Tag Archives: Organic

Thanksgiving, Hanukkah at Whole Foods Market in Santa Cruz & Capitola

Whole Foods Market’s favorite local wine and cheese pairings for the holidays. Courtesy of WFM.

Thanksgiving is almost here, and after that Hanukkah is right around the corner! Whole Foods Market locations in Capitola (1710 41st Ave.) and Santa Cruz (911 Soquel Ave.) have many Thanksgiving selections and several Hanukkah items, and they graciously gave me a gift card so that I could try a few out.

You can place orders in person or online. Thanksgiving pick up dates are through Nov. 23; Hanukkah pick up is Nov. 30-Dec. 9 and selections include wine-braised brisket dinner for eight, and potato latkes with applesauce. Thanksgiving choices at WFM (see a holiday showcase here) include a classic roast turkey dinner for eight (with optional organic turkey upgrade) with a fully-cooked bird, herb stuffing and mashed potatoes turkey gravy, cranberry orange sauce, and green beans with crispy garlic and parsley; spiral-sliced ham; vegan entrees and sides; traditional holiday sides; and desserts. Prime members get a special deal: through Nov. 22, they get organic whole turkeys for $2.99/lb. and whole turkeys for $1.99/lb.

 

Something new and intriguing is a vegan holiday meal WFM has created in partnership with award-winning chef Jeremy Fox, author of the “On Vegetables” cookbook. The meal includes Romanesco Cauliflower Roast with Miso Bagna Cauda, Cremini Mushroom Stuffing with Kimchi, and Roasted Acorn Squash with Maple and Hazelnut Dukkah. You can also order these selections a la carte.

 

WFM is also offering a special seasonal pie from Lisa Ludwinski, founder of Detroit’s Sister Pie and author of “Sister Pie: The Recipes & Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit.” The Cranberry Crumble Pie, Ludwinski’s personal favorite for the season, features an all-butter crust, a sweet cranberry compote filling with juicy whole cranberries, grated pear and warm spices, and an oat crumble topping.

Other Santa Cruz and Capitola store highlights that are perfect for the holidays:

  • Seafood: Fresh, Whole Dungeness Crab
    • Crab season is a Bay Area holiday tradition. Pick up at least three sweet and rich whole crab, and save $1 per pound. WFM’s team of local fishmongers will crack and clean free of charge.
  • Specialty Wine and Cheese: Favorite local wine and cheese pairings this season selected by WFM
    • Bay Blue cheese, a mellow blue made in Point Reyes, paired with Sean Thackery Pleides red blend, a “red berry, tangy crowd pleaser”
    • Carmody cheese paired with Jay Vineyards J California Pinot Noir, a “highly drinkable, soft rich wine”
    • Crisp Roederer Estates Anderson Valley Brut paired with Mt. Tam organic cheese, because the wine “goes lovely with soft, ripened cheeses”
  • Local, Organic Eggnog including:
    • Straus Family Creamery, an organic eggnog finished with nutmeg
    • Clover Sonoma Organic Maple Bourbon Eggnog, a non-alcoholic classic
  • Special holiday dishes by Chef Trent of WFM
    • Creations include Ginger Cinnamon Spice Duck or Turkey breast, and Spiced Prime Rib
    • “Pick up your cut at the meat counter, pop into the oven and you are ready to serve your guests,” shared a WFM spokesperson.
  • Humphry Slocombe’s Coconut Shoyu Ice Creamnew and available for a limited time
    • Top your favorite seasonal pie with a scoop of this ice cream, the fourth exclusive collaboration available exclusively at Whole Foods Market
    • Created by San Francisco-based Humphry Slocombe and Chef Melissa King in partnership with WFM—they made their first collaborative flavor, Hong Kong Milk Tea, in 2017
  • Northern California’s Tsar Nicolai caviar
    • Tsar Nicolai sustainably raises and produces top of the line caviar in Wilton, CA.
    • This year, WFM is partnering with the brand for an exclusive trio bundle deal, available in the Seafood dept.

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 located 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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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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Thanksgiving 2016 at Whole Foods Market on the Central Coast

A few Thanksgiving side dishes from Whole Foods Market Credit: Whole Foods Market

A few Thanksgiving side dishes from Whole Foods Market
Credit: Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market locations in Capitola, Santa Cruz and Monterey have a wide array of Thanksgiving selections. You can place your Thanksgiving dinner orders in person or online http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/online-ordering — and if you order by Tuesday, Nov. 22, you get a $10 credit to use on a future in-store purchase of $75 or more (valid from Nov. 27 through Dec. 31).

Another promotion WFM is currently offering is if a customer buys a fresh or frozen organic turkey from the meat department, they receive a few free items from the “365” product line: a free 365 stuffing, free 365 broth and two 365 canned vegetables.

WFM has an online 2016 holiday guide. Selections include the always-popular traditional turkey dinner for eight for $99.99. It contains 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. For the same dinner for eight with an organic turkey, the cost is $159.99. When customers pick up these dinners, products are cold but they are packaged in reheatable containers (WFM recommends allowing up to three hours for reheating turkeys).

Other prepared meals include spiral-cut ham dinner for eight ($129.99) that includes green beans with roasted shallots, sweet potato mash and more. I bought some sweet potato mash yesterday from the Capitola location’s hot bar and enjoyed it last night with my dinner; it went well with a roasted ready-to-eat chicken plus kale from my Live Earth Farm CSA that I cooked with olive oil and garlic. I’ll definitely be buying more sweet potato mash this season.

You can also order turkeys a la carte (cooked or uncooked), and ready-to-eat sides a la carte—in addition to the aforementioned sweet potato mash, stuffing, green beans with roasted shallots, and mashed potatoes, there are dishes like cauliflower potato puree with crème fraiche, broccoli cheddar gratin, sweet cornbread pudding, roasted butternut squash salad and vegan spicy pumpkin soup.

Want to cook your own Thanksgiving dinner, or are you tasked with bringing a dish or two to a friend or family member’s house? The store has lots of great ingredients, including made-in-house sausage that’s perfect for stuffing. If you’re hosting a feast at your house, WFM also stocks many party-friendly options including an exquisite variety of cheeses—actually each shop has between 250 and 1,000 varieties! One example, new this year at WFM, is an exclusive porcini flavored Herve Mons Camembert. If you want to pre-order appetizer platters, choices include a 3-pound fruit/cheese tray ($39.99); the cheeses are Point Reyes Blue Cheese, Saint Andre Triple Cream Brie and Chevre.

For dessert, pie choices include pumpkin, caramel apple, pecan and strawberry rhubarb. The latter is vegan and gluten-free, from the company Natural Decadence. Other selections include pumpkin vanilla roulade cake.

Local Store Details

 

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

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Event Watsonville hosts enticing evening with local entrepreneurs, food and beer

Katie Raquel from fresh, organic juice business Katie's Coldpress is part of Event Watsonville’s Entrepreneurs Taking their Businesses to New Heights

Katie Raquel from Katie’s Coldpress is part of Event Watsonville’s Entrepreneurs Taking their Businesses to New Heights

Event Watsonville presents “Entrepreneurs Taking their Businesses to New Heights” at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 24, and there will be a few food/drink/farm-related speakers in the mix plus delicious food and drink for sale. Representatives from different local businesses will talk about how they started their business and what drives them to do what they do.

 

This is the second “Event Watsonville” evening; the first was in February. Matthew Swinnerton, who founded the popular Event Santa Cruz series a few years ago, decided to expand to South County to showcase even more of our local community.

 

“I am super excited to come back to Watsonville,” says Swinnerton. “It’s been far too long since we did the last one back in February and I definitely won’t let that happen again. I love the energy and excitement coming out of the Watsonville entrepreneur community. Events like this really show that off.”

 

As always, the evening begins with time to mingle and buy food and beverages starting at 6 p.m. Selections for sale will include tacos from My Mom’s Mole and beer from Elkhorn Slough Brewing Co. In addition, food samples will be available from a variety of area vendors.

 

The setting is Specialized Helicopters in Watsonville. There will also be helicopter rides available for purchase.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online.

Speakers begin at about 7, after the hour of mingling is over. Katie Raquel from fresh, organic juice business Katie’s Coldpress says she is participating as a presenter because she has found these types of events to be “a huge source of inspiration. It’s a total joy hearing from other entrepreneurs and connecting deeper with the community.”

Katie’s Coldpress is family-owned and operated. “We infuse every part of the business with love and attention,” shares Raquel. “I started KCP two years ago out of a desire to make the highest quality raw juice more accessible to people with busy lives—all of us, right?!—and to make products that are truly delicious, with a focus on excellent and personal customer service.” Her business is committed to staying 100% plant-based, and it’s in the process of being CCOF certified organic, after two years of being certified organic through the state of California.

Jessica Ridgeway from Farm Discovery at Live Earth is also a speaker. She’s excited to speak about the farm-based nonprofit she co-founded a few years ago, which works to empower youth and families to build and sustain healthy food, farming, social and natural systems. Farm Discovery offers “educational programs that inspire youth and families to transform their relationship to food, farming and nature.” She adds, “We steward our working farm and its wild spaces as an environmentally and economically viable piece of the food system and a learning space.”

She says it’s a perfect time to share the vision and programs with community members who may not be aware of the nonprofit. “Farm Discovery is reaching a new level or organizational maturity,” says Ridgeway. “We are in a place where we now have the capacity to actively create new partnerships in our local community. Participating in events like this helps Farm Discovery to build important relationships with other local businesses, individuals, and organizations in order to transform personal and community health and improve our impact on earth by building and sustaining collaborative agricultural, ecological and social systems.”

Other participants, in alphabetical order:

 

Details

Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016: 6 p.m. doors open/food & drinks begin, 7 p.m. speakers begin

Cost: $10

Location: Specialized Helicopters, 150 Aviation Way, Watsonville

 

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August cooking classes at New Leaf Community Markets in Westside Santa Cruz

Learn about gluten-free baking with apples at a New Leaf cooking class Photo credit: New Leaf

Learn about gluten-free baking with apples at a New Leaf cooking class
Photo credit: New Leaf

New Leaf Community Markets has a lot of interesting cooking classes coming up this month. In addition, they have a few “tasting events” and nutrition/education lectures; some of these are free. Here are a few highlights; these are all at the Westside Santa Cruz location at 1101 Fair Ave. (831-426-1306).

Preregistration is required at newleaf.com/events.

 

Tuesday, August 16: All About Apple Gluten-Free Baking
Learn how to utilize gluten-free grains and flours in delicious, gluten-free apple recipes. Nutrition Consultant Stephanie Horning will also teach you how specific ingredients support your health.

Time & Cost: 6–8:30pm, $35 per person/$60 for two.

Thursday, August 18: Summer Pies and Galettes
Nutrition Consultant Madia Jamgochian will teach students how to assemble a pie crust from scratch and create delicious pies and galettes. Teams of 3 will prepare three different fillings: peach, rhubarb and blackberry.

Time & Cost: 6pm–8:30pm, $35 per person/$60 for two.

Monday, August 22: Mushrooms for Mind, Body and Heart
Discover which mushrooms improve immunity, lung function, brain function, athletic performance, the nervous and cardiovascular systems, and the whole body, with Host Defense National Science Educator Gina Rivers Contla.
Time & Cost: 6:30pm–7:30pm, Free (pre-registration required).

Thursday, August 25: California Wine and Food Pairing
WSET-Certified Kristen Valenza will share how to properly pair different California varietals with local and seasonal farm-fresh cuisine. The class will include several wine and food pairings.

Time & Cost: 6–8pm, $40 per person/$70 for two.

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Love Mondays at Discretion Brewing: drink beer to benefit many causes

Beer at Discretion Brewing in Soquel

Beer at Discretion Brewing in Soquel

Discretion Brewing in Soquel hosts Love Mondays, where drinking beer equals money for local nonprofits. How it works: On selected Mondays, for the entire time the taproom is open (11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.), twenty percent of beer sales are donated to a variety of organizations that have applied for this privilege. This coming Monday, with Farm Discovery at Live Earth as the beneficiary, there is a twist: Discretion Brewing will still donate 20% of beer sales to Farm Discovery AND The Kitchen at Discretion will donate 20% of sales from two unique dishes made with Live Earth Farm produce: salad with smoked potatoes and baby carrots, radishes, Little Gem lettuce and Meyer lemon honey vinaigrette ($10); and Thai basil ice cream with macerated Albion strawberries and broken oatmeal cookies ($8).

Funds raised at Love Monday will help Farm Discovery provide ongoing opportunities for youth to visit Live Earth Farm to learn about organic farming, local food systems, and nutrition. Through Farm Discovery’s programs, local youth—including underserved ones—build confidence in learning to be active caretakers of themselves, their community and their environment.

Family-owned Discretion is committed to producing high-quality handcrafted organic beer. They serve food from The Kitchen at Discretion which chef Santos Majano creates to be shared and paired with the beers. Majano was executive chef at Soif for many years before becoming chef/owner at The Kitchen a couple years ago.

There won’t be a Love Monday on July 4 due to Independence Day (the taproom is open, but for limited hours – 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.). But Discretion is having a big party to celebrate the holiday a couple days early: Saturday, July 2 there is an outdoor BBQ, live music and an IPA release.

Here are the beneficiaries for Love Mondays in July; each gets 20% of beer sales that day (this excludes growlers, bottles, & kegs):

July 11: Haven of Hope, which helps young women including foster youth aged 12 to 21
July 18: Young at Heart (with music, Young at Heart has entertained over 100,000 seniors since 1985 00 in senior and day care centers and skilled nursing, convalescent, memory disorder, Alzheimer’s, and residential community facilities throughout Santa Clara, Monterey, San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties)
July 25: PAMF Santa Cruz 

Location: 2703 41st Ave., Soquel (831) 316-0662

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A few April classes—and class discount—at New Leaf Community Markets

Learn how to make superfood energy balls at a New Leaf cooking class

Learn how to make superfood energy balls at a New Leaf cooking class

New Leaf Community Markets has announced a bunch of classes for April and May, and it’s offering a discount: 10% off any class that costs more than $20 (except series). To receive the discount, use promo code SPRING10. The organic, community market urges readers who are amateur chefs to sign up today and “Unleash your kitchenthusiasm” (New Leaf’s theme for April). Another reason to be enthusiastic at New Leaf? The sustainably farm-raised Mt. Cook Alpine Salmon is $3 off during April. Verified by FishWise as a “Best Choice,” this fish is free of hormones and antibiotics and raised in the pristine waters of New Zealand.

Below are a few cooking class highlights for April; these are all at the Westside location at 1101 Fair Ave. (831-426-1306). ALSO: Another interesting event – not a cooking class – is an opportunity to learn about reducing your impact on the environment. On Friday, April 15 at 7pm, for only $5 (no discount for this one), people can attend “Zero Waste Lifestyle: Reduce Your Eco Footprint.” New Leaf’s Eva Pollard, founder of “thekindplanet.com,” will explain how and why she lives a zero-waste life by not creating trash or using plastic. Eva will show how everyone can reduce their trash footprint and teach about the benefits of a zero-waste lifestyle. Attendees are encouraged to “bring an open mind and heart, as well as your own cup.”
Preregistration http://newleaf.com/events/ is required.

Spring Dips & Dressings – April 13
Nutrition consultant and chef Madia Jamgochian teaches this class. If you love eating fresh salads, but sometimes lack the inspiration for making a tasty dressing, New Leaf encourages you to attend this class. Learn how to prepare yourself for the week by whipping up several different types of healthy salad dressings and dips that will “keep you reaching for the veggies.” Each attendee will get to take home recipes and a small jar of dressing made in class. Preregistration is required.
Cost is $25 or $40 for 2 before discount. Wednesday, April 13, 6-8 p.m.

Pickling Workshop – April 16
Home Chef Lisa Bono leads this hands-on workshop. Attendees will learn how to make classic pickles and pickle other kinds of veggies using vinegar, sugar and spice. The class will cover pickling and food preserving basics: equipment, technique, ingredients, storage, and recipes. You’ll leave class with a few jars of your own creations and the knowledge to start pickling at home. No experience necessary. Preregistration is required.
Cost is $25 before discount. Saturday, April 16, 2:30-4pm.

Superfood Energy Balls – April 20
Goji berries, lecithin, bee pollen, lacuma and chocolate are all nutrient-dense superfoods. Join the Westside New Leaf’s Wellness Specialist Sundari Lauren in this hands-on cooking class. Using nuts, fiber, good carbs, protein and healthy fats as a base, participants will create a variety of flavor packed treats and take home a box of their final products. Learn new recipes and experiment with making your own unique favorite. Preregistration is required.
Cost is $25 or $40 for two before discount. Wednesday, April 20, 6-7:30pm.

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New Leaf Community Markets’ upcoming classes & Aptos expansion

Artist’s rendering of Aptos Village green and New Leaf Community Markets store

Artist’s rendering of Aptos Village green and New Leaf Community Markets store

New Leaf Community Markets has news to share: it’s adding a location in Aptos, and it has a variety of appealing cooking classes this month including vegetarian and gluten-free options.

First, the expansion. The 17,500 square-foot store, expected to open by August 2017,  will be in the Aptos Village Project (Soquel Drive and Trout Gulch Rd.). The store will be New Leaf’s eighth, including six in Santa Cruz County, one in Half Moon Bay and one in Pleasanton. New Leaf plans to feature outdoor patio seating plus a large freshly prepared foods department with new, made-to-order options such as a wok and ramen bar. Like other New Leaf locations, there will be freshly-made juices and smoothies, local and organic produce, natural meats, sustainable seafood and local handcrafted products.

The store will be housed in the relocated, historic Hihn Apple Barn and serve as the anchor for the Aptos Village Project, which contains approximately 65,000 square feet of leasable commercial space and 69 homes (mostly townhouses and condominiums).

Interested in classes? There are lots to choose from this month across the county; here is a sampling of what the Westside location (1101 Fair Ave., 831-426-1306) is offering.

Global plant-based cooking class
Chef and cookbook author Lauren Hoover-West will lead a four-week hands-on cooking class, “Cooking Around the World,” on Wednesday nights March 9th-30th. All recipes will be plant-based and gluten-free; they include enchilada pie with spiralized carrots, walnut taco “meat,” paleo bread, crockpot veggie lasagna, and carrot muffins. Each class includes a full meal. Topics will include how to spiralize veggies and fruit, fermenting (coconut yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha and nut cheeses), veggie and bone broth making, and slow cooker and pressure cooker recipes and techniques. Preregistration is required. The series costs $219 until March 7, then $249. Wednesday classes are 6:30-9 p.m.

Homemade Pie Workshop
Celebrate National Pi Day by assembling sensational seasonal pies from scratch with nutrition consultant Madia Jamgochian. Teams of three will prepare winter/spring favorite pies that are gluten-free—lemon meringue, strawberry cream and apple marzipan—and then enjoy them. Monday, March 14, 6-8:30pm. Preregistration is required. Cost is $35 or $30 each for two.

Gluten-Free Italian Favorites
Join chef Amy Fothergil for a hands-on cooking class Tuesday, March 29, and learn how to make gluten-free Italian classics from scratch: pasta, chicken parmesan, focaccia and a special surprise Italian dessert. Class includes full meal and recipes to take home. Time: 6-8:30pm. Cost is $40 or $35 each for two. Preregistration is required.

Free Spring Bunny Photo Booth
In honor of Easter, customers are urged to “hop on over and snap a picture of your little loved ones with our furry friend.” There are two options: New Leaf can take a pic using their camera, and then send people a link to access it online (parents must sign a release, and New Leaf can use photo for promotional purposes) and/or people can take photos using their own cameras.
Friday, March 25, Noon-3pm, New Leaf, 1101 Fair Ave, Santa Cruz
Saturday, March 26, Noon-3pm, New Leaf, 1210 41st Ave, Capitola
Sunday, March 27, Noon-3pm, 1134 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz

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12 Days of Christmas Giveaway Day 1: Pure Heart chocolate from Santa Cruz

Pure Heart truffles, from top to bottom: Bittersweet Triple Chocolate, Rose Cardamom (not available currently), & Verve Espresso. Photo credit: Warren Jones

Pure Heart truffles, from top to bottom: Bittersweet Triple Chocolate, Rose Cardamom (not available currently), & Verve Espresso. Photo credit: Warren Jones

Becky Potter started Pure Heart Chocolate in 2015 in Santa Cruz, and she is the first participant in the Santa Cruz Restaurant Examiner/Santa Cruz Foodie’s “12 Days of Christmas Giveaway.” That’s right: today is Day One of TWELVE DAYS of food-related giveaways! You can win a great prize. Keep reading for how to enter.

Pure Heart is organic, artisan, raw chocolate that is very tasty. It’s dairy, gluten, and preservative free. There are three truffle varieties: Bittersweet Triple Chocolate, Verve Espresso and Lemon Ginger. Any of these would make great holiday gifts.

Potter sources her cacao and other ingredients from farmers who use sustainable methods. “I’ve been making raw vegan chocolate truffles for the past 5 or so years, perfecting my craft over time, using the kitchen as my creative outlet to make chocolate that is not only more delicious than the mega-produced, waxy, cloyingly sweet variety I could find on store shelves, but more sustainable, too,” she says. “By leaving out the dairy, the processed sugars, and the hard-to-pronounce preservatives, I found that what I was left with was cacao in its purest form–raw, unadulterated, and incredibly delicious.” Pure Heart doesn’t have its own brick and mortar retail location where they sell chocolates, but you can find them at New Leaf Markets in Santa Cruz—in the bakery cases—and you can buy them online. At New Leaf truffles are sold individually for $3.25. They are at the westside, downtown, and Capitola stores.

Potter says that one convenient way people can get holiday pre-orders in before the (fast approaching) Dec 19th deadline is to print the holiday order form off her website, fill it out in its entirety, then take a picture with their iphone and text it to her at 530-400-3811. She can confirm with customers that she received the text, and have orders ready for pick up on Dec. 21 in the evening or Dec. 22 in the morning at Extra Kitchen (commercial kitchen at 254 Potrero St. across from the Sash Mill).

She also wants to remind potential customers not to put a truffle in a stocking like a typical “stuffer.” Because the truffles are raw and need to stay refrigerated, a good alternative is to put a note in the stocking to check the refrigerator for truffles (and perhaps even champagne…). That should make the gift recipient quite happy!
****
NOW FOR THE CONTEST:
One lucky reader will win a box of Pure Heart truffles worth $18. The winner needs to be able to pick up the chocolates from the aforementioned Extra Kitchen at a time to be arranged with Becky Potter.

To enter, email your name to tfatemi@gmail.com by Mon. Dec. 14 at 10 p.m. and include the words “pure heart.” The drawing will take place the next morning and the winner will be notified via email. Employees of Examiner.com are not eligible for the promotion.

Good luck and happy holidays!
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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 WhiteonRiceCouple.com.

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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