31 December 2011

( phoebe’s phorever ! phood with phlair )

by marian wolbers

it’s thursday, lunchtime.

your african peanut chicken soup is walking in the door, preceded by anticipation, announced by aroma. it’s another delivery by phoebe canakis to the hungry-for-health clientele who adore her business, phoebe’s pure foods.

this week’s menu featured not only that tawny-toned, white meat and vegetables creation in a peanutty stock, but a soup from a different continent altogether: a spicy mexican black bean soup that’s as sassy as a flamenco dancer on a hot summer night. it’s unashamedly loaded with what seems like 4,200 ingredients, from tiny diced carrots and peppers and tomato bits to barley nuggets and celery snippets, all of them playing a large supporting cast to the stars—the black beans—with a zing that’s gentle but sure.

( a souper landscape, where a bean would most love to swim--
spicy mexican black bean soup, anyone ? 
photo by marian wolbers )

like so many of canakis’ culinary offerings, the soup is low-sodium, all natural; it’s not overly spicy-herby, but instead prepared to foster the taste of multiple flavors. it’s as though this home cook personally coaxes each ingredient to retain its essential vitality and individuality while joining into the larger party called “soup.”
canakis’ magic carries across to her fresh wraps and salad choices which are low-calorie, high-fiber, and festive with healthy greens:

·         curried chicken salad (using local & organic chicken)
·         hummus & feta with a mix of organic veggies
·         “bright & lemony chicken salad,” with a canakis-made vinaigrette
·         cranberry & pecan chicken salad (a light, low-fat creamy salad)
·         albacore tuna salad

of course, she caters full-scale feasts and bakes pastries, too. her greek goodies are classically elegant and precious, and are available, boxed, at special times in the year. the honey-sweet confections connect with her mediterranean roots on her dad’s side of the family. confessing that sugar has a hold on her, canakis doesn’t keep it around much at home. she says earnestly, “if  there’s any sugar in the house, i’m like a little mouse—i sniff it out.”
but she loves soup best of all. her deep brunette eyes shine when she says, “i love making soups. it’s comfort food. there’s no better way to feel full and not compromise what you’re putting in your body.” for the record, she also adores macaroni and cheese. (okay, who doesn’t ?)
canakis gravitates to local farm stands to buy ingredients—the more organic, the better. she aims for whole foods, unprocessed, in season.

a turnaround

the pure food venture started in an unlikely way: “i got into an accident on the pennsylvania turnpike, on a sunday,” she explains, tossing back a stray curl of midnight brown hair. “i was working a job that was an hour-and-a half commute and found myself in my car, turned all the way around and facing the wrong direction. i was okay—but i didn’t even know what to do. all i could think was how i’d soon see oncoming traffic, and so i left the car and got to the side of the road.”
“then i thought to myself, ‘what am i doing ?’” more than a scare, this proved an  epiphany. “i quit the job. and because i had always wanted to start my own coffee shop, i went to starbucks and started working.”

( to this home cook, food is something that should come 
not from a box but from the earth.
photo courtesy of canakis herself )

eventually, she put other businesses behind her, developing her own, which is still evolving. “i’m not in a hurry to open a storefront,” says canakis. “i love talking to people when i’m making deliveries. i love all my customers.” she also loves gardening, blogging about food, and talking about “how to eat organic on a budget” (BCTV).

special deliveries

here’s a sample of the delectably written, temptation-laden offerings penned by canakis herself through her weekly lunch news update:
barley, roasted broccoli, & acorn squash salad—

organic barley with roasted broccoli & local acorn squash on a bed of organic greens with a shallot, maple syrup, & cider dressing
$8.50 ($8.01+tax) meat free

$11.50 ($10.84+tax) with local, free-range, organic roasted chicken or tofu

deep in food-thought, thinking of joining the lunch-to-go bunch ? log on to www.phoebespurefood.com to sign up for weekly menu updates and to get deliveries, or to order and pick up her notorious nosh at sunshine wellness resources, 511 reading avenue, in west reading. tel: 717.445.8552.

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