We all know Kuwait isn’t up there on the list of healthiest places in the world. A lot of the time even if we want to opt for the healthy choice it’s not always so easy to find. But if you dig through the piles of processed foods, and ignore the chains offering junk and explore a little, you’ll be surprised.
Did you know, for example, that Kuwait has a gluten-free bakery? Well, it does. And not only is it gluten-free, it’s also a local concept started by three sisters; Mai, Sarah and Ghada Khalaf, who benefitted personally after ridding their diet of gluten. We wanted to know more about the gluten-free movement here at bazaar, so who better to ask than the three sisters who founded Firin; Kuwait’s first gluten-free bakery.
Why did you choose to follow a Gluten-free lifestyle?
At first, it was part of a three week detox diet. The purpose was to eliminate processed foods from our lives, and although it was tough in the beginning because gluten is in almost everything we eat, we felt so much better and more energetic after the diet that we decided to continue on a gluten-low diet. Eating gluten-free made us more aware of overall food quality.
Why might somebody follow a Gluten-free diet?
There are many reasons to follow a gluten-free diet, and this depends on the individual, but overall going gluten-free can mean more energy levels along with reduced digestive issues.
Modern day diets have become gluten-rich, and we need to make a conscious effort to reduce this as it can have a negative impact on our health. Therefore we have witnessed an increased number of gluten-free followers. Especially athletes that believe it improves their digestion leading to improved absorption of nutrients, which can then translate into improved performance. A prime example is Novak Djokovic who has dominated the tennis world since he switched to a gluten-free diet. And the list of celebrities going gluten-free is growing; among them are Russell Crowe, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Victoria Beckham.
If you have celiac disease, gluten intolerance, wheat allergy, or another health issue caused by gluten, the only way to heal your body is to completely eliminate gluten from your diet. Completely. 100%. A “little bit” of gluten is not OK.
Do you think that there is a demand for gluten-free products in Kuwait?
The Kuwaiti consumer is growing more health-conscious, and as people become more aware of the benefits of a gluten-free diet, such as it helping the body with nutrient absorption and improving digestive health, demand will grow. At Firin, we believe there is demand for the healthier alternatives in the Kuwaiti market.
Moreover, the number of people diagnosed with celiac disease in Kuwait is rapidly increasing, as awareness of the disease spreads. And we would like to contribute to the society by providing an alternative for those who cannot enjoy the breads and cakes that we take for granted.
Can someone tell a difference in taste between Gluten and Gluten-free food?
You can think of gluten as the glue that holds breads and cakes together. By eliminating gluten from flour the end product is usually dry and crumbly. However, many advancements have taken place in gluten-free cooking, and I am proud to say that Firin’s gluten-free cakes and breads taste as good, if not better than, many of the baked good out in the market. I personally believe we have some of the best muffins in Kuwait!
What gluten-free delights does Firin offer?
Firin offers a wide variety of products including cupcakes, chai o haleeb and bundt cakes. For those who prefer savory dishes, Firin offers a variety of breads and fatayer. We also have gluten-free pasta and other frozen breads that can be prepared at home. Our intention is to grow into a complete supplier of gluten-free foods.
What are your personal favorites?
I love our eggplant fatayer, they make a great healthy lunch when at work. I also love our chai o haleeb cake that goes so well with tea or coffee whenever you need a small snack. If you fancy some gluten-free cooking yourself, you can always purchase our Bob’s Red Mill flours and try some gluten-free pancakes at home, they’re delicious!