who ran the Chef’s Center in Pasadena and walked me through step-by-step what I needed to do get started, legally and professionally. He was a true champion and angel and was tragically killed a few years ago, but he inspired and helped many of us get started.
Day to day struggles include the cost of healthy, raw ingredients and the drought has increased the cost of almonds exponentially. Not to mention, when you are a micro-business, you don’t get the discounted bulk costs Big Pharma does, so it’s nearly impossible to compete with those brands. I say NEARLY impossible because my hero, Audrey Hepburn coined my favorite quote and guiding philosophy, “Impossible-the word itself says it; I’m possible.”
We’d love to hear more about your business.
After I started my all natural, grain-free, gluten-free, no sweeteners, low-carb, low-sugar, low-sodium (no sugars or sodium added, only natural occurring from the unsweetened coconut), vegan, no GMO’s, clean baking and cooking mix, I attended and graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.
I learned over 100 dietary theories and studied under some of the most incredible experts in the nutrition field. I’ve been hired to develop recipes for various companies and clients and have found my niche. I love working with individual clients as we reach their specific goals. Teaching interactive group workshops for kids and adults has been an amazing part of my business journey.
It’s fulfilling to inspire kids to get excited about tasting a rainbow of veggies by engaging, educating and encouraging them to ask questions. The most recent workshop I taught for Big Brothers Big Sisters was energized by a healthy competition, (pun intended) of the “Little’s” wanting to be the rainbow of veggie’s taste testers. You’d think I was handing out Halloween candy.
In all of my Health Coaching services, I practice what I teach and remind everyone that there is NO such thing as perfect. Even Mary Poppins was “PRACTICALLY perfect.” There is nothing like Mac-n-Mo’s or in the marketplace and I understand why. The raw ingredients are expensive and I don’t use any preservatives or fillers, not to mention I will not add anything to my products or create recipes I would not eat.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Los Angles is a great city for Mac-n-Mo’s and the Morselist because many people here crave cutting edge and tasty clean foods. However, I’ve discovered most people still crave and love sugar and gravitate towards the “health halo” foods, i.e. vegan junk food, gluten-free sugary snacks and treats, believing the front of the label, where the laws are less stringent and a marketer’s dream more than the back label, where the actual facts and nutritional panel is listed.
The proof is in the Morselicious pudding. Pun intended. California is also one of the most expensive states to run a small business, which is incredibly challenging. And I’m not joking when I say, “Mac-n-Mo’s is a micro-business on a path towards small business status.”
- Six (6) 10 oz. bags of Morselicious Mix $66
- Three (3) 10 oz. bags of Morselicious Mix $42
- One (1) 10 oz. bag of Morselicious Mix $15
- Website: macnmos.com
- Phone: 310-497-4100
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: instagram.com/macnmosmorsels
- Facebook: facebook.com/macnmos
- Twitter: twitter.com/macnmomorsels
- Other: mauramknowles.com