Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 27, 2012

Everyday Cook: Chef gears up for Co-op Month

Special to the Record-Eagle

TRAVERSE CITY — Oryana Natural Foods Market celebrates Co-Op Month in October with a series of special events, many of which revolve around — what else? — food.

"We're a community co-op," said Tom Sisco, Oryana chef and kitchen manager. "We're owned by people in the community and what we want to do is reach out to the community we live in and offer healthy alternatives.

"A huge part of what Oryana wants to accomplish is education and outreach and a big part of that is teaching how to cook things, using organic and natural products. That might be a little bit different than what (some) people are used to, but just to primarily get it in their mouths and let them taste it and realize it's easy to use and it tastes great."

Oryana also serves as a resource for people who develop special dietary needs. With that in mind, one of the focuses of the month's special events is going to be gluten-free products and recipes. According to, at least 3 million Americans — or about one in 133 — have celiac disease, though many go undiagnosed. People with the disease can experience digestive symptoms and intestinal damage from eating wheat, rye or barley.

"People literally come in here when they find out they have celiac disease: 'I don't know what I can eat, what I can't eat, please help me,'" Sisco said. "We can show them that it's kind of dark for you right now because it's going to change your whole lifestyle, but it doesn't have to upset your life.

"There are alternatives, and I think that's one of the biggest things we do, is show people the alternatives."

Ahead of the month-long celebration, Oryana is holding a mini Native American pow wow this Sunday, Sept. 30, from 2 to 4 p.m. Besides some oral history and traditional dance, Oryana will be serving up a dish called Three Sisters Stew, along with Indian fry bread.

Monday, Oct. 1, brings the start of Gluten-Free Week, with samplings of gluten-free products and recipes through Oct. 6. On Friday, Oct. 12, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., staff will lead a Gluten-Free Shopping Tour. Registration is required.

Oct. 7-13 is Fair Trade Week. Fair trade information and products from around the world will be featured, with coffee, chocolate and other items being sampled. Higher Grounds will be offering its fair trade coffee, with Oryana's Lake Street Café sampling fair trade sushi and a chocolate mocha cake made with fair trade ingredients. On Tuesday, Oct. 9, Oryana will donate 2 percent of net sales to On the Ground, which supports sustainable community development in farming regions across the world.

Between Oct. 14 and 20, the focus is on genetically modified foods. Oryana strives to avoid GMO foods, and will provide non-GMO shopping guides while sampling non-GMO products. On Thursday, Oct. 18, free non-GMO popcorn will be available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Events wrap up with member appreciation days Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 24 and 25. Local vendors and community partners will be presenting demos and offering food tastings and samples.

On Tuesday, Oct. 30, Michigan Blood Services will be on hand from 2 to 6 p.m. with a "Pint for a Pint Bloodmobile." Those who donate a pint of blood will receive a free pint of ice cream.

For complete details, visit or call 947-0191 to register for the Gluten-Free Shopping Tour.

Oryana describes this nutty flavored, very nutritionally dense loaf is a great non-meat alternative for a hearty feast. Serve with traditional sides such as mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables, roasted winter squash, etc.

Lentil Nut Loaf

2 c. lentils

4 c. water

2 large onions, diced small

2 c. mushrooms, chopped fine

4 T. olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 c. nuts, your choice, ground (walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts

2 c. cooked bulgur

2 T. lemon juice

2 T. soy sauce

Salt and pepper

1 T. dried mixed herbs such as thyme, rosemary, marjoram, savory, parsley

Grease 2 loaf pans and set aside.

Bring water and lentils to a boil in a saucepan, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until soft, about 35 minutes. Allow to cool.

While lentils are cooking, saute the onions, garlic and mushrooms in oil over medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes. In a large bowl, mix vegetables and herbs with bulgur and lentils until well combined.

Press evenly into prepared loaf pans and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before slicing.

Note: To cook bulgur: Bring 2 cups water and pinch salt to a boil in a saucepan. Stir in bulgur, cover, turn heat off, and let sit for 10 minutes or until water is absorbed.

You can add a glaze to this loaf for an attractive presentation. Try ketchup or a combination of ketchup with maple syrup or brown sugar.

Bulgur is a quick-cooking form of whole wheat that has been cleaned, parboiled, dried, and cracked. It's a good source of fiber and protein. You can substitute quinoa to make this dish gluten-free.

According to Oryana Chef and Kitchen Manager Tom Sisco, this traditional Mexican soup comes from the state of Michoacán and It may be the original inspiration for tortilla soup. He featured this recipe at an Oryana cooking class held earlier this week.

Sopa Tarasca (Tarascan Soup)

2 corn tortillas, sliced into thin strips

Oil for frying

4 c. tomatoes, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

2 ancho chile peppers, seeded, soaked in boiling water

6 c. chicken broth

Salt to taste

¼ t. oregano

1-2 t. honey

Lime juice, to taste

2 corn tortillas

1 T. vegetable oil

Using a blender, puree the tomatoes, onion, garlic and soaked ancho chile peppers. Use some of the chile soaking water if necessary to move the blades. Puree until smooth.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and add the pureed chile mixture. Stir for 8 minutes, until it thickens and darkens. Carefully pour in chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add salt, lime juice, and oregano. Simmer another 10 minutes, and up to an hour, at a slow simmer, covered.

Garnish with tortilla strips. To make tortilla strips: Heat the oil in a cast iron pan and fry the tortilla strips until they are crisp. Drain on paper towels.