By: Diane Emeott Korzen Contributing Writer
If little girls are supposed to be “Sugar and spice and everything nice” according to an old adage, then Ndidi Rhodes, who works in Logistics as an Analyst in Output Assurance & Distribution at Mutual Of America for three years is planning a reboot for the holidays.
The Boca Raton resident who began her own business “The Lighter Side Bakery” with her husband Patrick, started experimenting with substituting honey and Stevia leaf for sugar, and almond flour for wheat flour, in response to a family member’s health issue.
“My brother-in-law has diabetes. For his birthday, we used to be consumed with guilt bringing over a cake that he could not have just to blow out the candles… [Either the rest of the family would eat it or dispose of it.]”
After her daughter was born, Ndidi began experimenting with baking, producing health conscious creations – all gluten free and paleo friendly. She explained the term “paleo friendly” as a Caveman diet, very low carb, with no wheat flour, no sugar, and all natural ingredients.
In November, “The Lighter Side Bakery” – one of the newest vendors at Boca GreenMarket, open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Royal Palm Place through Mother’s Day weekend – was offering loaves, muffins, and brownies in seasonal flavors.
Pumpkin (breads and muffins), Cinnamon Swirl (bread), and Chocolate everything. Ndidi’s molten Double Chocolate Banana loaf literally melts in your mouth. She also offers yummy Banana Chocolate Chip loaf and nut-free Brownies.
Asked what she was planning for December, Ndidi said, “I am constantly introducing something new. Last week, it was Brownies. We’ve also recently introduced Cinnamon Swirl and Double Chocolate Banana [loaves]… Maybe something Peppermint [is next]!”
Boca GreenMarket is entering its 22nd year, according to Boca GreenMarket Coordinator Emily Lilly.
Of its 45 vendors, several are new this season: Acai Fruit Bowls, Fresh Coconut Drinks, From The Earth Art, Go Solar Power, The Lighter Side Bakery, Maykha Spices, Benny’s Produce, Sabby’s Smoothies and Vida Seeds & Plants.
Acai Fruit Bowls offers many healthy and delicious fruit creations featuring the Brazilian fruit Acai, which is known for its healthful benefits. This fruit of the acai palm tree, native to Central and South America, is reportedly richer in antioxidants than blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries and blackberries. For holiday time, the vendor served up a fruit bowl of frozen acai, blueberries, pineapple and banana topped with red strawberries, green kiwi, and frosted with snowy coconut.
Okan at Fresh Coconut Drinks sells fresh coconuts with a big smile.
Another new vendor, Benny’s Produce does its growing in Homestead and Immokalee. 14-year-old Brianna helps her dad sell fruits and vegetables. Brianna has a parakeet and a hen as pets, “No dogs right now.” Her cousin has a dog, however, and Brianna likes dogs – so much that when market goers passed by with a couple of cute dogs named Amore (a chocolate brown toy poodle) and Tiamo (a Havanese), Brianna came running over to hug the dogs and play with them.
Not to be forgotten, old favorites at Boca GreenMarket include Adam at the Local Honey booth with 17 types of honey, including ginger, cinnamon, vanilla and lavender infused, as well as earthier offerings like Wild Seagrape, Sawgrass Palmetto and Jamaican Dogwood. They also have Tupelo honey from northern Florida, made famous by Irish singer Van Morrison in his song by the same name. Due to the recent Hurricane [Michael, which hit the Florida Panhandle with winds over 150 mph on Oct. 10], Adam said Tupelo honey might be hard to find next year. He described the taste as “medium sweet with less sugar, the fructose and glucose are opposite.”
For a traditional Italian Christmas Eve “Feast Of The Seven Fishes,” stop by Steve’s Stone Crab at Boca GreenMarket. “Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and Super Bowl are the busiest times here. I had a line of people wrapped around the market when I got here today, said one of the workers. He added that they have 14,000 traps for Stone Crabs in Everglades City, the Keys, everywhere – sold with their fresh mustard sauce. While the Stone Crabs tend to sell out early, fresh catch of the day may be tuna, grouper or snapper. Other holiday must tastes are crab cakes and fresh smoked fish dip.
MisGreg’s Produce, run by Greg, his wife, (and it used to be their pet pig Maxwell), has been a fixture at Boca GreenMarket since Day 1. Their extensive array of greens, herbs, vegetables and fruit bring customers back, week after week.
Owners of Le Petit Pain, Jeanine and Chuck, have returned from France, where they live in the off-season. “Last week she was back in the kitchen baking,” enthused one of their co-workers. Know for their striking berry, apricot, apple and pear-almond tartes, they also serve deep-dish quiche in goat cheese, broccoli, bacon, veggie, sausage and tomato.
And Saquella Café, which also has a tent at the GreenMarket, serves up its own mix of European pastries, croissants, scones, apple strudel with a complimentary cup of coffee.