Have You Tried…? The HPC Aisles Revealed

—by Katharine Holden, HPC Member

Hampden Park Co-op is packed with products you may not have tried before. Here’s the screech on a few of them:

Dagoba Unsweetened Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate mixes are usually more sugar than chocolate. Lots more sugar. Dagoba is different. You make it just like any other hot chocolate mix but you add your own sweetener, should you need it. Instead of a huge infusion of high fructose corn syrup or other nasties, you are free to add just a touch of sugar or alternative sweeteners such as stevia or agave nectar. Or enjoy the chocolate flavor on its own. Dagoba is gluten-free, non-alkalized, and Fair Trade. It comes in eight-ounce canisters.

Cashew Carrot Ginger Soup

Pacific Natural Foods, out of Oregon, produces a great line of soups made of natural or organic ingredients. Normally I avoid carrot soup—it’s so often bland with an undernote of peel that cooks vainly try to cover up with a lot of pepper— but I make an exception for Cashew Carrot Ginger soup. The coconut milk base and the spiciness of the ginger balance the carrots beautifully. Enjoy it hot or chilled. I’ve added leftover chicken to it to make a heartier meal. Gluten-free.

Frontier Tahitian Vanilla Extract

On their cooking show, Two Fat Ladies, Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Dickson-Wright frequently warned against the horrors of using “vanilla flavoring” instead of vanilla extract. The reason? So-called vanilla flavoring doesn’t have any real vanilla in it. It’s basically corn products and food coloring. Vanilla flavoring is sold in bottles right next to the real stuff, and it’s cheaper than the real stuff. So consumers are fooled and enticed into buying it. If you truly want to add corn syrup and food coloring to your baked goods, then go ahead and buy vanilla flavoring. If you want to add vanilla to your baked goods, buy vanilla extract only. It is made, as it should be, from vanilla beans. Frontier Natural Foods Co-op, out of Iowa, makes a full line of high-quality extracts, both conventional and organic, including vanilla, orange, butterscotch, and anise.

Books

HPC offers several shelves of natural health and cookbooks, mostly betterquality paperbacks. Because they’re in an out-of-the-way corner next to the jewelry and single-serving candies, you may not have noticed the books. They’re worth a look. Many of them are from smaller presses and so won’t be stocked at Big Box Books. Randomly selected titles include Take Care of Yourself: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Self-Care, The Africa News Cookbook: African Cooking for Western Kitchens, The Bold Vegetarian, The Secret to Tender Pie: America’s Grandmothers Share Their Favorite Recipes, The Tofu Tollbooth, How Sweet It Is…Without the Sugar, The Llasa Moon Tibetan Cookbook, Become a Vegetarian in 5 Easy Steps, Gaia’s Kitchen: Vegetarian Recipes for Family and Community, The 500 Best Garden Plants, and, my favorite title of the week, Honest Pretzels.

R. W. Knudsen’s Organic Prune Juice

In an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the gnome Guinan introduces Worf, the Klingon, to straight prune juice. Worf declares that it’s a drink worthy of a warrior. R. W. Knudsen Family bottles an excellent organic prune juice, suitable for all you warriors out there. Unlike commercial brand prune juice, Knudsen’s has no added sweeteners. There’s no need; prunes pack plenty of carbohydrates all by themselves. Prune juice can be added to baked goods, chili, barbecue sauce, home brews, and cocktails. It’s a good sweetener for flax meal recipes. Or try Knudsen’s Organic prune juice chilled or over ice. If the very idea of prune juice makes you think of the American obsession with “regularity,” perhaps a cocktail might be more your style (see recipe in sidebar).

[Katharine Holden admits to being the one who caused the Red Lentil Disaster in the bulk beans aisle in October. You see, she had put the bag under the spout and all was going well. Then she spotted this attractive man and was trying to see if he was wearing a wedding band or anything decorated with a rainbow, and…lentils everywhere.]