Steamed Organic Vegetarian Cuisine
Crave your veggies
By H. K. Wilson
Oh food, beautiful food! At Steamed Organic Vegetarian Cuisine in the East Village Arts District near downtown Long Beach, the selection of delicious organic, non-GMO, vegetarian, vegan and sustainably sourced meals will have you loving your veggies and longing for more.
Owner Stephanie Lyn Carlough is a longtime vegetarian who, following her son’s diagnosis with a rare disease, dove deeper into the relationship between the foods we eat and health. After a career in the nonprofit sector, she felt called to open an eco-eatery and provide the Long Beach community with healthy, sustainable and satisfying food choices.
“In the beginning, vegetarian was a no-brainer for me,” she says, “but what I didn’t understand was organic. Then I started to understand what we do to the soil and how we’re creating so much disease. Once you get it, it’s so obvious.” The Steamed logo, a tree whose trunk is a fork with tines that turn into roots, is an apt symbol of Stephanie’s commitment to cooking with foods that are locally sourced and sustainably grown.
“What happens to the roots of everything we eat ultimately grows into this tree of life, literally and proverbially. That’s where the fork and tree kind of came from, this vision that the soil in which we grow our food is the first place where the systematic healthcare crisis is happening.”
Steamed uses an array of local growers, including Tamai Farms in Oxnard; ABC Rhubarb in Riverside; Gama Farms in Bakersfield; Mudcreek Ranch in Santa Paula; AG Olives; and Jeff Erb Honey. The only animal products on the menu are rennetless mozzarella and feta, and sour cream with 17 probiotics, all of which are sustainably and ethically raised Organic Valley products. Everything on the menu can be made vegan. “We’re not trying to be extreme,” she says. “We’re trying to affect the masses with gentle change. If we take away cheese completely we could alienate people versus encompassing everyone. We try to give to both. We keep our vegan real vegan — we use agave not honey — and we’ve created a cashew sour cream.”
But Stephanie is also clear that healthy eating needs to be both enjoyable and satiating. She’s obviously hit on the right formula, because eight-and-a-half years later, Steamed is a big favorite with health-conscious locals who are also foodies. With a unique flavor profile and recipes that satisfy, Steamed is creating food fans who keep coming back for more. “Our food is very hearty and incredibly flavorful. We have a specific flavor, and once you have it, you want it again. Most people think vegetarian food is not satiating, but you don’t have to be a vegetarian to eat here. My husband is a meat eater, and I see a lot of big men eating here. A bonus is that when your cells are nourished, you don’t feel you have to go to sleep afterward, like you do when you eat other places.”
The Steamed menu includes a wide variety of choices — salads, bowls, sandwiches, gourmet quesadillas and burritos — and selections sometimes change as Mother Nature dictates. Anything that isn’t made in-house is purchased from local vendors. A signature and delicious walnut concoction replaces meat, and California-grown beans and Lundberg Family Farms rice add substance to many of the meals. But the magic that makes everything taste so good is revealed right in the name. “We steam everything at 145 degrees,” Stephanie says. “That’s the key to our gently steamed spinach and melted cheeses, and it’s how we get heat in the meal that keeps nutrition in while allowing the flavors to pop.”
Steamed is also a sustainable business operation, with all recyclable paper goods, menus printed on banana paper, compostable to-go containers and vintage service-ware. “We try to practice sacred commerce, something Cafe Gratitude coined. It means focusing on a triple bottom line: financial, earth and community. It’s imperative to stand up in all three areas. We only have one of this planet; it’s kind of a big deal.” Steamed offers outside catering and can host your special event at the restaurant. Enjoy live music, tributes to local artists and other happenings at Steamed throughout the year.
Stephanie is also the proprietress of Plunge, a vegan-friendly seaside beach club located on the second floor inside the 1900 Ocean Building. Visitors can enjoy the great vibe with views from San Pedro to Huntington, along with a variety of healthy and tasty selections, some of which are borrowed directly from the Steamed menu. Continuing her commitment to healthy eating, burgers are made from never frozen, grass-fed beef, and the kitchen uses non-GMO canola oil for its fried items. Stephanie reveals that she is more than a restaurateur, she is a woman on a mission. She says, “I believe you can eat clean and well, and still keep your taste buds really happy. To me, when you eat better, you do better.”
Steamed Organic Vegetarian Cuisine
801. E 3rd Street - Long Beach, CA 90802
Sunday – Thursday 11am – 8pm
Friday & Saturday 11am – 9pm