Inspired by Asian Flavors, Yishi Oatmeal Is Gluten-Free and Packed With Gut-Healthy Fiber and Plant-Based Protein

Photo: W+G Creative
In the U.S., comfort food carries sentimental value and is often synonymous with what we grew up eating as kids, like a slice of pepperoni pizza or a warm bowl of macaroni and cheese. For Lin Jiang, the CEO, and founder of Yishi Foods, an Asian-inspired oatmeal company, comfort food isn’t quite the same. After moving stateside alone to pursue a college education, Jiang found herself craving the dishes she grew up eating in China.

“When I was a child, my mom would make black sesame cereal for me when I got home from school. It was nutty, semi-sweet, toasty, smooth, with some crunchiness, and one of my favorite foods,” Jiang fondly recalls. “In China, black sesame cereal has been a staple food for hundreds of years because of its amazing flavor and wellness benefits from the ingredients’ rich nutrients.”

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In the States, the closest thing that compared to the simple, yet nourishing, dish she grew up eating was plain ol’ oatmeal (which rightfully so) fell a bit short of her expectations. “I found myself eating oatmeal for breakfast all the time because it’s quick and it's a relatively healthy breakfast option. But I found it very boring,” Jiang frankly admits.

Though you can doctor oatmeal up several ways, (with spoonfuls of brown sugar and cinnamon for example), Jiang said she felt like she had to choose: “Either the oatmeal is tasty but contains lots of added sugars, or you have the plain oats that are healthy but taste bland,” she says. Needless to say, she was hungry for so much more. “I wanted something better—something delicious and more nutritious, healthy and convenient, and I kept thinking about the black sesame cereal that had been my favorite for so many years,” Jiang adds.

Taking matters into her own hands, she began replicating her mom’s classic recipe and making toasted black sesame oatmeal for colleagues and friends—which they absolutely loved. “After perfecting my recipe with countless tests and samplings, I brought my oatmeal to my local Whole Foods forager. She loved it and brought it into local Chicago-area Whole Foods. And that is how Yishi was born,” Jiang recounts. “I created the original recipes in my kitchen, and later I worked with a registered dietitian and our food scientist to improve the formulation to support overall wellness while tasting like Asian desserts.”

What is Yishi Foods?

Though Yishi Foods might be new and unexpected to some, for others, it’s an ode to classic childhood flavors that are impossible to outgrow. “Yishi is an innovative, Asian-inspired oatmeal with trendy flavors never before seen in American oatmeal,” Jiang says. The oatmeal currently comes in three flavors: taro bubble tea, matcha latte, and toasted black sesame. “I created Yishi inspired by my mama’s cooking and my Chinese heritage, and we tell the story via our flavors, ingredients, and packaging,” she explains.

“The name Yishi is based on the Chinese word for ritual. We believe that nourishing your body with whole, functional foods is more than just a routine occurrence—it’s a small daily moment of celebration,” Jiang says. “Hundreds of thousands already have made Yishi part of their morning breakfast ritual.”

The base of each oatmeal is made with organic, gluten-free oats, almonds, hemp seeds, and flax seeds—which provide protein and a hearty, rich texture, not to mention loads of plant-based protein and gut-healthy fiber, too. Then the fun part: the flavors. “We add a unique blend of superfood ingredients—that are common in Asian food—into each recipe, such as taro, black sesame, goji berries, dates, and fruits for added benefits and deliciousness,” she says. And if you’re hoping for more fun flavors, Jiang says that we can expect the launch of a brand new one in spring 2023, and they’ll start testing new products in other categories later next year.

But what’s Yishi’s secret ingredient, you may wonder? “Culture is the soul of Yishi. We celebrate Asian cultures through product flavors, ingredients, brand messaging, education, and content across all platforms. At Yishi, we have made it our mission to advocate for cultural education; we will use our brand’s voice and community to help build a more inclusive future where we understand and appreciate global cultures and diversity in America,” Jiang says.

Did someone say oatmeal?

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