Kimchi Crisp is literally Napa cabbage kimchi turned crunchy. What has me hooked is the complexity, the burst of flavors, and the various textures that play in my mouth.
This is the kind of chip that I eat—tangy, spicy, with a slightly sweet finish.
Almay Gaw of Oh So Healthy! impressed me with her ingenious line of healthy snacks in crunchy chip form. Her creations are a pleasant blend of fruits and vegetables.
Having manufactured sauces for multinational companies, Gaw and her team decided to venture into unchartered territory three years ago.
“We had to do something we had not done before, that is, to create a ‘unicorn’ product, something that is completely healthy yet yummy,” she said. “We felt that the usual products offered are either yummy but junk, or healthy but taste like paper. We worked on making the two worlds collide.”
Gaw said the new product was the result of “Innovation Mondays,” regular brainstorming sessions where they tackled everything from packaging ideas to process or product improvements.
Last year, Oh So Healthy! fruit crisps became a hit in Europe and Australia, and Kimchi Crisps caused a stir in San Francisco.
She and her staff get a thrill out of seeing people eating and enjoying their products. “Our vision as a team is to bring pride to the Philippines by showing the world we can come up with products that are competitive enough for the mainstream market,” said Gaw.
“When we penetrate the global scene, we uplift our farmers, we help our workers and we bring health and fun to the snacking population,” she added.
Kimchi Crisps are available at Waltermart, Landers, Metro and Landmark.
Specialty coffee bar
I have called on Equilibrium many times to provide a coffee and tea bar for my functions. And I’ve been more than pleased with its beverages and the skill of its baristas.
Recently, the bar’s setup has become prettier, the coffee and coffee concoctions more aromatic, with depth and character.
Equilibrium now uses beans from Curve Coffee Collaborators, whose farmers have upgraded local coffee “to specialty levels” (coffees that get a score of 80 and above are considered specialty).
The partnership looks for different coffee varieties from unique and unfamiliar local origins. This involves educating farmers, providing them with farm implements, and connecting them to financing.
Coffee hunters certified Q graders by the Coffee Quality Institute of America help in the tasks of discovering, grading, roasting and testing coffees.
According to Equilibrium and Curve Coffee’s Cherry Cruz, “What we do is not an easy task, but we take pride in taking one step forward, one farmer at a time.”
Curve has provided four micro farmers and two cooperatives with the necessary tools and knowledge to improve locally grown coffee.
Curve Coffee offers the following bean variants: Atin Ito (80 percent Benguet arabica, 20 percent Mindanao robusta), Maisog (50 percent arabica, 50 percent premium robusta from Mindanao), Hard Work (100 percent arabica single origin), Atok Benguet, Tuba Benguet, Ampucao Benguet, Bukidnon arabica, and fine robusta from Lake Napalit in Bukidnon.
For coffee and tea bar service and for Curve Coffee, contact Equilibrium (02) 8623041 to 43, or 09228337374.
The Oh So Healthy! success story
MANILA, Philippines — No matter how old you are, it is never too late to do something you want.
This holds true for Filipina-Chinese businesswoman Almay Gaw-See, chief executive officer of Innovative Packaging Industry Corp. (IPC), a Bulacan-based food firm that manufactures fruit crisps using purple yam and camote under the Oh So Healthy! brand.
See knew it was risky to open a food business but she didn’t want to miss this chance.
Having been involved in the manufacture of consumer goods for multinational firms for over 20 years, See decided to enter the snack food market.
A healthy alternative to snack food staples, Oh So Healthy! crisps are made from 100 percent real fruits. Each of its products are prepared using the most natural ingredients and without any frying or oil.
“Our commitment is to deliver products that help support the local agriculture. We source our products from local producers that advocate for a sustainable and diversified future for farmers,” See said.
After extensive research and development, See and her 12-man team combined certain fruits and came up with three variants (all halal, Kosher and HACCP certified) — Mango Sweet Potato, Purple Yam Banana Coconut and Guava Purple Yam Banana.
“Since this is food, you want to make sure it is not harmful to people and all your claims are science-based and not just from the wind. We want to be the most trusted snack without shortchanging our clients,” See said.
See quickly grew her business to the point where her snacks are now sold in major supermarkets and stores nationwide such as Rustan’s, Robinsons, SM, Landmark, Starbucks and Mercury Drug.
She got her food products on retail shelves in just a span of one year, a big accomplishment for a small producer like IPC.
“Getting into supermarket aisles wasn’t easy. I didn’t realize that you have to negotiate, wait for your turn for months. The whole process was just so tedious,” See said.
Apart from supermarkets, Oh So Healthy! has penetrated the e-commerce market through Lazada, Shopee, Honestbee, Beauty MNL, Shopinas and Metromart.
Oh So Healthy! has also found its way overseas. Its products can now be bought at Lotte supermarkets in Korea, Singapore’s NTUC FairPrice, RedMart and Cold Storage, Hong Kong’s Sogo, China’s Ole’ Supermarket, Seafood City (a Filipino supermarket chain in the US)and Japan’s Yata Supermarket.
“Our vision for the long term is to hit the mainstream market in the US because we want to bring pride to the Filipinos and our Filipino farmers,” See said.
The best part of the story is that that business is making a difference in people’s lives.
IPC has forged an agreement with farmers from Soccsksargen to supply purple yam and camote for its crisp production. It buys the commodity at a price of P35 per kilo, allowing farmers to earn at least P350,000 a month.
“It’s a win-win for us. We are not only helping the farmers. We are also assured of the quality of our product requirements,” See said.
Oh So Healthy! sources majority of its raw materials from Mindanao. But given the high cost of transportation, IPC is considering developing a manufacturing facility in Davao.
“We have to address the supply chain. Right now, we can still manage because we are not yet that scaled up but as we grow, we have to decide where the raw materials will come from,” she said.
As Oh So Healthy! celebrates its third anniversary, See has developed a sense of purpose that fuels her passion to improve the livelihood of small farmers.
“This has been an eye-opener for me. I am so thankful that we decided to do this. I feel so fulfilled compared to what I used to do before. I have learned so much and it is true what they say that you should consider yourself blessed when you can be thankful for the hard work that you put in,” See said.
“My biggest takeaway is that you really have to love what you do. It’s like I found a new passion. I have been telling my kids that if they do something, they should help humanity in their own way,” she added.
Almay Gaw and Charles Tiu don’t believe that healthy has to mean bad-tasting. Both with a background in manufacturing and quality systems, Gaw and Tiu set out to prove that sentiment with Oh So Healthy! Fruit Crisps. This innovative all-natural snack is unlike what you would typically expect from fruit crisps—they are not thick, chewy, slices of fruit, but instead a blended purée of local fruits that are dried into a thin, craggy, crunchy, flat square that is as easy to bite through as a thick cut kettle chip.
Oh So Healthy! Fruit Crisps come in 3 flavors (all Halal, Kosher, ISO and HACCP certified) made from local produce: Guava Purple Yam Banana, Purple Yam Banana Coconut, and Mango Sweet Potato Banana. The first flavor is ideal for those with a taste for the sour, with the guava flavor coming strongly through and following it up with a mellow banana note. The second, the closest to more savory flavors as the ube offers the forefront taste with a coconut-y twinge. The third is, unsurprisingly, the sweetest, with the mango shining through and the banana making an appearance towards the end.
Instead of frying the crisps, they are dried using heat to remove moisture, which results in a longer shelf-life than if they were fried. This also ensures that natural enzymes are maintained, so you can “snack smart” with crisps that are high in potassium and other nutrients, with no artificial additives or sugar added. Each variant is made up of just eight ingredients, and come in resealable bags of bright colored hues that have caught our eye as well as buyers in Australia, USA, Canada and China. The crisps can be purchased at Shopwise or Rustan’s for only PHP 95 a bag, a price well-worth a snack that may change the way you think of healthy snacks forever.
Nowadays, it’s not that hard to look for healthy food to munch on. You just go to malls and you’ll find them in no time. The want for anything wellness-related is increasing, but it can get quite costly. Luckily for us, one local brand wants to help us achieve our fitness goals in a much affordable way. Check out Oh So Healthy!
Oh So Healthy! is a 100% locally made snack line with 100% natural ingredients turned into Fruit Crisps. The handpicked flavors are Filipino favorites like mango, banana, guava, coconut, and purple yam. Those components are then turned into flaky and crispy chips without the use of oils. It is generally much healthier since it does not make use of unhealthy fats, artificial sweeteners, or preservatives.
This flavor is the sweetest of them all. You might think that the prevailing taste would be the banana, but it can only be noticed in the aftertaste. Upon biting the chips, you’ll immediately taste mango—almost like a crispy Dried Mango. If Mango is your favorite flavor (with a hint of banana at the end), this is perfect for you.
Purple Yam, locally known as ube, is a Filipino favorite. It’s semi-sweet with a savory taste that you’ll crave for over and over again. Turned into a chip added with banana, it’s a delicious way to fill your stomach with vitamins and nutrients. The hints of coconut make it more flavorful in terms of sweetness.
Personally, I have not tasted a real guava before, so I thought I would not know what it would taste like. As I munched on this flavor, though, I immediately recognized a distinct flavor that’s slightly sour, but still pleasant to the tastebuds—it’s surprisingly delicious! The taste of guava really packs a punch and it goes well—believe it or not—with banana and purple yam.
My favorite is definitely the Guava Purple Yam Banana flavor. Honestly, I thought I would go for the Purple Yam Banana Coconut since ube is my all-time favorite flavor, but the Guava Purple Yam Banana is something else. I made my friend try it and he also chose this as his favorite flavor. One friend of mine commented on my post and said she could eat the Guava Purple Yam Banana all day. I think that goes to show just how good it is! If you’re not convinced, try it yourself.
Oh So Healthy! Fruit Crisps are available at any Metromart, Rustan’s, SM Snack Exchange, and Shopwise Supermarket for only Php95, way cheaper compared to other international brands that usually cost more than Php200. Aside from that, I love how we can help local farmers by patronizing Oh So Healthy! because it’s a way of supporting our country’s agriculture.
*You can also order online at Beauty MNL and Lazada.
Try this yummy snack and get ready to show off your beach-ready body this summer!