Owners of vegan, Jamaican restaurant might have a dish for what ails you.
Story by Robyn Passante + Photography by Lisa Staff
When Tracy Owens and Brinsley Ellis bought Pure Natural Market nearly three years ago, they added their own Jamaican flair to the menu and the décor but kept the already popular vegan smoothies — and the name. “We had intentions of changing the name after we opened up but we kinda hit the ground running and became popular right off the bat,” says Owens.
Luckily, the old name fit the new owners perfectly. “We are pure, in every sense of the word. Not just using organic food. We shop for groceries every morning. We shop for that day’s menu. We don’t have food trucks that back up to the front door. We use non-GMO, organic food when possible. We don’t use plastic cooking utensils; everything is compostable. We don’t even use Teflon-coated pans. It goes deeper than the food.”
That purity of intention and ingredients comes from Ellis’s Rastafarian roots and Owens’s long-held interests in naturopathy and Reiki.
And it’s working, as Pure continues to be a hot spot for locals of all stripes looking for healthy, delicious food and drinks.
“The Jamaican food gives us a little niche for sure; we have a niche that other healthy restaurants don’t have, so we’re able to pull from people who want Jamaican food,” Owens says. “And also people that want organic food, people that want smoothies, and people that want vegan.”
And sometimes, people stop in just for advice, which the couple is also happy to offer.
“Brinsley and I haven’t been to a doctor in forever; we heal ourselves through herbs,” says Owens, who often fields questions from people telling her their ailments and asking what will help. “It’s actually my favorite thing in the world. People know that we are not doctors. I would never tell anyone to quit taking their medicine from the doctor. But they like to add some natural things in with their medicine.”
Long-awaited Love Story
“We both came to the island 30 years ago. It’s amazing how people can live on this island and just never meet each other,” says Owens, who lived here 20 years before meeting Ellis, though she had known of his father for most of those years. “His father was a famous musician on the island, Irving Ellis. He played with a Caribbean band back in the day.
“Then 10 years ago I was at work, and Brinsley walked in my office as a customer, and that was it. We went on a date two nights later, and two weeks later we were just together from then on.”
Of his Rastafarian ways and ‘Ital’ diet, Ellis says: “It’s a way of life just to eat healthy and make us feel better. Lessen the salt. Some do no salt at all, because the salt ain’t good for the bones. We just try to live the right way and save the planet one day at a time.”
Certain herbs and spices known for their medicinal qualities are featured on the menu in various dishes, but those who want to go straight to the source can opt for cold-pressed shots of goodness, including:
Cold-pressed turmeric shots. “Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is what causes basically every disease in the body, so (turmeric) can (help) cure a multitude of illnesses,” Owens says. “People will buy them 20 at a time for the week.”
Cold-pressed ginger shots. “Fresh ginger root is a natural energizer and a natural antibiotic,” she says. Plus it helps with tummy issues.
Blood Pressure Fix
High blood pressure is a common ailment among those who seek the couple’s counsel, and Owens has several suggestions. Start by adding cinnamon and cayenne to your diet, she says. “Coconut water and lime is super good too, so add those to your foods. And beet juice. And hibiscus tea are also really, really good for high blood pressure.”
“Our menu is small, so everything is super popular. Our Jamaican jerk bowl is very popular – wilted kale and avocado and mango and it has roasted, jerk-seasoned chick peas on top with a creamy cilantro dressing we make,” Owens says. “Brinsley really works magic in the kitchen with spices.”
Pure’s owners don’t run to the pharmacy when one of them is under the weather. They run to the produce aisle. “For a cold, we use a straight shot of lime juice and honey – sometimes with cinnamon if you have congestion.”
All their smoothies get rave reviews, but Owens says the most popular is probably Mother Earth, which features organic kale, spinach, celery, banana, ginger and lemon. Those who want a bit more protein punch opt for Warrior Fuel, which includes strawberries, banana, almond milk, spinach and kale, with a raw vegan pea protein.
1 15-ounce can of chickpeas, drained
1 tablespoon of the liquid reserved
1 small garlic clove, smashed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (substitute water if going oil free)
Pinch of sweet smoked paprika
Pita chips for serving
In a food processor, combine the chickpeas with the liquid, garlic, lemon juice and tahini and puree to a chunky paste. Scrape down the side of the bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the paprika and puree until smooth. Season the hummus with salt, drizzle with olive oil and serve with pita chips. It can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.
Crispy Roasted Chickpeas
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed & dried
1 tablespoon olive oil (if avoiding oil, omit and don’t rinse and just drain chickpeas out of can)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon seasonings of choice (such as Curry Powder, or chili powder)
 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain chickpeas well. If using oil, rinse well with water and thoroughly drain. If omitting oil, simply drain well and skip rinsing with water.
 Once drained well, spread the chickpeas out on a clean, absorbent towel and use your hands to gently roll and dry the chickpeas. Some of the skins will start coming off. You can opt to peel all of the chickpeas — which can help for extra crispiness — or simply remove the skins that come off. Either way, the chickpeas will crisp up.
 Transfer the chickpeas to a mixing bowl and top with oil, salt and spices. Mix well to combine.
 Bake for a total of 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and dry/crispy to the touch. I turn the pan around and shake it to ensure even cooking. Remove from oven and let cool 5-10 minutes — they will continue crisping as they cool.
NOTE: They are a delicious healthy snack to eat as is or add them to salads. To store, place in a container and DO NOT cover tightly. This will help them stay crispy longer (not that they will last very long because they’re so good). These are best the first day, but they will last for 4-5 days at room temperature.