Food special: Healthy eating made easy
With three new lines of health food products available in the market, packaged edibles don't necessarily equate to preservatives and chemicals, finds Moeena Halim
Kale and hearty
Nutrition expert Jasmine Kaur's guilt-free crisps, made by air drying raw kale leaves sourced from a farm nearby, are an ingeniously healthy snack. Available in three flavours, sea salt and vinegar, which maintains the slight bitterness of the kale, a slightly sweeter Thai sweet chili and the more familiar cheese and onion, the innovative snack manages to keep your palate happy too.
Jasmine Kaur founded The Green Snack Co last year
Passionate about health and fitness, Kaur sis a course on nutrition for a year after she decided to bid goodbye to her decade-long corporate career and set up The Green Snack Co late last year. Healthy snacking, she says, is often shunned even by weight watchers. "We meticulously plan our meals and their nutritive values, but never really end up planning snacks. While I found so many options on my travels overseas, I found that there were practically no healthy snacking options available in the market here," says Kaur.
The crunchy Kale chips seemed an obvious choice for her to begin with. Apart from being one of the trendiest leafy veggies in the market, she found that the superfood was versatile and easily adaptable to Indian flavours. "Besides, they're healthier than broccoli! Kale is rich in calcium, iron and protein, which makes it extremely popular with people who workout," she adds.
Since the snack is neither baked nor fried, but dehydrated over long periods of time at very low temperatures, much of the nutrients present in the raw leaves remain intact. Promising no use of preservatives, artificial flavours or chemical additives, Kaur has even found a way to make these snacks sugar-free. "I use pineapple to add sweetness and apple cider vinegar for tartness. All the ingredients are mentioned on the packet label," she says.
The success her kale chips have seen, despite their steep prices (a 30-gm packet costs R200), has prompted Kaur to develop new products. "The idea is to take food items you're not likely to incorporate in your meals and make them interesting to eat. I'm going to focus on vegetables and fruits and hoping to launch three new products by June," she reveals.
The Green Snack Co's kale chips are available at FoodHall.
Toothless toddlers, at a severe disadvantage when it comes to food, have little option but to rely on mush. But Munchsters, a recently launched ready-to-eat organic line of products, intends to make their gastronomic experience more exciting.
Aditi Keni with Munchsters products
Chef Aditi Keni, who studied nutrition as part of her chef's training at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts in Vancouver, recently launched the line of products which caters to toddlers, young children and nursing mothers. "I'm passionate about child nutrition and a lot of my friends would ask me what to feed their toddlers. Clients would ask for healthy treats for their child," says Keni, explaining where the idea stemmed from. "Children are the hardest to please and so I decided to take on the challenge," she adds with a laugh.
While the chef offers to customise flavours for the baby food and spreads and dips for the older children, she has a few flavour combinations she has created keeping generic tastes and dietary habits in mind. "I've combined carrot, raisin and ragi, apple, pear, oats and vanilla, and corn peas and whole wheat for the toddlers. But, I encourage parents to take the time to discuss the child's preferences, what they want to feed the child, and their dietary requirement as advised by their doctor," says Keni. Whether the parent chooses a customised mix or one of three predetermined ones, the food is always made on order.
For older children, she has concocted a healthy Nutella-like spread which sneakily packs in beets, broccoli and spinach. "I also make a 19-seed hummus which hardly has any chickpeas. I've realised that a lot of children are growing up to be allergic to pulses and legumes, and this is the perfect solution for working mothers who find it hard to take care of their child's allergies," she explains.
Probably one of the most ingenious products she's introducing to the city are her lactation bombs. Well aware of the chaos that surrounds nursing mothers, Keni has devised sugar-free bliss balls, which contain a blend of seeds and nuts. "These are tasty, on-the-go snacks that can be popped into your mouth and savoured while you multi-task in between feeds," says Keni. The snack contains Vitamin B12 and fibre, and even aids in the production of milk, claims the chef. "I do not add any preservatives or chemicals and never pre-package," she asserts. The shell life is low, she admits, and if you want it to stay about two to two-and-a-half-weeks, you must freeze it instantly.
Munchsters is available on order. Contact Aditi Keni on 9820444561
The Nibble Box
Ishita Sharma's five years as a banker definitely taught her one thing—snacking at work is seldom healthy. "I would try to look for healthy options, but really there weren't any. Packaged 'diet' foods might be sugar-free, but they were always packed with unhealthy preservatives," she exclaims.
Prompted to create her own line of healthy snacks, Sharma began conducting extensive research. "I'd create snacks and share them with friends and families. Word spread and people began approaching me with orders," she recalls. In November, she officially launched The Nibble Box. "We now ship our snack boxes across the country, to Bangalore, Delhi and Kolkata too," she says.
The Nibble Box offers a range of over 100 different snack items – from fig flaps and trail mixes to granola bars – which contain dehydrated fruits, rock salt rather than table salt, and no sugar.
"Sweetness is added through dates and honey," states Sharma. She even customises the snack mixes for those with allergies. Every new recipe is run past nutritionist Luke Coutinho, who ensures the balance of nutrients besides the flavours.
To be ordered by subscription only, through one, three and six month plans, the products have an unusually high shelf life of two months. "There are other ways of making sure the products don't spoil. We ensure the moisture content is low and roast the nuts really well," she reveals.
The Nibble Box
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