Saturday, January 28, 2023

Local family improving America’s gut health — one frozen yogurt cup at a time

Chris and Kristin Harlander know a good idea when they see it. The bonus is that they were the ones who thought of it first.

The Harlanders started a frozen yogurt company called Mixmi Frozen Yogurt 12 years ago and promoted it as a healthy and delicious alternative to ice cream. Kristin, an accomplished food scientist, even developed the recipe from scratch — a mix of probiotics with prebiotic fiber that supports gut health and is only 90-120 calories per serving.

Together, they sold Mixmi solely to school food service directors as a USDA Smart Snack that kids would actually eat. Fast forward to today, and business is great. Kids in lunch lines nationwide have already enjoyed over 7 million cups and are clamoring for more.

But now they’ve relocated their operations to Texas to flip the retail game on its head — one frozen yogurt cup at a time.

Mixmi Frozen Yogurt can be found at local Kroger grocery stores. (Photo by Lynn Seeden/Seeden Photography)

“Mixmi Frozen Yogurt is a one-of-a-kind dessert you will love and that will love you back,” Chris said. Mixmi can be found in grocery chains locally and nationwide, including HEB and Kroger. “We were the first to market, and we hope this is the beginning of a really big wave. You can have this for dessert instead of cookies or high-fat ice cream and actually do something better for yourself.”

Kristin agreed, adding that a happy gut is super vital to being a happy person.

Gut health is a buzzword in the health and wellness space and the food industry. Scientific studies have documented benefits such as improved sleep, reduced anxiety, blood glucose control, weight management, bone and cardiovascular health, and more. The problem is that probiotics and prebiotic fiber are woefully absent in an American diet dominated by excess sugars, saturated fat, and other harmful products. Even if healthy ingredients are accessible, it isn’t easy to get people to eat enough fiber and calcium regularly.

“Another thing I like about Mixmi is the portion control. You get four fluid ounces, and that’s 90 calories,” Kristin said. “I know I’m getting a satisfying snack in a single cup. It tastes amazing, and I’m controlling my calories and getting the fiber and probiotics my body needs.”

The Harlanders believe in snacking with a purpose rather than consuming empty calories. And that’s music to the ears of Denton County residents who just wrapped up another indulgences-filled holiday season and have plans to start 2023 with a healthier purpose. But that doesn’t mean they want to skip dessert. Mixmi is a premium frozen yogurt that satisfies that craving while simultaneously being a source of prebiotic fiber and billions of the finest live and active cultures to aid digestion and support gut health.

Mixmi comes in flavors like Ultimate Chocolate, Orange Dream, and Mas Mango and is sold in four packs. Locally, they can be found at the Kroger locations at 2709 Cross Timbers Road in Flower Mound and 3400 FM 407 in Lantana Town Center. Starting in March, the plan is to begin offering pints in Walmart stores nationwide.

“The response has been great, and we know people are happy because several flavors keep selling out,” Chris said with a laugh.

The Harlander family as a whole has always been committed to turning the tide toward healthy living. Kristin graduated from the University of Minnesota with a food science degree. Chris and Kristin’s parents were professors there and are also accomplished food scientists, with Kristin’s father being a world-renowned flavor chemist who acts as their taste tester.

Chris and Kristin’s oldest son, Axl, also graduated with a degree in food science.

Almost 12 years ago, their boys were in middle school, and Kristin began thinking of ways to introduce healthier ingredients into foods kids enjoyed. This included ice cream, which typically had carrageenan (a common food additive extracted from red seaweed) and high fructose corn syrup as its stabilizer. Kristin heard about replacing those stabilizers with a functional ingredient like dietary fiber and added probiotics to create a powerful combination. She quickly got to work creating a healthy, indulgent cultured treat with the taste and texture of ice cream.

They succeeded and are growing in ways they never thought possible. One of their cultures is Bifidobacterium BB-12, which has been investigated in numerous human clinical studies and is associated with digestive and immune health. Mixmi is slowly cultured, and there are over a billion probiotics in each serving cup. Furthermore, it’s put through a fast-freeze process, creating small ice crystals that give it a creamier texture.

“We started getting calls from parents, and your first reaction is, ‘Uh-oh,'” Chris said. “But it was always good news. We did the research — we know it’s healthy, and kids eat it. If kids like it, then parents like it. Their kids loved Mixmi, and parents wanted to offer it at home, which launched our push to retail.”

Clearly, the Harlanders have their pulse on healthier food choices — and Mixmi is resetting the bar at every turn.

To learn more about Mixmi Frozen Yogurt, visit mixmifrozenyogurt.com.

 

(Sponsored content)

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