Posts by Niki Nash
As Packaged Manager, I manage a team of talented people who work closely with the hard-working independent vendors and farmers in Austin and the greater Texas area to bring the Wheatsville community over 2,000 excellent local products. We are SO fortunate to have such a wide-range of locally produced and/or processed foods and wellness items to choose from in Austin. We are living in a town where you can get extra virgin olive oil pressed from Texas olives, coffee that’s freshly roasted a few miles away, creamy goat cheese and crispy pecans, chocolate that’s been crafted from bean-to-bar, pickles, eggs, kombucha, frozen meals and pizza, meat alternatives, scented soaps, herbal supplements, protein powders, energy bars, granola, ice cream, chips, salsa and more hand-crafted beers and ciders than we can even fit into the store. These are glory days for Austin producers and we’re all reaping the benefits!
Friend and co-worker Aldia Bluewillow has given me insight to the early days of Wheatsville since her start at Wheatsville in 1983. Some of the first local products sold at the fledgling Wheatsville are from vendors with whom we still have a great relationship such as Good Flow Honey Co. and White Mountain Foods.
Now in 2016, Wheatsville’s ties to the local community are stronger than ever, with nearly 350 local vendors and farmers working with the co-op on a regular basis. Look for Local Connection signs throughout the stores to identify them. Plus, each month a local vendor is given a special focus; look for the large LOCAL VENDORS ARE PARTNERS sign up on the walls in the Produce departments as well as a Breeze or blog article, in-store sampling and sales.
How do these vendors start a relationship with Wheatsville? The first step is filling out a new vendor application on the Wheatsville website. We’ll follow up for more information if the products look like a good fit for Wheatsville, with priority given to items that have already been requested by shoppers. The Wheatsville Wish List is the best way for product requests to be made, either in-store at the Hospitality Desk or online wheatsville.coop/shop/request-a-product. We really do look at your requests! Unfortunately we can’t honor them all, the volume is very high, but we try to accommodate as many as we can, especially when considering new items.
Once a vendor has been determined to be a good fit for Wheatsville, the appropriate department coordinator works with them to be as successful as possible. This includes setting up sampling and introductory sales as well as discussions about product packaging and barcodes. Many of our vendors are making the transition from selling at Farmer’s Markets or small stores and Wheatsville is their first large retailer. Some vendors will build a thriving foundation at Wheatsville and then go on to bigger state and national chain stores, while others are satisfied to consistently offer their excellent products in just the Austin area. Either way, we are always proud to see a business achieve their goals thanks to the support of Wheatsville shoppers. And your support is so important to the people behind the products. thank you!
For the year of Wheatsville’s 40th anniversary, we’re celebrating all of our local vendors throughout 2016 with even more opportunities to talk to the producers in the stores and to try their products and more special sales and events. Special attention will be on Kosmic Kombucha’s “Wheatsville’s Pear of the Dog” exclusive kombucha blend and Sweet Ritual, who sell their non-dairy ice cream pints exclusively to Wheatsville. Also, look for exclusive local products in honor of Wheatsville’s 40th, such as Lick Ice Creams’ “Happy Birthday Cake” Ice Cream, Third Coast Coffee’s Principle 6 Blend and many others!
Coming soon….Happy Birthday Cake
It's your birthday, so live it up! Celebrate with Lick Ice Creams EXCLUSIVE Wheatsville flavor: Happy Birthday Cake! This fun pink birthday cake is colored with local Johnson's Backyard Garden beets, smothered in sweet vanilla ice cream, and sprinkled with bittersweet Great Bean dark chocolate. Look for it at your favorite Wheatsville location in April!
Lick Honest Ice Creams has been handcrafting seasonal and sustainable artisan ice creams since 2011. Free of antibiotics and added hormones, Lick’s milk and cream come from grass-fed Texas cows at local Mill-King dairy. The other ingredients are sourced from small farms and local artisans scattered across the Lone Star State with a focus on Central Texas.
Chocolove's Chocolate Almond Sea Salt Chocolate Bar is consistently the best selling chocolate bar at Wheatsville. Week after week, shoppers are drawn to the delicious combination of smooth and creamy chocolate with mixed in toasted almonds and salt crystals that seem perfectly placed to bring the flavor together. Well the chocolate masterminds at Chocolove have outdone themselves by treating their faithful audience to Chocolove Dark Chocolate Chips!
Urging you to "Share it with someone you love" these 52% cocoa content chocolate chips have the same silky texture as the chocolate bars. Since i too am a mastermind when it comes to chocolate (who do you think merchandises the chocolate bars next to the cash registers?) I realized upon my first taste of the new chocolate chips that they would probably be EXCELLENT for chocolate dipping. I only had a theory so i enlisted Christie Gonzales, Packaged Receiver at Wheatsville's South Lamar location and former professional chocolatier in North Carolina, to test the theory on cookies and fresh strawberries.
Christie's expert yet easy tips on how to make chocolate dipped delights:
- Slowly melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave on low (1 minute, stir, 30 seconds, stir)
- If dipping fresh strawberries, they will need time to fully dry after washing. If time is short, use a wet towel to gently wipe the strawberries being careful not to tear the skin.
- Cookies, marshmallows, and dried fruit are all great foods to dip in chocolate, be creative
- After dipping place on parchment paper then dry for at least an hour for to keep the chocolate from melting in your hands as soon as you touch them.
- When everything is dry, remove from the parchment paper; they should pull off easily when dry.
- For presentation, place the treats in muffin cups!
- Strawberries are best eaten the day you make them. Dry snacks like cookies can stay good for a month as long as you cover them fully in chocolate and keep them in a cool dry place (refrigerators are too damp)
Dipping suggestions: Dandies Vegan Marshmallows, Back to Nature Peanut Butter Creme Cookies, Pretzel Crisps Classic Pretzels, Hail Merry Coconut Macaroons, fresh bananas, Kettle Potato Chips, crystallized ginger
Tell us your ideas in the comment section and let us know what you made!
Having been born in August in Texas, I am well aware of how high the temperatures get around here. I have always spent my birthday in pursuit of cooling down in a chilly pool or movie theater. However some people prefer to chase the heat all the way to the world’s largest gathering of heat-seekers: The Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival. Established in 1990, the event draws as many as 15,000 spectators and more than 350 entries every year. This year The Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival will take place on Sunday, August 24 at Fiesta Gardens on what is sure to be a scorching hot summer day. George Milton, the hot sauce mad scientist behind Yellowbird Sauce, will be there representing what has become the most popular hot sauce at Wheatsville.
Since we started carrying it in spring of 2013, the fanaticism for the sauce has been a force to be reckoned with. People love the well balanced flavors of carrots, garlic, onions, limes and tangerines with a nice kick from spicy habanero peppers. Multiple sriracha shortages and an increased interest in foods made without preservatives, meant that the arrival of Yellowbird in Austin couldn’t be better timed. With his tireless girlfriend, Erin Link, by his side creating the brand design and managing all the behind the scenes work, Yellowbird George has built the business from the ground up thanks to support from the enthusiastic community of pepper fanatics. After media nods from Thrillist.com and Bon Appétit magazine, the Bird enjoyed a new audience eager for a spicy bottle of Texas goodness to be shipped directly around the country.
At Wheatsville, we appreciate the thought and care that George puts into his company and product, despite his extremely full schedule. Several months ago he had to make a tough decision on whether to keep the sauce in plastic bottles but add preservatives for health code reasons or to move to glass bottles and maintain the integrity of the ingredients. Fans were relieved that the formula stayed the same and I have to say, the glass bottles are snazzy! Based on feedback from customers and retailers like us, George recently rolled out a “baby bird” sized 5 oz bottle of sauce to compliment the larger 12 oz size. There are other plans in the works, so keep an eye out for new developments. In the meantime, enjoy the heat if you can and we’ll see you at the Hot Sauce Festival! (I will be at the ice skating rink).
Recipe by Addie Broyles
1/2 cup kosher salt
5 tsp Yellowbird Sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, thoroughly mix together salt and hot sauce. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the salt/hot sauce mixture in a thin layer.
Turn off the heat and place the baking sheet in the oven. Every so often, stir the salt to help break up the clumps. Leave for several hours or overnight. Once the salt is dry, store in an airtight, glass container. Turns a Salty Dog into a Salty Bird— plus the jars of spicy salt make great gifts.
In support of Hemp History week, consider ordering a copy of Austin author Mariann Garner-Wizard’s book Hempseed Food: the REAL Secret Ingredient for Health & Happiness. More than a cookbook, Hempseed Food provides historical and nutritional information on the versatile hempseed along with delicious recipes. To order Hempseed Food visit Lulu.com
Mariann is a longtime Wheatsville owner who was delighted to share one of her favorite recipes from her book with us.
Freedom Fighter Zucchini Hemp Casserole (great for garden vegetables and herbs)
- 3-5 zukes, sliced in 1/8 in rounds:
- 2 T. safflower or sunflower oil
- salt & black pepper to taste
- 1/4 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 T. ground toasted Hempseed
- basil, oregano, thyme and/or marjoram to taste
- 1/3 C. Italian-flavored bread crumbs
- 1 large tomato, or one can cooked, peeled, no-salt-added tomatoes, chopped
- 1/4 Bell pepper, diced
- 1 T. dairy butter
Put oil in ovenproof casserole dish. Cover bottom with a layer of sliced zucchini. Season lightly. Sprinkle chopped onion over zucchini. Add another layer of zukes and more seasoning. Cover with tomato pieces. Sprinkle ground toasted Hempseed and more herbs over tomato. Add a third layer of zucchini, season sparingly. Layer with Bell pepper pieces and more salt, pepper, and/or herbs. Repeat until all ingredients are used. Cover and bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes (until zukes are tender). Remove cover, top with bread crumbs, dot with butter, increase heat to 375°, and bake 5 minutes more to brown.
- For a main dish, add 1 C. cooked, chopped chicken to first layer, 1 C. fresh, frozen or drained canned corn to second layer, and 2 chopped Serrano peppers to third layer. Spicy!
- Substitute yellow or white squash for zucchini or use them mixed together.
- Omit tomato. Add 1/2 C. shredded cheese to each layer (cheddar mozzarella, and/or Colby are good).
recipe reprinted with permission by the author
Buddha's Brew Kombucha produce handcrafted, fresh kombucha beverages that have been delighting Wheatsville shoppers since 2008.
Of the many tasty flavors of their kombucha, Wheatsville shoppers are the most enthused about the Pineapple Super Greens: pineapple, apple and peach juice with spirulina, chorella barley grass and broccoli powder! Their newest style was a seasonal flavor that has become a permanent offering: Tart Cherry Melon; featuring the heart healthy benefits of tart cherry juice with the fresh flavor of honeydew melon juice. It's a perfect healthy refreshment for Austin summer days.
Run by the power team of Kimberly Lanski and John-Paxton Gremillion, Buddha's Brew is now available in over 200 locations across Texas, Lousiana and Oklahoma.
New to kombucha? Check out Buddha's Brew's Frequently Asked Questions
The Buddha's Brew Crew
In the past few years, coconut water has become one of the most popular beverages at Wheatsville. In this town where summer can start in March and last until
November, it’s the perfect refreshment for all of those hot and humid days. Naturally high in potassium and antioxidants, many sweaty Austinites appreciated the fast rehydration provided by the coconut water; nature’s sports drink. While coconut water is delicious through a straw in a fresh young coconut, they aren’t always available or convenient. Harvest Bay, along with many other beloved brands, offer two convenient sizes of tasty coconut water that’s 100% not from concentrate with no added sugar or flavorings.
Each brand seems to have a slightly different flavor profile based on the coconuts they source and Harvest Bay’s is naturally slightly sweet tasting with a hint of toasted coconut flavor. Recently, Harvest Bay Coconut water was verified by the NonGMO Project to be GMO free! Drink it as is or try some of their recommended drink recipes like Harvest Bay Coconut Watermelon Juice! And if you ever wondered what happens to all of those coconut husks and shells, the Harvest Bay facility actually makes pellets from them to burn for energy to operate the machinery. Very cool!.
One of the brightest rising stars in the natural foods world is based right here in Austin: Beanitos Bean Chips. In 2009 brothers Doug and Dave Foreman set out to create a crunchy snack chip that was full of nutrition and great flavor. The Beanitos Original Bean Chip was born, gaining fast popularity in Austin and finding its way into co-ops and other stores across the country.