The grand opening of the Reno Natural Grocers was amazing. It would have been a ton more fun had I been able to share the experience with my lovely family…but our trip got a little sidetracked when Scott was diagnosed with a nasty bronchial virus less than 24 hours before we were set to depart on the trip. Julie thought it best not to infect an entire aircraft with his virus, or any of the Wolfoletti-Welbourn clans, so she reluctantly stayed home with the kiddos (rockstar mommy) while I headed west.
I spent the weekend having a blast with the Wolf and Welbourn clans. We managed to spend plenty of time in the kitchen cooking up tasty food and enjoying one another’s company. The trip had a number of highlights, beginning with the the VIP event at the store on Sunday. I had the opportunity to sit in on Karen Falbo’s talk to local folks about the store and their business model. Natural Grocers is doing SO MANY things right. Here are the five tenets of their business:
- Dedicated to providing nutrition education
- Committed to quality
- Committed to everyday affordable pricing
- Committed to our community
- Committed to our employees
Each store is equipped with a credentialed Nutrition Health Coach (NHC). These NHCs are available to help customers, get out in the community and do private one-on-one coaching sessions to consult customers on how to utilize food to heal and attain optimal health. They screen and work with each and every vendor to be sure that products in the stores are organic and GMO free. They do not offer deli counters and fresh fish in their stores, as these are huge cost drivers and they want to keep their pricing as competitive and accessible to every customer. Just one example of the pricing: the heirloom tomatoes they had for sale at $3.99/pound. That’s easily 30% cheaper than you’ll likely find in other stores. The most amazing part of their VIP event was the time and effort Karen spent talking about rotational grazing, grass fed beef and the critical role animal husbandry plays in rebuilding our soil and food system.
Monday was full of food prep and rest. The demo kitchen at Natural Grocers is amazing. I had quite a bit of prep to get done so that I could make my way through the demo without any hitches…and then spent the rest of the day relaxing and hydrating.
Tuesday came and it was down to the store nice and early to prep the turkey. We were demoing our Leftover Turkey and Pesto Casserole…so I needed to get the bird cooked before the demo so that I’d have leftovers. Additionally, I needed to have one batch of the casserole already ready so that it wasn’t taking up the oven space for Pumpkin Pie Mini-cakes. Once I got the turkey in the oven that morning, I had a few hours to spend in Reno. Robb met me over at Specialty Health and I got to meet the team behind the City Zero Project. What an amazing group. I’d had the chance to meet Scott Hall at the 2013 Ancestral Health Symposium in Atlanta. Robb took me around to meet the rest of the team. It was truly an honor to shake hands with these pioneers and see their setup. There were a few not-so-subtle hints dropped by me to get a satellite office up and running in Atlanta.
Back to the store to get the turkey out of the oven and prep for the rest of the demo. Karen Falbo was kind enough to assist me a bit. We had a packed house of folks and the store smelled like an amazing combo of roasted turkey and bacon. On the menu for our demo:
- Leftover Turkey and Pesto Casserole
- Butternut Squash Dip
- Brussels Spout Slaw
- Pumpkin Pie Mini-Cakes
Things came together wonderfully and there were lots of good questions from the crowd. We talked about other options to repurpose turkey, modifications to recipes to make them your own and techniques and tricks to save time during the holidays. All in all, the event was a huge success.
Robb followed up my demo with a presentation on sustainability, paleo and the state of health in the US. It was a packed house and Robb did an amazing job wedging a ton of material into 45 minutes of presenting. We both stuck around the store for another few minutes to sign books and share success stories with attendees. Overall, a wonderfully positive event and trip and has us really hoping Natural Grocers will come east! As Robb so eloquently put it, “It was a surreal experience to have every damn person who works for a store both into and knowledgable about the paleo concept. To have the head of the education program a paleo RD (registered dietitian). It was a great time and very, very inspiring.”
Please make an effort to shop at Natural Grocers if they are in your area. These folks understand the powerful role food plays in our healthy, longevity and freedom in the US.
As promised, here’s the recipe for the casserole.
This recipe was inspired in part by PaleOMG's pizza spaghetti pie. There are so many great things about this recipe. For starters, we like to toss in handfuls of spinach into the pesto or casserole for some added nutrients. Secondly, if you don't have turkey on hand you can just as easily use chicken or really any protein of your choice. Thirdly, if dairy is something you use in your life, topping this casserole with fresh-grated parmesan cheese is pretty darn tasty!
- 2 medium spaghetti squash
- 1 cup fresh basil, lightly packed
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, walnuts or other nuts of your choosing
- juice from 1/2 of lemon
- 1/2 cup of quality olive oil
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1 1/2-2 pounds cooked turkey or chicken
- 5 eggs
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds.
- Place halves face down in large baking pan with about 1/4 inch of water and bake for 20-25 minutes or until spaghetti squash is slightly softened (al dente).
- Dump out water from pan and clean (if necessary). Grease pan with olive oil, coconut oil or ghee. Scrape spaghetti squash threads into bowl.
- For the Pesto: combine the basil, nuts and lemon juice in food processor. Process until ingredients are well combined. Slowly add in the olive oil to create a sauce consistency. Season with salt and pepper to your taste preference
- Combine the pesto, spaghettis squash, turkey and eggs in a large bowl. Add in additional ingredients that suit your fancy (sautéed onions, spinach, kale, mushrooms, peppers, etc.).
- Pour mixture into the baking pan and bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour or until casserole is set.