Have you ever been sure you were on the right path, so certain of your next move only to be distracted by a pair of buns? I can’t be the only one..right?

I know what you’re probably thinking, and no, this isn’t about porn. Well, does #foodporn count?

Ok, let me explain.

My next article for The Last Bite was definitely leaning towards Japanese food. I’d chosen the restaurant, the palatable sushi I’d describe like a connoisseur, the seat with the fairly decent natural light. Somehow, all that confidence went out the window when an enticing Instagram ad from a local eatery sashayed across my timeline; the rest is history. For the record, I’m wilfully unmoved by social media marketing (nice try, Zuckerberg!), but the burger really beckoned to me. Personally, I blame it on the buns that piqued my interest and eventually won me over: round, sculpted, topped with sesame seeds.

If the last year or so has taught me anything, it’s pivot accordingly, and as quickly as you can. So without further adieu, here’s my review of Living Food and Juices’ delectable burger menu, and the intriguing star of the show, the Activated Charcoal Burger.

As it turns out, I was actually late to the charcoal train. The “black food” trend started way back when — as far as 2014 — and had less to do with activated charcoal’s myriad health benefits, and more to do with the hashtag-food-porn-hype. Blackened food, everything from pancakes, pasta, smoothies, even ice cream became Insta-famous and was widely popular across food blogs.

Fast forward to 2021 where activated charcoal burgers and other creative cuisine are available every day at Living Food and Juices in Kingston. A quote on their Instagram page aptly makes the case for their delicious offerings: “If I’m alive I prefer to [consume] living food and juices”. Whether you’re full-fledged plant-based, vegan, flexitarian, or evenskepticalc of a sustainable diet, you’re due for a visit to this authentic health food hot-spot.

Sweet tooth patrons are also welcome. There’s over 20 vegan cheese (made from nuts – cashews, almonds, pistachios, macadamia nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds) cakes available with flavors such as Tiramisu, Praline & Mocha and Coconut Chocolate Love, plus eye-catching chia puddings and more!

Kerry Coote, the owner of the sunny eatery, is also a certified raw food chef and lifestyle coach. The space contains a scratch kitchen and earthy charm, where Kerry brings what she defines as “cell-f care” to the food scene. There’s a wide array of raw and cooked vegan dishes, fermented foods, cold-pressed juices, smoothies, wellness shots, and the list goes on.

Living Food and Juices was founded in the spring of 2019 on the belief that where food comes from, and how it’s grown, matters. Since then, it’s meant creating quality standards and sharing information with customers to radically change the way people understand and shop for food.

The result has been high quality natural and organic products, an unmatched experience showcasing local ingredients, and a passionate team whose mission is to nourish people and the planet. Living Foods’ mission is as much of a mouthful as is their superior burger menu, and patties are made fresh daily using a custom blend of beans, herbs, and spices. Customers can choose from the Seafood, Sweet Pea, Barbeque, Black Bean, Curry, Pump It Up and Jerk It Up patties, with either an Activated Charcoal, Beetroot, Carrot or Turmeric bun, piled high with Sprouts, Plant Based Coleslaw, Lettuce Tomato and Plantain.

My only complaint so far has been the height of the mile-high handheld; chowing down means pressing down on the precisely stacked package. Scattered ingredients aside (literally), the burger was a solid selection, moist as a meat patty and pleasantly flavorful. I’ve tried the beet burger on subsequent trips and these burgers beat beef any day, at least to my taste buds. The vibrant presentations of their extensive and unique menu truly ups the ante on clean eating.

Round things off with cool sips of coconut water (to “wash off yuh heart” as Jamaicans say) or try any one of Living Foods’ satisfying smoothies including Blue Spirulina, Strawberry Sunrise, Khama Zu and Mango Madness.

With nature as it’s muse, Living Food and Juices has it all, and there’s no shortage of options here. This organic, eco-friendly eatery prides itself on ditching preservatives and animal products, and they just might have your new favorite food in store.

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Once upon a time, my least favorite words in the world were “be patient” — I still resent them a tiny bit to this day. Enter 2020, the year that heaped more appreciation on each of us, as it gave us less of everything else. I’m nowhere near being the poster child for patience, but the words no longer get on top of my nerves, especially since I’m not 7-years-old anymore and miserable from ice cream cravings.

Ironically, Be Patient is currently at the top of my playlist. It’s the name of a chill, shapeshifting track by Tailz, a multifaceted artist from Middletown, CT that delivers the message (Be patient, everything’ll be alright/ Da-dance to the beat all night..) with the right amount of bounce. Also on August’s playlist is Damages by Nigerian songbird, Tems whose glorious vocals are becoming a mainstay on the charts. Give each or either of these tracks a listen; I can depend on both for a dose of well placed nostalgia, a reminder that sometimes things feel like they’re falling apart, when they’re only falling right into place.

More on Sasha’s work:

The Last Bite: ‘Quarantea’ @ Tea Tree Crêperie (Issue 6)

Good Food Equals Good Mood At Tables Turn Restaurant (Issue 7)

Julie Mango: A Recipe For Good Feels (Issue 8)

A ‘Riceless Moment’ At Tamarind Continental Cuisine (Issue 9)

Sasha Lee is a Jamaican writer who has too many interests, and credits in both journalism and fiction. Her work has appeared in DancehallMag.com, Ellipsis Zine, Sublunary Review and LEON Literary Review, among others. Among her creative endeavors is a monthly column entitled “The Last Bite” – where she shares a slice of paradise in food and music reviews – for MixedMag.co. She can be found on Twitter @ohsashalee.

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