Ketogenic (or keto) diets are growing in popularity around the world due to their many health benefits. The diet calls for a high fat and low carb selection of foods, which previously limited adherents to a slim and sometimes grim menu. Fortunately, that isn’t the case any longer.
Keto My Heart is a collaboration between Chelsea Harrison, owner of Victoria’s Hot and Cold Café, and Kaisha Scofield, nutritionist and founder of Well and Strong Health. Their selection of tasty treats highlights the growing options available to keto diet enthusiasts.
We caught up with Kaisha to learn more about this health food business and their selection of keto treats.
How did the business start?
Chelsea and I are both food enthusiasts and we come at it from completely different sides. I am a nutritionist by trade and she’s the owner of the Hot and Cold Café, which is in Cook Street Village in Victoria.
In my work running nutrition programs I had clients that were really enthusiastic to cut down on their sugar intake and would ask me a lot of questions about keto diets. They wanted to know which foods were keto friendly, diabetic friendly, rich in nutrients and so on. Some of them had been training really hard but didn’t have the nutrition side of things nailed down.
So, knowing that Chelsea was an incredible cook, and a close friend for a long time, I kind of strong armed her into putting together a few food items that could help serve what these people were looking for. Keto My Heart was born out of that.
After tasting the results of the first batch, we booked a booth at the Oakland Market in Victoria on a whim. I think we started off there every second week. Now, it’s grown considerably and we’re at the Moss Street Market every single Saturday. We’ve been there for the whole summer and we finish up there for the season at the end of October.
How else can people buy your products?
We have an online shop which is at KetoMyHeart.ca. Until the end of October, people can order on the shop and pick everything up at the market on Saturdays. I realize that’s quite soon and we are constantly working on our ‘forever plan’ but unfortunately this global pandemic kind of kicked that in the teeth. So, until things blow over and the food industry kind of opens up a little more, we’re going to be doing the same pre-ordering online and the pickup will happen on Mondays at the Hot and Cold Café.
What are some of your most popular products?
The crazy thing about every single item we make is that there are no grains and no sugar, which is not an easy thing to accomplish if you want a health food that also tastes really good. Our most popular product that falls into that category is our seedy bread. It’s completely grain free, there’s no rice flour, there’s no oat flour, there’s no potato starch – it’s all seeds. We use psyllium husk powder, chia and flaxseed.
The result is, we end up with a grain free and a gluten free bread that not only behaves like a normal bread, so it slices and freezes and toasts – you can make French toast grilled cheese out of it – but it also has tons of micronutrients because of all the seeds. There are people in the keto community and they haven’t had bread since they started, it was just completely off the table for them. They would send us a photo of them having their first bite of toast in a year with a tear streaming down their face – they’re just completely over the moon.
Our biggest problem has been that we can’t keep up with demand each week!
It sounds like a lot of experimentation goes into the recipes?
A lot to be honest! With our sweeter products there’s a lot less leeway. Once you take out the traditional sugar there are limited alternatives. We use the likes of stevia or erythritol monk fruit and there’s a certain flavour you’re going to get when you do that.
To give an example of the experimentation, we recently posted an update to our Instagram of our seedy bread. It showed where the bread was on our first attempt, compared to where it is now. It started as like this soggy brick that people were so happy to have. Over time, we’ve been able to refine it to the point that it’s now a fluffy, beautifully browned loaf-shaped bread. It’s evolved considerably.
We also like to change up our menu regularly. We take out probably two or three items from our menu every month. Sometimes we’ll have things like tarts, and recently we offered a salted caramel cinnamon bun. It’s really fun for us because we get to experiment with it but we’re such a small business that it lets people give us direct feedback and let us know if they’d like to see a certain flavour come back.
How much does customer feedback work into your decisions?
To an extent. At the end of the day, there’s only two of us. A lot of the time the biggest request we get from our customers is to please just make more stuff and that’s definitely in the works!
But we do absolutely take the feedback on board. For example, we have these fat bomb flavours we adjust once a month. Right now, we’re selling a turmeric fat bomb because one of our customers came to us and said ‘hey, I really like turmeric and it would taste great in a fat bomb’ – turns out they were right!
What impact has healthy eating and the keto diet had in your life?
It’s had a massive impact. In fact, it’s everything to this business. The keto diet, and I’m using air quotes here, ‘alternative diets’ are viewed with a lot of misconception. People don’t understand how keto works, they think it’s just eating bacon etc. but it’s so much more than that.
As a nutritionist, it’s really nice to be able to hear people’s questions, listen to the struggles they’ve been having, and really clear up some of those misconceptions. Alongside how popular our creations have been, the ability to share our knowledge and help people discover more has meant everything to us for this business.
What’s your favourite other small business?
This is a little ironic for a nutritionist but I really love ice cream. She does do the occasional sugar free ice cream to be fair, but I just love her craft and her appreciation for what she does. Seeing the creativity with some of the flavours is incredible.
Another local business I love is Fatso Peanut Butter. I remember when it first hit the shelves I was jumping up and down in the aisle because somebody finally understood the importance of healthy fats. She’s helping to bust that myth, alongside us and other companies, that the right fats are actually very good for you!
What’s your favourite place in BC?
That’s an extremely tough question! Speaking for both Chelsea and I, I’m going to have to say Saltspring Island because we were both born there. We’re both part of a really large close-knit friend group and we go back there every year to celebrate a birthday so it means a lot to us as a place.
Why do you think it’s so important to support local small businesses?
I actually prepared a written answer for this one!
Local businesses are owned by your friends, they’re owned by your future friends, and I have a couple of really good friends I met just from shopping at their small business. When you shop at these stores you bump into your neighbours, family members and there’s just such a sense of community about them. I feel like supporting local small businesses may be the easiest way to put love back into your community.
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