Earlier this year, Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery participated in a culinary tour of Los Angeles with the Almond Board of California, visiting restaurants and meeting with select product innovators. One product line that the Almond Board brought to our attention was the range of better-for-you gluten-free breads from Surya Spa. The breads feature healthy ingredients like fruit and nuts, and also some ingredients more akin to Ayurveda than baked goods, opening some interesting conversations. We reached out to Pam Soffer, director of product development at Surya Spa in Los Angeles to learn more.
Douglas J. Peckenpaugh: What prompted the creation of Surya Spa Bread?
Pam Soffer: Surya Spa is an Ayurvedic Spa & Clinic in Los Angeles, which focuses on authentic Ayurveda, a 10,000-year-old system of health and well-being from India. Ayurveda combines highly individualized diet recommendations, nourishing therapies and customized herbal remedies to heal and balance body and mind. At Surya, we specialize in Panchakarma Series, where a guest is with us for 4 hours per day, and for anywhere between 3 to 21 days, depending on their health concerns and goals. We started making this bread in-house for our clients so that, while following an Ayurvedic diet during Panchakarma, they could enjoy something nourishing and delicious that was also anti-inflammatory—and actually healing. As it turned out, the bread became very popular, and we outgrew our ability to produce in our own ovens, and started working with a wonderful certified gluten-free kitchen called Bite Me Kitchen.
DJP: What different types of bread are available?
PS: We currently have three flavors of our almond flour bread that come in both regular loaves and mini loaves: Apple Date, Gingered Pear & Turmeric and Almond Banana Walnut. We’re also working on a vegan version, without eggs, that should be ready for production soon.
DJP: How did you decide upon the specific ingredient combinations in the breads?
PS: Although all of the breads are generally balancing and anti-inflammatory, each of the varieties was created with fruits and herbs that help to balance one of our Ayurvedic doshas, which, in Ayurveda are the three biological energies, the constituents, that govern our physical and mental processes. Vata is associated with wind and air; pitta with fire; and kapha with the solidity of earth and water. According to Ayurveda, we are all born in a perfect balance, but when any of our doshas slip out of balance, we begin to feel uneasy, and that unease, unless dealt with, will ultimately manifest as disease. Luckily, each person’s doshas can be easily rebalanced, and health and well-being can be restored. The Apple Date bread is cooling, or pitta-balancing (with apple, date, cardamom and nutmeg); Banana Walnut is calming, or vata-balancing (with Ayurvedic herbs like bakopa, ashwaganda and brahmi); and Gingered Pear & Turmeric is energizing or kapha-balancing (with ginger, allspice, black pepper, cumin and turmeric).
DJP: How do almonds fit into Ayurveda?
PS: Almonds, according to Ayurveda, calm the physiology, balance the mind and invigorate the senses. Ayurveda also loves almonds because they promote the production of what’s known as ojas, a subtle substance in our bodies responsible for vitality and longevity.
DJP: Would you consider these breads “functional foods”?
PS: Absolutely! Not only are these breads satisfying and delicious, but each ingredient and herb we use is chosen because of its health benefits: Almond flour provides essential protein and nutrients, flax seed is rich in omegas, coconut flour is high in fiber and healthy fats, arrowroot is a soothing digestive aid, and grape seed flour is extraordinarily high in antioxidants.
DJP: Where can people find the breads besides Surya Spa?
PS: We sell all our breads online at our shop at www.suryagoods.com, and ship nationally anywhere in the U.S. We also sell our breads locally in Los Angeles at the Sunday farmers’ markets in Brentwood, Santa Monica and Pacific Palisades, and will soon be expanding to other markets. We also sell at Huckleberry Café in Santa Monica as an initial retail test that’s been surprisingly successful. We’re the only non-Huckleberry product in the restaurant, and one of their strongest products—customers come specifically for Surya Bread. We also sell through Grub Market, an online grocery. We’re currently expanding into retail markets, but more importantly, we’re poised to expand in wholesale markets, such as hotels, airlines, schools, and possibly the military, which, perhaps not too surprisingly, are also now interested healthy and natural options. Finally, we are in discussions with a Canadian distribution company that would like to wholesale Surya Spa Bread in Canada, including baking the bread in Canada.