These spicy cactus snacks will satisfy your crunch cravings

These-spicy-cactus-snacks-are-guaranteed-to-satisfy-your-crunchy-cravings-and-they-help-break-the-glass-ceiling-image-courtesy of Nemi-Snacks

Courtesy of Nemi Snacks

When Regina Trillo first moved to Chicago ten years ago, she booked it into a grocery store as soon as her flight landed to check out the authentic Mexican foods available. The Mexico City native headed down the “ethnic” aisle, hoping to discover the unique offerings of her new playground. Yet all she saw were products from top brands that represented the Mexican food in a stereotypical way (think: sombreros and sarapes), recalls Trillo.

In the produce section, Trillo says she noticed nopales – a resistant type of cactus grown in Mexico that was a staple in her diet growing up – that still had their intimidating tips intact. While she was happy to find a familiar food item in a non-specialty supermarket, she believed no one would buy it unless they knew how to clean the needles and cook it properly, she explains. “Just to see it abandoned [nopal] paddling through the products section, associating it with how I didn’t feel represented when I went to see the Mexican products that were there, and how they fueled the Mexican stereotype, which stuck with me and continued to make me uncomfortable for a long time, ”says Trillo.

After suffering from health issues and having to give up her favorite snack, potato chips, Trillo says she started looking for a new snack that had the same crunchy and savory flavor options, but with a healthier nutritional profile. . Finally, it clicked: she would be making her own healthier snack that could showcase beloved nopales from her home country and overturn stereotypes of Mexican cuisine. So, in the spring of 2019, Trillo officially launched Nemi Snacks, a company creating ultra-crunchy pretzel-shaped sticks made from amaranth, nopal, flaxseed and chia. “The chip that I make, that kind of format, you find in Mexico City all over the place,” she says.



Courtesy of Nemi Snacks

Thanks to these traditional yet innovative ingredients, Nemi stands out on the crowded snack shelves, both in terms of nutrition and flavor. One sachet of gluten-free vegan sticks provides 4 grams of fiber, a nutrient that supports digestive health and increases satiety, and 6 grams of protein, which plays a key role in building and repairing cells, tissues and muscles . Likewise, green cactus snacks contain only 3.5 grams of fat – a third of that found in a serving of regular potato chips – from flaxseed oil, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids that may be beneficial for improve cardiovascular health, according to the Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture.

Each of Nemi’s four varieties – smoked chipotle, cinnamon churro, Mexican lime, and turmeric chili – were created with traditional Mexican flavors in mind, says Trillo. For example, the smoky chipotle version was inspired by her mother’s delicious salsa, while the churro style is a riff on the popular Mexican treat, although it derives its sweetness from dates instead of sugar, she says. Even the packaging – featuring an illustration of a nopal on an eye-catching background – is designed to shatter misconceptions about life south of the border. “I think so [brings] more justice to this mission of uplifting Mexican culture and showing it in a more colorful, playful and vibrant way, ”said Trillo.

Fiesta Nemi Pack

Fiesta Nemi Pack

Nemi snacks

Buy it: Nemi Fiesta Pack (15 bags), $ 50,

It’s clear that Trillo has already warmed the taste buds of nibblers to new tastes and textures that, at the same time, always seem familiar to them. One reviewer who tried Nemi’s smoked chipotle variety called it a “healthy hot cheeto,” while another compared the turmeric chili flavor to a rice flour snack, called murukku, which they grew up eating in India. “[It] reminds me of murukku but better with organic and holistic ingredients that make my taste buds dance with its incredible flavors, ”they wrote.

But Trillo, who is also a human rights lawyer by day, believes that concocting envy-worthy cactus snacks is just one of her duties as a Latina small business owner. Trillo says she saw with her own eyes that her experience in starting a business from scratch and securing funding was different from that of men. That’s why she’s focused on working with women like her throughout the supply chain, and she’s currently partnered with a women-owned manufacturing plant and customs officer to bring Nemi in the market, she said. (BTW, these Latinx-owned beauty brands will give you a good shine.)

Similarly, Trillo sources Nemi’s ingredients from independent small Mexican farmers who use sustainable cultivation techniques, she explains. “I think as a business owner and as a snack business, we have the opportunity to create more than snacks,” says Trillo. “… So when I work with salespeople, when I partner with my advisors and anyone, I’m very concerned with finding a way to open the door for Latin women.”

And at the end of the day, the rave reviews its cactus snacks have received so far make it worth the extra effort. “It’s just like Mexican music to my ears.”

About Francis Harris

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