There is a saying that necessity is the mother of all inventions. In 2018 UAE resident Francoise Crosbie was on a mission to find a way that would help her lose all her post-partum weight. Her sister introduced her to the magic of the keto diet and Crosbie realised that what she ate had a huge part to play in helping her have a healthy lifestyle. But living in Dubai, Crosbie also found out that her choices were limited when it came to keto-friendly products, and even the almond bread she found at one of the organic stores fell short of her approval. Frustrated, Crosbie decided to bake her own bread with almond flour and when she posted her results on social media, she was overwhelmed to find that there were many others like her who were looking for keto products.
Crosbie says, “The primary reason why people adopt the keto lifestyle is to lose weight, but there are some added health benefits. If a person has type 2 diabetes or is pre-diabetic, the keto diet is extremely beneficial in improving insulin resistance and lowering blood sugar levels. Also, avoiding refined sugars prevents insulin spikes and crashes resulting in higher energy levels throughout the day. There are also people, anecdotally, saying it has improved the health of their skin, brain function and sleep.”
With the support of the keto community in the UAE, Crosbie set out to create her own entrepreneurial roadmap and started baking ultra-healthy and keto-friendly goodies with organic ingredients. The start-up, Keto Goodies (www.ketogoodiesdubai.com), an e-commerce online bakery, grew from a one-woman show “with just myself as the baker, all-around sales and marketing person, and even doubling up as a driver.” She’s now hired a head baker to lead her expanding team of bakers. Crosbie also collaborates with a logistics firm specialising in chilled products “to help bring our Keto Goodies to everyone’s doorstep”. Her products are now stocked in Carrefour in the Mall of Emirates, Ibn Battuta Mall, City Centre Me’aisem and the Healthy Shop in Abu Dhabi.
It has been an amazing journey, says Crosbie, who swears by the goodness of the keto diet and how it has helped her get back her energy and fitness levels. She reveals clients have come back with positive reviews. “[They have found] that their energy levels have not only increased, but have become more consistent throughout the day,” she says. “They have also been able to avoid the inevitable sugar crashes inherent in a carbohydrate-rich diet. The keto lifestyle also boosts metabolism, improves mental focus, and promotes healthy skin. And of course, weight loss.”
From the three original offerings, Crosbie’s brainchild now has 50 products, from keto breads, bagels, cookies, cupcakes and the Keto and Gluten-Free Pizzas. Her personal favourites include the Keto Almond Bread, her first creation and the most special one that started it all; the Keto+Vegan Flatbread, a versatile flatbread that can be turned into whatever your mind can muster (a bread pairing for your butter chicken, a soft taco shell, a tortilla chip, a shawarma wrap or even a personal pizza dough); the delicious Keto Choco Macaroons; Keto Peanut Butter Brownies and the gluten-free Keto Mushroom Pizza.
Two years ago, when Crosbie started her journey, there was a lack of choices for keto-friendly meals in the UAE. “But, since then, the community has grown, and we are very proud to be one of the pioneers of this growth,” she says. “We are proud that we have been able to give people, who are committed to avoiding carbs, delicious substitutes for their favourite carb-heavy, sugar-rich foods – satisfying breads, tasty cookies, delicious pizzas, decadent brownies and so much more.”
Extremely conscious of quality, Crosbie ensures that all her breads, sweets and pizzas are baked daily. “Upon confirmation of the order from our website – the cut-off is at 8pm – we collect all orders, bake them throughout the night till morning and send our goodies out with our logistics team, fresh to deliver.”
Since the ingredients must be keto friendly, low carb and gluten free, it is a meticulous task to choose the finest almond flour, organic coconut flour or the pure, grass-fed butter. “We’re lucky that we have established great relationships with our UAE suppliers to give us top-notch quality ingredients.”
The global ketogenic diet market is estimated to maintain a compound annual growth rate of about 5.5 per cent from 2019-27, touching $15.64 billion (Dh57.43 billion) by 2027. As the market expands, Crosbie plans to open a flagship restaurant in the UAE.
“We aim to have our brand as a staple at every market, not only in the UAE but also the GCC – and, who knows, one day even across the globe,” she says. “Since we started back in 2018, the demand for a healthier lifestyle in the UAE has been steadily increasing. We are proud to be one of the pioneers of bringing this healthy movement and lifestyle to the country.
“And now, the keto lifestyle has grown ever more popular with restaurants adapting to the lifestyle by having keto-friendly options and supermarkets stocking more and more keto and low-carb products.”