Category Archives: New Products

Test-Driving (And Cooking) Sun Basket

I made this for dinner from a Sun Basket cooking kit.

I made this for dinner from a Sun Basket cooking kit.


There are enough meal delivery start-ups these days to make your head spin and your stomach growl over just which are worth ordering — if any.

When I was invited to try out a free delivery by San Francisco’s Sun Basket, I was swayed to do so by a couple of factors.

First, the recipes for the cooking kits were developed by Justine Kelly, former executive chef at The Slanted Door in San Francisco. Second, the quality of ingredients is impressive. The kits include organic, seasonal ingredients from highly regarded purveyors such as Dirty Girl, Far West Funghi, Water 2 Table, and Marin Sun.

Sun Basket was founded by Adam Zbar, a serial entrepreneur who found himself 50 pounds overweight from binging on burgers and pizza like so many young techies. That led him to develop meal kits that would make it easier for busy people to cook nutritious dinners at home.

All you do is go on the site a week ahead of time to order your weekly delivery, which consists of three different meals that you choose from Sun Basket’s menu. Each recipe is designed to take about 30 minutes to prepare, and has 500 to 800 calories per serving. There are also gluten-free, paleo and vegetarian options. Each meal is $9.99 per person.

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Farm Hill: A Meal Delivery Service Targeting the South Bay

The Classic Chicken entree from Farm Hill.

The Classic Chicken entree from Farm Hill.


Every time I turn around these days, a new startup is popping up to deliver either cooking kits or prepared meals to your home or office.

Almost all of them, though, zero in on San Francisco first, before spreading to other parts of the Bay Area.

Not so with Farm Hill.

The founders, Marc Manara and Mark Wittman, who got the idea for the business while students at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, started the service first in the South Bay. They wisely deduced that in urban centers like San Francisco, it’s fairly easy to walk out the door to find a tasty lunch close by. But in more suburban areas, going for lunch often means getting in the car to drive a few miles for sustenance.

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Nutty for Zena’s Sass Sauces

Shrimp with Zena's Sass Sassy Almond-Sesame Sauce.

Shrimp with Zena’s Sass Sassy Almond-Sesame Sauce.


These sauces definitely have sass.

So does their creator.

Zena’s Sass are nut-based artisan sauces made in Santa Cruz that are vegan, gluten-free and low-glycemic.

They’re made by Zena Krakowsky, who ran her own restaurant, C.B. White’s, and bakery, Zena’s Bakery-Cafe & Catering, both in Truckee.

Even after selling those businesses, fans of her almond-sesame and peanut-sesame sauces continued to clamor for them, even bringing their own empty salad dressing bottles to her door, hoping to get them filled.

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Oatmeal Tête–À–Tête

Oatmeal for dinner -- a comfort dish even naysayers will love.

Oatmeal for dinner — a comfort dish even naysayers will love.


A typical day at my house:

(Rip, rustle, rustle, as I open a package that arrived in the mail, this one containing sample tins of Flahavan’s Irish Steel Cut Oatmeal.)

Me to my husband: “Oh, look, it’s oatmeal! You like oatmeal, right?”

My husband: (Snorts, shrugs.) “Eh, yeah.”

After all, he eats it for breakfast at least a couple times a week. But of course, I’m in the mood to do something different with it.

Me: “Guess what I’m going to do! I’m going to make savory oatmeal for dinner with it!”

My husband: “WHY?!?!?

Me: “You cook it like risotto. That sounds really good, doesn’t it?”

My husband: (Makes a face, shrugs, looks at me cross-eyed.) “If you must…”

Yup, that response is typical, too, whenever I want to cook up something a little different from the norm. But at least he’s a good sport about it, right? Well, sort of.

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A Tasty Visit to Planet Rice

Planet Rice Quinoa & Sprouted Rice Power Blend, raw on plate, and cooked in the bowl.

Planet Rice Quinoa & Sprouted Rice Power Blend, raw on plate, and cooked in the bowl.


Being Chinese-American, I grew up on white rice. And nothing but.

Black, brown, red and even bamboo-green rices were non-existent in my parents’ kitchen.

That’s why these other types intrigue me so much now. So when I had a chance to try samples of Planet Rice’s sprouted rices, I happily did so.

What is sprouted rice? Just what it sounds like: rice that has been soaked in water until the grains sprout ever so slightly.

The result is a softer texture. Not only that, but studies have shown that the sprouting increases the amount of fiber, B vitamins, and magnesium, as well as Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, an amino acid that can help lower anxiety and blood pressure, and afford deeper sleep and improved cardiovascular functions.

Who wouldn’t want more of that, right?

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