Green Gourmet to Go makes eating healthy easy, approachable
Published 1:02 am, Friday, April 9, 2010
Linda Soper-Kolton wants to make eating healthy meals easy and approachable. The Fairfield resident recently opened Green Gourmet To Go, which will offer local, organic and vegetarian and vegan meals from a small storefront on Fairfield Avenue in Black Rock.
Soper-Kolton was a lifelong food lover and dedicated home cook, and had been working in marketing for more than 10 years at Save the Children in Westport, when she decided to attend the Natural Gourmet Institute (NGI) in New York City. The year-long program opened her eyes. It gave her, she said, a "healthy distrust of where we get our food."
Just the other day, she said, she noticed a sign in a grocery store that said "organic grapes," but when she looked at the label on the fruit, she discovered they weren't organic. [Buyers tip: five digit numbers beginning with the number 9 indicate organic; four digit numbers beginning with number 4 indicates conventional].
At Green Gourmet To Go, Soper-Kolton is carefully sourcing her ingredients from local and organic purveyors. She will get organic produce from Sport Hill Farm in Easton. All Green Gourmet To Go's packaging and utensils -- from cookie bags to forks and knives -- will be compostable or biodegradable. And the gleaming new stainless kitchen is set up for a three-sink manual dishwashing procedure.
"I don't want to contribute to waste even if this is a take-out business," Soper-Kolton said.
And the food?
"I'll serve burritos, but healthy burritos," she said -- burritos filled with sweet potatoes, kale, black beans and grains. Her Dixie burger is made from black-eyed peas and sweet potatoes and served with chipotle sauce. Her hummus and avocado wrap has a crunchy shitake "bacon" crisps. The menu will change with the seasons.
The lunch and dinner menu will include soups (served with crispy kale or sweet potato chips she makes in a dehydrator), salads and wraps. The scarlet soup is an anti-oxidant rich combination of beets and carrots.
"People who swear they don't like beets love this soup," she said.
Lentil apricot soup is another one of what she called "magical pairings."
The menu's filled with phrases like potassiumrich, vitamin-
packed, nutrient-dense, but the healthy food also aims to please the palate. Even the desserts are healthy. "Kaitlin's Cookie" was created for her 10-year-old niece who is autistic and has food sensitivities. The cookie, which Kaitlin loves, has no sugar or gluten. It gets flavor from acorn squash, pears and almond flour. Another sweet treat, "Almond-Oaties," mixes oats, almond and garbanzo bean flour with carob chips.
Because she knows how hard it is for busy parents to cook healthy food for their children, Soper-Kolton will offer a Healthy Happy Meal for kids. Smaller portions of a main course, side dish and treat target finicky appetites. Each earth-friendly box also contains an educational puzzle.
"I feel so strongly about what kids are eating and what they could be eating," she said.
Her 8-year-old son is a vegetarian, who knows to read food labels. "When he sees two-inch-long label or words he can't pronounce, he knows to put it back [on the supermarket shelf].
As a former Internet marketing professional, using social networking is a natural for her, but at Green Gourmet To Go she's looking forward to in-person communication.
"A storefront is about relationships, too," she said.
She envisions having conversations with her customers as they choose daily offerings from the steam table, finding out about their food sensitivities, and sharing what she learned at NGI. "It's an opportunity to teach people," she said.
She opened Green Gourmet To Go in Black Rock because it's close to her home in Fairfield, and "It's an area filled with artsy people who are open to new ideas."
She said people in the neighborhood have been welcoming and enthusiastic. She hopes to support the community as well.
"I want people to know that eating heatlthy isn't scary," she said.
Green Gourmet To Go is located at 2984 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport, next to Timothy's ice cream shop. For more information, call 203-873-0057 or visit www.GreenGourmetToGo.com