There is an Instagram quote currently doing the rounds that says, "If cauliflower can be a pizza, you really can be anything you put your mind to." While they do have a point, we couldn't be happier. Because who can say refuse an opportunity to sneak a vegetable into our children - regardless of the way it's delivered?
Lorraine Sarayeldin knew this all too well when she developed PomPom Paddock, a company designed to help you unleash your culinary creativity through simple and super nutritious, plant-based products.
With their signature cauliflower flour, they’ve created a bespoke gluten and wheat-free product that can be used as a cup-for-cup flour replacement. Muffins, cupcakes, pizzas … You’ve met your healthy match.
You founded PomPom Paddock with the mission to create simple, delicious and nutritious, plant-based products that promote health & wellbeing – talk us through your career path and how PomPom Paddock came about?
My background and experience has largely been a corporate one, having spent over 15 years at an international property group. I am fortunate to have held a number of senior roles – from Project Director of a new master planned community to my current role as Head of Experimental Projects. In the latter role I head up our Innovation Lab in Australia.
My current role involves helping others validate their ideas in the market using the design thinking methodology. This methodology is a skill-set I was taught first-hand having undertaken an executive program at Stanford University’s d.school in San Francisco in 2017. It taught me the importance of having an idea that responded to a real problem, not a nice to have, and how to quickly prototype and get something in front of your customers for feedback without wasting weeks and money assuming you’ve got a product they need.
Through what I learnt at Stanford University’s d.school I took that methodology and applied it to my own ambition to create something meaningful to myself and for others. This was realised when I was faced with the challenge of finding riced cauliflower at a time when the local grocery stores had run out (our daughter loves it!). I then tried to discover if there was a problem worth solving – which led to me spending the next two years researching, talking with my targeted customer group, testing and learning and then forming a multi-disciplinary team comprising of subject matter experts, including food technologists, branding and design consultants to help me get to where I am today.
How do you incorporate plant-based products in your life – what does a typical day look like on your plate?
I am very grateful for my traditional Mediterranean upbringing, when my mum spent hours in the kitchen making amazing meals and I’ve now tried to continue that with my own daughter- less the hours! As long as I can remember, we always enjoyed fruit and vegetables with every meal, starting with cucumbers and tomatoes alongside our scrambled eggs, to smoky eggplant, cauliflower and chickpea ragu for lunch and stuffed zucchini with pine nuts and rice for dinner. Vegetables were never seen as a side dish; they were mostly treated as a main.
I try to carry this on with my own family today. Luckily my daughter has a similar palette to me and loves a broccoli ‘tree’ and a cauliflower ‘pompom’ with her meals.
I typically have meat-free lunches during the week, with big salads, nuts and avocado and at dinner, I make the vegetables the hero of the dish and supplement it with lean meat and fish.
What are some healthy snacks for mums on the run?
I love to pack overnight soaked walnuts and dates – something I learnt from my mum. I find it keeps me satiated for longer and fuels me while I’m on the go. I also love to make PomPom rosemary flat breads with a dip like hummus or labneh. The flatbreads are very easy & quick to make and great for a wholesome snack throughout the week.
Talk to us about how we can all incorporate more plant-based foods into our children’s diets?
Trying to get kids to eat vegetables is not always so easy and my advice is to start small and try to integrate it into their favourite dishes (subterfuge helps a lot). With my daughter, I made it fun, calling broccoli ‘little trees’ and riced cauliflower ‘rainbow rice’. I found she loved the whole storytelling part of it.
More recently, my daughter always stops to ask if a cupcake she is having is made with PomPom. She just loves them so much. I find with other cupcakes she would eat the topping only, but with PomPom cupcakes she eats it all up. What’s really helpful with PomPom Flour is your sneaking in some vegetables and essential nutrients and minerals, without them even knowing it. The neutral taste and texture of our PomPom Flour makes it so versatile, suiting sweet as well as savoury recipes.
Have you always been passionate about health and wellbeing?
I’m a strong believer in putting one’s health and wellbeing first in order to function at your optimum level and be the best you can for yourself and others around you. From regular exercise, to the food I eat and even the people I choose to be around, all these facets I believe contribute to my overall health and wellbeing.
This has motivated me to create something meaningful to me and others, by giving people something back in unexpected ways. We’re all about healthy eating where you least expect it. Our mission at PomPom Paddock is to create simple, delicious and nutritious plant-based products that promote health and wellbeing.
I’m committed to providing great tasting nutrient-rich products that allow you to indulge and not feel guilty about it. I want you to have the freedom to unleash your culinary creativity and be inspired to make wholesome, sweet and savoury foods that are enjoyed by family and friends.
Where did the idea for your first product – your signature cauliflower flour – come from?
Our first product, the signature Cauliflower Flour Mix came about from a problem I could see in the market, where there was no direct ‘wholesome’ cup for cup flour replacement. All gluten-free flours required other flours to mix it in with and were devoid of any nutrients, just declaring the gluten-free status. I could see people struggling with the offering, having to find special recipes, accept the underwhelming performance of the flour and accept being worse off with flour that lacked nutrients.
I found that the foundation for most of the food I was creating, such as flatbreads, muffins and pizza bases all had a common ingredient ‘flour’ but there were no nutritional benefits in them. I could make the best pizza with the best quality toppings but at the end of the day, I was putting it on to essentially what was a piece of cardboard, having no nutritional value.
So, I decided to up the ‘free from’ status and give the nutritional benefits back!
Can you share some delicious recipes which feature the cauliflower flour?
We’ve had a wide range of delicious recipes developed that demonstrate how versatile and easy the flour is to work with- like corn fritters for breakfast, pumpkin savoury muffins for lunch to after-dinner treats like apple pie & brownies. We’ve had Justine Poole, a food stylist and recipe developer for Donna Hay, create some simple, beautiful recipes and nutritionist Jacqueline Alwill, Brown Paper Nutrition, create our most recent recipe where we ‘disrupt the lunchbox’.
Essentially whatever you would use plain flour for, just replace with PomPom Flour without the need for any additional flours and the only thing that limits you is your imagination. It’s literally a cup for cup replacement for plain flour. We’ve tested, learned and tested again to give you a great performing flour, that is neutral in taste and texture, but adds nutrients and minerals like calcium, magnesium and iron to keep you feeling great.
How long did you work on the launch of PomPom Paddock? What were some of the challenges of working on your own business and how did you overcome them?
We just recently launched PomPom Paddock on 22 October, but it all started during the summer holidays in 2017, where I was immersed and obsessed with validating that there was a problem to be solved! During this time, the biggest challenge was bringing the product to market while maintaining a full-time senior role at a global organisation. In having to juggle work and family life, I found I had to be very disciplined and strategic with my time and tap into subject matter experts when it was needed so that I wasn’t wasting precious time trying to re-invent the wheel. One of my other biggest challenges was saying no to investors along the way, because I wanted to retain full ownership and control to pursue my singular vision for PomPom Paddock.
There are many unforeseen challenges we come across as we embark on building a new business, however I find having someone you can discuss your thoughts with, like a mentor or close friend, really helps provide clarity in thought and decision making.
What are some practical tips/advice for women wanting to start their own business?
The key for me is to establish that there is a need for your proposed product or service in the market. What resonated with me most was something the Stanford University’s d.school Professors shared during one of our classes. You want to create a solution that solves a real pain/need that your customer is experiencing. The solution needs to act like a ‘pain killer’, just like something you reach out to when you have a migraine to make the pain go away, not a ‘vitamin supplement’ that’s a nice to have and doesn’t solve an immediate need. We all forget to take our vitamins sometimes, but do we ever forget to take a pain killer when we have a migraine? The solution you create needs to be the first thing someone reaches out for when they experience a problem!
Running your own business can be all-consuming – how do you structure your time/do you have down-time/switch off?
I’m very disciplined with my time and have key actions set for the week. At the end of each day, I set my top 3 priorities that I need to address for the following day. I also turn off my emails for 90mins each day, to avoid distractions.
My switch-off time is when I spend time with my daughter after school and then get back into it when I get her to bed. I also get some exercise in 3 times a week early morning before everyone is up. It’s important you have time out, to focus on family and also refresh and recharge the mind.
What are your time management tips – how do you fit it all in?
Routine helps me get through my weeks and disciplined time management is key. I set my overall actions for the week and then identify priorities at the end of each day, so I start each day focused and clear on what needs to get done that day.
I also have a deep focused time where I turn off my emails for 90 minutes each day. I love this as it’s where I can either get something out that’s urgent, read about anything inspirational or getaway to get some blue-sky thinking happening.
What’s next for PomPom Paddock?
Having just launched PomPom Paddock and our signature Cauliflower Flour Mix that’s now stocked in Maloneys Grocer stores in Sydney and Go Vita stores nationally, the growth of our product range is underway with a few exciting products soon to be released like a Pancake Shake & Pour Mix, a low carb Gluten Free Cauliflower Pizza Base and low carb Cauliflower Pizza Flour. We’re continuing to have some conversations locally and globally with some exciting announcements on new stockists coming soon.
We’re also open to meaningful collaborations, that are not necessarily food-based, from health & fitness to lifestyle. Watch this space!