Category Archives: Health/Nutrition

A Visit to Gold Ridge Organic Farms

Asian pear apples grown at Gold Ridge Farms. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)
Asian pear apples grown at Gold Ridge Farms. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

Farmer Brooke Hazen knows every tree planted on his 88 acres in the rolling hills of Sebastopol. Not in the “Hi! How are you?” kind of way, he jokes. But in the truest sense of nurtured familiarity, having planted each and every one of them with the help of only one assistant.

He started his Gold Ridge Organic Farms in 2001 to create an edible wonderland. He’s more than succeeded, growing 13,000 olive trees of Spanish, Italian and French cultivars; 12,000 apple trees of 75 different varieties, including rare heirlooms; and a smattering of citrus, including Blood Oranges and Mandarin-Kumquats. All are grown organically, too.

You may very well know his apples already from his branded bags of Heirloom Apple Blend that are sold at Northern California Whole Foods. These treasure bags can contain such unusual antique varieties as Pitmaster Pineapple that actually tastes like pineapple, and Strawberry Parfait that — yes — tastes like strawberry. Indeed, Gold Ridge is one of the largest heirloom apple growers in California.

Farmer Brooke Hazen. (Photo by Dawn Heumann)
Farmer Brooke Hazen. (Photo by Dawn Heumann)

This month, you can get the opportunity to visit this wonderful farm for the first time.

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The Superfood Cookie

Vegan and gluten-free Superfood Cookies in two sizes.
Vegan and gluten-free Superfood Cookies in two sizes.

Putting the words, “cookie” and “superfood,” together may seem like an oxymoron, if there ever was one.

But San Francisco’s Love + Chew has created a cookie with far more nutrition than most.

The company was started in 2018 by former tech employee Lauren Chew, a long-time vegetarian/vegan, who started baking gluten-free cookies when her step-mom adopted a completely plant-based diet.

Chew’s Superfood Cookie is certified vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO, with most of its ingredients sourced from California.

As a carnivore with an admitted sweet tooth, I’ve admittedly not always been a fan of vegan cookies that I’ve tried in the past. The texture of most has just been too unpleasantly gummy.

But The Superfood Cookie samples I received were a pleasant surprise. They’re not going to satisfy in the same way that a full-on, decadent, butter-laden chocolate-chunk cookie might. But for a sweet pick-me-up with fiber and protein, they hit the spot.

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Pasta That Does A Body — And Planet — Good

A Japanese-influenced cacio e pepe made with a new high-fiber, nutty tasting artisanal dried pasta.
A Japanese-influenced cacio e pepe made with a new high-fiber, nutty tasting artisanal dried pasta.

Pasta has gotten such an unjust bum rap of late.

Too many carbs. Full of gluten. Way too caloric.

Yet few foods are as craveable, comforting, and lusty.

So, go ahead and indulge, especially when it comes to Semolina Artisanal Pasta Upcycled Strozzapreti, a dried pasta that purports to be good not only for your body, but the planet.

That’s because this pasta was made in partnership with ReGrained, the innovative Bay Area company upcycles or reuses spent grain from beer-making and turns it into nutritious new products such as energy bars and snack crisps. ReGrained’s resulting SuperGrain+ — made of barley, wheat, and rye — has more than three times the fiber of wheat flour, and twice the protein of oats.

Leah Ferrazzani of the Semolina Artisanal Pasta company in Pasadena, whose pasta products are beloved by Southern California chefs, took that SuperGrain+ and combined it with her usual semolina to create strozzapreti, the striking elongated, twisted noodle shape. But it took a few fits and tries to get it just right.

The pasta has a suede-like hue and a singular shape.
The pasta has a suede-like hue and a singular shape.

“We had to find the right ratio of semolina to SuperGrain+, and extrusion speed, to help maintain texture and shape, and to keep a balanced flavor,” Ferrazzani told me in an email. “The resulting pasta packs a punch — the flavor of the SuperGrain+ isn’t subtle — but it’s something truly unique and special.”

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Join Yours Truly At Holiday reFresh 2021

Mark your calendar for 4 p.m. Nov. 7, when I’ll be one of the moderators for this year’s virtual Holiday reFresh, which brings together a stellar roster of Bay Area chefs for conversations and cooking demos centered on plant-based celebratory dishes for the upcoming holidays.

This free event, which is open to the public, is brought to you by Acterra, a Palo Alto non-profit dedicated to supporting a healthy planet.

Sharing moderating duties with me will be the Bay Area’s Liren Baker of the popular Kitchen Confidante blog and podcast.

Join us as we host an incredible line-up of chefs, including:

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A “Spam” Musubi That’s Vegan

A musubi that's not quite what you think it is.
A musubi that’s not quite what you think it is.

It looks exactly like everyone’s guilty-pleasure Hawaiian snack food.

Only this musubi is vegan.

Indeed, this one spotlights a new plant-based version of Spam.

To the growing list of faux “beef,” “chicken,” and other proteins now comes OmniPork.

Designed to mimic pork, it’s made from a blend of non-GMO soy, peas, shiitake mushrooms, and rice. It was developed in Canada by food scientists for Hong Kong-based food innovation company, Green Monday, which owns OmniFoods.

It’s available in three forms — OmniPork Ground, Strips, and Luncheon, each for $5.99 per package. All three can be found in the freezer cases of Sprouts; while the Strips and Ground are carried by select Whole Foods.

When I received samples of all three, I went straight for the Luncheon first, curious to see how it would compare to the familiar stuff in a can. The verdict? Quite impressively.

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