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DeRusha Eats: Way Better Snacks

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(credit: CBS) Jason DeRusha
Jason DeRusha filed his first report for WCCO-TV on April Fool's D...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — With names like “Naked Blues,” “Sweet Potato” and “Simply Sriracha,” the chips of Way Better Snacks are way different from anything you’ve tried before.

Jim Breen graduated high school and college in the Twin Cities, worked on the East Coast for food companies and is now growing his own food brand in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis.

“We launched … two-and-a-half-years ago, we got picked up by very fortunately by Whole Foods nationally before we even made a case of product,” Breen said.

Way Better uses sprouted seeds. Basically, your average seed has a shell.

“The nutrients are not as easily absorbed and they’re hard to digest. People know, for instance, think beans are nutritious,” he said. “But what they don’t know is that the nutrient absorption is poor.”

By sprouting the seeds, you grow them just a little bit. Breen says sprouting changes the flavor a little bit, making most taste slightly sweeter.

Some chips have flax seed or quinoa seeds, while others have kale or radish.

“The daikon radish, for example, or broccoli or kale seeds, have kind of a radishy kind of taste to it. It does come through the chip a bit,” he said. “Flax seed and chia seed are a bit more nutty.”

The company was launched in New York, but Breen brought it home for his family and for his business.

“The Twin Cities are very rich in food manufacturing, even natural foods now much more so than people may realize because of the Pillsbury, General Mills piece,” Breen said.

The chips are in Whole Foods, but they’re also in every Twin Cities co-op, grocery store and even Target.

“This is a terrific market to start a natural food company or just to be in the food industry,” he said.

They’re certified gluten-free and contain no genetically-modified organisms – which are two elements that are hot right now in the food world. But still, these are chips.

“The difference is these are not empty calories,” he said. “These are nutritionally-dense calories, which is important. If you’re gonna eat something, you might as well get the nutritional benefit from that.”

Way Better Snacks just launched a line of pita chips, which are also gluten free, GMO free and made with sprouted seeds.

Breen’s products can now be found in 15,000 stores.

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