As rates of chronic disease and obesity continue to climb, many are searching for ways to improve their health through better nutrition. Monica Helena San Miguel is on a mission to show that healthy eating can be enjoyable for the whole family. “Food is fuel and if you’re intentional with that it doesn’t have to be a diet or chore,” says Monica, founder and CEO of HueTrition. “It’s about a lasting lifestyle that’s sustainable over time.”
Monica is no stranger to using nutrition to fuel performance. A lifelong competitive athlete, she played professional and collegiate tennis, earning a full scholarship to Texas A&M University. Though she initially planned to attend medical school, internships showed her that she was more interested in preventative health through nutrition rather than clinical medicine.
“I wanted to be more proactive and do something about the foods we eat rather than just treat diseases on the back end,” Monica explains.
This passion led her to switch paths and pursue undergraduate and master’s degrees focused on nutrition, health marketing, and business strategy. Her education and personal athletic background primed Monica for roles at major food companies like McCain Foods, Ajinomoto Windsor, and Rich Products, where she honed her expertise around healthier product development and marketing.
“I’ve spent over 20 years working in food and CPG, combining roles in health, wellness and sustainability,” says Monica. “I wanted to bring that marketing excitement around the latest food trends to fruits, veggies and showing people how eating colorful produce can be simple and delicious.”
Cultivating a Nutritious Movement
This vision spawned the inception of HueTrition in 2017. The name itself fuses “hues” referring to color, with “nutrition,” exemplifying Monica’s mission to encourage nutritious and vibrantly pigmented foods. “Our logo is a color wheel showing the combination of colors from fruits and veggies you want to eat for full nutritional benefits,” explains Monica. “We say fill half your plate with produce…it’s your canvas!”
Beyond a clever name and logo, HueTrition offers a suite of resources to educate families on incorporating more produce into meals and snacks in fun ways. Their debut hardcopy book and e-book, “Healthy & Colorful Eating Made Fun,” outlines their core tenets for plant-based nutrition spanning five hue color categories.
Monica also harnessed technology to bring healthy eating guidance straight to families through innovations like HueTrition’s free HuePets educational mobile app. It uses gaming features to nudge children toward trying and enjoying more vegetables. Kids can scan product barcodes to collect points and unlock new levels and characters, including their mascot, “Brock Broccoli.”
The app has earned acclaim since its launch, including being showcased by Food Network’s Healthy Eats program. Over four years, it has become a go-to digital resource used by thousands of households as well as larger entities like healthcare systems and schools.
“Kids love exposure to where food comes from, so we also integrate gardening and culinary lessons for the whole family to do together,” says Monica. “Making preparing and eating veggies an interactive experience really helps shift mindsets over time.”
Power Partnerships Expand Reach
While HueTrition offers fee-based services like customized wellness programs, workshops, and speaking engagements to companies and groups, they ensure many resources are freely accessible, especially for underserved groups. “Our goal is to bring families together through food literacy and overcoming barriers to fresh, healthy ingredients,” explains Monica.
Accordingly, HueTrition actively partners with public sector groups, expanding their nonprofit nutrition and lifestyle offerings. As a national strategic partner with the USDA’s MyPlate program, they co-create content and materials supporting public health. This includes recipes, educational handouts and games focused on produce consumption for distribution to millions of Americans through MyPlate’s website and network.
HueTrition also collaborates with private retailers and brands to run public-facing initiatives advancing their shared mission of accessible, appealing plant-forward eating. For instance, they designed a colorful scavenger hunt activity for customers in Whole Foods stores. Families downloaded clue sheets and went hunting for fruits and vegetables to scan with the HuePets app and learn new nutrition tips.
“We’ll continue teaming up with health-minded partners across retail, food brands, healthcare, and more that want to creatively spread this lifestyle shift,” says Monica. “It takes an entire community coming together to drive changes in what we eat.”
Reflecting on her Latin American culture and values, she also strives to lead by example, highlighting her Mexican-American heritage and the foods she grew up enjoying with an emphasis on food as a cultural experience.
What’s on the Horizon
As HueTrition continues expanding its resources and outreach, Monica hints they are cooking up plans for a new barcode scanning tool to help guide food decisions for broader audiences beyond just children. “In 2024, we’ll launch a color hue-approved scanner app that rates nutrition similar to carbon footprinting,” Monica reveals. “It’s about making better, balanced choices, not just for kids but households overall.”
She envisions integrating more technology that intersects with emerging health sectors like food as medicine. However, Monica emphasizes that while info-tech can enhance programs, simple principles still underpin true, lasting wellness transformations. “True health starts from the inside out through nutrition and self-care practices, not just superficial fixes,” says Monica. “After the pandemic, people understand that what you eat really impacts resilience and quality of life.”
Her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs aiming to positively disrupt food and nutrition spaces is to stay focused on their vision through the inevitable ups and downs. “Enjoy the journey, know you’re making a real difference in public health,” says Monica. “Good things will come, and you’ll empower people to live healthier, more vibrant lives.”
Just as she fueled her rise as an elite tennis player through training her body and mindset, Monica channels this competitive perseverance into her work expanding access to nutritious food and health equity. She aims to continue elevating HueTrition as an invaluable partner for all those seeking to eat in color. “We want to show people food can be fun, bringing families to the table through fresh ingredients grown in nature’s vibrant rainbow.”
Connect with Monica: https://www.linkedin.com/in/monicahs/