CHICAGO — Young coconut meat is the key ingredient in Sacred Serve, a brand of plant-based gelato developed by a Chicago wellness guru-turned-entrepreneur. Harvested from the Thai coconuts tapped for coconut water, the nutrient-dense flesh provides a creamy texture and subtle flavor to the frozen desserts, said Kailey Donewald, founder and chief executive officer.
“To be clear, working with coconut milk would be a million times easier,” Ms. Donewald said. “Young coconut meat has less than half the calories and fat of coconut milk. It’s packed with all of these vitamins, minerals, and all five essential electrolytes. We think it’s the absolute best for what we’re trying to do with it.”
The products are sweetened with coconut sugar and contain beneficial additions such as chaga mushroom, maca, matcha green tea, peppermint essential oil, rosewater and saffron. All ingredients are organic and fair trade. The brand’s proprietary cold-crafting process was designed to preserve the essential vitamins and minerals in the ingredients, which are often destroyed by heat in traditional manufacturing processes, Ms. Donewald said.
Flavors include chaga chocolate, matcha mint chip, coconut salted caramel and saffron chai spice. The products are packed in unique packaging that requires no lid and reduces the amount of material needed.
Ms. Donewald is a certified holistic health practitioner who over the past decade traveled and lived in India and Indonesia, studying yoga, meditation, Eastern medicine and alternative therapies. During a trip to Bali, an experiment with a raw-food cleanse resolved several chronic conditions, including asthma and allergies. She began to understand the healing and harming effects of her diet.
“I realized the food I was eating my whole life was making me and keeping me so sick, and that’s really just the standard American diet,” she said. “Fast-food, refined sugars and oils, really just wreaking havoc. I discovered I had a sensitivity to dairy.”
She quit a corporate career to pursue her passion for wellness and began developing the brand about five years ago, initially targeting the ice cream market. Future launches from the brand likely will focus on other dairy categories, she said.
Product development for Sacred Serve begins with functional ingredients, Ms. Donewald said. She identifies which superfoods to include and what combinations are most beneficial to the body.
“Our chocolate flavor has chaga mushrooms, and the absorption of chaga actually is increased when it’s paired with cacao,” she said.
The brand is set to launch a new flavor in the coming months, inspired by a popular classic, Ms. Donewald said.
“It’s a flavor people know and love, with a totally functional spin on it, but it tastes just like the real thing,” she said.
Sacred Serve products are available nationwide in regional Whole Foods Market stores, Erewhon stores in California, Foxtrot Market in Chicago and various independent retailers. Products also are sold online at sacredserve.com.