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Pumpkin Season is Underway

Cucina Antica Pumpkin SauceEverything is coming up pumpkins. Yes, that’s right – October is the month for everyone’s favorite fall gourd. They seem to be everywhere, and I can’t believe all of the pumpkin-flavored products located throughout the store.

The bakery is even jumping on the pumpkin wagon with FRESHmade pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin rolls and pumpkin bread. There will even be a pumpkin-flavored gelato.

Here are some other featured products that you will want to try before the pumpkin season has passed:

ThinkThin Pumpkin Spice Bars: Created by Lizanne Falsetto, ThinkThin encourages people to forget the scales, measuring tapes and guilt. Instead, it’s important to eat well, live well and feel great. That’s why every wholesome and delicious ThinkThin product is full of ingredients that give your body plenty of balanced nutrition and the energy to think positive.

G.H. Cretors Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn: Made without any artificial color or flavors, their priority is to make the best tasting popcorn you’ve ever tried. Each batch is handcrafted in old-fashioned copper kettles and made with brown rice syrup to add crisp sweetness while keeping glycemic levels low.

Bark Thins Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Seed: This delicious snacking chocolate is packed with delicious pumpkin seeds. Products are non-GMO, kosher and full of protein.

Barbara’s Pumpkin Puffins: A wonderful cereal that is lightly sweetened and wheat free. These crunchy pillows come in a variety of flavors that contain yummy corn, multigrain or honey-flavored rice.

Cucina Antica Pumpkin Sauce: This flavorful sauce is an artisanal blend of peak harvested pumpkin, flavorful San Marzano tomatoes, and an aromatic combination of garlic, rosemary and sage. It is simmered with a touch of cream and made perfect through small batch production. With a delicate hint of honey and cinnamon, the sauce has a well-balanced, earthy character robust enough to be tossed with cheese ravioli, and yet light enough to drizzle over a sautéed medley of fresh vegetables. Simmer with cream for a Cream of Pumpkin Soup. Cucina Antica pasta sauces have no preservatives, no added sugar, no added water, and are made with real tomatoes, not paste.

Doctor Kracker Pumpkin Seed Cheddar Crispbreads: Whole grain seeds and whole grains are packed with vitality, protein, fiber and essential fatty acids. They are nature’s nutritional powerhouse and form the basis of Dr. Kracker’s award-winning flavors. With Dr. Kracker you get the rich, toasty taste of organically grown whole grains and whole seeds as well as an abundance of plant-based protein, heart-healthy fiber and essential micronutrients. All this is in a hearty cracker that can be enjoyed alone or paired with almost anything.

Go Raw Pumpkin Seeds: If you loved pumpkin seeds as a kid around Halloween, you’ll be addicted to these sprouted Pumpkin Seeds. Crunchy, full of flavor and with a kiss of Celtic sea salt, these seeds are so versatile, you’ll find yourself putting them on everything!





Find the FRESH Finds throughout the Store

FRESH FindsAs you walk through the aisles at FRESH, you might have noticed some items marked with a FRESH Finds tag. What does it mean? Why is this product a FRESH Find?

The FRESH Finds program was created to point out unique and exclusive products that we offer. You will see the tags in every department, and they can help you navigate the aisles and notice items you might have overlooked. After all, there is a lot to look at when you shop in the store.

The program is ongoing, and the items will change every month in order to share a wide variety of products with guests.

Products are chosen by FRESH partners – managers and leaders – who want to share their knowledge with shoppers and highlight products that are useful and delicious for that particular month.

Be sure to notice the FRESH Finds tags while you are shopping, and try some new products that you might enjoy. Who knows, you might find some new favorites!

Here are a few of the FRESH Finds for August. I noticed some new things on the list that I can’t wait to try and, of course, some favorites that always find their way into my basket.

Delice de Bourgogne – A classic, French triple crème brie with a smooth, melt-in-your-mouth texture and rich flavor. Originating from the Burgundy region of France, it is made by blending full-fat cow’s milk with crème fraîche. A must for any cheese platter.

Mrs. Renfro’s Salsa – This famous salsa dates back to 1940. George Renfro and his wife, Arthurine, co-founded George Renfro Food Company in the garage of their Fort Worth home. The rest was Renfro history, and today there is a full line of Renfro salsas, sauces, seasonings and peppers.

Stanley’s Famous BBQ Sauce – This sauce is a staple in my refrigerator. It’s as important as ketchup or mustard, and I can’t grill burgers without it. Stanley’s has been family-owned and operated in Tyler since 1958, and it was started by J.D. Stanley who ran the operation until 2000. Now owned by Nick and Jennifer Pencis, they have been proud to carry on its legacy and garner national attention for their restaurant, food and products. Now, you can take home Stanley’s BBQ Sauce to share with your family!

GURU Natural Energy Drink – Energy should not come at the expense of health. That’s why GURU is crafted with natural and organic ingredients. GURU’s authentic preparation of infused and brewed botanicals results in a 100-milligram dose of naturally-occurring caffeine in every can, making it strong and effective.

Natura Malbec – A favorite wine from Argentina, Natura Malbec is deep ruby-red in color with intense aromas of black plum and blackberries, elegantly combined with mild notes of white pepper. Medium-bodied on the palate with silky, ripe tannins and a long, broad finish. An elegant wine that is easy to drink.





Step Back in Time with Dublin Sodas

Dublin Sodas

You might have noticed a few changes around the store. One that I am most excited about is the addition of Dublin sodas in the reFRESH coffee & gelato bar. These Texas-made sodas began in the 1880s and have become a symbol of authentic soda fountain beverages.

It began in Waco in 1885 at Wade Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store where the pharmacist Charles Alderton concocted a formula that captured the amazing fruit, spice and berry aromas that everyone loved about the soda fountain.

The drink he created that tasted as wonderful as the soda fountain smelled went on to be called Dr Pepper. People loved it and Morrison began selling the syrup for Dr Pepper to other soda shops, as well as some other popular flavors. Other investors got involved, and Dublin Bottling Works was created to bottle Dr Pepper and oversee the manufacturing of all the Dublin sodas.

The sodas enjoyed steady growth in sales and began to spread in popularity across the country. However, it wasn’t until the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis that Dublin and Dr Pepper gained real national exposure.

During most of its formative years, Dublin Bottling Works was run by a man named W.P. Kloster. The company and its sodas were associated with the Kloster family’s commitment to friendly service and quality products.

In the 1970s, Kloster faced a key decision. Should he continue making sodas with the same pure cane sugar used by the company since 1891 or begin using a cheaper sweetener called high fructose corn syrup?

Back then, cane sugar was becoming more expensive because of government tariffs. At the same time, high fructose corn syrup was gaining in popularity because of cheaper prices and increased availability caused by government subsidies paid to corn farmers.

It took only one sip of a high fructose soda to convince Mr. Kloster that he would stick with pure cane sugar. Why? His sodas simply tasted better. He vowed to never use high fructose corn syrup, and Dublin continues to honor his pledge to this day.

Although Dublin Bottling Works no longer produces Dr Pepper, they still produce many of the authentic soda flavors that became popular years ago.

At FRESH, we currently have Dublin Vintage Cola, Texas Sweet Peach, Retro Grape, Tart ‘n Sweet, Cherry Limeade, Texas Root Beer and Orange Cream. Other flavors might be added soon so check back often.

In the meantime, the next time you stop in for lunch or afternoon shopping, grab a Dublin soda and pick your favorite flavor. It’s like stepping back in time and enjoying a soda shop favorite!

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Freshie Faves: Pomegranate Chips

Snacks that make you go, “hmmm.” My head was tilted a little to left and I thought I heard the faint sound of C&C Music Factory when I came across my latest find. I’m familiar with the brand Simply 7.   They make pretty tasty lentil and hummus chips that I devour on occasion.  But I was totally intrigued by this new offerings of pomegranate chips! They have sea salt, black pepper and white cheddar in this line.

Pomegranate chips are designed to complement the sweet and satisfying taste of the pomegranate. Pomegranates have been treasured for their delicate beauty, taste, color, and health benefits for centuries. Simply 7 took their flavor and nutrients and baked it into an all natural bite-size chip.

I grabbed the Sea Salt flavor due to my obsession with sodium. Once you bite into this little pink crisp, you do get the salty essence with a good crunch. Then you notice a floral, almost sweet, note from the pomegranate. The taste is very unique and you are compelled to taste one after the other to wrap your head around this fruit chip mash up.

Now if you’re really adventurous, you might try these new chips with a roasted red pepper & pomegranate dip!  

Roasted Red Pepper & Pomegranate Dip

Ingredients:
1/2 cup of walnuts, toasted
3 Tbs unseasoned bread crumbs
3/4 cup of pomegranate juice
2 red peppers, roasted and diced
1 Tbs lemon juice
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbs olive oil
Salt, to taste
Fresh mint sprigs, for garnish

Directions:
Add walnuts and bread crumbs into food processor until finely ground. Add rest of ingredients and process until smooth. Serve with your favorite Simply 7 Pomegranate Chips!





Freshie Faves: Madhava Organic Coconut Sugar

How sweet it is!  Madhava Natural Sweeteners, a leading producer of all-natural, sustainable sweeteners, expanded its popular line of pure, unrefined sweeteners with the addition of Organic Coconut Sugar. Yes, coconut sugar!

 The USDA certified organic sugar is unrefined so it retains the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals including magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, B vitamins and amino acids. This all-purpose sweetener has a mild and sweet flavor; it’s gluten-free, vegan, kosher and Non-GMO Project verified. It’s available in bags and shakers, perfect for adding to hot and cold beverages, for baking, or mixing into yogurt and smoothies. Coconut sugar is available in two flavors: Original, which has a caramelized maple flavor that is ideal for replacing brown sugar in recipes; and Blonde, which is an easy substitute for granulated white sugar.

And what better way to enjoy this new sweet treasure than in an extra special sugar cookie?

Coconut Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup Madhava Organic Blonde Coconut Sugar
1 egg
1 Tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Directions:
Using an electric mixer, cream butter and Madhava Organic Blonde Coconut Sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Blend in egg, milk and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. On low speed, slowly add dry ingredients to creamed mixture until blended.

Place two large sheets of plastic wrap (each about 20 inches long) on a flat, damp surface. Divide dough between sheets of plastic. Pat each mound of dough into an oval about ½-inch thick. Cover each dough oval with another large sheet of plastic. Roll dough between plastic to 1/8-inch thickness. If needed, lift top sheet of plastic and return to top of dough a few times while rolling to allow dough to flatten easier. Place plastic-wrapped dough sheets on a baking sheet and place in freezer until frozen or until ready to bake.

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Remove only one dough sheet from freezer at a time; cutting dough into cookies is easier if dough is frozen. Remove top sheet of plastic and cut frozen dough into desired shapes using cookie cutters. Transfer frozen cut-outs to parchment-lined baking sheets, placing cookies about 1 inch apart.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until cookies are just starting to brown on the edges. Remove from oven and cool 2-3 minutes before removing from baking sheets. Cool completely on a wire rack. Serve plain or topped with frosting. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.





Freshie Faves: Sartori Cheeses

The “Big Cheese” has struck again. A tall, lanky friend of mine leads the way of all things cheese at FRESH. Andrew Griffith, Charcuterie and Cheese Manager, is the kind of comrade you want on your side. He is quick witted, amazing on stilts and man, does he know his cheese. Perhaps you have met him lurking by the Limburger or standing by the Stilton. He is always on hand when you need a nibble of Beemster and for that; I will always be in his debt.

And it seems that my debt ledger is ever increasing. In part due to my new find via Andrew, Sartori Cheese. Sartori has been making award-winning artisan cheese in Wisconsin since 1939, including the recent gold medal winner of the 2011 U.S. Cheese Championship Contest. The cheesemakers at Sartori have won over 100 international awards in the past few years. They are as impressive and they are tasty!

Let’s go for the gold. BellaVitano Gold that is. A Sartori-family original, this rich, creamy cheese with its nutty, fruity flavor is also, in all modesty, a celebrated gold-medal winner. Inspired by traditional, Italian farmstead cheese, BellaVitano Gold begins in the mouth like a premium parmesan and finishes in award-winning style with hints of melted butter.

Now on to the Balsamic BellaVitano. The sweet, nutty, fruity flavors of the most-sought-after BellaVitano become even more desirable when blessed with a few prized drops of Modena balsamic vinegar. By gently bathing BellaVitano Gold in balsamic, cheesemaker Mike Matucheski has given it a sweet coating that burnishes the legend of BellaVitano with yet another honor from the World Cheese Awards.

Let’s toast to the Merlot BellaVitano. By wedding this rich, creamy cheese to the berry and plum notes of Merlot, they have created a marriage of flavors destined to make your taste buds say, “I do.” On that note, if you invite a few friends — say, toasted walnuts, thin slices of prosciutto and semisweet chocolates for dessert — the honeymoon never has to end.





A FRESH Point of View: PLAYhouses

Have you noticed a recent addition to the green space in our north parking lot? If you haven’t walked over to check them out, you must take a look at the four PLAYhouses that are temporarily housed here at FRESH.  These architectural wonders are not only fun to look at, but are helping raise money for one of our favorite local charities, Habitat for Humanity.

Fitzpatrick Architects, the local firm that designed FRESH, has teamed up with Tyler high school students to lend hands-on design and construction experience.  More than 20 Robert E. Lee High School students, involved in the architecture and construction programs, designed and built the playhouses that will be auctioned off to raise money for Habitat for Humanity of Smith County.

Fitzpatrick has a long history of engaging with local organizations to get involved in mentoring and education in Tyler.  As luck would have it, Deanna Harrison, director of development for Habitat for Humanity, approached them with the idea of building playhouses to auction off and the two missions converged into PLAYhouse.

A true model for mentoring, this project has allowed the participating students to get a true to life experience.  These students, should they choose to move forward and pursue a career in architecture, have a great advantage.  They have experienced a very similar environment to their first college class.  They have seen an architect’s office, and know how the joys and frustrations of seeing a project through from start to finish.  And now, they have something to add to their entrance portfolio.

The project also took life in the construction department. Local contractors sponsored each of the PLAYhouses (RPR construction, WRL construction, Garrett Construction, and HGR construction).  The contractors have worked tirelessly with the students, donated materials, and mentored them in the building process.

Take a look at the story on Facebook:  PLAYhouse

The silent auction for the four PLAYhouses began on November 9th.  You are able to bid and see renderings of the PLAYhouses at this website: 32auctions.com/PLAYhouse

I encourage everyone to come out to FRESH and take a look at these impressive structures and then go online and bid!  One of these could make the perfect Christmas gift!





Freshie Faves: I Brake for Nutrition Rich Cookies!

I brake for nutrition rich cookies! WhoNu? Well, I do now.  And knowing is half the battle.

When roaming the aisles of FRESH I have to admit that I often find myself in the cookie section.  I longingly look at all the tempting options within my grasp. There are many colorful boxes and delightful flavors combinations. I noticed a new product has jumped on the shelf, WhoNu? nutrition rich cookies. Yes, you read right, nutrition rich cookies.

The good people of Suncore Products have spent years researching, testing and snacking to find the perfect formula that is WhoNu cookies.  This tasty indulgence is rich with calcium, iron and vitamins A, B, C, D and E. They also have three grams of fiber and a total of 20 essential vitamins and minerals. Oh yeah, and they taste great! They are Myste approved for sure.

So next time you need a sweet snack, grab some WhoNu? Cookies and a glass of coconut milk, and enjoy!





FRESH and Festive: Family Movie Night

For as long as they have existed, there has been a logical connection between movies and food.  One of the iconic series that cemented this connection for me is the TBS series “Dinner & a Movie.”  For over a decade, “Dinner & a Movie” has offered a generous helping of blockbuster movies tied in with a theme menu that’s cooked while you watch.

Here are a few of my all-time favorites:

  • Forrest Gump and the “Shrimp Happens” recipe
  • Coming to America paired with “Land of the Free-Range Turkey Burgers with Jerri Curly Fries” recipe
  • Thelma and Louise presented with “Two Hot Peppers on the Lamb” recipe

If you have watched one of these shows, you know how entertaining it is to add the cooking angle to a classic flick.

Tonight, we are trying our own version of dinner and a movie on the Back Patio.  Starting at 7 p.m. you can watch the family movie, “Hoodwinked,” on our large inflatable screen.  Inspired by the classic tale of Red Riding Hood, this entertaining story involves a goodie bandit who is after Granny’s recipes.

And the dinner… well, that is really the best part!  You can customize your dinner to whatever you want given the vast offerings at FRESH.  You can enjoy classic fare from our 801 Grill or go inside the store and choose from our delicious chef-case items, soup and salad bar, or taco and sandwich bar.  Or, in the spirit of the goodie fairy, you can take advantage of our Pie-Palooza and partake in a delicious FRESH made pie and some free ice cream!  Goodies indeed!





Freshie Faves: Sneaky Pete’s Naturally Oatstanding Beverage

Sneaky Pete is the kind of guy I want to hang out with! Pete is a kind-hearted little rascal who is on a mission to share his delicious heart-healthy beverages with everyone he meets. It all started a couple of generations ago.  Pete’s grandfather, “Pop,” would secretly brew his delicious oat based beverages for his family to enjoy, but grandfather was not alone!  Little Pete would sneak into the workroom and observe the hidden formulation.  One day grandfather caught Pete quietly sliding into the workroom and playfully called him “Sneaky Pete.”

From that day on Sneaky Pete’s grandfather taught him the healthy aspects of his recipe and the knowledge of the delicious fruit juices…they were actually brewed with oats. Grandfather shared his love of brewing delicious beverages, but more importantly his passion for being a little “sneaky” himself and sharing heart-healthy fiber drinks with his family and friends.

Sneaky Pete’s is the first refreshing oat based beverage, which tastes great.  Now there is a refreshing way to easily get the fiber your body needs in a great tasting, fruit flavored, heart healthy, oat based beverage that is low in calories and all natural.  Sneaky Pete’s contains three grams of dietary oat fiber in each 12 ounce bottle, which is equal to eating a bowl of oatmeal.  Over 50% of adults and 90% of children do not take in the daily fiber they need.

Dietary fiber helps you feel full faster and longer; it also aids digestion and helps prevent constipation. Fiber comes only from plant foods (fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains) and grain fiber is thought to protect against digestive cancers more than other forms of fiber.

Luckily, now Sneaky Pete is bringing his delicious oat-based beverages to you!  Not only are they heart-healthy and have oatstanding nutritional value, they are delicious, too!





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