Life Foods has been quietly cranking out veggie burgers and other health food products in their commercial kitchen in Wailuku for the last few of years. In 2016, they finally cracked open the doors to the public by opening two of their Nourish Health Bars, one in Paia and the other in Wailuku. Their original concept of creating a healthy veggie burger with probiotics and local ingredients has given way to an even bigger vision with Nourish Health Bars, according to owner Azeem Butt.
“The heart of our vision is foods that are locally produced in small batches in a sustainable way and are designed to nourish and heal your body,” says Butt. “We not only take toxins like gluten and animal proteins out, we actually add whole plant based nutrition so a meal truly becomes nourishment for your body and not just calories to consume. That’s the reason why we ferment our ingredients and keep our foods full of probiotics.”
What are these probiotics that we speak of? Simply put, they are microbes for your gut. Great for digestion and so many other things. You will find probiotics in fermented foods like kimchee, kombucha, tempeh, kefir and sauerkraut. At Nourish, you can find probiotics in everything. Their burger has them. Their white, red and yellow sauces are house-made, probiotic-rich mayo, ketchup and mustard. They even have a spicy aioli with probiotics. If that isn’t enough, they make an astonishing selection of kombucha, available on tap, in eight flavors ($5/16oz-$20/64oz). I m not a superfan of kombucha, but I thought their most popular flavor, Mint Basil, is really refreshing, and it has blue-green algae in it. Where else in Wailuku can you get algae in your drink?
“Nourish is a Health Bar,” says Butt. “A bar you go during the day time to get your daily probiotics, fermented and vitamins and minerals needs. A meal at Nourish can get you close to 70 percent of your daily probiotics, fermented foods and vitamins and minerals because all of the products used in our menu items are produced in house with fermented ingredients and have been created to include probiotics and nutrition.”
The Nourish cafe in Wailuku has a small but neat area for dining and ordering. The commercial kitchen area is much bigger and extends beyond and behind. They have four seats at a bar for eating or waiting. White walls and a digital menu with a photo slideshow round out the look. The kombucha taps are all self-serve; to help you decide, you can sample any of their flavors with the little sampler cups on the counter. They have organic lemonades ($3), coffee ($3-5), tea ($4) and exquisite house-made nut milk. The fresh nut milk comes in flavors like silver strawberry, golden turmeric, chocolate, coffee latte and sweet matcha. Just ask what they have available–it’s $5 for a glass.
When you peruse the menu, you’ll notice they have a huge list of burger options. These are no ordinary burgers–they come with their house-made, no-soy veggie patty on a spectacular gluten-free, vegan bun. If you’ve ever bought, made or eaten gluten-free, vegan bread, then you know how tricky it is to arrive at a really edible and delicious product. This bun is really extraordinary, and Azeem is justifiably proud of that.
“We make our own gluten-free and vegan bread,” says Butt. “This is the only bread of its kind in the country that is gluten-free and vegan and doesn’t use any gums or additives. It’s made with ancient grains like Amaranth, Sorghum, Millet, Chia seeds. You have to taste it to believe how special this bread is. Our burger patties are made with our soy-free tempeh, made with mung beans. It also has quinoa, carrots and onions and lots of fresh herbs.”
They have nine or so different burgers on the menu, all named after ocean breaks. My favorite is the Peahi, and Azeem says it’s their most popular one. It comes with lettuce, tomato, sauteed onion, jalapeno and spicy aioli. All of the burger plates come with one side for $9.99, either greens, sauteed veggies, or furikake yam fries, and the plates can be made with quinoa or greens instead of the bun, but trust me you want to try the bun. Other burger toppings include a combo of avo, pea hummus, kim chee, mushrooms or sauerkraut. If you aren’t in the mood to burger up, their avo toast ($6.99) is another fantastic dish. That includes the bun, plus avo and other toppings. They also serve collard wraps, salads and quinoa bowls.
I feel like Wailuku Nourish is still in the soft opening phase. In fact, they’re still working on the menu.
“Nut milks are difficult items because they have no additives and are produced twice a week to keep them fresh so they can be out at times,” says Butt. “We haven’t launched the soups consistently yet. We are still working with recipes to make sure we can get the right nutrition and flavor profile. We should have them consistently starting March. We should have the vegan sushi and our full grab ‘n’ go menu starting March 1st.”
The Paia location has the vegan sushi for now, and on the weekend they hold special events. This Saturday, Feb. 4, Pat Simmons Jr. is playing there 6-8pm.
“Currently we do Acoustic Saturdays consistently,” says Butt. “It’s 6-8pm every Saturday. We have lots of good foods to eat and an amazing ambience to enjoy with friends and family. We will be adding other activities like independent movie night, story hours for kids. Best way to know about these things is to like our Facebook page where we post all of our specials and events.”
This Valentines Day February 14th 2017 Nourish Cafe’s in both Paia and Wailuku will be giving Free Smoochies to the first 500 sweethearts in the cafe’s!
161 Hana Hwy., Paia
2092 Vineyard St., Wailuku
Pat Simmons Jr.