Arshad grew up in India where eating fresh fruits and vegetables was a way of life. After coming to the United States, he became a serious and dedicated cyclist, but when he took six years off active racing he gave up vegetarianism and gained weight. Meanwhile, Arshad’s son was diagnosed with autism and severe gastrointestinal issues.
In order to get their son on track, Arshad and his wife started their son on an aggressive gluten-free and dairy-free nutrition program. The nutritional changes helped heal his gastrointestinal issues, which allowed for better nutrition absorption and made it easier for him to focus on the other therapies. Now, Ayaan is in a regular classroom and doing well academically and socially.
After his son’s nutritionally based autism and gastrointestinal recovery and his own drop in cholesterol and weight by following a similar allergy-friendly diet, Arshad became convinced that plant-based nutrition was the right approach for managing inflammation. The significance of reducing one’s allergen load (such as consumption of gluten, dairy, nuts, soy, oils, preservatives, and chemical-containing non-organic foods) to help the body recover from daily stresses became apparent. Arshad became dedicated to developing snacks free of these damaging ingredients.
During Arshad’s preliminary research of “natural” energy bars on the market, he became concerned about the pervasive use of whey and soy protein, both highly acidic foods. Whey is a byproduct of the cheese-making process and has been shown to cause digestion problems. Soy protein isolate has also been shown to adversely affect thyroids, fertility, hormones, and digestion. Arshad decide to use raw vegan brown rice protein, which boasts a complete amino acid profile exceptionally high in glutamine, arginine, lysine, leucine, and branched-chain amino acids.
Arshad realized that using brown rice protein and dried fruits—such as tropical mangoes, pineapples, and Medjool dates—together with a rich blend of raw sunflower seeds and sesame seeds would provide essential proteins and fats without the added allergens from nuts, dairy, and soy. As an added bonus, his kids could also take them as part of their peanut-free school lunches!
Arshad launched “Amrita” in 2012 while working full-time with 3 young kids. Based on the rapid positive response from farmers markets and stores, Arshad went into Amrita full time in July of 2013. To really separate Amrita from other energy bars on the market, Arshad packed each bar full of superfoods, such as chia seeds, maca, unsweetened coconut, with delicious hints of vanilla and Himalayan Pink salt for taste and flavor balance.
When making Amrita bars, Arshad ensured ingredients were non-GMO, rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and omega-3s, with a good dose of fiber and heaps of easily digestible protein. Most importantly, they had to taste amazing, which was easy to deliver based on having 3 picky kids in the house and all their peers as test kitchens.