Category Archives: Recipes

Upcoming New Leaf classes include making sushi

Learn how to make sushi at New Leaf
Photo credit: New Leaf Community Markets

New Leaf Community Markets in Santa Cruz has several upcoming events, including classes on making sushi, learning about Japanese fermented foods, and identifying what foods cause inflammation. Here are some highlights; these are all at the Westside Santa Cruz location at 1101 Fair Ave. (831-426-1306).


Preregistration is required—even for free classes—at


Mondays, January 22-February 12, 1-2 p.m.

Boosting Behavior Change 4-Part Series

The free, four-part interactive workshop series, led by licensed psychologist and wellness coach Kimberly Smith-Martinez, will support those wishing to modify their eating habits for goals such as improving health, building muscle or losing weight. The approach presented can also be applied to make lasting changes to other behaviors. Participants will learn about the science behind journaling and how this can support behavior change. By the end of the sessions, participants will “track mind, mouth and muscle” and be prepared to pursue their goals. The classes are on Mondays through Feb. 12.


Wednesday, January 24, 6-8 p.m.

Intro to Sushi Making: Part 2

In this hands-on class you’ll make maki rolls (from “maku” which means to wrap or roll), using nori on the outside, brown rice as a base, and other fresh ingredients including salmon and tuna. Attendance in Part 1 not necessary. With Sushi Chef Carlos Mayorga. Cost: $35


Thursday, January 25, 6-7:30 p.m.

Traditional Japanese Fermented Foods Series, Class # 1: Amazake

Make amazake (means sweet sake)—a traditional Japanese sweet, nutritious, non-alcoholic drink made with cooked rice or cooked oatmeal and rice Koji. Enjoy as a dessert, snack or natural sweetening agent. Taste different amazake recipes. With Masumi Diaz and Eriko Yokoyama. Two other classes will be offered: Feb 8 and Feb 22. Cost: $35


Wednesday, January 31, 6-7 p.m.

How to Read Nutrition Facts and Labels

Join Dr. Danette Sutton and learn how to read and understand food labels and start making healthier choices. Since the FDA announced a new label for packaged foods last year to reflect new scientific information, we will discuss the link between diet and chronic diseases.

Cost: $5


Wednesdays, Feb 7-Feb 28, 6-8 p.m.

Anti-Inflammatory Integrative Wellness Series, $56 for drop-in (only a couple of these remain) or $225 for all four classes

You may have heard than inflammation is the root cause of all disease, but did you know that what you eat has a profound effect on feeding or fighting the issue? In this 4-week series, Anti-Inflammatory Chef Magali Brecke and Holistic Nutritionist Madia Jamgochian will lead you through the basics of eliminating inflammation through diet and lifestyle. You will learn how to heal Leaky Gut, reverse autoimmune conditions, and get back on track to vibrant health. The four-class series breaks down as follows:

  • February 7: Intro to Inflammation, Leaky Gut, & Autoimmunity. In this two and a half hour class, Magali and Madia will provide a presentation on how inflammation affects the body, including what foods cause the biggest inflammatory response. Cooking demonstration & meal included.
  • February 14: Elimination Diets: There are quite a few anti-inflammatory diets out there these days. This class will go over how to choose the right elimination diet, and what’s in a name. We will cover the Autoimmune Protocol, (AIP) Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) Wahls Protocol, Traditional Foods, and the Paleo diet to help you decide which one is the most realistic and beneficial fit for you. Cooking demonstration & meal included.
  • February 21: Meal Planning for Success! To complete a successful elimination diet, preparation is key. Magali & Madia will go over meal planning a week at a time, demonstrating batch cooking techniques that will make throwing together dinner easy! Cooking demonstration & meal included.
  • February 28: Hands on Cooking. In our last class together, classmates participate in creating an anti-inflammatory recipe from scratch. We will discuss techniques, resources, and do a series review plus Q &A on what you have learned from the class. Full meal included.

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A Cuisinart Christmas: Gift ideas for chefs, bakers, coffee lovers and more

Cuisinart released this automatic cold brew coffee maker in March 2017—a great gift for coffee lovers
Photo credit: Cuisinart

If you have last-minute holiday shopping left to do and you have chefs or bakers on your list—or even just people that appreciate good coffee or an excellent toaster!—here are a few gift ideas from Cuisinart. The items cover a range of budgets, too. Some of the products are brand-new, while others are tried and true. Retailers that carry some of these selections include Target, Kohl’s and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Cuisinart has a new automatic cold brew coffee maker that was released in March, which makes cold brew coffee in far less time than manual coffeemakers. Using “unique spin technology,” Cuisinart promises coffee in as little as 25 minutes in a choice of three flavor strengths. Coffee can be refrigerated in the seven-cup glass carafe for up to two weeks. Retail price is $99.95. The recipe section of Cuisinart’s site includes one for “Creamy Cold Brew Coconut Coffee.”

Another new item—also just released in March—is a Cuisinart “PrepExpress” spiralizer. It’s actually described as a 3-in-1 slicer, shredder AND spiralizer, and can make eating healthier much easier. Uses include wide ribbons or crinkle-cut spirals of fresh zucchini and apples, thin or wide butternut squash or beet ‘spaghetti,’ cucumber slices for salads, and thick or thin shreds of veggies for snacks or fajita fillings. Retail price is $69.95.

I have a stainless steel four-slice Cuisinart toaster at home that I highly recommend. I never imagined how much I’d appreciate having the ability to toast three or four bread slices or frozen waffles at once instead of just two. It sure makes the mornings easier when my husband and I are trying to have a quick breakfast and get ourselves to work and our daughter to school on time! Plus, this toaster has customizable settings for each two-slice section (including food type, like waffle/bread/bagel/English muffin, and a shade scale ranging from 1-7). You can do toast on a darker setting on one side, and a waffle to a medium golden brown on the other.

If you’re looking for baking gifts, Cuisinart has several fun products including a non-stick, dishwasher-safe “Mini Bakeware” line with selections ranging from $5.95-$10.95. I like the mini heart pans (set of 4, $9.95), and Pinterest has a lot of recipes using this type of pan. There are also traditional baking pans like an “easy-grip” non-stick 17-inch baking sheet ($23.95) with silicone grip handles or a non-stick 24-cup mini muffin pan ($15.95).

If you want to browse all of the company’s recipes for inspiration around the holidays or any time of year, here’s the site.

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New Leaf’s December classes include raw holiday desserts, sushi, healthy holidays

Learn how to make Chai Pecan Pie & other raw holiday desserts Dec. 13 at New Leaf
Photo credit: Beth Love

New Leaf Community Markets in Santa Cruz has several events this month, including ones to make “healthy holiday eating” easier. Here are some highlights; these are all at the Westside Santa Cruz location at 1101 Fair Ave. (831-426-1306). There is also a holiday macaron class on Dec. 20 but it’s already sold out – if you’re interested in that topic, try to sign up early next year!

Preregistration is required—even for the free class—at


Tuesday, December 12
Healthy Holidays: Special Diets
, 1-2 p.m.
If you get stressed about what to eat or how to stick to your diet during the holidays, help is here! Gain ideas for managing your gluten-free, dairy-free or anti-inflammatory diet stress-free! Enjoy tastes of featured recipes. With Certified Nutrition Consultant Madia Jamgochian. Free.

Wednesday, December 13
Raw Holiday Desserts
, 6–8:30 p.m.
In this hands-on class, attendees will create four different delicious, healthy, plant-based desserts that everyone can enjoy without guilt! Make Raw Beet Treasure Cake, Apricot Walnut Chews with Cardamom, Chai Pecan Pie and Persimmon Cashew Sorbet. “Mature children” welcome to attend with adult. With Chef Beth Love, author of Tastes Like Love cookbook series. $45.

Thursday, December 14
Intro to Sushi Making
, 6–8 p.m.
Join Sushi Chef Carlos Mayorga and learn how to properly assemble your own rolls from scratch and discover your own style! Learn technique, tradition, prep and how to plate your finished masterpieces. Come hungry. $25.


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Christmas 2016 at Whole Foods Market on the Central Coast

Assorted cheese from Whole Foods Market Credit: Whole Foods Market

Assorted cheese from Whole Foods Market
Credit: Whole Foods Market

Whether you need to shop for a holiday feast or check some folks off your gift list, Whole Foods Market locations in Capitola, Santa Cruz and Monterey have lots to choose from—including the always-dependable gift card idea (ones for the market itself or for other retailers).

Customers need to place orders for holiday dinners two days ahead of their desired pick up date. Food is available for pickup Dec. 18-24, and then again on Dec. 26 (WFM is closed on Christmas Day). Order in person or online.

For gifts, WFM has several selections where part of your purchase goes to a worthy cause. For example, they partnered with PBS Kids to carry the company’s toys and help raise money. I’ve seen some of the Aurora Plush Animals in the store (pandas, penguins, foxes and more) and they definitely look cuddle-able! Some of the animals are endangered species. There are also some colorful and fun PBS Kids toys made with a composite featuring rubber wood from mature trees that no longer produce latex. All net proceeds benefit PBS Kids’ mission of “building knowledge, critical thinking, imagination and curiosity to empower children for success.”

Other “gifts with a cause” include ones where part of proceeds goes to Whole Planet Foundation to help alleviate poverty worldwide. These include Alaffia trios (coconut oil triple-milled bar soap or whipped body butter); one percent benefits WPF. Or if you buy west elm kitchen products made from upcycled denim—such as potholders—a dollar from each purchase goes to WPF. In addition, they have gift cards for sale where one percent benefits the Whole Kids Foundation (which aims to support schools and inspire families to improve children’s nutrition and wellness). These include Chipotle and Best Buy physical gift cards, and Starbucks digital cards.

There are room sprays and handmade soy wax candles from Thistle Farms; scents include lavender & lemon (Gratitude) and Geranium & Citrus (Hope). Thistle Farms is a community, sanctuary and social enterprise led by women survivors of trafficking, addiction and prostitution. It provides housing, recovery support and education. Each spray or candle purchase directly benefits the women who made it.

WFM wine experts have compiled a list of “10 favorite wines for the holiday season.” Available online, each wine has several suggested food pairings plus a recipe for an additional food pairing. Two examples: Andover Estate Pinot Noir goes well with items like Sartori Herbs des Provence BellaVitano cheese or roasted winter vegetables, or with the dish “Easy Porchetta Pork Tenderloin” (recipe included). Autoritas Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with Vermont Creamery Coupole cheese, poached white-fleshed fish, or “Bay Scallop Linguine with White Wine and Parsley” (recipe included).

There are lots of other enticing articles on the WFM blog, including ones with recipes like “holiday cakes worth celebrating” (includes mini chocolate ricotta cakes and cinnamon-almond olive oil cake) and “holiday appetizers” (how about sweet potato bacon bites, spinach bites with honey mustard, or pigs in a blanket with cranberry-mustard dipping sauce? Ok now I’m hungry!).

For holiday appetizers, if you’re a cheese fan, WFM just announced a big “12 Days of Cheese” sale. From Dec. 13-24, a different artisan cheese is on sale for FIFTY PERCENT OFF each day! Some highlights with notes from the market’s cheese experts:

Vermont Creamery, Bonne Bouche (Dec. 15)

  • This mild ash-ripened goat cheese with earthy notes and a subtle hazelnut flavor is a visually stunning addition to any cheese board.

Uplands Cheese Company, Pheasant Ridge Reserve (Dec. 17)

  • The only three-time winner of the American Cheese Society Best of Show, this cheese has a sweet, broth-like flavor with notes of butterscotch and fruit.

Cypress Grove Chevre, Truffle Tremor (Dec. 19)

  • A silky, creamy soft-ripened goat cheese packed with truffles. Deep floral, herb and mushroom flavors. An American original!

Rapin, Le Maréchal (Dec. 20)

  • This creamy, raw-milk Alpine cheese is infused with flavor from herbs added by hand during the ripening process.

Papillon, Roquefort (Dec. 21)

  • This classic cave-aged sheep’s milk blue cheese shows rich spiciness, complex layers of flavor and a smooth texture.

Vermont Creamery, St. Albans (Dec. 23)

  • An American take on a traditional French cheese, sourced from milk from one farm. Delicate and smooth with rich creamy flavors and nutty notes.  Non-GMO Project verified.

As I mentioned in my Thanksgiving article, WFM’s 2016 holiday food shopping guide  features selections such as traditional turkey dinner for eight ($99.99). This comes with a fully cooked 10-lb. oven-roasted Diestel turkey, four pounds each of herb stuffing and mashed potatoes, a quart of turkey gravy, a pint of cranberry relish, 16 dinner rolls, and a nine-inch traditional pumpkin pie. You can also order turkeys (cooked or uncooked) and ready-to-eat sides a la carte.

Local Store Details

Whole Foods Market Santa Cruz is located at 911 Soquel Ave. Call (831) 426-9901 for more information.

Whole Foods Market Capitola is located at 1710 41st Ave. Call (831) 464-2900 for more information.

Whole Foods Market Monterey is at 800 Del Monte Center, (831) 333-1600.


For more Whole Foods Market locations, see the store locator.

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Alpine cheese night Tuesday Sept. 13 at Whole Foods Market

Gruyere is one of the Alpine-style cheeses featured at Cheese Night Sept. 13 Credit: Whole Foods Market

Gruyere is one of the Alpine-style cheeses featured at Cheese Night Sept. 13
Credit: Whole Foods Market

Attention cheese lovers: there is a cheese night from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13 at Whole Foods Market stores across the country; this includes the local Santa Cruz and Capitola stores as well as locations in the South Bay and San Francisco Bay.

Customers are invited to visit for free samples, and each store will have an expert or Certified Cheese Professional available to talk about characteristics and flavor profiles of Alpine-style cheeses and answer questions. They will have cooking tips, too.

A market spokesperson shared that Alpine-style cheeses melt better than any other cheese and are great for cooking, and that in general, these cheeses are nutty and salty with flavors of hay and/or caramel. Most pair well with white wines like viognier, reisling, or pinot grigio. Some of the cheeses at the Sept. 13 event include:


  • Kaltbach Le Gruyère: Made in Switzerland, this cheese is matured for 12 to 16 months and is washed regularly with brine. Flavors are complex, ranging from caramel, nuts, notes of mushroom, hay and fruit, and crunchy, salty granules add an extra boost of flavor.
  • Emmentaler: This famous cheese – the Swiss with the holes – has been in production for 400 years in the valley of the Emme. It has a buttery, delicate and nutty taste.
  • Le Marchel: Handmade in the mountains of Vaud by Jean-Michael Rapin and his sons since 1992, La Marchel has the distinctive aroma of hay, and herbs impart a very rustic and savory flavor.
  • Pavino: Exclusive to Whole Foods Market, this Alpine-style cheese is made in Wisconsin but stands up to any made in the Alps. It is nutty, fruity, and robust with a sweet milky finish, and is also sprinkled with crunchy salt crystals.
  • Kalthbach Alpine Extra: Aged in caves located on the edge of the Wauwiler Moos area in the canton of Lucerne, Switzerland, this award-winning, raw-milk, semi-hard cheese offers a tangy aroma and complex flavor.


Joe Kaulbach, who oversees the cheese program for Whole Foods Market Northern California and Reno, explains the origin of this popular style: “Imagine, hundreds of years ago: small families are scattered across the rural Alps. One family has four cows; another has eight, another has 20. The cows are all roaming in the mountains; the families all need their cows milked and need to make cheese. So, traditionally the men went up into the mountains, built a hut, lit a fire from surrounding firewood, and put a copper cauldron on it. They would make ‘cooked pressed cheese,’ which was a new style of cheese in the 13th century: they’d cook the curds, press them into a form, and make wheels. At the end of the summer–and this still happens today–the cheese makers come down from the mountains with their cheese and their cows in a gorgeous pageant called the Transhumance. Then, they send the cheese to market. This is what provides their living for the year.”


Here are some related recipes that Whole Foods Market is highlighting for this event:

Swiss Family Sandwich

Turkey, Tomato, and Emmentaler Breakfast Sandwiches

Pizza with Le Gruyère and Prosciutto

Classic Le Gruyère Fondue

Celery Root and Potato Gratin

Butternut Frittata with Sage and Gruyère

San Francisco WFM locations are teaming up with Sur La Table to invite customers to cook with Alpine-style cheeses. The companies are giving away a Le Creuset fondue set and Breville panini press via the @wholefoodsmarketsf Instagram account. Users can follow the channel and tag a friend on relevant posts to enter to win.

Local Store Details

  • Whole Foods Market Santa Cruz is at 911 Soquel Ave. Call (831) 426-9901 for more information.
  • Whole Foods Market Capitola is at 1710 41st Ave. Call (831) 464-2900 for more information.


For more Whole Foods Market locations, see the store locator.

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Vegetarian dishes perfect for the season, including Annie’s pumpkin mac & cheese

Pumpkin mac & cheese – recipe courtesy of Annie’s

Pumpkin mac & cheese – recipe courtesy of Annie’s

As we move through fall and approach the winter, many of us crave soups and other comforting dishes. Of course, homemade soup is hard to beat, but sometimes pulling one together can be tough for busy parents or those who don’t own a crockpot. In September, Annie’s released a delicious new line of organic soups. Three of the five are vegetarian: tomato, creamy carrot & bunny pasta, and creamy tomato & bunny pasta. The carrot one has a nice sweetness and provides a lot of vitamin A, so it made my daughter and me happy. See end of article for a few more details on the soups.

I’m not vegetarian myself, but I know more and more individuals who are. I tried out a seasonal recipe from Annie’s recipe web site for pumpkin mac & cheese, and decided to make a vegetarian version by skipping the bacon-bit garnish (see my result in photo above). It didn’t taste like anything was missing; I’ll definitely be making this savory dish, which includes chard and apple, again. Because I had it on hand, I also substituted Annie’s organic vegan shells for the “shells with real aged cheddar” that the recipe called for. If you are vegan and want a quick recipe, Annie’s has one for spicy vegan bacon mac and cheese.

When searching for a few more vegetarian fall recipes, I discovered that Lundberg Family Farms has lots of options. I haven’t made these yet, but I look forward to creating kale and rice rolls and brown jasmine rice with pecans and orange honey glazed tofu, which is actually vegan. You can sort their recipes by vegan and/or vegetarian and/or course type (like appetizer), too. They also have recipes that feature their new American-grown organic tri-color blend quinoa, and their sprouted risotto. If you haven’t tried these yet you’re in for a treat. The sprouted risotto made with organic whole grain brown Arborio rice comes in three varieties including cheddar/pepper and sweet corn/bell pepper. They are good on their own, but it’s also fun to use a product you already like as an ingredient for a new recipe.

If you do have time to make some vegetarian soup from scratch, let me recommend a couple cookbooks I became familiar with when doing research for a Santa Cruz Sentinel article; they were both published in 2013. Mollie Katzen’s “The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation” includes recipes such as Black-Eyed Pea, Squash, and Shiitake Stew and Yellow Split Pea Dal (the latter is perfect for beginning cooks). Before this book, Katzen was already famous for writing “Moosewood Cookbook” among others; The New York Times and Amazon both named “The Heart of the Plate” a best book of the year.

“Bountiful: Recipes Inspired by Our Garden” by Diane Cu and Todd Porter includes Hearty Celery Root and Red Lentil Soup. If you’re not vegetarian, the Curried Kabocha Squash and Chicken Stew recipe is one that I’ve made and loved—it’s an easy recipe with only a few ingredients. Foodies out there might already know Cu and Porter through their food/travel/photography, blog

More on Annie’s soups: Both tomato varieties offer a half-cup of vegetables per serving, while the chicken-based soups use only organic chicken and broth with no antibiotics added. All varieties are made with NO artificial flavors, synthetic colors, preservatives or high fructose corn syrup.

More on Lundberg: All of their products use organic rice and/or quinoa.

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Thanksgiving selections at Whole Foods Market in Capitola and Santa Cruz

Whole Foods Market's many Thanksgiving options include cooked turkeys

Whole Foods Market’s many Thanksgiving options include cooked turkeys

As usual, the Santa Cruz and Capitola branches of Whole Foods Market have stocked up on lots of delicious Thanksgiving options. You can place your Thanksgiving orders in person or online — but remember the deadline for both is Tuesday, Nov. 24. Here is the 2015 holiday menu.

Whole Foods Market’s selections include prepared meals such as turkey dinner for two, four, or eight people. Choices include regular, organic, smoked, or lemon herb turkey. Other dinners include 72-hour sous vide short ribs, and spiral-cut hams. You can also order cooked (or uncooked) turkeys a la carte, and sides a la carte. A few side dish highlights are sage sausage sourdough stuffing, broccoli cheddar gratin and sweet potato mash. Serving a vegetarian Thanksgiving and want to do your own cooking? Check out Whole Foods Market’s online menu, complete with recipes.

If you’re in charge of bringing appetizers to your Turkey Day feast, they have many appealing party trays to choose from.  A classic antipasto platter features ingredients like prosciutto, salami, and marinated olives, artichokes and mushrooms; other platter options include vegetable-stuffed mushrooms. For something less traditional, there are selections like pumpkin-almond wontons (vegan) and Sriracha chicken wontons. Of course, top-quality cheese always serves as a dependable appetizer, accompanied by your favorite cracker or perhaps olive or walnut bread, and Whole Foods has hundreds of selections ranging from cow-milk to goat, sheep, and buffalo. In fact, any given location has anywhere from 250 to 1,000 varieties that come from all over the world—many of these are organic, too. One of my favorites is Red Hawk, a triple cream variety from Cowgirl Creamery. Each market has a cheese expert who can help guide you.

Let’s not forget about dessert. The bakery team at each Whole Foods Market makes pies from scratch, on site. Varieties include pumpkin (traditional or vegan), brown butter walnut, and apple cranberry. I had the traditional pumpkin one last year, and loved it.

The Capitola and Santa Cruz locations will both be open the day before Thanksgiving, Wed. Nov. 25, from 7 am–10 pm, and Thanksgiving Day from 7 am – 2 pm. Whole Foods Market Capitola is located at 1710 41st Ave. Call (831) 464-2900 for more information. Whole Foods Market Santa Cruz is located at 911 Soquel Ave. Call (831) 426-9901 for more information.

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New Leaf in Westside Santa Cruz dishes up breakfast cooking class

Examples of breakfast dishes created by Madia Jamgochian (Attendees of the April 24 class may learn variations of some of these selections)

Examples of breakfast dishes created by Madia Jamgochian (Attendees of the April 24 class may learn variations of some of these selections)

Interested in learning techniques for creating a delicious breakfast? Chef Madia Jamgochian is teaching “Intro to Cooking-Breakfast!” at New Leaf Community Markets in Westside Santa Cruz.

The class is from 5 -7:30 p.m. Friday, April 24, and the cost is $40 per person or $70 for 2. Preregistration is required and space is limited; contact New Leaf at 426-1306 or visit

The hands-on class is beginner-friendly and gluten-free. Attendees will receive recipes and learn breakfast basics like how to make an omelet. The course description also mentions learning how to cook sweet potato hash, and participants can enjoy a full meal at the end of class if they “don’t mind eating breakfast for dinner.”

Instructor Jamgochian, a certified nutrition consultant who advises clients through her business “My Healing Habits,” also serves as Community Education Coordinator at New Leaf’s Westside location. Jamgochian is excited to teach on this topic. “I learned to cook when I was about 10, and it is something that has proved both valuable, and fun over the years. Cooking for yourself and others creates an important connection to the food we eat.”

Jamgochian has taught many cooking classes at New Leaf but this is her first intro-level class. She talks about her food philosophy on her blog “The name My Healing Habits was chosen to emphasize the fact that it is not always the foods we eat, but the habits we form around eating: where we choose to shop, how we prepare a meal, the ingredients we use, our state of mind, the location, and the time we take. These are all important factors in the grand scheme of reaching Optimal Health.”

Learn about all of New Leaf’s upcoming classes and activities, including “Go Foods for Fitness” on Earth Day, April 22 (taught by Sandi Rechenmacher), at

Contact information: New Leaf Westside branch, 1101 Fair Ave, Santa Cruz, (831) 426-1306

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Celebrate National Peanut Month with sweet recipes

Celebrate National Peanut Month by baking Peanut Butter & Banana Crescents

Celebrate National Peanut Month by baking Peanut Butter & Banana Crescents

One way to celebrate National Peanut Month during March: bake up a treat that includes peanut butter! Of course, there are lots and lots of recipes out there. There are some on the National Peanut Board web site, including a link to a fancy dessert recipe via Bon Appetit: peanut dacquoise with peanut butter mousse. With elements like meringue, be prepared to spend some time and effort.

For those who want a fast, easy recipe, here is a quick one that calls for only five ingredients.  This dish is from the Pillsbury web site. Some of the bakers who tried the recipe shared comments. These include the fact it makes a good after-school snack, it’s easy to do variations, and it also works for any “Elvis-themed” parties since the famous singer reportedly loved peanut butter and  banana sandwiches.


1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated crescent dinner rolls OR 1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury® Crescent Recipe Creations® refrigerated seamless dough sheet

½ cup creamy peanut butter
1 medium banana, sliced (1 cup)
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon roasted salted sunflower nuts or sesame seeds

1. Separate or cut dough into 4 long rectangles (if using crescent rolls, press perforations to seal). Cut each rectangle in half; press into 3 1/2-inch squares.
Spoon peanut butter in center of each square; top with 2-3 banana slices. Fold dough over filling; press edges with fork to seal. Brush with egg; sprinkle with sunflower nuts.
Bake at 375°F 12 to 16 minutes.

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Heart-healthy fish at Whole Foods Market for Valentine’s Day and beyond

whole foods paiche

Pan-Seared Paiche with Spicy Avocado Sauce and Greens, made with Whole Foods Market recipe. Photo courtesy of WFM

Whole Foods Market has started carrying a new fish called paiche, which is a whitefish from the Amazon. After trying a complimentary sample, I wanted to pass along some information about paiche (pronounced “pie-chay”). I also have a recipe to share plus an opportunity for one of you to win a Whole Foods Market gift card (see end of article for contest details).

And in case you were wondering, it’s not merely Valentine’s season: February is National Heart Month, so it’s good to think about eating heart-healthy foods like fish!

As stated in a December 2013 New York Times “Front Burner” article, paiche is a freshwater fish with a “mild, sweet flavor and a meaty, dense texture that is suitable for sautéing, roasting and grilling; it also holds up well in stews.” The article warns that although the fish is threatened by overfishing and deforestation, it’s being sustainably raised in ponds in Peru monitored by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. It is being filleted, shipped frozen from Peru, and thawed at Whole Foods Market.

WFM is the only national retailer that’s currently carrying paiche, and it’s priced at $14.99/lb. This paiche is raised without antibiotics, pesticides or added hormones. It has an optimal ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, plus 20 grams of protein in every 3.5-ounce serving. It has a lower fat content than some similar whitefish like Chilean seabass—as I soon discovered, the decreased fat correlates to decreased flavor.

I got my paiche at the market with complimentary seasoning added to my filet (whenever you buy seafood at WFM, you can ask for seasoning at no extra cost). I chose a lemon-herb combination; in the future I would try something with more kick like a Cajun seasoning blend—that was available at the market too—or fresh garlic and other strong herbs. The fish was subtly flavored after my husband grilled it; it’s one of those products that takes on the flavor of what you add to it. The texture was pleasing, very steak-like. A bonus of the mild flavor? My 2 ½ year old daughter loved it! It actually made her open to trying seafood in general whereas she had previously been a bit hesitant; last night she was willing to taste freshly grilled salmon and asked for more.

Another advantage to a mild-tasting fish is that you can use it as a conduit for a sauce or ingredient that you want to be the star of your dish. I bet the paiche is perfect for this Pan-Seared Paiche with Spicy Avocado Sauce and Greens recipe provided by WFM, which includes jalapeno (see photo).

Want the chance to win a gift card so you can buy paiche and/or other ingredients at WFM? Keep reading!

Prize: A $50 gift card to Whole Foods Market.
To enter, email your name to and include the words “Whole Foods seafood.” Deadline to enter is Fri. Feb. 14, 2014 at 9 p.m.
This contest is open to readers of Tara Fatemi Walker’s and sites. Employees of are not eligible for this promotion.

On Twitter? Please follow me @santacruzfoodie.