People with specific dietary needs often find it hard to locate the ingredients or cooked meals they require. It becomes a chore and they usually have to go to several different places to find all the things they need. In addition, they have to make the meals themselves.
Happy Belly Catering in Maadi saw a gap in the market as very few places are able to cater to vegans or people who suffer from celiac disease. We contacted Yasmine Nazmy, the founder of the project to get more information.
“I am an environmental engineer, but with growing concern for public health I became very interested in nutrition. I bake from home, and do everything myself (with the help of my fiancée and friends to go get supplies and to help perfect the taste). I consider it a hobby and a favour to the community – there are too many bakeries using refined flour and sugar, and so much butter. It is no surprise that most Egyptians end up with diabetes. I am actually taking a course now to become a Vegan Nutrition Consultant,” Nazmy said.
Being a gluten-free vegan herself, she realises the benefits of the dietary system, and encourages others to give the desserts a try even if they are not gluten-free vegans. “By eliminating refined sugars and dairy products, the desserts are easier to digest, there is zero cholesterol, and the substitutes are actually packed with vitamins and minerals! Just a little scientific fact, eggs contain phosvitin, which inhibits the absorption of iron; but because I use nuts and seeds, my desserts are very high in iron,” Nazmy explained.
Happy Belly Catering offers a wide range of desserts including cupcakes, cakes and cookies. “The menu has typical options like chocolate, peanut butter, coconut, banana, etc, but also veganized options like cheesecake, which I make with nuts (now you see where all vitamins come from). I also offer red velvet, which is naturally coloured – I don’t use red food dyes for two reasons: one, they are either carcinogenic or are made by boiling insects -so this is not only gross, but also not vegan,” Nazmy said.
When she took part in Nawaya’s Date Festival in September, she made “raw vegan gluten-free date cupcakes,” and recalled the people’s feedback: “They were a great success”. However, the most popular item on the menu is the peanut butter cookies.
Nazmy is very vigilant when it comes to choosing ingredients, trying as hard as she could to use organic and local ones. “The only imported products I buy are the cashews, coconuts and gluten-free flour. When in the right season, everything is fresh. For example I shred the coconuts myself, and I use fresh dates in the fall but now that winter is approaching, I will be using dried dates. As for the cocoa powder, I get it from Switzerland – it’s simply the best quality,” Nazmy said.
Nazmy also revealed that she will be opening a vegan restaurant very soon. More information can be found on their Facebook page Happy Belly Catering.
· 1 green pepper cut into slices – fel-fel akh-dar