In Local News…
It’s all about us!
The Richmond Standard is talking about The Natural Grocery Company, our origins and evolution. Check out the article.
Women’s History Month: Granola Guru
Quality locally sourced ingredients
We love what they do!
Women’s History Month: Cult Crackers
Meet Cult Crackers, a women-owned and women-powered Bay Area company, makers of delicious small-batch organic crackers. Cult Crackers co-founders, Dianna and Birgitta, are local moms who met while volunteering at their daughters’ school in Berkeley. They became good friends and business partners when they launched their artisan cracker company. The two women are passionate about what they do, making a good-for-you snack that people love. Their biggest fans are their teenage daughters who also help out at their family-run small business. Cult Crackers, in their colorful red and blue recyclable bags, are a customer favorite.
Their totally addicting crackers are filled with good-for-you organic ingredients and packed with flavor and crunch. They bake their crackers at the Berkeley Kitchens, a wonderful community of small food producers in Berkeley, California.
They want you to enjoy their crackers knowing they’re made with your health and our planet in mind. From the very beginning they decided if they were going to do this, they were going to do it right, using their business as a force for good. They are commited to using only the highest-quality organic ingredients they can find, are certified organic, mix and bake every batch of crackers by hand, package in sustainable packaging, pay their employees a living wage, and do things with care and intention.
They love what they do, and that Cult Crackers nourish people in so many different ways.
We love what they do too!
Thank You Cult Crackers
Staff Pick – Violife
STAFF PICK – VIOLIFE by Kristy, Housewares Buyer
“Many people know this about me; I am … was a cheese junky. Cheese on pasta, cheese on sandwiches, cheese on crackers… you get the idea. Then one day my world changed, and I could no longer digest lactose or casein (milk sugar and protein). Oh, no! Now what?
I tried all kinds of alternatives, none of which satisfied me in the same way as “real” cheese, and none of them tasted too great either. I soon gave up, and while brushing a small tear from my eye, realized that my cheese-eating days were over.
Luckily, my despair was short-lived, as it appeared one day, at El Cerrito Natural Grocery – Violife! I couldn’t believe it! Finally, an alternative cheese that tasted like the real thing! No soy, no gluten, no funky aftertaste! This is a non-GMO plant-based cheese that has the same feel and consistency as “real” cheese, and the flavors are spot on. I put it to the test and ate it plain – fantastic! I melted it on a burger – beautiful!
If you’re vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, lactose intolerant, or if you just want to cut down on cholesterol, this may be a good choice for you. I could go on about how great these products are, but really, I think that it’s best that you try it yourself.”
Broccoli and Quinoa Salad
Broccoli and Quinoa Salad (adapted from Bon Appétit Magazine)
Good make-ahead side dish or vegetarian entrée.
Serves 6 as a side or 2-3 as an entree.
1/2 cup Alter Eco dried white or red quinoa, rinsed (ON SALE)
2 small or one large head of broccoli, stalk end trimmed (about 1 pound)
6 pitted dates, chopped
3 scallions (green onions), thinly sliced
4 ounces (about 1 cup) Rumiano sharp cheddar cheese, cut into ¼-inch cubes (ON SALE)
1/3 cup diced roasted almonds
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons or more fresh lemon juice
Salt—for boiling the quinoa and to season the dish
Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add 1/2 cup of quinoa and return to a rolling boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook at a lively simmer, uncovered, 12-15 minutes. Taste quinoa to make sure it’s tender. Once tender, drain quinoa in a fine mesh strainer, shaking off as much excess water as possible. Dump the drained quinoa back into the saucepan and cover saucepan, placing two layers of paper towels underneath the lid.
Shave off thin layers of the broccoli florets with a knife, rotating the stalk, until you reach the thicker stems. Trim stems off the stalk and peel the stalk with a vegetable peeler until you reach the tender, light green interior. Chop stalk into ¼-inch cubes and add to the bowl.
Add the dates, scallions, cheese, almonds, and quinoa. Add several generous pinches of salt and the red pepper flakes and toss to combine. Add olive oil and lemon juice and toss again. Cover salad with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface of the salad. Let sit at least 30 minutes before serving (or transfer to an airtight container and chill for up to 3 days). Toss again, taste, and re-season with additional salt, red pepper flakes, and/or lemon juice if needed before serving.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Burroughs Family Farms
Burroughs Family Farms – Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
We recently started selling Burroughs Family Farms organic, non-GMO, cold-pressed extra-virgin organic olive oil [aka EVOO]. This exemplary family-owned farm, situated in the Sierra foothills below Yosemite, is one of our favorite regional producers. We already source quality pastured eggs, organic cheese, and almonds from their property. The Burroughs Family Olive Oil is a blend of Arbeqina, Arbosana and Gretchenina olives (originally from Spain). The oil has a pleasant fruitiness with hints of grassy undertones. It is very versatile and may be used in sauces, salad dressings, as a topping to bread and for low heat cooking.
Here is what Burroughs Family Farms says about their oil:
Our olives are first cold-pressed at temperatures that do not exceed 80 degrees F. This protects the polyphenols, antioxidants, and vitamins that give the oil its nutritional value and its aroma and flavor.
Why extra-virgin olive oil?
- EVOO is known to contain stronger concentrations of phytonutrients (especially polyphenols) that have well-known anti-inflammatory properties
- EVOO supports blood vessels not only by providing antioxidants like vitamin E and beta-carotene, but also also providing unique molecules like HT that actually work at a genetic level to help the cellular walls of the blood vessels remain strong.
- Cholesterol lowering and blood pressure lowering benefits of monounsaturated oil (olive oil contains 75%)
High quality extra virgin olive oil has a smoke point of around 405ºF (191ºC), making it ideal for lower temperature cooking such as light sautés and non-cooked uses such as dressing salads and dipping bread. Such uses protect the nutritional value and beneficial qualities of the oil.
Why California Olive Oil?
As with wine, it has taken years for people to discover that some of the world’s finest olive oils are produced in California. Our family owned and operated farms rest on the rolling hills near Yosemite National Park, where the combination of the moderate Mediterranean climate with good soils and water grows some of the world’s finest quality olives.
Buying California olive oils vs. imports supports our farm economy, and California olive oils have a lower carbon-footprint because their shipping distance is much shorter than that of imports.
Conservation on our farms
Ours is not the easiest way to grow olives, but we think it’s best for our land and for our family who lives and works here. From organic production to state-of-the-art irrigation systems, we do whatever we can to protect air, soil, and water from herbicides, pesticides, petrochemical nitrogen fertilizers, and genetically-modified organisms. All that, plus our hedgerows of native plants support the health of native species and bees who have the most important job – the pollination of the olive flowers.
We do it for the future of our farms. For you, it’s deliciousness and more.
Burroughs Family Olive Oil is certified annually by the California Olive Oil Council (COOC). Year after year it’s labeled “extra-virgin” by the council. To get the seal the oil is lab tested and undergoes a critical analysis by an expert panel. The trained sensory panel (think of these people as the sommeliers of olive oil) ensure that the oil is free of defects in flavor or odor. In the U.S., many oils are labeled “extra-virgin” but do not undergo any such testing.
Kohlrabi – Snack Attack
If you are anything like me and you love crunchy, crispy, salty snacks, I invite you to try this delicious (and simple) recipe using kohlrabi!
Kohlrabi is one of the most underrated and forgotten vegetables in our winter produce line up. It is a cultivar of cabbage and is part root, part leafy greens. The root part can be eaten raw (think slaw) or cooked. The greens can be used as you would kale, collards or other winter greens. With so much versatility, it’s a wonder this root doesn’t get more love. Perhaps the recipe below will help to change all that!
Savory Kohlrabi Crisps
- 3 bulbs of kohlrabi (select those with unblemished leaves and bulbs that are not cracked)
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- Salt (to taste)
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees
- Peel the kohlrabi, taking off a significant portion of the outer layer. You want to remove the layer that looks fibrous as this will not soften and will remain stringy and unpleasant to eat. The inner core is where you will find the sweet “meat” of the plant. Save greens for another use.
- Once peeled, cut the bulb into ½ inch round lices to resemble chips.
- Toss the sliced kohlrabi in a bowl with 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 tsp of salt.
- Once coated (and glistening), place one layer of the kohlrabi on a sheet tray lined with a non-stick sheet (like this Silpat sheet) or coat the bottom of your sheet tray with cooking oil. Tip: the Silpat is less likely to stick to the veggie chips.
- Mix the kohlrabi around and rotate the tray every 15 to 20 minutes in order to cook each piece evenly.
- The total cooking time will range between 30 minutes and one hour depending on your oven and the size of your kohlrabi slices.
- The end result should be golden, chip-like crisps.
- Once they are cooked, remove them from the oven, slide them off the hot tray and onto a plate with paper towel (or cloth) to soak up some of the oil and cool. Toss with salt (to taste) immediately so that it soaks in while the crisps are hot.
If you end up baking these at home, please feel free to share your results with us on Instagram @naturalgroceryco
Little Trees – A.K.A. Broccoli
In our house, we refer to broccoli florets as “little trees.” We’ve done this since our son was starting to eat solid foods. He LOVES broccoli and other green vegetables to this day (now he’s five)!
With winter in full gear, broccoli becomes one of our winter staples. It’s in the brassica family (along with other cabbage) and is hearty enough to withstand the chilly winter weather.
The word broccoli has Italian origins and stems (pun intended) from the word “broccolo” which means cabbage sprout or flowering crest of the cabbage. The word broccolo is rooted (another pun!) in the Latin broccus which means “projecting.”
Now that we have the etymology covered, here’s one of our favorite ways to prepare our “little trees”:
Steamed Broccoli with Pistachio-Orange Dipping Sauce
Prepare the Broccoli:
Cut 2 heads of broccoli into bite sized pieces. Steam or blanch until just tender. Set your timer for 5 minutes then test a piece with a fork, or knife point. When cooking the broccoli, remember to lightly salt the water, and that the broccoli will continue to cook with residual heat once you remove them from the steam or water, so you want them to be almost ready when you remove them to cool.
Prepare the Pistachio & Orange Sauce:
- 2 Valencia oranges
- 2 cups roasted, salted pistachios (shelled)
- 1 tbsp. Champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
- 1 small clove of garlic
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. water
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Juice the oranges.
- Combine all ingredients in the blender. Blend on high.
- Taste the mixture, adjust for thickness (consistency) and salt levels.
If it tastes flat, add a teaspoon more vinegar and a dash of salt. If it tastes too sharp (indicating too much garlic), add the juice of another 1/2 orange and another handful of pistachios.
The consistency of the dip should be like hummus. Add olive oil and water to adjust as needed.
This recipe will be a little different each time you make it because all these ingredients vary… oranges are different sizes and have different amounts of juice, garlic is more or less potent depending on its age and olive oils are different depending on varietal and harvest date. So, play with your ratios each time. Taste along the way. Try the sauce with the steamed broccoli to get the full flavor profile.
If you have a little one in your house, this is a great recipe to make together. At this point our son instructs us on salt level, acidity and overall balance. And he LOVES dipping his “little trees” into this sauce!
See you soon,