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Culture Fruits & Vegetables Health Nightlife Plant-Based Restaurants

This Creative Eight Course Plant-Based Meal Is Attracting Vegans and Non-Vegans Alike

As a vegan, I know about all the new products, restaurants and Netflix documentaries. I have vegan friends and share some of the same vegan views. At times, in this vegan bubble of mine, I even begin to believe everyone’s becoming vegan. A simple conversation with a relative quickly dispels that notion. The reality is that within the United States, vegans only make up an estimated 3% of the entire population. That’s like comparing an edamame, to an, I don’t know, elephant. 

A recent study reveals the silver lining, as veganism has increased around 300% in the last 15 years. That’s an incredible explosion within a short space of time. You can credit the internet with this “mushroom” cloud of a diet shift. Whereas the initial conversation siloed around animal rights, over the years it’s expanded to include climate change and personal health and wellness. More specifically, two important factors for any new way of approaching things; advances in technology and just plain ol’ hands-on human ingenuity. 

One person forging her own brand of human ingenuity is Executive Chef Mimi Williams of Counterpart Vegan in Echo Park, California. Using 100% market fresh ingredients and plant-based processes, she creates familiar staples that are nearly indistinguishable from their original meat-based iterations. This is in stark contrast to many vegan spots that feature alternative protein-heavy menus, which are great advances as well, yet different. 

Raised in a small town in the Pacific Northwest, Williams was one of only a handful of Black families in the community. She shared a household with her parents and six brothers of Sicilian/Creole descent. Although she didn’t resemble most of her neighbors, Williams had a strong family support system. One could say she grew up with a traditional family in a non-traditional setting.

While her mother seemingly loved cooking and wanted Williams to learn, she recalls initially being resistant, feeling forced into doing a thing based on her gender expectations. Learning how to cook felt more like work than fun. Noticing that, her father encouraged her to cook things that interested her. That encouragement was the magic needed to open the floodgates of the world of food.

Williams’ was pushed to explore alternative diets during a period in which her father experienced health complications. With his doctor citing less meat consumption as a course of action, her family subsequently became early adopters of a mostly plant-based diet. By this time, Williams had become the de facto cook for her family, with her siblings frequently requesting her food.

At first, it took awhile to adjust to a mostly plant-based lifestyle, but after witnessing her father’s health improve firsthand, she was convinced the diet change was the right decision. These experiences helped Williams develop a perspective on food many Black people don’t have. She discovered veganism some years later during pregnancy after realizing she could no longer consume meat.

Honing her craft at restaurants across America, Williams’ still carries the same spirit of fearlessness and creativity her father encouraged as the current Executive Chef of Counterpart Vegan. Joining the team in 2019, she set about revitalizing Counterpart’s array of offerings. She credits a period of stagnant creativity as the stimuli behind her latest eight course tasting menu.

Consisting of familiar foods inspired by her upbringing, the flavors feel authentic. Some of the offerings include heirloom tomato carpaccio with a tasty and tangy vegan feta, pappardelle made from beets, seasoned squash ravioli and an unforgettable tiramisu as the finale. Williams’ new menu is a fine dining experience vegans and non-vegans alike can enjoy. She says she wants people to walk away feeling a sense of hope, and that when they share, “I didn’t know you could do that with this type of food,” that’s how she knows she’s on the right track.

If you’re looking for some momentary respite from quarantine, while supporting small businesses during the pause of outdoor dining, Chef Mimi will be offering a condensed version of the tasting menu as take-out for two. The dinner package will include a salad, appetizer, pasta, dessert, and likely, two non-alcoholic drinks.

There will be 25 of these dinner plates available to all guests and can be pre-ordered on Tock. The dinner package will be available every Friday and Saturday for pick-up, from 6PM-8PM.

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#foodbeast FOODBEAST Fruits & Vegetables Recipes SPONSORED

SPICY PB&J And 5 Other Unexpected Hatch Chile Recipes

We’re all feeling the heat this summer, and thanks to our friends at Melissa’s Produce, it’s about to get even hotter – in the best way possible.

Melissa’s challenged us to create some of the hottest recipes we can think of using their fresh hatch chiles.

In the latest Foodbeast Recipe Challenge, Foodbeast family members from across the board were tasked to use Hatch Chile Peppers in the most remarkable ways. These include a sweet and spicy Hatch Chile Jam, artisanal hatch chile cheese slices, and whatever fire usually comes out of Costa’s Kitchen.

Chefs whipping up these fire Melissa’s Hatch Chile Recipes include Kai’s beautiful Roasted Hatch Chile White Cheddar Biscuits, Lynja’s refreshing Guacamole and Pico de Gallo, Elie’s smoked Hatch Chile Jam served PB&J style, Alyssa’s mouthwatering Honey Hatch Chile Chicken Sandwich, Chris’ rustic Homemade Hatch Chile American Cheese Slices melted into a smash patty, and Costa’s innovative Hatch Chicken Parm.

You can check out exactly how they pulled off these stunning recipes by clicking on the video above!

For any Foodbeasts out there who think they have a really dope Hatch recipe that can stand up to these culinary giants, here’s how you join in.  All you have to do is post a photo of it on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #HatchAtHome between 8/21 to 8/31.

One creative individual will win a Pitboss Grill, like the one Elie used to smoke his hatch chiles and a bunch of other prizes like an Air Fryer! The winners will be announced on 9/1.

In the meantime, I’m gonna see if I can rustle up some Melissa’s Hatch Chile Peppers and win that smoker. It’s BBQ season.

Created in partnership with Melissa’s Produce.

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#foodbeast FOODBEAST Fruits & Vegetables Grocery Recipes SPONSORED

CHEESE-STUFFED HASHBROWNS: An All-American Breakfast Of Red, White, and Blue Potatoes


For some, Memorial Day weekend means a backyard barbeque. For others, it means heading to the nearest beach for a sunsoaked day of play with eighteen of their closest friends. Now, for Foodbeast and our close friends at Melissa’s Produce? It means giving a bag of red, white, and blue potatoes to five contestants and letting them go to town to see who can create the most mouthwatering dish in the newest, Memorial Day-themed episode of Foodbeast’s weekly recipe challenge.

Since the weekly recipe challenge brings out the best in the participants, the competition was fierce. But, at the end of the day, a colorful hashbrown brimming with melty cheese took the crown.

The guests for the week weren’t playing games: Twae (@twaydabae) served up a red, white, and blue pesto gnocchi, and Camly (@camly.me) brought a spicy vegan Hasselback potato to the mix.

Foodbeast’s very own made some intriguing dishes as well, with our resident food scientist Costa (@constantine_spy) making a not-so-Spanish Spanish omelet, king of meats Chris (@wefeedourfriends) forking over a Blue Potato Bun Burger with red and white waffle fries, and head of video Marc (@marckharrat) throwing down a cheese-stuffed hashbrown that leads off the video.

To do this, Marc compressed two scoops of a batter of shredded potatoes, green onions, garlic, egg, flour, and pepper, placed them on top of each other, and sandwiched some mozzarella in between before frying. Needless to say, this’ll make you want to have breakfast even if you’ve already had it for the day.

No one was really caught lacking, though. Regardless of the shape, form, or iteration of the proposed dish, each chef came through with something palatable, and easily made at home, which is certainly something to be said considering the ambitions of each dish.

Check out the video above to see each dish and its creation process, and show us the creation process to your own red, white, and blue dishes by using the #RedWhiteAndBluePotatoChallenge. The most creative recipe will have the chance to win a free produce box of their choice from Melissa’s!


Created in partnership with Melissa’s Produce.

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Fruits & Vegetables Grocery Hit-Or-Miss Packaged Food SPONSORED

The Meal Prep Service Behind Zac Efron’s Fit Physique

Meal prepping always seems like such a good idea, since eating healthy and saving time is invaluable to most. Putting the plan into action, however, is where the wheels fall off. Besides the challenge that is cooking healthy en masse, the idea of eating the same meal everyday is quite a dreary prospect. However, a Los Angeles company, Z.E.N. Foods, is looking to solve this issue for people, with their personalized, fresh meal plans.

Z.E.N., which stands for Zero Effort Nutrition, provides their customers with a healthy meal plan of three meals a day. What separates them from the pack of diet planning companies, though, is that these meals aren’t some pre-packaged, TV dinner-style meals that coagulate and become homogeneous once microwaved.

What Z.E.N. Foods provides are restaurant quality meals which are sourced from local food vendors, crafted by hand in their LA-based commercial kitchen, dropped off at their customer’s door every morning, and tailor made for each customer’s dietary needs. The budding company offers five different genres of meal plans, each of which can be further customized.

“From the very beginning, those with health problems, such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease, were very grateful to have an effortless way to change their lives through healthy, nutritious meals. We can customize just about everything. With nutritionists on staff and R&D chefs creating new products every day, the variety is amazing and it’s impossible to get bored,” says CEO and founder Mariana Rossano.

They currently do this for over 2000 people, including A-listers like Zac Efron and Chris Bauer, who have turned to the service to get their bodies in shape for various roles.

This budding success is leading to projected growth this year for the brand.

“We have expanded on the existing program from Z.E.N. Foods… It has just started in May and it’s called “Z.E.N. Classics.” The Classics is basically pure convenience, offering everything in an al a carte fashion from breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, healthy desserts, kid’s meals, to protein shakes and cold pressed juices. The menu will be constantly expanding and we will be adding meals from all cultures,” detailed Rossano of this expansion.

Z.E.N. Foods has also partnered with Southern California’s own Melissa’s Produce to guarantee the freshness in their meals that one would expect from a company that is a top choice for high profile clientele.

With an ever expanding menu, and a multitude of clean eating options, Z.E.N. Foods is poised to make a splash in the fresh meal delivery sector in the coming year. Or, as Rossano succinctly put it:

“Sky’s the limit in 2020.”

Check out www.zenfoods.com to peruse through and purchase one of the various meal plans. Or if you’re looking for pure convenience, check out zenclassics.com for their a la cart meal plan.


Created in partnership with Melissa’s Produce.

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Fruits & Vegetables

Avoid Grocery Store Lines With This A La Carte Produce Box Shipped Straight To Your Door

While everyone’s trying their best these days to stay inside, the dilemma of getting fresh fruits and vegetables presents itself for those looking to steer away from eating cans of corned beef hash and beans every other day. Trust me, canned food gets old QUICK.

Melissa’s Produce, is offering a sliding scale of amazing produce boxes that you can order and have shipped anywhere in the United States (though Southern California residents get free shipping).

You can order boxes of mixed fruits and vegetables depending on which type of produce you lean heavier towards.

If you lean heavy towards making vegetable-based dishes, perhaps a 70/30 box is something you need. If your diet is a little bit of both down them middle, consider the 50/50 box. Options also include a fruits only or vegetables only box for those who’d rather have one or the other. There’s even a box crafted towards making fresh juices.

If you’re looking for your produce fix without stepping foot outside the comfort of your own home, definitely check them out.