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    Culture & Food: Stories From Our Favorite Founders

    Culture & Food: Stories From Our Favorite Founders

    What do Sticky-Rice Chips, kimchi, and noodle soup have in common? Tradition, flavor, and culture.

    (Pssst! Find a yummy miso ramen recipe that combines all of these ingredients at the bottom of this post!)

    At Dang Foods, we're passionate about sharing our culture for a healthier and more flavorful world, which is why we teamed up with Mother-in-Law's Kimchi and Nona Lim to talk food, identity, and culture. 

    Meet the founders - Vincent Kitirattragarn, Lauryn Chun, and Nona Lim - and learn how they built their Asian-American brands.

    VINCENT KITIRATTRAGARN, DANG FOODS FOUNDER

    What was it like growing up with an identity that sits between two cultures? 

    Every Asian American has asked themselves "who am I?" without an easy answer. For me, I grew up hyper-aware of my Asian heritage, and hyper-aware of Americans' knowledge of my heritage. For Halloween every year I was Karate Kid because that was culturally accessible to non-Asians in the late 1980s.  The irony of dressing up a white guy who does Asian martial arts isn't lost on me - more on that later. At the time, it felt like the only way to own my race in a way accessible to Americans. 

    At this point, I didn't fully embrace the Asian part of my identity - in 3rd grade I would sometimes dress up as a cowboy to go to school. I have to think Marlboro's marketing and Burt Reynolds-esque images of masculinity were complicit in pushing me toward Western styles. My lunchbox, however, would remain pretty Asian with soy sauce chicken and rice. 

    Later on, I found food to be a way to embrace my identity in a relatable way. People would say "I love Thai food" when finding out about my heritage and wax poetic about their favorite dish. It was an easy way to feel connected to others so I leaned into it and ended up doing a Thai pop-up restaurant in SF that led to Dang. 

    In a world where labels polarize and ostracize, it's nice to dream of a time when labels don't exist so that people can have the space to breathe and just be themselves. Until then, taking ownership and pride in your heritage is a source of strength and inspiration. Places, smells, designs, even people feel right because they're familiar in an intimate way. Ultimately I see my heritage as the color that makes my life brighter, more vibrant, and much much tastier. 

    young-vk

    Which food brings you back to your childhood? Tell us about it. How did it taste and smell? As an adult, what feeling does it evoke for you?

    For me, Gai Yang (Northern Thai Grilled Chicken) with Khao Niew (Sticky-Rice) brings me back to childhood. Chickens are indigenous to Southeast Asia and if you ever visit, you'll notice how lean they are versus American factory-farmed birds. They tend to run around even more than the free-est range chickens do in the US, and eat everything from bugs to food scraps turning the egg yolks a super healthy orange. Gai Yang is made by marinating a young chicken in dozens of herbs and aromatics, spatchcocking it, and grilling it on charcoal. It's served with a sweet chili dipping sauce (that McDonald's stole for their nuggets). 

    The best way to eat it is: put a chunk of thigh meat on top of a wad of sticky-rice and pretend it's nigiri. Dip it and eat the whole thing. So dang good!

    What is the biggest inspiration for your brand?

    We look to our Thai-Chinese culture for inspiration. The ingredients and flavors of Southeast and East Asia are what make our snacks. We've always leaned into Asian ingredients like coconut, rice and nuts, and believe that eating low-carb, plant-based diets make people healthier and more energetic. We couple this approach with modern nutrition principles to create snacks that actually taste good and are good for you. 

    thai-chips-in-night-market

    What do you like most about the foods you've created?

    They represent an array of textures, flavors, and ingredients not seen elsewhere in the market. As children of immigrants, we eat differently and we bring that with us into our food.  

    Of all the elements of culture: food, language, dress, music, dance, literature, art, and style, food stays around the longest when people immigrate. The fact that it's meant to be eaten communally, with family makes it tough to shake over multiple generations. 

    How do you feel about the heightened representation of Asian Americans in American pop culture? What's your hope for the future?

    This is important to me, because as I alluded to earlier, there weren't a lot of Asian Americans in the media when I was a kid. When you're forming your identity you look to role models - I had my parents but other than that it was Jackie Chan and Jet Li, that's about it. I remember seeing Better Luck Tomorrow in the late 90s and being amazed at seeing good looking, confident, masculine actors like John Cho on the big screen. They didn't have to prove themselves with martial arts - they could just be themselves. I knew I wanted more but Hollywood didn't agree until recently. I think you saw the upswells of Asian media interest with popular Youtubers like Wong Fu Productions and Ryan Higa. They were making content for Asian Americans by Asian Americans in a time when there wasn't any in TV and Movies, and people ate it up.

    How do I feel about heightened representation? SO FREAKING PROUD! And not just for Asian Americans - all types of stories are being told that weren't before. I think you're seeing a grassroots change in what people want to see and feel - authentic, real stories with complex characters, and that's being reflected on the big screen. When the lack of visibility and awareness of your race is integral to your development, seeing yourself on screen feels the same as being seen in real life. 

    My hope for the future is that these stories continue to be told, so the next generation of Asian Americans can create a healthy self-image with a ton of role models to choose from.

    LAURYN CHUN, MOTHER-IN-LAW'S KIMCHI FOUNDER

    What was it like growing up with an identity that sits between two cultures?

    I think it was like walking along a bridge between two places, one traditional - Korean and one mainstream - American. I remember tasting pizza and tomatoes for the first time and worrying about how American foods come with side dishes that were foreign to me, unlike banchan and kimchi that were familiar at every meal at home. It was juggling between school and home and a balancing act of two cultures and navigating my way. Like many kids, I felt like an outsider immigrating to the U.S. at the age of 7 years old and trying to fit in, there was a lot of embarrassment about the food and differences rather than ‘celebration’ that is happening now which is so great. I love that I can see how much our American/global culture towards food has changed because of so many things but perhaps because of mutual connection to each other through the internet, the world is a much smaller place.

    Lauryn-Chun-child

    Which food brings you back to your childhood? Tell us about it. How did it taste and smell? As an adult, what feeling does it evoke for you?

    Making kimchi in my commercial kitchen when launching MILK, brought me back to my earliest childhood memories of food at age six, making ‘kimjang’ (kimchi block party) kimchi with my grandmother. Kimjang is 2-3 day annual event of kimchi-making in late fall to gather last of fall’s harvest of napa cabbage. Each family and their neighbors gather together to make a communal batch of kimchi, enough to last through all winter before spring’s bounty of vegetables.

    What is the biggest inspiration for your brand?

    The most important and interesting part of what we do is people’s discovery of fermented foods as a flavor and its health benefits. Kimchi is a raw, living food with probiotics for a healthy gut and Gochujang has deep layered flavors that come from fermentation and are beneficial for health, more than the processed condiments in our food system. I love that kimchi is not just an accompaniment with Korean food but a probiotic flavorful boost to anything you eat. Same with Gochujang - as an all-purpose secret sauce that adds deep spicy flavor to just about anything.

    What do you like most about the foods you've created?

    I like how fermented flavors are a natural process with ancient, traditional ways to preserve and make flavorful healthy foods. Kimchi and Gochujang come from 500+ years of tradition of fermenting and preserving before the modern age of refrigeration. 

    MIL-kimchi-jar

    How do you feel about the heightened representation of Asian Americans in American pop culture? What's your hope for the future?

    Very exciting time for Asian and International ethnic Foods... As a kid, I would never have imagined that Kimchi and Gochujang would be mainstream but I like to think that MIL as a brand has contributed to the conversation, linking similarity of all western and eastern fermented foods (soy sauce, miso, cheese) are something everyone loves! They have more in common than separateness, much like people.

    NONA LIM, NONA LIM FOUNDER

    What was it like growing up with an identity that sits between two cultures? 

    I actually grew up in Singapore and it was a melting pot of lots of different cultures like Chinese, Malay, and Indian to name a few. The fabric of Singapore is really multi-cultural – in terms of food, holidays, languages, and religions. I believe it made me curious, inquisitive, and also tolerant. 

    Nona-Lim-Childhood - photo

    Which food brings you back to your childhood? Tell us about it. How did it taste and smell? As an adult, what feelings does it evoke for you?

    Noodles and broths – Singapore has so many different kinds of noodles and so many different styles! As a child, I would go to Hawker Centers and there would be noodles cooked at least 20 different ways. It really inspired me to make authentic noodles and I often eat them at home as a quick stir-fry or with a broth-based soup. 

    What is the biggest inspiration for your brand?

    As a former athlete, I was constantly seeking natural ways to gain a competitive advantage. I observed how my body would only function at peak performance when fueled with whole, clean foods. So I became a Certified Nutrition Consultant to learn more holistically about food as medicine. In 2014, the Nona Lim brand was born - to bring my favorite dishes from my childhood in Singapore, but made with the wonderful ingredients available in the Bay Area. 

    What do you like most about the foods you've created?

    We focus on clean-label fresh Asian products like slow-simmered bone broths and soups with healing Asian herbs, and fresh rice noodles and ramen; these are all dishes that nourish me and remind me of the comfort of home. I wanted to create products that not only have amazing flavors that are great for you, but also EASY to enjoy. 

    nona-lim

     

    RECIPE: MISO RAMEN WITH DANG SAVORY SEAWEED STICKY-RICE CHIPS, MOTHER-IN-LAW'S KIMCHI, & NONA LIM MISO BROTH 

    miso-soup-recipe-dang-nonalim-mil

    Ingredients:

    Recipe:
    1. Open Nona Lim Miso Ramen Broth pouch and pour into pot. Simmer on stove until hot.
    2. In a separate pot, bring water to a boil and cook Nona Lim Traditional Ramen noodles for 1 to 2 minutes.
    3. Place the ramen into a soup bowl, pour hot broth into bowl and garnish with a handful of green onions.
    4. Optional: Add a soft boiled egg
    5. Top with a heaping scoop of Mother in Law’s Kimchi, then crumble Dang Savory Seaweed Sticky-Rice Chips for extra texture and an umami kick.
    Enjoy!

     

    Meet Our Keto Krushes

    Meet Our Keto Krushes

    Meet the brands behind some of our favorite Keto-friendly products. From superherb bevys to the world's first USB-powered blender, these guys make the low-carb life easier AND tastier! Since we're krushing hard on these brands, we decided to team up with them for a sweet giveaway to fuel your Keto livin' this season.

    Enter here for a chance to win over $1,500 in prizes, including:

    • 8 cartons of Keto Soup from Kettle & Fire
    • 12 chocolate bars, 4 bags of chocolate covered nuts, and 2 bags of peanut butter cups from Lily's
    • KETO-MOJO Premium Starter Kit
    • 1 case of Keto-Friendly Rebbl Elixirs + Proteins
    • 2 BlendJet Ones
    • 1 year's worth of Dang Bars 

      Giveaway closes September 29, 2019 at 11:59pm PST. 

      Kettle & Fire

      Kettle & Fire is the best at what they do, period. Not only is their packaging sustainable, but their soups are created alongside world-renowned chefs and food scientists, meaning deliciousness is pretty much guaranteed. Their new ready-to-eat soups come in four Keto-friendly flavors, ranging from classic Broccoli Cheddar to Spicy Cauliflower, and all of them boast killer macros, organic veggies, and free-range chicken bone broth. Bonus: they share ah-mazing recipes on their site.

      keto-cheddar-broccoli-soup

      Check out their Keto Cauliflower Soup recipe and score 30% off their NEW Keto Soups here.

      Lily's

      Four words: No. Sugar. Added. Chocolate. Yeah, you read that right. Lily's Fair Trade Certified chocolate is botanically sweetened with stevia, so you can skip the blood sugar spike. Their dark chocolate varieties are also vegan, so if you're Ketotarian-curious, consider yourself (and your sweet tooth!) covered.

      Chocolate-Chip-Peanut-Butter-Blondies

      Speaking of sweet tooth, we want their Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Blondies in our bellies rn. Get the recipe here.

      Snag your $1 off coupon for ANY Lily’s product here

      KETO-MOJO 

      The most important part of the Keto diet is making sure you achieve Ketosis. And KETO-MOJO's ketone and glucose meters make monitoring your levels as easy and accurate as possible. Plus, the KETO-MOJO crew helps you get to know your new meter via instructional videos and epic customer support.

      ketone-meter-testing-keto-mojo

      Learn more about the Glucose-Ketone Index (GKI) and why it's so important on your keto journey here and score 15% off Keto-Mojo meter kits here.

      Rebbl

      Rebbl makes it as easy as possible to get your dose of super herbs, healthy fats, and organic deliciousness in one delightful drink. All of their Keto-friendly elixirs have a coconut milk base (hello, MCTs!) and plant-powered attributes that will help you rock your day. Whether you opt for Rebbl's Reishi Cold Brew or Mint Chip Plant Protein Elixir, you're in for a serious treat. We love that they only use real ingredients and say sayonara to the yucky stuff. Not only will your body feel good after sipping, but your heart will, too. Like Dang, Rebbl cares about ethical ingredient sourcing, safe work conditions, and fair employee wages. 

      Mint-Chip-Protein-Smoothie-Rebbl

      Step up your smoothie game with their easy Mint Chip Protein Smoothie.  

      Save 10% on your next online order at rebbl.com when you use the code 10keto at checkout. Offer valid until September 30, 2019.

      BlendJet

      We're obsessed with the inventors of BlendJet, the first-ever portable blender. But don't let the portable part fool you - this little device packs some serious power! Simply plug into a USB port to charge, and you'll be ready to blend in no time. Tuck it into your gym bag, suitcase, or purse to get your shake, smoothie, or bulletproof coffee fix wherever, whenever.

      In fact, you could whip up this fresh, Keto-friendly Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing right at your dinner table. 

      blendjet-blender

      Get 10% off your next blender on blendjet.com when using the code Keto10 at checkout.  

      You’re probably krushing on these brands by now, too. Enter our giveaway now for a chance to win over $1,500 in Keto goodies! Giveaway closes September 29, 2019 at 11:59pm PST. 

      10 Creative Ways to Use Coconut Chips

      10 Creative Ways to Use Coconut Chips

      We’re never opposed to simply popping open a bag of Coconut Chips and eating them by the handful, but there are plenty of ways to get creative in the kitchen with our versatile flavors. From slightly sweet Chips at breakfast to a keto-friendly, plant-based savory topping in noodle bowls, here are our 10 favorite ways Dang fans enjoy Coconut Chips, from day to night:

      Smoothie bowl recipe

      Photo by @livingwellwithnic

       

      Smoothie Bowls

      Sure you can drink a smoothie on the go, but a study has shown you enjoy food more when you’re seated. That’s why we love smoothie bowls (pictured above), which pack the same benefits into a satisfying sit-down meal. Choose your base flavor (think acai or greens blended with almond milk) then add your toppings. We like a mix of bee pollen, chia seeds, goji berries, and our Caramel Sea Salt Coconut Chips to balance the sweetness.

       

      Overnight Oats

      Overnight oats recipe
      Photo by @nourishedbynutrition
      But we get it—sometimes mornings are hectic. Overnight oats save time in the a.m. by doing the (easy!) prep at night. Registered dietician Jessica Bippen likes to soak rolled oats in cashew milk with yogurt, vanilla, cinnamon, and chia seeds. In the morning, just add some Coconut Chips, fruit, and any other fixings.

       

      Homemade Granola

      Homemade granola recipe
      Photo by @redkitchenette
      Store-bought granola can be packed with sugar and other fillers. But when you DIY, you can mix-and-match ingredients, like oats with Coconut Chips, dried fruit, cinnamon, and maple syrup for some naturally occurring sweetness.

       

      Salads

      Coconut rice bowl recipePhoto by @everydamnbite
      Ditch that deskside peanut butter and jelly and embrace a more flavorful lunch. Coconut chips are great on salads, whether you’re going with greens and raw veggies or taking an Asian-inspired turn with rice, grilled chicken or tofu, veggies, and peanut sauce.

       

      Fruit Pizza

      Dang Coconut Chips on watermelon pizza
      Photo by @kaleoradokitchen 
      We never say no to pizza, even when we’re swapping watermelon in place of the dough. This watermelon "pizza" is as simple as it is satisfying—juicy triangles of melon topped with ricotta, cream cheese, and honey, plus fruit, mint, and Coconut Chips.

       

      From the Bag

      Photo by @temple.dietitian
      Like we said, Coconut Chips make for a tasty snack straight from the bag. We like packing it for hikes and picnics, but they’re just as handy for those 3 p.m. hunger pangs in the office. Keep a stash at your desk and thank us later.

       

      Curries

      Thai curry noodle bowlsPhoto by @healthylittlevittles
      Take a cue from health coach Gina Fontana who created vegan and gluten-free mango curry noodle bowls, combining rice noodles, veggies, tofu, red curry, and our Original Recipe Coconut Chips.

       

      Spring Rolls

      Thai spring rolls recipe
      With summer temps rising, sometimes the last thing we want to do is turn on the oven. Spring rolls are an easy, impressive dish for parties, and pair well with our Lightly Salted Coconut Chips.

       

      Banana Split

      Healthy banana split dessert
      Photo by @what.cayt.ate
      We need something sweet after dinner, too. Luckily this healthier take on a banana split satisfies our sweet tooth. Just cut the fruit down the middle and top with yogurt, almond or peanut butter, cinnamon, and Dang Coconut Chips for crunch.

       

      Ice Cream

      Homemade ice cream recipe

      Photo by @thepeachyprodigy

      Sprinkles may have been your go-to as a kid, but they don’t add much nutrition. Instead, try topping your ice cream or sorbet with our Chocolate Sea Salt Coconut Chips, infused with cocoa powder. You’ll get sweet and salty with each bite!

      5 Things You Didn't Know About Dang Foods

      5 Things You Didn't Know About Dang Foods

      There's a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to Dang Foods. You may be familiar with our healthy snacks and Thai heritage, but what about our office traditions? How about our Founder's secret superpower? Get to know the Dang Gang a bit better through these five fun facts.

      Our Founder, Vincent, is a supertaster. So, what does that mean? Basically, he experiences taste more intensely than other humans. For example, Vincent avoids coffee because it overwhelms his bitter tastebuds. Fun fact: just 25% of humans fall into this category, and we're honored that the maker of our delicious snacks is one of them. Read more about Vincent's experience being a supertaster via his LinkedIn.
      dang-founder-vincent-supertaster
      When we're not cooking together, we're probably eating together at Dang HQ. Every day, the Dang Gang dedicates an hour to eating lunch together "family style" to honor our Asian roots. Bonus: we provide our team with free healthy lunches and try to keep it fun by incorporating traditions like going to the farmer's market to get Thai food every other Tuesday ✌️
      dang-team-cooking
      We took our entire team to Thailand for 10 days this last year! There, we visited our suppliers and partners, learned to cook Thai dishes, visited coconut farms and night markets, and met the people creating our Dang good snacks!

      dang-team-in-thailand
      Dang is a majority-women and majority-minority company. We believe in providing opportunities to those without historical access to professional advancement and always look to promote from within when possible.
      dang-team-minority-women
      Dang has a perfect 5-star rating on the employer review website Glassdoor, and we're proud of it! We care about our company culture and strive to provide a positive experience for ALL employees.

        The Top 9 Benefits of Coconuts

        The Top 9 Benefits of Coconuts

        What started as tropical-centric ingredient—think piña coladas, coconut cream pie, you name it—has since become a versatile part of our diets. Beyond the juicy flesh, coconuts can morph into oil, milk (hello, massaman curry!), and even a potassium-rich water that’s perfect post-workout. That kind of flexibility plus a natural, slightly sweet taste is why it’s the centerpiece of so many of our products, from our Dang Bar to our Lightly Salted Coconut Chips.

        The keto- and paleo- friendly food is packed with benefits, so let’s get down to the core of coconuts:


        It’s a whole food

        Potato and tortilla chips may offer crunch but these more processed foods lack many nutrients. Coconut chips are a minimalist alternative that offers a similar satisfying “crrrrrunch” and can be a part of your diet whether you’re keto, vegan, or low-carb.


        It’s full of good fats

        Coconut oil is a vegan source of fat and more than half is made of medium chain fatty acids, including medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), a favorite among keto fans. And unlike long chain fatty acids, which ultimately get processed into fat, MCFAs are burned as energy.


        It’s a natural sweet treat

        If you’ve ever topped your açai bowl or smoothies with unsweetened coconut, you know it imparts a delicate sweetness—no sugar rush here. That’s why we created our Lightly Salted Coconut Chips. The keto-certified, Whole30-approved snack is made of just two ingredients: coconut and sea salt. In fact, our Coconut Chips have up to 90% less sugar than comparable apple chips. We even add coconut milk to nearly every flavor of our Sticky-Rice Chips for a healthy dose of fat, fiber, and that slight sweetness.Dang Unsweetened Lightly Salted Coconut Chips

        It offers a good cholesterol boost

        Coconut oil is particularly good at boosting levels of HDL, known as “good” cholesterol, but be careful on portion size, as it also has LDL cholesterol.


        It’s chock full of potassium

        Much like bananas, potatoes, and cooked spinach, coconut water—the liquid in a young coconut before it matures into the white “meat” we think of—touts a relatively high amount of potassium, which has made it popular as a post-workout drink, especially after strenuous activity. Look for sodium-enriched versions to optimize recovery.


        It promotes dental health

        Have you heard of oil pulling? This centuries-old method with roots in India involves swishing a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth for up to 20 minutes. The rinse is said to remove toxins from your mouth, break down plaque, and produce antioxidants. Added bonus? Whiter teeth and fresher breath.


        It can prevent infection

        Studies have shown that coconut oil’s antimicrobial properties, coming mainly from its powerhouse component lauric acid, can prevent an infection from spreading and diets rich in coconut oil curbed gastrointestinal infections. Try stir-frying veggies in coconut oil or sprinkling coconut chips on breakfast bowls.


        It doubles as skincare

        Pricey creams and serums aren’t the only means to glowing skin—coconut oil works as a powerful moisturizer and as well as a smoothing hair mask (be careful to use it on ends only, or it may take a couple shampoo sessions to get the oil fully out). And lauric acid, which coconut oil has in spades, has been proven to be a better acne treatment compared to traditional zit-fix benzoyl peroxide.

         

        It’s a dairy alternative

        Whether you’re vegan, dairy-intolerant, or just want to consume less animal-based products, coconut milk creamers make for a smooth and rich option that’s 100% plant-based. A handheld frother helps achieve that lush texture you might be used to. We’ll drink to that!