Phinney Ridge Association Annual Rainbow Hop, Saturday, June 4th

There is something decidedly romantic about metaphors that compare humans to the living environment, specifically plants. We both grow roots, have great sensitivity and resilience, and always large amounts of uniqueness and charm. Plants and humans thrive in similar conditions; we both like sunlight, oxygen, and—perhaps most importantly—diversity. One of the main tenants of permaculture is to use and value diversity. Permaculture practices (where an array of plants share the same soil and benefit from an exchange of nutrients) are far healthier and more productive than monoculture systems, showing us that plants thrive among the diversity.



2016 RainbowHop_Poster_opt


When the Phinney Neighborhood Association called me about participating in this year’s Rainbow Hop, I had no shortage of ideas for the event. Rainbow Hop is the PNA’s annual pride event, meant to be a day of celebrating diversity, sexuality, and identity.  So many food and plant metaphors came to mind when thinking about diversity, love, and growth; but I thought most about the lessons of diversity that plants can teach us. Not only is variety of the natural world inspiring in its own right, but the importance of diversity to each plant’s ability to thrive and succeed is profoundly human.

In the spirit of celebrating diversity, we’ll be hosting a planting event for the Rainbow Hop where we’re inviting children (and adults!) to create their own colorful collaged pot where they can then plant their own flower start. We’ll have a variety of options for flowers, and we’ll be encouraging every planter to transplant their seedling into the environment around them to contribute to the beautiful diversity of our ecosystem.

We’ll be partnering with our awesome neighbors at Recreative for the event. We’ll be using 100% recycled materials for the pots: recycled jars and vessels that we’ll then collage with donated recycled paper to create colorful and celebratory containers. Art has always been held at the center of personal expression, so we’re excited to give kids the opportunity to create for the Rainbow Hop. And while the event will hold a metaphorical meaning for me, it is, after all, for families and children. So we’ll try to avoid the sappy, as there will be enough dirt, glue, and shreds of paper to dirty any romantic metaphors.


Greenwood Bakery Cafe

Chaco Supported Agriculture

Sunday, June 5th is your last chance to sign up for Seattle Tilth’s CSA. Earlier this year Seattle Tilth’s Food Hub Manager asked Chaco Greenwood to become a CSA pick-up site and we were excited to accommodate. We’re glad to offer a space for interested community members to pick up their farm fresh produce. Check out Seattle Tilth’s website for more information on how you can become a member and support their incubator farms.


What is a CSA? Community Supported Agriculture is an incredible way to build capital for farmers at the beginning of the farm season. By purchasing your share of produce early in the season, farmers receive income at a time of year when they don’t yet have anything to sell. By purchasing a share of their output ahead of time, the farmer can purchase seeds to put in the ground that will eventually become your cornucopia of summertime- barring environmental disaster. Yes, investing in a CSA is an agreement of trust and will. You are signing up to go along with the roller coaster ride of Mother Nature. But this is exciting! This might mean one year green beans are a plenty and the tomatoes are juicy, or another year it’s mostly kale and cabbage. You just don’t know. We always hope for the best.

An exciting element to Seattle Tilth’s CSA is the support it builds for an aggregate of important community programing. A bulk of Tilth’s CSA contents comes from many different farmers at their Auburn incubator site, which is meant to support new, immigrant, or limited resource farmers. There is also produce grown by the Youth Garden Works program. Buying a share of Tilth’s CSA not only ensures fresh produce for you throughout the season, it also means jobs, growth, and development in our community and stewardship of the land.

Pick-up at our location will be Thursday afternoons (4-8 pm), from June to October. Most other questions can be answered at Tilth’s CSA website.


farms csa
In lieu of Seattle Tilth and Food Hub photos which are plentiful on their website, here pictures from a recent tour I did in Europe. Farms are lovely all around the globe!


Farmer's Markets
Rouen Farmer’s Market

Did you know at Chaco, our employees can also opt-in to support our local farmers? Through what we call Chaco Supported Agriculture, employees (only) can sign up for organic, weekly produce to be picked up directly at work. It offers us the ability to have purchasing power and buy produce from farmers through the Puget Sound Food Hub, even when it’s not what we’re cooking up in the kitchen. The Food Hub is a great non-profit, cooperatively run network that helps farms sell and distribute their goods through an aggregate format that allows for easier sales and distribution. The benefit to the farmer is selling directly to grocery stores, universities and restaurants like us, while we see that the benefit for us as consumers is fresher produce and knowing more about where our food is coming from.


Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe
Commissary Kitchen

Proudly Serving Happy Valley Sprouts

Microgreens are quite a buzzword these days but what ever happened to sprouts?

Now that its springtime, these warm, longer days are urging me to put on the gardening gloves and get out in the yard to plant some tiny pea plants, cilantro, and mustard greens. It’s hard not to clip these little greens and put them on my sandwich. While microgreens are a labor of love and dirt, sprouts can be as simple as an overnight jar on a counter- it’s a shame that so many people shun them from fear!


Like any raw food, sprouts can be prone to hazardous bacteria such as salmonella, e. coli, and listeria. However, these outbreaks are rare, and the outcome of sprouting is an endless list of health benefits that I encourage you to look into if you’re looking to get a little more mineral nutrition into your daily diet.


In our kitchen at Greenwood, we sprout buckwheat, lentils, fenugreek or other seeds for specials or events such as our Valentine’s Day Dinner. However 99% of our sprouts are clover sprouts from Happy Valley Sprouts in Bellingham.


house salad

Happy Valley Sprouts tests every batch of sprouts they produce; they have never had an incident of food borne illness or sprout recall in 25 years of business. They deliver to us directly, so there’s no middleman. We benefit from this direct from the farmer relationship by getting fresher sprouts for a better price (which we are able to pass on to customers). Our direct relationship allows us to call Happy Valley Sprouts whenever we need to adjust our orders depending on how quickly we’re going through sprouts, and they adjust their growing batches accordingly, which leads to a fresher product! Every week, Happy Valley Sprouts delivers their product in large flats, which we save and return, cutting down on packaging and plastic waste. They’re able to sanitize and reuse the flats multiple times. Yay for reusing!


If you’re wondering how you can get more sprouts in your diet, beyond daily Chaco consumption of course, try out the EasySprout Sprouter that we sell in the cafe. Sprouts are highly nutritious and easily digestible. Visit the International Sprout Growers Association for more information on varieties, history, and nutrition values.


If you’re unsure whether or not you have time for sprouting in your life, check out this video below to see how it’s done.


Happy Sprouting!

The Community Bowl Program; Why We Moved the Scale

In 2013, we began offering the Community Bowl at our University café location. The idea was to have a full sliding scale meal option at a suggested price, available for free once per day per customer. The sliding scale was adjusted this April, continuing as the same grain bowl, but now with a donation minimum between $2-9, above that is still considered a donation to the program.


daal bowl (3)

The Community Bowl was created as a nutrient dense bowl (rice, beans, carrot, cabbage, kale, garlic tahini, and toasted sunflower seeds) that would hold well- along with an orange or banana that theoretically could be saved for later*. It was created so that people without regular access to whole foods could get something healthy once a day, regardless of their ability to pay.

When you look at this program in a bubble, it was extremely effective. It is a healthy menu item at a busy café that was available for 3 years for free in part because it was subsidized by the community; there continued to be a lot of donations, and Chaco as a business was not losing money on the program. When you pop the bubble, and look at Chaco Canyon as a whole and what we are trying to create, this program looks quite different. We have a stated mission of having zero impact on the environment, and we balance every business decision with our people (including our community), the planet and our profits in mind. What it comes down to, is that this program on a daily basis confronted our desire to be sustainable. Every day, we would have people walk away from their tables or from the café after ordering a Community Bowl, which would then sit unattended or waiting to be picked up, and would be either not eaten at all or partly eaten in a bus tub.

Looking at the amount of food not being consumed and wasted daily, we needed to rethink this program. By assigning a real dollar value, we have given our customers a sense of personal value for the food we provide. We did not think $2 would be an unattainable height for most, though we knew some would no longer be able to use the program. We have seen the effects of this recent change and are still seeking a better answer.

Perhaps if more businesses began offering sliding scale options, more cultural norms would be established, and there would be less friction and hostility on the front lines of these interactions. As a society we need to acknowledge where we are not meeting the needs of our most vulnerable populations and work together to strengthen our communities. We at Chaco Canyon Café continue to create structures and space for this discussion every day.

*The community bowl at Chaco Canyon Cafe Bakery in Greenwood is our daal bowl and does not come with fruit.

Order your Thanksgiving Pie Today

Now Available Special Order Pies for Thanksgiving! All are vegan, and are available gluten-free upon request for no extra charge! Bring a decadent dessert you know you’ll be able to enjoy, and  treat your friends and family to a new experience – vegan baking is just as delicious!


Check out our different options here. For any 10″ pie, it will come served in a nice pie-tin, for which we require a $15 donation – drop it off at any location, and we’ll give you your money back on the spot.



Call in to any of our 3 locations to order!

Cheers, Enjoy.

In order Below: Pumpkin Pie, Blackberry Apple Pie & our Cranberry Ginger Pear Pie (not pictured here our Raw Pumpkin Spice Tart).

gfpumkinpie_whole1 blackberrypie_2 cranberry ginger pear pie


Bed Bugs in the UDistrict

Seeing a title like that can be rather terrifying (if you’ve ever lived in a home infected with these nasty critters); happily in this case we’re talking about the fun and irreverent art of Michael O’Driscoll on display in the University District Cafe through the end of September.

Check out his Artist Statement for the display here!


APRIL: Spring Cleaning, flower fights, and Fools Day

K.Ami March 30 2015


April, derived from Aprlis, rooted in the verb aperire, means ‘to open’. This month is all about opening: Opening the windows and doors to let in fresh air after the winter, opening our minds to develop, and opening our hearts to the new ways that love and pleasure can engage our lives. Its time to re-set and re-start!


Humanity has celebrated this month pan-culturally: Japanese and Chinese festival of Kuan Yin ( Goddess of Compassion), the Persians with Sizdah Bedar, Navaho with the Hudough Dance, the Greeks Haloa ( celebration of Womens free speech), French Battle of the Flowers ( April 2nd), and the Yakima Tribe Root Festival just to name a few.


I invite you to learn more about these traditions and share in their richness. One particularly fun tradition I’d like to draw attention to is:  Battle Of The Flowers on April 2nd.

This custom follows in the same vein of foolishness as April fools day, but with a basket of flowers. Zsuzsanna Budapest suggests in The Grandmother Of Time,


“..Walk down the street looking out for the one you fancy, and when this person is near enough, you take out a flower- a rose, or daisy, whatever you got- and throw this at the desired persons heart. If the flower actually hits the ‘heart’, this person will fall in love with you. You can imagine… the women and men taking their walk with a large basket of flowers, making sure their social calendar will be busy all year.”


How fun to throw flowers at strangers? If only we did that more often. April has been a month for foolery historically- and why? There are a few theories floating out about why, maybe a change in the calendar and a ‘foolish’ resistance to the loss of the old ways, maybe it was a children’s game to see how long a fish could stay on a friends back. But my favorite story about the origination of April Fools day and the tricks that come along with is rooted in love- really! April, Aprilis, is the Roman analog to Aphrodite, the Goddess of love. The Roman celebrated this month with Veneralia ( the Holiday of Venus*). So then, on this day lovers sent one another on ‘fools errands’ to prove their love and devotion. Folks acted senseless as a demonstration to how love turns us all into fools at one time or another, so lets have a good laugh on our behalf!


Celebrate with  us at Chaco Canyon Cafe with our Thumbprint Raspberry Cookies, a treat that has its roots deep in Haloa, or start your personal spring cleaning with a Green Cleanse juice.


May we all be fools in love,

Chaco Canyon Team


*Aphrodite is to the Greeks the same Goddess as Venus is to the Romans, different names- same babe


March 20th, 2015 Spring Equinox

equinox-solstice-via-Geosync-e1395584225931Image from 2011, via Geosync Byrd, 3/15.  Everything You Need to Know About the Vernal Spring Equinox:


Happy Spring Equinox!

K. Ami March 20th 2015


Today marks the first day of spring, and the end of winter. The 20th/21st of March has been a significant date in time for centuries, for cultures across the globe. It is on this day that our Sun balances itself exactly on the celestial equator- which means that both the Northern and Southern hemispheres of our Earth receive equal amounts of day and night for about 5 days.

This time has been used historically as a time of finding balance for oneself. The balance that is within each moment. The dark days of winter have allowed for a time of self reflection and setting intentions, and now, with the flowers blooming and budding all around us, our thoughts and intentions begin to bud.


This Planetary balance has been noted by humanity and celebrated in various ways, with a similar motif of celebrating the light and dark within each of us, and the symbolic death and resurrection.


Belsebuub and Angela Pritchard from their book, The Path of the Spiritual Sun, notes this about this historical significance:


In Christianity, the spring equinox is the time of the passion, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. Likewise in ancient Egypt, it is the time of the resurrection of the ancient Egyptian god Osiris; and the resurrection of the Mayan Maize God Hun Hunahpu. The Great Sphinx of Giza, in Egypt, symbol of resurrection, gazes precisely at the rising of the spring equinox sun. The temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia aligns to the spring equinox, and depicts the scene of the “churning of the milky ocean”—the struggle between the forces of light and darkness. At the temple of the feathered serpent in Mexico at Chichen Itza, the feathered serpent Quetzalcoatl ascends the nine terraces of the pyramid on the spring equinox.

Throughout the world, the spring equinox is a time of great confrontation between the forces of darkness and light, in the death and resurrection of the central deities of sacred teachings throughout the world. It symbolizes what an initiate goes through in a definitive and important stage of self-realization, where the struggle between darkness and light creates the opposition needed to attain immortality. This is symbolized by the dark half of the year on one side of the spring equinox sun, and the light half of the year on the other.

Copyright © Belsebuub & Angela Pritchard 2012


May Spring 2015 find you in perfect balance and harmony. May you be in good health and happiness.

Ayurvedic medicine suggest changing your diet with the seasons. The kapha reducing diet for spring suggests more foods that are bitter, pungent, astringent, light and warm. Think of brothy soup, steamed veggies, and brown rice. Avoid sugars, deep fried foods, heavy, oily and salty foods. Try a juice cleanse. Some specials that we have at Chaco Canyon Cafe that support a spring diet are:


Fennel and Pear Salad

    Nettle Pesto!!! and Portobello Sandwich ( bring in those balancing minerals)

    Pure Bliss Juice

    Any of our delicious soups ( Egyptian Red Lentil, Dill Split Pea, Soup du jour)

From all of us at Chaco Canyon Cafe,

Happy Spring!

Palm Shortening

There’s been a lot of info in the media about Palm Oil and Palm Shortening lately, specifically as it relates to it being unsustainable with the way they are clear-cutting rainforest to expand their plantations.


Deforestation in Southeast Asia has made Indonesia the third largest carbon emitter on the planet. The orangutan, the Sumatran tiger, and countless other endangered species are being pushed to the brink of extinction.


The palm oil industry can be brutal. Many workers are lured into plantations on false pretenses, and have their passports and ID’s confiscated. Investigations have found workers being beaten by “enforcers”, locked in tiny barracks at night, and not allowed to leave for any reason. Many workers are forced to spray hazardous chemicals with no protection, and the web of contractors and sub-contractors allows the corporations responsible to avoid legal responsibility.


Conversely, the palm shortening Chaco Canyon Cafe purchases (Aunt Patty’s brand) is sourced from organic sustainable plantations in Ecuador. It is certified sustainable and fairly traded.

  • There is a “Farmer to Fork” supply chain that allows for verification of sustainability, collection, production, and processing to a high standard.
  • Fair labor practices ensure farmers increase their well-being and security through advisory programs, economic benefits, and field support.
  • Local biodiversity is treated with respect


For the Love of Chocolate


Chocolate is a confection made of the seeds of the cacoa tree. It is native to Mesoamerica and has been an important food product there for 4000 years.


The seeds of the cacao are intensely bitter and are fermented to develop the flavor. The beans are then dried, cleaned and roasted. The Maya and Aztec preparation was an unsweetened chocolate drink called “bitter water.”


After roasting the shell is removed to produce cacao nibs. Cacao nibs can also be made before roasting to provide the raw nibs and cacao powder used in raw desserts. The cacao nibs are heated and ground into cocoa mass – sort of like making peanut butter: the grinding releases the fat and creates a thick, creamy substance. The finer the ground, the more smooth the final chocolate will be. This mass is also called chocolate liquor, although it has no liquor content. As it cools the cocoa mass/liquor hardens into unsweetened chocolate. It can also be separated into cocoa butter and cocoa solids.


Most chocolate today is a combination of cocoa solids, cocoa butter or other fats, and sweeteners (usually sugar), along with whatever other flavorings might be desired. Our raw truffles are a very simple example of this – at their most basic they consist of cacao powder (cocoa solids), cacao butter (fat), agave or maple syrup (sweetener) and other flavorings such as vanilla. We also add cashews which create a lighter, creamier truffle filling.


Dark chocolate contains the highest amount of cocoa butter and solids, while milk chocolate contains milk powder or condensed milk along with the cocoa butter and solids. White chocolate has cocoa butter, but no cocoa solids.


Now, you may be wondering about the difference between cocoa and cacao. In the past the words could be used interchangeably, and were the result of variants in spelling. However, with the rise of interest in raw chocolate products, cacao, which is also the name for the tree, has begun to be used to designate chocolate products that are prepared without various heating and roasting processes.


Here at Chaco we are careful to keep this distinction: when we say cacao powder we are referring to a raw powder which has a grayer color and a more bitter flavor. When we say cocoa we are referring to a roasted powder that has a reddish color and milder flavor. To add farther complication, we purchase Dutch cocoa (or Dutched cocoa) which has undergone an alkaline treatment invented by Coenraad Van Houten, a Dutch chemist. This process reduces the harshness of the cocoa, makes it more shelf stable and helps create consistent quality for baking and other preparations. It is possible to have cocoa powder that is not Dutched – it appears much more like our raw cacao powder. However, raw cacao cannot be Dutched as the process requires heating it.


Despite its long history, solid confections made of chocolate are a relatively new invention. For most of its history it was used to make a drink, but once it was brought back to Europe, and especially after the invention of the Dutching process in the early 1800, they began to experiment with changing the proportions of cocoa solids to cocoa butter and began to create solid chocolate confections.


There are controversies surrounding chocolate. Much of it is produced in the Ivory Coast in Africa and child labor is a huge issue, as is fair wages for growers and producers. The growing movement for Fair Trade chocolate is very important to combat exploitation, however, Fair Trade chocolate is only a tiny percent of the chocolate trade. In addition, there are not regulated standards for what Fair Trade means, so different companies may have different definitions that they follow. The truth is that to be an ethical consumer of chocolate, it may be necessary to research where a company sources their chocolate and not to simply trust a Fair Trade Label.


What about our chocolate? Two examples: our chocolate chips come from Agostini, an Italian family owned chocolate company that is on the Food Empowerment Project’s approved list. Our raw cacao powder is from the Ojio brand and is sourced in the Dominican Republic (South American chocolate is considered overall better because it has less slavery and child labor issues then Africa). We choose ethical wholesale companies such as Glory Bee and Earthly Gourmet, to purchase our bulk products from.


Chocolate has many chemicals and compounds in it that are interesting from a health perspective. However, it should be kept in mind that these are present in the cocoa mass, and that as that whole food product is altered with sugar and other fats, the health benefits are diluted even as the calorie intake is increased. The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more of the health benefits you are getting. Anyone who claims milk chocolate has healthy qualities – well, let’s just say that’s very wishful thinking.


Some of the potential benefits of dark chocolate are positive effects to the circulatory and cardiovascular system, reduction in blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and a boost to cognitive abilities. It’s also high in minerals and antioxidants.


Chocolate has been considered an aphrodisiac for centuries, and became associated with Valentine’s day in Victorian England. Cadbury’s Chocolate Company started selling their new chocolate candy in heart shaped boxes in 1861. Our selection of chocolate treats this February including truffles, cupcakes, peanut butter pie and a smoothie, should satisfy any chocolate lover.