Sylvie Charles, MD is a practicing physician at UC San Francisco, and is the founder of Just Date Syrup, a line of natural sweeteners made from single plant sources. Following a debilitating spine injury and a challenging medical leave of absence, Charles started to explore her lifelong passion for food and healing.
Through her first company Spice Mama, the healer brought healthier achaars to her diabetes-afflicted Indian community. But that soon escalated as she was developing a healthier tamarind-date chutney, when she turned the dates into a syrup and realized she had stumbled upon something powerful.
Charles envisioned this single ingredient date syrup as a healthier alternative to sugar, not only for the diabetic patients she worked with, but for everyone. Through this, her second company, Just Date Syrup was born, their flagship product made from organic California medjool dates.
Today, the brand has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Forbes and is committed to public health through sugar reduction and supports sugar reduction cooking programs for schools across the Bay Area.
We recently caught up with the (double) entrepreneur to ask her to share the seven things she’s vibing on most at the moment. This is what she said…
1 | Pomegranates —
I start to get antsy in September, wondering when the first ripe pomegranate will hit the farmer’s market. A cinnamon chia pudding topped with almond butter, pomegranates, and our Just Date Syrup is the most divine breakfast I could imagine, and I eat it on repeat all fall and winter long. In the morning, the act of cutting open a pomegranate and digging out the seeds is meditative. The time it requires takes me out of the rushed quality of a busy morning, and allows just a bit of time for mindfulness before the day unfolds. Luckily, we now launched Just Pomegranate Syrup, so we can have that bright and sweet flavor all year long.
2 | Sheet pan vegetables and winter salads —
Raising a baby, building a business, and finding time to cook are sometimes not compatible. Lately however, I’m making it a priority to find the time. Sheet pan dinners are the absolute best when you’re busy, and are even more excellent with fall vegetables. I toss a bunch of vegetables (carrots, brussels, kabocha squash, cauliflower) with olive oil, date or pomegranate syrup, and my favorite spices (usually a mix of turmeric, cumin, coriander, and a pinch of cinnamon), and bake at 425 for charred veggies. I mix it all with some arugula and a tahini-pomegranate dressing for my favorite fall/winter salad.
3 | Presence —
In the early days of motherhood (like… until about a month ago), I was stressed AF. When I was working, I felt guilty about not being with my daughter. When I was spending time with my daughter, I felt like I was doing my business a disservice. I felt pulled in so many directions and knew that something was going to break. Finally, I allowed all those years of mindfulness training to return to my brain and realized that I had been doing it all wrong. Now, I do my best to truly separate my roles. When I’m at work, I work. More importantly, when I’m at home, I put my phone and computer on the other side of the room, and focus 100% on my baby girl and her needs. I’ve never felt better: I’m more effective at work, and I feel like I’m giving motherhood my all.
4 | Condiments —
I’m a condiment fiend. I’m the person who snacks on the chili sauce at the restaurant before the food arrives. Surely, there are more of you out there! Some of my absolute favorites right now are Fly by Jing Sichuan Chili Crisp and Rancho Gordo La Paloma (one of the only mild hot sauces I’m into). Although my mom’s mango achaar (Indian pickled hot sauce) always takes first place.
5 | The Organized Mind —
I recently read The Organized Mind by one of my favorite neuroscience writers, Daniel Levitin. The book has completely transformed my life. We are so overwhelmed with information these days from every angle. The Organized Mind takes the principles of how our brain organizes itself and teaches basic strategies to capitalize on how the brain works. I’ve become so much more efficient, organized, and relaxed since reading this amazing book. It’s a pretty geeky one, but I loved it.
6 | Extra virgin coconut oil —
In Indian culture, coconut oil is used for everything (long before it was a fad). Much to my dismay, my mom used to soak my hair in coconut oil, rub it all over my skin, and of course, cook with it. I took a long, long break from coconut oil during high school and college, traumatized by too many mornings waking up with an oily pillowcase. But now I’m back on it, and truly obsessed! I didn’t want to use any toxic or unnecessary creams for my baby’s diaper rashes or dry skin, and I found COCO & CO Extra Virgin Coconut Oil to be the cure for just about everything. I started using it again on my own body as of late, and my skin has never felt so luscious and glowy.
7 | Black urfa chili —
If you love a little heat, this chili pepper is next level. I get mine from Burlap & Barrel, an amazing ethical spice company that actually gives back to the farmers who grew the spices. From eggs to vegetables to simmering black urfa in a little butter, this chili pepper will totally up your weeknight cooking game.