It’s National Pie Day! And what better way to celebrate than by chatting with George Coundouriotis, Founder and President of Zambawango Desserts & Coffee, in Atlanta, Georgia.
George is on a mission: to bring low carb (very low carb) sweets, baked goods, and delicious coffee elixirs to the world. For people with diabetes? Of course. For keto lovers? You bet. For the health-conscious? Absolutely.
But more importantly, George wants to revolutionize the entire world of baking. He wants everyone -- whether living with a chronic condition or not -- to get onboard this low carb lifestyle. And he’s starting with Zambawango.
Below, find out how George and team are making all our low carb, sugar-free, decadently delightful dreams come true!
Zambawango: A Low Carb Bakery For All
One Drop: How did the idea for a low carb bakery and specialty coffee shop come about?
George Coundouriotis: I am a lifelong foodie with a very serious sweet tooth, and I have struggled with weight issues throughout my life.
I tried to eat low carb but, inevitably, would eat a dessert, fall of course, and would continue to gain weight. Finally, I realized there was a big need for a bakery that offered delicious low carb desserts and amazing low carb coffee drinks!
The key criteria was to not compromise on quality, appearance, or taste, while keeping ingredients natural and healthy!
Hiring an executive pastry chef who believed in the concept and was also dedicated to executing at a level of nutritional excellence was absolutely essential. Executive Pastry Chef Kathleen McDaniel came along at just the right time and has also built a very strong and deep team in the kitchen!
The idea may have come about from a personal need, but the real drive to make it a success came from the company mission: To improve people's lives by offering desserts and coffees to people who could not otherwise indulge.
Our offerings generally contain 4 grams of net carbs or less per generous serving. They are all 100% natural, gluten-free, and are suitable for any version of the healthy, low carb lifestyle.
We are just as passionate about low carb on the coffee side of things. We make our own sugar-free, natural syrups and use unsweetened almond and coconut milks, along with heavy cream!
OD: Why “Zambawango?” How did you come up with the name?
GC: Zambawango, for us, means a place where culinary magic happens and anything is possible. It's a made-up word, which we hope eventually makes it into the dictionary!
OD: It’s National Pie Day! Do you have any low carb pies for people wanting to celebrate?
GC: We’ve got tons! For National Pie Day, specifically, we recommend our Pecan Pie. It’s the hero of pies. And ours is both sugar-free and gluten-free. It comes in at 9 inches, makes 10-12 generous slices, and the whole pie contains just 24 carbs.
OD: Happy National Pie Day, indeed! Can you tell us more about your personal story behind Zambawango? Why low carb? Do you have diabetes?
GC: I don’t have diabetes. But when I got some not-so-awesome bloodwork stats back from a routine doctor visit, I knew I had to go low carb. I started my most current low carb journey in January 2017.
I’d already done low carb before, but I never thought of it as a lifestyle. This time around, I was sticking to it. I also added exercise after I initially lost 40 pounds (which I lost in 6 months, thanks to my low carb lifestyle).
I reached my target weight in January 2018, a total of 60 pounds lost, and have stayed there ever since. I completed my 8th marathon in November 2019 by training and running on a low carb lifestyle!
OD: How does Zambawango cater to those who live with diabetes?
GC: Our desserts and coffees are extremely low carb, contain no grain flour or added sugars, and have a very low or no glycemic impact. In fact, everything we make (desserts, pastries, bagels, pies, coffees) contain 4 grams or less of net carbs.
We use almond and coconut flours, 99% pure chocolate, Swerve (a non-GMO, all natural plant based sweetener) and other natural ingredients to make the magic happen!
OD: Tell us more about the magic! How can you make pastries or desserts without any added sugar?
GC: We primarily use Swerve as the sweetener for all our products. It’s made from ingredients found in select fruits and root vegetables, and contains no artificial ingredients, preservatives, or flavors.
It's zero-calorie, non-glycemic, and safe for those living with diabetes since it has no effect on blood sugar or insulin levels. It’s also perfect for baking: it caramelizes and holds its shape like sugar.
We are also starting to use Allulose, another all natural, no-glycemic-impact sweetener. Both of these sweeteners are significantly lower in calories and have little to no effect on blood sugar levels.
Our other core ingredients are:
- Almond and coconut flour
- Sugar-free chocolate
- Coconut and almond milk
- Eggs, butter, cream cheese
OD: What’s on the menu? What are some of your favorite bakery items that we can try?
GC: Some of the new, seasonal items are my current favorites:
🍮 Caramel pecan cheesecake
🍪 Double chocolate hazelnut cookie
🍰 Key lime cheesecake
But to be perfectly honest, I love everything in our cases. In fact, one of the roles I share with our Executive Pastry chef is "Chief Tasting Officer.”
On the drink side, I really enjoy freshly brewed coffee. But in the afternoon, a decaf iced cappuccino usually hits the spot!
Using 80% unsweetened coconut milk, 20% heavy cream, and our house-made sugar-free syrups, this rich, afternoon pick-me-up is the perfect treat with only 1.5 carbs per every 16 ounce serving.
And we're not just serving sweets! We've got all the savory staples, too. Just like the sweet stuff, our saltier options -- at most -- 4g of net carbs. From bagels to croissants, there really is something for everyone!
OD: For first-timers visiting the shop, what is a must-try on the menu?
GC: Our zero carb creme brulee, the caramel pecan cheesecake, or the cupcakes!
At the end of the day, though, it's really what the customer prefers! And we have so many options that you really can’t go wrong.
If you’re in the Atlanta, Georgia, area, be sure to swing by Zambawango, located in Sandy Springs. They’re happy to make your next low carb birthday, anniversary, or wedding cake! 🎂
George and team plan on opening many more locations (fingers crossed for NYC!), so be sure to keep up on Facebook and Instagram for more updates.