Asanté Bierria doesn’t just want to nourish your body with Pure Grub, he wants to feed your soul.
The company, which is based out of a commercial kitchen in Mt. Washington, sells (and gives away) organic, plant-based, gluten-free health food and probiotic beverages at various spots throughout Pittsburgh.
“Every bite you take should have nutritious value,” Bierria says.
Recently, at Trace Brewing in Bloomfield — where Bierria is stationed every Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. — he was slinging items such as veggies and rice in a mango jerk sauce, spicy Japanese sweet potatoes and warm cornbread.
Earlier in the week at the Lawrenceville Farmers Market — his home base every Tuesday from 3 to 7 p.m. — shoppers had the choice of Pan-Asian stir-fry or spring salads with papaya dressing. Check out Pure Grub’s full schedule online.
In an effort to help fight food insecurity, Bierria and other volunteers stock a cooler and pantry at Millvale’s Tupelo Honey Teas. Bierria dispenses 150 healthy meals a week, which anyone in need is welcome to take, no questions asked. You can donate supplies or send money through Venmo to puregrub412.
Each winter through early spring, Pure Grub takes over the service widow at Tupelo Honey Teas. This summer, on the first Thursday of each month from 5 to 9 p.m., Bierria and his crew will set up shop on the company’s patio for its VBQ, a vegan barbecue series.
The menu changes weekly, but it’s always packed with nutrient-rich items made with seasonal ingredients from local farmers’ markets or the East End Food Co-Op.
Pure Grub staples include Balls of Goodness, which are ground tree nuts and maple syrup coated in cocoa or ginger cinnamon. Five years ago, Bierria served these protein-packed snacks to seniors at a nursing home and they came up with the name.
A health-conscious person with a sweet tooth can also enjoy Ice Cream Sandwich Bites (coconut milk ice cream in a tree nut sammie) and a Blueberry Jam Parfait that consists of coconut cream, blueberries, chia seeds and cacao.
Bierria jumped on the superfood bandwagon after a health scare nearly a decade ago. The experience made him realize that fad diets don’t work; to see real change, he says, you have to incorporate healthy food into your lifestyle. He attended the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon, to learn from people who were, quite literally, outstanding in their field.
“It’s a way of life,” he says. “Quality food enabled my body to be strong enough to power back and move forward. After Portland, I decided to see how I could generalize it to the masses.”
Bierria found culinary inspiration in his Cuban and West Indian background, an early career in the service industry (he was a bartender at the Firehouse Lounge and the Shadow Lounge) and his partial ownership of Heirloom Superfood Market, which once occupied the former 31st Street Pub building on Penn Avenue in the Strip District.
With help from chef Jon Beck, Bierria started hosting holistic pop-ups in partnership with folks who specialize in wellness, including yoga instructors, reiki masters and acupuncturists. The pop-ups provided a safe place where people could learn and grow.
Bierria now offers catering and meal plans for people who want to eat well on a budget without sacrificing taste. He’s also expanding his superfood empire to include wholesale to local businesses. You can now buy Pure Grub at Café Conmigo in Wexford and Café Cravings in Mt. Washington. Bierria also has aspirations to get his products into university cafeterias and Pittsburgh International Airport.
And, if any local establishments have coolers, he’d be happy to fill them with donated meals.
“The food I make is made with intention,” Bierria explains. “It’s my way of saying, ‘I love you, we share the air, now eat. The reward is a belly filled with decent food.”