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Cacao, Molasses, Ginger, & Tempeh {and their tasty health benefits}

Last weekend was one food adventure after another for me…just the kind of weekend I love. Thought I’d share my recent discoveries and, if you’re in New York, prep you for the weekend ahead with tales from one of the coolest local food events I’ve been to in a while: a weekly food extravaganza called Smorgasburg.

First up, though, is New York City-based chocolate company Antidote. Founder Red Thalhammer lives just down the street from me in Long Island City, Queens; so I gave her a shout and we met up for coffee last Friday. Antidote’s tagline is “Health Through Pleasure,” which might as well be my personal motto when it comes to food. Red and I hit it off right away.

Antidote Chocolate Bars

Almond + Fennel...my favorite.

Antidote’s chocolate bars are made from a combination of raw and roasted organic cacao, sourced from farms in the Ecuadorian Amazon (to which Red travels during each production run…I want her job). Cacao isn’t necessarily a unique ingredient these days – with high levels of antioxidants and essential minerals, cacao is considered a “superfood” with health benefits ranging from decreased LDL (“bad”) cholesterol to lower blood pressure to improved mood.

Antidote chocolate is unique for its high quality cacao; added nutrient punch in the form of moringa, a traditional Ayurvedic herb believed to have anti-aging qualities; and the truly tongue-twisting flavor combos, like Lavender + Red Salt, Ginger + Gooseberry, Lemon + Salt, and Almond + Fennel. Each bar is named after a Greek goddess and has a specific health-enhancing quality…LOVE! Go here to see if you’re lucky enough to have Antidote in your city.

On to Smorgasburg…

According to its website, Smorgasburg “brings together New York State Greenmarket farmers and top New York City purveyors and chefs on the spectacular Williamsburg waterfront every Saturday.” New Yorkers, do yourselves a favor and go this weekend. I endured two sweaty hours standing in the blazing 100+ degree sun last Saturday to be there, so you KNOW it must be good. (Ask anyone who knows me…I don’t do well with heat.)

Smorgasburg | Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Stand-outs from my Smorgasburg visit last weekend:

  • City ‘Lasses Switzel This stuff is insane! The founders were searching for a way to get iron and mineral-rich blackstrap molasses into people’s diets with a bit more ease than making molasses cookies. Their solution? A blackstrap molasses-infused drink with ginger, lemon, and honey. They even make a vegan version with agave syrup instead of honey. Definite win.
City 'Lasses | Switzel

City 'Lasses co-founder Dynishal Gross pouring some Switzel

All the good stuff is in blackstrap molasses. Have some!

  • Morris Kitchen’s Ginger Syrup I’m obsessed with ginger. This stuff is the real deal. Use it to give cocktails a kick (Morris Kitchen will even hook you up with cocktail recipes) or drizzle over pancakes or oatmeal. Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory.
  • Barry’s Tempeh You may have seen blocks of tempeh in the refrigerator or freezer case at the grocery store. Looks kinda gross, huh? This is most definitely NOT that. Barry’s tempeh is fresh and made from local grains, beans, and seasonings.  Last Saturday, Barry barbecued it up and served it over a homemade veggie slaw. For those looking to reduce saturated fat in their diet, this is a great meat substitute with an actual meat-like texture. (Even my carnivorous friends liked it!)

Have you made any fun food discoveries recently?  Share them in the comments!

Don’t miss Smorgasburg this Saturday! On the Williamsburg waterfront between North 6th and North 7th St., at the East River. Or check Google for local artisan food markets near you.

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