This 57-year-old's fruit and nut chikkis inspired her brand of gluten-free energy bars!
For Aasha Duseja, crafting nourishing snacks for her two kids was all in a day’s work. Once they left the nest, she resorted to traditional, time-tested fruit and nut chikkis to send along in a bid to ensure they get their dose of nutrition. Little did she know that in a few years, those chikkis would become energy bars that have no added sugar and gluten. Her brand Happy Crunch that was launched four months ago, offers jars of Trail Mix (at Rs 300) and energy bars that come as five squares in a box (at Rs 250). “We started off by sending a batch to F45 gym and PedalBeat,” she shares.
“It all began when my son (Anirudh) and daughter's (Neha) friends got into fitness and wanted healthy snack options,” says the 57-year-old, adding that the millennials tasted her experiments with no added sugar and gave pertinent feedback. Speckled with poppy seeds, it is chewy and crunchy, faintly reminiscent of an anjeer barfi. The almonds and pistachio are delightfully fresh and are not over-roasted — bound together with figs and dates. Particular about sourcing her ingredients — nuts from Afghanistan to dates from Muscat, Aasha insists that it makes all the difference. With no cereal in the mix, it is a nutrition-dense option and promises, iron, magnesium and ample anti-oxidants among other benefits.
“I am not just another bored housewife mixing random ingredients,” says the feisty entrepreneur, who armed herself with a Masterclass, where she learnt the art of pairing seeds and grains with dry fruits and nuts. Of course, once home this knowledge paved way for her own unique creations. The Trail Mix is a loose mixture of seeds (melon, pumpkin, chia and sunflower), dry fruits (blueberry and apricots) and roasted almonds (no cereals again). One could describe it as a deconstructed energy bar. Though Aasha suggests a spoonful a day — I end up munching on a dozen spoonfuls, before chiding myself that it was a supplement and not a meal!
What sets her offerings apart from the other energy bars on the store racks is — that they are not available on the store racks! Instead, Aasha takes bespoke orders created based on personal diet requirements. For cheat days, she has a decadent Walnut Fudge Cake. A rich slab of Indian mithai meets cocoa, at Rs 2,500 per kilogram, it is available only on request.
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