Michigan Food Finds

Beer and Salsa

Essence on Main in historic downtown Clarkston has a beer tasting the third Thursday of every month. I usually have grand plans to attend and life jumps in the way with kid’s events, work travel or our adult league sports (yes, my husband and I still get out there and play). But, last night we escaped for an hour from the mayhem of our family’s schedule to sample a local beer and snack.

A great proponent of local foods, Essence on Main is my go to place to pick up local honey, beer or a sweet treat and has been in the community for almost a decade. They also have a full take out menu headed by Chef Joan Donnay with house made salads, soups, sandwiches and Crust baked goods.


The local beer being poured for the tasting was from Boatyard Brewing Company out of Kalamazoo. We tasted four beers: Kalamazoo Cream Ale, Frosted Harbor Raspberry Wheat, Midnight Star Black Cream Ale and Haze Sunset New England IPA. Boatyard is a true craft brewery that uses traditional ingredients in innovative ways. Ingredients like Waimea hops, caramel and black malt produces tastes and aromas that are specific to the brewmasters creativity. While all were very drinkable, we agreed upon a four pack of cream ale to take home.


My Salsa was our snack for the evening. Launched in 2016, My Salsa is a garden vegetable, no added sugar salsa offered in a variety of heats. We sampled all five flavors ranging from mild to x-hot. I braved all the heats with the promise that the x-hot—made with Carolina Reaper and Scorpion peppers—wouldn’t “melt off my face.” I did survive the x-hot with my face intact though took home the mild spicy for my family to enjoy

At the end of the event, I found my husband over by the wall of wines. He wasn’t aware of the great selection of wines at Essence on Main. I’m thinking that our next night out should be for Essence’s monthly wine tasting.

—Pam Aughe, R.D.

Michigan Food Finds

FullSizeRender (6)


The Food and Nutrition Test Kitchen from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a monthly collective cook-off. This month we cooked Butternut Squash Arugula Pizza. I swapped out a few ingredients to put my own local Michigan twist on the recipe.





Butternut Squash Pita Pizza

3  cups peeled and chopped Michigan butternut squash
1  small onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
1  tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon MSalt
2, whole wheat Lebanese style pita bread (Paramount Baking Co.)
½ cup pizza sauce
2  teaspoons olive oil
1  cup fresh baby spinach, rough torn
2  ounces Idyll Farms goat cheese
2  tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400o. Combine squash, onion, 1 tablespoon olive oil and MSalt on a rimmed baking sheet. Place squash mixture in oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until just golden and soft; set aside. Place 2 pita breads on a baking sheet and top each with ¼ cup pizza sauce. Evenly distribute squash and onion mixture on each pita and drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and top each evenly with spinach, goat cheese, vinegar and pepper. Cut into quarters and serve hot.

Yield: 2 servings

—Pam Aughe, R.D.

Michigan Food Finds


Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Simply Smart Bar


The 10th annual Making it in Michigan Conference and Marketplace Trade Show was this week. It was the perfect place to learn about Michigan food products and a great way for local businesses to expand their market.

One product in particular that spoke to my dietitian thinking was Simply Smart Bar. It is a whole food bar made from plant-derived foods. Made right here in Oak Park, Michigan, these bars are a great on-the-go meal replacer that you can feel good about eating. With ingredients that are easy to recognize—flax, almonds, apricots, raisins and pea protein—you know what you are consuming.

Most Americans could benefit from eating more plant foods as they are essential for good health. Plant foods produce thousands of phytochemicals—a compound produced by plants—that is proven to have health promoting properties. Simply Smart bars are chock full of plant foods while also full of fiber and protein making them satisfyingly filling.

Simply Smart Bars contain sustainable ingredients, are nutrient-dense and delicious to eat. Support made-in-Michigan products for your next snack.

—Pam Aughe, R.D.