By Lorrie Baumann
Polska Foods is bringing a traditional pre-Soviet Polish culinary staple to American grocers’ freezer cases. The young California company goes to great lengths to make its Organic Potato Cheese Pierogi, Mushroom Cabbage Vegan Pierogi with Sauerkraut, Organic Spinach & Feta Pierogi and Savory Beef & Pork Pierogi from high-quality organic ingredients and time- and labor-intensive methods to produce products that honor the culinary traditions of Chief Operations Officer Tomasz Piszczek’s Polish grandmother, says Bridget McQueen-Piszczek, the company’s CEO.
McQueen-Piszczek discovered pierogi when her new husband, Tomasz Piszczek, took her to Poland to meet his family in 2010. “Everything we ate at his parent’s farm was from the garden, the fields, or wild-picked from the neighboring forest – even the meat we ate was from a neighbor,” she says. “When I had their pierogi with all the fresh ingredients, I thought, this is incredible.” Piszczek’s parents and grandmother didn’t speak any English, and McQueen-Piszczek didn’t speak any Polish. “We ended up communicating through the food,” she said. “Good food allowed us to share a moment of love and appreciation when the language barrier prevented us from connecting.”
“When I came back to California, I said that we had to get some of these pierogi,” she continued. “We tried everywhere, even went to the East Coast, to delis where there were lines out the door.” But none of those pierogi compared to the ones made by her grandmother-in-law in Poland with thin delicate dough and stuffed with savory fillings. So finally, the Piszczeks decided that they were just going to have to learn how to make their own. They asked Piszczek’s grandmother for her recipes. “We started out making it just for ourselves, but when you make pierogi, you make a lot and you want to share them,” McQueen-Piszczek says. Dinner parties with friends turned into requests from friends and family members for a chance to buy the pierogi for their own tables, and then that turned into sales at local farmers markets and then a sale to the local Whole Foods market. “We just kept taking one step after the other, and then one day you wake up and think, Wow, we’ve got a whole company,” McQueen-Piszczek says.
It took a year after the Piszczeks decided to make the pierogi for the farmers market to find the right ingredients. “We visited the farms and the plants of all ingredient providers to guarantee quality and authenticity. Some of the ingredients, such as the cheese, had to be custom made to mimic the quality you find in Poland,” McQueen-Piszczek says. “Today we work with one of the only local organic mills in the Bay Area. Starting with exceptional ingredients is essential to gourmet pierogi, and all our pierogi are made fresh and flash frozen to preserve the flavor, texture, and nutrients.”
The Potato Cheese and Mushroom Cabbage Sauerkraut Pierogi were the first on the market. The Savory Beef & Pork Pierogi were added later because customers were asking for it, and the Organic Spinach & Feta Pierogi were added to the line as a more Americanized version of the traditional dish. “You see Spinach Feta pierogi in Poland today, but it’s not a flavor from many generations ago,” McQueen-Piszczek says.
The Potato Cheese Pierogi are certified organic and use handcrafted farmers cheese. The filling includes organic potatoes, organic caramelized onions, whole grain organic millet, roasted garlic, and fresh herbs. McQueen-Piszczek says that she occasionally gets questions about whether the inclusion of millet in the pierogi filling is quite authentic, but it’s true to the traditional Old World recipes from past generations. “The millet gives it more fiber and also has a nutty flavor. It’s a very old, ancient grain, and a lot of pierogi just had millet in them. It was used before potatoes,” she says. There’s a whole-wheat version and one made with unbleached, organic wheat flour.
Mushroom Cabbage Pierogi with Sauerkraut are made with a recipe that’s several centuries old and is the kind of pierogi that Poles eat during the Wigilia Christmas Eve vigil, when traditionally, people didn’t eat meat while they waited for Christmas Day. “It’s the tradition of giving something up in order to gain. Religious tradition has changed, but this flavor is still very popular year round,” McQueen-Piszczek says. “This recipe is from our family in Poland, from many generations of eating at Christmas-time. When Polish natives try this flavor for the first time, you can see in their facial expressions that this is the way their grandmother made it, and many tell us they haven’t had it for 20-plus years. We get that a lot.”
They’re vegan, and raw, fermented gourmet sauerkraut is the key ingredient, McQueen-Piszczek says. “ The second key is a slow cooking process where you caramelize the onions, and slowly cook all the herbs and vegetables together for hours, creating a complex, well-balanced flavor. We make pierogi just like home – no short cuts in our processing.”
The Organic Spinach Feta Pierogi are award-winning and vegetarian, made from organic spinach, organic caramelized onions, portabello mushrooms, roasted red bell peppers and feta cheese in a whole-wheat organic dough. They offer 16 grams of whole grains per serving. Savory Beef & Pork Pierogi are made with organic white flour, hormone- and antibiotic-free minimally processed beef round and pork along with caramelized onions, whole-grain organic buckwheat, crimini mushrooms, roasted garlic, smoky paprika, spicy peppers and herbs in a tomato base. “You almost don’t need a topping on the beef and pork ones,” McQueen-Piszczek says. “We used the best-sourced meats and ingredients that you can get.”
By Richard Thompson
For those who have to avoid their favorite pasta meals comes Edamame Spaghetti from Explore-Asian, a new spin on pasta that’s not only good, but healthier too. Gluten free, organic, vegan, kosher, non-GMO and approved by the American Heart Association, it’s not just ridiculously delicious but it’s sure to appeal to a wide range of health-conscious shoppers.
Retailing from 3.99 to 4.79, Edamame Spaghetti is made simply from organic beans and water. One serving has 24 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber, packaged and ready to eat in just a few minutes. Add a little pesto for a delectable treat, but any sauce is the perfect complement. This is pasta reinvented.
For further information visit them at www.explore-asian.com.
Ready Pac has just brought out its new Organic Powerhouse Grains Bistro® Bowl —a completely vegan, superfood-filled salad with ingredients that reap ‘super’ nutritional benefits.
Broad access to nutritional information has helped superfoods sky rocket in popularity. These nutrient-dense foods have been popular with consumers seeking alternative options that meet their nutrition needs. Research also shows that that ‘superfoods’ like quinoa and wheat berries are capable of boosting protein intake, improving energy, preventing disease, and aiding in weight loss.
“More consumers are looking for foods that provide an array of nutritional benefits” says Tristan Simpson, Chief Communications Officer at Ready Pac. “The Organic Powerhouse Grains Bistro Bowl has soluble fiber, nutrients, and health-boosting phytochemicals. It’s also low in calories, sugar and sodium, which makes it ideal to incorporate into an active lifestyle and also tastes great!”
The Organic Powerhouse Grains Bistro Bowl salad is part of a growing line of products for the health conscious, on-the-go consumer. The salad contains several nutrient-dense ingredients, including:
The Organic Powerhouse Grains Bistro Bowl salad is only 260 calories and has a suggested retail price of $4.99. The new salad bowl is currently available nationally at Safeway locations and its affiliated banners.
For more information about Ready Pac’s Bistro Bowl Salads and fresh food offerings, visit http://www.readypac.com/products/.
Today’s organic tent looks a lot different than yesterday’s. It’s bigger, younger, and significantly more diverse than just a few years ago. In fact, inside that tent, it looks pretty much like most places in America, a new study by the Organic Trade Association (OTA) shows.
As the availability of organic has become more mainstream and the offerings of organic more varied, there’s more diversity in those choosing organic. There no longer is a typical organic consumer. Organic is meeting the needs of a wide and multi-faceted culture, and the faces of organic-buying families now mirror the demographics of the U.S. population in terms of ethnic background, according to OTA’s “U.S. Families’ Organic Attitudes and Beliefs 2015 Tracking Study,” a survey of more than 1,200 households throughout the country.
Today, seven in ten families who purchase organic describe themselves as “white,” after hovering consistently around eight in ten from the survey’s first year in 2009 through 2013. In contrast, African American and Hispanic families have been steadily increasing among the ranks of organic-buying households. The percentage of African American families buying organic on a regular basis has doubled from just 7 percent six years ago, to now 14 percent. Hispanic households choosing organic is even higher at 16 percent, a huge jump from 7 percent just four years ago, when the survey started tracking Hispanic buying patterns.
“Our survey shows that organic has turned a corner,” said Laura Batcha, OTA’s executive director and CEO. “Organic hasn’t been a niche for some time, and today it is the face of America. The demographics of the organic consumer are not any different than the demographics of America.”
A side-by-side comparison of the figures: Percentage of organic buyers who are white: 73 percent; percentage of the U.S. population that is white, according to the latest U.S. Census: 72.4 percent; percentage of Hispanic organic buyers: 16 percent; percentage of U.S. population that’s Hispanic: 16.4 percent; and percentage of African American organic buyers: 14 percent; percentage of U.S. population: 12.6 percent.
The OTA survey also looks at the incomes, education and ages of organic buyers, and compares the buying habits of the new organic purchaser to the more experienced organic consumer.
Like most of us who buy the bulk of our food from our local supermarket, organic shoppers generally also are turning to the convenient supermarket for their organic purchases. A whopping 78 percent of organic buyers say they typically buy their organic foods at conventional food stores/supermarkets. Over half also shop organic at the “big box” stores, an increase of almost 10 percentage points from just a year ago, and some 30 percent also report that it’s not unusual to buy organic at one of the warehouse clubs in the country, again up almost 10 points from the previous year.
The similarities don’t end there. Forty-three percent of the parents surveyed said they’re making more of an effort to use coupons, discounts and other money-saving tactics when making general food purchases, very close to the 36 percent watching their budget when buying organic. Choosing store brands, either conventional or organic, to save money has become popular among penny-pinching families. Nine in ten families says they are choosing store brand products rather than brand names for conventional products, and eight in ten say they choose store brand organic items over organic brand names.
This was the sixth year OTA has partnered with KIWI Magazine to conduct the study. The primary objectives of the tracking study are to identify any changes in the degree to which families are incorporating organic into their lifestyle, parents’ knowledge about organic products and benefits, the importance and use of labels when shopping for and choosing organic products, and the household shopping budget and retail channel preferences.
This year the study looked more closely at the importance of the private label, digging down into the various factors that go into play when making the decision to buy the store brand private label over the more well-known brand label.
The target audience for the study consisted of more than 1,200 households, including a national online panel of U.S. households supplemented with KIWI Magazine’s Parents’ Advisory Board. All respondents had at least one child under the age of 18 in the household, and had sole or shared responsibility for household grocery purchases. The survey was conducted online January 16 – 23, 2015.
Steve Schirripa is teaming up with his Sopranos co-star Michael Imperioli to meet their fans at The Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, where Steve will be exhibiting his Uncle Steve’s Italian Specialties line of organic pasta sauces. Schirripa and Imperioli, known by Sopranos fans as Bobby Baccalieri and Christopher Moltisanti, will be signing autographs and sharing sauce with their fans at The Hilton Level 2 – Hot Products Pavilion, Booth H201 on March 5 and 6 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. There will also be raffle prizes given out continuously throughout both days.
“Michael Imperioli is like a brother to me, so it’ll be great to have him in Anaheim. We’re looking forward to breaking bread with our fans and introducing them to Uncle Steve’s sauces,” Schirripa noted.
Uncle Steve’s Italian Specialties was created by Steve Schirripa earlier this year. Each jar of Uncle Steve’s sauce is produced in the USA from small batches of fresh imported organic Italian plum tomatoes, vegetables and spices, “Our products are USDA-certified organic, gluten free, dairy free, vegan, and contain no added sugar. With no GMOs, no pesticides, and nothing artificial, you can be confident you are feeding your family not only great-tasting products, but nourishing them as well.” said Schirripa. “My mother cooked her sauce for six hours and unlike the others, we are doing the same.”
Uncle Steve’s is available in three flavors: Marinara, Tomato Basil and Arrabiata. It is available at Whole Foods Market, Central Market, ShopRite, Stop ‘n Shop and many other grocery and health food stores across the USA. For more information on where to buy or to purchase by mail, go to www.unclestevesny.com.
Wholesome Sweeteners, a brand of organic, fair trade and non-GMO sugars and sweeteners, has a new name and a new look. Now known as Wholesome!, the new brand debuted March 6-8 at Natural Products Expo West. In addition to unveiling its new look, the company will reveal its latest items like Organic Coconut Palm Syrup and a larger 24-ounce bottle of its popular Organic Honey.
The company is staying true to its Organic and Fair Trade roots and will still sell its same line of gourmet sugars, syrups, molasses, stevia and honeys, but with a different look. The Wholesome! logo and packaging incorporate a bright variety of colors, playful fonts and baking icons and quite literally lead with the heart. Not only is there a heart on the front of each item, but its packaging speaks about the love, care and consideration that was put into creating each product. The focus is on the satisfaction of the consumer, the well-being of the farmer who nurtured the product and maintaining the health of its natural environment.
“Wholesome! is the way we feel about our products, our farmers and our customers,” said Nigel Willerton, Wholesome! Chief Executive Officer. “It encapsulates our organic and social mission and how much everyone in the company cares about delivering the best-tasting, highest quality products possible.”
Samples of brand new Wholesome! Organic Coconut Palm Syrup will be available for tasting at Expo West. This delicious natural sweetener is made from coconut palm sugar, which is derived from coconut palm tree nectar. A warm, caramel flavor with a honey-like consistency, it is a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine, but also makes a great baking ingredient or sweet topping for dishes like oatmeal, pancakes and waffles. This syrup is Certified USDA Organic, non-GMO, gluten free, vegan and kosher and will be sold in 12-ounce recyclable bottles.
For those who love the Wholesome! Organic Honey line, the squeeze bottle honey is now available in a larger size. Shoppers will be able to purchase it in either a 16-ounce or a 24-ounce squeeze bottle. Wholesome! Organic Honey is a decadent honey with butterscotch and caramel tones perfect for baking, hot tea, Greek yogurt, warm biscuits and hard cheeses. This honey is USDA Organic and non-GMO since the bees only feast on organic wildflowers and the hives are never treated with antibiotics. It’s also fair trade, gluten free and kosher.
Stonyfield is launching its latest innovation to the yogurt aisle with an exclamation. Oh My Yog! is made with organic whole milk and fruit, and comes in a completely unique three-layer format – fruit on the bottom, honey-infused yogurt in the middle and a decadent layer of cream on top – for an everyday indulgence made better because it’s organic.
“Whole milk is part of the growing food trend of healthy fat making a comeback. Not only is it incredibly delicious – you really can’t beat a layer of cream on top of your yogurt – it’s also recognized as a more wholesome kind of real food,” shared Ben Angeloni, Vice President of Marketing for Stonyfield. “We have fans ask us for full fat yogurt every single day, and we’re excited to deliver something exceptional with Oh My Yog!”
Oh My Yog!, now available in select retailers nationwide, is easy to recognize in the yogurt aisle thanks to its colorfully striped Y&R Spain-designed packaging that was inspired by the three layers inside. “Everything about Oh My Yog! – from its name to its distinctive, striped packaging – reflects the experience you have when you’re eating it. It’s all about enjoying beautiful layers of a really delicious food,” said Angeloni.
Oh My Yog! comes in six decadent 6-oz varieties for the suggested retail price of $1.59: Madagascar Vanilla Bean, Wild Quebec Blueberry, Pacific Coast Strawberry, Gingered Pear, Apple Cinnamon, and Orange Cranberry.
Stonyfield is the official yogurt of the 119th Boston Marathon, fueling the runners and crowd in its native New England. A celebrator of healthy foods and healthy families, Stonyfield selected several inspirational bloggers who are moms and runners to form the 2015 Team Stonyfield. As part of their participation, the bloggers and Stonyfield will run in support of Girls on the Run, a national program that inspires third- through eighth-grade girls to be healthy and confident using a running curriculum.
“Girls on the Run envisions a world where all girls know and can activate their limitless potential, said Suzanna McCloskey,” Girls on the Run representative. “During the program, girls learn critical skills to navigate their lives with joy and confidence. And by completing the 5k that concludes the program, they experience, firsthand, that big things are possible when you keep moving forward!”
Run Like a Mother founder Megan Searfoss is serving as coach of Team Stonyfield, providing training guides, diet tips, and more, all available on the Stonyfield blog. Author of “See Mom Run,” a 5k training guide for busy moms, Megan has raced in over 20 marathons, including three Boston Marathons, and operates the Run Like a Mother 5k race series comprised of 10 events nationwide. Megan’s unique training plan emphasizes running for specific amounts of time instead of distance, making it easy for moms to schedule training sessions around work and family.
The bloggers comprising Team Stonyfield include mom runners from across the country, including women from as far as Utah, as well as local New Englanders. Team Stonyfield members include Angela Bekkala of Happy Fit Mama, Jill Whitaker of Jill Will Run, Tina Haupert of Carrots N Cake, Rachel Steffen of Running Rachel, Laura Peifer of Mommy Run Fast, and Bethany Meyer of Another Mother Runner.
Nutiva®, the producer of award-winning organic superfoods, announced the introduction of CHIApple, a blend of organic fruit, spices and whole chia seeds. This delicious anytime energy boost is a great source of omega-3s and fiber. Unlike similar products, it contains no added sugars, fruit concentrates or artificial anything.
For on-the-go ease, CHIApple is available in a 3.5-ounce squeeze pouch (individually, MRSP $1.99; or in a 4-pack, MSRP $6.89), as well as a 24-ounce glass jar (MSRP $5.79). Each squeeze pouch contains 3 grams of fiber and 800+ mg of omega-3 fatty acids.
Available flavors include Pure Apple, Apple Pie Spice and Coconut Mango. In addition to on-the-go snacking for adults and kids, CHIApple is ideal as a smoothie boost or addition to oatmeal or yogurt.
“Chia has become extremely popular due to its high levels of antioxidants, omega-3s and fiber,” said Nutiva CEO and founder John W. Roulac. “With Nutiva’s CHIApple, consumers now have a delicious and simple way to enjoy the nutritional powers of chia anytime and anywhere.”
Once a vital source of nourishment for the ancient Aztecs and Mayans, chia seeds are making a strong comeback in modern healthy diets. Chia seeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, rare antioxidants, fiber and magnesium.
Nutiva CHIApple is available at Whole Foods Markets nationwide. All Nutiva products are certified organic and kosher and verified non-GMO.
For more information, please visit nutiva.com.
Sambazon, the pioneer of açaí, today announced the launch of new Sambazon 100 Juices, the first 100 percent juice line with 100 calories or less per bottle and 70 percent less sugar than other premium juices. Packing the superior health benefits of 100 açaí berries in each bottle, this refreshingly exotic new line delivers powerful antioxidants and healthy omegas with three delicious flavors: Açaí Berry, Strawberry + Lemon + Açaí Berry and Pineapple + Coconut + Açaí Berry.
“Açaí has long been held as one of the most nutritionally dense superfoods on the planet and is sought after for its remarkable levels of antioxidants,” said Ryan Black, founder and CEO of Sambazon. “But most people don’t know that açaí is one of the only fruits in the world with virtually zero naturally-occurring sugar. Starting with that pure, organic açaí juice and blending in fresh fruits and natural, organic sweeteners has allowed us to create an invigorating, delicious beverage with all the exceptional health benefits of 100 açaí berries, but fewer calories and sugar. Sambazon 100 gives our consumers the most nutritious bang for their calorie buck.”
Like all Sambazon products, new Sambazon 100 Juices are Certified USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, vegan, and made with Ecocert Fair Trade açaí. Each exotically refreshing flavor contains only 5-11 grams of sugar per bottle, achieved through an organic and Non-GMO Project Verified blend of zero glycemic stevia and erythritol, plus low-glycemic agave in the Açaí Berry variety. Sambazon 100 will be available in natural health food stores and grocers nationwide beginning in March 2015, in 10.5 ounce bottles with an SRP of $3.49. Flavors include:
Açaí Berry – With an exotic cocoa berry flavor, each bottle delivers the highest quality açaí and a boost of healthy antioxidants and omegas, with only 100 calories and 11 grams of sugar.
Strawberry + Lemon + Açaí Berry – With antioxidant-rich acerola cherry, also known as Amazon Cherry, this juice is supercharged with 200 percent of the Daily Value of vitamin C. Each bottle has only 70 calories and 5 grams of sugar.
Pineapple + Coconut + Açaí Berry – Nutritious coconut and Amazon superfoods make for a healthy and refreshing tropical juice, which has only 60 calories and 6 grams of sugar per bottle.
For more information on Sambazon 100 Juice, and Sambazon’s complete line of Amazon Superfoods, visit www.sambazon.com.