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Meet Rebecca: Jewish Swapples Maker of the Week

In preparation for the day you’ll be spending dreaming about food you are not consuming, we figured now is the perfect time to introduce you to DC’s resident Swapple maker. “What are Swapples? You may be asking. Swapples are like waffles, except healthy. They’re made entirely from Yucca root and use only whole fruits and vegetables. And, wait for it, delicious.

Founder, owner, and CEO Rebecca Peress is ready to share how she became a food innovator/business owner by age 23 and why she really might be a spy working for the CIA.

becca

Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Rebecca: I came to DC in 2010 to start undergrad at GW and never left. I thought I wanted to work for the CIA/FBI, so I came here for that. After an interview with the Secret Service for a summer internship, I almost got it and then they were like “no, sorry”. I didn’t have anything to do that summer, so I interned with a food/beverage director at a golf course and fell in love with food/hospitality and totally changed courses.

Allie: Hold up. You wanted to be in the CIA?

Rebecca: I wanted to serve the country. I’m also a true crime junkie. My cousins still think I am a secret agent and that Swapples is just a cover.

Allie: How did you come up with the idea for Swapples?

Rebecca: One Saturday when I was bored, I was messing around in my kitchen and put Yucca Root in my waffle iron. I wanted to see what would happen. I’ve been interested in nutrition since I took my first health class. I was having really bad blood sugar issues my senior year of college, and my doctor had me take out all sugar for an entire year. That was really hard. But that year changed my palette and brought to light how much bad stuff I was actually eating.

I started eating more plant-based and had taken out grain, but I wanted something crispy and bread-y.

Allie: What was the first flavor of Swapples you ever made?

Rebecca: The Everything Spice was my first flavor because I grew up with bagels in New York and missed them.

Allie: Who was your first customer?

Rebecca: I tell my former boss that Swapples would not exist if not for him asking for a bite of it one day and then telling me he would pay me for them! Then other people started ordering them, and I realized there was a market for this. I was 23. I had no boyfriend, no dog, not a lot of savings, I already worked like crazy so I didn’t really see my friends much. I had nothing to lose.

Allie: What’s the hardest part of starting and owning your own company?

Rebecca: There is no rule book for it. You’re figuring it out as you go. I am not a risk taker; I don’t like the uncertainty of it.

Allie: What’s the most rewarding part?

Rebecca: Being able to share them with people. Getting emails from people about how Swapples changed their life, or helped their gut issues, or how they finally have a gluten-free waffle they can eat with their family. That is why I do it.

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Allie: What’s your dream for the future of Swapples?

Rebecca: For it to go national. Then, I’d want to sell it to a larger company so it can be spread wider. If I can put something out in this world that makes it easier to eat whole foods and fruits and vegetables, I want to do that.

Allie: Favorite Swapples flavor?

Rebecca: Garlic and greens.

Allie: Do you serve Swapples at Jewish holiday meals?

Rebecca Swapples can be used in place of matzo because they’re kosher for Passover! I’ve also served them at Shabbats in place of challah, and at Hanukkah parties as latkes.

Allie: What advice do you have for someone dreaming of starting their own business?

Rebecca: Take care of yourself. I get eight hours of sleep every night and work out every day. Working out is so important to me.

Allie: What do you like about working out?

Rebecca: I like high intensity training (HiIT) workouts and boot camps. I like to be dripping in a pool of my own sweat. I don’t drink, smoke, or eat a ton of sugar, so working out is my release. If I don’t workout for more than two days in a row I go crazy. I’ll work out anywhere. Once, I was on a 14 hour plane to China and was going crazy so I started doing lunges, squats and pushups in the middle of the aisle. People were staring at me but I didn’t care it felt so good.

Allie: What’s something people might be surprised to find out about you?

Rebecca: I started dating my boyfriend after we talked at a OneTable Shabbat dinner.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Rebecca: They eat.

becca

 

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Spotted in Jewish DC – The EmporiYUM: Meet. Eat. Shop.

This week in #SpottedInJewishDC we checked out The EmporiYUM, a pop-up marketplace with over 100 vendors selling their best food products ranging from snacks, drinks, and even boozy ice cream! We went around with an empty stomach and an open mind, getting a taste of all the offerings and scoping out the local Jewish foodies sharing their products at the event.

With Hanukkah around the corner, we did your homework for you (you’re welcome) and have some great gift ideas for your fellow foodies. Dig in to meet some of these DC food scene changemakers, one full belly at a time!

Even if you didn’t make it to The EmporiYUM this year, don’t fret, just follow my pro-Hanukkah gifting tips to support your local Jewish foodie favorites and get some good eats along the way. You’ll be in foodie heaven, while giving the gift of eating locally made products that support the buzzing startup community here in DC.

 

NOSH BARWith “just the good stuff” inside, Nosh Bars are full of ingredients you can identify without pulling out your phone and turning to Google: nuts, fruit, oats, seeds, and spices. That’s it!

Keeping it simple is just what Nosh Bar’s owner, Michele, intended when she created them in her own home kitchen. Tired of being confused in the grocery store with all the various “health bar” products out there, she turned to the basics of eating simple foods full of clean ingredients. Her bars come in a variety of flavors, with the best-selling figstachio and something for the more adventurous with the goji berry bar (if you haven’t tried these berries yet, grab one – they are full of antioxidants and perfect for the winter sniffles). This was Michele’s first year at The EmporiYUM and she had lines throughout the whole event!

PRO-GIFT GIVING TIP: You can get some Nosh Bar products for your favorites online, and at local stores like TasteLab Marketplace, Steadfast Supply, and Reformation Fitness.

 

PRESCRIPTION CHICKENThe EmporiYUM was held outside on a chilly November day, so warm soup was just what we needed to keep up the energy. Luckily, the soup-slinging duo Prescription Chicken was on-site serving up shots of their chicken soup alongside mini challah braids.

This soup delivery service sends chicken soup out to cure whatever ails you, like the classic winter sniffles, to the hangover package that includes a turmeric spiced soup with a side of vitamins, tea and saltines. Started after co-founder Valerie Zweig had a rough battle with laryngitis where all she wanted was some good matzo ball soup, an idea was born and she recruited her cousin, Taryn Pellicone, to launch the business.  With the notion that soup infers comfort, their soup can be for those who are sick or just having a bad day.

PRO-GIFT GIVING TIP: Deliver a package of Grandma’s Famous Chicken Noodle Soup to those needing some extra love.

 

BUFFALO & BERGEN: Located steps from The EmporiYUM’s pop-up marketplace, Buffalo & Bergen brings the joys of New York soda shops to Washington, DC, giving a new spin on old classics.  With soda flavors ranging from Coca-Cola to Lemon Lavender to Carrot Marigold, Gina Chersevani’s mixology expertise adds an extra splash to these longtime favorites (you can also add a little booze if you choose)!

In addition to the expansive drink menu, Buffalo & Bergen serves up classic Jewish bites like knishes and bagels! Sourcing their water straight from New York, these bagels will have even the biggest critic coming back for more.

PRO-GIFT GIVING TIP: Treat your friends to brunch or cocktails at Buffalo & Bergen…or simply bring some bagels to your next Hanukkah shindig when everyone’s had enough latkes (is that a thing?!).

 

SWAPPLES: Frozen waffles are a staple in any millennial’s freezer, offering a quick breakfast option for our busy lives. Swapples provide a healthy alternative to the often sugar-loaded frozen waffle; entirely plant-based, these allergen-free waffles are made with yuca root, a starchy, nutritious tuber vegetable.

When owner Rebecca Peress was told by a doctor to cut out all sugar from her diet, she quickly felt limited by the options in her grocery store. She started making Swapples for herself, and once her co-workers kept requesting them, an idea for a business was born.

Swapples currently come in four flavors: Blueberry, Cinnamon, Tomato Pizza, and Everything (this one’s especially for bagel lovers). You can find them in grocery stores like Whole Foods, MOM’s Organic Market, and Glen’s Garden Market.

PRO-GIFT GIVING TIP: Grab a bag and try out this healthy, vegan alternative to your favorite waffle! Maybe even swap a Swapple for this year’s latkes – who knows, you may find a new holiday tradition.

 

 

 

 

About the Author: Judith  Rontal  is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you! Judith hails from wintry Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she grew up in a family that always managed to eat dinner together, even if that was at 10 pm. She’s continued that connection between food, family and culture in her blog, Aluminum Foiled Kitchen, and in her daily life in DC where she works in PR, focusing on media relations. When not in the kitchen working on a new recipe to serve at her next dinner party, you can find Judith sweating it out at yoga or running the Rock Creek Park trails. Follow her food adventures on Twitter and Instagram.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.