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Entrepreneurship Fast Food Health Plant-Based

nomoo | New American Burgers: From Sacrifice to Success

Housed in the original Johnny Rockets on Melrose Ave, you’ll find nomoo | New American Burgers, the latest plant-based burger joint to hit Los Angeles. Retaining a nostalgic American diner element, as you enter you’re transported to a bygone era complete with eye-catching neon signs, vibrant interior colors and the unmistakable smell of classic deliciousness. Wrapped in the vintage aesthetic is a menu specially curated from passion and patience. 

Having been open only for a year, nomoo is the brainchild of owner George Montagu Brown. Brown was an unlikely burger joint owner. He originally ran a successful internet business in Costa Rica, which while very lucrative, failed to fill him with a sense of purpose. In thinking back on his previous business, he says, “One of the things I learned from early financial success was that money isn’t everything. The reward comes not from the profit numbers but seeing a team I built grow and work together, from guest interactions and when people love the food we created.”

As a vegan, Brown had a strong connection to the plight of farm animals. His dream had always been to raise awareness about the harrowing conditions of factory farming. Believing vegan food can (and does) change people’s perspective, he initially considered pursuing the avenue of education as a way to raise awareness. The burning question he longed to answer was, “Do we need animal products in fast food at all?” 

Ultimately deciding that experience, rather than education, was a better pathway forward, prompting Brown to create nomoo. To fulfill this mission, his idea was to offer the experience of “combining a restaurant with an ‘all day party’ vibe with plant-based products.” Brown set his mind to pursuing what he felt deeply to be his purpose and took a leap of faith. Knowing that success requires sacrifice, he shuttered his online business and invested his own money to make his dreams a reality. 

Pursuing his dream had its challenges. Without investors, he chose to move from Costa Rica, hoping to launch nomoo in Los Angeles. To further complicate the transition, he opened right before last year’s pandemic hit, forcing him to close the doors only seven days following. When nomoo finally reopened in June, it faced supply delays. Vegan products were often unavailable. Despite the setbacks, Brown managed to push through and now shares his vision with hungry Angelenos looking for post-pandemic grub.

Prepped entirely by hand, considerable emphasis is placed on quality. The nomoo burger is the house staple. Ingredients consist of the Impossible patty complimented by an in-house nomoo sauce, American cheeze, house pickles, and a tomato resting atop a bed of butter lettuce that’s secured by a freshly made brioche bun. Additional menu items include plant-based takes on American diner classics like The Hot Chik’in sandwich, handspun gourmet shakes, fries and an assortment of tasty sauces. I had the opportunity to try their most recent offering, the BBQ Facon Burger, and I can say it too delivers on all mouthwatering fronts. Additionally, the food is made fresh daily and 10% of proceeds are donated to Mercy For Animals.

Fueled by purpose, Brown can often be found at nomoo | New American Burgers on Melrose Ave. working “twice as hard for much less pay.”

Categories
Culture Design Health

Japan’s First Edible Face Masks Will Curb COVID-19 And Your Hunger

Photo: Goku No Kimochi The LAB

Japan’s long been known to stretch the boundaries of creativity when it comes to everyday products, which is why edible melon bread face masks are another mind-blowing concept to bolster that claim.

Goku No Kimochi, a company that manages a number of Japanese massage parlours, has a division under it called Goku No Kimochi THE LABO, that’s collaborated with Melon De Melon, a bakery that specializes in serving up melon bread. Though the concept sounds lowkey gimmicky at best and sketchy at worst, the masks have undergone official testing by a third-party called Untika Garmentec Research. Results from this testing proved to be positive and effective in offering protection against the spread of COVID-19.

Make no mistake these melon bread face masks are in fact edible, so if you’re looking to end your day with a snack after using it, you’ll be met with quite a tasty situation.

If you’re looking to curve your hunger and COVID-19, the masks are selling for $16.44 and can be bought here.

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Health Science

Study Finds That US Schools Have The Most Nutritious Food Amongst Places We Buy From

Photo: Africa Studio // Shutterstock

We get our food from a whole lot of different places, whether it be grocery stores, ordering from restaurants, or at work.

Turns out that where we get our food from has some correlation to the nutritional quality of those meals, and the ones with the highest quality actually come from schools.

A recently published study from Tufts University that looked at nutrition data patterns found that from 2003-2018, school meal quality rose to the point that they were our most nutritious food source (2018 is the most recent year that national data for this is available).

Just under a fourth (24%) of the meals consumed at schools were of poor nutritional quality by 2018. In order from lowest to highest percentage of badly balanced meals, the next best food sources were grocery stores (45%), entertainment venues/food trucks (52%), and restaurants (80%).

It should be noted that the above numbers were in terms of meals served to kids. For adults, meals consumed at schools were not evaluated, but the most nutritious food source was grocery stores (33%), followed by food trucks/entertainment (45%), work sites (51%), and restaurants (65%).

A press release from Tufts University attributed the high quality of school meals to the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which created new standards for school and early child care nutrition. The policy contributed to a 33% drop in proportion of poor quality meals served at schools over the last 13 years.

The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act also resulted in highly equitable changes across the board, with the nutritional improvements coming from school meals being on par across ethnicity, education, and household income.

In contrast, other food sources had “significant disparities” when it came to improvements in quality across these different demographics.

While it’s great that we know where the most nutritious food can come from, it should be noted that just nine percent of all calories consumed by children in that time period came from schools. With the COVID-19 pandemic raging on, it’s likely that number has even been lower in more recent years.

The study overall found that across the United States, all major food sources could improve on the nutritional quality of their meals, and special attention needs to be given to the equity of how the food is bettered.

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Health Science

USA Set To Add Sesame As 9th Major Allergen Requiring Labeling

Photo: Shawn Hempel // Shutterstock

The United States currently requires foods that contain eight different major allergens to be labeled with a warning for those who may react to them. These include tree nuts, peanuts, soy, wheat, milk/dairy, fish, shellfish, and eggs.

Soon, the country will also be adding sesame, the ninth most allergenic food source in the United States, as the ninth major allergen to require those warnings.

Sesame’s updated status comes with passage of the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research (FASTER) Act in the U.S. House of Representatives on April 14th. The Senate already passed the bill back in March, meaning it now heads to President Biden’s desk. According to Allergic Living, the President is expected to sign the legislation into law.

The USA is not the first country to add sesame as an allergen, as the EU, Australia/New Zealand, and several other countries already do so. However, this represents a major step forward in getting more awareness around these lesser known food allergens and making sure consumers are aware if a product contains something they could react to.

As part of the FASTER Act legislation, the FDA will also begin developing and implementing a risk-based model for establishing other food allergens that may also be labeled in the future. Some of the other common food sources this might pertain to in the future would be celery, mustard, or sulfites.

The Secretary of Health and Human Service has 18 months to work on this, as well as reporting on potential therapeutics that could treat allergens and ways to help prevent their onset.

Congress’s passing of the FASTER Act marks some of the biggest food safety legislation enacted since 2011, when President Barack Obama signed the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) into law.

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#foodbeast Brand Fast Food Health Plant-Based Restaurants

The Halal Guys Just Launched PLANT-BASED GYROS

As plant-based options continue to increase at restaurants globally, many companies have defaulted to teaming up with big plant-based names to make faux meat products.

The Halal Guys just went the extra mile, however, and created their own plant-based gyro cones that are cooked on a rotating spit, just like regular gyro meat would be.

Photo courtesy of The Halal Guys

Their new Meatless Gyro, a limited-time offering, is a gluten-free and plant-based alternative to the standard gyro meat. The Halal Guys version is made with pea protein, brown rice, coconut oil, Halal Guys spice mix, beets, mushrooms, and paprika. A serving of the Meatless Gyro comes with 21 grams of protein.

Of course, when at The Halal Guys, there’s all of the toppings you can add to the rice, lettuce, and protein option. One of those is tzatziki, which normally contains dairy, but The Halal Guys has created a plant-based version of that as well. That iteration uses aquafaba, the leftover liquid from cooking chickpeas, to get to a similar texture on the sauce.

Foodbeasts Elie and Oscar got a chance to try the Meatless Gyro early. To Elie, the plant-based gyro version held up texturally to the original, while Oscar loved that it could be shaved off the cone the same way as regular gyro meat would. It had the same level of flavor since it uses the same Halal Guys spice blend, with Elie noting it was a tad more “earthy.” 

As for the plant-based tzatziki, it was a little thinner than the original due to the aquafaba, but it paired really well with the vegan gyro meat. For the overall meal, both Elie and Oscar noted that they felt really good and not bloated after eating it. 

“I’m definitely gonna be getting this meatless gyro into my rotation,” Elie noted afterwards.

Photo courtesy of The Halal Guys

Also joining The Halal Guys menus is a refreshing eggplant hummus, which combines eggplants and chickpeas for a refreshing snack, dip, or addition to your meal. Oscar even dipped his sandwich into it, combining the two for what he described as a “nice addition.”

The new Meatless Gyro and Eggplant Hummus will be available at participating Halal Guys locations nationwide starting for a limited time. You can get it in sandwich or platter form with all of the usual fixings, including that plant-based tzatziki for those looking to keep everything animal free.

Created in partnership with The Halal Guys.

Categories
Health News Plant-Based Science

Plant-Based Filet Mignon Is Now A Reality

Photo: Juicy Marbles

The plant-based meat wave is no longer just that and truly the green movement is here to stay, with the ebbs and flows of the notion mellowing out as a dietary constant. The popularity and mainstream appeal of Impossible and Beyond Meat are the banners for this declaration, with more plant-based innovations on the way. One of which happens to be a game changer courtesy of Juicy Marbles: plant-based filet mignon.

Co-founders of Juicy Marbles, Tilen Travnik, Luka Sincek and Maj Hrovat, managed to create a plant-based cut of filet mignon without any use of 3D printing, GMOs or laboratory alterations. The secret lies in how Juicy Marbles was able to use soy protein to mimic the muscle texture and marbling of real meat by arranging and layering the protein fibers from the bottom up using a patent-pending machine they call the Meat-o-matic Reverse Grinder™ 9000. Playful name aside, the reality of this applied technique is groundbreaking.

“The biggest challenge was getting the right fiber alignment and intramuscular fat structure – the marbling. The most expensive steaks in the world are known for their lush marbling. It takes a lot of energy and a rare breed of cow to attain that. With plant meat, we control it and, thus, over time, can scale up our steak production and bring down the price. Eventually, we’ll be able to make the most premium meats attainable for everyone,” explains Luka Sincek.

Photo: Juicy Marbles

So thanks to Juicy Marbles, the world’s first plant-based steaks can be purchased on their website and ship to the 48 states and throughout Europe for a limited time only.

According to the Juicy Marbles website the cuts of meat have a firm texture “while the linear fibre placement results in juicy chunks tearing away softly, like real muscle.”

With the possibility of actual plant-based cuts of meat being available directly to consumers, it will only be a matter of time before the flood gates open for other proteins to get a fully plant-based treatment in the form of individual cuts of meat that have an uncanny resemblance to the real thing.

Categories
Grocery Health Packaged Food

Hidden Valley Ranch Now Has A Dairy Free Option

Photo courtesy of Hidden Valley Ranch

Ranch dressing is known for having buttermilk and not being friendly to those with dairy or lactose issues.

That doesn’t have to be a hindrance to those wanting to sample ranch anymore, however, as Hidden Valley Ranch just announced a dairy-free version of their iconic condiment.

As the most ubiquitous bottle of ranch out there, this makes the dressing way more accessible to those who couldn’t consume it before, and makes it an option for those on lactose-free, vegan, or flexitarian diets.

Hidden Valley Ranch normally contains egg yolk and buttermilk in it, according to information on the brand’s website. This new plant-based version swaps those out for soy protein isolate. The company also claims to have no animal-derived ingredients in the new Plant Powered Ranch.

Bottles of the plant-based Hidden Valley Ranch will be available in stores nationwide starting in April 2021. A 12 ounce bottle comes at a suggested price of $3.49.

Categories
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.