Total loan: $3,500


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Washington, DC, United States / Food

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A loan helped a black woman-owned business to bring a healthy plant-based meat alternative to the market.

Qiana's story

I have a passion for delicious food and health. I believe that wellness can be achieved through proper nutrition and it’s easier to achieve when the food tastes great! I've always enjoyed cooking and transforming “unhealthy” dishes into “healthier” dishes. Healthy meal hacks are my thing! It’s been a goal of mine to create a career/business where I combine my love for delicious food and my passion for wellness; so I created The Walnut Tree. It is my mission to revolutionize healthy eating. I was frustrated with the unhealthy meat alternatives on the market that often left meat-eaters and non-meat eaters alike disgusted by their bizarre ingredients and textures. I wanted a healthy and delicious meat alternative made with simple ingredients so I decided to turn walnuts into walnut meat. It was during the COVID pandemic, and I was underemployed and craving old fashioned tacos like the ones I used to enjoy before giving up meat. I was in my third year of a plant-based life-style and had not had a really good taco in years. I’d tried veggie tacos, cauliflower tacos, bean tacos, and various bizarre meat alternative tacos, but none of them had the flavor or consistency that I desired, and most contained unhealthy ingredients. Every time I went to the grocery store I would scan the meat alternative aisle hoping that someone would create walnut meat so that I wouldn’t have to go through the arduous and intimidating process of making it! After about two years of waiting in vain, July 2020 to be exact, I was desperate, and I decided to give it a try. I avoided making walnut tacos for well over a year because of the time and effort it took. It was intimidating and laborious. Turning walnuts (my least favorite nut at the time) into a meat-like dish was very time consuming and seemed like a shot in the dark. But when I lost my full-time job and was living under covid restrictions, I had some extra time on my hands, so I decided to experiment. I used an old fashioned blender and my favorite taco seasonings and created my first batch of nut meat! I loved them immediately! They were absolutely delicious! Rich, flavorful and fulfilling. My family (meat eaters) tried them and they loved them too! I knew I had to do something with this recipe and The Walnut Tree's - soon to be famous- nut meat was born! I created an LLC and applied for a food business accelerator program and I am now working to launch my first product line of walnut meat in three flavors!