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Going natural in Canton: Nature’s Storehouse

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CANTON — Nature’s Storehouse has been in downtown Canton as long as I can remember, specializing in healthy, natural foods long before it was hip to do that.

We used to think that only hippies ate strange stuff like rice cakes, kelp, yogurt, soymilk and whole wheat pasta. Now we all do! We’ve become more aware of what we eat, where it comes from and what’s in it.

According to its website, Nature’s Storehouse is a natural foods store, a health food store, a vitamin and supplement retailer, a grocery store and more.

It offers a large selection of organic fruits and vegetables, local produce in season, grains, beans and pastas, a complete dairy department, juice and natural sodas, bulk flours and baking ingredients, organic meats, crackers, cookies and chips.

More and more folks are finding out that they’re gluten intolerant. Nature’s Storehouse is ahead of the curve, offering gluten-free products in all grocery sections, plus a dedicated freezer with gluten-free foods.

Recently, they’ve added a takeout department — healthy food prepared daily, including soups, deli salads and sandwich wraps. So we decided to stop by and see what they had to offer.

A chalkboard in front of the store lists the daily offerings, all vegetarian items. Two hot soups were available by the cup or the quart along with two kinds of wraps and a half-dozen interesting salads packaged in 8-ounce plastic containers.

We assumed there might be a small eating area in the store, but that’s not the case — it’s truly takeout. So I gathered up at least one of everything along with some other interesting items and headed down the road to enlist the help of my friends at North Country Public Radio, whose studios are less than a mile from Nature’s Storehouse.

Here’s what I brought, and here’s what they thought:

n Tortilla soup (vegetarian broth with corn, peppers, and other assorted veggies): “Nice rich flavor”; “Could have been spicier”; “Needed salt”; “I wouldn’t seek it out.”

n Vitality soup (chickpeas, whole wheat orzo, nutritional yeast, onion, garlic, herbs, spices, Braggs liquid aminos): “First taste was delicate”; “A smile came to my lips”; “Basic flavor similar to the tortilla soup.”

n Sesame spinach salad (spinach, tofu, onion, sesame seeds, sesame oil, olive oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, soy Bac’uns): “I love raw spinach and was delighted by the salad”; “Delicious”; “Nice bacon taste, even though it was fake bacon”; “Just the right amount of dressing”; “It was very good.”

n Lentil salad with roasted winter squash (French lentils, butternut squash, red onion, olive oil, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, honey, walnuts): “Needed more salt and pepper “; “Didn’t zing for me”; “I really enjoyed this and went back for more”; “The dark lentils looked ominous but tasted great”; “Nice crunch from the walnuts”; “Some interesting spice”; “Well-balanced seasoning.”

n Waldorf salad (apple, walnuts, celery, Vegenaise, cane sugar, allspice, lemon juice, cabbage): “A classic, well prepared”; “Nice balance of textures”; “A bit blah.”

n Ginger noodles (whole wheat spaghetti, edamame, ginger, garlic, tahini, rice vinegar, tamari, carrot): “Thumbs up”; “Somewhat sticky”; “Pretty good, could have used more ginger”; “Good — just what you’d expect”; “My favorite”; “Flavors were exquisite.”

n Chickpea millet salad (chickpeas, millet, bell peppers, onion, celery, olive oil, lemon juice, cilantro): “Average”; “Like you’d expect at a pot luck”; “Nice colors”; “A good side for a picnic”; “It lacked something”; “The millet surprised me — it was soft and fluffy”; “Strong onion flavor from the raw red onion.”

n Sweet potato hummus: “Excellent”; “A bit more spice would have taken it up a level”; “Tasty enough to be eaten alone”; “More bean flavor than sweet potato.”

n Mock “chicken” salad wrap (tofu, celery, slivered almonds, lime juice, celery seed, curry powder, Vegenaise, cumin, carrots, nutritional yeast, mustard, spinach, multigrain wrap): “Good flavor and textures”; “A slight curry flavor (the most interesting part)”; “Good blend of soft and crunchy”; “Subtle spicy kick”; “There’s nothing better than Hellmann’s mayonnaise, but the Vegenaise did not detract.”

n Sweet potato burrito (sweet potatoes, kidney beans, pinto beans, onion, garlic, olive oil, chili powder, cumin, tamari, carrot, cheddar cheese, mixed greens, multigrain wrap): “Fine, nothing special”; “The flavor kind of stuck with me.”

n Grasse River ranch dill goat cheese: “Definitely had a ‘goaty,’ earthy taste”; “I expected something creamier”; “More of a semi-solid cheese than traditional goat cheese”; “Not a favorite.”

n Almond Nut-Thins (rice flour, almonds, potato starch, expeller pressed safflower oil, natural butter flavor): “Good by themselves, but also a good conduit for the sweet potato hummus”; “A buttery aftertaste.”

n Beanitos black bean chips (black beans, whole grain rice, sunflower oil, raw brown sugar, tomato powder, torula yeast, paprika, chipotle chili powder, natural smoke flavor, spices): “A little salty”; “I really liked these”; “Wonder if I could get my kids to eat them”; “Didn’t prefer that thick texture”; “Good in small quantities.”

n Raspberry yogurt pretzels: “Just plain fun, and a bit addicting”; “Fun, but not as much fun as a Thin Mint Girl Scout cookie”; “Would make a fun snack for kids”; “Attractive to little people who like pink”; “An OK sweet snack”; “Not sure the ingredients are the best”; “A strange mix of fruity, sweet and salty — not for me.”

Overall:

n “The food was adequate, but not particularly ‘inspiring’… if this is supposed to be better for you than ‘regular’ food, something could be done to liven it up.”

n “Everything was appealing and healthful but I would have liked some stronger flavors.”

n “Great and easy lunch choices that people can enjoy and feel good about … I frequent health food stores but rarely buy premade food, largely because I think I can make similar things at home less expensively.”

n “For true food love, you need spice, salt and pepper which most of these lacked.”

n “I would love to love healthy food, but it’s a struggle — I wish that bacon, sausage, beef and chicken were the base of the food pyramid and cholesterol was good for me.”

n “Soups were good, but didn’t stand out the way the salads did.”

n “Good food at a good value … there IS an alternative to student fare in downtown Canton.”

Soups by the quart were $8.55 each. Salads averaged $2.50 a container. Goat cheese cost $7.14. Nut-Thins were $3.40 for 4 ounces. Beanitos were $4 for 6 ounces. The entire takeout meal cost $70.02 and was enough to feed seven people. Only one person stopped at Burger King on the way home.

You can contact restaurant reviewer Walter Siebel via email: wsiebel@wdt.net.



Nature’s Storehouse

21 Main St.

Canton, N.Y.

386-3740

www.natures-storehouse.com



Nature’s Storehouse is natural foods store, health food store, vitamin and supplement retailer, grocery store and more with a recently added takeout department that offers soups, deli salads and sandwich wraps.



HOURS: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

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