Last weekend, thanks to the kindness of our owner, I joyfully attended the National Restaurant Association show in Chicago.
The NRA show is the largest annual gathering of the restaurant and foodservice industry and takes place every May at Chicago’s McCormick Place. This year’s show was vibrant, diverse, full of high energy and enthusiasm reflecting the hopes and dreams of so many people, exhibitors and attendees.
The range of exhibitors was staggering. They were in the thousands, ranging from savvy millennials featuring cutting edge technology to those showing the latest in non-GMO Jasmine rice. The exhibitors and attendees showcased the industry for what it is – an amazing collection of dedicated individuals wanting to serve or enable the service of food to hungry consumers all across the country during three distinct times in a 24 hours period – at breakfast, for lunch, and during dinner.
The food service industry is a $799 billion industry. There are over 1 millions restaurants in the United States. The industry employs over 14.7 million people which equals to 10% of the U.S. workforce employed in foodservice. This means 1 out of every 10 persons in America is involved in activity related to ensuring a stranger’s hunger is satiated for a small fee!
More stats – In 1955, the restaurant industry comprised 25% of the family food dollar. In the present, that number has risen to 47%. Think about it – for every dollar spent on food, $0.47 cents go toward a restaurant experience.
As I was checking out exhibitors I saw this wall which made me stop and reflect on why I like the restaurant industry so much. After 25 years of being active in this business, I am guaranteed one thing – every day is same yet every day is a very different day.
The restaurant industry is one of the few industries where with the right spirit, tenacity, hard work, and common sense you can go from being a dishwasher to a CEO. Where, as a new immigrant you can start a business and capture the heart and smiles of people with food from your homeland.
Many of us, regardless of tenure or title remain humble because of this industry. You never know when you walk into your restaurant and have to unclog a toilet, or wipe down a table or take the trash out. It doesn’t matter how many degrees you have or how big your paycheck is. When that moment comes to take action, you just do it. You take that towel and wipe down the spills or pick up the broom for a cleaner floor!
When I put on an apron, I am ready to serve. And at that moment, my only desire is to create a memorable experience for a complete stranger. One that will make their day better and mine too! The restaurant industry really is a gift that keeps on giving back!
A bright cold afternoon on February 13th, 2017 the day before V-Day was perfect for 15 of our cherished guests to gather in the purple chakra at Life Alive Cambridge. The setting was magical for a traditional cacao ceremony! Led by Life Alivers, Rachel and Cai, guests enjoyed learning about the spiritual and medicinal qualities of cacao. The icing was making raw vegan truffles to take as treats for themselves, or special someone in their lives!
In history, cacao can be found as a form of currency, as a key component in ritual settings, and as medicine in many cultures, originating and heavily sought after in the Mayan culture. The super food is one to be celebrated for its medicinal properties. Many use cacao as a form of medication for the heart, as it opens blood vessels and lowers blood pressure.
Steve, one of our favorite regular guests and an advocate of Life Alive vision, shared that he uses cacao medicinally to lessen and eventually stop his heart tremors.
Along with being heart healthy, cacao is made up of more than 12000 individual chemicals. It contains more antioxidants than tea and wine, and is a strong source of manganese and vitamin C. Raw cacao does not contain caffeine, as many would suspect. It contains the powerful stimulant theobromine, which has similar qualities to caffeine, but is more stable, non addictive, and gives the user less of a jittery feeling.
When ingested, cacao brings about a euphoric bliss, relieving stress and providing a stable source of energy. It can also heighten sexual emotions, which is why chocolate is heavily romanticized.
The group first tasted pure Guatemalan cacao which was passed around to try. The taste was bitter, yet calming and comforting to the mind and body.
For the ceremony, guests were warmed with a nourishing cacao drink made with cayenne, vanilla, and tiger nut mylk to create a beautifully spicy and exotic tasting beverage. Guests were then led in a light guided meditation, as Rachel went around to each guest with a singing bowl and Cai peacefully guided the minds as everyone relaxed and became familiar with cacao. The aroma of sage and incense gave a sense of peace in the chakra. After the meditation, guests felt blissfully calm and energized.
Following the meditation, the group was taught how to create delicious raw vegan truffles. Guests excitedly chose toppings for their truffles, creating their own masterpieces. Toppings ranged from the exotic to the calm and familiar – spirulina, matcha powder, hemp seeds, goji berry powder, dried mango, dried strawberries, shaved dry coconut – a lineup of memorable organic toppings to roll and dip the delicious truffles.
Guests left the event with new knowledge of this amazing super food and how cacao can help everyone in many different aspects of their lives
Life Alive Cambridge guests and staff gathered on the brisk fall afternoon of December 8th to be introduced to Winter Moon Roots Farm and their powerfully delicious vegetable offerings, hosted by Michael Docter and Wenzdey Jane. Winter Moon Roots is a farm located in Hadley, Massachusetts. Docter’s mission when starting out was to create a farm which had a very small carbon footprint, and to provide delicious vegetables to individuals and businesses. This eco-friendly idea is carried through each process of cultivation and delivery of the roots to its loving customers.
Docter explained to the guests at the symposium that he began his work making vegetarian chili for a food bank. The concept was celebrated, but the taste was not as pleasing. He decided to create his own organically grown farm to better produce and distribute quality ingredients through the colder months of the year.
Docter and his small team work through the winter, harvesting and accumulating gorgeous vegetables from November to March. They offer carrots, turnips, beets, radishes, and parsnips. Fresh cut roots were given to the event’s guests and washed don with Chaga mushroom tea. The carrots were deliciously citrusy, and were a favorite among those who tasted the vegetables. The golden turnips and hakurei beets were juicy and delectable, eaten like an apple.
The farm takes the cooler air from outside and processes it through a computer that sets the humidity and operates a fan that delivers the air to the roots to keep them alive and oxidized.
Wenzdey Jane maintains the delivery aspect of the farm, transporting the goods via bicycle to its clients. They noted that they deliver 25000 pounds of vegetables around the Massachusetts area per year by bicycle.
This concepts eliminates the carbon footprint, and as Jane explains, is more realistic and effective than if they were to deliver by motor vehicle. They use differently sized bicycles to lovingly transport the vegetables, depending on the size of the order.
Life Alive is excited to be working with Winter Moon Roots to allow guests to add these vegetables to their graciously crafted meals as colorful additions. The culinary team will be pickling the beets and marinating the radishes and turnips to offer a new fabulous flavor palette to customers’ favorite dishes. We hope that the tastes inspire guests and team members alike to expand their taste buds and knowledge of these powerful vegetables Winter Moon Roots.
On Monday November 21, a glorious fall afternoon, Life Alive Central Square welcomed Liat and her partner Alon from Tamim Teas for an intriguing symposium on medicinal mushrooms.
Liat shared that her love of medicinal mushroom tea began when a friend of hers became ill, and was directed to drink Reishi tea medicinally. She immediately was off-put by the taste of the mushroom, and began brewing her own teas using locally grown produce to achieve a more desirable flavor; and she did just that.
During the event at Life Alive, Liat spoke about the benefits of each mushroom type she has used, and offered the group a sample of all her delicious concoctions, starting with Reishi.
Reishi has been a culturally significant mushroom in many parts of the world, and has the most research to back its medicinal values of common mushrooms used. It can be used to treat anxiety and insomnia, and is proven to have anti tumor, anti inflammatory, and blood thinning properties.
Reishi, along with other mushrooms, leaves a bitter taste when simply made with water, so Liat created tea blends to mask the taste and make the mushroom enjoyable and refreshing. Those who attended the symposium were given the Tamim Teas’ “Reishi Delight” to sample. This blend consisted of honeybush, cinnamon, and orange peel paired with a refreshing red rooibos. The taste was beautifully spicy, with a natural sweetness.
Reishi was also used in a drink called “Reishi Autumn Delight” which was served chilled with apple juice, apple cider vinegar, and agave nectar. Guests found the drink to be deliciously sweet, with the taste resembling apple cider.
Liat then went on to discuss her experience with shitake. Shitake is used in Japan as a complimentary aid for cancer treatment, is rich in antioxidants, and has anti-tumor properties.
The company has a brew called “Shitake Uplift” consisting of ginger, lemongrass, lemon peel, and a blend of red and green rooibos. The taste was very earthy, and blended delicately with lemon. They also brewed the Shitake Uplift with ginger and jasmine Kombucha to give it a wild, tangy, and refreshing taste.
The next mushroom explored was chaga. Chaga, when consumed regularly can boost energy. It is only wild harvested, and like any mushroom, needs to be harvested sustainably so growth continues. Liat brought a couple samples of chaga mixed with chai which brought a sweetness and spice to the drink.
The last mushroom discussed was the non traditional lion’s share. This mushroom is not found as frequently in culture for medicinal purposes, but Liat had a few brews which shared the same medicinal properties as the others. Tamim Teas has a “Lion’s Share Winter Strength” brew which the group sampled with coconut milk and date syrup.
Liat hopes that her company brings a simplicity and joy to consuming mushrooms, and allow customers to reap the value while still enjoying the brew. By the end of the event, guests were ecstatic about their experience with Liat, and walked away with a new, beneficial knowledge on mushrooms in general.
Life Alive Salem kicked off a spooky start to Halloween 2016 with Spooky Stories for Kids and the Young at Heart. Our General Manager P Adam Lee was the chief spooky story teller ably assisted by his team of goblins.
Our ghoulish posse gathered around a campfire in our library and read some great stories together. There were Creepy Carrots!, Bone Soup and so much more. Our young participants and our young at heart regulars joined in with the reading and got rather enthusiastic about being pirates during one tale.
There were plenty of treats! We adorned our high vibrational organic, vegan Hot Cocoa with some delightful vegan marshmallows. And, our young friends got a taste for how sweet the season is with organic lollipops.
The entire Life Alive Salem team was excited to have the opportunity to share this time with our community, and to give back some of the joy that our guests, bring into our daily lives.
We are eerily excited to be holding more events coming up this month. Hope you can join us!
- Goddess Card Readings on Tuesday, October 18th from 5pm-7pm
- Pumpkin Painting and Beer Tasting on Thursday October 20th 3pm-5pm.
- Spooky Stories for Kids and The Young at Heart on Tuesday October 25th from 4pm-5pm
- Pumpkin Painting and Beer Tasting on Thursday, October 27th from 3pm-5pm.
Happy Halloween everybody!
“Dream what you wish into reality”
#lifealive #Vermont #livinglifealive #summeradventure #nature
“Nourish your soul, enjoy our soothing music and art, let the blueberries, strawberries, bananas, dates, chia seeds and almond milk hypnotize you into a serene relaxation.”
#lovealive #lifealive #lifealivelowell #nourishyoursoul #smoothie
“Find your serenity, dedicate time for yourself to unwind and recharge. Find your peace, be aware of what you exude.”
#serenity #lifealive #nature
A note from Luke Denmark, Sage and Shift Guide at Life Alive Lowell – Art has been in the forefront of my interests for as long as I can remember. Coming from a musical family, I was inspired by my father and grandfather, I always wanted to play music like them. Naturally, my love for music lead to interests in visual arts and poetry. I tend to use an ideal concept of pure love or peacefulness as a reference point and the piece is kind of constructed on how close it stays or how far it strays away. Any works used in Life Alive will typically stay pretty close. The art is always a muddled reflection of an encounter or observation in my life. Like observing trees across the lake, and observing the wavy reflection of them on the lake. I am inspired by the harmonious relationships found in nature and by our efforts to preserve, restore, and ultimately join them.
Our Life Alive family has one goal in mind when serving our guests: to serve life, as hectic as it may become, in such a way that brings nourishment, education, and overall joy to everyone involved. We craft your experience around your life’s needs, whether that be nourishing you after a long day at work, providing a warm meal on your lunch break to you and your staff, or giving you a healthy snack before you dash to the next train. We make Life Alive easily accessible to fit your everyday needs, so that you are nourished as often as you wish, with virtually no stress to you.
In order to properly serve all aspects of life, we must take this service outside of the restaurant. We want to prepare food for your next luncheon, or offer a refreshing meal during your next meeting. We want to celebrate your graduation or wedding day with you. Life Alive wants to bring you the quality experience you would get sitting in our restaurants directly to you, through a variety of catering options. All of these offerings are expressed on our website, and any requests or questions can be sent to email@example.com to start your personalized Life Alive experience.
Whenever we complete a catering order, we do not simply pack up the meals and throw them on a table for you. That is not how we operate as a company, or as human beings. Instead, we mindfully bring Life Alive to you as creatively and as detail oriented as possible.
Our goal is to have the atmosphere, presence, and overall restaurant experience arranged in your space, so that newcomers and guests who have been dining with us for years feel the same joyful satisfaction.
To create our calming atmosphere, we lovingly transport our food, and creatively display candles and plants to decorate and personalize your setup. We arrange the platters and decor in a visually appealing manner, with handmade, beautiful signs with the names of each meal. Menus are provided so that all new guests can be informed of the quality ingredients they are consuming. A stimulating palate cleanser or dessert is provided with any catering offer to complete your dining experience.
If you decide to share in this experience with us, we want you to feel well informed about the meals you will be provided. The Life Alive team strives to not only nourish hunger, but educate all guests on the value of our food. We understand not everyone is accustomed to the delicious food we serve, so it is important to us that we answer your questions in regards to taste, allergies, and health benefits.
Your meals will be personalized and meet the needs of everyone attending. We will communicate with you on how much food you will need, as well as providing a variety of exciting tastes for everyone to indulge in. There are no strict guidelines when it comes to your satisfaction. This is your event, not ours.
Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any of your requests or questions. We are happy to serve you nourishingly and lovingly. We hope to help you embark on this journey with us here at Life Alive!
Before I started my journey working for Life Alive, I lacked knowledge of what it meant to properly nourish my body, or what that nourishment could do for me mentally or physically. I had visited the cafe in Salem sparingly, using my time there to read poetry, write, or draw. These visits were always therapeutic for me, and left me feeling relaxed and energized. The cafe’s warm colors and personalities, along with the delicious food, seemed to relax my mind. At the time, this was hard for me to do as I lived a pretty stressful life, working in a job which required a lot of my energy and time, while not really giving me any positive feedback or recognition.
Leaving that work environment to join the colorful team of Life Alive has proven to be a very beneficial choice. Prior to my first day, I did not have any real restaurant background as I came previously from a retail position, and feared I would not be able to perform well enough. My task my first day was to run the meals to the guests and interact with them and the staff to get a feeling of the atmosphere of the business. I quickly realized that the entire staff was understanding and kind when training me, and the guests seemed to mirror these feelings. I never felt I was not being supported, even when I would make mistakes. Guests who dine at Life Alive connect with the staff, and take with them the sense of being relaxed and calm as I did when I was a guest. It was a great experience to hear their stories and why they love Life Alive.
From that point on, I have learned each component of how the food is prepared, and am taking in as much information as I can on the benefits of certain foods for our bodies. While I have obviously not mastered everything there is to know of the food industry, I find myself learning and trying new ideas every day. I also have taken it upon myself to bring attention to how I eat outside of work, using my new knowledge to apply at home. I believe one of Life Alive’s many goals is to have guests leave with a better understanding of what they are eating, and to help bring a consciousness to maintaining a healthier lifestyle. With this new perspective, I feel more energy during the day, when I used to feel sluggish. I have lost some weight. I feel more creative. I feel stronger. There has never been a job or a task in my life that has left me feeling stronger, which is something I am thankful for.
I also have had the opportunity of working with some amazing people, as the teach me not only the fundamentals of running a beautiful cafe, but also what it means to be calm, kind and passionate about what we are doing. Each individual working at Life Alive has a story so unique, which allows everyone to bring a new set of ideas and experiences to the table. I believe the reason Life Alive is so successful and enjoyable for the guests is simply because the staff is passionate about what they are creating. For me, I have not really even felt that I have had a job. The stress of the stereotypical idea of a job, seemingly does not exist.
I have now been with the company for about two months. I am still making mistakes I am still asking questions every day. I am still growing. I can only hope that my career and opportunities with Life Alive grow, and that I can give back to the cafe by helping it grow a little as well.
Jasmine is a Life Alive team member. Jasmine is spirited, adaptive, and joyful. Thankful to Jasmine and all team members at Life Alive for your commitment to our shared purpose of serving luscious meals to a busy world to help enhance vitality and creativity!
Ever wonder why it’s important to eat “live” foods? Curious about what it takes to pickle at home?
Life Alive Cambridge joyfully hosted a Pickling Symposium on Tuesday August 9th which was free and open to all. As pickling devotees snacked on mason jars full of pickled carrots and cauliflower in the purple chakra lounge at the Cambridge urban oasis, we learned just how important and easy it is to ferment!
Fermentation unlocks the transformative powers of micro-organisms and dates in practice as far back as 6000 B.C. Did you know that fermented foods preserve more nutrients than canning? Fermented foods include everyday favorites such as sourdough bread, yogurt, wine, chocolate, and cheese as well as more curious foods like kimchi, pickles, fish sauce, and even miso and kombucha.
“Gut health is really important,” explains Life Alive’s Chief Culinary Genius Leah Dubois. “You make gut decisions. The brain has two hemispheres for decisions, but gut decisions are innate and designed to pull you forward. Therefore, it’s important to have a healthy gut. The belly button pulls you where you need to go!”
At Life Alive cafes, we use Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar which has live cultures and something called a “mother” which is an unpasteurized living organism in the fermenting liquid similar to kombucha. Bragg Organic Vinegar includes active probiotics that keeps your body humming and can break down other dense nutrition found in raw foods, assimilating with other nutrients that your body consumes and helping you to absorb and digest them. Explains host Rachel Liberatore, “Enzymes in the vinegar make the nutrients more available. Symptoms from chronic diseases, allergies, asthma, and yeast infections, all can be lessened.”
Ready to improve your gut flora? Here are four easy steps to a delicious, homemade pickle:
1.Cut up vegetables such as cauliflower, carrots, and onions. Chef Leah recommends using whatever is fresh from your garden or CSA. For carrots, Leah recommends peeling them to reveal a bright orange color in fermentation. Presentation matters when cutting up the vegetables, so be sure to slice them with spirit! We prefer not to cook the veggies so that they retain their nutrients. Put the veggies into a mason jar that has a lid.
2.Create a brine using a mixture of 60% water and 40% Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. Add spices such as cardamom, mustard seeds, turmeric, Portuguese sea salt, and pepper. Whisk.
3.Submerge pickled veggies with the brine liquid, to cover. Remember, the brine is a living liquid which you can enhance over time by adding in garlic or sweetener such as maple syrup for taste. Vinegar and salt will draw moisture out of the veggies while flavor goes in!
4.Close the jar lid and allow the veggies to marinate in the brine, in the refrigerator, for as little as a few hours to four or five days. If you feel a cold coming on, take a sip of the brine! At Life Alive, we offer a fire tonic for sale that is extremely invigorating but also fermented and probiotic.
Most of all, be creative! Other recipe ideas include:
•Beets and red onion
•Sliced jalapeno peppers, a bit of salt, and pinch of maple syrup or natural figs for sweetness
•Ginger sliced thin with pink peppercorns
•Rhubarb or grapes (cut in half) to take a salad to the next level
The Life Alive team is hard at work in the kitchen cooking up new recipes that include more pickles! What kinds of fermented foods would you like to see us use? Email email@example.com to share your thoughts and ideas.
Care to learn more? Recommended future reading:
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers by Stephen Harrod Buhner
Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz
By Lizzie Bell, Communications Guru at Life Alive Urban Oasis and Organic Cafes