Incubator Kitchen Spotlight: Nutcase Vegan Meats

Posted on November 21, 2017 by Downtown Market

For Dr. Monica Randles and her husband Dr. Andrew Maternowski, living a healthy lifestyle is more than what they’ve learned being practicing physicians. After Randles started to experience severe back pain and Maternowski, with their daughter, watched popular documentary “Food Inc.”, they decided to change their diets. Little did they know their experimentation with diet would transform into a family business.

Randles started diving deeper into nutrition with a book written by Dr. Alejandro Junger, accomplished cardiologist and creator of the Clean Program detox. Junger’s book, “Clean”, helped Randles decide to stop eating dairy, refined sugar, and other foods that can cause inflammation. It was around this time that her then 10-year-old daughter suggested the family try a vegetarian diet for a month.

After the first month Randles noted,” I didn’t have stressed muscles, all around I was feeling better”. Maternowski had noted “he  was running farther”. Randles also noted that going vegan made her and her family aware of environmental issues.

Though the benefits of a plant-based diet were obvious, there was one issue. Randles quickly noticed that it was hard to find meat replacements that were organic, gluten-free and used whole ingredients. Some of the fillers found in meat and dairy replacements still caused inflammation and other effects that the family hoped to avoid. Randles and her husband decided that the only way they could get the nutrients they desired would be to make a meat replacement on their own.

Randles and Maternowski started making their own vegan meat in 2010. After trial and error, they found a recipe for vegan sausage that was a hit. They use 100% organic, non-GMO ingredients such as tree nut, brown rice and quinoa to make their spiced organic “nut-meat”. Their sausage and other products are gluten-free, soy-free, corn-free, and made with 100 % non-GMO and organic ingredients.  

At first, they made the vegan sausage for family and friends exclusively, but in 2016 they expanded their creation to the Grand Rapids community.

“It was interesting trying to figure out if our product would appeal to our community and learning more about marketing our product,” said Randles, when asked about starting Nutcase Vegan Meats (delete LLC)”. “ We knew it would be a challenging market to try new food, but we also knew that if we used the best ingredients we could, we would make a healthy product that is beneficial to the consumer.”

When looking for a place to start their business, Nutcase Vegan Meats visited church kitchens and other certified spaces but couldn’t find exactly what they were looking for. Randles noted that friends and family had mentioned the Downtown Market Incubator Kitchen, and after a tour, it was decided that the Market had greater options in terms of space and expansion.

“The Incubator Kitchen has given us a way to meet other food entrepreneurs and chefs,” said Randles. “It not only gives us the space we need for production but also gives us a place to collaborate with other food business owners.”

Since Nutcase started working out of our Incubator Kitchen, Randles noted that food merchants within the Downtown Market have started using Nutcase Vegan Meats products. You can try their Nutty Burger at Social Kitchen, add their Hot Italian sausage to your pizza at Rocket Pies and you can even take their meat to prepare yourself by purchasing it at Relish Green Grocer.

As for the future of Nutcase Vegan Meats, Randles said they hope to grow within Michigan in restaurant and retail spaces, and also expand distribution to the West Coast.

For the record, Randles and Maternowski are still practicing physicians! Does their endless energy come from a vegan diet? Possibly! But when asked about running a business and practicing Randles said: “We are well-equipped to work long hours because of our medical training.”

For those who want to experience the positive changes that come along with a vegan diet, Randles has advice for you:

“Going vegan can be intimidating but it doesn’t have to be,” said Randles. “Start by embracing cooking at home. Attempt vegan recipes from simple videos and tutorials and then start making the diet a part of your everyday life. Cook with more fruits and veggies, it’s the healthiest way to eat and it can reverse heart disease and assist with stroke and dementia prevention.”

Nutcase Vegan Meats now offers Chorizo, Hot Italian, and Breakfast Sausage, and Nutty Burger patties. Sweet Italian sausages are coming soon!

For recipes and retail locations visit their website here.