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San Clemente Journal

Vedder’s in Old Town, A Healthy Alternative to Traditional Sweets

Dec 07, 2021 09:10AM ● By Rebecca Parsons

The Vedder Family, (l to r): Eve, 13, Ashley & Justin (Owners), Hudson, 14, on the far right and Greyson, 7, down in the middle.

by Rebecca Parsons

Ashley Vedder has always gravitated towards a healthy lifestyle. But in 2014, when her husband Justin was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s, eating well became a top priority. The couple learned that a healthy diet could help slow the progression of the disease, so they quickly got to work trying to find a diet that worked well for them.

 

They began with a Whole 30 diet, which meant eliminating sugars, toxins, flours, and most dairy products. The goal of the diet was to reduce inflammation throughout the body. After more research, they decided that a vegan diet was best suited to their needs.

“Eating healthy is a great idea for everyone because it makes you happier to eat well,” says Vedder. “You feel so good when you take care of your body and put the right, clean foods into it. Then you do well each day.”

 

Most often, the Vedders begin their day with a smoothie or celery juice. Throughout the day, they snack on whole fruits, nuts, salads, beans, and healthy, gluten-free grains like quinoa, which is packed with protein. They typically round off their day eating brown rice pasta, with broccoli and a vegan cheesy sauce made from white beans and nutritional yeast, or a roasted veggie bowl with sautéed onion, garlic, thyme, mushrooms and spinach over quinoa. They find that eating real, nutritious foods helps them feel energized and they are much more productive. 
“It is very difficult if you are not prepared but it’s worth it because of how good you feel,” says Vedder. “We shifted our thinking, knowing that we better eat well for our bodies and minds in order to live longer, be around for our kids, and enjoy each day we have.”

 Two months into their Whole 30 stint, the Vedders decided to have a cheat day and took their kids out for frozen yogurt. The dairy, sugar, and artificial ingredients were a shock to their systems after eating so clean and they spent the night feeling sick and bloated. They longed for an ice cream that satisfied their sweet tooth while still remaining within the parameters of their diet. So, they set out to create one of their own.  

“I was trying to satisfy all of the cravings for the foods we used to eat,” says Vedder. “For example: pizza, packaged food, greasy food, dairy, gluten, flours, bad oils, sugars, and bad fats-really all of the junk food.”

Vedder began experimenting with different ingredients and recipes with the goal of creating a non-dairy ice cream made from real, nutritious ingredients. After testing different non-dairy milks and natural ingredients, she found that coconut milk was the best all around option. The sweeteners, however, tended to vary according to the particular flavor. For some flavors, she hit the nail on the head on the first try. For others, it took fifty attempts to get it right. 

In addition to healthy ice cream, aka “nice cream,” Vedder perfected nutritious cookies, cookie dough balls, gluten-free cones, ice cream sandwiches, and cookie cakes. On June 17, 2021, with an arsenal of nutritious sweets on offer, Vedder’s officially opened in Old Town San Clemente.
Vedder’s, strictly uses nutritious, organic ingredients. Those ingredients typically found in their treats include: organic vanilla Madagascar beans, coconut oils, coconut milk, coconut sugar, whole fresh dates, fresh fruits, spinach, vegan chocolate chips sweetened with coconut sugar, vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste, sea salt, coffee, cacao powder, coco powder, gluten-free oats, oat flour, peanut butter, almond flour, maple syrup, and ground cinnamon.

“We use whole foods and whole ingredients-they are not broken down like processed foods-so your body is getting whole nutrients from them,” says Vedder. “When you process a food down to nothing but a powdery substance, you are most likely not getting any nutritional value from it. Ingredients like dates, coconut sugar, and maple syrup are loaded with vitamins and minerals.”
The shop has options to dine in or take a pint, sandwich, or other goodies home. Popular “nice cream” flavors include mint chip, coconut macadamia, raspberry, strawberry, chocolate, and coffee. The Vedders’ personal favorites are their strawberry, vanilla, and coffee. 

Parkinson’s Disease is close to the Vedders’ hearts as Vedder’s husband, mom, and father-in-law were all diagnosed with the disease. They became part of the Michael J. Fox foundation in 2015 and hosted three fundraisers for Team Fox three years in a row. Hosting the events helped them to accept the diagnosis, meet others who were also battling Parkinson’s, swap stories and raise money to find a cure. A portion of the proceeds from their shop is donated to the Michael J. Fox foundation in hopes of helping others with Parkinson’s.

Packed with flavor, made with healthy ingredients, and supporting a good cause, Vedder’s is proof that you can have your cake and eat it too.

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