Alana Elliott is the founder of Libre Naturals, previously known as Nonuttin’ Foods. To understand why she started these companies and the passion that drives her, you need to know a bit about her background.
Born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, to an elementary school teaching mother and a former air force pilot/entrepreneurial father, Alana was a happy kid who loved school, sports, drama and friends. A diagnosis of asthma at the age of 6 months led to hospitalizations and medications over the years but her fighting spirit didn’t let that hold her back from playing every sport offered to girls at the time.
Throughout her teen years, she was an avid cook and baker and she got lots of time to practice on her family since her parents both worked. Alana was also a champion of the underdog. When allergies (and her parents) held her back from bringing home animals, she moved on to nurturing classmates who didn’t fit in for various reasons.
Her childhood inspired her to get her Education degree to share her love of learning and help make others’ lives better. It was all great training for what was to come.
The Allergy Family
In 1992, Alana married Rob Elliott and had 2 beautiful baby girls in 1995 and 1996. With Rob’s food allergies to shrimp and clams and Alana’s animal and environmental allergies plus asthma, the chances of having food allergic children were greater than average.
Sarah, born in 1995, was allergic to dairy and Alana adjusted her cooking habits accordingly. Luckily, Sarah outgrew that allergy at the age of 1.
Megan followed 19 months after Sarah and was also allergic to dairy which she outgrew. But just as she outgrew that, she had a severe reaction to her first taste of peanut butter. That was followed by reactions to kiwi and chickpeas and an allergy test diagnosis for almonds. None of those allergies have been outgrown to date.
Like many allergy moms, Alana felt a great deal of stress in the knowledge that what she fed her family had the ability to keep them healthy but also the potential to kill. Rather than let that stress dominate, she decided to turn it into a positive.
Armed with the knowledge that she wanted to make life better for families just like hers, Alana identified one product that her family could never eat safely; granola bars. When she told Rob in 2002 that she wanted to start a granola bar company, he wondered where to start. Alana didn’t know either but she was determined to make it happen.
What followed was almost 2 years of product development with untold numbers of experimental batches followed by taste testing. No family members were immune and Alana was known to corner couriers and book club members for feedback. Eventually, when the winning recipe was taken to the University of British Columbia for shelf life testing – it didn’t work! After 6 months, with the help of UBC’s food science department, delicious, healthy and shelf stable granola bars were achieved.
In August 2004, the first 3 granola bar flavours were brought to market under the name Nonuttin’ Foods: raisin, chocolate chip and apple cinnamon. Over the years, additional products were developed including granolas, trail mixes and oatmeal cups. In 2005, Nonuttin’ Foods became certified Kosher. In 2007, Nonuttin’ Foods was the first to begin making granola products with pure oats and got gluten free certification in the USA in 2010. After going soy free in June 2012, all products are now manufactured in a dedicated facility that is free of the top 11 food allergens, preservatives, colours, artificial flavours and GMOs.
In May 2012, Alana created the company Libre Naturals as the next step in building a family of natural, allergy friendly and gluten free brands that provide solutions to the growing epidemic of food related immune diseases. Nonuttin’ products continue as a brand within the Libre Naturals family.
Libre Naturals continues to be owned by the Elliott family who have a wonderful crew of dedicated staff who believe in Alana’s original vision to help families just like hers.