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Michiana Super Foods

By Liz Shenk / Photography By David Johnson | Last Updated April 14, 2017
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Garden in a Glass

Smoothies are having a big moment in today’s food culture. From layered smoothie bowls to protein-packed breakfast blends, more and more health-conscious foodies are looking to their blenders for their daily vitamins and minerals. 

As nutritious as smoothies can be, many people don’t know where to start when it comes to balancing the perfect ratio of kale to blueberries, or apple to avocado. Designing a smoothie that is both highly nutritious and highly tasty can be hard—and, for some, not worth the hassle. 

Enter Frozen Garden Smoothies. The newly launched company out of Valparaiso, IN, designs ready-to-blend frozen smoothie packs that are both nutrient dense and delish. The company was founded in 2016 by Allyson Straka, who previously ran a health coaching company called Mindful Nourishment. Straka’s idea for Frozen Garden was born when she realized that most of her clients were eating unhealthily because they didn’t have time to prepare fresh food from scratch. 

“From that moment on,” Straka writes on the Frozen Garden website, “we have been working diligently to create the most nutritious and delicious line of green smoothies, ready-to-blend from your own freezer, to make living a healthy lifestyle a bit easier and more enjoyable.” 

When you take your first sip of a Frozen Garden smoothie, you’ll know they’ve accomplished their goal. The wide variety of flavors could please any palate. Berry Choco-Latte marries antioxidant-rich berries with raw cacao powder and espresso to create the perfect decadent-yet-energizing blend for a chilly spring morning. Lemon Fire is vibrant and bold, with spinach, oranges and avocados mixed with lemon zest and a touch of cayenne pepper. You can customize your smoothie by blending it with whatever liquid you choose. Coconut water works well with tropical, fruity blends. Almond or soy milk pairs perfectly with oat and banana mixtures. And water brings the blends to life in their purest form.

Frozen Garden smoothies come in 12-ounce and 20-ounce packages and are available for purchase on the company’s website. The company now ships to 21 states—and counting. Those of us lucky enough to live in the Michiana area can pick up packs at Purple Porch Co-op in South Bend or at the Frozen Garden store in Valparaiso. If you're in Valparaiso, grab a smoothie for the road! 

Frozen Garden
Green Smoothies
200 Billings St.
Valparaiso, IN


Flower Power

Elderberries have long been prized for their health-boosting effects. The elderberry has traditionally been distilled into a syrup and used to treat influenza, sinus infections, back pain and chronic fatigue syndrome, among many other ailments. For those not suffering from illness, elderberry can act as an overall immune booster. With its superfood reputation, high-quality, organic elderberry syrup is often difficult to find and extremely expensive. 

Kristy Fattore, a registered nurse from LaPorte, IN, set out to bring the powerful elixir to the masses for a fraction of the price when she launched Sundance Botanicals’ ElderPower Elderberry Syrup in 2015. Fattore handcrafts every batch of ElderPower syrup, brewing the berries with the highest-quality USDA-certified-organic ingredients, including locally sourced raw honey.

In addition to acting as an immune booster, the powerful antioxidants and amino acids in elderberries are thought to lower cholesterol, improve vision and improve heart health. But before you start foraging for elderberries on your own, beware: Some varieties of uncooked berries have toxic properties. 

Elderberries have often been lauded for their taste; chefs add the syrup to sauces or stews to create a more complex flavor. Pleasantly floral and sweet, with a vague but present hint of spice, ElderPower is often best enjoyed straight. You can take your ElderPower as a daily shot, or mix it into hot water like a tea. The syrup also stands on its own drizzled over ice cream or pancakes, and can also be mixed into cocktails or used as the base of a sorbet. 

ElderPower Syrup products can be purchased online in either 16-ounce or 32-ounce bottles or found in over 30 retail stories in the Michiana area. 

Sundance Botanicals
ElderPower Syrup


Rethink Your Grains

You don’t have to be gluten-free to love alternative flours. For years, many Americans have been convinced that there is only one type of baking flour: bleached white wheat. While all-purpose flour is arguably the most versatile variety, when you realize that flour is, by definition, simply a powder made by grinding grains, it opens up a new world of baking opportunities. 

Those with gluten intolerance and celiac disease most commonly use alternative flours like coconut, rice, tapioca, sorghum or cassava for baking purposes. But more and more, people of all palates are beginning to test them in their kitchens. One of the lesser-known varieties—though significantly more nutritious than many other types—is teff flour. 

Teff grain is most commonly used in Ethiopia. It’s the foundational ingredient in injera, the porous, slightly sour pancake used to sop up Ethiopian cuisine and, in essence, the backbone of the Ethiopian diet. Teff contains eight of the nine essential amino acids our body needs but cannot make on its own, making it a wonderful source of protein.

Michiana’s regional teff flour supplier is Tenera Grains, a 2,500-acre farm in Addison, MI. The Smith family has been growing on the land since 1837—that’s seven generations. Though they haven’t been growing teff for that long, the family has mastered the art of no-till farming and crop rotation, ensuring that they continue to grow the finest possible grains on healthy, mineral-dense soil. 

Tenera grows two varieties of teff: brown and ivory. Their nutritional profiles vary slightly, but the real difference becomes apparent in the kitchen: Ivory embodies a more delicate taste, ideal for light and sweet baked goods; brown (sometimes called red teff) is nutty and dark. This variety mixes beautifully with chocolate and in hearty breads or dense cakes.

You can buy Tenera Grains teff flour online in two- or five-pound bags, or special order in bulk. 

Tenera Grains 
Teff Flour
14191 Calhoun Rd.
Addison, MI 49220

Carrot Teff Muffins

These lightly sweetened muffins are the perfect breakfast or midday snack. They are best eaten fresh. Adapted from a recipe by Claire Smith of Tenera Grains. 

Teff Brownies

These decadent, chewy brownies are perfect way to get teff flour into your dessert regimen. No one will know these are gluten-free. Adapted from a recipe by Claire Smith of Tenera Grains. 

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