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February 2015 Tastes


A Healthy Habit

 
We’re all busy and, sometimes, it can be hard to pause long enough to properly fuel up for all the running around. Any grab-and-go snack can take the edge off our hunger, but a healthy choice can keep the progress going without the resulting sugar or caffeine crash so many of us experience. “It’s all about great taste, incredible crunch and healthier offerings for families on the go,” says Richard Long, president/CEO of Nature's Habit.
 
Located in Napa Valley, Nature’s Habit creates granola cereals and trail mixes that satisfy those common sweet, crunchy and nutty cravings. Sold in 12-ounce and 4-ounce pouches, the cereal/trail mix is packed with all natural, whole grain, heart healthy ingredients and offers a good source of fiber and protein without the addition of any oils. Products include whole grains, nuts and dried fruits in delicious combinations, some with flax, sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds. Depending on the flavor, there’s also dried blueberries, mangoes, banana chips, cherries, cranberries and raisins.
 
“Customers can taste the difference,” Long continues. “Our baking process yields a unique, chunky profile with an incredible crunch.” You could almost call it “habit forming.”
 
 
 

Yeah, It’s Good!

Question: How do you like your ribs? Answer: With Steemin’ Freeman barbecue sauce on them. There you go; problem solved—and the same goes for vegetables, fish, poultry or basically anything you want to put barbecue sauce on or in.
 
Napa-based Eric Freeman began experimenting with making barbecue sauce from scratch in his kitchen in the late 1990s. About 20 recipes later and with feedback from volunteer “tasters,” he finalized his first product: Perfect Spicy. Then, when the spice wimps (just kidding, people, but you know who you are) couldn’t quite handle it, Freeman developed Sweet n’ Smokey to appease their palates. Next came Apple Cider, a tangy blend with hints of cinnamon and clove. His latest offering is sweet and flavorful Blood Orange. All are vegan-friendly and made with whole ingredients and spices. 
 
Freeman and his wife, Thelma, are the sole producers of the sauces. After much success at county and state fair competitions (blue ribbons at the California State Fair in 2008 and 2010), the company began bottling for retail sales in 2011. Local grocers began carrying the products in 2012, and the company has been building its customer base ever since, even recently expanding into Safeway’s “local” program.
 
NorthBay biz discovered Freeman’s sauces when he was sampling them at Oliver’s Market in Santa Rosa this past December—one taste and we were hooked. The Perfect Spicy is just that, with a bit of a kick but not overwhelming, then with full and lingering flavor—delicious. He also offers marinades, grill sauces and plans to add rubs in the not-too-distant future.
 
When asked where the term “Steemin’” originated, Freeman answered, “It has three sources. First, it rhymes with Freeman. I thought it was catchy. Second, when I was a teenager, the brother of one of my friends gave me that nickname; it only stuck for a few years. Third, steaming is a way to precook ribs in the oven, before finishing them on the grill. My wife likes them that way the best, if we don't have the time to use the smoker.
 
We’d love for Steemin’ Freeman barbecue sauce to become a common household name,” he adds. A lofty goal, but with flavor like this, it’s one that has a high likelihood of success.
 
 
 

Hummus Among Us

Sometimes it’s a song that stirs up a specific memory, or maybe a smell that transports you to a different place in time. And sometimes it’s a flavor. In this case, it’s the latter.
 
The Hummus Guy, Mohamed “Moe” Cherif, makes a variety of Mediterranean and Tunisian appetizers. Born and raised in Tunisia, North Africa, he moved to California in 1998. One of the things he missed the most was the hummus he’d grown up enjoying. So beginning in 2003, he started his company.
 
Today, he produces more than 10 types of hummus (among many other items) out of his Petaluma-based commercial kitchen. They’re most easily found at farmers markets throughout the Bay Area, and local grocers have begun to pick them up (as well as his outstanding pita chips—light, flakey, crunchy and perfect for dipping in the hummus). All ingredients used are organic and sourced from personally inspected farms in California. Some of our favorites include roasted garlic and chives, spicy jalapeño and cilantro and spicy black bean chipotle.
 
 
 

 

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