When you think of gyoza, those traditionally Chinese parcels of meaty, vegetable-y goodness that go so perfectly with a frosty mug of beer, do you imagine they’re more likely to appeal to dainty, health-conscious ladies, or undiscerning, ravenous salarymen? Whilst undeniably delicious, gyoza are generally seen as an unrefined food option – good for a quick stuffing, but hardly haute cuisine. That’s all set to change with the invention of “Happy Maru“, a range of colorful boiled gyoza “dumplings” infused with beautifying collagen and polyphenols for the health and beauty-conscious modern woman. But just what’s so different about them?

The new Happy Maru gyoza were developed by frozen foods company Osaka Ohsho to cater “specifically to the needs and desires of women”. In fact, they’re the result of a series of brainstorming sessions held by an all-female research and development team within the company. Happy Maru has been designed to appeal to women in every way, from the inclusion of added beauty ingredients right down to the color scheme and the cute packaging. We love getting extra health benefits from our food, so we just had to know more about these wonder dumplings!

Happy Maru consists of four different color varieties of dumpling, each with their own flavor scheme and added health benefits. Here’s a quick breakdown of each one!

White: the white Happy Maru dumplings are the “plain” flavor, consisting of pure white flour with no added flavorings, save a dash of olive oil.

Pink: a fusion of dried tomato and mozzarella cheese, the pink dumplings have a slightly sweet yet savory taste designed to bring to mind Italian cuisine. The pink color deepens as they cook to provide a pleasant pop of color in your bowl of gyoza soup!

Green: the green dumplings are infused with chlorella, a freshwater algae that provides essential antioxidants in the form of vitamin C and carotenoids, as well as a high concentration of iron and B-vitamins for a range of overall health and beauty benefits. Inside each squishy dumpling ball is a tasty paste made from fresh basil, which besides being yummy, is also included for health reasons – basil is well-known in Japan for its anti-ageing properties.

Yellow: the yellow Happy Maru are infused with yuzu peel, providing a fragrant citrus hit that’s said to improve your appetite.

Each Happy Maru dumpling ball is infused with collagen and polyphenols. Collagen has been a huge hit in Asia for quite a while now, having found its way into all sorts of supplements and even a variety of winter hotpots, soups and, erm, chilled chicken skewers. Collagen plays a significant role in the construction and health of skin, hair and nails, and consuming collagen is said to boost the elasticity and luster of one’s skin. While there isn’t a great deal of evidence in the west to support this, many Japanese women strongly believe in the skin-beautifying effects of collagen. Personally, this writer is inclined to agree with them – until the tub ran out, I used to add fish collagen powder to all of my cooking, and my skin never looked better. (Note to self, eat more collagen!)

The plant-based chemicals known as polyphenols are said to be a type of antioxidant that can also be beneficial to gut health as well as helping to prevent premature ageing. (Polyphenols are why we’re told it’s okay to drink red wine every now and then!) If that’s not enough, they’re said to prevent cancer cell reproduction and hardening of the arteries that can lead to heart disease. If that’s still not enough, they’re also said to lower inflammation, reducing the risk of arthritis. Wow!

These super-dumplings were the recent recipient of the “Women’s Edible Beauty Grand Prix” prize at the 39th International Food and Beverage Exhibition, aka FoodEx Japan 2014. Happy Maru was selected as the winner by a pool of voters including beauty and nutrition experts, celebrities and models who you’d expect would know a thing or two about looking good.

Priced at 475 yen (US$4.00) for a pack of 8 balls, with two sachets of soup powder included per pack, you could dump the lot into your winter nabe hotpot or add a couple of balls at a time to a side dish such as the “consomme ginger soup” recommended on the Osaka Ohsho website. The dumplings can be easily cooked in the microwave or over a stovetop in just a few minutes, making them an easy option for a quick meal.

There’s bad news for allergy suffers, as well as people with certain other dietary restrictions, though. The gyoza balls and soup base contain egg, wheat, milk, pork and soy, so despite the range of health benefits, they’re not suitable for everyone.

What do you think of these so-called “Edible Beauty” products? Would you be more inclined to buy a frozen foodstuff if it had a wide range of health and beauty benefits like this? Or are you less fussy about what goes into your food, as long as it’s yummy? Perhaps the best policy has always been: “if it tastes good, eat it – all of it!”

Source: YouPouch, Osaka Ohsho, Livestrong, The Telegraph, Evolutionhealth.com
Images: Osaka Ohsho