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Introducing Sunborne: plant-based pancakes made for brunch enthusiasts and non-vegans

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Fitness instructors and founders of Sunborne, Joyce Shih and Nadja van der Drift, agree with that statement too.

Through their mutual love for wholesome food and brunch, Sunborne was born. Their goal is to bring joy by uplifting anyone’s morning at home with flavourful pancakes.

Unlike store-bought pancake mixes, Sunborne is plant-based and gluten-free. For those who have dietary restrictions, hearing this is like music to the ears.

Image credit: Sunborne

These tried-and-true pancake mixes are not only delicious but taste just as good as any regular pancakes – minus the eggs and dairy, of course. The instructions are simple and only require three ingredients: plant-based or regular milk of choice, lemon juice and oil. It may be easy to whip up at home, but creating the perfect stack was a lengthy process for the founders.

Image credit: Instagram/@holyshitaeke

“It requires a lot of trial and error. We’re perfectionists, so we kept tweaking the recipe until we achieved the texture and flavour we were happy with. We still do weekly R&Ds to check on quality and see if there’s anything we can improve on,” Joyce shares.

Nadja explains, “A big thing for us was keeping it simple for everyone to be able to make, even with limited cooking experience. Even though the pancakes are plant-based, we wanted it to taste as good as normal ones, so it’s encouraging to hear people are surprised at how light and fluffy they are without eggs and dairy.”

I can vouch for that too. It even made me appreciate slow mornings by preparing a mouth-watering meal for my family too. To dig further, we chat with the founders on what inspired them to start this business and the health benefits of consuming these delicious pancakes. Scroll down to find out.

plant-based pancakes
Image credit: Sunborne

All images credit: Sunborne

How did the idea of creating plant-based and gluten-free pancakes come about? 

Nadja: Joyce has been on a plant-based diet for just over seven years now, so she understands how frustrating it can be to not have the liberty to enjoy some of the foods she used to enjoy.

The idea to make plant-based and gluten-free pancakes are to create something that everyone could have, despite their dietary restrictions. On top of being free from gluten, our Gluten Free Pancake Mix is also suitable for those avoiding nuts, eggs, dairy and refined-sugar.

 

What makes spelt pancakes better and healthier? Are there hidden benefits we should be aware of? 

Joyce: We chose spelt because it has extra nutrients without compromising on taste and texture. Spelt is very similar to regular wheat, so you still get that light, fluffy texture normal pancakes have.

Spelt is slightly higher in protein than regular wheat and is also water-soluble making it easier to digest. It also contains micronutrients like calcium, iron, manganese and vitamin E & B complex.

Extra benefits aside, we don’t like to classify our pancakes as guilt-free because we don’t believe food should be labelled as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but rather focus on as a more wholesome alternative made with quality ingredients.

 

Image credit: Sunborne

 

What was the greatest challenge you faced while creating this? 

J: The greatest challenge was probably just getting started. Neither of us had ever started a business before and when we began, we were doing everything on our own — the recipe development, production, packaging, design, marketing, finances, you name it. So it was a lot of learning along the way and sometimes it was hard to know where to look for answers, but the whole thing has been a huge learning experience.

Did you have any other breakfast food in mind before settling on pancakes?

N: We’ve always had a few breakfast and snack ideas in mind, but we knew we wanted to start with pancake mixes. Joyce experimented with them last year when the pandemic first started and would send feedback and progress pictures to me. When the MCO was enforced again this year, the timing just felt right, especially since a lot of people missed going out for brunch.

 

What are your go-to toppings and ways to prepare your ideal pancake in the morning? 

N: Anything with chocolate and strawberries, or something sweet/savoury like chicken and waffles (you can also make waffles with our Spelt Pancake Mix!).

J: We did peaches and coconut cream once, which was one of my standouts, but you can never go wrong with coconut/maple syrup and butter (plant-based for me).

 

Image credit: Instagram/@alyssajohan
As colleagues, best friends and roomies, what are the best moments about working with each other? 

J: Our idea of fun is strolling through the supermarket and cooking up a wholesome meal, so working with someone you’re so in sync with has made the whole process even more enjoyable. We joke about taking turns having breakdowns, but it’s nice that we can support each other when we get stressed out. Our favourite moments are when we get to sit down and enjoy a stack of pancakes after recipe testing.

Where do you see Sunborne in the future? 

N: Releasing new flavours for our pancake mixes (we’re actually on the brink of finalising one right now, so stay tuned!) and expanding to a bigger range of foods and snacks. Our end goal is to have a physical space where we can share all our favourite dishes.

Lastly, what advice would you give to any young entrepreneurs keen on starting a business in this pandemic?

Just start and start small. We’d been toying with a plan of creating something together for years along with many big ideas, but we narrow it down to one product, and we’ve grown from there.

The best way to learn is by doing, so start with something you feel you can manage and grow sustainably. We’re still learning every day, but the best thing we did was to get started.

To make an order, be sure to drop them a DM on their Instagram page: @sun.borne  and you can also purchase directly from QRA supermarket

Amalina Anuar
Senior Writer
A writer by day and spin instructor by night. Amalina fuels her day with anything that’s covered in chocolate and breaking a sweat in the spin studio. With fashion and music as inspiration, you can find her obsessing over her favourite artist's music videos or swaying to funky tunes at live gigs.