As you know, I am always on the hunt for good vegan food. And I’ve always enjoyed visiting the Napa Farmers Market. There is something really rewarding about meeting the farmer that worked so hard to grow my food. And I love being able to support local businesses whenever I can. For the last 5 years, I have seen vegan options go from almost none to dozens of delicious choices at our local Farmers Market. And since you know I love my sweets, I want to highlight two of my favorites – Mayacama Chocolate and Sweet Linda Lou’s.
In 2011, Elena woke up with the brilliant idea to start a bean-to-bar chocolate company. The more she thought about it the more excited and driven she became to make it happen. Part of what she loved about being a chef was her role of working with flavors and textures until she found the perfect combination. Working with equatorial farmers and learning more about the flavor profiles of their individual growing regions, was another opportunity to use flavors and textures to create the ultimate chocolate experience. Soon after, she and her best friend Linda teamed up and Mayacama Chocolate was born.
Elena’s journey to creating fair-trade chocolate started 26 years ago when her son Garrett was born with food based allergies. Garrett was unable to eat wheat, dairy, soy, fermented/yeast based products and refined sugars. He grew up on fresh fruits, vegetables, rice and Rice Dream milk that she had to special order from the now defunct local health food store Golden Carrot. But as he got older he saw his family eating and enjoying things like pizza, pasta and mac-n-cheese and wanted to enjoy them too. Elena’s culinary challenge was to take a traditional recipe and turn it into a healthy, vegan alternative that tastes great!
Linda has worked as a pastry chef at some of the most exclusive resorts and has always loved creating desserts that fulfill her guests needs. She even implemented “Living Free” areas on her pastry & bakery buffets to ensure that everyone could enjoy a sweet, delicious ending to their meal. She has taken this philosophy to the development of her chocolates. She now dedicates her time to creating handmade chocolates that can be vegan, gluten and dairy-free. Like so many, her brother was diagnosed with lactose intolerance and celiac disease so she has been hard at work developing flavors using their 72% Hispanola chocolate. And in her spare time, Linda has been baking vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free wedding cakes using their delicious chocolate!
Using single origin, fair-trade chocolate, here is a list of their current vegan options:
- Lait-non-lait – for all of you who miss milk chocolate!
- 72% Organic Hispaniola Medium Roast- Traditional Dark Chocolate
- 72% Organic Sanchez Light Roast- Made with Unfermented Cacao
- Mole Bar- Mole Spice Blend, Sliced Almonds, Golden Raisins and Pepitas
- Strawberry Fields Bar- 60% with Dried Strawberries (my favorite!)
- Raisin In The Valley Bar- 60% Dark with Cabernet Grape Raisins
- Sipping Chocolate Mix- Specifically geared to be blended with non-dairy milks (I’ve been told that toasted Coconut-Almond milk makes the best combo!)
Their goal is to eventually open a storefront and feature the chocolate bars, luscious pastries and cakes and their bean to bar process. Oh, and to offer the best damn hot chocolate and chocolate soda in Napa Valley. And with all of the delicious vegan chocolates they craft, we can all be big kids in the candy store once again!
Linda has loved baking since she was a child. She watched her Nana bake and cook and make the most amazing pies on earth! In fact, Linda was never a fan of pie unless it was made by her Nana. Though Linda didn’t have the natural pie making ability that her Nana and daughters have, she persevered and now makes incredible pies. And with a little bit of practice she has now perfected the vegan pie crust! These delightful little pies are baked in muffin tins and are the perfect sized treat! Linda is at the Farmers Market every Saturday even though she also works a full-time job. Be sure to thank her for all her hard work by stopping by for a mini-vegan pie (or two!). Though I suggest getting to the market early because the vegan pies sell out fast! She added gluten-free options last year and vegan options this year so everyone can enjoy her delicious treats!
When you swing by Sweet Linda Lou’s and Mayacama Chocolate to enjoy their delicious sweet treats, mention that you heard about them through Napa Valley Vegan!
The list of vegan-friendly vendors…
- J&M Ibarra offers locally grown organic produce.
- Handsome Carver offers delicious cashew, peanut & almond butters made with organic ingredients. A couple of them contain honey but most are vegan-friendly.
- Way to Life Foods makes organic homemade granolas, cookies, cinnamon rolls and vegan burgers. All are vegan and all are absolutely delicious. The cinnamon rolls are as good as Cinnaholic’s and the cookies are the best out there!
- Monday Bakery is not a vegan bakery but they are beginning to offer some delicious vegan options. I love their zucchini bread!
- Sweetie Pie’s often offers their vegan berry muffins. They are big and delicious!
- Sweet Peabody’s sorbet cart has been making small batches of sorbet for 5 years. The flavors are made fresh each week based on what’s in season. They use organic produce when possible and are free of dairy, gluten, corn syrup, synthetic stabilizers and artificial colors & sweeteners. They even use compostable spoons!
- JuJu’s Kitchen offers delicious Mediterranean food much of which is vegan including falafel, hummus, tabuli, baba ghanough, fatoosh salad, dolmas, majadara and fava beans.
- The Hummus Guy offers several flavors of organic hummus that are vegan, starch & preservative free and non-GMO. They are homemade and delicious.
- Plantanito Pupusas makes delicious bean pupusas that can be veganized.
- Contimo Provisions is VERY meat-centric but they almost always have a vegan sandwich available. The sandwiches are simple, delicious and handmade.
- Flourchylde Bakery offers gluten-free, vegan Teff & Chia round bread. I’ve been asking them for years to add a vegan pastry option but nothing yet. Be sure to stop in and ask. If they see all the business they are missing, they may finally offer something.
- Addictive Toast offers a pretty gourmet avocado toast decorated with edible flowers. The Original can be made with no dairy and is served on Flourchylde’s vegan, gluten-free bread.
- Sukhi’s Indian Cuisine offers tasty sauces, chutneys and meals.
- Atlas Peak Olive Oil made with olives grown in their Napa Valley orchard.
- Napa Valley Tea Company makes exquisite organic teas and blends.
- Ohm Coffee Roaster offers a couple non-dairy milks for lattes & cappuccinos.
This long list of vegan options will keep you very busy the next time you shop the Market! So set aside plenty of time to explore, remember to bring your reusable bags, thank these vendors for their efforts and as always…eat, drink and be vegan!