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New York Superfoods: Artisan Superfood Snacks for Super Athletes

VideoBy Liza de Guia on Mar 13, 2012
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“We were so surprised there were no other products in the market incorporating chia seeds into a snack food.”

Meet Catherine Mangan Walsh, the co-founder of New York Superfoods Inc., an artisan health food company based in Manhattan. Catherine and her husband, Jason Walsh, live an active lifestyle. They like sports, they get outdoors, they bike, they run. They never dreamed they’d own a health food business, not until a few years ago, when they started to play around with chia seeds.

Chia seeds are a type of superfood, a special category of natural food said to rich in anti-oxidants and jam-packed with nutrients. They first read about the energy-sustaining power of the chia seed when they first read “Born to Run”, a non-fiction, adventure tale about an elite tribe of world’s greatest long-distance runners: the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico. In the book, the Tarahumara predominately depend on chia seeds to fuel up before and during their 100+ mile runs – a little food fact that got Catherine and Jason curious.  They wanted to try it. They wanted to see if chia seeds could power their own active lifestyles. However, their search for chia-based snacks came up empty.

So, they decided to play around in the kitchen and make a few products themselves. After endless testings and encouragement from family and friends, they decided to bring their ideas to market. Now, some of the top endurance athletes in the world use their products…

Enjoy their story!

If you are interested in buying some Chia Chargers or BeKind Chia Butters you can browse their full line of products at their online store here. I really enjoy the Chia Charger “Kick” with a hint of spicy paprika and their Manhattan Mud BeKind Butter with dark chocolate.

The Next Big Small Brand Contest Tasting + Judging Event is March 27th at BAM in Brooklyn. This is the 1st of 6 finalist videos I’m making for the contest. Come out and support small food artisans!

Thanks for watching food. curated.! Happy eating! 


Vivid Visions: Raganella’s Smokable Herbal Tea

VideoBy Liza de Guia on Feb 28, 2012
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“The ingredients, the elements of the products I make, have been in use for thousands of years. They’re safety tested by our ancestors…”

Meet Liz Neves, the founder of Raganella’s Botanical Solutions, an all-natural, ethical body care company that hand blends organic, sustainable, smokable tea and other herbal products in her kitchen in Brooklyn, New York. Liz sees herself as a “caretaker”. She left her 9-5 job in advertising to fulfill her calling to pursue something more ecological and healthy – starting her own body care company because she was fed up with synthetic, brand name products in the marketplace touting solutions to problems, but using ingredients that weren’t actually healthy for your body or the environment. As she dug deeper, she realized that “simple is good” that “the Earth is an abundant place; that it provides” and that healing plants were the solution to her problems and the answer to her own career riddle. So, Liz launched her company and started developing “solutions” for everyday issues in her life, and now, a year later, has over 30 handmade, plant-based products to help people heal in a more humane way; which, of course, brings me to her all-natural tea line and her #1 selling product: smokable tea.

Now, I’m sure many of you drink tea, occasionally, as a herbal remedy or a sleep aid, but have any of you ever smoked it? Probably not. It was a first for me too. Well, for you curious and interested folks reading this, here’s your chance:

Liz calls her smokable tea blend: Vivid Visions – a blend she learned about from herbalist Robin Rose Bennett. It’s her #1 selling product on Etsy, with many, many repeat customers. It’s legal, it’s under the radar, and, according to Liz, it’s perfect for anyone who takes life too seriously and needs a way to relax AND dream better. You don’t need a lot of it to feel the effects and benefits. And it works. I’ve been drinking it and smoking it over the past few weeks: it’s different, it’s interesting, smooth and it definitely chills me out in a way I feel immediately. There’s much more information in the video story. So enjoy! I hope you try it along with a handful of her other recommended solutions.

Thanks so much for watching food. curated.! Happy dreaming!! 

Local South Africian Cuisine w/Executive Chef Craig Paterson

VideoBy Liza de Guia on Feb 16, 2012
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As promised, just wanted to share a quick cooking video I shot, kind of on the fly, in South Africa at Londolozi Game Reserve showcasing local seafood, honey, and herbs & greens grown from Kenneth’s on-site community garden below! – Yes, the garden that grows its vegetables using all-natural, chemical free rhino dung safely harvested from their own safari reserve.

Meet Executive Chef Craig Paterson as he takes us through a colorful starter that speaks to the flavors of South Africa – one of many dishes I ate and enjoyed during my time filming wildlife at Londolozi.

Thanks for watching food. curated.! Happy Eating! *photo credit: Adam Bannister*


Rhino Dung: A Sustainable Option for Growing Great Vegetables in South Africa

VideoBy Liza de Guia on Feb 13, 2012
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“I feel like I’m not doing enough when I’m feeding this safari camp alone. We need to have other people coming from other areas to learn. They should know that we have nice vegetables that we are growing from rhino dung.”

Meet Kenneth Jazi, the head gardener at Londolozi Game Reserve, a private game reserve committed to conservation, rehabilitation of wildlife and sustainability in South Africa. Over a year ago, Kenneth had the idea to start the camp’s very first local garden to supply fresh vegetables to the camp kitchens. But, he didn’t want to go outside for fertilizer. He was committed to finding something more local, something more natural to grow his vegetables with – little did he know that rhino dung would be his answer.

Enjoy the short video! It’s very inspiring to travel somewhere remote and discover great ideas in food sustainability. I really wish I could have gone with Kenneth to show you how he harvests rhino dung out in the bush. He tells me it’s “great fun”. Apparently, rhinos collectively create natural dung piles, returning to specific spots within their territories to defecate and “communicate” with each other. I had no idea this was why rhino dung was so easy to harvest – just grab a shovel, head out into the African wilderness (hopefully with a good ranger/tracker team) and find their dumping grounds for fertilizer gold.

Thanks again for watching food. curated.! I hope to share a cooking video from Londolozi, later this week, so you can see some of the vegetables Kenneth grows being used in South African dishes. Happy eating!

Bark Butter: Why Every Hot Dog Needs a Little More Pork Fat

VideoBy Liza de Guia on Feb 1, 2012
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“We’re in New York. We have dirty water dogs. But, I’ll be honest, I don’t love a boiled hot dog. I’ll probably never eat one again.”

Meet Josh Sharkey, the co-founder/owner of Bark Hot Dogs, a sustainable fast food restaurant in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Josh believes there are two main aspects to a great hot dog:   1) It’s got to have great snap – and great snap comes from great casing. Bark Hot Dogs uses sheep casing. It’s all natural and develops that perfect hot dog snap when cooked. 2) You have to use good meat – and good meat comes from good farms. Bark takes pride in sourcing high quality pork products from Heritage Foods USA and all natural beef from Meyer Natural Angus, a certified organic farm in Colorado. To ensure customers can really taste and appreciate the meat that they’re eating, they keep meat cuts down to a minimum, using only pork shoulder, pork jowl and beef shoulder to craft their artisan hot dogs. So, as long as you have those two elements, you’re guaranteed a great hot dog. Josh is sure of it. But, then again, Josh isn’t interested in just a great hot dog, he wants the BEST hot dog, and to get the best hot dog, they use a special, homemade dressing they call: Bark Butter.

Bark Butter is a savory, super smoky, house made lard butter that just so happens to contain lots and lots of smoked pork fat. They coat every hot dog with it, just seconds before placing it into the bun. It’s not listed on their menu. They rarely even mention it at the restaurant. But, it’s their little trick that puts their hot dogs in another class – that last punch of rich pork flavor that makes you wonder why these hot dogs taste so good.

So, go on then, watch my fun little video and see how the REAL secret to a great hot dog gets crafted! It’ll make you want to head to Brooklyn to taste the difference yourself. I highly recommend trying the bacon cheddar dog, the kraut dog, the briny, full of crunch, pickle dog, a side of gravy fries and a chocolate salted caramel shake. Don’t be shy with the housemade condiments. And, if you have room, definitely get the pork burger – which, of course, has Bark Butter in it too! Fast food the way fast food should be.

Bark Hot Dogs: 474 Bergen Street, Park Slope, Brooklyn

Thanks for watching food. curated.! Happy, snappy eating! And cheers to Josh for living the American Dream (wink, wink).