If you peeked on social media on Thanksgiving after you had dinner, you likely ran across post after post of the meals people made and brought to tables around the country for the holiday. Plenty of dishes were made that were filled with many — perhaps too many — seasonings, chockfull of sodium. For the woman they call Dr. Flava, that’s something she would like to see change when it comes to the way we eat food.
Dr. Tremaine Jones Afetorgbor, aka, “Dr. Flava,” is CEO of the all-natural seasoning brand Dr. Flava Spices. A doctor of pharmacy, she came face to face with people dealing with all sorts of health issues that required constant medication. Through that experience, she saw a need to equip people with natural ways to heal themselves, like enacting lifestyle changes by making healthier choices when we cook. That’s how Dr. Flava Spices began in 2017, offering lower sodium spices, as well as salt-free, MSG-free and sugar-free options, too. The seasonings are made with eight to 13 herbs and spices, use sea salt only, and there are no dyes or anti-caking agents, instead, just turmeric and smoked paprika for color.
“It was important for me to assist with a major problem affecting our communities, which is preventable diseases like Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Health begins in the kitchen and these diseases are running rampant and mainly due to our diets and lack of knowledge,” she tells ESSENCE. “Therefore I have taken my passion for cooking and teaching coupled with my 15-year pharmacist training and expertise to help women and men transform the way they think and eat to create a healthier life before the prescription.”
Her seasonings pack all sorts of flavors, with a NOLA Twist, Sweet Potato Pie, Garlic Herb and more, all inspired by her upbringing and travels (from Wilmington, North Carolina to Linden, New Jersey and New Orleans, Louisiana).
In addition to that, she offers healthy living webinars through partnerships with non-profits and organizations, as well as healthy cooking classes for families, youth and organizations. Her work has garnered attention, including from Beyoncé’s BeyGood charity, which presented her with a grant in 2020.
Afetorgbor shares with us tips on how we can make healthier choices when we eat, as well as how her BeyGood grant win has allowed her to take Dr. Flava Spices to the next level, and in turn, help others.
ESSENCE: Where do we go wrong when it comes to seasonings? Are we using too much or the wrong ones?
Dr. Flava: We have become so used to eating foods with a lot of salt and spice (heat), that our pallets aren’t inclined to enjoy real “flava” from herbs and spices. Commercially available items are artificially flavored and if you look at the ingredients, salt and red pepper are typically the first two ingredients. Another factor is specific recipes that call for a pinch of this or that. We waste money on various herbs and spices not knowing how and when [to use it] after that. I wanted to engage the pallet and offer delicious “flava” that can be used for everything, from daily cooking to your favorite upscale restaurant dish.
What are a few ways we can make healthier choices when we cook food for ourselves and our loved ones without sacrificing flavor?
I will continue to say this, when we cook at home, we control the amount of salt, sugar and fat added to our dishes. “Food is fuel.” That is the first thing we need to concentrate on, then comprise each meal with a lean protein (fish, skinless chicken, beans or nuts), complex carbohydrate (sweet potato, quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal) healthy fat (olive oil, avocado, coconut oil, flaxseed) and a green vegetable (kale, spinach, collards, lettuce, broccoli). Season of course, with our lower sodium and salt-free option Dr. Flava Spices to create a flava-ful and healthy meal.
How did it feel to receive the BeyGood grant last year? How did it help you out and what’s next for Dr. Flava Spices and your brand?
When Queen Bee backs you! I was so overwhelmed and excited for this amazing opportunity, in the midst of a pandemic. I remember getting an email at 1:30 a.m., while up working on my business, and began to cry with excitement. Like, you see me, you see my efforts to help people, you believe in what I am building, all while creating a legacy for my family. The grant afforded us great opportunities to get our brand legally protected, develop new Flavas, increased procurement opportunities, increased brand awareness, and created stability. Dr. Flava Spices is ready to be available in big stores and various online platforms. Our goal is to open a holistic wellness store that offers cooking classes with our spices, and preventative healthy living classes with healthy flava-food.