GARDEN ROUTE MEDIA
Oh’ MY goodness – the only words that spring to mind when tasting Ariella Kaplan and Kim van Rensburg’s raw food snacks, including fat-free mushroom biltong that tastes just like the real deal, minus the fat.
Ariella, an organic olive farmer and former web developer, and Kim, a former interior designer and entrepreneur, are creating raw, living food snacks at their newly established kitchen on Ariella’s farm outside Plettenberg Bay.
The snacks, aimed at high end consumers, are hand-made and contain no gluten, wheat, sugar, eggs, dairy or preservatives.
Kim says the idea for their company, O’ My Goodness, was formed after her daughter Ruby became insulin resistant.
"I knew a lot about food because it was always my passion, but I took my daughter to a nutritionist and learned new, natural ways of preparing food. I became more interested in the raw food movement.”
She says she started off making treats for Ruby.
"I loved them, my children loved them and they tasted so delicious I thought everyone should try them. I served them to dinner guests and they loved them -- as I was lying in the bath one night, the concept just came to me. One of the first things people would say when they tasted the treats was ‘oh, my goodness’ because they tasted so amazing,” Kim says.
Ariella, who’s been a vegetarian for 15 years, says after her first pregnancy she suffered from high cholesterol and iron levels, forcing her to stop eating meat.
"I went on this journey of detoxifying and trying to improve my health because I was just so tired all the time from the iron imbalance.
"I also suffered from candida for years and I was wheat intolerant.”
Ariella says after following a raw food diet, the health benefits were noticeable but she missed biltong.
"I came across a recipe for aubergine biltong and I made that but it didn’t taste like biltong. Then I tried the same marinade on mushrooms but the spices weren’t right so I kept working on it until I created mushroom biltong that tastes exactly like the real thing.”
Raw foodists eat mostly fresh fruit and vegetables, freshly made juices, nuts, seeds, sprouted beans and grains, fermented and cultured foods. They dehydrate foods in a special dehydrator that heats the food to less than 47°C.
Kim says they buy local produce whenever they can while Ariella has her own organic vegetable garden.
The two have also trained local residents from formerly disadvantaged backgrounds to help prepare the snacks so that Kim and Ariella can concentrate on product development and marketing.
Ariella says they ultimately hope to build a factory on her farm, complete with a creche for the children,
"We eventually would like to see a big factory and a huge production line with lots of local women working for us.
"(However) we don’t want to be seen as a health food brand because people associate that with food that doesn’t taste good. The only thing I am going to put in my mouth must be healthy and taste totally amazing,” says Ariella.