My Journey – Creating Ready-to-Eat, Tasty and Healthy Vegetarian and Vegan Meals!
Being a nutritionist, I have always been very skeptical on what I feed my family and myself both. Reading nutritional labels of any food that I buy, especially the ready-to-eat foods, has always been my second nature. Being a mother of three young kids, I always faced the challenge of preparing a variety of meals that would suit the taste and flavor of each one. I had to depend a lot on some premade meals or pre prepared foods to keep going on busy evenings!
Being vegetarian, we had limited choices when it came to ready-to-eat vegetarian meals. If I did end up finding something interesting, the nutritional labels would drive me away from them! It would really frustrate as well as sadden me to think about the fact that no one really cared on what they were serving their customers! How could someone even sell products with such high fat, high sugar, high sodium, and super high calories!!! Eventually, I was left with little to no options. I therefore started cooking extra food over the weekends and freezing them so that we could use them during the week. I kept thinking and wondering if I was the only one who was looking for healthy ready-to-eat Indian meals or there were more people with the same thought!
I began talking about this to my circle of family and friends who had children around the same age as mine and came to know that they too were going through the same challenges! This got me thinking about what I could do to help myself as well as all these people who are in a similar situation as me. And so, I started my research on what is the best and most convenient way to create these ready-to-eat meals. The first step was to make a list of what kind of food it should be, and then what needs to go into it. Here is my list that I created even before I had decided on the format:
- Taste – Taste - Taste – No matter what I would end up with, I knew if the food was not tasty, it was no use in me racking my brains on what goes in it! So, I started experimenting with different ingredients and spices. I must have tried hundreds of recipes to come to the right level of taste and spice, till eventually I got to the right level! That was a huge challenge, because to get the right taste while continuously watching the nutritional panel mainly for protein, fat, and sodium, was quite a journey!
- Clean Label – No Added Sugar – Every ingredient that we have can be pronounced and understood. I guess that says it all!! Not that it was really a challenge for me. I would not have a single ingredient in my kitchen that I do not understand and know about its nutritionals anyways! Besides no added sugar, the spices like turmeric, ginger, pepper, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, along with a ton of vegetables, are just a few of the goodies in these lentil bowls!
- Convenient Everyday Food – This was another attribute which had a lot of weightage. For one, it would almost be of no use if I create something that cannot be used as an everyday food. The whole purpose of getting into this was to create tasty, healthy, and convenient everyday foods. I wanted this to be a to-go meal for everyone who really cared about what they and their family ate. These are targeted as your to-go food for a quick work lunch and quick dinners for busy evenings
- Plant-based and High Protein – This was another important feature that was a must! To find great tasting and high in first-class plant-based protein in a grocery store was really difficult. It is important that any vegan protein is a complete protein with all the essential and non-essential amino acids. Being a nutritionist that was a prime concern I had over vegan proteins. Although the solution is simple, not many implement it while creating plant-based protein products. All you need to do is mix a lentil with a grain! Its that simple. Lentils lack the amino acids cysteine and methionine, and grains like rice lack the amino acid lysine, which the lentils provide. Mixing these two ingredients make them a complete first-class vegan protein! I did exactly this for our ready-to-eat lentil bowls!
- Vegan, Gluten-free, Non-GMO, Organic Ingredients, and Freeze-dried– These are the basic attributes that can make for a hearty, satisfying, guilt-free ready-to-eat Indian meal! Imagine the thought of not having to wash a single dish after dinner for your family. Just sit, enjoy, relax, and have a hearty meal without having to worry about cooking, cleaning, or washing dishes!
That was the goal behind creating Aahana’s Lentil Bowls! Mission accomplished 😊
Also read : Ready-to-Eat Shelf-Stable Plant-based Foods