Who the heck are Blender Girls and what are they doing in Goa?

Three women who are helming the nutritional revolution with their blenders and wholesome smoothie bowls in the party capital of India.

Harper's Bazaar India

If I were to ask you to think of a word starting with B that you associate with Goa, "blender" would be far from it. Goa, the country's premier beach destination, is home to three remarkable women we refer to as the Blender Girls. These talented women have set out to make a difference in the world by opening healthy cafés stocked with the day's fresh produce. Their weapon of choice—smoothie bowls. And this isn't just another Instagrammable trend.
For a quick and easy approach to boosting your energy levels and receiving all the minerals and vitamins you need before starting the day, try blending a smoothie bowl for breakfast. The only things you'll need are your favourite frozen fruit, acai berry powder (optional), yoghurt or milk, granola (to add some crunch), and a blender. I travelled to Goa to meet these amazing women at their cafés and get a better grasp on the concept of a smoothie bowl, which seemed less like a craze and more like a feasible breakfast alternative (and a quick snack for that bothersome 4:00 pm on Thursday). Meet Sneha Desu, Malavika Manay, and Tanya Hildreth.

Sneha Desu - Bloom & Brew


A post shared by Dr. Sneha Desu (@snehadesu)

The spacious and cheerful Bloom & Brew is situated in the middle of Assagao. Owner Sneha Desu has infused a sense of renewed energy into the space while maintaining the iconic Goan aesthetic. Perhaps it is only logical that the idea for a wholesome food cafe was conceptualised when Desu worked in a bariatric hospital during her medical career. "I was constantly confronted with cases of people who did not make good lifestyle choices and ended up in these hospitals with surgeries that basically cut off their stomach sizes to force them to eat less. These are people who could have just been on a clean diet or consistently worked out but instead landed themselves in these positions. It shook me and made me realise what a huge role fitness and nutrition play as preventive medicine." As Desu curiously worked over the menu for her passion project, one thing became extremely clear, "Bloom's entire concept became about presenting food that people would otherwise not consider ordering when out—healthy food that people would otherwise think is not tasty." That is precisely where smoothie bowls come in, "I wanted to include the bowls because it's one of my favourite breakfast quickies, like something that's quick to make and can be super nourishing and appetising all at the same time. I wanted to go with three different kinds: one that was a bit more fruity, like the mango version; one that was a bit more antioxidant-rich, like the berry version; and one that had to be chocolate, because who doesn't love chocolate? I think there should be a good balance of sweet and sour fruit and something to neutralise it, like nut milk; we use almond milk. With the in-house granola that we make, it's a very balanced bowl. It's got the perfect amount of good fats, micronutrients, and a good amount of carbs."

Bloom & Brew also boasts an enriching lunch and dinner experience. Indulge in the gluten-free Very Berry Pancakes and the Breakfast Burrito, which is a perfect blend of healthy carbs and protein. Vegetarians must try the Teriyaki Bliss, which features velvety pan-seared tofu. For a Goan twist, let the Shrimp Tacos work their magic on you.

In a cosy little establishment in Anjuna, you can get some of the best smoothies and bowls, as well as vegan and gluten-free toasties and sweets, and cold-pressed juices. Owner Malavika Manay mixes up some fantastic smoothie bowls; perhaps it's because Malavika's personal relationship with food has been filled with challenges that have taken her a lifetime to overcome. "I was [finally] diagnosed with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that's triggered when you eat gluten. Three months after the diagnosis, my diet was extremely strict; zinc and magnesium supplements became my new friends. It was after this that I turned toward the path of natural healing. Food became my medicine; yoga became my coping mechanism; and aromatherapy became my healer," says Manay after she narrates her battle with Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder, which led to borderline bulemia, which led to ulcerative colitis, which was further misdiagnosed as intestinal tuberculosis. "My relationship with food has been extremely emotional. I went from hating it to loving it so much again, only to find out my body was rejecting certain foods. I had to start fresh all over again and change my diet overnight. It took me almost four years to find that balance, and I am still looking for it. Now, food is everything to me. I feel connected and in tune with the food," she continues. The result of this spiritual awakening was her café, EarthMama, a café stocked with a guide to essential oils, a variety of holistic books, and oracle cards.

Speaking about smoothie bowls, her face lights up (as does mine while I enjoy an uplifting Cacao Smoothie Bowl), as she says, "I found smoothies to be the easiest category of food to work with in terms of getting adequate nutrition from consuming fruits, vegetables, added protein powders, and added fats (from nut butter). I mean, who wouldn’t want that?" Indeed, who wouldn't?

Tanya Hildreth - WIGWAM


A post shared by Wigwam Goa (@wigwamgoa)

An Asian-inspired Tofu Noodle Salad with scrumptious organic leaves, lashings of ginger dressing, a squeeze of lime, and topped with sesame seeds, teamed with a glass of locally-brewed Booch, would get you to Wigwam for lunch. But it is the Spiced Turmeric Smoothie Bowl full of soya, banana, dates, and seeds that will nourish your soul after an intense massage at their Healing Tipi. Tanya Hildreth fell in love with the wilderness of Goa long before the idea of her own jungle-themed space took root in her mind. "Life before Wigwam was certainly different! My partner, Nic, and I lived in Anjuna for many years, falling in love with the incredibly lush nature of Goa and the kind locals around us. We found the perfect location and property in Mandrem, two kilometres from the beach on a quiet village road away from the crowds. We replaced our easy Goan lifestyle with a passion-filled project, and we wouldn’t have it any other way."

And, truth be told, I wouldn't have it any other way either. Tanya continues to enlighten as she talks about Wigwam's smoothie bowls: "I have always loved smoothie bowls, and I believe a healthy breakfast is always the way to go! Here at Wigwam, we use the freshest, most nutritious ingredients, and all our guests love them! We take great care to use the best fruit and get the consistency just right. The menu certainly wouldn’t be the same without them, and they have become a work of art with great care taken and love added in every bowl."