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Getting to Know Acai and Pitaya

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I had no idea what these were until our college-age daughters educated me. I had heard of the acai berry but not pitaya, and I had no idea what these had to do with a bowl. I like noodle bowls and rice bowls but acai and pitaya sounded like a fancy name for a bowl of fruit. And a bowl of fruit is fine, but not something that I get all excited about like I would a warm, soothing, steaming bowl of carbs in a salty broth or smothered in a sweet, salty teriyaki. Salty. That excites me. Frozen fruit, not so much. So our middle daughter who goes to school in LA, land of juicing, blending, raw food, yoga, and acai/pitaya bowls, informed us that we were lacking in the bowl arena. She worked at Living Foods last summer and was so irritated we didn’t have acai or pitaya bowls. So what does a father do? He told her to look into it and figure it out. Lo and behold, we had acai bowls on the menu! Then last month at the Fancy Food Show (I love alliteration), we met a vendor from Maui who was selling frozen pitaya pulp to make pitaya bowls. I still had yet to taste either one of these bowls because I live mostly in the Central Valley of CA (where potatoes are a vegetable) while our youngest daughter finishes school. Back to topic. We tasted the pitaya, loved it, and now it’s on our menu as well. Needless to say, our daughter feels vindicated.

I had my first acai bowl a couple weeks ago while I was on Kauai. I’m not one to eat ice cream, sherbet, or smoothies. I have sensitive teeth and those foods are freezing but I also feel like it’s a lot of calories for something that I don’t get to chew. I don’t like to drink a meal, I want to chew. So that’s where these bowls come in.  They have fresh fruit and a granola-like topping that totally satisfied my need to chew. And the frozen acai on the bottom was like ambrosia. Disney word. It was sweet, tart, smooth, and totally delicious. Our daughter said she likes the pitaya even better but I have to wait to try it when I go back at spring break.

So what are acai and pitaya? Well, acai is a berry that grows on a palm tree in the Amazon rainforest. Doesn’t get any more exotic than that. Pitaya, also known as dragon fruit, is a fruit that grows on a cactus mostly found in Nicaragua, or so I’m told. Both contain high amounts of antioxidants, which as I mentioned in the chia article, are responsible for fighting free radicals in our body. Here is a good article on antioxidant activity in our body and the benefits. They are harvested and then processed into a frozen pulp. We buy the frozen pulp and then blend it with coconut milk to make the slushy bottom part of the bowl. The granola mixture goes on next, that is topped with fresh fruit and voila, a pitaya or acai bowl. Seriously yummy, lactose and gluten free, vegan, and can be breakfast, lunch, dessert, or snack. I wouldn’t have it for dinner because it probably wouldn’t compliment my wine. But that’s just me. – Liz Sacchini

Organic vs. Non-GMO

I am Liz Sacchini, the wife of Living Foods owner Jeff Sacchini, the sister of owner Howard Warner, and thus I suppose by default or marriage, another owner of Living Foods!  I also happen to be, by way of University of California at Davis, a retired nutritionist with strong opinions and beliefs on what we should and shouldn’t be eating.  That said, I am also a strong believer in the 80/20 rule.  Make good choices and eat well 80% of the time so you can throw caution to the wind 20% of the time.  My 20% usually starts on Thursday night and slows down Sunday afternoon but this doesn’t mean I don’t make good choices during that time as well!  And so I’ve asked Jeff and Howard (or rather told them) that I would love the chance to periodically express an opinion, of which I have many, on topics relating to Living Foods and our philosophy around good food and good living.  Which brings me to the topic of organic vs. non-GMO.

Jeff, Howard’s wife Susan, and I just attended the West Coast Fancy Food show in SF last week and we had a blast, but I was frustrated with the number of products labeled non-GMO, as if that’s the way to inform consumers a food item is healthy for consumption.  It’s definitely better that products come from non-GMO sources, but it’s far more important to buy organic because organic means so much more.  According to Maxwell Goldberg, author of LivingMaxwell, Your Guide to Organic Food and Drink, organic means grown without the use of:

  1. Synthetic fertilizers
  2. Chemical pesticides and insecticides
  3. Growth hormones or antibiotics

It also means it cannot:

  1. Be irradiated
  2. Contain genetically engineered organisms
  3. Contain genetically modified organisms- known as GMO’s!!!

See his entire article here.  In other words- buy organic and you are also getting non-GMO.  We do the best we can to source organic products and when we can’t, we look for non-GMO.  This is especially important when buying corn, soy, and wheat based food items.  So we found some really cool new products at the show and hope to have them in the store soon!

A Message from Jeff and Howard ~

Thank you for your continued support of your local gourmet grocery store and cafe. Our major focus this month is to continue to create the finest bakery offerings on the island.  In the last couple of weeks, we have added a remarkably talented pastry chef, Catherine Vire from Paris, in our bakery to expand our pastries and desserts.  Please come in and try our new baked goodies.  We think they are of the highest quality on the island. Of course, we will continue to expand our bread offerings and gluten free products.  On another note, we will be moving the wine, beer and spirits section to the opposite corner of the store later this month so we can expand our offerings and open up the space. We hope it provides a better shopping experience for those looking to purchase fine wines, hard to find spirits.  We already have one of the finest beer selections on Kauai, however we will be looking to enhance this with more craft brews and a wider selection of other varieties. We continue to listen to all of your comments and feedback regarding product assortment, new items and things you want to see fine-tuned.  We have added Stevia to the coffee bar selection as a sweetener, improved our chocolate syrup offering and our coffee station has been reorganized in a more efficient manner.   Our prepared salad offerings have been expanded to include some new favorites.  The grab and go section has been tremendously successful as we continue to expand items and explore new, creative dishes that are suitable to eat on the run.

As always, thanks for your suggestions and comments.  They are enabling us to serve you better!

Pre Order Thanksgiving Menu Options

 *PRE-ORDER YOUR HOLIDAY MENU WITH A MANAGER AT THE STORE OR BY PHONE AT: 742-2323. PICK UP IS ON NOVEMBER 26th ALL DAY AND NOVEMBER 27th UNTIL NOON.

  • Diestel Free Range UNCooKED Turkey (10-12 lbs. OR 14-16 lbs.) – $7.14/lb. (Gluten Free)
  • Curried Pumpkin Soup with Croutons (Quart serves 4-6 ppl) – $11.95/qt.
  • Maple Roasted Yams & Carrots (Quart serves 4-6 ppl) – $15.95/qt. (Gluten Free)
  • Brussel Sprouts with Bacon Lardons (Quart serves 4-6 ppl) – $16.95/qt.
  • Cranberry Relish (Pint serves 4-6 ppl) – $7.95/pt. (Gluten Free)
  • Classic Stuffing with Dried Fruit, Celery & Sage (Quart serves 4-6 ppl) – $11.95/qt.
  • Traditional Madeira Gravy (Quart serves 6-8 ppl) – $12.95/qt.
  • Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes (Quart serves 4-6 ppl) – $12.00/qt. (Gluten Free)
  • Pull Apart Rolls (6 rolls) – $8.00 for 6 rolls
  • Classic Pumpkin Pie, Walnut Tart or Pumpkin Cheesecake (8 in. serves 6-8 ppl) – $16.00 each

Let’s Talk Turkey!

Get your free-range turkey for Thanksgiving at Living Foods today! We have slow-grown, grain-fed turkeys from the Diestel Family Ranch in Sonora, CA.  Diestel Turkey Ranch is committed to farming practices that are respectful to the animals and the land, that result in a wholesome, delicious turkey.  The turkeys are fed the finest, 100% vegetarian U.S. sourced grains, and they never administer growth stimulants, antibiotics or artificial flavors. The turkeys are tender, juicy and gluten-free. Come into Living Foods and pre-order your turkey for Thanksgiving today, or you can call in to 808-742-2323.  Ask for a manager in the store, and they can put your order in for you.  Pick-up will be from 7am to 9pm on Wednesday, November 26th or 7am to 12pm on Thursday, November 27th (Thanksgiving Day).  We have uncooked 10-12 lb. and 12-14 lb. turkeys available at $7.14 per pound. Also, please see our succulent Thanksgiving menu in the store to add on delicious side dishes to accompany your turkey like curried pumpkin soup, maple roasted yams and carrots, or a classic pumpkin pie. You will be thankful you did!