7 Homegrown Malaysian Brands I Love! Vegan-Friendly Product Review
Happy May! How are we already 5 months into 2019 and almost at June? For those who don’t know, May is my birthday month—so in the spirit of celebration, I wanted to celebrate a few of my favourite homegrown brands. Supporting local, whether it be by choosing to eat at independent cafes/restaurants rather than at chains, or just buying from local brands has always been important to me. It’s something I’m passionate about because these businesses and the people running them are helping shape and bring progress to our local communities.
In this blogpost I will be reviewing products from 7 local brands that I love and are helping promote healthier lifestyles here in Malaysia. All of the products are vegan-friendly, the lifestyle ones are obviously a little harder to categorise but I love them too!
I’ve been buying superfood products from iHerb or imported brands for years, so when I heard of Organicule I was so excited to see a trustworthy local brand now selling them. My favourite thing about the Organicule products is that they are all high quality, USDA certified organic* and because they also work directly with producers, quite affordable.
Cacao Powder & Hemp Hearts
It’s hard to pick, but my two favourite products are their Cacao Powder and Hemp Hearts. Cacao powder is similar to cocoa powder—the only difference is that because it goes through less processing, more of its nutrients and antioxidants are preserved. I love adding it to my porridge, smoothies and raw desserts!
And hemp hearts are extremely nutrient dense and are a great source of plant-based omega-3s, protein and amino acids. I literally top off all my dishes, savoury or sweet, with a sprinkling of them!
*except Spirulina and Chlorella, where naturally occurring nitrate is needed to cultivate the algae which is why they are better when classified as ‘natural’ rather than ‘organic’.
REA Superfoods is another local brand that sells some great superfood powders and products. They’re the first and probably only local brand I’ve seen that sells Camu Camu powder here in Malaysia! They carry a wide range of products but my favourites have to be their Just Berries blend and Fermented Grape Skin powder.
Just Berries & Fermented Grape Skin Powder
Just Berries is a blend purely made up of acai berry, blueberry, cranberry and strawberry and is loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C, electrolytes, trace minerals and amino acids. I’m in love its vibrant pink hue—I use Just Berries to naturally colour my dishes, especially my desserts. It adds a gorgeous pop of pink and a delicious berry flavour.
Naturally high in resveratrol and antioxidants, the Fermented Grape Skin powder tastes and has similar heart protecting benefits to red wine, minus the alcohol. Being fermented as well means bonus points for promoting healthy gut bacteria.
Cha Cha Kombucha
Kombucha’s been around in KL for a while, but things definitely got a lot more exciting when Cha Cha Kombucha unveiled their line of organic, handcrafted booch! I remember a time when finding kombucha in KL was a rarity, but thanks to Cha Cha you can find it at most healthy cafes and gyms around town now.
Basic, Cool & Zen-Bucha
Cha Cha's snazzy little bottles of kombucha come in 3 different flavours—Basic-bucha (original), Zen-bucha (ginger) and Cool-bucha (watermelon). All handcrafted and made from freshly squeezed ingredients, each flavour is distinctly different in terms of taste. The ginger has a spicy kick to it and the watermelon is nice and cool.
Popping open a bottle is the most refreshing treat after a workout and is the perfect way to keep cool on a hot day. Remember to keep them refrigerated and not to over-shake the bottles before opening them!
I always go for unrefined sweeteners when it comes to making sweet treats. While refined sweeteners like are stripped of all their nutrients, unrefined sweeteners usually go through less processing and retain certain minerals and nutrients. Maple syrup is one of my favourites but it’s not the most sustainable and affordable choice here in Asia, so some local options I love are gula melaka and coconut nectar.
Coconut Nectar & Coconut Sugar
Gula Melts is a local brand that sells coconut nectar cultivated locally in Borneo. Their products are 100% natural and don’t contain any preservatives and additives. Coconut nectar has a fairly low GI of 35 (compared to honey which is 55, and table sugar which is 65), meaning it won’t spike your blood glucose and insulin levels as quickly.
I love that Gula Melts has coconut nectar in both a granulated sugar and liquid form, so I can choose between the two depending on the dish I’m making. The nectar has a rich caramel flavour and which is perfect drizzled over porridge.
Another great thing about Gula Melts it that they are a big believer in ethical sourcing practices. Their nectar is all sustainably harvested and they don’t cut down any trees during cultivation!
Try this recipe: Energising Maca & Cacao Buckwheat Porridge
I’ve been going to the The Hive Bulk Foods for all my pantry essentials since it’s early days. On top of food choices, a big part of a healthy, vegan lifestyle to me is being conscious of products I’m purchasing and their sustainability. The Hive has paved the way for the zero waste lifestyle in Malaysia and shown the local community that it is easy to implement more sustainable practices into our daily lives.
The Hive Glass Cup Tumbler
You all know I’m not a coffee drinker, but I do love a good alternative latte—matcha, beetroot, turmeric and cacao are my favourites! While it may be easier to takeaway your drink in a disposable cup, having your own that you can reuse every time is a much more sustainable option that will help reduce waste and single-use plastics.
I love the quality and design of The Hive Glass Cup Tumbler. The glass is thick and feels so durable while the silicone lid makes it easy to drink from while preventing any spills.
Pilate with Jules
One of my favourite workouts over the past year has been Pilates! I’ve been doing classes with my friend, Julia, who you might have come across on Instagram as Pilates with Jules. Pilates may seem intimidating, but Julia makes it fun and approachable—expect all things pilates with a twist of female empowerment, positivity and a killer aesthetic on her feed! On top of teaching Reformer Pilates, she’s also the creator of Sculpt Club, a full body, low impact workout that focus on strengthening and lengthening muscles.
Sculpt Club Travel Kit
As much as I love reformer pilates, it’s definitely not the most accessible way to workout, especially if you’re travelling or want to workout from home. The Sculpt Club Travel Kit by Pilates with Jules comes in a cute tote bag with a set of sliders and resistant bands (in 3 levels of resistance). It makes doing the same low impact, strengthening and lengthening exercises on the go so much easier.
I’ve been challenging myself by incorporating the sliders and resistant bands into my workouts to work my core and other areas of weakness more.
To order a Sculpt Club Travel Kit, DM Pilates with Jules.
As I’ve started working out and training more, finding comfortable sports bras and leggings have become a priority for me. MKLZ Collection is a homegrown brand that originally started making leggings but soon added sports bras to their line of activewear. I fell in love with their colour range and fit when I tried on their FUSE collection, and have been a fan ever since!
MK-I Collection Phase 2
MKLZ recently dropped their latest collection, MK-I Phase 2, featuring the new and improved MK-I (Mark One) Leggings, this time with a matching sports bra. Available in 3 colours, Black, Amethyst Purple and Gable Green, the collection is made from a soft, sweat wicking fabric that provides the most snug and figure-hugging fit. I also love that their sports bra comes in a halter top cut, which is super flattering and different from other sports bras—I get so many compliments whenever I wear mine!
I got a classic all black set and it’s been super versatile. I wear it to training and even wore the leggings on my travels to Singapore recently. The sleek, hidden pockets came in so handy for carrying my phone and travel cards on me.