I’m back! I took an unintentional month-long hiatus from blogging, because sometimes life gets unexpectedly busy, but I’m delighted to be back in time to present my first pumpkin recipe of the year. This is my small tribute to the famous, ubiquitous Pumpkin Spice Latte… in dairy free, fruit-sweetened creme cup form. The pumpkin creme that is piped on top is incredibly versatile and delicious, I suspect it may have a starring role in other pumpkin-centric autumn recipes that may be coming soon to Fresh Planet Flavor.
But before we get to the recipe, let’s talk about an interesting food innovation/technology event that I attended last month, an event with implications for consumer health and the health of our planet: Food+Tech Connect’s September showcase in San Francisco, on the theme of the Future of Food Products.
Consumer demand for healthy, sustainable, convenient food has resulted in a new frontier of food brands responding with products to meet this need. To quote the event description “from startups employing cellular agriculture to develop dairy alternatives that taste just like the real thing to e-commerce platforms that help brands get consumer insights, new companies are radically rethinking how food products are developed and sold”.
The showcase featured the founders of San Francisco-based startups, who are re-imagining the future of packaged food. While “packaged food” isn’t a category on which I spend many of my grocery dollars, but I do support innovation around the concept of healthy, sustainable, convenient food. Could such a combination actually exist? I listened with interest to the founders of the following young companies energized to solve this challenge:
- Perfect Day: employing cellular agriculture to develop a dairy alternative that tastes just like the real thing
- Ample Meal: a “complete meal-in-a-bottle made from superior, real-food ingredients”
- Hip Chick Farms: crafting artisanal poultry products, transparently sourced, without starch, salt, or water fillers
- Love with Food: an e-commerce platform gathering consumer insights, mentioned above
While still in development, Perfect Day captured my imagination, I must admit. Dairy is delicious, but much of it is mass-produced in inhumane, environmentally damaging conditions dependent on the indiscriminate use of antibiotics, among other. Combining natural resources and human ingenuity, they make their product with yeast and age-old fermentation techniques (resulting in the very same milk proteins that cows make).
Then Perfect Day adds a proprietary blend of plant-based sugars, fats, and minerals to make a totally new kind of dairy milk without chemicals, hormones, or lactose. How the body interprets Perfect Day product is yet to be determined, but Perfect Day milk proteins are apparently indistinguishable from those produced by cows, at least by all scientific measurements made to date, and could a strategy for reducing dependence on conventional dairy operations.
I know the founder of Ample Meal personally: Connor Young is a former CrossFit coach of mine! I’m beyond excited about his product, a meal-in-a-bottle made from superior, real-food ingredients.
The #1 most-funded food campaign on crowd-funding site Indiegogo ($367,624 after surpassing its original goal of $50,000 in the first 30 hours), Ample brings a breath of fresh air to the meal-replacement category by developing a product that I personally cannot wait to tear into my first shipment of, for a variety of reasons:
- Convenient and portable, requiring only 30 seconds of preparation (just add water or milk to pre-filled bottles, shake, drink)
- Free of any artificial additives, refined sweeteners, gluten, or soy
- Tastier than similar products, with a savory, nutty flavor, and bit of natural sweetness
- Better balanced and complete nutritional profile including proteins, fats, carbs, greens, probiotics, and prebiotics
- Exhaustively-researched and meticulously-sourced ingredients
Its best-in-class features aside, the vision for the product is to act as preventative healthcare. Since food is one of the largest and most impactful factors of our wellness, Connor’s mission is solve for health via Ample: a dose of balanced, beneficial nutrition packaged with shake-n-sip convenience.
Hip Chick Farms
Hip Chick Farms offers artisan frozen chicken products made from humanely raised, transparently sourced, antibiotic-free chicken with no added hormones. The chicken and turkey in all of Hip Chick products is humanely certified, free range, natural and organic poultry that are raised without antibiotics or added hormones (the organic product is non-GMO). The Hip Chick Farms website states that “all of the chickens and turkey are fed a high-quality, vegetable diet and grow naturally with plenty of room”.
There are some considerations to be noted when considering Hip Chicks products, however: their meat is classified by the Global Animal Partnership (GAP) as Level 3. The GAP program recognizes producers committed to better animal welfare using a 5 Step Rating System. Each step has it’s own requirements and all certified producers are audited by authorized, third party companies. Level 3 is Enhanced Outdoor Access (not pastured, and physical alterations are made to the animal).
Needless, to say, there is better quality chicken out there (check out Pasturebird, for example)… But Hip Chick Farms is a step in the right direction away from fast-food chicken nuggets, for sure.
Love With Food
That’s Love With Food founder, Aihui Ong. She’s as adorable in person as in this photo, and her premise is interesting: use a snack subscription company as the means for providers to conduct market research.
Love With Food’s basic premise is helping consumers discover “new organic, all-natural (no artificial ingredients) or gluten-free snacks”, sent to their door monthly. Small producers pay to have their snacks distributed to Love With Food’s subscribers. In exchange, they receive a report of consumer insights that can help them improve their product and develop a fan base. This kind of market research is significantly cheaper and more reliable than traditional focus groups, and it also subsidizes the cost of the boxes for Love With Food subscribers, which go for as little as $7.99 per month.
Love with Food also donates a portion of the proceeds to help fight childhood hunger in the United States and around the world, donating to organizations like Feeding America and The Global Food Banking Network. At this point, they have donated more than 1,000,000 meals.
So, a brief introduction to some of the innovation food products newly entering the market. Now, on to the Pumpkin Spice Latte Creme Cups! I wasn’t sure what to title them, since I haven’t seen this kind of dessert before, but the idea came to me after a late night session on my laptop, blogging at Starbucks (one of the few if not the only coffee shops in San Francisco open for 24 hours/day). I’m so delighted that this recipe resulted in the invention of the most wonderful fruit-sweetened twist on pumpkin, pie, which is the pumpkin spice creme itself. Not too sweet, perfectly spiced, and you’d never guess it’s made with cashews!
Give the recipe a try, and let me know if you like these Pumpkin Spice Latte Creme Cups as much as I do.
- Coffee Cookie Base
- 2 cups raw cashews
- 1 cup packed, pitted dates
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tbsp espresso
- Pinch of salt
- Pumpkin Spice Creme
- 2 cups raw cashews
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 200 ml coconut cream
- 4 large, pitted dates
- 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- Pulse the coffee cookie base ingredients in a blender or food processor into a coarse, sticky mixture. Press evenly into the cups of a muffin tin (either 6 or 9, depending on your thickness preference) and refrigerate.
- Puree the pumpkin spice creme ingredients in a blender into a smooth, silky mixture.
- Remove the coffee cookies from the muffin tin with the tip of a butter knife or similar implement, then spoon or pipe the pumpkin spice creme on top (I used a Wilton 2D tip to get the effect pictured). Top with additional pumpkin pie spice, if desired.