U.S. Restaurant Chain Replaces Steak With Plant-based Meatballs

Alicia Kelso wrote . . . . . . . . .

Chalk up another win for plant-based meat.

Just Salad is the latest restaurant brand to add the product to the menu, announcing today the launch of its Beyond Beef Meatballs as a permanent item at all of its nearly 40 locations. The launch is in partnership with Beyond Meat.

Unlike most chains that have already added a plant-based option (and the list is extensive), Just Salad is taking a slightly different approach. Instead of adding it as a separate menu item, the chain is replacing its grilled steak option with the Beyond Beef Meatballs in its Keto Zoodle Bowl. The meatballs are also available as an add-on to any salad or warm bowl.

Replacing steak for anything is certainly bold move considering the chain’s Smokehouse Steak was a top ten menu item, accounting for approximately 20% of all protein add-ons for guests creating their own salads.

However, Janani Lee, Just Salad’s chief sustainability officer, insists the sales risk (and potential loss of guests) is worth it for this product in particular.

“This move isn’t about winning guests, it’s about doing what we think is right as a company,” she said. “We know that some of our steak-loving guests might be disappointed, but we hope they can appreciate our concerns around beef’s environmental impact and are willing to explore our alternative protein options.”

Although Just Salad’s steak option is popular, Just Salad may not have to worry much about losing too many customers. Two-thirds of Americans now say they are eating less meat. As Lee says, many are doing so because they’re more conscious of its environmental impact.

A new report from the United Nations suggests that a reduction in beef production can significantly boost the planet’s ability to fight climate change. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found that the production of beef is about 10 times more damaging to the environment than any other form of livestock.

As more consumers (above 80%) believe companies should do more to promote environmental stewardship, adding plant-based alternatives is a good place to start for restaurant companies. Just Salad is no stranger to sustainability-focused efforts, facilitating a wildly popular reusable bowl program, developing a composting program, participating in the NYC Carbon Challenge and so on.

Just Salad began its talks with Beyond Meat in April, and selected the company over a growing number of plant-based players for its clean ingredients and consistent supply, according to Lee.

“Our R&D team made a number of recipes using ground Beyond Beef and conducted company-wide taste tests and small consumer focus groups,” she said. “We all loved the Beyond Beef Meatball recipe and were excited by the endless culinary opportunities with Beyond Beef.”

Just Salad and Beyond Meat also worked in tandem to keep the price point in line with what the chain’s customers are used to. In New York City, the Beyond Beef Meatballs are priced at $4.99. This is compared to the grilled steak option, which was $4.29.

“We feel that sustainability and value shouldn’t be mutually exclusive,” Lee said.

Although a diverse group of restaurant brands—from Applebee’s to White Castle to Little Caesars—have added a plant-based offering, Lee said Just Salad wanted to take an entirely different approach with its launch. Just Salad certainly has the customer base to do so; 35% of its guests have a dietary restriction, whether it’s vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free or something else.

“Vegan and vegetarian guests are often underserved at other restaurants, where they’re typically offered one or two dishes,” she said. “By adding this plant-based protein, we expect to attract new vegan and vegetarian guests who are typically underserved at other restaurants, while also convincing our current guests to try a plant-based meal.”

The Beyond Beef Meatballs option joins the chain’s other plant-based items, including customer favorite, Tokyo Supergreens with Organic Sesame Tofu. The chain has also introduced other new items to cater to the meatless and flexitarian crowd, including Zoodles, Cauliflower and Broccoli Rice and Black Rice and Bulgur Wheat.

These menu updates are just another step toward Just Salad’s ultimate goal of “being the gold standard of sustainability in the restaurant space and beyond,” as Lee explained in January.

In fact, she believes a “completely meatless menu” at Just Salad is possible within the next five years.

“That’s not a firm commitment just yet, but we see meat consumption trending toward being an occasional treat rather than an everyday option,” Lee said. “We also believe this is part of a new movement in environmental responsibility. We serve over 30,000 people a day, so we have the potential to make a real difference in people’s lives and their overall carbon footprint.”

Source: Forbes

Hummus with Greek Salad


Makes 4 cups

2 (15-1/2-ounce) cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 large garlic clove, mashed
1 small jalapeho chili, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons plus 1-1/2 teaspoons tahini
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Yogurt Dressing
Makes 3 cups

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons agave nectar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup expeller-pressed canola oil
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 cups Greek-style plain yogurt

Greek Salad

1/4 cup thinly sliced cucumber
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and quartered
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
6 tablespoons chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as parsley, oregano, and basil
4 pita bread rounds, each cut into 6 wedges, warmed


  1. To make the hummus, place the beans, garlic, jalapeno chili, tahini, lemon juice, lime juice, agave nectar, cilantro, cumin, cayenne, and salt in a food processor and blend until it is a smooth paste.
  2. Add the olive oil slowly in a thin stream and blend until smooth and well combined.
  3. Transfer to a bowl. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  4. To make the yogurt dressing, combine the lemon juice, vinegar, shallot, mustard, agave nectar, oregano, salt, and pepper in a blender. Blend for 30 seconds on low speed and then turn the blender to medium speed. Slowly drizzle in the oils and blend until the mixture is emulsified and thick, like mayonnaise.
  5. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in the yogurt. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  6. To make the Greed salad, mix the cucumber, red onion, cherry tomatoes, and olives with 1/4 cup of the Yogurt Dressing.
  7. To serve, put 2 cups hummus on a plate.
  8. Top the hummus with the Greek salad.
  9. Sprinkle with the crumbled feta and herbs. Serve with the warm pita.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Source: True Food

In Pictures: Home-cooked Vegan Food

New Chickpea Protein Launched in North America

Ingredient technology company Nutriati and exclusive commercialization partner PLT Health Solutions have introduced a new chickpea protein solution to North American food, beverage and supplements markets, touted as being able to take the “pain out of formulating with plant protein.” Called Artesa Chickpea Protein, the ingredient is reportedly the first chickpea-based protein concentrate available in commercial quantities. The Artesa Chickpea Protein concentrate has a minimum protein content of 60 percent, and a fiber content of 14 percent – which the companies report is quite high compared to existing dairy and plant proteins that usually top out at around 2 percent fiber.

Nutriati reports it re-engineered the manufacturing process for Artesa to address some of the main “pain points” related to formulating with plant proteins – starting with ingredient taste and overall in-product sensory experience.

Consumer testing has shown that Artesa can approach the sensory and formulating experience of dairy proteins in the areas of taste, texture, product structure and mouthfeel. The small, uniform particle size of Artesa Chickpea Protein is responsible for formulating benefits that include enhanced dissolution and suspendability, excellent foaming and emulsifying properties and faster, easier processing with less waste than occurs with other leading plant proteins.

In beverages, this small particle size enhances dissolution and suspension of the ingredient in liquids and reduces sedimentation that is a common issue for plant proteins – particularly in higher pH beverages where ‘crash out’ can occur.

In low moisture applications like bakery, the small particle size reduces viscosity of formulations which can help prevent production bottlenecks and reduce non-spec products and waste.

Artesa Chickpea Protein also reportedly has high water binding capacity and foaming and emulsification properties that other plant proteins don’t – which can be critical to processing efficiency, shelf-life and final product quality.

According to Richard Kelly, CEO and Co-Founder of Nutriati, the company’s selection of the chickpea as the source for its plant protein offering is based on a range of factors – from taste and processability to its high sustainability.

“The chickpea gets excellent marks when it comes to sustainability. Chickpeas require significantly lower use of chemical fertilizers, water and pesticides in production. They also have the lowest carbon footprint of any protein starting materials and contribute to healthier soils,” he says.

“Hummus introduced mainstream America to the chickpea as a food two decades ago, and consumers haven’t looked back. Forty percent of all chickpea-based food product introductions over the last 15 years occurred in 2016 and 2017 and 2016 saw a 150 percent increase in chickpea-based snack introductions. We think chickpeas are a great ingredient for the future of food,” he says.

Nutriati’s production process is protected by intellectual property, and according to the companies, it differs significantly from traditional plant protein processes that rely on high amounts of water, acids and precipitation.

According to Nutriati Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer Michael Spinelli, Artesa Chickpea Protein was developed to solve production issues that have accompanied attempts to increase the amount of plant protein in foods and beverages. “Among food and beverage producers, stories of struggles with plant protein are pretty common. Taste issues are often solved via the use of masking agents or added sweeteners. Sometimes processing aids or even facility retrofits are required to handle high protein and gluten-free products,” he says.

“We have found that recipes featuring Artesa Chickpea Protein can meet or even surpass gold standard formulations for taste, texture and other sensory aspects in a range of product applications. We have also found that people can up the boundaries of protein delivered per serving over anything that has been possible with plant-based ingredients with Artesa and still meet consumer expectations for organoleptics,” he adds.

Source: Nutrition Insight

How to Keep Your Bones Strong and Prevent Fractures

If you’re a young adult, start thinking about your bone health, an expert advises.

Most people reach peak bone mass — the strongest bones they’ll ever have — between 25 and 30 years of age, according to Dr. Philip Bosha, a physician with Penn State Sports Medicine in State College, Pa.

“To some extent, genetics determines the peak, but lifestyle influences, such as diet and exercise, are also factors,” Bosha said in a Penn State news release.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, bone mass starts to slowly decrease after age 40. Taking 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 1,000 International Units (IU) of vitamin D a day can help maintain your bones. You should also do weight-bearing exercises such as running and brisk walking, as well as resistance training to maintain bone and muscle strength.

After age 50, the daily recommended calcium intake for men remains 1,000 milligrams per day, but rises to 1,200 milligrams for women, including those who are entering or have gone through menopause.

Declining estrogen levels due to menopause can lead to rapid bone loss. All women 65 and older — and those between 60 and 64 who have an increased risk of fractures — should get a bone density study, according to Bosha.

“If the bone density study shows osteoporosis, it may be reasonable to start taking a medication called a bisphosphonate, which you can get in a variety of forms,” he said. “Some are pills taken on a weekly or monthly basis and other varieties can be taken intravenously.”

Other medications to improve bone density include calcitonin, which can be used as a nasal spray; parathyroid hormone, which is taken by injection; and medications called selective estrogen receptor modulators.

Bosha said men and women who are 70 and older should take 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day and 800 IU of vitamin D. At this age, men become far more likely to have lower bone density, increasing their risk of fractures. Some men should consider a bone density study, Bosha said.

“For people of this age, avoiding falls is crucial,” he said. “Maintaining balance and muscle strength through exercise and maintaining strong bones through adequate calcium and vitamin D intake can help decrease the risk of severe fractures from falls.”

Source: HealthDay

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