I'm a sucker for new, interesting foods and food products, provided they are healthy, taste great and have ingredients that I can understand.
About six months ago or so, I wrote a story about baobab for the Kitchn. It was a primer on this African superfood which comes from the baobab tree and is packed with antioxidants. I've been tossing a scoop of the powder into my smoothies (when I can remember!) ever since I found it in the supermarket last year. But truth be told, I first encountered the fruit of what's called "the tree of life" in the form of baobab chews, in the bulk section at Wegmans (but they've been gone for months and months, sadly). The tiny orange cubes of what looks like dried fruit caught my eye, and I had to try them. Well, they are truly one of the most delicious iterations of what's akin to a dried fruit that I've encountered: there are no chemicals, no preservatives, no added sugar. In other words, there are ingredients you can pronounce. I don't hand down that praise lightly. For a while there, we were popping them into oatmeal and eating them by the handful; they tasted like super-concentrated mango, are packed with Vitamin C, fiber and claim to have ten times the antioxidant level of blueberries.
Bonga Foods is one such company at the vanguard of taking this and other indigenous foods and transforming them into highly palatable and nutrient-packed products. The lovely part about Bonga, other than the fact that it's owned by three women, is the company's commitment to sustainability: it supports the people who make their products possible by donating 10 percent of its profits to its corporate foundation, which "empowers women and children throughout the world, support local harvesters, and encourages the sustainability of growing areas through the fair and ethical trade of agricultural products," according to its marketing materials.
The company is working toward extending its product line by adding chia and moringa superfood chews and powders, which contain B vitamins, magnesium, calcium, antioxidants and amino acids. We know about chia seeds and their nutritional storehouses, but moringa leaves may be less familiar. Referred to as "the miracle tree," it is native to the Himalayas, but also found in Africa, Central America and the Caribbean. Historically, its oil has been used to treat a variety maladies including inflammation, scurvy, bronchitis, and so forth. Its leaves are packed with Vitamins A and C, calcium, protein and potassium.
To that end, they've launched a Kickstarter campaign that expires on June 7, with the goal of raising $30,000. (The incentives include various permutations of their product line.) They sent me some products so new that the packaging design hasn't been finalized yet. Pending the success of the fundraiser, the baobab prizes will be delivered this summer, whereas the chia and moringa chews will be available for delivery in spring 2016. They sent me a few to sample. If you donate to their Kickstarter campaign (contributions start at just $16), you'll be helping these products get on the shelves faster.
The company sent me a few samples of their very new Chia Superfood Chews to try and they're pretty tasty. (The moringa chews weren't available.) They're a great little snack that my kids would like, too—if I can part with them. I can imagine these getting packed into my purse for a mid-afternoon snack or hip pack during a hike. I would also likely throw the chews into cookies or other baked goods, or top them on oatmeal or use them as a granola add-in. The possibilities are endless.
Here's a brief run-down of ingredients. All contain white chia seeds, brown rice flour, pectin and vanilla. Sweety Potato contains sweet potato, cinnamon, ginger, lemon; Groovy Green has chard, spinach, zucchini, apricot, cucumber, green lentils, green apple, lemon and kiwi; Yummy Yellow contains yellow peppers, yellow lentils, pumpkin puree, mango, melon, pear and apricot; Ruby Red offers beet, carrots, morello cherries, red lentils, strawberries and apple puree. All are non-GMO, gluten free and vegan.
Please note: I was not compensated in any way shape or form to write about this new product. I simply like it, and want to share it. I had a pretty good suspicion I would enjoy them, based on my feeling about their baobab chews, so giving Bonga Foods a shout-out was a no-brainer for me.