Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Eat to Defeat : A Powerful Message

"I was diagnosed with blood cancer just over a year ago, and the only treatment doctors offered me was chemotherapy. Although I'm a believer in modern medicine, chemo just wasn't for me, so I decided to alter my diet dramatically and give my body the tools it needed to overcome my cancer. I spent that year researching which balance of fruits, vegetables, spices, grains, and proteins would help me fight off the cancer. It turned out to be a lot of work to prepare all that food for myself, and when I met Rose and Adam of Bite Me Kitchen, life suddenly got easier! I am a Martial Artist, a Mom, a Wife, and a Sports Therapist who works full time with athletes of all levels from novice to professional and Olympic, so there isn't always time to prep, cook, and pack my own lunch.  Bite Me Kitchen has a fantastic formula of organic, plant-based nutrition packed with well-balanced proteins, and I can't begin to tell you how important that is to me. They cater to my vegan lifestyle, and are super creative when crafting their meals! It's a blessing to be able to order fresh organic, vegan meals like this, and it leaves you no excuse to eat unhealthy! Today I am cancer-free with no chemotherapy, and I believe I owe that to my commitment to a plant-based diet. My favorite is BMK's Baja Quinoa Soup!"

Steph Shafer
Cancer Survivor
Sports Therapist

Friday, July 5, 2013

July Survey Response

Hello, and we hope you enjoyed your holiday!

First, thank you all for your survey responses! Your input is a big part of building Bite Me Kitchen and we value your requests and want to make sure that you are always satisfied!

We saw a lot of positive responses, some great constructive ideas, and a handful of questions (answered below). As always, feel free to contact us with ANY questions, concerns or ideas!

What if we changed the schedule?
We asked about rearranging our schedule to Mon-Tues / Weds-Fri meals and 90% of responses were "Sounds good!" or "Either way!" This simple rearrangement means we now have a mini-weekend away from the kitchen that enables us to better follow up on inquiries, organize our wholesale orders, manage billing & paperwork, and develop new ideas & recipes! This is absolutely incredible for us, as we have not had any single days to be off our feet and devote time to the other aspects of the business! We are confident that reorganizing the schedule will allow us to build a better-balanced business and be happier/healthier/saner people!

What does all that mean?

Effective immediately, the week is divided into:
  •  Mon-Tues meals (pickup Sun PM in Costa Mesa / all other locations Monday AM)
  •  Weds-Thurs-Fri meals (pickup Weds PM in Costa Mesa / all other locations Wednesday AM)

Can BMK list the nutrition info on the menu before I place my order?
We spotted this trend right away: you wanted to see the nutrition info prior to ordering via link on the menu! DONE! If you have any questions, please ask us anytime! If you are requesting modified meals (gluten-free, nut-free, etc.) your ingredients may be slightly different from the ingredients listed.

Do you use organic ingredients?
We use organic ingredients whenever possible! All our soy, grains, and the majority of our produce are 100% organic and non-GMO. Occasionally, there are items we cannot source organically via any of our distributors. In these cases, we often pay retail (costing us a small fortune) because we are dedicated to our organic ethic. There is a very short list of ingredients we use that are simply not available organic and those can be found on each meal's ingredient list. Anything organic is always marked with the ยบ symbol. Please keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of restaurants do not make their food with any organic ingredients due to the dramatically increased cost. It’s also important to note that while all organic ingredients are non-GMO, non-organic ingredients are not necessarily GMO.

What is your Tofu / Vegan Cheese / Soy Milk?
We make our soymilk from scratch a few times a week using 100% organic dried soybeans. Nothing else is added to our soymilk! Our vegan ricotta (okara ricotta) is made from a natural by-product of the soymilk making process and is made of organic soybeans, raw cashews, nutritional yeast, and Himalayan pink salt. We do NOT use faux-cheeses (like Daiya) since they are heavily processed, despite being vegan. We do not make our own tofu – sadly, it is far too time consuming – even for us! Instead, we use a trusted brand of organic, non-GMO, sprouted soy tofu made by Wildwood Farms. Some people asked about “processed soy products” and Wildwood simply doesn’t merit that label. It’s made from hot organic soy milk combined with a blend of salts and nigari, strained and pressed into shape. That’s it!

What are Seitan / Tempeh / Cutlets / Sausages?

Seitan is a faux meat product made from vital wheat gluten (the glutinous/gummy part of the wheat berry), seasoning, tomato paste, garlic, nutritional yeast, and broth. It is not suitable for those with gluten intolerance. Contains gluten. Made with organic ingredients. Non-GMO. BMK made.

Tempeh is made from grains and/or legumes physically pressed together and fermented for additional health benefits (fermented or living foods are great for your digestive system!). It is usually gluten-free. Organic. Purchased.

Chickenless Cutlets – a combination of okara (from making soymilk), seasoning, and vital wheat gluten baked into a crispy cutlet. Contains gluten. Made with organic ingredients. Non-GMO. BMK made.

Vegan Sausages – a combination of beans, vital wheat gluten, seasoning, rolled into sausages that are usually sliced or ground. Contains gluten. Made with organic ingredients. Non-GMO. BMK made.

Tell me about freshness / separation of sauces / preservatives!
Preservatives – we don’t use them! This means it’s a good idea to eat your lettuce-y and salad-y things first, and your hardier pastas and baked goods later. Someone mentioned the lettuce from Monday being slightly wilted on Wednesday – there’s unfortunately not a lot we can do about that! We also had a question about the sauces and dressings being separated – this is absolutely true because we use no artificial preservatives, emulsifiers, coagulants, or binders in our sauces, so they may separate! Fear not, for a quick shake of the container or a stir with a fork will blend them back together good as new! If your rice or grains are a little dry – simply sprinkle a little water over them, or cover with a damp paper towel to rehydrate them!

Kale vs. Spinach
We had some people say they prefer spinach to kale and others prefer kale to spinach! We love both! Some meals it’s simply impractical to make in the volume we cook with spinach because spinach loses so much volume when cooked. Kale retains its shape and volume meaning we don’t have to buy 30 pounds to make 80 pcs of lasagna. We hear you loud and clear and when we can swap in spinach (like in the enchiladas and some salads) we will!

What about that delivery fee?
We had already been thinking about changing the delivery fee for our two dropzone locations (SCAR and Rausch) but we need to figure out how to equitably balance the cost of delivery with a fair fee! We’ve waived the fee for July as a summer treat and we’ll let you know when we’ve settled on a reduced rate!

Who cooks the food?

We're glad you asked! WE DO! Both Adam and Rose create all the recipes, write the recipes, make the from scratch ingredients, prepare and pack all the meals. We also handle the graphic design, web design, marketing, advertising, billing, accounting, ordering and delivering! 

When will you have a BMK Restaurant / Shop?
We are keeping our eyes open for a little place of our own in the area! We would love to be able to offer you a daily breakfast you can come in and grab with your to-go goods as well as some of our made-from-scratch market items for your home culinary adventures! As you know, Orange County is outrageously expensive, so finding just the right place without winding up broke is an arduous task! Most people in our position get investors, but we want to keep Bite Me Kitchen’s focus on making real, healthy, fresh food, and that may conflict with an investor’s primary goal of making money. Know of anyone with good real estate contacts? See a place for lease in your area that’s small and equipped with a kitchen? Got ideas? Let us know! We love being community-driven and we want you to be an active part of our business.

We want favorites!
Like something a lot and want to see it more regularly? Let us know! Shoot us a text or an email and demand your favorite meal weekly! Many people requested favorites to be on every weekly menu, but we need your specific input to make that happen for you! :)

Thank you all so much for being a part of our growing business. We are grateful to serve such a diverse and tremendous group of people and we hope to continue serving you delicious and healthy meals for years to come!

Adam & Rose Zalewski

Friday, May 10, 2013

Low Carb vs. Balanced Nutrition

Let's get a few things out in the open before we start talking about carbohydrates. First - we don't believe in dieting. We think the Zone Diet, the Grapefruit Diet, the Master Cleanse, the Paleo Diet, the South Beach Diet, all that crap is just that - marketing crap. Could we make a lot of money if we launched the BMK Beach Body Babe Diet and marketed the hell out if it with targeted advertising with photos of glistening nearly naked triathletes? Sure, if making money off people trying to get summer-swimsuit-ready was our goal - except it's not. How many diets have you tried? How many have lasted? Sure, you lost 10 lbs. eating nothing but lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup - but how long was it til you found them again? What's that? You're trying a new juice cleanse? With NON-ORGANIC fruits and vegetables (This boggles our minds to no end.) So, let's get this straight - you're drinking an anti-oxidizing acai juice that's covered in and permeated with pesticides? Mind-bending. Now, we give anyone trying to get healthy an A for effort, but let's have a quick chat about nutrition.

Lifestyle Change
Yes, a 5-day cleanse or diet is feasible, possible, and manageable. But a life-long change? Whoa. Remember, what you put in your face is a matter of life and death. If you don't believe us, ask someone who has diabetes, heart disease, or obesity. Everyone can have super-powers! You have the power to look younger, heal quickly, rest well, be energized and have a sharp mind - and that power resides in what kind of fuel you feed your body. Does this mean that you can never eat pizza? No! What it does mean is changing your lifestyle so that 90% of the time, you are providing your body with the nutrients it needs and 10% of the time you splurge. Stop looking at food as an adversary, a taunt, a treat, or a comfort, and begin to look at food as fuel - what kind of food will make me strong? Healthy? Happy? Energetic?

Be Wary of Packaged Goods
You don't need boxed rice, boxed oats, bagged pancake mix, or even bagged kale chips! Think that Uncle Ben's Rice Pilaf is just as good for you as brown rice? Let's take a look at what's in it:
Precooked Long Grain Rice, Water, Precooked Enriched Macaroni Product [Semolina (Wheat), Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin and Folic Acid] Canola Oil, Salt, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Vegetables (Onion, Broccoli, Garlic), Hydrolyzed Corn/Soy Protein, Sugar, Chicken Fat, Acetylated Monoglyceride Corn Starch, Chicken Broth, Soy Sauce (Soybeans, Wheat, Salt) Soy Flour, Maltodextrin, Turmeric (Color) Spices, Natural Flavors, Tapioca (Dextrin, Flour).
Well... That's awkward. Precooked enriched macaronic product? Nothing says YUMMY like a generic word like product. As for the rest of it - what exactly are some of those things? You know what's in BMK rice pilaf? Rice, vegetable stock (water, vegetables), minced fresh vegetables, sea salt, and cracked pepper. Big difference! Now imagine you're eating at least three meals with all of that crap above in them most days. How well do you think you're fueling your body? How well is your body going to fend off illness and immune attacks while it's trying to figure out where to break down Precooked Enriched Macaroni Product. Not very well!

Buy vegetables, buy fruit, buy a variety of grains, eat a variety of legumes, seeds and nuts. Drink water. Sounds complicated, right?!

Who'd have thought that there would be so much confusion over such a simple word! Depending on which women's "health" magazine you're reading, and which day it is, you'll get a new opinion regarding carbohydrates. Carbohydrates make you fat, right? So we must avoid carbohydrates to lose weight, right? Meaning we need low carb diets, right!?, not really.

Your brain and body need quite a few things to function correctly: carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, water, and as a bonus let's throw in antioxidants and phytonutrients. Carbohydrates are found in most foods (rendering the no-carb diet virtually impossible and the low-carb diet impractical for proper health) including grains, fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and more! When you view the nutrition information on a package there are two components listed under Carbohydrates - Dietary Fiber and Sugars. Now, despite its bad rap - sugars themselves aren't bad for you, as long as they come from a natural, unprocessed, unrefined source and are consumed in moderation. Apples, strawberries, and oranges all have sugar and have vital nutrients for your body! You should avoid high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, glucose, or any other sugar that's been added to food to make it taste better without improving the nutritional profile of the food. Why add all those extra nutrition-free calories? Food manufacturers assume that you won't like plain, high protein yogurt unless they add evaporated cane juice. This is not the same as eating plain yogurt with fresh fruit stirred in to give you the sweetness of the berry and some vitamins.

Fiber is important, both to your overall health and to those trying to lose weight. Fiber not only keeps you feeling full, but it acts like a scrub brush as it goes through your digestive tract cleaning out old, toxic debris, it reduces blood pressure and inflammation, lowers cholesterol, regulates your bowel movements and can prevent colorectal cancer. Fiber is your friend! Your body wants to function like a high performance machine - fiber helps keep your engine clean and your key numbers in balance, yet it's... A CARBOHYDRATE! Oh no! This is why looking just for low carb numbers is an error. Kudos for reading the labels, but make sure you note which foods are high SUGAR and which are high FIBER if you see a high CARB number.

Ever dieted and felt sluggish, spacey, weak, unable to sleep but lacking energy? This is because you are starving your body of the carbohydrates (yep, we said it) necessary for your body and mind to function.

Why Do Low Carb Diets Seem to Work?
Easy! Most of the time removing or avoiding most carbs from one's diet means removing all the packaged crap that most people eat on a daily basis! No more donuts, no more cookies, no snacking on wheat thins, no excessive bread consumption, no overloading on 2-3 servings of pasta (a serving is 2 dry oz., by the way), avoiding all the enriched, bleached, processed junk carbs and refined sugar is an excellent way to lose weight AND be healthy. Yet, what will make that weight loss and new-found health last is the ability to combine a healthy diet with exercise. And that takes energy, and energy comes from carbohydrates.

The Ideal 
Eat unpackaged, unprocessed, real, organic food. Avoid anything you can't define or track to a source. Avoid grains that have been stripped of all value, enriched with chemical compounds and bleached to be an appealing white shade. Avoid sodas full of chemicals. Avoid canned and packaged fruits and vegetables in lieu of fresh, untarnished produce. Avoid refined sugars and aim for sweetening with fruit, honey, molasses, maple syrup or agave. Eat healthy fats to protect your organs, encourage healing, and assist in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Drink water to hydrate your body, move nutrients along and assist in the absorption of water-soluble vitamins. Get adequate protein from easy-to-digest sources to aid in building and repairing muscle, skin, cartilage, and blood. And while you're at it, go crazy and get some extra credit by giving your body antioxidants and phytochemicals like lycopene and flavonoids, cartenoids to protect your body against a wide range of disease, aging, and breakdown. Not only that, add in daily exercise, stretching and maybe even some meditation to create a balanced, healthy, and happy body and mind.

Questions? Ask away!