Roasted Butternut Squash-Apple Soup

 

Fall isn’t complete without a big bowl of creamy butternut squash soup. We love this recipe because it incorporates our favorite autumn flavors: butternut squash, fresh apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, and maple syrup. It’s bursting with fall flavor! We recommend freezing a batch for a cold winter day.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium butternut squash
  • 2 pounds apples, peeled, cored and quartered
  • 8 ounces butter
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 1 quart apple cider
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • Optional: pumpkin seeds, sage leaves

Instructions

Peel butternut squash and roast in a 350 degree oven until very tender. In a large pot, sauté apples with butter. When apples are tender, add vegetable stock. Add cooked butternut squash to apples. Add spices and salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly. Blend soup in a blender in batches. Return to pot and add cider to thin soup to desired consistency. Add maple syrup to taste. For an added flourish: garnish with pumpkin seeds and sage.

Enjoy!

Butternut Squash, Apple, & Blue Cheese Gratin 

As the temperatures start to dip, we’re craving fall comfort foods! This autumn recipe blends the nutty flavor of butternut squash, the sweetness of apple, and the creamy, tangy taste of a locally produced blue cheese.

Yay for harvest season! Our squash is arriving fresh from Pierson Farm in Bradford (Woodstock) and Paul Mazza’s Farm in Essex Junction (Waterbury), and our apples are coming from Champlain Orchards in Shoreham and Scott Farm in Dummerston. Bayley Hazen Blue is produced by Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2  tbsp  olive oil, divided 
  • 20 oz  cut butternut squash, sliced  into 1/8-inch thick pieces  
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • 1/8 tsp  ground nutmeg, divided  
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 fl oz)  heavy cream 
  • 2 tart apples (we recommend a Honey Crisp/Granny Smith blend. You could also use Cortland.), cored, peeled, thinly sliced 
  • 3 oz  Bayley Hazen Blue cheese 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Prepare a 2-quart shallow casserole dish with a thin coating of 1 1/2 tbsp oil.  Place the casserole dish on a baking sheet. Arrange a single layer of squash on the bottom of the dish; season with salt and pepper and half the nutmeg. Repeat layering process until you’ve used up all of your squash (you should have 2-3 layers). Pour heavy cream over all.  
  3. Bake for 30 min; remove from oven. Using a spatula, press the squash/cream mixture down and return to oven. Bake 10 min; remove from oven.  
  4. In a small bowl, toss apples with 1 tbsp oil.  Arrange a layer of apple slices on top of the squash mixture; the apples will overlap slightly. Press apple slices gently into creamy mixture with a spatula.  
  5. Return casserole to oven; bake 45-50 min or until squash and apples are tender.  Remove from oven. Crumble the Bayley Hazen Blue on top of  casserole and let the cheese melt before serving. 

Bombay Slaw

Our version of Bombay Slaw incorporates harvest-fresh veggies and fruit— cabbage, carrots, and apples—with sweet and tangy Asian flavors for a refreshing fall meal.

Ingredients

  • A few cups of shredded green cabbage
  • 2 cups carrots grated
  • 2 cups celery, julienned
  • 3 green apples, julienned
  • 1 cup currants
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • ½ cup blend of sesame and olive oils
  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. pepper
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups additional blended oil

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, combine green cabbage, carrots, celery, apples, currants, and coconut.
  • Sauté curry powder and ½ cup of oil. Add to vegetable mixture.
  • In a mixing bowl, blend the cider vinegar, salt, pepper, brown sugar, and additional olive oil.
  • Adjust seasoning and add to vegetables.

Toss and enjoy!

Hops & Hikes: Five Vermont Trails & Après-Hike Beers

This fall we’re celebrating Hops & Hikes! Because we believe every outdoor adventure should be rewarded with a cold beverage—after you’re done, of course! And whenever possible, we like to keep it local.

Here in Vermont, you can find a brewery near most trailheads. So it’s easy to pair local hikes with local brews. Read on for five Vermont day hikes paired with our favorite après-hike brews from the nearby area.

A big thank you to the Green Mountain Club, a nonprofit that maintains Vermont’s 273-mile Long Trail, for the trail suggestions—and for making these amazing hikes possible. This fall, when you buy any Hops & Hikes featured beers, we’ll donate 10% of your purchase to the Green Mountain Club, and Farrell Distributing will match the donation!

Stowe Area

Taylor Lodge via Lake Mansfield Trail, Stowe

  • 4.6 mi round trip, approx. 750 ft elevation gain 

The Lake Mansfield trail gradually rises near the edge of Lake Mansfield before turning away from the lake to ascend at a slightly steeper grade. The trail brings you through a gorge, past the piped water source, to a beaver pond and views of the north wall of Nebraska Notch. Continue until you reach Taylor Lodge, a 4-sided shelter with room for 15. There is also abundant space for tents if the shelter is full.

Pair with:

Burlington Area

Camel’s Hump Summit via the Burrows Trail

  • 4.8 mi round trip, approx. 2,461 ft elevation gain

Starting from the trailhead at the end of Camel’s Hump Road in Huntington, follow the blue blazed Burrows trail as it steadily climbs to the hut clearing. From the hut clearing, follow the Long Trail for the final push to the summit. The rocky, open summit provides breathtaking 360-degree views.

Pair with:

Killington Area

Pico Peak or Killington Peak via Sherburne Pass Trail

  • Pico – 5.5 mi round trip, approx. 1,860 ft elevation gain 
  • Killington – 11.6 mi round trip, approx. 2,085 ft elevation gain 

From the parking area on Route 4, the Sherburne Pass Trail gradually climbs 2.7 miles to Pico Camp, a small four-sided shelter. Ski trails allow for nice views along the way. From the camp, follow the Pico Link trail 0.4 miles up to Pico’s open summit. Continue on the Sherburne Pass Trail past Pico Camp to its intersection with the Long Trail at Jungle Junction. Follow the LT south as it gradually climbs for 2.5 miles to Cooper Lodge, the highest shelter on the Long Trail at 3,850’. From Cooper Lodge, take the 0.2 mi Killington Spur to climb steeply to the summit. This final spur trail is the hardest part of the whole hike, but leads to an open summit with 360-degree views so the reward is substantial!

Pair with:

Okemo Area

Ludlow Mountain (Okemo), Mount Holly

  • 6.0 mi round trip, approx. 1,943 ft elevation gain

If you are in the Rutland or Killington area but want to avoid the crowds around Killington and Pico, head just half an hour south to hike Ludlow Mountain, more commonly known as Okemo due to the ski resort on the eastern slopes of the mountain. Follow the blue-blazed Healdville Trail as it gradually climbs to the summit of Ludlow Mountain. At the summit, you will find a fire tower that provides 360-degree views.

Pair with:

Middlebury Area

Skyline Lodge, Ripton

  • 5.2 mi round trip, approx. 1,460 ft elevation gain

Follow the blue-blazed Skylight Pond Trail as it gradually rises and switchbacks to the Long Trail. Go straight onto the spur trail down to Skyline Lodge and Skylight Pond. The shelter is a lovely place to sit and watch the sunrise over the pond. The pond is also a great spot to see some wildlife!

Pair with:

A Good Honest Pint, an English-style ESB (“extra special bitter”) by Drop In Brewing in Middlebury, VT

Happy trails!

Potatoes Dauphinois with Fall Harvest Veggies

Although “comfort food season” is still a few weeks away, this fall-inspired recipe will get you in the mood. Made with fresh, wholesome ingredients, it combines fresh-from-the-garden potatoes and Vermont-made cheese with your pick of seasonal veggies for a quick and easy one-pot meal.

Spring Brook Tarentaise is produced in Reading, Vermont, about 15 miles from our Woodstock store. This French alpine-style cheese is the perfect accompaniment to this classic French recipe.

Serves 6

Here are some suggestions for your fall harvest vegetable:

  • 1 large heirloom tomato, cored and sliced 1/8 inch thick
  • 1 cup butternut squash, thinly sliced
  • 1 large sweet potato, cut in 1/8 inch slices
  • 1 large onion cut cup of thinly sliced in ¼ inch slices and sautéed in 2 tablespoons of butter until tender

 What you’ll need

  • 8×11 gratin dish or 8×8 glass baking dish or 9-inch deep pie plate
  • small saucepan
  • vegetable peeler
  • measuring cup
  • knife
  • mandolin or food processor to slice potatoes

 Ingredients

  • 2 pounds starchy potatoes
  • Your choice fall harvest vegetable (see above for suggestions)
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) Spring Brook Tarentaise cheese, grated
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Peel the potatoes and slice them 1/8 inch thick.
  • Smear the dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter.
  • In a small saucepan, bring cream, sliced garlic, and thyme to a boil. Set aside for 5 minutes. Remove thyme.
  • Spread half of the potatoes in the bottom of the dish. Divide over them, half the salt, pepper, cheese, and slices of butter.
  • Top the first layer of potatoes with your fall harvest vegetable of choice.
  • Arrange the remaining potatoes over the veggies and season with salt and pepper. Spread the remaining cheese and butter over the potatoes. Pour the cream over the potatoes.
  • Set the baking dish in the upper third of a preheated oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the potatoes are tender, the cream is absorbed, and the top is a golden.

Enjoy!

It’s Back-to-School Time! Healthy Lunch Box Ideas

A nutritious lunch helps our kids perform better in school and boosts their immune systems. But it’s not a simple task to find lunch box foods that are healthy, easy to eat—and won’t end up half-eaten in the cafeteria trash can.

Mollie, one of WFM’s grocery buyers and mother of school-age children, put together a selection of back-to-school snacks we think your kids will love. Plus, they’re naturally nutritious and made with real ingredients. Look for our Back-to-School display in the grocery section!

Organic applesauce pouches

We love the fact that these squeezable applesauce packets are re-closeable, so if your child doesn’t finish it at lunch, they can enjoy the rest as an after-school snack! Here’s a great video about how they grow, package, and process their products: GoGo squeeZ: From Seed to Pouch – YouTube.

Add them to your cart.

Snack Bars

These bars are made with real fruit and whole grains. Plus, they’re plant-based, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, and Non-GMO Project Certified.

Add them to your cart.

Organic juice boxes

R.W. Knudson has been making organic juices since 1985. long before organic was “in.” You also won’t find any artificial flavors or preservatives in their juices.

Add them to your cart.

Snack mixes

Hands off, parents! The only downside of these snack mixes is they’re as irrestistible to adults as kids.

Add them to your cart.

Granola bars

These yummy bars are made with 5 super grains: oats, millets, buckwheat, amaranth, and quinoa. They’re also gluten-free, Non-GMO Project Certified, and you’ll recognize all of the ingredients.

Add them to your cart.

Meat sticks

It’s hard to find lunch-box friendly snacks that are also high in protein. That’s why we love these easy-to-easy, delicious meat sticks (made with turkey, beef, and/or pork); they serve up between 6 and 9 grams of protein.

Add them to your cart.

Fruit bars

These fruit bars are called “That’s it” for a reason. They’re made with fruit. That’s it. No added sugar. They’re plant-based, gluten-free, non-GMO, and allergen free. Plus, they contain two whole servings of fruit.

Add them to your cart.

Old-World Style Charcuterie Made in Vermont

One bite of Babette’s Table‘s saucisson sec or sopressata, and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to the European countryside. Owner and butcher Erika Lynch employs old-world fermenting and curing methods to produce her charcuterie. In keeping with the French culinary values of high-quality food and regional variety, she sources her meat from a handful of small family farms in Vermont.

How did this former educator, born and raised in Kentucky, become the owner of a charcuterie company in Vermont? Read on to hear Erika’s story and why her products are some of our top sellers.

Q. You grew up in the South. How did you arrive in Vermont?

A. After graduating from the University of Kentucky, I moved to Boulder, CO. It was in Colorado that I earned my teaching certificate and met Julie, who is now my wife. Julie and I both worked in schools in the Denver area, but after several years living abroad and out west, Julie started pining for her home in the Green Mountains. We moved back to the area 12 years ago. She was worried that I might not like it, so she taught me how to cross-country ski. Now I can’t imagine living anywhere else, and despite my Kentucky roots, winter is my favorite season.

Q. After a career in education, you traveled to France to learn about curing and fermenting. How did you become interested in preparing dried meats?

A. After our move to Vermont, we became very interested in the local Vermont food movement. When my children were born, my job as an academic director for a program for students who’d dropped out of high school became a little too draining. I knew that I wanted to do something that supported Vermont’s food community, but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. In my reading, I came across a report exploring the potential for artisanal cured meats in Vermont. I did a lot of research, and I decided that I wanted to learn more about cured meats and explore a business idea that would use local meat and quality ingredients to make artisanal salami, coppa, lomo and jambon.

Q. Why Gascony, France for your internship?

A. I located several places in the US that offered apprenticeships for butchering, but none for curing. After lots of research, I came across a program in France with master butcher and teacher Dominique Chapolard and cook Kate Hill. Julie and I had both had the opportunity to spend time overseas, and we felt like a big part of our ethos mirrored our experiences in Europe around slow food. We loved the tradition of meals that stretched on for hours on the weekends. We wanted to be a part of that and to bring some of that sensibility back with us to Vermont. As a result, I decided it would be worth the investment, and I traveled to France for a month-long course and another month-long stage, or apprenticeship, with Dominique and his family.  My time there absolutely defined my business and inspired our approach.

Q. How did your southern upbringing influence your culinary and business pursuits?

A. As a kid, my fondest memories are of my family gatherings. If any of us in my family had a birthday or a celebration, the whole family would turn out to celebrate—at least 30 of us, and we’d all gather around something homemade. I remember visiting my great aunt’s farm, a beef farm she ran herself up into her 80s, and she’d wake up early to make the whole family the most extraordinary biscuits, bacon, eggs, and gravy. Food was a way we showed each other our love. Food brought us together.

Q. What inspired you to start your own business? (And we’ve love to hear the story behind your company name.)

A. Several years ago, I came across a report about the need for artisanal charcuterie makers in Vermont. It inspired me to experiment with curing at home and then to find a formal apprenticeship program in Gascony, France. At the time, I could find places in New York that would teach butchery skills, but I couldn’t find any programs where I could learn to cure. Eventually I found a program in Gascony, France where I was able to work with master cook, Kate Hill and third generation butcher Dominique Chapolard. I learned a lot about techniques there, but I also came away from the experience with a strong sense of ethos for my business. Dominique always said that before anything else, you should know your farmers well. That has defined our business and dictated how we grow—in tandem with our farmers. We make sausage for their farm stands and CSAs, and we buy their meat to make our own products too. It’s a symbiotic relationship. We like to think that we offer an alternative to industrial agriculture with a more cooperative model.

We liked the name Babette because it is French and reminds us of our time there.

Q. What products do you offer?

A. We make sausage, both for our business and our farmers, frozen pancetta (cured pork belly), guanciale (cured pork jowl), salami, and whole-cured muscles like coppa, lomo, and mini prosciutti.

Q. What sets Babette’s Table meats apart?

A. We’re proud of the fact that we only use local pork from farmers we know well. We work with Pigasus Farm in South Hero, Snug Valley Farm in Hardwick, von Trapp Farmstead in Waitsfield, and PT Farm in North Haverhill, NH, 5 miles from the VT border. We also make all our own products at our facility in Waitsfield, Vt. We use an artisanal approach to our production, so everything is unique.

Q. What do you love most about your work?

A. I often find production meditative. You get into a rhythm. I like taking the time to create high-quality products that will bring people together. I also like the community that we’ve developed by working with our farmers and other Vermont artisans as our business grows. I feel like strong, local food systems can go a long way in building healthier, more connected communities.

For more info: Babette’s Table (babettestable.com)

Local food nourishes us, supports our families, builds community, and benefits our environment.  Local Food Is Love. We are so fortunate in Vermont to have access to such a wide variety of foods made and grown by neighbors we know and trust. This is what Local Food Is Love is all about. Every summer we celebrate the local growers and producers who enhance our lives and communities in countless ways. Stay tuned for more stories about these amazing people and the unique and delicious foods they bring to our tables.

Ever Heard of Goat Milk Gelato?

There’s a reason why you may have never heard of goat milk gelato. It’s hard to find. But lucky us. We can get it locally made, thanks to the hard work and innovative spirit of Michael and Lisa Davis, co-owners of Sweet Doe Dairy in Chelsea, Vermont. Their 81-acre farmstead and creamery produces premium farmstead goat milk gelato exclusively using milk from their registered herd of Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats.

We wanted to learn more about this delicious new product and how two “city folks turned Vermont dairy farmers” made the leap from a pretty cool idea to a real business. A big thank you to Michael and Lisa for taking the time to share their farming story with us!

Q. So what are your roles at Sweet Doe Gelato?

A. Michael: I’m responsible for all aspects of animal husbandry on the farm, including maintaining our pastures for rotational grazing in the spring, summer, and fall months. I also develop our recipes and make all our gelato in our on-farm creamery.

Lisa:  I’m in charge of sales and marketing, packaging, shipping & receiving, and bookkeeping. I’m particularly active on the farm-side during kidding season each spring, helping to care for the newborns as they arrive.

We like to say that Michael is the “Willy Wonka” of Sweet Doe who makes the magic happen behind the scenes, while I’m the public face you see slinging scoops at farmers’ markets and events.

Q. You moved to Vermont from the city and fully embraced the agricultural life on your growing farm in Chelsea, VT. Looking back, what was the biggest adjustment to rural life?

A. Lisa:  Adjusting to rural life was the easy part. Starting a dairy from the ground up was difficult. Most dairies, particularly those in Vermont, have been around for decades, with operations handed down from one generation to the next. And yes, while each generation must continue to make investments and business decisions for their operation as it evolves, the infrastructure and basis for their businesses was already in place long before they were born. That is a huge advantage in that they’ve had access to mentors within their families, an established customer base, and all of the equipment needed to continue the family operation.

Sadly, there aren’t a lot of investors—or grant-makers, for that matter—willing to take a risk with a start-up dairy farm these days, so if you decide to do it, you need to be willing to put everything you have on the line, believing in yourselves and your ideas. And that’s exactly what we did.

For us, that meant investing everything we had in our property, our livestock, and our infrastructure. We purchased every goat, every piece of equipment, and built our milkhouse, parlor, and creamery ourselves (with the help of some friends), literally constructing our facilities with our own two hands. That’s a pretty costly proposition, both in sweat and in dollars, not to mention in physical and mental health. We did all of that while conducting R&D for our product at the very same time. And as first-generation farmers, we had to teach ourselves every aspect of our farm- and plant-side operation, learning by doing and making a lot of mistakes along the way. It’s been a test of will and intellect, but we take great pride in the fact that we’ve done it while creating something amazing that simply didn’t exist in the marketplace before Sweet Doe came along.

Q. You could have gone lots of different directions when starting a farm-based business. Why goat milk gelato?

A. Michael: Frankly, I wanted to do something innovative. There were a lot of people who couldn’t eat ice cream because of lactose and/or protein sensitivities to cow’s milk, and I couldn’t help but notice that there were no real alternatives to cow dairy in the ice-cream aisle, aside from a few soy- and nut-based milk products that just lacked the taste and texture that makes premium ice creams and gelato so special. I also realized that most people who have trouble digesting cow’s milk don’t experience the same issues with goat milk. There are a lot of reasons for that, but we’ll save that story for another day.

As soon as I tasted Nigerian Dwarf milk, I was blown away by the clean, rich taste—it was, by far, the best I’ve ever had.  So, we got a few goats to try and found them to be sweet, funny, and full of personality. That’s where our journey toward goat milk gelato began.

Q. Where did you learn the gelato-making craft?

A. Michael:  I had taken some courses in ice-cream production, but I learned gelato-making mostly from years of intensive food science research and from making hundreds of test batches in our home kitchen.

Lisa:  One of the primary reasons why our gelato is so exceptional—aside from the fact that we use the very best ingredients—is because of Michael’s incredibly discerning taste buds. That’s not a talent that can necessarily be developed; you’re either born with it or you’re not, and thankfully, he is. Customers often comment on how perfectly balanced our gelato flavors are, and that’s no coincidence.

Q. How does goat-milk gelato compare in taste and consistency to regular gelato?

A. Michael: Our gelato is incredibly rich and creamy, but doesn’t sit as heavy in your belly as typical gelato or ice cream. That’s one of the things people love about it so much. It’s naturally low in fat compared to other ice creams and gelatos because we only use whole milk when making it without added cream.

Some people taste our gelato expecting it to taste like chèvre. It does not! In fact, they’re shocked when they can’t even detect a hint of “goatiness” or that traditional goat cheese taste. That’s because of the quality of our Nigerian Dwarf milk as well as how carefully the milk is handled through every step of our production process. Don’t get me wrong; we love goat cheese—just not in our gelato!

As for texture? There’s really nothing like it. It’s ridiculously smooth.

Q. Your gelato is made using the milk from your herd of Nigerian Dwarfs. Why that goat breed in particular?

A. Michael:  Nigerian Dwarf milk is so far superior to any other milk in terms of taste, texture and digestibility. In fact, if you were to do a side-by-side blind taste test of milk from various breeds of dairy goat—and frankly, from various breeds of cows—you’d choose Nigerian milk every time.

With Nigerian Dwarf milk, I knew, because of its attributes, that I could produce a product that was even better—and better for you—than the richest tasting ice creams and gelatos out there. It was a huge risk, but we took it.  Plus, no one with a sensitivity to cow dairy should be deprived of America’s favorite frozen treat, and even the rest deserve the best.  We believe that so strongly that it’s part of our Sweet Doe Dairy mission today.

Q. Any funny goat stories?

A. Lisa: Tons! They so smart and so full of personality. One of my favorite goats on our farm is a wether (castrated male goat) named Blackberry. He was one of the very first goats we ever purchased, and he’s huge! Probably one of the biggest Nigerians I’ve ever seen. But he’s such a gentle giant. Somehow, he’s learned how to pull zippers on jackets and sweatshirts up and down with his teeth, and he does it every time a zipper is in reach, like when I’m leaning over to put hay in the feeders. He loves showing off this skill to anyone who happens to be nearby and looks so proud of himself when he does.

Q. Can you tell us about your Homegrown by Heroes program?

A. Michael:  Sure. Homegrown by Heroes is a program run by the Farmer Veteran Coalition, a nonprofit organization that helps military veterans transition into farming. Most people don’t realize how difficult it is for many military veterans to readjust to civilian life after having served in active duty, and how farming—and the discipline and attention to detail it requires—helps many who are struggling do so successfully.

Homegrown by Heroes is a special logo designation reserved for farmer veterans across the U.S. that can be displayed on product packaging to indicate that a product is grown or made by a military veteran. I am a proud veteran of the United States Navy, having served two tours aboard a mine sweeper in the Middle East.

Every time you purchase a product with the Homegrown by Heroes logo, you’re supporting a farmer veteran in his or her efforts to bring you the food that nourishes your soul. If you’re curious to learn more, you can check out the Farmer Veteran Coalition Web site at farmvetco.org.

Q. What’s your most popular flavor?

A. Lisa: In pints, it’s Vanilla…because what’s more versatile than Vanilla?! It’s great both on its own and as an accompaniment to a wide range of desserts. But in scoops, it’s a toss-up. Our Chocolate is hugely popular…but Coffee’s a crowd favorite, too. And when fall arrives, it’s all about the Chai.

Q. Anything else you’d like to add?

A. Lisa:  If there’s one message I’d like to leave you with, it’s this:  If you’ve got preconceived notions about what a goat milk product tastes like, cast those aspersions aside and try our gelato. You won’t be disappointed.  Even if you’re not a fan of goat milk or goat cheese, you’ll love it, as there is no goatiness at all in the flavor.  But don’t take our word for it; go out and get some yourself. Anyone who doesn’t try it is missing out on something special.

Put some Sweet Doe in your cart.

Local food nourishes us, supports our families, builds community, and benefits our environment.  Local Food Is Love. We are so fortunate in Vermont to have access to such a wide variety of foods made and grown by neighbors we know and trust. This is what Local Food Is Love is all about. Every summer we celebrate the local growers and producers who enhance our lives and communities in countless ways. Stay tuned for more stories about these amazing people and the unique and delicious foods they bring to our tables.

‘This Is So Good….You Should Sell It’

Not all plant milks are created equal. But we won’t try and explain why. We’ll leave that to the expert: Caroline of nutty life, a family-owned company based right here in Woodstock. Read on to learn the history of this local business and find out what sets nutty life apart from other plant milks on the shelf.

Q. What sparked your interest in dairy-free milks?

A. Back in 2009, I started getting severe stomach aches from your typical store-bought plant milks (after thinking I was lactose intolerant).  It turns out my stomach was reacting to the additives typically found in non-dairy and even dairy products—gums (linked to bowel issues) and carrageenan (linked to bowel cancer).  From that day forward, I became obsessed with clean eating. Fast forward a few years to when my cousin taught me how to make almond milk.  I started making it daily for myself—and friends and family were drooling over it.

Q. What inspired you to start your own company? And when/where was it founded?

A. After making almond milk for myself for about five years and bouncing from desk job to desk job, I found myself pretty unfulfilled working at Merrill Lynch in downtown Boston.  I had the idea of selling my almond milk in the back of my head since friends and family would say, “this is so good…you should sell it.”  I decided to launch a kickstarter in 2015 to try to make that dream a reality.  I raised $5,000 with no name for the business—just a passion for making almond milk. I started working for my first boss out of college part-time while I learned all of the rules and regulations of a food business. My first test batches of almond milk were made in mason jars out of my tiny shared Beacon Hill (Boston) apartment. Turns out, you need a commercial kitchen to legally sell (which we found) and nutty life launched in Boston area stores at the end of 2016.

Q. What sets nutty life apart from other nut milk products?

A. At nutty life, we use the cleanest possible organic ingredients—and we use way more nuts and oats to give it the creamiest texture. Most brands skimp on the nuts and oats and use fillers (like gums and carrageenan) to make the plant milks feel thicker in your mouth. Our goal from day 1 was to make a plant milk that was clean and affordable. We started off selling our larger bottles at $10 (now $6.99) and our smaller bottles at $8 (now $4.99). We work hard to get the best ingredients at the best price—and we always pass along the savings to our end customer 🙂 We also make everything ourselves (instead of opting for a co-manufacturer) so we have complete control over all production. We use a unique processing technique to make our products super creamy, and we use every last drop of every ingredient (zero food waste).

Q. What products do you currently offer?

A. We currently offer organic oat milk, organic almond milk, and organic cashew milk.  Behind the scenes, we also make bulk hemp milk and bulk coconut milk!

Q. What are your favorite ways to use nutty life milks?

A. My favorite way to use nutty life is for smoothies! I also use it daily in cereal and coffee (lattes, too, because they make the frothiest lattes!). And the 10oz plant milks (which have even more nuts than our 32oz blends!) are delicious in chia seed pudding, overnight oats, and oatmeal.  All of our plant milks are great for baking and cooking too. The options are endless!

Q. Anything new on the horizon?

A. We recently started making 10 liter bags of plant milk for food-service customers. It’s so awesome to partner with larger companies that have similar values on clean eating and clean labels. And people are obsessed with our bulk coconut milk, so we might just have to start bottling that up for retail too!

Q.  Is there anything else you’d like to share about your company or product?

A. We are 100% family owned and have taken no outside investment. My husband Craig and I have worked hard to save and re-invest into the business as we grow. That being said, we are always looking for strategic investment partners that can help take us to the next level 🙂

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Local food nourishes us, supports our families, builds community, and benefits our environment.  Local Food Is Love. We are so fortunate in Vermont to have access to such a wide variety of foods made and grown by neighbors we know and trust. This is what Local Food Is Love is all about. Every summer we celebrate the local growers and producers who enhance our lives and communities in countless ways. Stay tuned for more stories about these amazing people and the unique and delicious foods they bring to our tables.

Summer Pesto Recipe

There are so many delicious ways to enjoy fresh pesto. Stir it into sautéed green beans, mix it into a salad dressing, add a dollop to your scrambled eggs, or spread it on a pizza or sandwich. And, of course, there’s always pesto pasta.

Right now we have local, organic basil from Fresh Roots Farm in Sharon, Vt. and Pete’s Greens in Craftsbury, Vt.

Summer Pesto

Ingredients
1/2 cup pine nuts (or substitute walnuts for a little something different)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2-4 garlic cloves (how garlicky do you like it?), finely grated
6 cups of basil leaves (about 3 bunches)
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast the pine nuts (or walnuts) on a baking sheet until golden brown (be sure to toss at least once). This should take 5-7 minutes. After the pine nuts cool, place them in a food processor and add the cheese and garlic. Pulse until finely ground. Add the basil and pulse again until fully blended. Slowly pour in the oil until smooth (about 1 minute). Season with salt.