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heart healthy local food

Go local with 7 healthy breakfast foods

A healthy start for every taste

By the Veggie Fairy Team

A good day starts with a good, healthy breakfast. That means different things to different people, depending on what each individual’s body needs to comfortably break the night’s fast.

From some of us, it’s a hearty meal of eggs, toast, and fruit. For others, it’s a simple cup of coffee.

Whatever your personal power breakfast may be, you’ll get more out of it when you get it from a local source you trust — you can be sure it’ll be fresher and richer in flavor and nutrients.

So let’s take a closer look at seven of the best things you can eat when you roll out of bed.

pasture-raised eggs

#1 PASTURE-RAISED EGGS
#2 WHOLE GRAIN BREAD

We Veggie Fairies get our pasture-raised eggs from Authenticity Farms in Amelia, Va., where the girls spend their days in the sunshine foraging for grass, seeds, and bugs — all the things chickens naturally eat. Thanks to their own healthy diet, they produce eggs that are healthier for us too – and sooo delicious!

A pasture-raised egg looks different from an industrial farmed egg (even if it’s “cage-free” or so-called “free-range”). A pasture-raised yolk is deep orange surrounded by a thick, milky white. On top of more flavor, it offers higher amounts of vitamin A, D, E, K2, B-12, folate, riboflavin, zinc, calcium, beta carotene, choline, and tons of omega 3 fatty acids, including DHA, EPA, ALA, and AA.

A pasture-raised egg offers the highest quality protein, too, second only to the lactalbumin protein in a human mother’s milk. Eating eggs for breakfast increases your feeling of fullness, so you’ll eat fewer calories for lunch and even out your blood sugar and insulin levels. (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).

Many studies have shown that a pasture-raised egg aren’t just a healthy breakfast food — it’s a true superfood. This study
found that compared to industrial farmed eggs, pasture-raised eggs may contain:

  • 2/3 more vitamin A
  • 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
  • 3 times more vitamin E
  • 7 times more beta carotene
  • 3-6 times more vitamin D (thanks to hanging out in all that sunshine!)
  • More K2, B12, folate, riboflavin, zinc, and calcium
  • More antioxidants that help prevent eye trouble like cataracts, according to this study and this study
  • More choline your brain and liver depend on to stay healthy
  • 1/4 less saturated fat
  • 1/3 less cholesterol – that said, eggs don’t actually raise cholesterol levels in most of us. On the contrary, eggs may reduce your risk of heart disease risk by modifying the shape of “bad” LDL cholesterol, increasing “good” HDL cholesterol, and improving insulin sensitivity.
  • Enjoy your eggs with whole grain toast – your online farmers market has a variety of healthful breads to suit your taste buds. According to the Cleveland Clinic, a number of studies have shown that eating whole grain foods within an overall healthy diet helps to lower your risk for many diseases, including stroke, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and colorectal cancer.

    Whole grains are also rich in protein, fiber, B vitamins and many other nutrients that help to lower blood pressure, reduce gum disease, strengthen the immune system, and control weight. (If you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, be sure to opt for gluten-free options.)

    So in the morning, sit down to toast and eggs cooked any way you like them, or grab a couple of hard-boiled eggs for a portable breakfast on the go.

    Read more about Authenticity Farms humane farming practices and their pasture-raised eggs here.

    local granola

    3. OATS
    4. NUTS
    5. YOGURT

    Combine the first two of these healthy breakfast foods and they add up to… granola! Our granola is made in small batches by Hudson Henry Baking Co. in Palmyra, Va.

    Oats contain a unique fiber called oat beta-glucan which, among other things, reduces cholesterol. Thanks to this fiber, oats make you feel full, like eggs. Oats are also rich in antioxidants that may boost your heart health and lower your blood pressure. (Oats don’t have gluten, but they’re often contaminated with it from being processed with other grains. So if gluten’s an issue, look for oats that are certified gluten-free.)

    The nuts in granola are filling and help prevent weight gain (52Trusted Source, 53Trusted Source). Nuts are high in magnesium, potassium, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. They’ve been shown to improve heart disease risk factors, lower blood sugar and cholesterol, and decrease inflammation. Yeah, they’re high in calories, but scientists have tested almonds and found that you don’t absorb all the fat – in the case of a one-ounce serving, your body only absorbs about 129 calories.

    To boost the protein content of a nice nutty granola breakfast, toss a few handfuls on top of yogurt. We get our yogurt from sustainable artisans like Mountain View Farm in Fairfield, Va. In addition to leave you feeling satisfied, full-fat yogurt contains conjugated linoleic acid, which may increase fat loss and decrease breast cancer risk.

    All together, oats, nuts, and yogurt add up to a breakfast of healthy champions!

    local berries

    6. FRUIT, FRESH OR FROZEN

    Fresh fruits are arguably the healthy breakfast foods. All fruits contain vitamins, potassium, fiber, and are relatively low in calories.

    To get your vitamin C on, savor one large, Florida-grown orange while they’re in our winter-time market. It’ll give you more than 100% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin C.

    So will a cup of strawberries. In fact, all berries are mini superfoods. They’re packed with antioxidants, including anthocyanins that protect your heart and may help you age better. They reduce inflammation, too.

    To keep you supplied with fresh-picked berries during berry season, we rely on local farmers like the Geyer family of Agriberry Farm in Hanover, Va.

    local coffee

    7. COFFEE

    Believe it or not, a cup of Joe is a healthy breakfast food — not to mention an excellent way to jumpstart your day. And it’s not just the caffeine – a 2005 study found that, believe it or not, coffee is the number-one source of antioxidants in the U.S. diet. That’s because we drink so much of it. Doctors say it’s actually best if you get most of your antioxidants from things like berries.

    But the antioxidants in coffee are icing on the cake. And combined with caffeine, coffee is surprisingly good for you. Coffee drinking has been linked to a lower risk of diseases such as diabetes and prostate cancer, and it may even help you live longer. It reduces inflammation, protects the cells lining your blood vessels, and decreases liver disease risk.

    Sip some caffeine and it’s been shown to improve mood, alertness, and mental performance. In addition to waking you up, caffeine also increases your metabolic rate and fat burning. Just 100 mg of caffeine can help you burn an extra 79–150 calories in a day.

    Even the little bit you get in decaf can benefit you. An analysis of 41 studies reported that you can maximize the benefits while limiting the side effects if you get 38–400 mg per day (18). Depending on the strength of the coffee, that’s about one-third of a cup to four cups of caffeinated coffee per day.

    We Veggie Fairies like our coffee with a conscience. So we get our caffeine fix from local roasters like Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters in Gloucester, Va. Celeste and Jo source their beans from small plantations that they’ve personally vetted, and continuously give back their community, with a focus on keeping the Chesapeake Bay clean and healthy. Read their story here.
    *
    So to get your day off to a great start (even better than a good one!), make one or all of these 7 great local breakfast foods part of your morning routine!

    ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

    Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, eggs, grass-fed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

    heart healthy local food

    Celebrate American Heart Month with heart-healthy local foods

    This month, show your heart some love!

    By the Veggie Fairy Team

    While Valentines are nice, a healthy ticker is even better! February is American Heart Month, and it’s the perfect time to start getting into the habit of keeping heart-healthy foods on hand.

    We’ve rounded up our top 10 heart-healthy, local foods, recommended by the American Heart Association, the National Institutes of Health, and the Cleveland Clinic. Some of these items are available year-round, and some are seasonal, so keep an eye out when you’re browsing our online farmers market. If you put a few of the foods on this list in your Seasonal Roots basket each week, your heart will love you for it!

    heart healthy leafy greens

    #1 Dark leafy greens

    Leafy greens are a great source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that contribute to heart health. Examples include kale, spinach, Swiss chard, arugula, and watercress. These tasty greens are grown locally all year round and can be used in a wide variety of recipes. Try using these greens in sandwiches instead of lettuce, or mix them up for a heart-healthy salad.

    heart healthy whole grains

    #2 Whole grain items

    Opt for whole grains when you can; this applies to items such as pasta, breads, cereals, and crackers. In their original, unprocessed state, whole grains still have the outer layers that contain healthy vitamins, minerals, and fiber, plus carbohydrates, protein, and healthy, unsaturated fats. So grains like whole wheat, oats, and kasha provide more heart-healthy fiber than white flour. Bonus: They’re more filling too!

    heart healthy tomatoes

    #3 Tomatoes

    This versatile fruit masquerading as a vegetable can be added to most savory dishes — think salads, pastas, eggs, and sandwiches. In addition to antioxidants, tomatoes are high in potassium, which can help control high blood pressure.

    heart healthy acorn squash

    #4 Red, yellow, and orange veggies

    Many studies show that carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers, and acorn squash are packed with carotenoids, fiber, and vitamins that are beneficial for your heart. So cook with color and eat the rainbow!

    heart healthy legumes hummus

    #5 Hummus

    Legumes in general are great for your circulation, and hummus is chock-full of chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), which is a type of legume. The olive oil in hummus is good for your heart, too! A study showed that eating legumes four times a week (compared to once a week) was associated with a 22% lower risk of coronary heart disease.

    heart healthy berries

    #6 Berries

    Everybody loves berries, and local berry season is coming soon! Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are rich in fiber and antioxidants, especially when you eat them in season — at their flavorful and nutritional peak. There’s evidence that getting your antioxidant vitamins from food is much more effective and beneficial than getting them from supplements. So go ahead and grab another helping of berries!

    heart healthy tofu

    #7 Tofu

    If you’ve never cooked with tofu, don’t be intimidated! Try tofu in a flavorful stir-fry with fresh veggies for a heart-healthy lunch or dinner. Research indicates that including more soy foods like tofu in your diet may have cardiovascular benefits, such as lowering blood pressure. The prepared vegan meals in your online farmers market are a super-easy and tasty way to get your tofu, whether your a tofu newbie or a tofu super fan.

    heart healthy asparagus

    #8 Asparagus

    According to the NIH, asparagus is filled with mighty nutrients such as beta-carotene, folate, and fiber. This tender, sweet vegetable is delicious when roasted and drizzled with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Plus, asparagus only has 25 calories per cup (or about 5 calories per large spear) – win-win!

    heart healthy broccoli

    #9 Broccoli

    Crisp, fresh broccoli florets dipped in hummus are an extra powerful snack with a whopping list of heart-healthy nutrients, including vitamins C and E, potassium, folate, and soluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps lower total and LDL cholesterol levels by binding to bile in the gut (which is made up of cholesterol) and removing it with the body’s waste.

    heart healthy chocolate red wine

    #10 Dark chocolate & red wine

    Since this is Cupid’s month, we veggie fairies are happy to report that dark chocolate and red wine are both good for your heart! (Based on personal experience, there are definitely some days when wine and chocolate are really good for mental health, too. Just sayin’…!) The Cleveland Clinic put dark chocolate up against red wine to see if one is better for you than the other. Find out which one was the winner here!

    SO IN CONCLUSION…
    By eating these foods locally when they’re freshly made or in season, you’re maximizing the nutritional benefits for your heart. Other heart-healthy staples to keep on hand include nuts like almonds and walnuts, extra virgin olive oil, canned or dried legumes, and quinoa (a grain that’s a great source of protein and rich in fiber). So with a clink of our glasses of red wine we say: Here’s to your heart!

    ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

    Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, eggs, grass-fed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

    picky eater kids healthy recipes

    Got a picky eater? Try these healthy recipes

    Three easy healthy recipes for picky eaters, whether or not they’re kids!

    Got a picky eater? Whether your picky loved one is a kid or a grown up, here are three easy recipes to help picky eaters of all ages eat more spinach, kale, and sweet potatoes, plus other veggies… with or without their knowledge.

    To make it even easier, you can get many of these ingredients and sides home-delivered from Seasonal Roots’ year-round farmers market. Check it out here. If you’re not a member yet, the 30-day money back guarantee makes it easy to give it a try.

    HEALTHY SPINACH RECIPE

    Who doesn’t love meatballs? And they’re a great place to hide the greens!

    picky eater spinach meatballs

    Sneaky Spinach Meatballs

    4 servings
    For a quick delicious meal, serve with your favorite local artisan’s prepared sauce, pasta, and a simple side of apple slices.

    INGREDIENTS:

    • 1 c fresh local bread, cut or torn into pieces, or substitute Seasonal Roots’ gluten-free options
    • 3/4 c Oberweis milk, or water
    • 1 lb grassfed beef or a mixture of grassfed meats of your choice
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 pastured egg
    • 1/2 c cheese (parmesan or your fave), grated, or substitute Unmoo’s Notz
    • handful parsley and basil, chopped finely (optional)
    • 1-3 handfuls spinach or kale, puréed in a blender to make it invisible
    • salt/pepper to taste

    DIRECTIONS:

    1. Get ready to bake or fry, your choice. Preheat oven to 350 or coat frying pan with grapeseed oil or vegetable oil.
    2. Soak bread in bowl of milk/water.
    3. Combine ground beef, garlic, egg, cheese, and greens. Feel free to use or mix together different types of ground meat: veal, pork, chicken, etc.
    4. Mix the soaked bread into the ground beef mixture and add milk. Form into balls.
    5. Oven: Bake meatballs on cooking tray for about 15 minutes, depending on size. Stovetop: Heat frying pan before adding meatballs for a nice crust.
    6. Meanwhile, boil your favorite pasta according to package directions and heat up a local artisan sauce in a saucepan or microwave. Dish up and serve!

    HEALTHY KALE RECIPE

    Serve a smoothie as a drink, or for a really picky eater, go one step further — popsicles! Kids and adults alike sometimes don’t care for the texture of smoothies, but most of the time we all love popsicles.

    picky eater kale smoothie popsicles

    Hide the Kale Smoothie Popsicles

    2 servings as a smoothie / or many popsicles

    When bananas are a little past their prime, that’s when they’re perfect for smoothies, so pop them in the freezer. That way they’ll stop ripening and will be the right texture and temp for a smoothie whenever you’re ready to whip these up.

    TIP: Freeze the kale ahead of time, too. Wash it, dry it, and throw it in the freezer as soon as you get it. Freezing it makes it less bitter. It will keep for weeks, even months, so you’ll have it whenever you need it with most of its nutrients intact.

    INGREDIENTS:

    • 1 frozen ripe banana, peeled and sliced
    • 1/2 c frozen mixed berries, blueberries, or fresh apple, cored and chopped
    • 1 T chia seeds
    • 2 c frozen kale, chopped if leaves are large
    • 2/3 c pomegranate juice (it hides the taste of kale best)
    • 3/4-1/2 c water, or milk for more creaminess
    • 2/3 c pomegranate juice (it hides the taste of kale best)
    • 1 t – 1 T honey (for more sweetness – optional)
    • 1 T peanut or almond butter (optional)

    DIRECTIONS:

    1. Add all ingredients to a blender.
    2. Blend until smooth, adding more water as needed. Taste and adjust flavors as needed. Add more banana or honey for more sweetness as needed.
    3. Pour into popsicle molds, freeze, and enjoy for a snack or dessert.

    HEALTHY SWEET POTATO RECIPE

    Actually, you can hide just about anything, including sweet potatoes! Use puréed or mashed sweet potatoes to thicken your favorite chili. It’s delish! Don’t have a chili fave? Try this one…

    picky eater sweet potato chili

    Secret Sweet Potato Chili

    Serves at least 4
    This is a good recipe for a busy day at home. Throw it all in one big soup pot or Dutch oven and let it cook — the longer the better! In fact, you can make it ahead and refrigerate or freeze for later.

    Also, there’s a lot of wiggle room when it comes to the amount of each ingredient. So feel free to adjust everything to your taste for spice or thickness. Serve with fresh, locally baked crusty bread, and/or over spaghetti noodles, plus a side of carrot sticks… or if your picky eater “does” salad, go for the green — just keep it simple: lettuce or arugula, craisins, and sunflower seeds, topped with bits of cheese, for instance.

    TIP: Bake sweet potatoes ahead of time, then slip off the skins and either mash them or give ’em a spin in the blender.

    INGREDIENTS:

    • 3-6 slices pastured nitrate-free bacon, sliced
    • 1-3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 onion, chopped or diced
    • 1-3 lbs grassfed chuck roast or similar cut, cubed
    • 4-8 tomatoes, chopped, or up to a 20oz can of pureed tomatoes
    • 1 c or more water, as needed
    • 1 c or more mashed or pureed baked sweet potatoes (optional)
    • 1 can kidney beans (optional)
    • 6 slices of jalapeno (jarred or fresh), minced, discard seeds
    • 1 t salt (optional)
    • 1 T chili powder, or to taste
    • 1 T cumin
    • 1 T oregano, dried (if fresh, use 3x more)

    DIRECTIONS:

    1. Don’t bother pulling the bacon slices apart. Just pull them out of the package all stuck together and cut them up as is into half-inch slices. Use a sharp knife or kitchen shears, whichever you find easier. Fry in a big, deep soup pot.
    2. As bacon bits start to brown, add garlic, then onion.
    3. When onion starts to turn translucent, add beef cubes to brown. If you’re making a larger amount of chili, dump the bacon, garlic, and onion into a bowl on the side and brown cubes in batches, pouring off liquid as needed and dumping each batch in the bowl. When all the cubes are browned, dump everything from the bowl back into the pot.
    4. Add tomatoes, fresh or canned, and enough water (if needed) to just barely cover everything. Increase temperature to bring to a boil.
    5. While waiting for it to boil, stir in sweet potato, beans (if using), jalapeno, and seasonings.
    6. When it reaches a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cover. Stir occasionally and add water as needed while it cooks for at least an hour. Two hours is better. You’ll know it’s done when the meat cubes are so tender they fall apart easily with a fork.
    7. After you turn the heat off, it will stay hot on the stove for a good hour. You can also reheat it later. Then ladle it up and enjoy!

    FOR MORE INFO ABOUT. . .

    …Tips to help kids eat more veggies, click here.
    …Signing up for Seasonal Roots home-delivered farmers market, click here.
    …How to order from Seasonal Roots, click here.
    …Seasonal Roots, click here.

    Heirloom Tomato Pizza

      As someone who eats seasonally, you want to be an adventurous eater and try it all. Maybe some things like heirloom cherry tomatoes have proven their place in your meal plan, but things like fennel and turnip, not so much. Often, when a veggie turns us off, it’s because we had a bad experience […]

    celebrate local vegetables

    Celebrate Vegetables

    – By Duane, Head Veggie Fairy

    I remember the first time I experienced Brussels sprouts in the field. I found myself in a fantasy world full of stalks that extended above my head, with beautiful leaves of purple and green. AND I was given a knife and allowed to harvest them myself! What more could a 10 year old boy want?! I ate heartily. Not only were they the fruits of my labor, but they tasted AMAZING and nothing like the frozen Brussels sprouts from the grocery store I was used to. It was veggie adventures like this that now have me celebrating local vegetables today.

    May is full of all kinds of celebrations so we’re taking this week to celebrate the veggies themselves. Whether vegetables define your lifestyle or complement your meat, here are three reasons they’re worth celebrating.

    Celebrate the Wholesome Goodness

    It’s a fact that vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants are the highest in vegetables when they’re harvested at peak ripeness, when they’ve had all the time they need to fully soak in all the goodness sun and soil have to offer. The sooner you eat them after harvesting, the greater the nutritional impact. Their extra fresh flavor will also make you want to eat more! The most tender veggies, like spinach, lose about 60% of their nutritional value within a week of harvesting, so it’s important to cut down the time it takes to get from the farm to your table. If you’re going to eat vegetables, you should eat them as fresh and flavorful as you can get them and take advantage of all that wholesome goodness.

    Celebrate the Diversity of Vegetables

    Getting your vegetables direct from the farmer introduces you to new and different varieties you may not have access to otherwise. Seasonal Roots has three types of kale on the menu at this moment – Tuscan, red Russian, and curly. All have different flavors. Did you know Russian kale is sweeter tasting than curly kale? Have you tried fresh garlic from the field? Do you know what a garlic scape is and what to do with it? You’ll be inspired to try new things as the changing seasons bring fresh varieties to the market!

    Not only will you be inspired to try new vegetables, but you’ll be inspired to prepare them in different ways by other veggie lovers in your local food community. Asparagus is awesome on the grill and you can eat the spears like fries. Brussels sprouts roast to perfection in the oven. Golden beets are milder than their red sisters and won’t trick you into thinking you have a kidney infection! If you massage your collard greens, they give back with a sweeter taste and texture in your salad. Vegetables offer endless diversity… you’ll want to be a part of celebrating and trying new varieties!

    Celebrate Working Together as a Community

    Have you talked to your local farmer recently? You would be amazed by the amount of passion they put into growing your food. Because they care, practices like what variety and origin of seed they plant, spray/no spray, rotating crops for best nutrients, and picking produce at peak ripeness, matter. They want the community of families they feed to have the best produce! Sometimes that means a bug or two because they didn’t spray, or waiting an extra week for strawberries so they reach their  peak flavor and nutrients before harvesting.

    Getting away from mass produced food has become crucial to our health and the health of our world, yet we are still a busy society. We have limited time to spend in the kitchen. Many local food artisans rely on local farmers for their produce. When you can trust your community of local food artisans because they share the same philosophy, it’s easier to pick up some yummy prepared food, enjoy it for a meal, and be confident you are still benefiting from the best food.

    By supporting local farmers, food artisans, and organizations like Seasonal Roots, you help create a strong food system in our own backyard. We’re all in this together and when we work together as a community, it’s certainly a reason to celebrate and eat more local veggies!

    Try something new this week, whether it be getting to know your local farmer better, trying a new variety of vegetable, or ordering something prepared by a local food artisan that you haven’t tried before. Your taste buds will enjoy the celebration!

     

     

    ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

    Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pasture-raised dairy, eggs, and meat, plus wholesome artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

    A Toast to the Women in our Lives

    EAT BETTER LIVE BETTER NEWSLETTER / May 8, 2019

    Tips, hacks, recipes, stories, and the weekly special all help you eat better live better with fresh local food!

    Read the newsletter below, or view this issue as a printable PDF with clickable links.

    19-5-8 Newsletter Final-page-001

    Spice up your celebration Seasonal Roots style

    EAT BETTER LIVE BETTER NEWSLETTER / May 1, 2019

    Tips, hacks, recipes, stories, and the weekly special all help you eat better live better with fresh local food!

    Read the newsletter below, or view this issue as a printable PDF with clickable links.

    19-05-01 Newsletter

    Loving Seasonal Roots means loving the earth

    EAT BETTER LIVE BETTER NEWSLETTER / April 24, 2019

    Tips, hacks, recipes, stories, and the weekly special all help you eat better live better with fresh local food!

    Read the newsletter below, or view this issue as a printable PDF with clickable links.

    19-4-27 Newsletter Final

    Easter to remember

    Make it an Easter to remember

    EAT BETTER LIVE BETTER NEWSLETTER / April 17, 2019

    Tips, hacks, recipes, stories, and the weekly special all help you eat better live better with fresh local food!

    Read the newsletter below, or view this issue as a printable PDF with clickable links.

    Newsletter 19-4-17 Final

    red cap patisserie chocolate

    Local food takes the guilt out of guilty pleasures

    Case Study: Red Cap Patisserie

    – By the Veggie Fairy Team

    When you buy local food, your money stays in your community instead of going to some faraway corporate headquarters. Buy local food and your dollars create jobs at local farms, food distribution systems like Seasonal Roots, and food artisans like Red Cap Patisserie, which employs eight talented people in Richmond, Virginia.

    red cap patisserie local jobs

    So you can indulge that craving for, say, handmade chocolate, guilt-free, with Red Cap’s Dark Chocolate Toasted Almond Sour Cherry Bark. Not only is it good for the community, it’s also better for you than mass-produced chocolate. It’s freshly made, with no preservatives or artificial flavors.

    And you can feel virtuous about it, too — compared to the global industrial food complex, food from a local artisan like Red Cap Patisserie uses less fuel and produces less CO2. So local food belches fewer greenhouse gases and fights global warming. That’s cool.

    (Read this full list of 10 ways local food helps you live better.)

    For two decades, pastry chef Martine Wladar handcrafted delicious treats for cafés and restaurants in New York City and New Jersey. We talked with her husband and partner John about how they found their way to Richmond, Virginia, where they now work together on their unique take on traditional French- and European-inspired fare.

    red cap patisserie martine & john

    VEGGIE FAIRY:

    You both grew up in New Jersey. How did you wind up in Richmond’s historic Fan district?

    JOHN:

    It was a corporate relocation on my part in 2013. Martine had been working in the food industry for years, so we created a kitchen in our home where she could bake more seriously than she could with a residential oven. We signed up for the Saint Stephen’s Farmers Market and did that regularly.

    red cap patisserie farmers market

    After a couple years, a space opened up in the Fan and we were fortunate enough to acquire it. That let us open the retail operation and expand the commercial operation. Meanwhile I left my corporate job and began working for Martine. I’ve only been fired a couple times and she always takes me back.

    red cap patisserie ribbon cutting

    VEGGIE FAIRY:

    Ha! But… not all couples can actually work together without killing each other. What’s your secret?

    JOHN:

    It’s something we work very hard at. We’ve been married since 1988, but when we embarked on this it changed our dynamic in many ways. You learn to be patient and just be quiet and listen and really try to hear the other person, which is a good practice whether you work together or not!

    red cap patisserie handmade caramel

    VEGGIE FAIRY:

    So in our market, to start with you’ll be offering Chocolate Chip Brownies, Salty Sweet Pecans, super adorable Marshmallow Chicks, Sea Salt Caramels, and lots of dark chocolate treats. In addition to that, in your shop you offer all kinds of freshly baked sweet and savory pastries. How do you decide what to offer?

    JOHN:

    What we offer is guided by Martine’s intuition and inspiration. She’s had a lifelong love for baking and cooking. She’s taken various courses at cooking schools and perfected her skills on the job, and opening the shop was a unique opportunity to pull her expertise together in both baking and cooking.

    red cap patisserie martine

    VEGGIE FAIRY:

    How did Martine learn the chocolate side of the business?

    JOHN:

    She has worked with Jacques Torres, who is a famous French chocolate master. When we opened this place she said, “You know, eventually I really want to offer chocolate!” Within a year and a half we had built up enough in-house staff to break out and offer chocolate treats and caramel. She really loves caramel, so we do our own caramel in-house and blend our own chocolate in-house. We like a particular chocolate taste. Some chocolates are too bitter, some have too much “cherry” flavor, some are just too sweet. We blend it to hit that sweet spot in between.

    VEGGIE FAIRY:

    How do you choose your ingredients?

    JOHN:

    It’s about quality in terms of the craft of making an excellent product that you can feel good about eating. Whenever possible, we source our ingredients locally. We’ll barter at the farmers market for eggs. We’re using real ingredients — real cream, real butter, real flour. No ingredients you can’t recognize or pronounce. That makes for a delicious product and a healthier one, even when it’s a treat.

    VEGGIE FAIRY:

    What’s your carbon footprint like?

    JOHN:

    We’re local, so we’re close to our customers. We also aim for sustainability in packaging. We try not to use any styrofoam and reduce the amount of plastic packaging we use as well as the packaging our supplies come in. We recycle everything that leaves the kitchen — unlike larger establishments, where everything just goes in the dumpster.

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    red cap patisserie martine pastry chef

    Red Cap Patisserie shares Seasonal Roots’ mission to make the world a better place through local food! If you want to see the full range of Martine’s creations, check out the mouthwatering photo gallery on the Red Cap Patisserie Instagram page. If you’re inspired to stop by Martine and John’s shop the next time you’re in Richmond, you’ll find directions on their website.

    ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

    Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pasture-raised dairy, eggs, and meat, plus wholesome artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.