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T-Miz Mixes Moringa Bliss
by Paul Bass | Sep 25, 2013 1:44 pm
Posted to: Arts & Culture, Dining, Food, Health, Beaver Hills
Rapper Travis Pittman gave up the street life. In his mom’s kitchen, he resumed slinging—a new smoothie packed with organic baby spinach, agave, and powder extracted from “the most powerful plant on land.”
Pittman didn’t have a name for the concoction. At first.
By the time he finished, inspiration struck. He had a name.
Pittman is used to coming up with titles. For years, in and then out of prison, the Kensington Street native rapped, onstage, on CDs, under the name “T-Miz.”
He said he gave up the street life. He traded weed for wheatgrass, rhyming for blending and mixing. He went vegetarian a year ago, dived into research about natural foods, practically moved into Whalley Avenue’s Edge of the Woods store, and emerged with a home business: preparing healthful salads and nutrient-packed smoothies. He named the business Salad Palace and the Juice Farmacy. He has developed a largely African-American customer base on Facebook. He prepares the food in his mother’s kitchen in Beaver Hills, then delivers the orders to customers’ homes and businesses.
In the next two weeks he’s making his next move: opening the Salad Palace as a salad/juice bar within a larger soul-food restaurant joint his uncle is opening at 554 Whalley Ave., called Pepper House. Pittman said he has found a new message to preach to a black audience (as well as the broader community), a message about putting the right stuff in your body, about living clean and healthy.
Tuesday afternoon found the six-foot-six chef preparing a new smoothie concoction, which he plans to add to the menu.
“I’m all about presentation first,” he said. He compared beholding his salads to “having sex with your eyes—that’s how beautiful it is. You almost don’t want to eat it.”
To compose the less visually dramatic smoothie, he slipped on gloves and assembled the basics: agave (he has sworn off sugar), spinach, Silk brand almond milk ...
... a fresh banana ...
... and a natural super-food he found on Edge of the Woods’ second floor. It’s called Moringa, an African-tree derivative that he said contains “14 times more calcium than milk, nine times more iron than spinach, four times more potassium than bananas.”
“This is serious,” Pittman said of the powdered Moringa.
Pittman got serious about clean living after years running drugs and carrying guns, after two stints in jail totaling eight years, after pursuing a growing rap career that included “putting all the wrong stuff in” his body like “liquor, weed; you’ve got to keep up with this image out there so people will gravitate toward you.” “The light bulb” finally went on that he should go straight. He dived into research about ancient religions and cultures, especially Egyptian culture. That led him to a quest for healthful foods. “If God exists within,” he concluded, “what are you feeding your god? Smoking and drinking?”
After prison he had landed a steady welding and HVAC work, until the recession hit. He decided to pursue his own business, using management and customer-service skills he developed dealing drugs back in the day on Kensington Street. He read up on Tariq Farid, who built up the local Edible Arrangements chain with no initial capital.
As he shoveled a cup of the Moringa powder into the banana and almond milk and agave and spinach in the bowl of his NUTRiBULLET blender, Pittman spoke of how he built a customer base through his Facebook page. He did find peddling salads and smoothies to African-Americans a challenge. A worthwhile challenge.
“Live foods expand your consciousness,” he declared. “I got to get it in my community. Go to Edge of the Woods, then drive down the street and look at McDonald’s! Look at KFC! Look at Popeye’s!”
That’s where you find the bigger crowds of African-American customers, he observed.
“Our awareness is shot. It’s hard because of the way we was raised. We don’t be knowing. We don’t read labels. We do what our parents did.”
Parents didn’t generally buy almond milk, which Pittman retrieved from his mom’s fridge to add a second pour into the bowl. He pushed the button and watched the green concoction take form at high speed.
“This right here,” he said after he stopped the blender and started pouring glasses, “this from God right here. This is serious right here.”
“That’s life right here,” he added, handing over a glass.
The smoothie went down—well, smooth. The blended banana gave it a light, airy texture that went down fast; maybe it was the Moringa that provided a heft that kept the stomach feeling full for hours, sort of like a zeppole. A delicious meal.
As an approving room full of relatives and a reporter downed their servings, Pittman announced he had arrived at a name for the drink: Moringa Bliss. The official Salad Palace menu, which still has meat selections that he no longer serves, is in the process of being rewritten in step with the opening of the new space on Whalley. The new version will include Moringa Bliss, Pittman said.
To order a salad and/or smoothie delivery before the restaurant’s grand opening (the precise date is not yet set), call (203) 738-8242 or visit the Facebook page. Smoothies run $5 apiece; salad prices vary. In-town orders require a $10 minimum plus $3 delivery charge; Hamden and West Haven orders require a three-salad minimum.
Tags: T-Miz, natural foods, smoothies, Travis Pittman
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Congrats on turning your life around Travis, there are a lot of people in the community that could learn from you.
Whoo! Awesome story. Congratulations to T-Miz for turning his life around. If there’s more people like him in New Haven, we need to hear their stories. This is well done.