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Zambawango: Α low-carb bakery is changing the dessert landscape in the USA
by Kelly Fanarioti
As obesity, diabetes and pre-diabetes have become part of the daily life of more and more people in the United States, a Greek-American from Hydra island, George Coundouriotis, has opened a low-carb bakery in Atlanta to offer consumers healthy sweets with a zero glycemic index.
According to him, the basic concept of low carb is to reduce daily carb consumption to 20 grams or fewer, and eliminate all sugar and grain flours, which studies show are more addictive than cocaine.
Once the body enters Ketosis, it begins to burn stored fat as energy and rapid fat loss results, as well as many other health benefits. But what about cholesterol? Low carb does not mean a high fat diet, as you burn your own fat/ketones as energy. However, even if cholesterol increases as a total number the highly beneficial HDL to LDL ratio has — in many cases — been shown to improve when in the low-carb lifestyle. By not having carbs to burn for energy, fat is not stored but is used as energy!
As a child growing up in Athens, Coundouriotis says he loved sweets and remembers himself begging his mother to buy cookies for him every time they passed outside a sweet shop.
Growing up, he followed a healthy lifestyle, cut sugar from his diet and his professional life had nothing to do with sweets. After a long career in the automotive industry, Coundouriotis switched to finance and a trip to Athens made him take a 180-degree turn in his career and life.
“I was downtown for dinner. I haven’t eaten sugar for many years but I remember that after the meal I had a craving for a sweet. Then, the friend who was accompanying me showed me a pastry shop nearby that made low-carb sweets. I remember entering the store filled with excitement, but I found that eventually the store did not do what it promised to the consumers. When I returned to America, I decided to open a bakery shop with healthy sweets in Atlanta,” he remembers.
After finding an executive pastry chef with over 25 years of experience in great restaurants around the world, he started making various sweets and breads, turning these foods from a guilty pleasure into something very healthy and equally delicious.
“So the miracle happened: I opened Zambawango, a gourmet low-carb bakery and coffee shop. Our ingredients are all organic and easy to digest. We use Swerve™, a delicious natural sweetener with zero-calories, non-glycemic and with no effect on blood glucose or insulin levels. It is approved by FDA. We also use allulose, an all–natural sweetener classified as a zero glycemic “rare sugar,” 99% chocolate, butter, eggs, cream and other wholesome ingredients. Instead of conventional flour, we use coconut and almond flour. In this way we make cookies, cheesecakes, carrot cakes and various other sweets”.
As the 50-year-old Greek-American explains to NEO, the vast majority of clients are diabetic or in the pre-diabetic stage.
According to CDC, 37.3 million Americans–about 1 in 10–have diabetes and 96 million American adults–more than 1 in 3– have prediabetes.
“The calories in our products are clearly less than those of conventional sweets. Consider that a cup of sugar has 774 calories, while a cup of confectioners Swerve™ has only 28. But ingredients like cream and butter that are zero carb, have calories,” Coundouriotis explains and adds: “What they are beginning to realize here is that what does the greatest harm in the diet is the high glycemic index and not the fat itself. We have many physician clients and supporters. Some doctors here in the area believe a lot in this way of life.”
Cheesecakes are delivered from Atlanta to …California
At first, he opened a bakery where sweets were prepared and at the same time served with coffee. Over time, the shop became quite well known and people started asking Coundouriotis by phone if his bakery can do deliveries. “So I opened a bigger kitchen in order to handle distributions exclusively. Now, a Zambawango cheesecake can travel from Atlanta to California and arrive flash-frozen right after production. The secret to success is in the packaging. We use packaging in which medicines are transported. We also put dry ice.”
According to him, another thing that has made Zambawango stand out in its five years of operation is the fact that it has an excellent and dedicated chef and production team. “Our chef is very experienced and believes in the low-carb lifestyle herself. The sweets we make in the bakery cannot be made at home by the consumers,” the Greek American businessman says, adding that he has been asked for franchises from Miami and New York.
Following the successful development of his business, and given the high rates of obesity in the US and Greece, his vision is to expand his business to Greece as well.
“Obesity rates in Greece and the US are huge, these countries have something in common. Greece has the most obese children in Europe. Children love sweets, so it would be a nice idea to have a store there. We have the skills and the talent. So, we want someone to believe in what we’re doing, to invest and help us spread. I have experience on how to build a startup but not on how to expand it significantly around the world. I often dream or think about expanding my company–expanding with the help of the right people,” he confesses.
When he started the business five years ago, he says there were no low- carb products in the supermarkets, only low calorie.
“We were the only ones to introduce this eating lifestyle as a dedicated bakery and retail outlet for low-carb. Now, stores are filled with packages of brownies, cookies with a label that says keto. Some small bakeries now exist but they are not related to us. And this lies in the fact that from the beginning we said no to compromises. Imagine something like the iPhone, which has competition but still remains the best. We are constantly trying to evolve. Our goal is not to have another store that makes cookies and sweets, but to turn a guilty pleasure into something that does not harm health,” says Coundouriotis.
Coundouriotis’s goal for 2023-2024 is to expand more retail locations in Atlanta and eventually his vision is to enter the European market through Greece. If you are interested in contacting him to discuss his vision and business you can reach out through his website zambawango.com or connect on LinkedIn.