Amherst couple creates healthy pasta with hopes of getting it into stores nationwide
AMHERST, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - A couple in Amherst, after many years of overcoming adversity and trial and error, have come up with what they call the perfect healthy pasta recipe. Now, they’re marketing it across the country.
Do you enjoy pasta? Does it spike your blood sugar too much? Well, meet Arash Hashemi and his wife, Madalina Defta, two people from the corporate world who have found their way into private enterprise through their desire for healthy pasta.
“I was seeing a lot of companies starting to launch lower-carb, higher-protein pancake mixes, waffles, breads, but I wasn’t really happy with the pasta alternatives that existed. A lot of them either tasted fishy, had questionable ingredients, or they just didn’t scratch that pasta itch,” Hashemi said.
Born in Amherst and after growing up in the U.S., Iran, and Canada, Arash worked in finance for years, but decided in 2017 that career was not for him. As for Defta, being of Romanian descent, she dealt with adversity while in the Netherlands and appreciates where she is now.
“I constantly got bypassed by Dutch colleagues. I was constantly told ‘I can’t do more,’ so for us, it’s more of a personal mission to make sure everybody gets a seat at the table,” Defta added.
After several years of trials and errors, they finally came up with the right recipe with the help of lupin beans. In 2022, Kaizen Food Company was born.
“Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement,” Hashemi explained. “Kaizen is about taking small gradual steps towards achieving greatness in whatever it is you’re doing and kaizen, really, is a philosophy that essentially says ‘the big things are the little things and the little things are the big things.’”
What makes this pasta stand out? The Kaizen brand has 15 grams of fiber, which makes it have less net carbs than traditional and chickpea pasta, and Kaizen has fewer calories than the other two, as well as more protein. The duo has mainly sold the product either online or direct to consumer, with the goal of selling in stores soon. It’s a journey that has developed over time.
“You got to constantly be a student, you got to constantly learn, apply new skills, reach out to experts in the area, reach out to your consumers, get their feedback, and iterate. Make whatever it is you’re doing, your craft, better,” Hashemi added.
Hashemi and Defta hope to have their pasta on shelves across the country, including in western Massachusetts, starting early next year. They also plan to continue to inspire others, so they, too, can have a recipe for success.
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