For the life of her, Chaitali Raizada can't understand how people wolf down burgers and French fries. And it is stranger when she hears parents blaming their children for bad food choices. And so, no wonder, this 37-year-old, who learnt her lessons on nutrition early, is on a 'good food' mission.
"The truth is that parents are so entrenched in a certain lifestyle that they would rather pass on a bag of potato chips than take the effort to eat healthy. A child will only pick among choices he or she is exposed to," says Raizada.
Today, with the message of healthy eating, she runs Taantraa, a baking unit where she creates cakes and muffins to suit vegan, gluten free diets.
"I always enjoyed baking. It became an even more consuming passion once Aanyaa, my daughter was born. I didn't want her to have any of the white stuff like refined flour or sugar," says Raizada. So she made cakes using jaggery, multigrain flour (sprouted wheat, wheat, ragi and jowar and bajra) and wheatgrass.
Two years ago, Raizada, while still working with an IT major in Bangalore, went from home baker to part-time entrepreneur to start Taantraa. "I would bake through the night, after work. I started with five flavours of cakes, now there are fourteen," she says. Of those, the Moong Dal Cake is Raizada's signature bake. "It came from finding a way to get my daughter to have her proteins."
While Raizada goes the extra length to ensure wholesome ingredients and taste, she's aware that it's only half the battle won in propagating healthy food choices. "These cakes don't look half as good as they taste, especially since cosmetically dressing them up with whipping cream or colours is not part of my philosophy. So getting people to take the first bite is the challenge," says Raizada, who since February, this year, quit her job to focus on her Indiranagar-based venture.
Raizada insists that investing in homemade healthy food is what can keep us away from the commercialisation of food that we see around. "All of us can take small steps to reject this marketing blitzkrieg that forces us to make wrong food product choices. It's worth its while to invest in homemade food that is closest to our culture."
And she has her suggestions. "It would be better to pick rock salt or sea salt over regular white salt and instead of white sugar that's been bleached, palm sugar, coconut sugar or date sugar would be a fine option," she says.
According to her, these choices gradually become part of one's life and you won't enjoy the chemically processed alternatives any more. "My daughter, who is now nine, has caught on with my food sensibilities. Now when she has regular cakes elsewhere, she comes back saying how bad it tasted. I can't tell you how gratifying it is to know that she already recognises good from bad," she states.