It can be difficult to ignore the pang of your sweet tooth when the winter’s chill makes you want to stay inside and snack on unhealthy treats, but Afaf Miri, or Miri for short, is the genius behind Tamiri Bites, a new business providing Edmonton with desserts that are so good for you they could be served as the first course. These all-natural, raw vegan treats are energy boosting, nutritionally rich and naturally sweet. Proud to serve Edmontonians desserts that have zero percent crap, it’s become Miri’s mission to provide the experience of biting into a piece of heavenly cake without the guilt of eating processed ingredients like refined sugar. Those who live with dietary restrictions can rest assured that Tamiri Bites is compatible with sugar free, gluten free, raw vegan and Paleo lifestyles, and that unprocessed and organic ingredients are used as often as possible.
A combination of Miri’s name and the Arabic word for dates (tamr), which are the main ingredients in the product that inspired her business, Tamiri Bites came from the raw energy balls that launched her success. These treats became so popular with friends and family that Miri’s husband pushed her to sell them at the farmers market last May. Since then, she’s sold treats to various stores around Edmonton such as Remedy Café, The Tea Girl and Infinite Fitness Studio.
New to the entrepreneur club, it’s already welcoming Miri home. “I love the entrepreneurial spirit of Edmontonians,” she says. “Almost every person I meet is running a business or is part of some kind of innovative project or organization. More and more people are excited about local businesses and are showing so much support. It’s heartwarming and motivating.”
Miri moved to Canada from a small town in Algeria with big dreams. Before quitting her job to start Tamiri Bites and help Edmontonians live healthier lives, Miri took a few cooking classes at NAIT last year – one of them being how to create vegan desserts. However, the treats were still filled with processed ingredients like refined sugar and wheat flour. This inspired the entrepreneur to teach herself how to create healthier options, falling in love with the raw vegan lifestyle and especially raw vegan desserts. Through this process, Miri learned more than just how to make healthier meals, but also the ingredients towards living a healthier life.
“I quit my desk job that was killing my creativity – but it took me a while to stop doing what people expected me to do and just pursue my passion,” says Miri. “I was terrified, but I’ve never felt more alive. I knew I was on the right track when I stumbled upon this quote from Howard Thurman: ‘Don’t worry about what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.’”
As a woman who’s been working on going raw vegan for a year now, I know from experience how good I’ve felt from having more energy, less mood swings and clearer skin due to diet changes. However, after the long process of letting go of what people thought about my dietary changes, one thing that’s been difficult to halt has been my sugar cravings – and because of this I’ve experienced the awful side-effects listed above again and again after giving into my sweet tooth. From being at a get-together where someone made cookies to simply wanting something healthy-but-satisfying to snack on during PMS, I’ve wished there were better options that were more readily available.
As it turns out, I’m not the only one: “The raw food movement is fairly recent and the concept is still not commonly known in Alberta, but there is a growing interest in healthy, wholesome, gluten-free foods,” says Miri. “Raw food meets all those criteria and people are often shocked to find out that something healthy can taste good.”
Miri knows that change takes time. Being on a fitness and weight-loss journey for a couple years now, she’s since adopted a healthy lifestyle which transitioned into a vegan one. However, like myself, Miri has a sweet tooth and hates the guilt and fatigue that comes with eating fatty, sugary and highly processed desserts. “I was having a hard time finding desserts that met all my criteria and I quickly learned that I wasn’t the only one,” says Miri.
But even though people are looking for guilt-free treats in Edmonton, there aren’t many options out there yet. “There are more and more vegan businesses in Edmonton, which is fantastic, but most of them use heavily processed ingredients – so even if the food is cruelty free it’s not the healthiest choice,” she says.
Because Miri understands the growing need to find health-conscious desserts, she not only offers her products at various locations in Edmonton but also participates in many events and markets around the city. The entrepreneur is also working on opening Tamiri Bites’ first location where Edmontonians will be able to buy her products for themselves or gift them towards their loved ones.
Enjoying laid-back days with her husband and their cat, Miri knows that transitioning to a healthy lifestyle can be overwhelming if you focus on all the things you have to give up. She recommends to start with dessert and to add delicious, natural foods to your diet rather than removing things. ”You’ll feel so good that you’ll effortlessly drop the unhealthy foods and habits one by one as you find much better replacements for them.”
To find out more about Miri and Tamiri Bites visit www.tamiri.ca, and be sure to follow her on Twitter @tamiribites.