Healthy Graze-ing

(From left) Amy Zheng, Ching Yi Lee, and Sabrina How with their Ramadan special selection. — Sunpix by Zulkifli Ersal
A worker in the kitchen of Amazin' Graze. — Sunpix by Zulkifli Ersal
Amazin' Graze snack specials (clockwise from top) Pandan and Skinny Rose cookies; Zesty Maple Glazed Nuts; and Salted Gula Melaka Granola with dehydrated dragonfruit and yoghurt. — Sunpix by Zulkifli Ersal
Amazin' Graze's Ramadan Special selection which is inspired by the traditional flavours of the festive season. — Sunpix by Zulkifli Ersal

MALAYSIANS love to snack – which might explain why Malaysia is one of fattest countries in Asia according to British medical journal The Lancet in a 2014 report.

In an effort to promote healthy snacking, three enterprising young women – Amy Zheng, Ching Yi Lee, and Sabrina How – have come up with their own brand of health food called Amazin’ Graze.

The brand’s products are all about snacking right. Instead of digging into that large bag of salty crisps, a healthier alternative from the shelves of Amazin’ Graze at D7 Sentul would be something like the Rosemary Pepita Crisp made of pepitas (pumpkin seeds) roasted with fresh rosemary, pink Himalayan sea salt and caramel molasses.

The idea came from both Zheng and Ching who noticed the scarcity of healthy food options in Malaysia and how many who desire a healthier diet have to turn to expensive imported health food.

After six months of experimenting with recipes in Ching’s kitchen, the business officially took off, with How coming onboard to help.

The girls started off with just five flavours of their classic nuts and granolas – the Hazelnut Blackforest Granola, Blueberry Goji Coconut Granola, Salted Gula Melaka Granola, Coconut Curry Lime, and Rosemary Pepita Crisp. Now, they have over 90 different products under their brand.

“Malaysians like foods that are flavourful,” said Ching, who adds that our palate has been spoilt by the robust flavours of our local food, so plain roasted nuts is not going to work on us no matter how healthy they are.

“In that way, we are inspired to work with local ingredients and spices like curry powder, turmeric, coconut, fresh rosemary herbs, garlic, instead of the common belief of more salt more sugar for more flavour.”

The recipes are mostly the results of experimenting with flavours and mixing ingredients around until something comes through.

Generally, the girls are inspired to reinvent their favourite desserts and turn them into healthier versions for their granola selection.

As for snacks with flavours closer to home, Zheng said they look at what Malaysians would like to eat and try to recreate it in a healthier alternative.

A good example would be the five flavours being offered in their current Ramadan Special selection which is inspired by the traditional flavours of the festive season – the Sticky Date Granola, Satay Lemongrass Nut Mix, Rendang Coconut Nut Mix, and Pandan and Rose Skinny Cookies which contain no butter, white flour and refined sugar.

Their raw ingredients are sourced locally and according to Ching, 90% of them are halal, and their kitchen is also alcohol and meat-free.

The girls are in the midst of getting the official halal certification but, in the meantime, the kitchen churns out about 300 to 600 packets of products a day, depending on orders received.

All packets are sealed and have a shelf life of up to three to four months.

In terms of making Amazin’ Graze products more affordable, Zheng said: “We want to make sure that we find the best alternative that is the most affordable for our consumers. We also look at the efficiency of the operations to ensure no wastage and that we are operating at the most efficient level possible. We don’t price high as we want to gain more from the volume.”

Zheng added that they are also adding an element of social mission in all parts of their supply chain.

For one, it gives job opportunities to those who come from low income and disadvantaged backgrounds, including by engaging Inclue, a social enterprise that helps underprivileged people in Kuala Lumpur.

Amazin’ Graze snacks can be found at the retail store at D7 Sentul as well as in select supermarkets, gyms, cafes, and via various online businesses.