Roughly 83 percent of Singaporeans aged 17 to 35 indulge in light snacking. A vast majority of that percentage cite chips and chocolate as the most popular choices, and about 100 percent of those facts are made up. Okay that was cheap fun but hey, the only reason you fell for it is because it does sound pretty plausible. We won’t be surprised if real stats don’t differ much worldwide.
Snacking is easily an addictive mindless joy where, like any other sin, the only bad part comes when it’s all over. You know, when the guilt and regret of what you just did sinks in. Which was exactly what ZENKO Superfoods co-founder Wouter Duyck wanted to eliminate from the equation.
“We didn’t want people to feel heavy, sluggish—and yes guilty—from eating our snacks,” he says, as he goes on to spell out the benefits of these little-known popped seeds. Get your checklist ready. Low in calories, low in fat, zero trans-fat, high in fibre, rich in calcium, low GI, and a good source of protein and antioxidants; check, check, and check.
Without sounding like we’re reading off the pack, the snacks also boast that they’re gluten-free, organic, non-GMO, and vegan or vegetarian depending on flavour. We’ve not even touched on the energy-boosting, blood pressure, and heart health bit. But let’s face it; these terms don’t mean much to you unless you’re into labels. No judgement there—we’re understandably increasingly health-conscious nowadays, but the average consumer mainly wants to know one thing: DO THEY TASTE GOOD.
…We’ll get to that. Allow us to give a quick backstory on what Water Lily Pops are in the first place. You’re likely not familiar with Makhana (are we demeaning you with our assumptions? Deal with it.), a North Indian staple that dates from 2,000 years ago. Duyck emphatically shares how he stumbled upon the ancient ceremonial food, a primary offering to Goddesses during festivals, on a trip to Bihar two years ago.
We essentially followed random leads, from a back alley to this guy’s bedroom,” he grins at the memory and furnishes the story with photos. Not as dodgy as we were picturing, but still. Both he and fellow founder Jochim Goedeweeck, whom he met in Singapore and found near instant rapport, soon found themselves at the ponds at the Himalayan foothills.
“The closer towards the village we got, the less English was spoken, to the point we were literally just showing pictures and using hand gestures.” The pair evidently feel affinity for the community, and though modernising the manufacturing with machinery, they continue to work directly with the local farmers in the production process.
Now for the answer we’ve all been waiting for—yes, they do taste good. Think of texture as salted popcorn on steroids; airier crunch sans the kernel mess (plus, 50 percent less fat and 20 percent less calories so 70 percent less guilt #math). For such minimal ingredient list, flavour is sufficient. The current selection is savoury, but the brand’s latest product, Ancient Grain Clusters i.e. popped Sorghum (you may know this as the cereal grain that goes into baijiu) will satisfy sweet preferences.
Superfoods have yet to be explicitly defined, but general consensus attributes superior nutritional qualities, mostly natural production, and often consumption by indigenous communities for disease-preventive qualities. So while the official stamp of science approval awaits, couple that with the psychology of snacking in that it rarely stems from real hunger, this is a snack we’d be happy to put into our system.
The ZENKO Superfoods Water Lily Pops are available online and across most supermarkets locally.