For Lori Levine — wife, mother, breast cancer survivor and co-founder of Scott’s Protein Balls — eating healthy should taste good, too.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017, Lori, who splits her time between the Plainview and Southampton homes she shares with her husband, Scott, underwent surgery and commuted to NYU Langone Hospital daily for treatments over the course of about two months. With so much time on the road, she found her reliance on easily accessible, on-the-go foods (specifically pre-packaged protein bars) was at its highest peak ever.
“I always tried to eat right,” the CPA says of her habits before, during and after the diagnosis. “I used to carry protein bars with me all the time. I thought they were a good option.”
Inspired to embrace healthier practices after her diagnosis, Lori sought out a nutritionist and began her journey toward a cleaner lifestyle.
“After going through something like that, you learn how out of your control life can be,” she says. “So I started to control what I could.”
For Lori, that meant getting on the eating cleaner and greener bandwagon. On her nutritionist’s advice, the protein bars were the first thing to go, noting they’re full of sugar, preservatives and tend to sit on the shelf for way longer than their manufacturers would care to admit.
But something still felt like it was missing.
Self-described as someone with a sweet tooth, Lori expressed to her husband her need for a snack that was healthy and filling that would simultaneously satisfy her confectionary cravings.
“I knew she needed something more,” Scott says, “and I thought, ‘I can help here.’”
So he did.
After doing a little research and playing around with a couple different recipes, Scott’s Protein Balls was born. Originally concocted out of their house at night after working in the city during the day at his fulltime job as a CFO, Scott began forming these quarter-sized, protein-packed peanut butter cacao balls as a sweet snack for his wife. They contained only three ingredients and quickly became Lori’s go-to superfood, carrying them around in Ziploc bags and sharing them with her friends and family.
According to the couple, word got out fast and people started asking for more flavors. The pair ended up incorporating their company when the pandemic hit, almost on a whim.
“We had the time,” Scott laughs, and pretty soon their house became too small for their production needs. First, they started producing the protein balls out of a bagel store in neighboring Syosset, but quickly realized the quarters were too tight.
“We needed to find a commercial kitchen,” he says. They ended up finding one in Farmingdale, where they developed their entirely plant-based line of protein balls, led by their OG flavor: peanut butter cacao. All flavors are gluten-, dairy- and soy-free made with organic, non-GMO ingredients. Sold in either a 10-ball or 20-ball format, prices start at $16.99 and range to $29.99, plus shipping.
Over the past three years, Scott’s Protein Balls has grown exponentially. Sold in over 90 stores located predominantly across Long Island and in the greater New York area, including JFK and LaGuardia airports, half of their business comes from online sales, where they’ve shipped to every single state in the nation. “Hawaii was a little bit tricky,” Scott says, “but we did it.”
Here on the South Fork, the protein balls can be found in about a dozen stores, most notably King Kullen, Goldberg’s and Citarella. Click here for a full list of where they’re located.
Starting next month, production will move from Farmingdale to the couple’s newly found co-packing partner located in Port Washington. “They’ll still be made on Long Island, which was important to us,” Scott says.
One percent of total sales go to supporting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, with Lori noting, “This impacted me directly. The mission has become to donate.”
This past July, the Levine’s were honored at the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation’s 19th annual Hamptons Happening in Bridgehampton. They’re also frequent participants in several charitable events at both public locales and private residences throughout the Hamptons. “We’ve had our house in Southampton since 2010,” Lori says. “I love it out here. We spend our holidays here, it’s where I recovered after surgery.”
What’s next for the accounting aces turned health food gurus? Building on their already ample flavor line-up of protein balls, they’ve added, just in time for fall, peanut butter cup and pumpkin spice. A new proprietary protein powder is also in the works, sure to keep their loyal, yet diverse, fan base happy.
“We work a lot, we do a lot of events,” says Scott, “but my thing is, if we can get that one person to try them, that one person who isn’t completely sold, that’s the best because they usually end up liking it.”
It’ll be pretty easy to do that, because after all, they taste good.