I Can’t Stop Munching On This Fluffy, Flavorful Popcorn Dupe
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Before I tried AshaPops, I had never heard of water lily seeds. My glamorous actress friend from Los Angeles introduced me to this puffed, crunchy version, and I was immediately blown away by how light and flavorful they are. What’s more: Unlike most processed snacks, each variety is made from only a handful of ingredients.
Once I AshaPop-ped, I couldn’t stop. The vegan cheese flavor, seasoned with nutritional yeast, extra virgin olive oil, and onion powder is like a gourmet, healthier take on Cheetos. The chili lime variety has just the right balance of tang and heat. And the earthy and umami-packed turmeric is my favorite of all. I’m not really a sweet tooth, but for those among us there’s a delicious dark chocolate flavor dusted with cacao powder and coconut sugar.
While water lily seeds were new to me, I’m Chinese-American and grew up eating their cousins: candied lotus seeds. They often get confused for each other, but water lily seeds come from a different genus of flower grown in various temperate and subtropical climates, and they have a completely different texture. When candied, Chinese lotus seeds are denser, nuttier, and more starchy, while AshaPops puff their water lily seeds into a lighter, fluffier popcorn-alternative.
As with many trends, water lily seeds aren’t actually new; the grayish-black pods have been consumed for thousands of years throughout India, according to Ayurvedic traditions, which deemed them to have anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties. That’s how AshaPops founders, mother-son duo Asha and Jai Farswani, had the idea to combine modern flavors with the ancient Indian ingredient. They work directly with small family farms in Bihar, an Eastern state bordering Nepal, to import the water lily seeds, which are then seasoned and popped in L.A.
The resealable bags make for a perfect portable snack, and unlike with chips, there are no messy crumbs to deal with. I love taking them on hikes and walks to the park, and they make a great crouton alternative to add crunch to my salads and grain bowls. Though, let’s be real: The bags may be resealable, but I always finish my AshaPops in one sitting.