The new year makes some of us itch to try new things. Happily, this year there are plenty of novel vegan foods to try. I’m not just talking about the Impossible Burger 2.0 or Trader Joe’s vegan queso dip, either.

Maine chefs and entrepreneurs have been busy making new vegan products to serve the growing plant-based food market. I wrote about new vegan meats being made in Maine last spring and the state’s growing group of vegan ice cream makers in July. Yet those just scratch the surface of the new items on Maine’s vegan food scene.

Akua’s Kelp Jerky.

AKUA’S KELP JERKY

Seaweed is right on trend these days, and next month a vegan jerky made from Maine-grown kelp is slated to hit the market. Called Akua’s, the jerky will come in three flavors: rosemary and maple BBQ; spicy Thai and spirulina; and sesame and sea salt.

The business is owned by Morgan-Lee Fogg, a kelp farmer in Machiasport, and Courtney Boyd Myers, an entrepreneur with startup experience. The two worked with New York City chef Will Horowitz for a year to get the recipe right.

“People are waking up to the fact that eating meat is no longer sustainable to our planet, and it’s not healthy in the amount that people are consuming it today,” Boyd Myers said. “We are also witnessing a rising consciousness around food that is not only healthy for us but net-positive for our planet. Kelp checks all those boxes.”

Farmed kelp needs no fertilizer nor other inputs and pulls carbon dioxide from the water. The rising carbon dioxide levels in the ocean are caused by the burning of fossil fuels – and fossil fuels are burned to supply the energy needed to run livestock farms – and they lead to ocean acidification, which harms shellfish. Another selling point is kelp’s high protein content.

Double Zero Pizza & Nitidote Protein Bars.

The jerky is being made for Akua’s by Raw Food Central in Connecticut, and the kelp comes from Sea Greens Farms in Biddeford.

The vegan jerky will be sold from the Akua’s website, where the online store is scheduled to launch Feb. 1. Boyd Myers is thinking big. She hopes to have the jerky on Amazon and at select retailers come spring.

The vegan jerky costs $6.99 for a 1.75-ounce pack.

More info: akua.com

DOUBLE ZERO PIZZA & NTIDOTE PROTEIN BARS

Matthew Kenney is a Maine native and an internationally known vegan chef, with as many as 30 restaurant projects and more than a dozen vegan cookbooks to his name.

Over the years, Kenney has faced legal trouble in Maine, Miami and New York City, but that doesn’t seem to have slowed him down any. The latest venture for his California-based Matthew Kenney Cuisine is intended to bring his food to a wider audience: By this summer, Kenney plans to have frozen versions of the pizza from Double Zero, his popular vegan pizza parlor in New York City, in grocery stores nationwide. The all-organic pizzas will come in eight varieties.

Another product line, Ntidote (pronounced antidote), is scheduled to launch in a few weeks with three superfood bars: Green Protein, Golden Turmeric and Copper Caramel. He has several other retail projects in the works, including a line of pumpkin seed milks called Seeva and a line of aged vegan cheeses.

Kenney said his jump into retail reflects a maturing market for vegan food.

“It’s the best the market has ever been for plant-based food,” he said. “But I still think it’s early days, especially when you talk to the younger generation. We’re in the early stages of a major transition.”

More info: matthewkenneycuisine.com

Frinklepod Farm Kitchen Vegan Cheese.

FRINKLEPOD FARM KITCHEN VEGAN CHEESE

The Frinklepod Farm Store in Arundel has sold vegan meats and cheeses from the Herbivorous Butcher in Minneapolis for a couple of years. Now it has replaced the cheeses with its own farm-made versions.

“I like their cheeses, but they taste very similar to the ones I’m making,” said Flora Brown, who farms with her husband, Noah Wentworth. “And it’s so expensive to ship them. Hopefully, we can make vegan cheese more accessible to people, and less expensive.”

The farm’s shreddable, fresh (as opposed to aged) cheeses sell for $8 for a 6-ounce block. In comparison, the Herbivorous Butcher cheeses cost $13 for 5 ounces.

Brown had previously made the cheeses for the farm’s cafe but starting this week she’ll be stocking them in the farm store, too. The vegan cheeses come in four varieties: The dill navarro, pepperjack and gouda – all made with a soy milk and coconut oil base – shred and melt well, whereas the cashew-coconut cheddar is soft and spreadable.

The cheeses are made with organic herbs and peppers that are grown on the farm. Eventually, Brown would like to sell her cheeses at other local markets and health food stores.

More info: frinklepodfarm.com

LORRAINE’S CAKES

Five years ago, Tyler Cote was diagnosed with celiac disease and shortly after, he went vegan, too. With gluten, eggs and cow’s milk eliminated from his diet, he thought his cake-eating days were over.

Lorraine’s Cakes.

But after a couple cake-less birthdays, Cote’s grandmother Lorraine Gallagher surprised him with a gluten-free, soy-free, vegan cake. “Everyone loved it and couldn’t tell the difference from gluten-containing cakes,” Cote said.

At the time Cote was studying marketing and management at the University of Maine, Orono. He spent his senior year researching the market for gluten-free products and found a growing demand for gluten-free, vegan foods. He asked his grandmother if she would be interested in starting a cake business. With her “yes,” plus business partner Petar Filipov, Lorraine’s Cakes was born.

In September, the Portland Food Co-op became the first store to carry the brand. Now, the cakes, which are sold frozen, can also be found at Lois’ Natural Marketplace in Portland and Scarborough, at Tiller & Rye in Brewer, and in the UMaine, Orono dining halls.

The cakes are made at a gluten-free bakery in Veazie. The recipe uses a flour mix of rice, potato and tapioca. The cakes also contain applesauce and coconut milk.

Given the company’s growth, Cote hopes to be able to open a wholesale bakery and expand Lorraine’s Cakes sales and products. But for now, the company sells four types of cake: chocolate, vanilla, lemon and carrot for a suggested retail price of $24.99.

More info: lorrainescakesllc.com

Suga Suga Vegan Macarons.

SUGA SUGA VEGAN MACARONS

When the macaron food cart Suga Suga launched in Portland last August, all of the cookies were gluten-free (macarons are made from egg whites and sugar) but none was vegan. After a number of potential customers inquired about vegan options, though, cart owner Tara Leigh decided to start recipe testing.

She turned to aquafaba (chickpea liquid) as a substitute for egg whites and soon was baking vegan macarons in flavors like strawberry shortcake, blueberry-lemon, green tea, pistachio and almond joy. “People really liked them,” Leigh said. Suga Suga also makes macarons infused with CBD oil, a non-psychoactive component of cannabis that is taken medicinally.

A half dozen vegan macarons sell for $12. The cart is off the street until the warm weather returns in April. Until then, Leigh will take special orders with at least four days’ notice. The minimum order is one dozen per flavor; order through Suga Suga’s website.

When spring comes, look for the Suga Suga cart in the Old Port, on the Eastern Prom and other locations throughout Portland. Suga Suga posts its daily locations on its website and Instagram.

More info: sugasugaportland.com

ALMOND BUTTER WITH MAINE ROOTS

BARNEY BUTTER isn’t new and it isn’t made in Maine (it’s produced in California). However, the owners of this almond butter brand, Dawn and Steve Kelley, live in Portland and the company’s corporate headquarters are located on Maple Street. Its line of almond butters include chocolate, crunchy and almond-chia. It recently released a line of powdered almond butters, for blending in smoothies and adding to desserts, and a line of single serve packs. Find the almond butter locally at Whole Foods Market in Portland.

MORE INFO: barneybutter.com

Avery Yale Kamila is a food writer who lives in Portland. She can be reached at:

[email protected]

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila


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