We speak to the holistically-driven baker Passand El Hammami about her new brand of all-natural and flavoursome produces.
Health-aware organisations and super foods are making their way to Egypt, one shop at a time (cupcake stores excluded, of course), and now with Seasalt Bakery on the map, things are escalating to a whole other level. Owner Passand El Hammami had more than one reason to kick start her company, but her motivation was primarily derived from a personal journey of unfortunate circumstance which lead her to re-evaluate her approach to health and eating altogether.
“Less than three years ago, I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease (Hashimotos) that attacked my thyroid,” states El Hammami. “My life had completely changed and I had to make sacrifices that seemed impossible at the time; sacrifices including gluten! Along the way I discovered the foods that made me feel worse, and on the other hand, the foods that healed me. So I've actually been baking gluten free and lactose free for some time now, meeting people along the way who have similar issues and can't find a solution to everyday foods. That's when I decided to bake for others and found that people were responding. It's amazing to see how satisfied people are with finding a go-to source of healthy and natural everyday foods.”
Seasalt Bakery is a gluten free, lactose free and sugar free brand selling breads, cakes and for all those who suffer from digestive issues, bloating, diabetes, cramps, intolerances and allergies, or for those who simply seek to live a healthier lifestyle. That being said, the lack of health awareness in the Egyptian society has proven to be a challenge to health food enterprises across the country: “People in Egypt have this thing I like to call 'ignore it and it'll go away' syndrome. It doesn't work with food intolerances!” continues El Hammami. “I know people who are very aware that a certain food or drink makes them unwell or ill, yet they don't have the mentality or knowledge to do something about it. Even doctors would suggest that it will go away and prescribe some medication that might be only a temporary solution. I believe you have to look at the source of the problem, find what suits you best and stick to it. It's easier said than done, but it's very doable once you have the support and knowledge, which is what Egypt lacks to a great extent when it comes to food intolerances, health food awareness and basic lifestyle changes.”
Nevertheless, society is responding, slowly but surely, to healthy foods and lifestyles, with more individuals turning vegetarian and vegan, and more super food stores, health organisations and organic markets taking on the new and nutritious approach to food commerce. “There are a lot of young entrepreneurs who are taking health awareness seriously now in Egypt, which I applaud them for. It's refreshing to see them take on their own career with fitness, nutrition, health advice. Something else that has helped that boom is that it’s become "trendy" to workout and eat avocados and do a juice cleanse. Trends are such a thing around here, but as long as it is for the better, then why not?”
And Seasalt Bakery, despite certainly not being a trend in this particular case, IS for the better! Supporting natural energy yielding, stronger physical durability and natural scrumptious flavours to keep your taste buds invigorated, El Hammami's brand is certainly the prominent alternative to turn to, with products made with natural coconut oil, quino, almond, brown rice and coconuts, and sugars derived from coconut, raw honey and dates. From almond, oat and banana cinnamon walnut breads to granola bars and raw cocoa cupcakes, and more, Seasalt makes sure all their products are guilt free too.
El Hammami takes her baking very seriously, and creates it all with the secret ingredient of love. “Baking is a joy in life, if the fun isn't there anymore, your bakes will never come out right. If it's got to be gluten/dairy free, then it's got to taste so damn good!” So we can rest assured that for once, a health enthusiast takes flavour into consideration. YES. A grand first step towards creating the full package of nutrition and good taste, and towards hopefully changing our eating habits as a nation. “What I believe needs major attention in our community as a whole is the reality of how bad the healthcare system is in Egypt. The amount of illnesses we hold as a nation is scary, and if I can one day turn my work into an institution giving back to Egyptians who truly need it, I would do it in a heartbeat.”