As the low FODMAP diet becomes more and more popular, those of us following the diet are the lucky recipients of new products coming to market. When we first begin the diet and learn that garlic and onion are high in fructans and are off limits, panic can set in. We hear all the time that folks assume that the diet is going to be bland and boring. And that’s where Smoke ‘n Sanity products step in.
The Smoke ‘n Sanity company is made up of Travis and Lori Aldridge, and Brad and Michelle Freund. The couples met over their love of barbecue and great food. We have been working with their products in the FODMAP Everyday® Test Kitchen and thought it was time to get to know their product line and the folks behind these easy-to-use spices and flavorings.
Dédé Wilson: Welcome! I am thrilled to be finally talking to you, having been using the products for a while. I want all our fellow FODMAPers to know about what you all are cooking up to make our low FODMAP lifestyle easier and tastier. Everyone loves a good origination story. Tell us how you all met.
Michelle Freund: Brad and I met Lori and Travis in 2010 during a group camping event. Our camping group events can consist of over 60 people. While Travis and Lori had camped with this group previously, it was the first time Brad and I attended. Meeting that many people in one weekend can be a challenge to really get to know everyone and develop friendships. Brad & Travis gravitated towards each other with their shared love of all things BBQ and grilling.
Over the course of group camping trips that occurred after our initial introduction to each other, Brad and Travis continued to develop a special bond over their love of BBQ, and their desire to share their craft with everyone. They would often be the ones to smoke the meat for the potluck dinners.
This bond between Brad and Travis naturally became a very close friendship with the four of us. Lori and I often joke that our husbands “share a brain”, as they are like twins separated at birth with how similar they are, even to the point of finishing each other’s thoughts, and wearing the same shirts without communicating with each other first.
And then in 2014 Lori began experiencing digestive issues, discovered the low FODMAP diet and that created a reason for you all to pivot your approach to seasoning.
Lori, how did you discover the diet and then tell us what you did next with your cooking approach.
Lori Aldridge: I was incredibly lucky to have a gastroenterologist working side-by-side with a Registered Dietitian who uses the low FODMAP diet herself. She walked me through the diet and made it extremely easy for me to follow and figure out what my triggers are with food. To my utter dismay I am intolerant to mannitol, sorbitol, GOS, and fructans. My favorites and go to seasonings, onion and garlic, are a huge no-no for me.
Once I started the low FODMAP diet our life changed with us cooking two meals, one for me and one for the rest of the family. As everyone knows this is exhausting, time consuming and expensive. Once we started developing our seasonings things got easier with our cooking. Now we are making meals everyone enjoys and can tolerate.
You have been on a fast track! Smoke ‘n Sanity was formed in 2015 and you had a built-in eco-system of taste testers offering feedback.
Talk about your competition teams and how that all works, including telling us about your awards!
Travis Aldridge: We started as a competition BBQ team in 2015 and quickly moved into the KCBS (Kansas City Barbeque Society) competitions. We had several people mentor us throughout our first couple of years and everyone had the same advice – you must use commercially produced rubs and seasonings in order to do well.
We tried a couple competitions with store bought seasonings and did well enough, but Lori was unable to taste or eat any of our products.
Then in 2018 we all made the decision to start competing with our seasonings so Lori could enjoy them, and we could get real life feedback on our creations. We garnered numerous top ten awards with our SNS Triple S All Purpose Seasoning and even tied for first place in a rib competition using our Sweet Maple Dust! (Lemon Pepper, Cajun Creole and Sweet Maple Dust are on their way!)
2019 was a big year for you. You state quite directly on your website that your goal is simply to bring flavor back to the low FODMAP life.
Tell us about how you launched the product line, where it stands now, and your plans for future products, if you can. And tell us how you decided to put your products though Monash University product certification.
Travis Aldridge: One thing we learned very quickly after Lori went on the low FODMAP diet, preparing meals is hard. We routinely made one meal for Lori and one for the rest of the family. The driving force behind why we started selling seasonings was to help people. Everyone should be able to make one meal that is appropriate for the low FODMAP person but is tasty, so no one feels like they are giving anything up.
Every seasoning is built from the ground up; we’re not just taking recipes and eliminating onion and garlic to make them low FODMAP compliant. Everything we make has a rich full bodied flavor profile that tastes great.
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Brad Freund: We have 6 to 10 more seasonings in planning and development along with another 3 to 4 products that are new for the market. We are also starting down the path of getting some of our competition BBQ sauces made and bottled for even more flavor options. Like with the Supper Club Ranch seasoning, where we go beyond that is somewhat up to our customers. We will see what types of products our customer base wants and need.
Lori Aldridge: There was never a decision on whether to certify our products with Monash University. Their program gave me and our family our lives back so we support their program 100%; we have no plans to offer products that can’t be Monash Certified Low FODMAP.
Do you each have a favorite product? Tell us! And what are your favorite ways to use them?
Lori Aldridge: Essence of Garlic Salt is my favorite. I have missed the flavor of garlic for five years. Now this is my go-to seasoning. I love to have this on buttered toast and I now eliminate the salt in recipes and replace with the Essence of Garlic Salt to add that garlicky flavor back into my cooking. It really is hard to pick one since I love all our seasonings. We truly believe that if we all don’t love the seasoning, we just won’t bring it to market.
Travis Aldridge: Definitely SPG (flavors of salt, pepper and garlic). Growing up my family used a simple all-purpose seasoning from Morton. The SPG reminds me a little bit of that but it goes so much further. There isn’t anything I have used it on that it didn’t work with. The rich buttery flavor just makes everything better.
Michelle Freund: It’s so hard to choose just one, I love them all. But if I had to choose a favorite, right now it would be Garlic Parmesan. In a very close second would be the Sweet Maple Dust. Garlic Parmesan is great on rice, shrimp, chicken (especially chicken wings), buttered noodles, and even sprinkled on toast. The possibilities are endless!
Brad Freund: This right now this is an extremely hard question. If you were to ask me this six months ago it would have been easier. With many of our seasonings now coming online and more in the works it’s almost like picking your favorite child over another. I would have to say my first choice would be our Sweet Maple Dust. Sweet Maple Dust is awesome on chicken, ribs and salmon.
Did any product surprise you? Both from the perspective of how popular it is with the public, and also maybe how much you grew to love it?
Brad Freund: Ranch! We never even thought about doing a ranch seasoning until we asked some Facebook Groups for the low FODMAP diet we are members of what seasonings are missing from the market that they would like us to work on. Hands down the number one request was Ranch. It is something we never would have thought about offering but you need to listen to your consumer base.
Explain to those who are not familiar with your products what they are getting – like your easy-to-use shaker bottles, shelf-life, etc. Talk a little about the sizes of the products – and how real fans can buy in bulk.
Michelle Freund: Our product offerings are all available in a small shaker with a combination cover to allow for easy shaking or using a measuring spoon. Most of our spices are available in a large shaker with the same combination cover. All our spices are also available for bulk purchase in either a one-pound or two-pound bag that can be used in your own container or as a refill. We decided to have bulk bags to not only be environmentally conscious but also help lower the cost of seasonings.
If someone is going to make a first purchase, what do you suggest they try as an introduction to your seasonings?
Lori Aldridge: It’s really tough to decide since we have so many different flavors, but if you miss garlic and onion flavors as we did, the Essence of Garlic Salt and Essence of Onion Salt are definite winners. To have garlic and onion back in your diet is truly life-changing! These products give you the natural flavors without the FODMAPs. So, you can once again enjoy the garlic and onion flavors you thought were gone forever.
Travis, Lori , Michelle and Brad, thank you so much for talking with us and especially for working so hard at bringing all of us FODMAPers the flavor we crave.
If you live in Australia, New Zealand or the South Pacific Region, Smoke ‘n Sanity can be purchased through FODShopper.