At 35, Tamanna Moolchandani was struggling to conceive. She knew it was related to her weight — doctors were clear on that. Her problems were compounded by Type 2 diabetes, which was also weight-related.
Moochandani knew she needed to make changes and decided to consult a nutritionist. She joined a weight-loss programme, started exercising and eventually shed a whopping 40kg. It worked: she is now the mother of a five-year-old son.
But even as the weight was dropping off, Tamanna still craved treats — but ones that were not laden with calories or unhealthy additives, which could be “consumed without caution”, as she puts it.
“On my healthy living journey I realised that it wasn’t in my nature to be an extremist and completely give up all bad eating habits. I always need balance,” she explains. “Snacking is one of my biggest weaknesses and I wasn’t ready to give this up. This made finding a healthy, yet tasty snack option my mission.”
For advice, she went back to her nutritionist, who recommended lotus seeds, which are commonly used in Asian cooking.
“She suggested I try lotus seeds to replace my afternoon dark chocolate digestives. She told me their low glycemic index would also help me manage my sugar levels.”
Moochandani began experimenting with flavours and cooking methods and in 2017, she launched Pop N Hop, a company producing a nutritious line of snacks dubbed Fox Nuts, made from lotus seeds and sold in ready-to-go packaging.
She says: “Once I zeroed in on the product that I found out to be both healthy and tasty, I decided to look at the competition and understand how Pop N Hop could be different. We realised the flavours and freshness would be our key differentiator.”
Lotus seeds are high in protein and vitamin B and rich in minerals. Tamanna’s crunchy snacks are low-carb, low fat and low in sodium but high in protein, fiber and calcium. And they come in four different flavours.
Pop N Hop also uses olive oil instead of commercial oils or ghee, ensuring the products are vegan. The ingredients are all in natural powder form and any preservatives, such as citric acid, are natural too.
The appeal for Moolchandani was that she could eat them without worrying about portion control.
“As a diabetic I need to ensure that I am eating food that will not raise my insulin level,” she says. “With their low glycemic index, Fox Nuts are the perfect snack for us diabetics. The fact that they have an abundance of antioxidants that slow down aging doesn’t hurt, either.”
Now Pop N Hop has signed a deal with Al Maya supermarkets, making the products available all over the UAE, and the company is looking to expand with other healthy snacks.
Moolchandani is also working to start a service based in Dubai delivering healthy, balanced versions of hearty Asian soul food dishes that are gluten-free, low carb and high in protein.
Tamanna has kept her weight steady with regular exercise, including CrossFit and tennis, and is managing her diabetes.
The key, she says, is consistency.
“Remember that saying; ‘motivation gets you started, but consistency keeps you ahead?’ Well, you couldn’t put it better. Find a reason to start and get you motivated and then just make it a part of your lifestyle. It doesn’t matter if there are holidays or travels, or if you have a slight cold or if we are in a country-wide lockdown — don’t stop. It must become a habit, a part of your everyday.”
Fox Nuts are available in Al Maya supermarkets or from mumzworld.com
An Aussie journalist with a passion for snowboarding, CrossFit and the outdoors, Caitlyn is an freelance writer based in Dubai. She's previously worked at Time Out, 7DAYS UAE, Arabian Radio Network and Lovin' Dubai and has a serious coffee addiction.