Vegan Noms, A new food truck, just rolled onto the streets of Dallas, Texas. The menu features vegan bakery items and other treats that will satisfy the most discerning sweet tooth. Vegan Noms, the brain child of “Chief Baker” Allison Catalani, made its North Texas debut on February 1st at an event hosted by the Deep Ellum Brewing Company. Allison first became inspired to bake at the age of six when she turned on her first EZ-Bake Oven – since that time she has not stopped baking. In her spare time Allison also teaches yoga which was part of the inspiration behind her vegan concept. I had the great opportunity to sit down with Allison to learn more about her, Vegan Noms and have her share one of her favorite brownie recipes.
Q: Why vegan desserts?
A: As a former devoted vegan, the one transition I struggled with the most was finding non-dairy desserts in Dallas. I therefore decided to research vegan baking and alternatives and I gradually moved all my baked goods recipes to vegan. After many trial recipes, I finally perfected them to taste good. I believe in flavor first and foremost and all of my treats are nom noms yummy!
During that research, I came across a lot of interesting facts about vegan desserts v. dairy desserts. Vegan desserts have zero cholesterol and are good for heart health. They also have less calories if made with the right ingredients and taste great!
Q: How did you come up with the name Vegan Noms?
A: I wanted to combine the word “vegan” that typically has a negative connotation in Texas, with a positive word, so the company name is clear that it’s serving up vegan food, but tasty vegan food so the customer isn’t afraid to try it. I decided on “noms” after hearing my younger sister always use this word whenever we talked about food or I texted her pictures of things I would bake. At first I didn’t know what it meant, but I caught on that it means “yum” or “yummy” and it’s a popular hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, two forms of social media my only-2-year-younger-than-me sister is more familiar with than myself. So “Vegan Noms” was born—yummy vegan sweets.
Q: What has been the hardest part of getting started in the business?
A: Criticism and lack of support. Some friends and family bashed my idea saying Dallas isn’t ready for a vegan restaurant or food truck, that the population of vegans is small and it’s not worth it to even try. Texans are conservative, love bar-b-que, and aren’t all open to alternative diets is what everyone was saying.
Q: I am a fan of good branding and your website and truck look great. Who helped you create the look?
A: I had a general idea of what I wanted the logo to look like after I decided on the company name, the goal being to make “vegan” more appealing. I knew I wanted a cookie for the “o” in the word Noms, told my ideas to my friend and graphic designer Alex Hamby – he nailed it and brought my idea to life.
Another friend pointed me in the direction of New York Design Studio for my website, and Creative Director Christine Seuss created my website. I gave her my logo and a picture of my business card and she knocked it out of the ballpark. I could NEVER have even tried to design a website the way she did!
Christine directed me to Diana Amsterdam to edit the copy on my website—my blog, bio, menu descriptions. She also created some of the slogans on the site.
The food truck design also came from my logo and business card. Heather Greenwood with Prestige Food Trucks in Orlando, Florida worked off my logo and pictures of my business card and came up with the whole design. Owner Jeremy Adams, his whole team, and Heather made all my food truck dreams come true.
Q: Do you think you will ever open a brick and mortar location?
A: If the food truck earns enough money to open a brick and mortar location, absolutely! That would be my ultimate dream come true. I would also want to serve coffee and pressed juices.
Q: I understand you also teach yoga – Tell me about that?
A: My yoga instructor studies are the biggest component of this business. During my 200 hour teacher training, we went over yoga philosophy, spiritual aspect, physical poses, and the type of diets to give the practitioner sustainable energy in yoga practice and throughout the day. A vegan vegetarian diet was practiced by ancient yogis thousands of years ago, and I was inspired through my teacher training to try a vegan diet. I phased out dairy and meats gradually, and discovered I felt fuller longer in the day, less lethargic, and overall my mind was at ease. I believe you are what you eat, and I’d rather be a beautiful plant than a chunky cow.
Q: Who inspires you and why
A: My father, because he believes in family honor and loyalty, honest respect to yourself and others, and that you should always be yourself and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. It’s by these strong, often lost ethics in current generations, that he’s made a name for himself from the ground up and earned high and constant success. He owns and runs a third-generation family produce business in San Antonio, my hometown, and he is there 100% of the time every day of the week. He left college to help my grandfather with the company when they needed help in tough times and he turned the business around and hasn’t stopped working for the past 35 years. I grew up with an image of what hard work truly is, how it’s done, and what it can bring you. Without him in my life, if I had been born to a father in any other industry, this food truck idea would’ve been erased from crossing my mind a long time ago. It’s somewhat similar to produce, requires a lot of manual labor, long hours, and hands on leadership, skills I learned from him at a deeper level than anything I learned from my formal education or former jobs. I will bring the same values and ethics to Vegan Noms and hope for the best.
Q: Who is your favorite Chef?
A: My Tia (aunt) Yolanda, because she made the best authentic Mexican food for my sister and I whenever we visited her or stayed with her and my uncle when my parents traveled. She’s the first “chef” in my family I saw growing up, and she taught me to bake after my easy-bake oven days.
I am also inspired by Giada De Laurentiis because she’s an Italian woman who practices yoga and believes in healthy, wholesome recipes, similar to myself. Her new cookbook, Giada’s Feel Good Food has lots of vegetarian recipes, her staying fit health tips, mostly from yoga. She’s also just an all around kind, positive, wholesome personality who makes you feel at home when you watch her on TV.
Q: Do you have a favorite quote?
A: Yes, Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”
Q: Anything else you would like to share with the ecoveggy readers?
A: Just thanks for your time and so thrilled to spread my vision to the ecoveggy readers and hope they enjoy my brownie recipe!
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups sugar (Whole foods Vegan Cane Sugaris my favorite)
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Optional: 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (Enjoy Life Brand makes vegan chocolate chips)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
- Pour in water, vegetable oil and vanilla.
- Stir together with a large spatula. Add chocolate chips if desired.
- Spread evenly in a 9×13 inch baking pan.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven. Test by inserting a toothpick into the cake and if it comes out clean, it’s ready!
- Let cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into squares. Enjoy!
You don’t have to be a vegan to enjoy Allison’s Vegan Noms. Her vision and passion are inspirational and North Texas is lucky to have her. For more information about Allison, where Vegan Noms will be next, or catering, please visit her website. You can also connect with Allison on Facebook or Twitter @vegannomstx