Purveyors: SunDream’s Dehydrated Raw Snacks Are an Ode to the Grateful DeadMarch 8, 2017
‘Going where the wind goes,’ or rather, where The Grateful Dead went, Imee Contreras is an admitted hippie and deadhead who followed The Grateful Dead back in her younger years, saw Jerry Garcia’s last show, and caught the reunion (and first time the group played together under The Grateful Dead since Garcia’s passing) 2 years ago in California for their Fare Thee Well tour. All smiles as she glows about her favorite band of all time, Contreras tells us ‘Sunshine Daydream’ is a phrase in her favorite Grateful Dead song Sugar Magnolia (released in 1970), from which she took the name for her raw food brand.
Wearing a knit cardigan that reaches her knees and sitting at the table with her room-temperature water in a reusable container, Contreras talks to us about she got involved with the local raw food movement out of a concern for her health, and the health of her 2 children. Because her snacks aren’t subjected to heat, the nutrition is preserved, making SunDream the, er, snack dream of her many fitness buff fans including marathon runners, surfers and yogis. A yoga teacher herself, Contreras has long been mindful of the food that she puts in her body and understands the struggles that like-minded people face in the lack of accessibility to ready-to-eat healthy snacks that give you energy and nutrients.
SunDream offers a number of dehydrated snacks including Pineapple Honeez, Mango Mama, Going Bananas, and Green Smoothie Chewies (made from a combination of greens and fruits). Unadulterated by refined sugar and preservatives, and all lovingly homemade, SunDream products last up to 6 months in the sealed packaging, and taste pure, wholesome, and heavenly in their true-to-taste form that celebrates our local fruits and the natural flavors they have to offer.
The Green Smoothie Chewies (which are how we imagine Fruit Roll-Ups should be if they were made from grown food), was developed in response to a personal need. “I usually have green smoothies in the morning and when I realized that I was going to be away from my Vitamix for 2 months,” Contreras explains, as she was headed to India for an advance course in yoga teacher training and yoga therapy, “I decided to dehydrate the green smoothies, and that’s how I came up with the product.” Since its inception in 2013, the Green Smoothie Chewies—with their remarkably delightful chewy texture and multiple complementary flavors—have become a mainstay in SunDream’s offerings and their most popular snack.
“Along with the dehydrated snacks, I have a water kefir beverage—it’s a bubbly drink that is also flavored with berries. Another product that is made with the water kefir is our probiotic vinegar, which is flavored with herbs from my organic garden.” She also sells homemade salad dressing, pasta sauce, and green smoothies from her home, the latter being the first product SunDream ever offered. For years, she has been running an advocacy to promote healthy eating in the kindergarten of her children’s school. “At first [the kids] didn’t want to get anywhere near it, but the ones who were most resistant were the ones who ended up asking for more!” she laughs. Ever since it started in 2011, Contreras brings the kindergarten classes green smoothies once a week for the school children to enjoy during their snack time.
While Contreras sources as much of her products locally and supports local fruit farmers in her area, she actually grows the herbs in her own backyard, and refers to her garden and its “incredible abundance” as the inspiration for making and sharing her raw homemade snacks through SunDream. “I [originally] started [the garden] just to provide something for my children, for my family, and when you put some love and care into what you’re doing, it starts to really thrive,” she says with genuine gratefulness and joy.
In true flower-power fashion, when asked what’s next for SunDream, Contreras says that the brand has been guiding her more than she has been guiding it. And as seems characteristic of this free spirit, she’ll go where the music takes her and enjoy the ride.
SunDream is a Sta. Rosa-based raw food brand that offers dehydrated snacks, homemade pasta sauces and salad dressings, green smoothies, probiotic vinegar, and water kefir.