Archive / Taro Root

Welcome our newest family member FoodyDirect!

asulia blog foodydirect  partnership announcement

Starting today, you can order Asulia vegan and vegetarian dumplings online nationwide!

We’re excited to announce Asulia’s new partnership with FoodyDirect, the best mail order gourmet food company.

Everything seems available online, so what’s the big to do? Well first, shipping frozen anything comes with ridiculous shipping rates since it has to be 1 or 2 day air. I wanted to make sure we give our valued customers rates that make sense and partner with the best in the industry. For a low flat shipping rate of $9.95 or $24.95, you can get our shiitake kale, curry chickpea, and taro root dumplings sent straight to the comfort of your home.

We’ve joined a family of amazing specialty foods. Entertain like a pro and order for your next meal or party with foods your family and friends will love.

From Oprah’s favorite cookies to Emeril Lagasse deli favorites, and now Asulia’s healthy and delicious dumplings, FoodyDirect’s got you covered.

Have you signed up for e-news? Psst, subscribers will receive $10 off their first FoodyDirect order.


New digs at MassChallenge

Asulia blog new digs at masschallenge

We moved into our summer home at MassChallenge (MC) in the Innovation District a few weeks ago!  During the first week and a half at MC, we attended bootcamp sessions designed to fast track the learning process of this 4 month accelerator program, which is like a condensed version of business school.  We have the privilege of learning from some of the community’s most respected founders from companies such as Monster, Rue La La, Communispace, iRobot (Roomba, your pet’s BF), talented entrepreneurs on the MC staff, and many more.

Post bootcamp, we’ve been meeting more amazing people, hearing from speakers, and attending marketing, team culture, funding, workshops and more. There’s even happy hour once a week, but my favorite is the fizzy water we have on tap in the kitchen! Good thing we juice to keep energy levels up!  The support and community here is amazing. It’s an honor to come in each day and be surrounded by such awesome people. Although Asulia is one of only two food startups here, we all have something to contribute, despite our different industries.

We’ve also been busy redesigning the packaging for our kale, chickpea, and taro root fusion dumplings, expanding into more stores, and out in the community sharing lots of samples at events!

Details and info about free dumpling tastings and where we’ll be next are here.

Hope to see you soon!




Redesigning our retail boxes

asulia blog redesigning our retail boxes

It’s time to get out the crayons and markers! We’re redesigning our current Asulia fusion dumpling boxes to fit freezer shelves better and to better catch your attention.

Well not really, since we are ogling at designs online at The Dieline, in grocery stores, and more. I like to sketch out ideas in my little red moleskin notebook and work collaboratively with our designer to come up with new ideas.

While giving out samples of our fusion kale, chickpea, and taro root dumplings at events, I’ve gotten useful feedback about how our retail boxes look, and also more importantly how they make you feel upon first look. This is that it reminded you of another brand, it looked healthy, and simple.

In our initial foray into the world of packaging design, we strived to create a look that was clean, modern, simple, and something that fit in at natural and organic food stores. We accomplished the later so much that we’ve learned that our boxes don’t stand out!

So it’s time for change.

It feels a bit daunting to embark yet again into the world of packaging. Our current packaging may look simple, but it was a long process to get it from concept, to draft, to print.  There are a number of factors to consider when designing a consumer packaged goods product. For example, what message you’d like convey, how certain colors make you feel. With only a few seconds to make a great impression on the shelf, understanding who you’re shoppers are, their needs, and a bit of marketing psychology comes in handy.

Being in the freezer is also different than a product that’s on the regular shelf. You’re looking through pane of glass that can accumulate a bit of condensation at times from the freezer door opening and closing. The use of colors and images need to be adapted to this type of environment.

The first time we printed our retail boxes, there were a number of issues we didn’t catch before going to print. To fix this, I hand stickered labels on ALL the boxes. In fact, some boxes I’ve stickered twice, after finding out about another issue. I’m thankful my fellow food entrepreneurs advised me not to print a large run. This go around, I’m implementing a checklist along with multiple editors to look over everything before we go to print!

We’d love your feedback on our ideas. Stay tuned!


Asulia at Shark Tank Casting

asulia blog asulia shark tank casting

As an entrepreneur, I hear over and over, “you should go on Shark Tank”. I think there are a few reasons why I’m told this:

A) People know funding is important for any startup business.
B) People know I’m taking a big chance starting Asulia on my own without the assistance of any equity investors.
C) People love watching the show.

Looking back, I think if I didn’t bootstrap to launch, it would have taken much longer to go to market. Answering to someone else about your spending can make things complicated, to say the least. Funding may seem like the magic solution, but it’s not the end all be all. I feel that creativity, focus, determination, your ability to work with people, and having the right heart about why you’re doing what you do matter so much more than having a big bank account.

Frankly, until I heard the casting crew was coming to Boston, I’d never thought much about Shark Tank. You’re probably asking, what changed? As I continue to grow Asulia and meet new friends in this startup journey, I’ve connected with founders who have gone on the show. Their feedback over time has made me think twice about the opportunity to pitch to Shark Tank investors.

My mission with Asulia is to create delicious fusion veggie foods to help people eat healthier while supporting girls’ education. We’re a growing natural foods brand with big ambition and a lot of heart! For Asulia to have the impact I envision means growing, and that may mean finding the right investors to help me get there.

So, I decided to go to ABC’s Shark Tank Casting Call.

asulia blog asulia at shark tank casting

It started early in the morning. Asulia dumpling boxes and I stood in line for about 3 hours in 32 degree Fahrenheit weather outside in Central Square at Workbar. At about 9:30am, they announced wristbands would be handed out. Only the first 500 to get a wristband would get a chance to pitch to the casting team. Once I got my lucky number 71, I walked over to Life Alive to fuel up on vegetables before returning to pitch.

I grew up in Montana. I seldom ever meet anyone from MT so when Catrina Marsh, Associate Casting Producer told me she was  born in the town I was from, we were both in shock. It put me at ease to know she was from the same place. I gave it my all and felt good about 1 minute pitch.

At about 1 minute 18 seconds into this clip from WCVB, you can see me in action pitching to Catrina. The Boston Business Journal was also there capturing the day’s event. I’m on slide two, not my most flattering photo, but you get the point!

The casting call is just the first step of many to make it on the show. Will Asulia make it on Shark Tank? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest!



Asulia at Whole Foods Charles River Plaza

I love living in The Bean. One of the things that I love about Boston is how accessible everything is, including grocery shopping. Off the red line at MGH, Whole Foods Charles River Plaza is one of the best locations to get everything you need.

I’m ecstatic that Asulia’s taro root, kale and chick pea dumplings are now available in the freezer aisle at Charles River Plaza Whole Foods!

When I used to work in the financial district, I would walk to Whole Foods Charles River Plaza at lunch time to pick up lunch and or groceries for my newest kitchen adventure. It was a treat to get out and escape from work and the gym, where I was indoors in a basement doing yoga. A lovely, well-lit studio, but I preferred shopping and lunching at Whole Foods instead!

In the past, when I didn’t know what to do with my vegetable obsession (#vod), I’d go to my happy place — the produce section — for inspiration and dream of a day I could make a career in food. Well, I’m happy and humbled to see it come full circle.

Thank you for your continued support. We have added lots of new stores to the list and we have some fun event coming up. Come say hi!

Rooting for Taro Root

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Taro root at the market

Starches, we all love eating them, but is there something you can take root in that is actually better than the potato? One word, taro. This healthier starch has a glycemic index load of 18 with 3 times more fiber than a potato, 5 grams of dietary fiber per cup, and 187 calories.

Taro root has a slightly nutty taste and a creamy texture. Although it’s a bit higher in calories than a potato, it has more of the good stuff to make up for the extra digits.

I grew up eating taro as a savory main entree and as a dessert. Here’s a spin on an old classic using miso in place of a traditional fish paste. Switch up your meal planning today and give this braised miso taro recipe a go. Plus, it has the fermented goodness of miso.

asulia blog rooting for taro root 1

Taro ready eat!

Braised miso taro root recipe

  • 1 1/2 lbs taro root
  • 1 cup red miso
  • 1 julienned scallion
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 cup low sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Peel your taro root, using a kitchen towel to avoid touching the taro directly. Taro peel can be composted, but to my best knowledge, it’s not eaten. However, if you want to eat the skin, I’d suggest that you soak taro in water with a bit of vinegar to help get rid of any residue that may be on it.  Then cut it into large slivers about 1 inch thick. Place the soy sauce, garlic, and vegetable stock into a medium pot. Coat the taro root with the miso paste and add it in the pot. Bring the pot to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes until most of the vegetable stock is evaporated. Serve with fresh scallion and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil with a side of brown rice or quinoa and your favorite vegetable.

You can buy taro root at your local asian grocery store and most of the time Whole Foods Market will have taro as well. If not, you can always ask the store to carry taro.

If you leave room for dessert and have left over taro, steam it and blend it into a taro smoothie with coconut milk!

Not in the mood to cook? Find us in a store near you and enjoy our  taro root dumplings instead.

Sue’s top 5 picks from Expo West 2014

asulia blog sue's top 5 picks from expowest 2014 1

Outside of Expowest. Real Bird of Paradise flowers!

As I was approaching the convention center for Expo West, the Natural Products Expo, I couldn’t help but feel happy being in L.A. Sunshine, palm trees and healthy food and product heaven. If you shop at Whole Foods, Wegmans, or farmers’ markets, you know what I mean. I tasted and tried hundreds of tasty and innovative new products. I love my job.

World's largest cup of yogurt? People have meetings inside!

World’s largest cup of yogurt? People have meetings inside!

My top 5 picks from Expo West:

1. Byarozavik, birch tree water drink. Yup that’s right, water from a tree. It’s slightly sweet and unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. It a natural source of electrolytes and antioxidants. Move over coconut water?

2. Eco Nuts. Where have I been? These soap berries grow in the Himalayas. The nut inside is a natural laundry detergent. Simply put 4-5 nuts in a re-useable pouch and use it in place of your laundry detergent. It also acts like a natural fabric softener and is gentler on fibers. I can’t wait to do laundry!

3. Kind Snack’s newest savory bars. I absolutely loved the honey mustard flavor. It reminded me of the honey mustard pretzels I get on occasional road trips, but these are healthier.

4.  Belvoir Fruit Farms, elderflower drink. Delicious, clean, subtle fruity flavor. If you love St. Germain in cocktails like I do, you’ll love this.

5. Make a Stand. It’s lemonade, but not just that. It all began when Vienne, an 8 year old girl saw a photo of two kids in slavery. She setup a lemonade stand to raise money to help, not just for a few days, but for 365 days! This inspirational little girl has gotten help and now it’s bottled. It’s yummy and 5% of proceeds go towards NGO’s that help children. Similar to Asulia, they are a for-profit which allows them to run a business and grow better than a traditional non-profit model.

asulia blog sue's top 5 picks from expo west 2014 3

Thanks to air miles, I took an early morning flight to and red eye back to beantown. I was able to attend and support current and new food friends. There’s an instant camaraderie between entrepreneurs because we know first hand the ups and downs of what it’s like. The lack of sleep, wondering if you’re ever doing enough, managing limited resources, the joy of seeing what you made out in the market, and more. I left the expo encouraged by the friends I chatted with. Their words of support and advice remind me, I’m not alone.

Try something new today. Blend a taro root smoothie!

Happy Chinese New Year!

Eating dumplings, as well as wearing the color red, for Chinese New Year represents good luck.

Dumplings signify family reunions and are a traditional New Year’s Eve food. When folded in a crescent-shape, they symbolize wealth because they look like gold ingots.

My family and I always celebrate with dumplings, taro root dishes, and other traditional foods like noodles. If you’re not married, you get a traditional red envelope with money inside from family and friends.

Wishing you a Happy Chinese New Year from Asulia! Hope to see you at an event soon.