Yelm Crew Investigates Theo Chocolate Factory, With Delicious Results

Yelm Crew Investigates Theo Chocolate Factory, With Delicious Results

theo chocolateWe dare you: try not to think about Oompa Loompas while touring the Theo ChocolateFactory. It’s tougher than you think. Learning about the multiple chocolate waterfalls and large pipes the molten river flows through, it’s hard not to imagine that Augustus Gloop and company might be haunting the company’s Fremont premises. The Seattle-based organization makes the only certified organic, fair trade and non-GMO bean to bar chocolate in North America. On top of that, their products are absolutely delicious, as a contingent from Yelm found out last weekend during a field trip to the factory.

The group included Amy Honey and Jamie Honey of Yelm Bootcamp and a lively gang from New Leaf Hyperbarics. Everyone came away with a new level of respect for what it takes to create chocolate and an appreciation of the exceptional standards Theo Chocolate holds itself to. “All of the work that has to be done by hand before you even get the bean to make the chocolate, that was amazing to me,” says Amy.

Jamie was struck by the emphasis on fair trade. When Theo founder Joe Whinney became the first supplier of organic cocoa beans to the U.S. in 1994, he observed how farmers in Central America and Africa were being exploited, and determined to make a difference. After starting Theo in 2006, he teamed up with actor/director Ben Affleck to create the Eastern Congo Initiative, which provides support for more than 20,000 people living in East Congo. “I loved the fact that every single person along the line is paid well,” says Jamie.

It helps that the chocolate itself is incredible. The tour included samples, and it was hard to pick a favorite, but both Jamie and Amy commented on the milk chocolate with chai spices and the ganache with strawberry jalepeno.  They highly recommend the tour and plan to do it again. “It was joyful, educational, experiential and it tasted delicious,” says Jamie. “What more could you get in an hour?”

Theo Chocolate has its own rack at the Yelm Food Co-op. Try it today!

Read More
Practical Ideas for Co-op Meals From Chef Blu

Practical Ideas for Co-op Meals From Chef Blu

pasta1Several weeks ago, Manager Debbie Burgan stated a goal: for more customers and members to shop first at the Co-op, and look elsewhere only if they couldn’t find what they were looking for. So how does that translate into regular meals for everyone from vegetarians to people who are new at trying to eat healthy? We asked chef Blu Helida to take a look at what the Co-op offers and consider the issue from a meal-planning perspective.

In her eyes, the store has the right inventory for a diverse group of shoppers.  “The Co-op offers so much to choose from for everyone from vegans to people who want roast dinners,” she says. “There’s everything from the simple to the exotic.”

She looked at potential meals according to which type of customer would be doing the shopping. “If you’re gluten-free,vegan, or vegetarian, there are a lot of options for you,” she says. “For people who are new to the Co-op, look for things that are similar to what you normally buy. It’s all there. If you’re going to make pasta, it’s all the same ingredients, but the penne might be gluten-free, the tomato sauce is probably organic and you can use a substitute for meat if you want to.”

Meat lovers who care about locally-sourced food can find pork sausage that goes well with Olykraut sauerkraut or whole chicken that can be roasted with vegetables.  “They could also do curries, many different beef dishes or roasts,” she says. Those who are feeling more adventurous can find the ingredients for Asian chicken noodle soup, fajitas and a variety of other less common fare.

Vegetarians also have a lot options. “They can use locally made sauces, dressings and salsa or buy fresh ingredients and make their own.  If you’re looking for ways to add flavor or spice, there are plenty of choices for you to create your own fusion dish,” says Blu.

She is a global traveler who’s had the opportunity to learn about a wide variety of cuisines from far-flung places, including Japan, Sri Lanka, Morocco and many more. She has also participated in the organic food movement as both chef and gardener, and she knows what it’s like trying to shop for specific diet preferences. Her conclusion: “There’s enough at the Co-op that you can make the meal that you want, whatever your tastes.”

We hope this encourages you to plan your next breakfasts, lunches and dinners with the Co-op in mind. Thank you Chef Blu!


Read More
Embrace Spring With Local Honey and Bee Pollen

Embrace Spring With Local Honey and Bee Pollen

beekeeping class

If you’re one of the millions of people who suffer from seasonal allergies, consuming local raw honey and bee pollen is a great place to start getting your body in tune with the local flora. Bee Forever Apiary offers raw, unprocessed products developed in the Bald Hills area.

Thomas Mani, owner and operator of Bee Forever Apiary, explains why that’s important.  “A lot of stores offer honey that’s been ultra-filtered,” he says. “That process removes small particles like pollen.” But pollen, he says, has a fingerprint, just like people do, which reveals its origin. “Ultra-filtered honey loses its fingerprint, which opens the door for cheating or adulterating the honey,” he says. “A lot of honey that’s offered in grocery stores has corn syrup in it, molasses and water content of up to 25%,”

In contrast, Bee4ever’s honey has no corn syrup, and the water content is kept below 17% so that it can be stored for long periods.  No heating is applied during the extraction and bottling process, which means that all of the valuable ingredients like enzymes remain intact.

Additionally, some local residents have found that Mani’s honey helps them with issues that have plagued them for decades. “I have always experienced severe allergies not only during the hay fever season, but all year round,” says Judy Mezen. After trying Mani’s pollen and honey, she decided to give up he antihistamines ‘cold turkey’ and only use the pollen and honey, supplemented during the strongest part of the season with freeze-dried stinging nettle. “Beginning with day one, I was successful,” she says, “All I have to do is take a small pinch of the pollen and about a teaspoon (or less) of honey and within about 5-10 minutes I can breathe clearly, and it even takes away my sinus headaches. I have been able to do weeding in my garden and even mow the lawn.”

Bee4ever Apiary’s Raw Honey and Bee Pollen are available in the second aisle of the Yelm Food Co-op.

Read More