The Inquisitive Olive

TIO: Erica Huss and Zoe Sakoutis

TIO: Erica Huss and Zoe Sakoutis

Highway to Well: Erica Huss and Zoe Sakoutis

I was a bit star-struck when wellness veterans Zoe & Erica (the founders of BluePrint Cleanse) invited me as a guest on their podcast. In our conversation I was extremely excited to learn that Zoe’s family is from Ikaria, Greece – one of the coveted Blue Zones - where a higher than average portion of the population lives to be over 100 years old! These two fascinating and entrepreneurial women have been business partners for over 15 years and their latest venture, Earth & Star, features delicious coffees, lattes and chocolate featuring adaptogenic mushrooms. In reconnecting with Zoe & Erica for The Inquisitive Olive, I learned how to tell whether mushrooms in products are giving me the real health benefits they promise - and much, much more.

Read on for their wellness tips!

Erica Huss and Zoe Sakoutis are the serial entrepreneurs behind BluePrint Cleanse, their first venture which created the cold pressed juice category as we know it today.

After a successful exit, they are back with Earth & Star, dedicated to delivering the powerful benefits of functional mushrooms and adaptogens as deliciously and conveniently as possible, in ready to drink lattes, coffee and chocolate bars.

The women have been business partners for over 15 years and both reside in Brooklyn, NY.


Favorite food? Does a cheese plate count as one food?

Favorite self-care treatment? Infrared sauna. Nothing like sweating out the crap.

Favorite grocery store purchase? Earth & Star Tumeric Lattes and mushroom chocolate!

Favorite place to travel? Anywhere they take their food seriously and where there is good company.

Favorite part of your day? Erica loves first thing in the morning as a chance to reset. Zoe loves the evening, after the kids go to sleep!


What’s your passion? What makes you feel most alive?

These days, after dealing with Covid and a broken bone, both unexpected health setbacks, I’m feeling most passionate about being active, getting to experience the outdoors, going on adventures and generally being grateful to still be able-bodied.

Where do you live, and what do you love about your home/hometown?

We both live in Brooklyn, and have for about 20 years. It’s the best of both worlds—it’s close to the electricity of downtown NYC but there’s still a ton of natural beauty, parks, trees, rivers everywhere. The food culture is beyond compare, and it’s wonderful to be able to just get out on the street and walk everywhere, pretty much any day of the year as long as you’re dressed for it.

You’re an expert—that’s why we’re interviewing you. Tell us about your wellness journey and credentials. 

We have both been longtime wellness seekers, enthusiasts, walk-the-walkers, whatever you want to call it. We have a passion for diving deep into how the natural world can help us optimize our health. The plant and fungi kingdoms have offered us so many ways to improve our well-being, often times in very delicious ways, that it’s inspiring to help spread this information, creating products and services that help deliver it to the masses in a way that gets them excited about food-as-medicine too.  

Is there a wellness myth you can bust for us?

Our current passion is centered around functional mushrooms, and there is already a lot of misinformation and confusion out there—we want folks to know how important it is to read your labels and make sure you’re getting high quality ingredients. Example: anything that includes the word “Mycelium” or “Myceliated Grain” means you are getting the ROOT system of a mushroom and not the mushroom itself, known as the Fruiting Body (FB). The FB is where all the beneficial nutrients known as beta-glucans exist. The mycelium is just the root structure, but lots of folks will throw it into their “mushroom” products because it’s a cheaper way of doing things and at the moment they’re allowed to, even though the nutritional benefit is minimal. 


How do you stay connected with loved ones?

Pick up the phone! There are too many ways to “connect” today, between social media, texting and zooming - we’ve lost something as basic and primal as the sound of someone’s voice — it’s powerful. DM-ing someone on Instagram or firing off a text is not the same as having a conversation and most importantly, listening.

How do you balance the responsibilities of family life (to kids, partners, parents, or others) with self-care?

Zoe: I have a 4 and 6 year old and to put it bluntly, it’s hard AF. The reality is that it’s a daily struggle to balance priorities and make sure that everyone is taken care of, including myself. My mantra has become something along the lines of, “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” which simply means that you cannot give to others if you’re coming from a place of deficiency. (Oh, and please don’t believe anything you see on instagram!)


What part of your morning ritual helps you start the day on the right foot?

Erica: I have a daily meditation practice that I’ve adhered to for years. It’s not always the same program, and some days it’s calm and quiet while others it’s brief and monkey-minded. But I find even making the effort to sit still for a moment helps to get me on the right track, where I can say “well at least I did THAT.”

What’s your favorite place to unwind?

Erica: Whenever possible I like to unplug outside—near water if possible. Fresh air, a sunrise or a sunset, and either natural quiet or headphones to block out any noise. 2nd favorite place—the bathtub! (Zoe) We live in Brooklyn but are lucky enough to have a house in upstate NY — this escape has saved my sanity so many times. There is nothing more therapeutic to me than walking through the woods and building fires.

Do you have rituals before bedtime? How do you unplug?

Erica: Limiting screen time starting an hour beforehand, magnesium glycinate, reading a book or doing a puzzle, and setting my schedule for the next day so I don’t fall asleep trying to figure out my morning.

Zoe: At the risk of sounding like a 90 year old woman, I drink a lot of tea before bed/in bed — it’s my shut-it-down trigger.


Take us with you on a grocery shopping trip. What’s always in your cart (real or virtual)?

Erica: I always have a cart full of fresh greens—spicy arugula, different types of kale, escarole and/or spinach. I like the greens that work as well raw as cooked, just for variety. Always avocados, always lemons, and the rest is whatever looks good.

Zoe: Lots of greens, avocado, ‘kraut, pastured eggs, grass-fed steak (I don’t eat meat, but I cook it for my kids), and for a soup I always have bone broth, mushrooms, onions, leeks and potatoes on hand!.

How do you stay healthy?

Zoe: I try to make sure I’m sweating on a regular basis — however that happens, it doesn't matter. And I take a LOT of supplements: Vitamin C, Glutathione, Magnesium, Astragalus, Mushroom Extracts (Earth & Star), Vitamin D + K2, B12, Glutamine, Spirulina, Chlorella….

What’s the one ingredient or spice you can’t live without? Why?

Olive oil. Full stop.

How do you “treat” yourself?

Erica: Cheese. Next question?

Zoe: More cheese.

What must-haves are in your pantry?

Erica: Many different types of oil—coconut, high quality EVOO (ahem!), avocado, walnut, etc. And about one million herbs and spices—I use Thyme, Turmeric and Curry at least once a day in various uses.

Do you like hosting dinner parties? If so, do you have a dish that’s your claim to fame?

Erica: I love to cook and host others! My specialties include a wide range of veggie-based soups (Carrot-Curry, Greens, Vegan Borscht), and I love making little dips and canapés to graze on before sitting down for a meal. We also have a family tradition of Garlicky Caesar Salad which I inherited from my uncle and have repurposed using kale.

Have you been to Greece? If so – did you find a product, dish or drink you loved? If you haven’t, what would you do and see there if you could?

Zoe: Yes! My dad is from Greece — he’s actually from one of the Blue Zones, the island of Ikaria. Hands down, my favorite Greek food is Haloumi cheese. We like to toss it on the grill and sprinkle it with some lemon and oregano. It’s magical.

What are your favorite fitness resources/favorite workouts?

Zoe: Tennis! I’m not a workout-for-the-sake-of-working-out kind of person — it really has to be disguised as a fun activity to keep me motivated.

Say you only have 10 minutes to squeeze in a workout. What do you do?

Erica: It’s amazing how quickly you can get your heart rate up with very little movement, which I learned the hard way, trying to work out with a broken foot. But even sitting in a chair, you can do “jumping” jacks, shadow boxing, and tons of aerobic activity that gets your blood pumping quickly.

How do you keep your mind and body fit? What are your routines for movement and mindfulness?

Zoe: During Covid, I bought a beautiful piano and have been learning to play. It’s been the most incredible practice for my mind, body and spirit.

Do you have any wellness goals for 2022?

Zoe: Less. social. media.

Do you have a scent, sound, or taste that helps you relax?

Zoe: The sound of liberating a cork from its bottle.

How do you stay the course when you’re not feeling motivated?

Erica: I try not to spend time thinking about how motivated I am or am not. Keeping workout gear clean and folded, visible and ready to put on helps me go on autopilot before I have a chance to change my mind.