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Wholesome, gluten-free fare at Nourish by Kenny Hills Bakers

Wholesome, gluten-free fare at Nourish by Kenny Hills Bakers

At 2.30pm on a sunny Friday afternoon, most eateries are likely to be experiencing a lull – that sweet moment when only a few diners remain after a frenetic lunch service.

At this point, servers might be languidly clearing the scattered detritus of meals left on tables, as the kitchen team takes a well-deserved break.

But at Nourish by Kenny Hills Bakers, no such thing is apparent. Instead, the eatery swells with a teeming mass of people, and new entrants to the restaurant frantically scan the space, hoping they can bag a table.

It’s a strange dichotomy – a packed-to-the-gills restaurant on a late weekday afternoon, but the eatery has clearly cast a spell on the neighbourhood.

Nourish is the brainchild of the same people behind the hugely popular Kenny Hills Bakers, the only difference being that in this outlet, owner Au Tai Hon has roped in his enterprising daughter Tzi Hua Au, who serves as the restaurant manager.

“I was in advertising for two years but as my dad’s business expanded, I thought it was about time that I step into the family business to help out. So now I’m full-time here at Nourish,” she says.

Tzi (second from left) decided to become more involved in the family business and now serves as the manager of Nourish.

Nourish came about because both Tzi and Au noticed that many customers at Kenny Hills Bakers (which makes delicious pastries and cakes) were hankering after gluten-free cakes and pastries.

Initially Tzi (who has some experience making gluten-free fare) started baking from home and supplying to Kenny Hills Bakers, but when the family discovered the already-designed restaurant space in Damansara Heights, they knew the time was ripe to embark on something new.

“It reminded us of the cafes in London where the sun shines through and you can see all the plates of food, so that’s how the concept came about and that’s why we have plates of salads on display in front.

“So we thought what better way to complement this than with gluten-free and refined-sugar free bakes, which a lot of people don’t really offer. And we think that the demand is getting higher for that,” says Tzi, who is also responsible for teaching the staff the intricacies of gluten-free baked treats.

The eatery is bright and cheerful and exudes an instant charm.

Most of the meals at Nourish are made using primarily organic produce (about 60% organic) under the watchful eye of Tzi, who shares her father’s fastidiousness and philosophy about the benefits of making things well.

“Here, all the gluten-free cakes are made in-house because we can’t cross-contaminate. And we try and make everything from scratch – everything that we can make, we will make,” she says.

To fully enjoy a meal at Nourish, pace yourself and experience it in chapters, because trust me, you’ll want to make repeat visits.

If you’re here in the morning for example, you might want a sample of the breakfast menu, served from 8am to 12pm daily. You could opt for the gluten-free toast with house stone-ground peanut butter and berry compote (RM16).

Nourish’s homemade peanut butter is a thick, chunky affair pockmarked with nuts that is enough to make you say (out loud, in my case) – “OMG, what witchery is this?” as you submit yourself to the pleasures of this simple treat.

The roasted pumpkin with goat’s cheese, spinach and tomatoes quiche is so good that you won’t want to share it with anyone.

From the pies and tarts on offer (all made using gluten-free crusts), opt for the quiche of the day, which if you’re lucky, might just be the roasted pumpkin with goat’s cheese, spinach and tomatoes (RM22) served with a salad.

This beguiling temptress is a fantastic example of multiple ingredients coalescing together to form a mouth-watering partnership – from the sweetness of the pumpkins to the salty overtures of the goat’s cheese, everything meshes harmoniously.

The thread that binds everything together is the gluten-free crust – which has a firm bite but gives way easily once prodded.

The salad on the side – the harissa roasted aubergine with pomegranate, sesame seeds and dukkah is a surprisingly filling affair that features tenderly yielding slices of aubergine and a quietly lingering spice element.

The roasted chicken with percik sauce is really, really good as is the tropical salad served on the side.

For an afternoon meal, served from 11am to 5pm daily, there is a litany of things to try. The eatery’s salads are an option for those after light meals, but you can also opt to have your cake and eat it too, as all the main meals are served with a salad.

The classic roast chicken (RM34) with percik sauce features tender chicken blanketed by a rich percik sauce that is spectacularly good – creamy, fiery, piquant and incredibly well-balanced.

The salad on the side is composed of young mango, apple, walnuts, torch ginger buds and a homemade coconut mayonnaise and is an addictively good, tropical mixture evocative of kerabu.

The hearty corn bread and chilli.

The hearty corn bread and chilli (RM35) is made up of house-made corn bread, spiced mixed bean chilli, smashed avocado, sour cream and a poached egg. Although it sounds promising in theory, the corn bread is quite dry and this has a domino effect that effectively renders all the other components less appealing.

Perhaps the absolute best thing on the lunch menu is the crab cakes (RM34). Here, a crispy exterior gives way to an interior that is just brimming with plump tufts of crab meat, its natural sweetness lending a lovely aquatic quality to the meal.

The crab cakes are plump little balls packed full of crab meat.

The salad on the side – in this case, the baby spinach, pumpkin and beetroot with balsamic vinegar and fresh herbs makes for a perfect complement, with fresh, earthy qualities shining through.

The eatery also has daily specials, like the stuffed boneless quail with spinach and cream cheese (RM30). Here, the quail retains a juicy quality that is supplemented by the creaminess of the cheese and spinach stuffed into its hollow.

As a result, each mouthful glides down the throat effortlessly, almost like a child whooshing down a water chute.

Nourish also does a great job of nourishing parched throats, with a selection of homemade beverages like turmeric latte (RM13), sweet potato latte (RM15) and matcha latte (RM13).

The first of the trio and the most trendy of the lot – the turmeric latte – boasts a potent hit of turmeric that becomes quite endearing the more you drink it.

The sweet potato latte on the other hand is an instant charmer, with sweet, root vegetable notes undulating throughout; while the house-made matcha latte has a charcoal-esque undertone that is strangely pleasant.

Of course, you can’t possibly leave a place with such a wide selection of gluten-free cakes without actually trying any of them. Which is why you ought to sample the orange polenta cake (RM15).

Here, orange flavours form the building blocks of this dessert, perfuming the entire dish with freshness and zest. The cake itself is tender although some mouthfuls might yield tiny, gritty polenta granules.

The pecan pie (RM16) meanwhile is one of those hedonistic delights that you’ll find yourself easily falling in love with. Here, pecans are studded in a kaleidoscopic pattern across the surface of this pie, which is lightly sweet without being overbearing.


Ultimately, Tzi says she hopes that Nourish will become a place that people with gluten intolerances (and those looking for gluten-free options) can come to, knowing that there will be a wide array of things for them to eat.

“It’s been very nice to give back to people who don’t have many eating options. Like a customer came in and said she hadn’t had a pie in two years!

“And the sad thing is a lot of people with celiac disease or gluten intolerances don’t get pastries in general unless they make it themselves. And a lot of them don’t have the time or the skill to make it themselves, so this is a very good place for them to get all these products,” she says.

Nourish by Kenny Hills Bakers
No 35, Jalan Medan Setia 1
Damansara Heights
50490 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2011 6990
Open daily: 8am to 6pm

Gluten-free foods marketed to children reveal an ugly truth about the trend, but there’s an easy fix

Gluten-free foods marketed to children reveal an ugly truth about the trend, but there’s an easy fix

Gluten-free kids meals aren't healthier than others, instead they're dosed with less protein and fat, which are better ways to stay full than riding a sugar high.

Gluten-free kids meals aren’t healthier than others, instead they’re dosed with less protein and fat, which are better ways to stay full than riding a sugar high.
Flickr/ Cavale Doom
  • A study of more than 370 “regular” and gluten-free products marketed to kids reveals that gluten-free packaged foods are no healthier, and in some key ways, they’re worse than other processed foods.
  • Gluten-free kids options have got less protein and less fat inside, which are two key ways to fuel up a growing body.
  • Just like so many other processed foods, gluten-free options are loaded with sugar.

If you’re swapping out regular mac and cheese for the rice-based gluten-free variety, choosing gluten-free labeled ice cream over regular, or pulling a gluten-free oatmeal packet off the shelf because you think it’s a healthier breakfast choice, you may want to change your ways – especially if you’re feeding kids.

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics comparing the amount of sugar, fat, salt, and other key ingredients in packaged foods marked “gluten-free” – or “GF” – to their gluten-laden counterparts, as well as products that made no claim, and revealed that the GF-packaged foods aren’t nutritionally better. In some ways, they’re actually worse.

For the study, the authors headed to two big Canadian supermarket chains to survey 374 processed kids meals. They checked out gluten-free options as well as “regular” picks, comparing foods like prepackaged breakfasts and dinners side-by-side. (The study authors excluded junk foods, like candy, chocolate, and chips.)

Remarkably, they found that gluten-free packaged foods had all the regular pitfalls of boxed and bagged foods, and no added benefits. Gluten-free products had less protein and fat, but nearly just as much sugar, if not more.

Food scientist Joaquim Calvo Lerma, who led another recent study of gluten-free foods and came up with similar results, said it’s clear the GF industry needs to course correct:

“As more and more people are following a gluten-free diet to effectively manage celiac disease, it is imperative that foods marketed as substitutes are reformulated to ensure that they truly do have similar nutritional values,” Lerma said in a release.

“This is especially important for children, as a well-balanced diet is essential to healthy growth and development.”

Roughly 1 in 100 kids is born with celiac disease, a genetic disorder that can cause damage to the intestines if the babes ingest gluten.

But the issue with nutrient-poor, gluten-free foods affects a much broader segment of the population, because many people who don’t have celiac think they’re doing their health a favor by choosing gluten-free products at the store.

A recent survey of consumers in Washington state found that roughly one in three shoppers choose gluten-free products because they believe they are a healthier alternative. Another 23% do it to lose weight, while just 17% of people buying gluten-free options are actually gluten-sensitive, allergic to wheat, or have celiac. The Pediatrics study authors say that many of these people are being duped by the gluten-free label, which has become a clever marketing tool for food companies, but not a marker of nutritional content.Cheerios Gluten Free

General Mills

“Going on a gluten-free diet, if you have celiac disease, saves your life,” Peter Green, director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University previously told Business Insider.

But he says the same doesn’t hold true for everyone else. “There’s very little scientific evidence to support the benefit of a gluten-free diet in anything except celiac disease.”

Green says it’s common for people who go gluten-free to miss out on key doses of iron and folic acid. This isn’t typically a problem for the rest of the population, because so many grains are fortified with those ingredients.

“Most gluten-free products are made from rice, corn or potato starch and therefore are even less nutritious than processed products containing wheat,” Marion Groetch, a nutrition and food allergy expert at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told Reuters in an email when the new study came out. She said those products are often low in key nutrients like fiber, but even higher in sugar.

Going gluten-free doesn’t have to mean your health suffers.

“There are many very nutrient dense, whole, gluten-free grains such as amaranth, millet, quinoa, buckwheat,” Groetch said.

So whether you’re going gluten-free or not, it’s best to largely forgo packaged goods, and serve up more whole, unprocessed foods to kids, and to yourself.



This is one of my favorite recipes, which is regularly made in my kitchen. I use different types of spinach to make this recipe and enjoy it every time. In my long stay in Africa, I used white silver beet spinach, which was the only type that was locally available there. I even enjoyed cooking with this type of spinach straight from my kitchen garden in Africa. This type has long and hard leaves like kale, takes more time is chopping, cooking and the taste is also a little bit different. There I had no choice but to use that type only because tender baby spinach or English spinach was not available, I even tried to grow the soft and tender baby spinach in my kitchen garden but failed, I think the harsh African sun, the dry and hot climate there was not suitable for it.
Here in Calgary, baby spinach is available in plenty throughout the year and if I buy a big packet, it is triple washed, which I am also using in my salads. Because of its availability in abundance, I am using it a lot in my old recipes which were already made in my kitchen and trying some new recipes as well.
I tasted this recipe, the very first time, in a four-star hotel, around 20 years ago, where I stayed with my family for 2 and half months. It was a long time ago, isn’t it? I was staying in the hotel after getting transferred from a town to a city, I couldn’t get accommodation in teacher’s houses available in my school. The head chef of that hotel was very nice, I met him personally and informed him that all four members of my family are vegetarian. He really made our stay enjoyable with his lovely and tasty vegetarian dishes, which were made by him personally every day. Some of the days he really surprised us by serving some tasty Indian vegetarian dishes as well.
This recipe is not only my favourite recipe but the whole family likes it, even my grandchildren. Spinach is one of the vegetables which they really enjoy, so I try to use spinach in different curries, salads and lentils as well so that they get the health benefit of this green vegetable. This is a simple recipe, which can be enjoyed with rice, naan, Indian flat bread or even with dinner bun.
  • 1 kg fresh baby spinach (frozen can be used in this recipe)
  • 500 ml fresh/whipping cream
  • 1 big onion (200 grams)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • A small piece of ginger
  • 2 green chili (optional)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbs coriander powder
  • salt and chili flakes to taste
  • 2 tbs tomato puree

  • Chop and wash the spinach thoroughly.
  • Grate or finely chop the onion, ginger, garlic and green chili.
  • Heat oil in a pan, add the cumin seeds, once changing the colour add the ginger, garlic, onion and green chili and saute till onions are brown.
  • Add spinach and salt, chili and coriander powder and cook for 8-10 minutes till spinach is cooked and the extra water evaporates.
  • Add cream and let it boil for 2-3 more minutes, then add the tomato puree, mix well and switch off the stove/gas.
  • Serve hot with rice, naan, roti or dinner bun.


Chili is the most valuable spice of the world and is gaining its popularity throughout the world, and now it is used in more and more cuisines of the world. India is the largest producer, consumer and exporter of chilies, which is 40% of the total world production. Chili production requires sunny, tropical, humid conditions with a good amount of rainfall. We have grown a lot of chilies in our kitchen garden when I was in Kenya. We had around 25 plants of 3-4 feet high and were producing a lot of green chilies, being small as a family we were not able to consume a lot, so were leaving the chilies on the plants itself to ripen. When their colour turned red, I used to collect and dry them in the hot sunny area of my garden, and later was grinding in my dry grinder to make red chili powder, which I used in my kitchen.
There are many different types, colors, shapes and mild to a very hot pungent taste of the chilies are available in the world. This spice – chili and chili powder are used in many cuisines of the world. Raw chilies are normally green in colour, but ripened chilies are yellow, orange and red in colour. Since it is impossible to tell how spicy a chili is just by looking at it, you will have to taste it to get an idea. Once you know how spicy it is then you can use it according to your taste.
In Indian cuisine, chili powder is used from ages, some chili powders are giving only a red colour to the recipe and are not very spicy like Kashmiri chili powder, it is more or less like paprika. But some chili powders are very hot, and people use it depending on their taste and the requirement of the recipe. In Southern states of India, whole red dried chili is used a lot in tempering many recipes. Red chili flakes/crushed chili is also used a lot in the Indian cuisine throughout India. Some people have the misconception that Indian food is very spicy, but that is not the case, yes, we do use different types of chilies in its different forms but how spicy the food absolutely depends on individuals choice. Green chilies are a good source of vitamin C; so many people eat raw green chilies with their food.
Some people think that chili pepper is consumed only to put fire on your tongue or to get tears in your eyes but the surprising fact is that chilies do have a lot of health benefits like natural pain relief, boosting immunity, clearing congestion, preventing stomach ulcers, and reducing weight. Check this website for detailed study of all this and a lot of useful information about chilies.
According to Ayurveda, there are six tastes by which all food can be categorized: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. Pungent taste is hot and spicy as found in chili pepper and astringent is dry and light as found in popcorn. Ayurveda suggests that all these tastes should be included in every meal for optimum health and to get initial spark to the digestive system. These six tastes satisfy each of the major dietary building blocks and these six tastes also guide our body to accomplish its nutritional needs. Each taste feeds our body, mind, senses and spirit in its own unique way. Ayurveda is a traditional healing system of India, which gave us yoga and breathing exercises and still successfully practiced in India. Check this website-
Chili powder is eaten by one-quarter of world population every day, in all countries all over the globe. But chili powder was completely unknown to the most of the world until Christopher Columbus discovered America. Check this website which explains very nicely that of course, Columbus was not looking for chilies, but was looking for a trade route. This website further explained that, until well after the middle ages, almost all through the world, pepper travelled from the Malabar coast, India to Europe and then to America.
Coming to the recipe, this is my mom’s recipe as it is in which she used mustard oil. I get mustard oil from the local Indian grocery store, so I have also used mustard oil, but you can use any other oil instead if you prefer. Mustard oil is used for cooking in Punjab and many other Northern States of India. This is a simple and quick recipe which can be enjoyed using mild to hot chilies basing on your taste.
  • 200 grams long green chilies (around 25-30)
  • 20 grams of black mustard seeds (rai)
  • 20 grams of fennel seeds (saunf)
  • 10 grams of fenugreek seeds (methi )
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons oil (I used mustard oil)
  • 10 grams chili powder (optional) *
* Normally these green chilies are not spicy/hot at all, so if you need some spice in this pickle you can add some additional chilli powder
  • Mix the fennel, mustard and fenugreek seeds and grind it coarsely in a dry spice grinder.
  • Wash and dry the chilies or wipe with a kitchen towel.
  • Slit the chilies in the middle lengthwise.
  • In the already ground spices, mix salt and chili powder and fill ( stuff) through the slit in all the chilies and leave aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan, when hot add all the chilies, mix slowly and cover it after 5 minutes add the remaining spice mixture on top of the chilies.
  • Cook for 8-10 minutes till the chilies are cooked and changed in colour.
  • Cool it and serve with meals as a condiments/pickle/chutney

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