Zumba fitness instructor Faiz Aman noticed that before and after class many of his students were indulging in greasy food and unhealthy snacks. Determined to show them that a healthy lifestyle was about more than occasional exercise, he decided to come up with a product to wean them off their snacks.
With breakfast being the most important meal of the day, he launched his own brand of granola, named Single Single Double. He took the name for his foray into healthy food from a dance step frequently performed during his classes.
He chose granola because it is packed with all the nutrients you need to jumpstart your day. Aman’s granola is also tasty, made with all natural ingredients and no preservatives. He believed it was a friendly introduction to the other steps necessary for a healthier diet. Diving straight into bland salads, fruit and juices may cause rapid weight loss in the short term, but over the long run it can result in yo-yo weight gain, he says.
“We want people to have a good diet but not go cold turkey. It’s not the best thing. And the best diet is always home-cooked or homemade,” says Aman, who makes all of Single Single Double’s granola at home.
The 31-year-old Aman is a living testament to the benefits of a low-calorie, nutritious diet; the self-described “former fat kid” used to weigh 125 kilograms when he was a teenager. Today he weighs a much healthier 71kg, having kept the weight off successfully over the years through eating in moderation and regular exercise.
Healthy breakfasts need not be boring
While Single Single Double is only year-old, Aman already has a dedicated following – and not just among his Zumba regulars. Granola also suits the frenetic lifestyle of nine-to-five executives, who require a nutritious breakfast but have little time to prepare it in the morning.
Single Single Double currently features two flavours, namely Salty Waltz and Rusty Choco. Salty Waltz is a locally-inspired fusion of rolled oats, dried mulberries, coconut flakes, almonds, pumpkin seeds, palm sugar and Himalayan rock salt, toasted together for a crunchy treat. Rusty Choco is a combination of rolled oats, Belgian dark chocolate, raw honey, organic coconut oil, pumpkin seeds, almonds and coconut flakes.
Most importantly, Single Single Double’s granola products have no chemical preservatives, which are typically added to lengthen the time they can be stored. “Homemade granola will not last very long. At most, they last two to three weeks, while commercial granola stores for one to two years,” he says.
Singapore has just a handful of boutique granola brands, such as The Edible Co and BoxGreen. Single Single Double is also Muslim-owned, which means Aman’s products are suitable for Muslim consumers. Halal-certified, Muslim-owned food products are few and far between, which has given Aman the chance to target an increasingly health-conscious demographic in Singapore.
“I wanted to launch 50 packets at first. In the week of our launch, we sold more than 200 packets as people got to know of us through word-of-mouth. I was really touched by the positive response,” says Aman.
Making the granola at home on his own, Aman soon reached his production limits. “I had to limit the number [of sales]… I have customers [with] huge orders [who were] coming back for second and third orders.”
Singapore’s first Muslim-owned granola makers
Tired of his sedentary, desk-bound job, Aman gave up a lucrative career in the airline industry to pursue fitness full-time. In 2015 he set up 120 Fitness, a collective of fitness instructors that teaches group classes at events and community centres. The expansion into granola was a natural one because Aman has always wanted to encourage others to not only exercise but also eat well.
Aman maintains that the primary goal of Single Single Double is to get the Muslim community in Singapore fit and healthy. Among Singapore’s Malay population, who are predominantly Muslim, about half over 60 years of age are overweight – likely a result of their oil and sugar-rich (but very satisfying) diets. Aman wants to lead the way for them to adopt a healthier diet with Single Single Double.
“Some of my Muslim brothers and sisters want to take the leap into healthy eating, but are intimidated by the non-Halal options out there. But my group of clients come from different backgrounds, including non-Muslims,” he says.
Retailing at SG$12.50 for 250 grams, Single Single Double’s granola costs more than an average breakfast at the hawker centre. By Aman’s estimate, a single packet comprises two-to-three breakfast servings, less so if the granola is eaten as a snack. While it is not meant to replace other breakfast foods completely, Aman’s granola is intended to show people new to clean and wholesome eating that it can be enjoyable.
“When I first started dieting and exercising, I was losing a lot of weight but I was undernourished. I went through a crash diet and I was training every day. My diet was not the best. My lowest weight was 60kg and it wasn’t the healthiest weight either,” he recalls.
These days, he makes more educated dietary choices. “I started reading and Googling what I should be eating. Weight loss became a longer process but it didn’t damage my body,” he says.
Aman is open to expanding Single Single Double’s product range to include other on-the-go bites for busy people. While he does not have an e-commerce store, he retails his granola over social media and through food fairs frequented by the Malay-Muslim populace, such as So Gelam.
He hopes that his tasty granola and his personal story of weight loss will inspire others to adopt a more active and clean-living way of life. This time, with a more holistic outlook towards their well-being and eating habits. Weight loss is a personal journey, he says.
“You don’t have to exercise everyday and eat clean all the time,” says Aman. “As long as you enjoy the exercise, do it regularly, and eat anything you want but in small portions, you can lead a healthy lifestyle too.”
Photos courtesy Single Single Double