Learn delicious, non-sugar recipes with Chef Lauren’s classes at New Leaf in Westside Santa Cruz

Nut-crusted chicken and salad with lemon herb vinaigrette from Chef Lauren’s Sugar Solutions class

Nut-crusted chicken and salad with lemon herb vinaigrette from Chef Lauren’s Sugar Solutions class

A fabulous new six-Saturday series started last week with Chef Lauren Hoover-West at New Leaf Community Markets in Westside Santa Cruz, but don’t worry—you can still sign up for one, some, or all of the remaining five sessions, which run through Sat., Oct. 18. Each class includes cooking an entire well-balanced meal, and the ticket cost includes lunch.

“Sugar Solutions: Meal Planning for a Sugar Free Diet” is the name of the class series. I participated in the first session Sept. 14, and was very impressed. Chef Lauren is a wonderful teacher with an engaging personality. She has a wealth of knowledge to share—not just on effective ways to cut back on sugar without sacrificing flavor, but also on a variety of topics including proper knife skills (resulting in less backaches), time-saving meal preparation, which vegetables have less carbs than others, and kitchen equipment recommendations.

Tess Quadres also attended on Saturday. I observed her taking notes and asking questions, and it was obvious she was learning a lot. The next day, I asked her to comment on the course. “I’ve been reading about nutrition for years now; I cook very healthy food, and I wasn’t sure I would learn that much from a low/no sugar cooking class,” she said. “Lauren surprised me with so much new information and great cooking tips. I went away excited to try a bunch of new things I could put into practice immediately, to make my cooking even healthier.” Quadres went grocery shopping right after the class so she could get started while it was all fresh in her mind.

One interesting fact I learned, and want to share with you readers: Stevia is 300 times sweeter than sugar but has no glycemic index. This index, often shortened to GI, refers to a food’s ability to raise a person’s blood sugar. For cooking, Lauren prefers SweetLeaf liquid stevia, which New Leaf carries.

The menu for the first class was:
• Nutty Smoothie w/homemade nut milk
• Salad with Lemon Herb Vinaigrette
• Nut-Crusted Chicken Cutlets
• No Cook Chocolate Chia Pudding

You can see the menus for all upcoming classes online. http://www.eventbrite.com/e/sugar-solutions-meal-planning-for-a-sugar-free-diet-tickets-12517930467
All the recipes prepared in these classes are dairy-free, gluten-free, and sugar-free. Some will include raw and/or paleo dishes. Course themes include “Road to Asia” this coming Sat., Sept. 20 (includes Veggie Bowl with Lemon Tahini Sauce and Thai Coconut & Chicken Soup) and “Taste of Europe” Oct. 4 (includes Lamb Loin Chops with Garlic & Rosemary, Pumpkin Seed Pate with Raw Veggies, and Fermented Sauerkraut).

Attendees get to do hands-on prepping and cooking. I liked that we first got to taste the almond milk we created, and then we added more ingredients to this milk and transformed it into smoothies, which were delicious. I enjoyed all of the food; we drank the nut milk and smoothies right after we made them, but saved the other three dishes to eat all at once for lunch at the end of class.

I was surprised at the speed and ease of the nut-crusted chicken recipe, and I loved the texture and the flavors. I’ll be making this one at my home soon, and am guessing it’s going to be a hit with the whole family! I’m excited it’s a low-carb option. As Lauren mentioned, these days a lot of us need quick recipes for weekday options. Another positive aspect to this recipe: if someone is allergic to nuts, they can substitute sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

Chef Lauren promised to email her students the recipes, and she was true to her word—they actually arrived later that same day. I appreciated the quick access to these resources, which included a list of low-carb vegetables arranged from lowest to highest carbohydrate per serving.

Single class tickets are $40 each. You can purchase these online http://www.eventbrite.com/e/sugar-solutions-meal-planning-for-a-sugar-free-diet-tickets-12517930467 until 1 hour before each class begins, but Chef Lauren encourages people to sign up at least 24 hours in advance if possible (that’s ideal for planning). She also mentions that even if you don’t have a health issue or problems with sugar, these classes will give you vital information about blood sugar plus tips on cooking balanced meals featuring natural whole foods.

As the official series description states, participants can learn how to cook “…delicious sugar-free recipes for every meal of the day.” Balancing blood sugar through diet can help you manage many conditions that are becoming an epidemic in the US including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, candida, depression, obesity and ADHD. Chef Lauren will focus on teaching “dietary changes that will help balance the body for optimal health, energy levels and well-being.”

Quadres adds a couple more comments: “The environment at the New Leaf kitchen is comfortable and unintimidating, and Lauren’s approach is friendly, straightforward and inspiring.  I found the class very valuable and would recommend it to anyone who wants to cook healthy food.”

Chef Lauren was trained at San Francisco’s California Culinary Academy, and has 25 years of cooking and teaching experience at venues including Michelin-starred La Folie, Fairmiont San Francisco, and Sur La Table. She offers services including menu planning, food sensitivity coaching, nutritional counseling, pantry makeovers, and grocery shopping tours. Read more at her site at NoWheatNoDairyNoProblem.com – No Wheat, No Dairy, No Problem is also the name of her gluten- and wheat-free cookbook.

For more information on this or other classes, call 426-1306 or see the New Leaf web site at newleaf.com. For all events and classes at Westside New Leaf, visit http://www.eventbrite.com/o/new-leaf-community-markets-westside-2725205834.

New Leaf Community Markets Westside location: 1101 Fair Ave., Santa Cruz

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie www.twitter.com/santacruzfoodie.

Tomato festival at Lark Creek restaurants in San Jose, SF, and other Bay Area cities

Heirloom Tomato Salad with grilled shrimp addition at Lark Creek Walnut Creek

Heirloom Tomato Salad with grilled shrimp addition at Lark Creek Walnut Creek

Good news for heirloom tomato fans: September is the Heirloom Tomato Festival hosted by Lark Creek Restaurant Group and all the LCRG restaurants – including Lark Creek Blue on San Jose’s Santana Row, and Lark Creek Walnut Creek – are featuring delectable artisan tomato creations.

Even better news: there is an opportunity for one of you to win a gift card good at Lark Creek restaurants — see end of article for contest details. You can use the card during the tomato festival or at a future date.

LCRG chefs are preparing dishes made from tomatoes still warm from the garden. Restaurants will source Brandywine, Green Zebra, Yellow Marvel and Purple Cherokee heirloom varietals among others from local growers, including J+K Smith Farms. In addition, bartenders have crafted delicious heirloom tomato cocktails.
Chef Scott Wall of Lark Creek Walnut Creek has been cooking at Lark Creek for 14 years.  Of all the themed menus the restaurant does each year, the Heirloom Tomato is his favorite. “The tomatoes are so fresh and grown just miles away; (the festival) epitomizes the farm to table theory,” he shares. “As a chef, creating a menu based on these great local ingredients is almost effortless. There are so many combinations.”
For these special September dishes, Chef Scott is exclusively using tomatoes from Rose Lane Farm in Oakley. “We receive a tomato delivery four times a week. Each delivery includes tomatoes that were just picked.”  He says the farmer assures that each box is of the highest quality and sweetness.

I went to Lark Creek Walnut Creek for lunch in August, and really enjoyed the experience. I was with two other adults plus my three-year-old daughter, and the enclosed outdoor patio provided a comfortable atmosphere. We received extremely gracious, attentive service, and food standouts included fresh corn soup with pumpkin seed pesto, moist and delicious meatloaf, a savory Reuben, and a kids’ peanut-butter-and-jelly that already had the crusts removed!
Lark Creek Blue Chef de Cuisine Chad T. Ferry shares that he’s excited about this month’s festival because of “…the simple versatility of the tomato. Some take the tomato for granted, not knowing the difference between a roma and a beefsteak tomato. Heirlooms have a better, fuller flavor and we need to celebrate such a product when its at it’s peak.” Ferry encourages diners to “enjoy its simplicity and marvel at its complexity in flavors and textures.” I have dined at Lark Creek Blue twice, once for dinner and once for lunch, and each time it exceeded my expectations.

Special heirloom tomato selections will be available through the end of September 2014.

Highlights are below; see Lark Creek’s news site for links to all restaurants (including one in Southern California, in Newport Beach) and specific menus.

Food highlights
• Heirloom Tomato Salad with house-made mozzarella, balsamic dressing (see photo, which features the salad with an optional grilled shrimp addition)  from Chef Scott Wall at Lark Creek Walnut Creek (www.larkcreek.com/walnutcreek) 925.256.1234
• Grilled Swordfish- heirloom tomato and basil risotto from Chef de Cuisine Chad Ferry at Lark Creek Blue (www.larkcreekblue.com)  408.244.1244
• Pan-Seared Day Boat Scallops- tomatoes, artichokes, olive oil mashed potatoes, lobster emulsion from Chef Mark Dommen at One Market Restaurant (www.onemarket.com) 415.777.5577
• Calabrese Pizza- heirloom tomatoes, ricotta, Calabrese peppers from Chef Marc Tennison at Cupola Pizzeria (www.cupolasf.com) 415.896.5600
• Brown Butter-Poached Maine Lobster- Brentwood corn, grilled romaine, Copia garden cherry tomatoes, lavender, lobster coral emulsion from Chef Scott Ekstrom at Fish Story (www.fishstorynapa.com) 707.251.5600
• Heirloom Tomato Salad- Italian peppers, cucumber, torpedo onions, green goddess dressing  from Chef Aaron Wright at Lark Creek Steak (www.larkcreeksteak.com) 415.593.4100
• P.E.I Mussels served with an heirloom tomato concasse, chipotle lime butter, from Chef Michael Dunn at Yankee Pier Lafayette (www.yankeepier.com/lafayette) 925.283.4100
• Grilled King Salmon & Heirloom Tomato Panzanella- pickled red onions, rocolla, torn sweet batard croutons, basil, watermelon from Chef Alex Marsh, Yankee Pier Larkspur (www.yankeepier.com/larkspur) 415.924.7676
• Heirloom Tomato B.L.T.- crisp Zoe’s bacon, butter lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, herb mayonnaise, toasted focaccia from Chef Heidi DiPippo at Lark Creek Grill  SFO (www.larkcreekgrill.com)  650.821.9315
• House-Made Cheese Tortellini- sweet 100’s tomatoes, smoked tomato ragout, toy-box eggplant from Chef Jonathan Hall at Parcel 104 www.parcel104.com) 408-970-6104
• Heirloom Tomato Soup- basil oil, parmesan, olive oil croutons from Chef Heidi DiPippo at Yankee Pier SFO (www.yankeepier.com/sfoairport) 650.821.8938

Selected Heirloom Tomato Cocktails

• “Tomato Haze”- smoked heirloom tomato bloody Mary- house-infused peppar vodka, pickled carrot at Lark Creek Steak (www.larkcreeksteak.com)
• “New Morning” – roasted tomato water, Hanson Brothers cucumber vodka, mezcal, simple syrup, blistered tomato garnish at One Market Restaurant (www.onemarket.com)
• “Italian Garden”- heirloom tomato juice, watermelon juice, Carpano Antica at Cupola Pizzeria (www.cupolasf.com)
• “Summer’s Bounty”- Gin, fresh watermelon juice, cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, simple syrup, lemon juice at Yankee Pier Lafayette (www.yankeepier.com/lafayette)

Prize: A $100 gift card to Lark Creek Restaurants
To enter, email your name to tfatemiwalker@yahoo.com and include the words “Lark Creek tomato festival.” Deadline to enter is Wednesday, Sept. 17 2014 at 8 p.m.
This contest is open to readers of Tara Fatemi Walker’s Examiner.com and Santacruzfoodie.com sites. Employees of Examiner.com are not eligible for this promotion.


Family-friendly Santa Cruz events: Mission Hill birthday, Mole & Mariachi festival

Mariachi Gilroy, a performer at the 2014 Mole & Mariachi Festival

Mariachi Gilroy, a performer at the 2014 Mole & Mariachi Festival

Here are a couple upcoming family-friendly events in Santa Cruz.

Mission Hill Creamery’s 2nd birthday celebration: Monday, Sept. 15, 2014
Owner Dave Kumec invites the community to visit Mission Hill Creamery’s Scoop Shop and Dessert Café on Monday, Sept. 15 – all day and until they close – for a $1 birthday scoop of ice cream. This special discount is his way of saying thanks for all your support.

A bit of history, as told by Dave:
Mission Hill Creamery started 4 1/2 years ago in the Culinary Center of Santa Cruz on Front Street. From those humble beginnings, we have grown to our current location and now offer a variety of ice creams, desserts, novelties, milkshakes, floats, as well as a full coffee and tea menu, and packed pints. Our products are distributed in nine counties and growing. Come help us celebrate as we happily grow into our third year in our Pacific Avenue Creamery store.”

Location: 1101B Pacific Avenue near Cathcart, next to Taqueria Vallarta and across the street from Kianti’s
Hours for 9/15 celebration: Noon to 11 pm

Mole & Mariachi Festival: Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014
The 2nd annual event is from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Santa Cruz Mission Adobe State Historic Park, and it offers lots of fabulous food—and not just mole! In addition to local food, wine, beer, and other beverages, guests can enjoy music and dance performances, kids’ crafts and a piñata, and a raffle. I attended last year, and it was great fun for the whole family. There is free admission.

This year, nine local restaurants and chefs will prepare moles. Festival attendees and a panel of local celebrity judges will select their favorites. Santa Cruz restaurant El Jardin won “People’s Choice” last year. If you want to sample moles, there is a $10 tasting kit for sale. A list of mole competitors and other vendors is below.

All event proceeds benefit Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks. Want to avoid the trouble of parking your car? There will be bike valet service at the park, as well a free trolley to the festival from downtown Santa Cruz.

For more info, visit www.thatsmypark.org. Watch a 30-second Mole & Mariachi PSA video here.

Location: Santa Cruz Mission Adobe State Historic Park, 144 School Street near downtown Santa Cruz

Mole competitors:

  • El Chipotle Restaurant in Soquel (preparing “rojo Oaxaqueño mole”)
  • El Jardin Restaurant in Santa Cruz (preparing “Jorge’s Traditional Mole”)
  • My Mom’s Mole from Watsonville (with a 25-ingredient Guanajuato-style sauce that is spicy, not sweet, prepared by chef Cesario Ruiz)
  • Lidia’s Taqueria in Watsonville (traditional Oaxacan dark mole with nopales [cactus paddles])
  • El Chino Restaurant in Santa Cruz (mole with poblano chiles)
  • The Kitchen at Discretion Brewing (Soquel brewery)
  • Vivas Restaurant in Santa Cruz (serves organic food)
  • Maya Mexican Restaurant in Scotts Valley (Michoacán mole)
  • Plaza Lane Optometry (a newcomer to the event, will prepare a staff member’s personal recipe featuring chocolate, peanuts and pumpkin seeds)

Vendors selling a variety of food/drinks:

  • El Jardin Restaurant
  • Garcia’s Fish Tacos
  • Mission Hill Creamery
  • Chocolate Restaurant
  • Sazon Mexicano
  • Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard
  • Discretion Brewing
  • Lagunitas Brewery

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Don’t miss Gourmet Grazing cancer research benefit with a wide array of food & wine

Attendees at a previous Gourmet Grazing on the Green

Attendees at a previous Gourmet Grazing on the Green

It’s time for the 11th annual Gourmet Grazing on the Green, where you can enjoy a large amount of first-rate food (from local restaurants and caterers)—plus beverages from local wineries, breweries, and distilleries—in a friendly and festive atmosphere. And you will be helping support the very worthwhile Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group (SCCBG).

Gourmet Grazing is Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014 from noon to 4 p.m. at Aptos Village Park.

The event usually sells out a few days ahead of time, so I recommend you buy tickets soon. This year organizers are allowing 1,200 tickets to be sold instead of 800, so it is possible that tickets won’t sell out as fast—but you never know! SCCBG Board member Mary Anne Carson commented: “Due to its popularity, we’ve expanded our space in order to bring in more food purveyors, restaurants and vintners, as well as more Grazers, this year. We look forward to another stellar event and raising even more funds for the benefit of our beneficiaries.”

Purchase $65 tickets at New Leaf Community Markets (downtown, Westside or Capitola locations) or online. If you have a group of 10, you can get tickets for $50 each. Admission includes food, wine, beer, a souvenir wineglass, and live music. The event is outdoors; last year it actually rained for a short while, but everyone just ran under the few sheltered spots and it stopped as quickly as it started.

New this year is a “big bottle silent auction,” courtesy of new festival partner Santa Cruz Mountain Winegrowers Association (SCMWA). There will also be a bottle booth operated by SCMWA, an alliance of more than 60 wineries promoting wine produced from the Santa Cruz Mountains Viticultural Appellation.

Some of the food creations that participants will taste have been created with products generously donated by event sponsors Coke Farm, Watsonville Coast Produce, and presenting sponsor New Leaf Community Markets.

Some of my favorite dishes from last year’s festival included Café Rio’s Rio Prawn Spring Roll (included mung bean noodles, sprouts, carrots, green onion, basil, and mint) and Johnny’s Harborside’s Gazpacho Seafood Cocktail (calamari, scallops, shrimp, garnished with baby romaine and a watermelon radish). For more 2013 highlights, see my recap article.

There are more than 25 participating restaurants, farms, and food vendors for 2014 including The Crow’s Nest, Shadowbrook, Café Cruz, Café Rio, The Whole Enchilada, Solaire Restaurant and Bar, Hula’s Island Grill, Santa Cruz Fish Co., Everett Family Farm, MacKenzie Bar & Grill, Friend in Cheeses Jam Co., Redwood Hill Farms, The Penny Ice Creamery, and The True Olive Connection.

More than 25 participating wineries, breweries and distilleries include Venus Spirits, Alfaro Family Vineyards and Winery, Beauregard Vineyards,  Burrell School Vineyards, Hunter Hill Vineyard & Winery, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, Seabright Brewery, Sones Cellars, Bonny Doon Vineyards, and Kathryn Kennedy Winery.

This year, Kathryn Kennedy Winery will pour wine including 2011 Kathryn Kennedy Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains, which sources say is “amazing.”

Proceeds from SCCBG’s events, including this year’s Gourmet Grazing, benefit these local cancer support and research organizations: Hospice of Santa Cruz County, Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Association, Katz Cancer Resource Center, UCSC Cancer Research, the Teen Kitchen Project, and WomenCARE Cancer Advocacy. Over the last decade, SCCBG has distributed more than $1.5 million to directly support the Santa Cruz community.

There will be a raffle, with ticket sales benefiting SCCBG. Prizes include jewelry, restaurant gift certificates, a wetsuit from O’Neill, and SCMWA Wine Passports.

More details:
There is free parking and free shuttle service from Cabrillo College Lot E.
For more information on the event, see www.sccbg.org or call (831) 465-1989

Aptos Village Park: 100 Aptos Creek Road, Aptos

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Pop-up dinner at Everett Family Farm in Soquel with chef Uncie Ro

Padrons stuffed with local cheese and pasture raised pork, accompanied by house made mozzarella & organic heirloom tomatoes

Padrons stuffed with local cheese and pasture raised pork, accompanied by house made mozzarella & organic heirloom tomatoes

It’s the third season of the Soquel Supper Club, a pop-up eatery at Everett Family Farm with food by chef Roland Konicke of Uncie Ro’s, and the next event is Sunday, Sept. 21. The goal of these dinners is to bring the local community together for a delicious meal that nourishes not only the participants, but also chefs, organic food producers, and small businesses.

Konicke really enjoys these events. “What I love most about supper club is that I can really showcase all the local ingredients from the area and prepare them right in front of everyone at the supper in our wood fired  oven,” he says. The oven method enables him to get very creative with the food.

A farm tour led by Rich Everett starts at 5:30 p.m. and a multi-course dinner begins at 6 p.m. – see menu below. Tickets are $75 (dinner only) or $100 (with wine pairings from Odonata Winery). Buy tickets online for the Sept. 21 event at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/725726.

During the 2014 season, there were dinners in June and August. After this September dinner, there will be one more in October.

For more information, call (831) 419-8191 or email roland@uncie-ros.com

Everett Family Farm, 2119 Old San Jose Road, Soquel

September 21 Menu

with roasted walnuts & pecorino

with Everett Family Farm tomatoes

with wood-oven baked beans & organic coleslaw


with mixed summer berries

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Santa Cruz’s Chaminade: food, wine, and beer events during September

A selection by Chef Kirsten from Chaminade’s July 2014 Farm to Table dinner, courtesy of Chaminade Facebook page

A selection by Chef Kirsten from Chaminade’s July 2014 Farm to Table dinner, courtesy of Chaminade Facebook page

Santa Cruz’s Chaminade Resort & Spa is offering several opportunities to feast and indulge during the month of September.

Saturday, Sept. 6: Beer, Brats & Blues
At the 2nd annual Beer, Brats & Blues, from 5-8 p.m., reps from local breweries including Discretion Brewing and Santa Cruz Aleworks will be pouring brews. The food will include sausages (such as kielbasa and bratwurst), a variety of housemade mustards, Farmhouse Culture sauerkraut, coleslaw, cucumber dill salad, warm pretzels, German potato salad, and apple strudel bites. Carie & the SoulShakers will provide live music.
Cost: $40 adults, $18 kids 6-12, free for kids under 6

Friday, Sept. 12: Farm to Table Wine Dinner Series
At this month’s Farm to Table Dinner, Route 1 Farms and Morgan Winery will be featured during a five-course meal. The annual series, which began in June and ends Oct. 10, showcases local wineries and local farms through dishes prepared by skilled Executive Chef Kirsten Ponza. Diners also get the chance to meet farmers and winemakers. Read about my memorable experience at the June Farm to Table Wine Dinner, which includes food details.

Want to make it a complete Chaminade experience and stay overnight? Visit this link; the hotel offers special packages with accommodations plus the Farm to Table dinner for two and breakfast for two.
Cost for dinner (no accommodations): $80, includes five-course dinner and endless wine, excludes tax and gratuity

All month long: California Wine Month
September is officially California Wine Month, and Chaminade is celebrating with three special offers.

  • The Grape Escape Package: Enjoy wine tasting at one of Chaminade’s preferred wineries, 10% savings on overnight accommodations, breakfast for two and waived corkage fee when you have dinner at Linwood’s Bar & Grill.
  • California Wine-down at The Spa at Chaminade: The Spa at Chaminade has packaged their 80-minute Aromatherapy Massage (your choice of aromatherapy blend) with an afternoon of tasting at one of Santa Cruz County’s premier vineyards. The package is available for the entire month of September for $189, which includes a 15% savings. For this package, call 831-465-3465 to schedule appointment—make sure to mention the special offer.
  • Price “Crushing” Bottles of Wine All September Long: Linwood’s Bar & Grill at the Chaminade, open 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. daily, serves a variety of California wines alongside their all-day-fare menu. Select bottles of wine will be half-off their normal price during the entire month of September.

Make reservations for any or all events (except the spa promotion, see separate number above) at 831-475-5600, and visit chaminade.com for more information.

Location: Chaminade Resort, One Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

LUNA bars: For back to school season and more

Lemon vanilla LUNA protein bar

Lemon vanilla LUNA protein bar

Since back to school season is here, folks are probably scrambling to search out after-school snacks for their kids. Of course, it never hurts to find snacks that can be eaten by both kids AND their parents (or, for that matter, by adults who don’t have any kids…).

LUNA bars meet these requirements, as long as the kids are about nine or older. The bars are formulated with adults in mind, and the web site points out that around ages 9-13 a person’s nutritional needs more closely match those of an adult. Parents can explore the CLIF Kid snack line for younger kids—which include a variety of snack bars and fruit snacks. Clif Bar & Company are the ones behind LUNA; they launched the bars in 1999.

LUNA bars were actually created with women in mind, but some men have ended up enjoying them, too. Most of the bars in general have about 10-11g of sugar, but due to the portion size and balance of carbohydrate, fat, protein, fiber, all the LUNA bars are considered low glycemic.

The two newest flavors in the LUNA protein bar line are Lemon Vanilla and Chocolate Coconut Almond, released at the beginning of 2014. They are both delicious. Lemon Vanilla is the first LUNA protein bar without a chocolate coating. All the protein bars gluten-free and contain 12 grams of protein.

Other flavors include White Chocolate Macadamia, Chocolate Dipped Coconut, and Peanut Honey Pretzel. These are in the core line, not the protein line.

Read more about LUNA bars at the web site, www.lunabar.com. The FAQs section, which includes information about ingredients and which flavors are vegan, can be found here www.lunabar.com/products/faqs/luna-bar.

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Back to School Bash at New Leaf Community Markets

New Leaf offers healthy ideas for school lunches

New Leaf offers healthy ideas for school lunches

It’s back to school season—which also means thinking about back to school lunches, snacks, etc. Living on the Central Coast we have lots of fresh food available, but providing lunches and/or snacks for your kids definitely takes planning. Luckily, New Leaf Community Markets in Santa Cruz and Capitola are hosting events to help.

Community members are invited to visit the Westside store Saturday, Aug. 16 from noon to 3 p.m. for the back to school bash, which will provide ideas for getting ready for the school year ahead. Attendees can sample hot products, enjoy an educational store tour and healthy lunch cooking demos, and participate in fun games and raffles. There will be live music too.

The store tour occurs at 2-3 p.m. It’s called “Lunch Box Heroes” and New Leaf staff will teach which foods are best for your kids (nutrient dense, etc.) to help keep them energized and focused all day long. Tastes of a few of the shop’s favorites will be offered; participants are urged to “bring the kids along to taste as we go!”

Samples from vendors will include

  • Earl’s Organics Fresh Fruit
  • Sambazon Acai Bowls
  • Betsy’s Bar Non
  • Creative Cultures Probiotic Drinks
  • Justin’s Peanut Butter
  • Honest Chips
  • Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies
  • SeaSnax

Cookbook Author Elizabeth Borelli will be in the classroom cooking up some healthy lunch options like Vegetable Nori Wraps and Sprouted Wheat Cookies.

From noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 17, there will be a similar Back to School Bash at the Capitola New Leaf. In addition to product samples and lunch demos, highlights include free kids’ haircuts and a fire truck.

For general information, see the New Leaf web site at newleaf.com.

For Westside events, visit http://www.eventbrite.com/o/new-leaf-community-markets-westside-2725205834.
For Capitola events, visit http://www.eventbrite.com/o/new-leaf-community-markets-capitola-4141133429 (note that as of press time, no events after July 2014 are listed on this page).

New Leaf Westside location: 1101 Fair Ave., Santa Cruz, 831-426-1306
New Leaf Capitola location: 1210 41st Ave., Capitola, 831-479-7987

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Limited tickets remain for California Beer Festival; learn about beer week events

A previous California Beer Festival

A previous California Beer Festival

The California Beer Festival, held in Aptos August 9-10, is nearly sold out. The 4th annual festival has expanded to two days— Saturday’s theme is “craft beer heaven” and Sunday it’s the “hamburger and hops music festival.” Also, it’s currently Santa Cruz Beer Week; see end of article for more details.

If you’re interested in attending the Aug. 9-10 festival, see the event website at www.californiabeerfestival/santacruz for details and tickets. You can purchase tickets online, or at Whole Foods Market in Santa Cruz and Capitola. Prices vary. There are tickets for $10 (Sunday general admission), $25 (Saturday designated driver, includes a meal), $45 (Saturday craft beer heaven) and $70 (VIP two-day pass).

Saturday hours: 12:30-5 p.m. Beer sampling: 1-4:30 p.m.
There will be more than 85 craft beers on tap, live music, food  from restaurants like Zameen, and bocce ball.  You must be 21 years of age or older to attend.

Sunday hours: 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Families are encouraged to attend, and kids 12 and under are free. You’re invited to bring blankets and chairs. There is no beer “sampling” on this second day. Food and beer will be offered for sale. Dishes include hamburgers, and gourmet & fusion sliders. Several tribute bands are providing live music. These include “Petty Theft” (San Francisco-based tribute to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) and “Foreverland” (14-Piece tribute to Michael Jackson).

Proceeds benefit the Gen Giammanco Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides financial support to student athletes to “assist in their pursuit of both scholastic and athletic success in Santa Cruz County.”

Location: Aptos Village Park
Parking: No parking at the park. Everyone parks at Cabrillo College (6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos) in garage lot “P” and takes a free shuttle to the festival.

Santa Cruz Beer Week is August 4-10. See santacruzcountybeerweek.com for several events including:

August 6, 3-6 p.m.: POPUP beer garden featuring a special lineup of Discretion beers, beer bites from Assembly, and music from Nick Gallant and Coffee Zombie Collective from 3 to 6pm.

August 6, 7pm: Prix fixe family style “beer hall” dinner, for $90 with food and beer pairings from Discretion Brewing and others. It’s a Southern-themed dinner by Executive Chef Carlo Espinas. Tickets for dinner are available in advance and might sell out, any available seats day of will be on a first come first served basis. The meal includes an assortment of pickles, homemade crackers with pimento cheese, El Salchichero pork rinds and beef jerky & corn fritters, three bean salad with marinated peppers, cherry tomatoes and avocado ranch, and blackened halibut with homemade andouille sausage, roasted eggplant & crispy grit cakes.

August 7, 3p.m. to close: Santa Cruz Beer Week celebration at Parish Pub with Uncommon Brewers and Santa Cruz Ale Works.

Summer specials at Aptos restaurant Au Midi

Paella from Aptos restaurant Au Midi

Paella from Aptos restaurant Au Midi

Aptos restaurant Au Midi started two summer promotions last month, one for Wednesday and one for Thursday, and it just added a third which will occur every Tuesday. Each one is a special dish for $19.50.

  • Tuesday they serve “Viva le Midi” with bouillabaisse
  • Wednesday it’s “Viva Espana” with paella
  • Thursday it’s  “Vive Paris” with canard a l’orange (duck a l’orange)

The dishes are served the entire evening, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. These promotions will last all summer.

I enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Au Midi in April, and I hope to go back soon for one of these specials — hard to decide which one. During my dinner, the service was gracious, the atmosphere comfortable and the food delicious. One standout was a beet and goat cheese mousse salad, and I notice it’s still on the current menu (I know some dishes rotate with the seasons). Also highly recommended: the French apple pie served with gingerbread ice cream.

Husband and wife Michel and Muriel Loubiere are a great team. He is fabulous with customers, and she is a talented chef.

Au Midi is also a participant in the “Date Night Santa Cruz” program.  If you’re unfamiliar with this offer, it works like this: customers buy a $50 package that includes dinner and a movie for two. The tickets can be redeemed any Monday through Thursday evening, except holidays and special events. When you purchase the  Date Night product, you select which restaurant you are buying a ticket for (they are mostly in Santa Cruz, plus a couple in Aptos including Au Midi). You can decide later which movie theater you’re going to of the three in the “Nick Family.” Each restaurant gives customers a certain value to spend on dinner. For more information, see the Nick’s Date Night web site http://www.thenick.com/Date-Night-Santa-Cruz.html.
Au Midi is at 7960 Soquel Drive. Call 831-685-2600 or visit http://www.aumidi.com for reservations or details.

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