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Ed O’keefe is the Founder of Wake Foods, a company that produces 100% plant-based, allergen-free food waffles that both kids and adults cannot help but love. The company intends to revolutionize the way we see snacks so that not only are you able to enjoy a guilt-free snack, you’re also able to give your body lasting energy with zero crashes and zero sugar.


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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Ed O’keefe recalls what it was like growing up in a big family and how it inspired Wake Up Foods
  • The benefits of the ingredients that make up Wake Up Food’s ready-to-eat waffles
  • How Ed’s mornings look like raising seven kids 
  • The idea behind the Wakeup Foods brand and its mission 
  • Ed talks about how he met Jesse Itzler and Chef Erik Walum, and their contributions to Wake Up Foods brand
  • Ed shares why he decided to go with a ready-made waffles
  • People and knowledge resources that influenced Ed

In this episode…

Having grown up in a big family and having a big family of his own, it would have been easy for Ed O’keefe to just fall into the trap of just giving kids what’s available. But he wanted his kids to enjoy food that didn’t just taste good, he wanted them to enjoy food that offered health benefits as well and that’s why he came up with Wake Up Foods.

Ed O’keefe is the Founder of Wake Up Foods, a company that produces 100% plant-based, allergen-free waffles that sacrificed neither taste nor health benefits.

Tune in to this episode of InspiredInsider where host Dr. Jeremy Weisz talks to Ed about his life growing up in a big family and his life now as a father to seven kids. Ed shares what prompted him to create Wake Up Foods, what sets his products apart from other food items, and the people who helped shape and influence the way he saw food and the need to have healthy options.

Resources Mentioned on this episode

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Episode Transcript

Intro: 0:15
You are listening to Inspired insider with your host Dr. Jeremy wise.

Jeremy Weisz 0:22
Dr. Jeremy Weisz here founder where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders like the founders of p90x Tony Horton, Baby Einstein founder, Toby Clark, Atari founder and many, many more and how they overcome big challenges in life in business. Today’s episode I’m gonna, this is gonna be a little bit different episode Actually, today. I had an amazing entrepreneur, and he actually invited me to interview him for his podcast and it was so good. I said, Can you please let me release this on mine. Today’s episode is brought to you by Rise25, which I co-founded with my business partner, John Corcoran at Rice Tony We help b2b businesses connect their dream 100 clients and referral partners and we help you run your podcast so generates ROI. You know as people listen, if you listen to this before podcasting is much more personal to me and it was inspired by my grandfather who was a Holocaust survivor and he and his brother were concentration camps in Nazi Germany were the only members to survive but his legacy lives on because the whole cost foundation did an interview with him which you can watch on my about page. So yes, podcasting will help your business it’s been the best thing for my business in my life in general, but it helps you and your guests leave a legacy. So if you have questions I believe in any business should have a podcast so if you have questions, you can email us support at Rise25 or learn more go to John and I made a video and we even left in the outtakes so now check out today’s episode.

Ed O’keefe 1:55
Hey everybody, it’s Ed O’Keefe here your host to the Wake-up Minute and founder of wake up food Where you’ll hear from the world’s top experts, thought leaders and health, entrepreneurship, and mind-bending athletes of all ages, to inspire you to be your best self every single day. I’m super excited because I have a good friend of mine, Dr. Jeremy Weiss here who’s done thousands of interviews with successful health experts and leaders and leaders in entrepreneurship and CEOs. So today’s one of those episodes where we’re flipping the script, and he will be interviewing me, so I’m super excited because I love talking not only about what we do, but also about our mission about whatever questions Jeremy’s gonna ask me. Now, before we get started, I want to tell you real quick Today’s episode is brought to you by my company that I’m so proud of wakeup foods. Um, let me tell you a little bit about this wake up foods was born out of necessity. My wife and I have seven kids and as many of you may or may not know, I’m a 12 Have 13 kids. So the idea of having healthy clean foods that also taste great was not even on our radar was on option growing up. And so I wanted something that was not only healthy for my family, but also for myself as an adult athlete who wants to live long live well. Um, but the fact is, it has to taste great, or else my kids wouldn’t need it. And I knew wouldn’t be something that we could make available to everybody. So I created 100% plant-based allergen-free food brand called wake up foods. Um, our most popular products are ready to eat waffles and I have some hair today that I’m gonna be eating on the interview. Because I’m so proud of them. But anyhow, my family and I can’t go a day without eating at least four of them personally, they’re that good. We have chocolate Maple blueberry, original, the original waffles, and then there’s always a mystery waffle Jeremy I’ve never I don’t even know if you knew this. I did not ask People to buy we have a mystery waffle. That is a mystery flavor. The only time you can purchase it is after you buy any of our other flavors. With only nine or less ingredients made with oats, chia, flax day powder, pea protein, you’re getting real fuel for the day zero crashes, zero refined sugar or ingredients. And most importantly, for sustainability or staying on anything. It tastes unbelievable. I recruited a world-class chef, we’ll talk a little bit about today chef eric is 100% plant-based who is on a mission to help families and kids eat healthier. And I want to add actually, he’s also an athlete. So he was he would do 100 mile bike races. So he built the nutrient profile to fit endurance athletes as well as actually any kind of athlete um, but one of his big missions was that he had has a child with a food allergy. So going plant-based is phenomenal. All not only for you, but also for the planet. And by the way, let me just say to us because you don’t have to be 100% plant-based to love wake up waffles. I’m not 100% but plant-based. We like to say we’re plant-focused. Um, but anyhow because of all the food allergies and health issues it was mandatory for us to create products free of gluten, soy, dairy. We eggs I’m trying to see if I’m missing anything but anyhow, as a wakeup minute listener, I highly suggest you stop by our website, Wakeup foods back this time a 12th waffle. Yeah, I know right. And pick up a few cases of the waffles. Um, my favorites. You asked why I love the chocolate. I love the blue but blueberry and yes, the maple and the original as well as the mystery flavor. I love them all. I can’t get enough of any of them. I’m sorry. So you can go to use the coupon code. Wake up. Wake up w AK he up to save an extra 10% on your order today, we have 100% You can’t just eat one guarantee, which means if you are not totally obsessed after you buy it, you love it. we’ll refund you I asked is that if you don’t love it, share it with somebody that will and that’s it go to Wakeup foods today. All right, so let’s dive in. I’m gonna flip the script and I’m gonna pass the microphone over to you, Jeremy. Thanks for having me. And

Jeremy Weisz 6:32
You know, I’m gonna have you talk about the mission and why you created this. But you mentioned something in the beginning that about growing up and one of 13 kids and that this was not an option at that point. So what were the options? What was that was a morning like in they’ll keep household with kids running around?

Ed O’keefe 6:57
Yeah, I mean, I was on the bottom side of it. First of all, so I was about 12 or 13.

So kids running around is probably more in my mind, like when I think of my childhood, kids running around as a little more well-characterized for like, my existing life, right? getting kids out of the house today. I’m as sick as I was. So I was in Lauren. So like, my oldest siblings, were already out of the house, you know, even had real families. I went to college with my niece, my niece, you know, one of my best friends. But, um, I mean, I think it was just really typical of a lot of other families from the perspective of, at least my I mean, that I know, I mean, I live on the south side, Chicago, um, and, you know, we’re just like all families where you eat what your options are, which were, you know, Lucky Charms cocoapods tricks. And that’s what we knew. And frankly, that’s actually what I would say most people know, right? Um, and but I would say from the perspective of Health as we look at, like the health per, like, education and IQ level, whatever you want to say is like, you know, um, you know, my dad was, was an electrician, right? retired an electrician

A good workweek was he worked 40 hours, so that he had the opportunity to have overtime, you know, like, if work was good when he had overtime, and you got paid time and a half and so that’s kind of a lot of my brothers same way. You know, the hardworking man blue-collar mentality was my household. So the idea of what is healthy foods What are allergen-free foods, by the way, weren’t as important back then because of you know, the pesticides, that’s, you know, and the destruction of our soil, which is a different topic. We can talk about that later if you want. But, um, you know, I think the way people stayed healthy and last week In our ecosystem or way of thinking, was restriction of calories we’re kind of fad diets were eat less, is it fat-free? Like that was more than mentality growing up, you know, and the availability of anything like Whole Foods or any of those ideas of organic
you know, gluten-free that it wasn’t even in existence.

Jeremy Weisz 9:25
Yeah, you really

Ed O’keefe 9:27
Didn’t really it wasn’t even really necessary as it as it is today, you know, for a whole host of reasons

Jeremy Weisz 9:34
it wasn’t popularized. Yeah.

Ed O’keefe 9:36
Yeah, but also to like if you’ve done the read, like if you read about like the destruction of the soil and utilizing is a glide. I always screw this word up, but it’s like the key ingredient in roundup means glide phosphate or something like that. factors. Zack Bush has really shone a spotlight on how it by using these chemicals on the soil of our crops and in our for our farms, it actually acted as an accelerant to gluten. And so, you know we human beings overall have been capable of evolving with, you know like say something like gluten to where we could adapt along with it. But then when you add these accelerants on it now gluten is a much more powerful allergen I guess you might just say or, you know, something that your attempt inside the body so that the amount of people probably I think after like 1992 could have started before that. Um, I don’t want to talk too far over my skis because there are experts in this that are much more qualified than I am. But just to give everybody a one on one picture of it now said in the percentage of the population that has gluten intolerance It just gets exacerbated, you know. And I don’t know if we took a left or right turn there. But um, none of those things were on our radars kit or as kids and then even as like a couple man, I mean, like growing families, I think we know and I probably represent the majority of typical households where we’re both collegiate athletes, we have the best of intentions of you know, preparing and filling our pantry with better foods than we had as kids. And then, you know, if you actually look at what’s available, what’s ready to eat and who’s winning that battle, and how quickly kids get introduced to sugars, the necessity to create a product that tastes super good, as well as Super nutritional and hopefully lifelong habits for everybody listening to this, um, you know, it’s really something that is born out of necessity and you know, I think most families, the parents Guilt things very, very real. You know. And, you know, we were interviewing when we’re talking to Noah, like, there are so many times where like, you know, you’re at a store, you’re buying what’s convenient, easy, and the guilt is there. So the first thing I want to say everybody listening is I’m the number one way to stop, you know, whether it’s losing weight, whether it’s being healthier, you stop feeling guilty about things and just get proactive on things. And so wake up foods was a byproduct of getting proactive instead of sitting there and trying to change habits, let’s say, you know,

Jeremy Weisz 12:39
Yeah, I mean, you’re if you want to anyone who’s watching the video if you want to hold up and describe what you have there because here’s the reality. Don’t keep doing it again.

Ed O’keefe 12:50
Yeah, Jeremy’s call me out. So like, right, he called me and I was like, I was literally getting done from working out. Oh, my God, I’m starving. Let me go heat up a waffle and so I just heated up one of our chocolate waffle pool organic date, syrup on it, and then just a little bit of banana. And you know like each serving other waffles gives you 10 grams protein. It’s made with rolled oats so the carbohydrates do not spike the blood sugar, which is people get really confused between refined carbohydrates like potato chips and all a slew of other things that are bad for you versus ones that actually fuel your you. It’s made with chia, flax. And a lot of those fats not only have good protein, but they’re massively nutritional, the nutritional benefits are super, super high. And the caloric intake is super, super low. And so if there’s no blood sugar spikes, you’re getting tons of nutritional value. It’s easy to digest your energy stay up, it’s balanced over a long period of time. We use date powder as the sweetener and we use a little bit of organic cocoa and then like for Maple organic maple sugar for those flavors, and then but, you know, they’ve been studies that have shown that those date powder is great for people, like diabetics that there’s no insulin spike. So they’re not on this yo-yo, they have to worry about their blood sugar spiking. And then I love you know, adding a little bit of fruit on top of it or with it or a lot of it depends on how you like your stuff.

And yeah, it’s pretty amazing stuff.

Ed O’keefe 14:31
So hold on for a second.

Ed O’keefe 14:32
Emily and pink salt. Yeah, ingredient in here too. Yeah, she’s a simple waffle. I mean, that’s the chocolate one. So much easier. Yeah. So this is it right here.

Jeremy Weisz 14:42
I told you don’t eat all that so you can show it.

Unknown Speaker 14:47
It’s amazing. Yeah, I’m just amazing. Like, I mean, we had people over this weekend. There’s like, this is way too good to be healthy. I’m like, Well,

Jeremy Weisz 14:54
I know. I mean, the funny thing is when you’re in the store, like you’re not just competing healthy foods you’re competing. It’s like if your kids won’t eat it, it doesn’t matter how healthy it is,

Ed O’keefe 15:04
It doesn’t matter, you know, doesn’t matter. And I think like, gluten-free or any of these allergen-free products, and then even like vegan products have always been stamped as they taste off all like, you know, like even one of our neighbors said to us, you know, it was great. She was like, actually, your husband said to me, I told my wife to stop buying these gluten-free products because they taste awful. And so now with wakeup foods, they have a new alternative that tastes amazing. And they like it. And you know,

Jeremy Weisz 15:36
it’s true. So seven kids, so, um, I do want to have a conversation about you mentioned Dr. Zack bush and some of the other experts who you consider experts to follow but talk about, you know, morning. What does that look like with seven kids?

Ed O’keefe 15:52
Well, I mean, I mean, let me just tell you it First of all, before we even go into like what a morning looks like because people might get bored like, just even like Ed Sheeran is routine

Jeremy Weisz 16:00
I just want to be grateful that I don’t have seven kids and

Ed O’keefe 16:06
what I think what’s amazing is I was so lucky to meet a wife that we like, you know, we grew up four blocks from each other, but we’re in different parishes, like on the south side, Chicago, you have parishes, you don’t have like, you know, like I guess that’s how what Paris Do you from what Paris you from, and those are like different little towns. And so even though we’re in Chicago, or it’s very neighborhood friendly, amazing place to grow up, but we met each other like in college, right. And so we knew of each other because I was one of the first guys in the area to play volleyball and all that fun stuff. When volleyball wasn’t super popular in the Midwest, and then we were friends and then years later, years later, we bumped into each other at an outdoor volleyball tournament. And I was like, Hey, man, why am car man but as a Hey, you know, I’m moving up north and next thing you know we’re next-door neighbors. Next thing you know the girl who I was dating dumped me, next thing you know, we’re hanging out all the time Next thing you know, we’re married and we started our family. And I think one of the things about that was we both wanted like she’s one of eight to 13 we both were like, let’s keep going till we can’t have anymore we wanted a big family.

Ed O’keefe 17:33
so I think that’s kind of like, hopefully, that bleeds through the Wakeup foods brand. As we’re very inclusive like our house, our backyard is filled with kids all the time our kitchens filled with kids all the time. Um, so I think culturally I just kind of wanted to share a little more background versus just teaching people about our morning because I think it doesn’t even scratch our surface you know, like both athletes. And I love doing hard things. I like still thinking that the best years are ahead of me instead of behind me. Um, and hopefully we model that for our kids. Right? And so coming full circle from a physical fitness perspective, from an adventure perspective, by still doing events like I do Jesse Hustler’s, 29 or 29 ever seen events, I did Kokoro camp a few years ago. There’s a lot of things that I still want to do physically to be extremely challenging so that we model those behavioral things for our kids. And then you go like, well, how are we doing on the food front? And so I think that’s where we’re trying to lead it as well. And most people Jeremy before I talk about kids cuz I want to most people I would think in life are just try it like where there are people that are hyper world class oriented people To work, and I have tons of friends like this, right? I mean, these are some of my favorite people in the world, like they’re pro athletes or pro coaches, or they’re wired slightly differently. And I say, in a good way, they’re great for this brand, like food is great for them. Okay. Um, but I would say most people, like if we step back, and we take all the stuff away for a moment, most people are just trying to do a little bit better today than they did yesterday. Right? And they’re trying to, you know, they’re like ducks, like they’re trying to stay as cool out in front of people, but they’re paddling super hard underneath that water. And so one of the common questions to kind of go back over the kid thing, and I could talk about that stuff in a moment, like high performance and how do we do that? And how do you like mental toughness if you want to talk about that stuff? But I think everything is like one of the first questions I always get is, oh, you have seven kids. Well, I only have and then insert the blank and I always stop right there and I was like, don’t go there with that. Like, you know, like, I remember the hardest child was the first one. Because you’re, you’re trying to figure it all out. And then, you know, you pile on and I don’t know, looking back, it’s kind of was like a hurricane and just, you know, some people like say it’s controlled cast, I would say there was nothing controlled about it. Totally, you know? Yeah. So, so I don’t know where you want to go.

Jeremy Weisz 20:26
Yeah. So I’m sort of what gave me the idea to start this company. I mean, cuz you probably had,
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