AUG
20

Maine Event Lobster Sale

Maine Event Lobster Sale

At Sunset Foods, Labor Day means lobster! After all, what better way to reward the efforts of those who work than by serving them sweet, tender, and succulent lobster?

Just in time for the holiday weekend, Sunset is hosting a four day lobster sale at all its stores. The sale begins August 30 and will continue through September 3. The Maine Event only happens once a year and is one no seafood lover will want to miss!

Sunset's Seafood Department will fly in Live Maine lobsters fresh daily to ensure quality and flavor. Fully cooked lobsters will also be available for added convenience. The Maine Event offers Sunset customers a perfect opportunity to end the summer with a bang.

In addition to the high-quality lobster, Sunset Foods will have everything else required for a traditional New England lobster dinner available during the event. This includes a number of delicious, freshly prepared side dishes offered à la carte. Make sure to break out the bibs this Labor Day!

Supplies for the Maine Event are limited. Due to high demand, those wishing to buy lobster should pre-order to ensure availability. To do so, call a Sunset Foods Fish Department Directly.

Highland Park Seafood Department: 847-432-0187

Lake Forest Seafood Department: 847-615-2274

Libertyville Seafood Department: 847-573-9574

Long Grove Seafood Department: 847-478-1398

Northbrook Seafood Department: 847-272-7700

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AUG
13

Annual Hatch Chile Fest's event schedule

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The annual Hatch Chile harvest in New Mexico is right around the corner - which means so is our Hatch Chile Fest!

These world-famous green chiles have an unmatched flame-roasted flavor and are known for their well-balanced spiciness. They're only available a few weeks each year, and we're making the most of it with a mouth-watering, taste bud-tingling event. During our Hatch Chile Fest, we're turning up the heat throughout all our departments as our chefs incorporate these chiles into special dishes throughout the store - plus, we'll roast them on-site for you at each of our locations!

The Hatch Chile season is short, so save the date and we'll see you there!

Northbrook: Thursday, August 16 from 2 - 5 p.m.
Lake Forest: Friday, August 17 from 2 - 5 p.m.
Long Grove and Libertyville: Saturday, August 18 from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Highland Park: Sunday, August 19 from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

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JUL
31

Beyond the brush: Local artist renders mural at Lake Forest store

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“Sunset Foods feels like a neighborhood – it’s a place where you can run into someone from down the street, talk to someone who knows your name and exchange a recipe, or talk about what your children are up to,” says longtime Lake Bluff shopper and artist Sandra Bacon of her favorite place to shop.

Reminiscing on the five-store gourmet grocery’s longstanding history in the community, and its unparalleled food and customer service offered, Bacon awakened her native language of painting to show her appreciation.

“This store feels like a throwback to old time graciousness; managers who have worked [at Sunset Foods] for many years are nattily dressed in stylish suits with bright colored shirts and complementary ties,” says Bacon about the special connection she has with Sunset Foods, and the edge it has. “The staff [always offers to] bring your groceries to the car.”

That old-timey and neighborhood-like feel within each store inspired Bacon to create a mural unlike other artworks she’d rendered before. The work of art symbolizes how much Sunset Foods means to the artist, and to the greater community the stores service.

“Painting this mural [in Lake Forest] felt like being embraced,” says Bacon, who has been painting murals since winning a competition in painting a Queens grocery store back in the ‘80s. “When I explained that the message was for Sunset Foods to say ‘thank you,’ people thanked me for bringing in color.”

Inspiration for elements in the mural came from every food angle. The painting’s main elements separate vertically into three tiers, with a banner-like “Thank you, Sunset Foods” message toward the top, a scenery snapshot in the middle and an array of vegetables at the bottom; these elements are flanked on both sides by many foods from seafood to salad to macarons. The mural came together through a combination of house paints (for the background) and Golden acrylics (a professional acrylic).

“I have been waiting to paint this my whole life,” says Bacon about the opportunity of a lifetime, and how the creative process drew inspiration from store employees and customers alike.

When looking closely at the mural’s design elements, the seafood depiction mirrors how fish is flown in fresh; the wine sommelier makes superb suggestions, and how the flower shop provides a lovely ambiance, according to Bacon. But rather than taking full credit for creating this mural, Bacon insists others played integral roles as well.

“The idea for this mural came from Chris Puszynski, a longtime customer of the store and a student of mine from my drawing/painting class I teach at Deerpath Art League,” says Bacon of the process that started in October 2017 but only began materializing later on in warmer weather conditions. “[Puszynski] imagined a mural on the wall and approached John Cortesi. We went through seven to eight ideas for the style of the mural.”

Like any skilled artist, Bacon created multiple sketches well before executing the finishing stages.

“My original sketches were more traditional, showing the story of the grocery store [founded in 1937] centered on the [vintage] car along a road that showed local farms and history,” says the Maryland Institute College of Art alumnus of her preliminary painting stages. “We worked collaboratively with the staff, [who] encouraged me to come up with a style that felt more modern.”

After reviewing chalkboard murals near restaurants throughout the Chicagoland area, Bacon settled on a style.

“I would say [this] is bold, fresh and inspired by a ‘woodblock’ look,” says the fine art painter and muralist. “We tried to combine some of the store’s history with images of food and symbols of the store’s philosophy [of valuing locally-sourced product and providing quality customer service, too].”

Canvases vary for Bacon – she’s painted inside of the Lake Bluff train station, in schools, on a lighthouse near the John Hancock building, and so on. As president of “Artist on the Bluff,” Bacon also serves as a “Working Artist” for Golden paint (specializing in acrylic paints) and enjoys teaching the craft of painting throughout the Midwest. You might even find Bacon teaching a workshop or two at a Sunset Foods store near you in the near future.

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JUL
26

Shoppers, get your Sweet Corn here!

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Guess what season it is? Summer, you might say – in which case, you’d be correct. But we here at Sunset also like to call it corn season! While that might sound “corny,” you’ll soon find out why corn on the cob could very well become a main rather than side dish during your next summer soiree. Unlike other grocery stores offering corn from wherever, we make sure to keep things hyper local and ensure that the farms harvesting corn align with our high standards.

That’s why Sunset Foods chooses Harvard, Illinois’ Twin Gardens Inc. for bicolor sweet corn, otherwise known as “Mirai” corn. Like Sunset, Twin Gardens is a family-owned company that’s been thriving for generations (since 1954, to be exact). The Mirai sweet corn, one of the Gardens’ most innovative produce, came to be in the ‘90s as a natural cross-pollination of sweet corn genes; it grows best in warm temperatures and when fully matured, peeled and packaged, contains three colors (yellow, white and bicolor). As these sweet corns remain super tender, they require handpicking. That also happens to reinforce picking out quality corn, anyway.

So, you’ve got your one-of-a-kind Mirai corn from Sunset – what do you do with it next? Here’s one corn on the cob recipe that’s gotten quite the buzz, and it requires few ingredients and can be mastered by cooking novices and experts alike: https://spicysouthernkitchen.com/best-way-to-cook-corn-on-the-cob/.

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JUL
23

Unveiling the 'bee's knees' of seasonal produce

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Fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee!

That’s what Sunset Foods does, looking elegant while besting its competition from one department to another. Now, in this produce season where foods’ edibility coincides with bees’ livelihood, Sunset takes a look into which of our seasonal foods need bees similar to how plants need water.

According to a report conducted by the Food and Agriculture Association of the United Nations (FAO), crop pollination relies heavily on contribution from none other than bees. As a result of that pollination, certain produce improve in quality than if the bees had avoided these foods all together.

Studies have shown that roughly 85 percent of crops grown specifically for humans require bees’ pollination, as that increases quality and yield. And since Sunset Foods’ inception in 1937, the premium grocery store has provided patrons with the best local and bee-friendly produce available, allowing them to lead betters lives in and outside of the kitchen. Throughout July and August, Sunset will offer produce from Didier Farms (older than us by a quarter-century) out in nearby Lake County, as well as produce from esteemed farms in Michigan and Indiana.

Sweet and tangy, Michigan blueberries from Red Barn Farm in South Haven, MI make for great additions to yogurt and salads, or taste just fine on their own. The United States produces more blueberries than any other country, according to FAO. “Bumblebees visit more flowers per minute than other pollinators, and have no difficulty extracting nectar from blueberry flowers with their long tongues,” reads the FAO study.

Sourced locally from Didier Farms as well as from Indiana and Michigan farmlands, cucumbers will start hitting Sunset’s produce aisle this August. Crunchy and cool, there’s a reason these refreshing veggies make you feel as cool as…well, a cucumber! What might come as a surprise, though, is that bees make it possible for cucumbers to exist in the first place.

Other Sunset fruits and veggies that exist thanks in-part to bees include Athena homegrown cantaloupe (Indiana), watermelon (Indiana), peaches (Illinois and Michigan), kale, green, red & savoy cabbage (Indiana and Didier Farms), vine ripe tomatoes and plum tomatoes (Michigan and Chicago), squash, eggplant (Indiana, Michigan and Didier), beets (Indiana and Didier), basil, herbs and veggies (Illinois), kale, mustard, turnip & collard (Michigan), green & yellow zucchini (Indiana, Michigan and Didier).

More seasonal produce available at Sunset Foods in July and August will include green beans (from Ohio, Michigan and Illinois), celery (Michigan), romaine lettuce, green and red leaf (Michigan), pickles (Indiana, Michigan and Didier), celery (Michigan), green peppers (Indiana, Michigan and Didier), romaine: green leaf & red leaf (Michigan).

In all, it’s safe to say that without bees, there would be fewer and fewer delicious produce to grow in the farmlands, land in Sunset stores and eventually, family kitchens. Stay tuned for another blog post on Natural Honey by Allen (run by Lake Forest’s Allen Kracower), which prides itself on being the only local honey that contains zero chemicals. The honey operation has many other unique qualities, including the fact that all of its proceeds go toward recovering cancer patients from the Lake Forest Hospital (more on that later).

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JUL
12

Sunset Foods Invites You to Taste the Hottest Foods of 2018!

 

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Explore more than 35 of the absolute greatest local food vendors in the business at select Sunset Foods during our back-to-back tasting events happening this month!

What: “Presenting the Best Products of 2018” Tasting and Sale Event
When: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, July 21; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, July 28
Where: July 21 in Highland Park; July 28 in Northbrook
Cost: FREE for Sunset Foods patrons!
To register: Just show up!

“Our greatest pride and joy at Sunset Foods is providing customers with the highest quality products available,” said Sunset Foods’ Vice President of Marketing, Thaddeus Tazioli. “And when our stores showcase beverages, savories and sweets that have been manufactured locally, we are in turn exposing clients to nearby products they would only now realize can be brought into their homes.”

Each of the 35+ vendors has unique backgrounds behind their products, which align with Sunset Foods’ mission of offering upscale gourmet items. Here are some vendors to key an eye (and mouth!) out for:

• Petal botanical sparkling rose water (local)
• Malk Organics nut milks
• Craft Water (local)
• Limitless Cold Brew Coffee (local). The company’s truck will be parked outside of both events, providing cold brew samples for those wanting an extra kick leading into the shopping events.
• Coolhaus Ice Cream
• Alter Eco Chocolate bars
• Sketchbook Brewery (local Evanston-based New England-style IPA recently featured in The Chicago Tribune)
• Beyond Burger (plant-based burger)

That list above must have gotten your taste buds raring to go. Luckily, we’re once again having two events rather than just one: Saturday, July 21 at Sunset Foods’ Highland Park location from 11 a.m. – 3p.m., and Saturday, July 28 at our Northbrook store, same time frame. Get ready to taste the best at your local Sunset Foods market!

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JUN
27

The most American thing ever? A homemade, juicy, gourmet burger!

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In preparation for July 4 next Wednesday, Sunset Foods' meat department team has begun crafting handmade 1/2 lb. gourmet burgers! Ground and prepared fresh daily, these 100 percent ground chuck patties come with different seasonings and cost $2 each. As they're pre-made, simply throw them on the grill, or put on additional seasonings to your liking!

Looking to jazz up your Independence Day BBQ? Then try out this recipe for "The BA Burger Deluxe," a staple in Bon Appetit's recipe book here.

Remember, all five of our stores are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., so get your burgers today! And be sure to recruit the family or friend who specializes in grilling Sunset's patties to perfection, won't you?

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JUN
08

Nothing says 'Happy Father's Day' more than top-of-the-line steaks!

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At Sunset Foods, we're cooking up something extra tasty for deserving dads this Father’s Day.

Join us on Saturday, June 16, for a special Steak Cutting Event! Our Master Meat Cutters will offer custom-cut tender Ribeye, Tomahawk and Strip steaks from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., making for delectable gifts for dad's special day!

Debating how to best grill up this goodness? Our hands-on experts provide at-home recommendations, or will gladly season your cuts for you depending on what dad likes. See you there!

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MAY
30

Savor the 'Thrill of the Grill' throughout June!

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Welcome, grilling season. Oh, how we've missed the summer heat and meat!

In celebration of our favorite time of year, we're offering Sunset Foods' customers special sample and save events each weekend in June.

Visit any of the five Sunset Foods locations June 1/2/3 for our inaugural "Thrill of the Grill" Craft Sausage Extravaganza, where you'll have the chance to try some of the finest craft sausages, brats and hot dogs. Talk about a mouth-watering experience! See you by the grill!

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MAY
25

Catch our "Seafood Roadshow" this Memorial Day weekend!

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This week, we found out that the Alaska Fish and Game temporarily paused Copper River fishing operations until Monday. Fortunately, we are still able to offer sustainably sourced fresh, wild-caught Columbia River King Salmon for the highly anticipated Memorial Day weekend "Seafood Roadshow".

Our “Seafood Roadshow” event will go on as scheduled at all five Sunset Foods locations starting this coming Saturday, May 26. The show will feature Gulf Shrimp, Alaskan Crab Legs and Columbia River King Salmon while supplies last. We hope to see you there!

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MAY
24

Culinary Career Fair: Jumpstart your cooking profession with us!

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Calling all current and aspiring chefs! Sunset Foods, the leading family-owned grocery store in Chicago’s Northern suburbs, has full and part-time culinary career opportunities at all five store locations. Openings include sous chefs, smokehouse staff, line cooks, deli counter attendants and more. Sunset Foods offers an excellent benefits package for full-time employees. In an effort to fill those positions, Sunset Foods’ Long Grove store will have a career fair taking place on Saturday, June 2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“We always encourage people of all different experience and skill levels to apply since we’re looking for more than just seasoned chefs to join our team,” says VP of Human Resources, Stephanie Sandberg. “We welcome professionals who share a love for food, who work well with others and have a constant desire to improve their skills every day. Store team members – no matter what their role is – seek to make positive differences in our customers’ lives.”

For those unable to attend the career fair in-person on Saturday, June 2, e-mail your resume to ssandberg@sunsetfoods.com, including your job title of interest in the subject line.

About Sunset Foods

For more than 80 years, family-owned Sunset Foods has committed to providing excellent customer service while offering an upscale variety of local, organic, gourmet and specialty items to the community it proudly serves. After debuting in 1937 in Highland Park, IL, Sunset Foods has expanded to five locations in Chicago’s northern suburbs, employing nearly 700 associates. On top of providing the freshest products and friendliest service, store executives pride themselves on giving back to the community. About 300 local organizations receive fiscal support from Sunset Foods, and that business philosophy is part of the company’s core foundation.

Before every company meeting, the family's mission statement is read and absorbed: “Sunset Foods is a neighborhood supermarket dedicated to providing the finest customer service found anywhere. We are small enough to get to know our customers, but we are also large enough to offer the most outstanding selection at competitive prices. We are committed to finding and training friendly, conscientious, and knowledgeable staff who help us provide the freshest, highest quality products in clean, fun-to-shop stores.”

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MAY
18

Sunset Floral Design offering beautiful prom corsages!

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Wishing Glenbrook North and Glenbrook South seniors a fun and safe prom this weekend! Looking for last-minute corsages? We've got your date covered! Order now: 847 272 7700.

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MAY
18

Enjoy Sunset Foods’ upcoming Wine Tastings and Evaluation Event May 24

 

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Sunset Foods, the top-rated family-owned grocery chain located in Chicago’s northern suburbs, welcomes you to attend its upcoming “Wine Tastings and Evaluation Event" in Lake Forest, IL scheduled for Thursday, May 24 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Sunset Floral Design area.

During the two-hour summer-themed wine tasting class, in-house Sommelier Pierre Asti, alongside Sunset Floral Design’s Joanne Willing, will introduce guests to the unique flavors of white, sparkling and Syrah wines personally selected alongside complementary aperitifs such as cheeses, vegetables with dips and meats. Guests will taste and evaluate wines ranging from $8.49 up to $40. It’s the ideal way of getting a feel for which wines should make their way into one’s summer collection.

“I think we have a lot of fun doing it,” says Asti regarding the process of leading monthly wine tastings within the North Shore community. “It’s enriching to see people learn how one wine tastes different from another, and I encourage people to talk about what they’re tasting.”

Oftentimes guests will visit the Lake Forest store and wander around the wine collection, debating which beverages they should enjoy for their next special occasion. Under Pierre’s guidance, each wine has been carefully added to the store so that whichever one a customer chooses – regardless of budget – will leave lasting impressions on the palate. Knowing which wines pair well with certain foods takes another level of training, and that skill will come from taking Asti’s class.

“Many of our regular customers who take home salads that we make in-house and steaks for the grill will ask us ‘what wines will pair well with my food?’” says Vice President of Sunset Foods, Thaddeus Tazioli. “Having Pierre lead an event like this helps people better select wines suited for their respective taste, just in time for summer.”

While each wine tasting class is open to the public, advance reservations are required as there’s limited space available. The $20 attendance fee also goes toward wine purchases made on the evening of May 24.

About Sunset Foods

For more than 80 years, family-owned Sunset Foods has committed to providing excellent customer service while offering an upscale variety of local, organic, gourmet and specialty items to the community it proudly serves. After debuting in 1937 in Highland Park, IL, Sunset Foods has expanded to five locations in Chicago’s northern suburbs, employing nearly 700 associates. On top of providing the freshest products and friendliest service, store executives pride themselves on giving back to the community. About 300 local organizations receive fiscal support from Sunset Foods, and that business philosophy is part of the company’s core foundation.

Before every company meeting, the family's mission statement is read and absorbed: “Sunset Foods is a neighborhood supermarket dedicated to providing the finest customer service found anywhere. We are small enough to get to know our customers, but we are also large enough to offer the most outstanding selection at competitive prices. We are committed to finding and training friendly, conscientious, and knowledgeable staff who help us provide the freshest, highest quality products in clean, fun-to-shop stores.”

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MAY
10

Sunset Foods unveils new Quick and Easy chef-created meal program

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Sunset Foods, the top-rated family-owned grocery chain located in Chicago’s northern suburbs, has launched 4-minute chef-created meals under the Quick and Easy banner. Targeting consumers wanting deliciously fresh meals with minimal prep and clean up time, these all-natural and nutritious foods make getting meals on the table faster than ever before.

Designed with the on-the-go consumer in mind, Sunset’s Quick and Easy recipes are prefect for anyone who wants to make a delicious meal without any dicing, cutting, or measuring. There are three categories within the program allowing customers the option of adding their own flair to their culinary creations: “Hot & Ready,” “Prepare at Home” and “Heat & Eat.”

“We have been in the prepared meals business long before it became trendy,” says Sunset Foods’ Vice President of Marketing, Thaddeus Tazioli. “Our kitchens are busier than most restaurants and we have 10-15 cooks per store who prepare at least 75 to 100 unique dishes from scratch every day.” While preparing true restaurant-quality meals is something Sunset was already doing, the breakthrough was the packaging technology which allows the meals to be cooked in minutes.

Under the guidance of Deli Department Director Chuck Gullo, these cooking experts use simple, fresh ingredients and unique recipes for a variety of fish, meat and vegetable favorites including: Cod Provencal, Garlic and Herb Chicken and Mediterranean Vegetables.

“We want to take something that’s great quality, but also super simple,” says Deli Department Head Chuck Gullo. “The food looks beautiful and because the packaging allows you to see it before you buy it, it’s been an immediate success. Preparation is deceptively simple, and one might be tempted to think there must be a sacrifice someplace; but this isn’t the case.”

All five of Sunset Foods’ critically and consumer-acclaimed grocery stores are offering customers Quick & Easy programs: Lake Forest, Libertyville, Highland Park, Northbrook and Long Grove, with the latter store’s program debuting this month.

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MAY
08

Let Mom indulge in this chocolate-covered fruit

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Yet another sweet way of going the extra mile in showing Mom your appreciation this Mother's Day? Chocolate-covered Strawberries, of course! For one day only on Saturday, May 12, our fresh Chocolate Dipped Stem Strawberry 4-pack will go for 3.99!

And on Mother's Day, May 13, the first 50 lucky customers at each Sunset store have a chance to receive Beauty Product Mother's Day Giveaways!

This is an event not to be missed - whether you're celebrating or just happen to be in the neighborhood!

 

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MAY
04

Moms love gifts, so what do you plan on showering her with?

This Mother's Day, show Mom how much you love her in more ways than one.

Sunset Floral's Lake Forest design center offers masterful custom arrangements featuring Mom's favorite flowers, from our signature Spring Floral Arrangement with Lilies to a Vintage Rose Pitcher. Place your pick-up or delivery order before the big day on Sunday, May 13: 847 295 0460.

Some other gift ideas include our 12" Combo Hanging Basket for garden-obsessed moms, all natural bubble bath bombs for moms who embrace tranquility, and even soy candles to complement bath time.

Whether the mom(s) in your life loves flowers, gardening accents, or pampering gifts - or better yet, all of them - sweeten her celebration today with Sunset Foods!

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MAY
01

Where to celebrate Cinco De Mayo this Saturday

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Get into the fiesta spirit this Cinco de Mayo this Saturday with Sunset Foods! Celebrate Mexican heritage exclusively at our stores, which will feature lots of fresh guacamole and serenades from local band Mariachi Garibaldi! The mariachi band will perform in signature costume starting in our Libertyville store at roughly 11 a.m., then Long Grove at 11:45 a.m., Northbrook at 12:30 p.m., Highland Park at 1:15 p.m. and end its celebratory Sunset Foods tour in Lake Forest at 2 p.m.

Sombreros welcome. And pick up a case of Coronas, while you’re at it! Cheers.

...

The secret to great guacamole? That's best answered by Gloria Castrejon, who's been making guacamole in our Highland Park store for five years. She's just now sharing her secrets for Sunset's homemade take on this customer favorite:

- Use the freshest ingredients and an extra splash of lime juice to slow browning

- Mash five avocados with a fork, and then stir in one juiced lime, one diced Roma tomato, one minced red onion, ¼ bunch of chopped cilantro, and add some salt and pepper

 

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APR
18

Bouquet building in a cinch

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Ever wonder what it's like creating your very own bouquet of flowers, just how you like it? Learn how during our one-of-a-kind class this Saturday, April 21 at our Long Grove location. We are even offering a second workshop the following weekend in Lake Forest at our Design Center. Sign up today, and bring the colors of spring home exclusively from Sunset Foods.

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APR
17

Celebrating Earth Day this Saturday in Northbrook

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This Earth Day, celebrate the beautiful planet we love with Sunset Foods in Northbrook! Special food samples and product sales will be available to our valued customers, who can also take items to-go in reusable bags. See you all on Saturday, April 21 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.!

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APR
16

Join us in Lake Forest for "Paint & Sip" night!

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Experience an unforgettable evening of artistic expression, fun, food and wine. Local artist Sandie Bacon will teach artists of all levels using stroke-by-stroke techniques, ensuring you paint your very own spring time in Paris-inspired masterpiece reflecting 'joie de vivre.' We'll provide you with everything you need for a great night out, from food and drink to art supplies. All you have to do is flex your creative muscles. There's limited space available, so reserve your spot today: 847 234 8380.

 

 

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APR
13

Sunset Foods receives series of awards, sealing its reputation as best local grocer

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And the award for best grocery store near you goes to…Sunset Foods!

It is an honor to announce that Sunset Foods has received two prestigious awards so far this year – and the accolades keep on coming. 22nd Century Media readers selected the family-owned Chicagoland grocery store as “Best Grocery Store,” while similarly the Daily Herald Business Ledger has awarded Sunset Foods with “The Annual Award for Business Excellence” within the “Innovation and Community Involvement by a Family-Owned Business” category – both of which are incredible achievements, indeed. While each award is a humbling honor, we still like to say: “Winning twice is extra nice!”

“These awards add further validation to the core principles which have guided this company for 81 years,” says Sunset Foods’ Vice President of Marketing Thaddeus Tazioli. “Fashions change and trends come and go, but heartfelt care for the customers and communities we serve is our recipe for success.”

22nd Century Media values the opinions of its readers which is why each year it conducts the North Shore Choice Awards to select the best of the best amongst the many businesses which make the Northern suburbs one of the most desirable places to live and work in the country. With so many places to go grocery shopping, it’s tremendously gratifying to be recognized by our neighbors as their number pick for Best Grocery Store. We would like to give a big thank you to all of the readers. We’ve been doing this for 81 years, and promise to continue for at least 81 more.

New customers and returning ones have expressed their gratitude for the consistently exceptional services and products that Sunset Foods always provide.

“There’s not a cause they are asked to support in the community that they don’t support,” a longtime shopper once said. “Their name is listed on every sport team’s plaque you see around town, and as a sponsor every cause; it’s [the store’s] way of saying ‘this community is important.’”

Ever since Vice President of Marketing Thaddeus Tazioli joined Sunset Foods a quarter-century ago, the community involvement has only strengthened.

“Every employee at Sunset has the same job, which is to create value for our customer,” Tazioli said.

The 28th annual Daily Herald Business Ledger awards recognize local businesses within the publication's circulation area that show a positive impact within the community. Sunset Foods has been recognized for its impactful presence as a family venture. Previous industry honors include the Corporate Citizen of the Year Award, the Neighborhood Partnership Award (Food Marketing Institute in Recognition of Sunset’s Annual Food Drive) and recognizing Sunset's participation in the Scouting for Food Drive within the Moraine Township.

About Sunset Foods

For more than 80 years, family-owned Sunset Foods has committed to providing excellent customer service while offering an upscale variety of local, organic, gourmet and specialty items to the community it proudly serves. After debuting in 1937 in Highland Park, IL, Sunset Foods has expanded to five locations in Chicago’s northern suburbs, employing nearly 700 associates. On top of providing the freshest products and friendliest service, store executives pride themselves on giving back to the community. About 300 local organizations receive fiscal support from Sunset Foods, and that business philosophy is part of the company’s core foundation.

Before every company meeting, the family's mission statement is read and absorbed: “Sunset Foods is a neighborhood supermarket dedicated to providing the finest customer service found anywhere. We are small enough to get to know our customers, but we are also large enough to offer the most outstanding selection at competitive prices. We are committed to finding and training friendly, conscientious, and knowledgeable staff who help us provide the freshest, highest quality products in clean, fun-to-shop stores.”

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MAR
16

Sunset Highland Park Welcomes Mighty Microgreens to Shelves

Sunset Highland Park Welcomes Mighty Microgreens to Shelves

Microgreens are small but mighty, packing a huge nutrient punch in each bite. Here’s how microgreens add a pop of nutrition, color, and flavor to your plate.

What are microgreens?
Microgreens are very young greens. They’re harvested somewhere between 7 and 20 days after the seed has begun to sprout. They're only about 3-4 inches long.

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Why are microgreens healthy?
All fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, are very healthy foods. Microgreens take dark leafy nutrition up a notch. Studies show that very young greens have the highest content of vitamins and minerals to weight—even higher than their mature older brothers.

Microgreens achieve this nutrient density because plant germination is an intense process. It begins when a seed meets water and oxygen at just the right temperature. Then the seed rapidly absorbs water and a bunch of nutrients from the soil. Because this nutrient uptake is happening very quickly, and because these plants are still very small, that plant’s first week or two of life is the most nutrient-dense it will ever be.

A study comparing lettuce microgreens to mature lettuce found that microgreens are significantly richer (sometimes up to 9 times richer!) in minerals like iron, manganese, zinc, and selenium. Microgreens are rich sources of antioxidants, too, and contain more different types of antioxidants than their mature older brothers.

What’s special about Fig Trade microgreens?Fig Trade logo
Fig Trade—the microgreens (not figs) on Sunset Highland Park’s shelves—are flown direct from Israel. They’re 100% hydroponically grown. Hydroponic systems allow the grower to control exactly how much nutrients and water the plants receive. Research shows the amount of minerals in microgreens climbs even higher when they’re grown hydroponically.  

Fig Trade does not spray any pesticide on their plants. Instead, they use Integrated Pest Management (IPM)—an agro-ecological approach that introduces “good bugs” into their greenhouses, and the good bugs suppress the “bad bugs”. Hence, no need for pesticides. (Don’t worry, all the greens are carefully inspected to make sure no critters make it into the packaged product.)

Fig Trade microgreens are available at Sunset in thyme, arugula, watercress, basil, cilantro, and parsley varieties.

How do I eat microgreens?
Microgreens can take your meal from ho-hum to gourmet! Here are some ideas...

  • Use them in place of lettuce on sandwiches and wraps.
  • Add them to a smoothie for a flavor and nutrient boost.
  • Swap out some regular greens in your salad for microgreens.
  • Use them in place of fresh herbs.
  • Mix them into pasta for a pop of color.
  • Use them to garnish just about anything! Throw some on top of soups, stews, eggs, chicken, meat, or fish. 

Microgreens salad

 

Stop by the Highland Park Sunset on Sunday, 3/18 or Monday, 3/19, from 11am-3pm to taste the delicousness of Fig Trade microgreens! 

 

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998 Hits
MAR
13

Pi Day Celebration! 9" Apple Pies for $6.49!

Pi Day Celebration! 9" Apple Pies for $6.49!

Indulge your inner nerd this Pi Day (that's March 14th, or 3.14) and enjoy 9-inch Gardner apple pies for $6.49.

Gardner Pies are refreshingly old-fashioned and bursting with homemade goodness. Don't miss this special, one-day only price at your local Sunset Bakery. 

 

Pi Day event ad

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983 Hits
MAR
06

Women-Owned Business Event ~ 3/10 at Sunset Libertyville!

Women-Owned Business Event ~ 3/10 at Sunset Libertyville!

In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8th, Sunset is celebrating our community’s outstanding female food entrepreneurs! Join us on Saturday, March 10th at Sunset Libertyville for an afternoon of local food and inspiring women. Taste for yourself why they’re so proud of their products, and why we’re so proud to work with them. Sunset will donate a portion of store sales on 3/10 to The Floured Apron—a local non-profit that empowers underserved women with job training in the culinary arts. 

Meet the women behind the business! Here are some of our valued female partners and their stories. 

 

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The initial concept for The Floured Apron came from passion, need, and a love of chemistry. Emily Boling always loved baking, and has fond memories of doing so in her grandmother’s kitchen. With a background in chemical engineering, she's a self-described science geek. She believes in loving what you do and was convinced that bringing women together in a nurturing baking environment would propel them to stable careers and financial success. The Floured Apron's mission is to empower women from underserved communities with the training, knowledge, and support they need to forge a new and more economically-secure career path. So far it’s been a recipe for success!

Founder and bakery owner, Suzanne Marcus had a "sweet vision" of providing her specialty baked goods to Chicago area markets more than twenty years ago! Looking beyond her career in finance, Suzanne embraced her passion and donned an apron. Her desire to create quality, wholesome, hand-crafted and (most importantly) delicious bakery products became the cornerstone of Hot Cakes Bakery. As her business grew, Suzanne's fans encouraged her to create a line of freshly baked packaged products, available in your local market. Taste the goodness that is distinctly---Hot Cakes Bakery. 

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One of the wine industry’s top executives and innovators, Jackson Family Wines Chairman & Proprietor Barbara R. Banke has spent the last two decades leading the company she co-founded with her late husband, wine icon Jess Jackson, while building and expanding some of the most beloved wineries in the nation.

Carol Goodman spent decades perfecting her baked goods.  In 1979, her friends and family persuaded her to approach Sunset Foods with her homemade cookies. The bakery manager tried them and asked Carol to bring several dozen the next day to see if the cookies would sell. Carol stayed up all night baking and brought 50 lbs. of cookies to the store the following morning.  In record time, all 50 pounds had been sold.  The manager told Carol to..."Go home and start baking!"  And from that day forward, these wonderful, homemade creations were known as Carol's Cookies.

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Dana Dreves is a mom of 3, a hydration enthusiast, and a Chicagoland MOMpreneur. She's dedicated to helping busy women rehydrate and rejuvenate. Because let's face it: moms live very busy lives, working long hours, running busy households, or just keeping up with their children. Dana creates CraftWater to support moms' busy lifestyle!

“Start a natural foods company.” Those were the words Elizabeth wrote down on the blank piece of paper while in class at her holistic nutrition school. Her goal was simple: provide healthier, better-tasting alternatives to what was currently on the market, using the incredibly powerful superfoods that she was learning about in school, like quinoa, hemp, chia seeds and coconut oil. Simply Elizabeth was born! 

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Robin Fields has been bringing smiles to Chicagoland since 1998. After experimenting with making desserts for a party, she discovered her passion for making toffee and gave life to Toffee Break Desserts! Toffee Break Desserts is well-known for corporate gifting, catering special events, and wholesale distribution. We offer a variety of Signature Toffee flavors, as well as other Chocolate Specialties such as Grand Tortoises, Cookies and more!

Ellona Ferson is a visionary behind the Napa Hills brand. A founder of a small local company, and a non-drinker, Ellona was looking for a healthier alternatives to red wine. She count'd find a  beverage that would pair nicely with food, taste delicious and deliver the same heart-healthy antioxidants found in red wine but without the alcohol, calories or sugar.  So she decided to craft Napa Hills water - a refreshing, delicious and heart-healthy water. Her cutting-edge innovative beverage aims to help people live longer, healthier lives. Visit napahills.com, Napa Hill is available at all Sunset Foods stores.

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Ali Graeme's life changed dramatically in the summer of 2007 when her teenage son was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. She immediately thought about all her son's favorite foods that he would have to give up. They were both devastated! Things got worse when Ali was diagnosed with the same disease. Ali channeled her energies into something positive for her and her son. She started Sweet Ali’s Gluten Free Bakery in 2009, with the goal of creating delicious gluten-free products that those suffering from gluten intolerance would enjoy, and those not affected by gluten would enthusiastically embrace.

When Kiki Michalakos's son was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, she knew many of her family's traditional Greek recipes would be off-limits. She wasn't able to find any truly crave-able, gluten-free ethnic foods like the ones she grew up enjoying, so she started developing gluten-free versions of her family's favorite recipes. Today, she's shattering preconceived notions of how gluten-free foods should taste, with a her line, Kiki's Gluten-Free Foods--a full range of entrees, pizzas, pastas, baked goods, and desserts. Her products are recipients of the 2017, 2016, 2014, and 2013 National Restaurant Association FABI Award. 

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Eighteen years ago the Giacomini family, Bob, his wife Dean, and their four daughters Karen, Diana, Lynn and Jill, decided to re-focus their dairy business on artisan cheese production. In August of 2000 they produced their first batch of Original Blue Cheese, which today has grown into Point Reyes Farmstead. The brand has become iconic as one of California’s most highly-regarded and well-known, artisan cheeses. The family has since focused on producing the best blue cheese in the country while building a reputable and reliable brand as they introduced Original Blue to every major market in the US.

Cindy Kienzle is the owner and creator of The Hungry Monkey Baking Company, LLC.®, a premium brand of sweets. Hungry Monkey started almost by accident. After leaving her marketing career, Cindy was asked to bake her banana bread for a nonprofit for kids with learning differences. Since her own daughter, Lily (Hungry Monkey’s namesake), has special needs, she jumped at the opportunity.  Her breads sold out two days in a row and people didn’t stop calling to order. A month later Cindy was selling her banana bread at local farmers markets, selling out weekly; three months later, Sunset Foods gave her a start in the wholesale grocery business, and the business continued to grow from there.

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After Barbara Giannetti married and started a family, she found that getting a healthy and delicious dinner on the table after working all day was almost impossible. Barbara grew up steeped in family tradition, especially at mealtime. She searched for a bottled sauce that resembled her families’ recipes, but none were quite what she was looking for. Seeking to recreate her memories of aromas, tastes and flavors of the pasta dishes that were a staple in her home, da Giulia was born! Barbara’s sauces help bring families together at mealtime by creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Diane Garber transitioned her 25-year career as a business executive in the food, retail and consulting industry to her lifelong passion as the founder of WillPOWER Your Day™, Inc., an innovative company that specializes in the development and retailing of plant-based foods.  While all of WillPOWER Your Day’s snacks are sinfully delicious, they also provide outstanding nutrition. Ms. Garber received her certification as a Food For Life Instructor from Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine

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1136 Hits
MAR
01

Blackberry Cabernet Roast Eye of Round

ROUND ROAST

Red wine and blackberries act as a tenderizer for this cut of meat often used for pot roast. For the best flavor and texture, roast to medium rare then slice across the grain. The Cabernet blackberry au jus is an elegant finish that cooks quickly in the roasting pan after the meat is done.

 

Ingredients

Roast with marinade

5 lbs. eye of round beef roast
1 Package Driscoll's Blackberries, plus more for garnish
2 Cups Cabernet Sauvignon
4 Cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary leaves, plus more for garnish
1 Tbsp. thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
2 Teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves
2 Teaspoons salt
1/2 Tsp. ground black pepper
2 Teaspoons cracked pepper melange

Blackberry Cabernet Au Jus

1 Package Driscoll's Blackberries (6 ounces or about 1 1/3 cups)
2 Cups beef broth
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 Cup Cabernet Sauvignon
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Directions
Roast with marinade

Heat oven to 425°F.

Pierce all sides of meat using a meat fork every 1 inch and place in a large resealable plastic bag.

Purée blackberries in a blender or food processor. Press through a sieve to remove seeds. Discard solids. Combine blackberry purée, Cabernet, garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, salt and black pepper in a small bowl. Pour mixture over roast and seal bag. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight, turning roast occasionally.

Drain meat from marinade. Sprinkle cracked pepper mélange evenly over meat and place in a large roasting pan. Pour 1 cup marinade from plastic bag into roasting pan. Discard remaining marinade. Roast 15 minutes, reduce oven to 350°F Continue to roast 50 minutes or until meat thermometer reads 145°F for medium rare. Remove meat from roasting pan. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing thinly across the grain.

Blackberry Cabernet Au Jus

Purée 1/2 cup blackberries in a blender or food processor. Press through a sieve to remove seeds. Discard solids. Using a wooden spoon, loosen and dissolve any browned bits in roasting pan. Stir in blackberry puree, beef broth, cornstarch and Cabernet. Place roasting pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil stirring constantly. Cook 1 minute or until slightly thickened. Stir in remaining blackberries. Season with salt and pepper.

To Serve

Garnish platter with rosemary, thyme and blackberries.

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1133 Hits
FEB
09

Valentine's Day is February 14th!

Valentine's day is fast approaching. Celebrate the love in your life with our beautiful floral offerings or our delicious food and bakery items designed specifically for you this holiday.

 

Floral Arrangements
B2ap3 Thumbnail Classic Dozen Rose Vase

Classic Dozen Rose Vase

 

A tradition for Valentines Day. 12 beautiful roses artfully arranged in a glass vase with greenery and babies breath. Always the perfect way to say "Happy Valentines Day".

$49.99

Carnation Topiary

 

Bring home something different. This topiary arrangement boasts a unique design and will be a long lasting reminder of your love.

$24.99

B2ap3 Thumbnail Carnation Toiary
B2ap3 Thumbnail European Blooming Gardens

European Blooming Gardens

Fresh cut flowers not your thing? Lovely combinations of blooming plants in a variety of containers to suit your taste.

starting at $27.99

Tropical Arrangement

Make a statement with this elegant arrangement of ginger combined with hypericum berry and alstromeria.

$34.99

B2ap3 Thumbnail Tropical Arrangement
B2ap3 Thumbnail Simply Sweet Arrangement

Simply Sweet Arrangement

 

Pick this charming red cube filled with red, pink and white carnations. Seasonal accents finish the design.

$19.99

18 Roses with Oriental Lilies

Choose this stunning arrangement of Rose Lilies and 18 long stemmed roses combined with lush greenery and unique accent flowers.

$89.99

B2ap3 Thumbnail 18 Roses With Oriental Lilie 20180210 160315 1

 

We Can Deliver Floral Arrangements!

Call now to place your order:

847-295-0406

Supplies of these items are limited. Please order early to reserve yours.

 

 

Food and Bakery
B2ap3 Thumbnail Picture 2018 02 09 At 1.22.55 PM B2ap3 Thumbnail Food SteakAndLobsbter

 

 

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1290 Hits
JAN
25

What Does It Mean to 'Eat Clean'?

What Does It Mean to 'Eat Clean'?

Does the idea of chemical-sounding ingredients in your food leave a bad taste in your mouth? You’re not alone. ‘Clean eating’ is sweeping the nation as one of the most popular diet movements. But what does this term really mean?

‘Clean eating’ doesn’t have an official definition, so it means different things to different people. To most, it means choosing foods that are closest to their natural state—also known as ‘whole foods’ or minimally processed foods. More extreme interpretations of ‘clean eating’ may exclude dairy, gluten, or grains from the diet, though this is not recommended without a medical reason.

Often, terms like ‘clean’ and ‘natural’ go hand in hand. A food is ‘natural’ when it lacks artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. While artificial food additives are not harmful (at least not in the quantities that are added to foods), a long list of additives in the ingredient statement is a telltale sign that that food is highly processed. Generally speaking, highly processed foods are less nutrient-dense and are higher in sugar, sodium, and fat than minimally processed foods.

Despite being tested for safety, some shoppers are still skeptical of artificial food additives—for many reasons. Some shoppers distrust food manufacturers, believe artificial additives may be harmful over the long term, or just feel funny about eating something they can’t pronounce. No matter the reason, there are options for those who wish to avoid undesirable ingredients.Wild Harvest Logo

Wild Harvest is Sunset’s line of “free from” foods—all Wild Harvest foods do not contain artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. In fact, there are hundreds of ingredients that are kept out, click here to view a full list.

Sunset believes simple food is best. Try Wild Harvest and taste how natural flavors speak for themselves. 

 

 

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1659 Hits
JAN
18

All Supplements & Protein Powders 20% Off 1/17-1/24

Get ready to shop, save, and support your health! Now's the time to stock up on your favorite products and finally get that vitamin D you've been meaning to pick up. 

Need help choosing the right supplements for you? Want a Dietitian's input on your supplement regimen? Stop by our Lake Forest store on Saturday, 1/20, from 11am-2pm to meet Courtney, our Registered Dietitian. She'll be available to field questions and share her favorite products. Plus snag free samples and coupons!

 

New Years Wellness Sale

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1441 Hits
DEC
05

Sunset's Healthy Holiday Gift Guide 2017

Sunset's Healthy Holiday Gift Guide 2017

This year, give the gift of good health. Inspire your loved ones with thoughtful gifts that won’t add to the laundry list of seasonal indulgences. Plus, knock out some of your holiday shopping at the grocery store. 

Nice Olive Oil
Olive oil may already be a pantry staple, but splurging on high-quality oil isn’t something many people typically buy for themselves. For a full-flavored and fruity choice, we recommend DeCarlo Classico Olive Oil. It has elements of almond in flavor, apple in aroma, and pepper in the finish. It’s also packaged in an attractive, refillable ceramic bottle.
$23.99

 

Olive oil photo
Vinegar photo Nice Balsamic Vinegar
Similar to olive oil, vinegar is a pantry must-have that many people don’t think much about—but should. A nice vinegar can totally transform a dish. We recommend Aceto Balsamico by Due Vittoria. It’s dense and full-bodied with just the right amount of acidity. Aged in durmast oak barrels, it’s woodsy on the nose and slightly sour on the palate. It’s the type of vinegar your recipient will savor to the last drop.
$24.49

Lavender Tree
Help your loved one de-stress during the holidays with an elegant lavender plant. Tamed into the shape of a miniature Christmas tree, this calming, classy, and pet-friendly alternative to the poinsettia can be enjoyed long after the holidays are over.
$19.99

Lavender tree photo
Spanish almonds photo Spanish Almonds
Brimming with heart-healthy fats, protein, fiber, and minerals, nuts make a satiating holiday snack that will help offset all those sweets. For something that’s a step above your everyday nut, we recommend Spanish Marcona Almonds by Cocina Selecta. Imported from Spain, they’re rounder, sweeter, and have a more delicate, buttery flavor than typical California almonds.
$6.39
Dark chocolate
Everyone can appreciate a good bar of chocolate. Gifting dark chocolate raises the bar for health benefits and flavor complexity. We recommend the Pink Himalayan Crystal Salt Caramel bar by Vosges Haut Chocolat. Its smoky, salted caramel oozes out between two layers of rich, 72% dark chocolate. It’s pink gooey perfection.
$6.99
Chocolate photo
Utensils photo Kitchen Utensils
For a thoughtful gift sure to get lots of use, try this 5 piece Bamboo Utensil set by Totally Bamboo. Although most home chefs have at least one of the basic kitchen utensils—wooden spoon, slotted spoon, spatula, etc.—this set ensures your lucky recipient can keep on cooking when their items are in the dishwasher. Perfect for whomever’s hosting Christmas dinner!
$5
Tea
There’s nothing like unwinding with a warm cup of tea on a cold winter’s night. We recommend Organic Peppermint Bark ‘cool winter’ herbal tea by The Republic of Tea. This caffeine-free blend has a delightful balance of refreshing peppermint, warming cocoa, and sweet vanilla. The perfect calorie-free dessert tea for the holiday season, it will fill your loved ones’ home with the scents of winter.
$12.00
tea photo
soap photo Soap
There’s no question that hand washing is important during cold and flu season.
Help you recipient stay well the gentle way, without harsh chemicals that can lead to dry, cracked skin. We recommend goat milk soap by Zum Bar scented with frankincense and myrrh. It’s woodsy, sweet, and seasonally appropriate.
$5.79
Gourmet Popcorn
Fiber-rich and low in calories, popcorn is a mouthwatering snack you can feel good about. We recommend Black Popcorn by Black Jewel Natural Grain. Grown and harvested on small Midwestern farms, the eye-catching black kernels turn snow white once popped. Looking to take your gift up a notch? Gift gourmet kernels alongside an air popper and truffle oil.
$7.39
popcorn photo
maple syrup photo Nice Maple Syrup
There’s a big difference between a corn syrup-based “pancake syrup” and real maple syrup. Despite the colossal difference in quality, many shoppers aren’t willing to splurge on the good stuff. We recommend Hilltop Sugar Bush for 100% pure Wisconsin maple syrup. It also comes in a sculptural bottle that adds some pizzazz to the pantry.
$11.99
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1958 Hits
DEC
04

Get Fancy: Champagne and Caviar Tasting 12/16/17

Get Fancy: Champagne and Caviar Tasting 12/16/17

Go ahead and spoil yourself. Indulge in the finer things at our Champagne and Caviar tasting on Saturday, December 16th, from 12pm-3pm, at all Sunset locations.

Ring in the New Year with a bit of luxury, or find that unique gift for the person who has everything. Discover flavor nuances while enjoying deep discounts on these highly coveted items.

This event is free to attend. Sale prices are valid on champagnes throughout the week, though caviar discounts apply only on 12/16/17. 

Champagne and caviar event flyer

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1848 Hits
DEC
04

Santa’s Reindeer at Lake Forest Sunset 12/16/17

Santa’s Reindeer at Lake Forest Sunset 12/16/17

Santa’s reindeer are bringing extra magic to Sunset Foods this Christmas.

Dasher, Dancer, and the rest of the gang will be spreading some Christmas cheer at our Lake Forest store on Saturday, December 16th from 10am-2pm.

Petting is encouraged! Don't miss this festive photo opp with the kids. (Next year’s Christmas card, anyone?) 

Reindeer event flyer

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1750 Hits
NOV
27

Sunset's 12 Days of Christmas ~ 12 Days of Savings

Sunset's 12 Days of Christmas ~ 12 Days of Savings

Celebrate the holiday season with savings! 

Enjoy one-day deals throughout the store, December 1st - 12th only

Golden tilapia 4.98/lb Spanish Clementines 5.99 5 lb box
Cranberry tuna salad 4.98 lb Breckenridge bourbon 34.99
Boneless skinless chicken breast 2.99 lb Rotisserie chicken 5.00 ea
Pineapple whole or cored Premium jumbo lump crab cakes 4oz 3.75 ea
Snapple teas 16oz 6pack 3.49 3 Floyds beer 6pack 9.99
Ground chuck 2.99 lb Sunsets all natural chocolate chip cookies 6 ct package 2.99

 

 

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2144 Hits
NOV
27

Annual Gingerbread House Decorating & Seasonal Sampling

Annual Gingerbread House Decorating & Seasonal Sampling

One of our favorite holiday traditions continues! Join us for seasonal family fun during our annual Gingerbread House Decorating event on Saturday, December 9th, from 11am-4pm, at all Sunset locations. 

$15 gets you a prebuilt gingerbread house and all the gumdrops, candy canes, frosting, and other goodies you’ll need to decorate the gingerbread house of your dreams. Take it home, give it as a gift, or enjoy it yourself.

Space is limited, so please sign up with the customer service desk (either in-person or over the phone) of your favorite Sunset store.

This is event isn’t just for the little ones. Moms and Dads: we’re bringing you tasty inspiration for your holiday menu. Sample holiday items from our favorite vendors throughout the store. See you there! 

Gingerbread event info

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1811 Hits
NOV
16

5 Ways to Avoid Overeating this Thanksgiving (Without Feeling Deprived)

5 Ways to Avoid Overeating this Thanksgiving (Without Feeling Deprived)

Eating may be the reason for the season, but there’s a fine line between feeling pleasantly fed and gorging yourself to the point of agony. Here’s how to stay in control this year.

Overfed photo
Show up satisfied 

Have you ever walked into the kitchen starving, opened the fridge, and ate the first thing you saw (and the second, and the third…)? That’s not how you want to approach Thanksgiving dinner.

It’s tempting to arrive at dinner famished in preparation for the big meal. However, our ability to make good decisions tends to break down once we become too hungry. Instead, eat your typical breakfast, a light lunch, and if needed, a healthy snack a few hours before dinner. Focus on fiber-rich foods like fruits and vegetables to keep calories in check and hunger pangs at bay.

Save evidence of appetizers

Our stomachs can’t count. Our memories are even worse at math (i.e. have I eaten two bacon-wrapped dates or three?) Leaving your hor d’oeuvres’ skewers, toothpicks, shrimp tails, and chicken bones in-sight provides tangible evidence of how much you’ve eaten. 

Research shows these visual reminders help us eat less. Researchers at Cornell University gave Superbowl party-goers a bucket of chicken wings. For some party-goers, researchers cleared away their bone scraps. For others, researchers provided a bowl to put bone scraps in, and left the bowl on the table. Not surprisingly, those who were forced to look at their bony remains ate 28% less.

Pause for conversation

We tend to eat less mindfully when we eat at social gatherings. Eating with others is part of the fun of Thanksgiving, but don’t let your company cause you to overeat.

When your mind is focused on your sister-in-law’s vacation photos or your cousin’s funny story, it’s not focused on your food. While most of us know not to talk with our mouth’s full, try not to listen with your mouth full, either. If you find yourself engrossed in good dinner conversation, put down the fork and give your fellow diners the attention they deserve. After they finish their point, pick the fork back up, and give your food the attention it deserves. Take a moment to notice your dinner’s colors, textures, aromas, flavors, temperatures, and mouthfeel. Savor everything about this particular eating experience—after all, it only comes around once a year!

Serve food off the table

Out of site is out of mind. You probably didn’t realize you wanted another serving of stuffing until the heaping platter caught your eye.

The tablescape plays a big role in how much we eat. The more food that’s in front of us, the more tempted we are to overeat. Especially if your favorite food is conveniently located inches from your plate. Rather, have guests serve themselves in the kitchen or at a separate serving table—and leave the food there throughout dinner. If you’re still hungry, by all means, go get seconds! By physically standing up to do so, your decision to continue eating is a more conscious one. 

Eat to 80%

Remember how many Thanksgiving dinners you felt almost sickeningly full? Then remember how when dessert was served, more room in your stomach magically appeared?

Most Americans stop eating when they’re full (and in many cases, ‘full’ means ‘in pain’). Those in leaner cultures stop eating when they’re no longer hungry. In fact, the Okinawans—Japanese islanders known for their longevity—have an expression for when to stop eating. They call the concept hara hachi bu—eating until you’re just 80 percent full. Studies show that if you serve yourself 20% less, you probably won't even notice. Study participants noticed when they were served 30% less, but a 20% a difference flew under their radar.

 

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1981 Hits
NOV
01

Know Your Food: The Story of Our Parmigiano Reggiano

parmigiano logo
Sunset’s Parmigiano Reggiano is special. Here’s why:


The farm.
Our Parmigiano Reggiano hales from Malandrone farm, which has been managed by the Minelli family for over 100 years. The farm is nestled in the rural mountain town of Pavullo nel Frignano in the northern Italian province of Modena. 

Our Parmigiano Reggiano is made at a higher elevation than most. In fact, it’s a certified ‘Mountain Product’—a unique designation given to Parmigiano Reggianos produced in pristine mountain environments. The mountain altitude and climate promotes the growth of lush grasses and herbs, whose unique aroma and flavors make their way into the cheese. 

The sourcing.
Giovanni Minelli photoOur Parmigiano Reggiano is completely single-sourced. This is unique; most Parmigiano Reggiano dairies pool milk from a number of neighboring farms, make cheese from it, then sell it to a separate aging facility. Our Parmigiano Reggiano is produced on the Malandrone farm from start to finish. The Minelli family meticulously controls every detail of production, from the cow’s diet to the aging process. 

The unpasteurized milk used for our Parmigiano Reggiano is sourced exclusively from cows born and raised on the Malandrone farm. About 150 Holstein Friesian cows are raised in the pasture and open housing. If the cow’s aren’t able to find enough to eat on their mountain pasture, supplemental forage is sourced locally within 3-4 miles from the farm. 


The process.

The Minelli’s don’t cut corners in their cheese making process. Valuing flavor over return, they use the minimal amount of rennet and whey, and they favor a low fat to casein ratio (some dairies increase this ratio to increase yields, though this reduces the flavor complexity). They also know that a slow curd formation is crucial; the difference is evidence when flavors emerge during the aging process. 

parmigiano reggiano malandrone1477

The Minell’s go above and beyond in their aging process, too. Their Parmigiano Reggiano is aged for 26 months—a period well over industry norms. After those 26 months, delicate flavors of butter and grass emerge, and distinctive bits of tyrosine crystals develop. 

Parmigiano reggiano factory

Taste why we’re so proud of our Parmigiano Reggiano (and many other cheeses) at our Fall Cheese Tasting on Saturday, 11/4 in Northbrook, or Saturday, 11/11 in Long Grove

 

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1763 Hits
OCT
18

Why Food-Based Vitamins like Rainbow Light are Best

Why Food-Based Vitamins like Rainbow Light are Best

Rainbow Light logo
The best way to meet your nutrient needs is to eat a variety of healthy foods. While a ”food first” approach is important, sometimes life gets in the way. Busy schedules may lead to skipped meals, picky eating habits may make for limited diets, or dietary restrictions may make it difficult to cover your nutritional bases. For cases like these, multivitamins are helpful. Think of them as a nutritional insurance policy.

Choosing a high-quality vitamin is important. “Whole-food” vitamins are popular right now. The nutrients in these products are derived from food rather than nutrient extracts. Whole-food vitamins are made by putting a bunch of nutrient-dense foods into a stainless steel tank, then introducing a live bacteria culture that feeds on the food. This process creates a food-like matrix that’s then made into tablets.

Whole-food vitamins come with pros and cons. On one hand, they tend to be well tolerated and well absorbed. On the other hand, this food-like matrix is expensive to produce, leading to pricy bottles of vitamins. The matrix is also very bulky, which limits the amount of nutrients manufacturers can fit in a single tablet. The extra bulk results in very large tablets, or tablets with fewer nutrients.

Rainbow Light was one of the first companies to make a whole-food vitamin 20 years ago. While some of these products are still available, the company sought to make a more potent, more affordable product. So they shifted their focus to “food-based” rather than “whole-food”.

Food-based formulas are somewhere in between a whole-food vitamin and a vitamin that uses nutrient extracts, like Centrum, for example. The ‘base’ is mix of spirulina, a botanical blend, and a food-like matrix similar to that of a whole-food vitamin. But they still use extracts to help get nutrient amounts up to desired levels. As a result, food-based formulas like Rainbow Light have higher potencies of nutrients, while keeping the size of the tablet reasonable. For example, you’ll be hard pressed to find a whole-food multivitamin vitamin with calcium in it (personally, I’ve looked far and wide) because calcium is a bulky nutrient and manufacturers aren’t able to fit it in a whole-food tablet. Rainbow Light’s Women’s One multivitamin, on the other hand, has 20% of the daily value of calcium—more than what’s in a serving a dairy.


Rainbow light products

Not only are Rainbow Light products more nutrient-dense and easier to swallow than whole-food products, they’re also less expensive and more stable. They use reputable manufacturing practices, too. All Rainbow Light products are tested by third-party labs to verify that what's on the label is in the bottle, and that the products are free of heavy metals, pesticides, and other contaminants.

Rainbow Light vitamins are now available at all Sunset locations.

Rainbow Light Vitamins

 

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2341 Hits
OCT
10

Fall Fun: Apple Dipping & Pumpkin Carving at Sunset’s Bakery

Nothing says fall like dipped apples and carved pumpkins. Join us in the Bakery department of your local Sunset for some fall fun—without any of the clean up!

Show off your craftsmanship and carve your very own pumpkin for $5. You bring the creativity, we’ll provide the pumpkins, tools, and Halloween spirit. Pumpkin carving is from 10am-3pm on Saturday, 10/21.

Nothing beats a freshly dipped caramel apple. Swing by our Bakery and decorate with your choice of yummy toppings. Apple dipping is from 11am-2pm on Saturday, 10/21.

These sweet seaonal events will take place at all Sunset locations. All ages are welcome! 

Apple dipping pumpkin carving event poster

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2512 Hits
OCT
05

Gluten-Free Halloween Candy List

Food-centric holidays like Halloween are challenging for those with food allergies or intolerances. If you have dietary restrictions, take a look at the list below to see which Halloween treats are fair game for you. You may find some of your favorites on the list! 

Download a printer-friendly version of the list here.

And don't forget to join us for our Gluten-Free Expo in Highland Park on Saturday, October 14th, from 10am-2pm! 

GF Halloween candy list

 

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2206 Hits
SEP
26

Heirloom Breads from La Brea Reserve - Now at Sunset!

Heirloom Breads from La Brea Reserve - Now at Sunset!

La Brea Reserve logo
Normally, the wheat supply chain goes something like this: third-party suppliers source wheat from farmers all over North America, blend it together, then resell it on a commodity market. Albeit, this kind of wheat is uniform, though it’s completely detached from the farm it came from. 

La Brea Reserve does not source wheat like this.

In fact, La Brea’s Reserve breads are changing the way we think about wheat entirely. The Reserve Line focuses on the idea of Farm First. Rather than sourcing generic varietals from a smattering of farms from across the continent, the wheat in Reserve breads are heirloom varietals, grown on a single parcel of land, by a solo farmer. Once a characterless commodity crop, wheat now has personality.

Finally, bread has caught up to the farm-to-table movement.

La Brea Reserve proves that wheat, like coffee or wine, can embody a place—the soil, the climate, and the topography. The farm is located in scenic Three Forks, Montana, near the headwaters of the Missouri River. The parcel is nestled within a valley, which sits atop a mountain at 5,000 feet—one of the highest elevations that grain is grown in America.

Farmer photo

 

Those regional nuances create distinct flavors. La Brea Reserve tastes pure, rich, and earthy. It has gentle sour notes, a subtle sweetness, a hearty crust, and a divinely chewy crumb. No one else is making bread quite like La Brea Reserve. And no else carries it except Sunset. Give it a try (it’s on sale this week!) and you won’t want to go back to ordinary bread. 

Breads

 

 

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1970 Hits
AUG
29

5 Tips for Packing a Healthy, Kid-Approved School Lunch

Healthy lunches are important. When kids skip lunch, they’re more likely to have trouble concentrating in the classroom, lack energy for after-school sports, and overeat low-nutrient after-school snacks.

When packing your child’s lunch, the goal is to choose items that pack a nutritional punch and appeal to your child. Use these tips to pack lunches your child will eat (and like!) rather than trade, throw away, or bring back home. 

myplate

Balance it out.
Using MyPlate as a guide, try to get all major food groups represented in your child’s lunch. Here are some ideas:

Cedar's hummus singles Veggies – Add greens, tomato slices, or cucumber slices to sandwiches. Add avocado or guacamole to wraps. Swap the sandwich bread for a lettuce wrap. Try ‘finger veggies’ like baby carrots, celery sticks, mini peppers, cherry tomatoes, and sugar snap peas. Serve with a healthy dip like hummus, baba ganoush, or tzatiki. 

Kind fruit bitesFruit – Bananas, grapes, and Clementine’s are easy-to-eat options for kids. If your child passes up apples, pears, or peaches, try serving them sliced. Dried fruit counts as a serving of fruit, too! Try raisins or easy-to-chew dried apricots, apples, or cherries. Swap fruit snacks for Kind Fruit Bites—the only ingredients are dried fruit!

SunbutterProtein – Opt for lean animal proteins, like chicken or turkey deli meat, tuna, Canadian bacon, or hard-boiled egg. (Remember, chicken, tuna, and egg salads can be made ahead of time and hastily spread on sandwiches in the morning. Try replacing half the mayo with plain Greek yogurt for an extra protein boost). If nuts are allowed at school, try nut-based trail mix, nut-based Kind bars, peanut butter, or almond butter. If your child goes to a nut-free school, try sunflower butter instead.

Pirate's booty popcorn Whole Grains – Swap refined grains for whole grain sandwich bread, wraps, and tortillas. Opt for whole grain crackers, like Wheat Thins or Triscuits. Popcorn is a whole grain, too! If you’re treating your child to a homemade baked good, try replacing half the flour with whole grain flour. Opt for quick breads made with a fruit or veggie, like zucchini bread, banana bread, or carrot muffins.

Organic Valley single serve milkDairy – Don't forget the dairy—kids’ bones are growing fast! Choose low-fat milk and pre-portioned cheeses, like string cheese or Baby Bells. Greek yogurt is a great choice. Opt for brands that sweeten with real fruit, like Chobani, Siggi’s, or Fage.

Make a plan.
Kids are far more likely to enjoy their lunch when they have a vested interest in it.
Involve kids in the planning process; sit down with your child before a weekend grocery trip and decide together what will go in school lunches. Determine which types of foods must go in each lunch (for example, a protein, a grain, a fruit and veggie, a dairy product, and an optional snack or sweet item), then make a checklist of things your child likes in each category. For example: “The vegetables I will eat in my lunch are: baby carrots, green pepper slices with ranch dip, cherry tomatoes, or a mini-salad.”

Add interest.
Kids, like adults, eat with their eyes first. Choose a reusable lunch bag or box with favorite characters or colors. Make foods as bright and colorful as possible (turmeric and beet juice make great natural dyes). Have fun with shapes and size—use cookie cutters on sandwiches or make mini-muffins. 

Stay food safe.  
Lunches with perishable foods like deli meat, dairy products, and cut fruits and vegetables should never be left out of refrigeration for more than 2 hours. For cold foods, invest in an insulated lunch bag and pack an icepack. Or, pack a frozen water bottle or box of 100% juice, and have your cold pack double as a refreshing noontime beverage. Pack hot foods like soup and stew in a thermos, and store in a separate compartment in your child’s lunchbox.

Gather feedback.
The best way to know if your child likes the lunches you pack? Ask them! Ask your child if you packed too much or too little food, if any items get mushy, discolored, or soggy by lunchtime, or if any items are too difficult for your child to open without an adult’s help. 

Kids Eat Right Month Badge

 

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1999 Hits
AUG
16

The Hatch Chile: One Fiesta-Worthy Pepper

Hatch Chiles are a finer gastronomic pleasure that, when you have the opportunity, you should really try.
Hatch Chile logo

A Hatch Chile is a green chili around 4-5 inches in length. They’re grown exclusively in a 100 square-mile area of New Mexico called the Mesilla Valley. The chili is named after the town of “Hatch”, a small village in the valley.

Like wine, the best chilies are grown in climates with hot daytime temperatures and cold nights. The intense sunlight and cool evening in the Mesilla Valley result in a uniquely flavored chile. Served raw, Hatch Chiles have earthy flavors, mild heat, and a subtle sweetness. Served roasted, these flavors intensify, creating complex, zesty and smoky flavors. Hatch Chiles are about half as hot as jalapenos. They tingle on the tongue rather than burn. Their meaty flesh stands up well to an open flame.

Hatch Chiles Roasted

During the chili harvest, Hatch, NM hosts an annual Hatch Chile roast and festival. Thousands of out-of-state and international visitors flock to the sleepy New Mexican town to experience the esteemed Hatch Chile.

Sunset shoppers need only travel as far as the nearest Sunset store to experience a freshly roasted Hatch Chile. We’re shipping in Hatch Chiles direct from New Mexico, and roasting them outside all Sunset locations. Here’s the schedule:

Hatch Chile schedule

 

Our rotating drum roasters turn the chilies as they roast over an open flame at 900 degrees. Watch them blister, char, and pop, then taste for yourself what all the hype is about. Purchase the chilies by-the-pound and stock up for the rest of the year (roasted Hatch Chiles freeze well in zip-lock bags). Or try one of Sunset’s original recipes featuring our favorite chili, such as:

Items featuring Hatch Chiles

Hatch Chile season is short. Fresh chilies are available for a limited 6-week window, with late August being peak harvest. Get ‘em while they’re hot! 

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2210 Hits
AUG
04

Sourcing Locally Since Before Local Was Cool

There’s no doubt local food is #trending.

For many shoppers, the farmers’ market is as much a place to see and be seen as it is a place to buy vegetables. Community-supported agriculture is becoming increasingly popular, and more and more restaurants are catching on to the locavore movement.

text pull out

Local is trendy for good reason. Not only does local food come with the environmental benefits of reduced emissions for transport, local food comes with economic and social benefits as well. Sourcing local builds a sense community, bolsters local economies, and gets people excited about where they live.  

To Sunset, local is not a passing fad, nor is it anything new. Sunset has been sourcing locally for our entire 80-year history—long before anyone coined the term “locavore”. Supporting local vendors is part of our DNA. After all, Sunset’s a locally owned business, too.

Rick Didier In 2017, we still carry many of the same local vendors that we carried in 1937. For example, back in the 1930s, the original Cortesi clan forged a relationship with John Link—the original owner of Didier Farm in Lincolnshire, IL. Because the farm is less than 10 miles from Sunset, the Cortesis saw Didier Farm as the obvious choice to bring Sunset customers the freshest vegetables. To this day, we still carry peppers, squashes, beets, cabbage, kale, green beans, chard, cucumbers, and many other crops grown by Didier Farm. Shop our stores between late-July and mid-September, and you’ll find Didier populating our produce departments.

As the local food landscape evolves, we’re evolving with it, bringing in new local vendors as they enter the local marketplace. For many local vendors, Sunset was the first retailer to carry their product. For example, Meyer Farm Herbs, Carol’s Cookies, Hungry Monkey Baking Company, Hole in the Wall pasta sauce, and many others looked to Sunset to help launch their businesses.

If you see the value in understanding where your food came from, attend our Midwest Local Foods event on Saturday, August 12th, from 10am-2pm, at our Highland Park and Libertyville stores. Expand your locavore diet beyond just produce and sample the best the Midwest has to offer from all departments of our store. Shop small and fill your fridge, pantry, and freezer with food produced close to home.

Midwest Local Food event flyer

 

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2149 Hits
AUG
01

Cook County Soda Tax Affects Northbrook Sunset

After a hold-up in the courts, a new Cook County soda tax will go into effect tomorrow, August 2nd. The tax will collect $0.01 per ounce of sweetened beverages. This works out to $1.44 for a 12-pack of soda. The tax is expected to generate over $200 million dollars for Cook County each year. 

While soda taxes are controversial, I encourage shoppers to drink less soda. A robust amount of evidence links sugary drinks with a host of detrimental outcomes, such as obesity, type II diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, liver disease, and dental disease. While sugary drinks are certainly not the only place you’ll find sugar in the diet, Americans do drink most of their sugar.

However, the Cook County tax is unique from most other soda taxes in that it includes artificially sweetened, or “diet”, beverages as well. The scientific evidence of harm from diet drinks is less certain than that of sugar-sweetened drinks.

And the policy doesn’t stop there. Here’s what's being taxed:

  • All beverages sweetened with sugar or a sugar-derivative (like high-fructose corn syrup). This includes soda, sports drinks, flavored water, fountain drinks, energy drinks, pre-made sweetened coffee or tea, and fruit-ades like lemonade.
    Note: It doesn’t matter how much sugar is in the drink —even if it only has 1g, it’s still taxed. When reading labels, remember that sugar goes by many names.
  • Low-calorie or calorie-free drinks that are sweetened with artificial sweeteners like Aspartame or Splenda.
  • Low-calorie or calorie-free drinks that are sweetened with natural, non-caloric sweeteners like stevia or monkfruit.
    Note: this means that even brands that are healthy alternatives to soda, like Bai, Hint, and Vitamin Water, are taxed.

Here’s what’s not being taxed:

  • 100% natural fruit or vegetables juice with no added sweetener (e.g. 100% orange juice).
  • Any drink in which the main (more than 50%) ingredient is milk. This includes soy milk, rice milk, and other milk substitutes.
  • Drinks for medical use (e.g. Ensure or Boost).
  • Meal replacement drinks (e.g. Slim Fast).
  • “Drinks” in syrup or powder form that the consumer combines with water to create a beverage.
  • Infant formula

Switching to an unsweetened beverage has always been good for your health. Now, it’s good for your wallet, too. If it’s time to make a swap, I recommend La Croix or Perrier. Both products are calorie-free, sugar-free, carbonated, and come in many tasty, natural flavors. Neither are included in the tax.

Cal Croix and Perrier products

A final note: if you can’t stomach the tax on your favorite drinks, our Highland Park, Lake Forest, Libertyville, and Long Grove stores do not tax sweetened beverages. 

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2274 Hits
JUL
18

Local Zucchini Ribbons Pasta with Chicken

Zucchini Ribbons Pasta with Chicken photo

This pasta recipe has everything I look for in a summer dish: local, seasonal produce, few ingredients, and the option to serve it chilled. Not only are there only 6 ingredients in this recipe (besides salt and pepper), but all the ingredients are on sale from 7/19-7/26

Ingredients photo

While any zucchini, chicken breast, and pesto will work in this recipe, I recommend you support our local food system and choose our local zucchini (grown by Ruhlig Farms in Carleton, MI), Miller chicken (raised by Amish families in Orland, IN), and Gotham Greens pesto (made with basil grown in greenhouses on the southside of Chicago). 

 How to make zucchini ribbons

You can make zucchini ribbons with a regular vegetable peeler. Zucchini ribbons have a similar shape and texture as fettuccini. They can help cut your carb intake by replacing some of the starchy pasta with a veggie. They also add a nice pop of color to the plate. 

Zucchini Ribbons recipe

Click here to download a printable recipe card. 

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2307 Hits
JUL
13

Sunset Bakery Perseveres in the Face of Global Vanilla Shortage

Madagascar grows about 80% of the global supply of vanilla beans. In March 2017, Madagascar was hit by the worst tropical cyclone in 13 years. The storm damaged about 30% of the vanilla crop, further shrinking the supply of already scarce vanilla beans. As a result, the 2017 Madagascar vanilla crop was the most expensive crop in decades. Five years ago, prices for vanilla beans were hovering around $20 a kilograms. Industry sources now report prices above $200 a kilogram.

Green vanilla beans

Although farmers in countries other than Madagascar are considering growing more vanilla beans, prices may get worse before they get better. It takes four years to develop a commercial crop after planting vanilla beans.

And growing vanilla isn’t easy. In fact, it’s one of the most labor-intensive foods on earth. Vanilla beans are the seeds of an orchid. Madagascar doesn’t have the certain kind of bee that pollinates the vanilla flower (vanilla is originally from Mexico, and so are its pollinating bees). Instead, pollination must be done by hand. What’s more, the flowers that produce the bean pod open for less than a day each year. If no one pollinates the plant during this narrow window of time, that means no vanilla. If that’s not enough, after the seeds are harvested, each one must be soaked in hot water, then wrapped in wool blankets, then bundled and placed in a wooden box to “cure”, then laid out to dry in the sun. The whole process takes months.

Vanilla beans drying in the sunUnfortunately, when vanilla prices are high, farmers are tempted to cut corners and sacrifice quality. For example, farmers may pick the beans before they’re mature—and before the flavor compounds have fully developed. Farmers may also bring their beans to market before they’ve been fully cured—a process that should take about 2 months—resulting in poorer quality beans.

Food companies also tend to cut corners when vanilla prices are high. For example, some companies opt for a synthetic—and much cheaper—type of vanilla called vanillin. Not Sunset. Brooke Edwards, our bakery director, refuses to settle for anything less than the real deal.

Neilsen-Massey vanilla Vanilla goes into just about everything made in Sunset’s bakeries. Brooke orders our vanilla exclusively from Nielsen-Massey. Nielsen-Massey still makes vanilla the traditional way—from beans, not from a lab. Because of the vanilla shortage, Nielsen-Massey isn’t taking orders from any new customers at the moment, so we’re lucky to have the relationship with them that we do.

While you may see increases in price for your favorite vanilla ice cream or café lattes, you won’t see price increases in Sunset’s bakeries. Instead, we’re buying smaller quantities of vanilla at a time, and we’re taking especially great care to not waste a drop. We’re not skimping on the vanilla either. While some food companies are modifying their recipes to use less vanilla, there’s just as much of the good stuff in our baked goods as ever. 

 

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2253 Hits
JUN
27

Cherry Bruschetta with Basil and Goat Cheese

Bruschetta doesn’t have to be all about tomatoes. We swapped them out for sweet Northwest cherries, our favorite seasonal fruit right now

Serve this Cherry Bruschetta as an elegant appetizer for a summer get-together. Or, serve it as a fresh, summery take on weekday breakfast. Remember, you don’t need to slice the entire baguette. Just a few slices make a perfect personal snack or mini-meal.

Download a printable recipe here.

Cherry Bruschetta recipe

 

Adding fresh cherries to your plate adds a pop of color and disease-fighting power. A growing body of science links cherries’ red color (provided by pigments that act as powerful antioxidants) to heart-health benefits related to reducing inflammation. Cherries also contain important nutrients like beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber, and folate.

While there’s no established guidelines on how many cherries it takes to reap their benefits, experts suggest 1-2 servings of cherries a day can have some anti-inflammatory effects.

Cherry season is short. Get your servings of fresh ones while you can, then switch to frozen or dried. 

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2182 Hits
JUN
22

Know Your Food: The Story Behind Our Cherries

Northwest cherry logo

While Michigan may take the cake for best baking cherries, the Pacific Northwest grows the most outstanding fresh, sweet cherries in the country. Farmers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Montana grew the cherries in Sunset’s produce department. Cherries are a temperamental crop; not all areas can grow them well. There are lots of reasons why we choose to source our cherries from the Northwest:Cherry orchard in the Yakima valley

Majestic mountains. Cherries are grown along hillsides near mountain ranges. Fresh water runs down the mountains, providing irrigation to the cherry orchards.

Little rain. Pests love moisture. Growing fruit in the desert means less disease pressure, meaning fewer pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides are used.

Temperature fluxes. The Northwest’s long, hot days followed by chilly nights are critical for concentrating the fruit’s sugars and retaining their bright red color.

Lush soils. Cherries love the sandy, slightly acidic soils in Northwest. Sandy soils drain water easily, yet retain the micronutrients the fruit needs.

Harsh winters. Cherries must undergo a sufficient winter chilling in order to break dormancy and bloom in the spring. Some cherry farmers use the motto “The deeper the snow, the better the cherries”.

Besides quality, sourcing cherries from this area of the country comes with another advantage: an extended harvest. This area’s wide range of latitudes play a role in harvest time. Because warm temperatures arrive in lower-latitude areas first, these trees are first to ripen. The harvest schedule works it way north, beginning in Utah, followed by Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and finally Washington. 

Elevation, or altitude, also plays a role in the harvest schedule. The higher the elevation, the cooler the temperature. Orchards at high elevations ripen later than those at lower elevations. This system is best for shoppers. Because of cherries’ short shelf life, if all cherries were harvested at the same time, cherries would only be available for a couple weeks of the year. By varying harvest times, we’re able to bring you the nation’s sweetest cherries from mid-June through early September.

Speaking of harvest, our cherries are harvested by hand in the early morning (the fruit softens if picked later in the day). The fruit is then hydro-cooled, packed, and shipped to Sunset with 2 days of being picked. 

Cherry being picked by hand

Check back later this week for tasty recipes using our favorite cherry varieties!

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2246 Hits
JUN
20

Quinoa Salad with Mango, Ginger, and Lime

I love a good grain salad, especially in the summer. Served chilled, it’s perfect for hot days when we swap out heavy dishes for lighter fare. This recipe in particular has a lovely balance of flavors. It’s part fruity, part bold, part citrusy, and a total crowd pleaser. Serve it as an accompaniment to whatever’s coming off the backyard grill. Or eat it all on its own for lunch. Between the quinoa and the cashews, there’s enough protein in this recipe to keep you full until dinner.

 

Quinoa recipe

 

 

If you haven’t yet embraced quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), this recipe is a great introduction. Although it’s technically a seed, quinoa behaves like a grain. In fact, you can use quinoa just about any place you would use rice, and it cooks up in much the same way. Like rice, quinoa is also gluten-free. The kernels are small—about the size of couscous—but they pack a big nutritional punch. Quinoa is unique in the sense that it’s a complete protein, meaning it supplies all the amino acids we can’t make ourselves. Not many grains can do that!

Quinoa plant Quinoa was a staple food of Andean peoples. The Incas considered it to be sacred, referring to it as
chisoya mama, or “mother of all grains.” Today, over 90% of the quinoa that’s available in the U.S. comes from Bolivia or Peru.There are many varietals of quinoa; you may notice white, red, or black quinoa on Sunset’s shelves. Nutritionally, each variety is very similar. Experiment with different colors to keep your pantry interesting.  

 

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1961 Hits
JUN
14

Healthy Oils Part 2: Storing Oils Properly

So you’ve chosen your oil wisely. Now what? As a follow-up to Healthy Oils Part 1, here are more tips about how to keep your oil fresh for the longest amount of time possible.

Store it smart Oils photo
Light is oil’s enemy; too much light will cause the oil to break down. Look for oil packaged in dark-colored glass or plastic that filters out light. Store your oil in a cool, dark cabinet—not the cabinet above the stove, and not on the counter-top—to minimize exposure to light and heat.

Minimize headspace
Even if gallon jugs of oil are on sale, don’t buy them. The larger the container, the larger amount of headspace above the oil’s surface. The larger the headspace, the more the oil interacts with the air in that headspace. This oxidizes the oil, creating harmful free radicals—the opposite of antioxidants. To minimize oxidation, purchase oil that’s packaged in a relatively small container.

Know when to toss it
Rancid oil doesn’t just taste unpleasant, it’s bad for your health. Your nose is the best indicator of rancidity. If your oil has that characteristic rancid odor (which smells like Crayons), it’s time to toss it. Avoid reusing oil you’ve already cooked with; reheating oil accelerates its deterioration. 

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1925 Hits
JUN
12

Healthy Oils Part 1: Choosing Your Oils Wisely

Sunset’s selection of oils ranges from the familiar to the exotic. While there are many different types, not all oils are created equal. Each type of oil is unique, with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. The right oil for you depends on how you’re using it, your taste preferences, and what sort of health benefits you’re looking for. Here are some tips for choosing wisely.

Types of oils

Fats matter
Each type of oil has a different mix of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Each of these fatty acids has a different effect on our health. Here’s what each of them do:

  • Saturated Fat is sometimes referred to as “bad” fat that have been shown to raise “bad” LDL cholesterol, increasing risk of heart attack and stroke. Use these fats in moderation.

    Saturated fats are solid at room temperature, and usually come in the form of animal products like red meat, butter, cheese, and ice cream. Coconut oil and palm oil are exceptions to this rule, as they are plant sources of saturated fat. Unlike other plant-based fats, they are solid at room temperature.

  • Monounsaturated Fat (MUFA) is considered “good” fat. They have been shown to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and raise “good” HDL cholesterol. Diets rich in monounsaturated fats are associated with a decreased risk in cardiovascular disease. Monounsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. Avocado oil, canola oil, olive oil, and peanut oil are all good sources of monounsaturated fats. Oils that include the term “high-oleic” on their label have been modified to contain more monounsaturated fat. This is common for safflower and sunflower oils.

  • Polyunsaturated Fat (PUFA) is also considered “good” fat that has a positive effect on our cardiovascular system. These fats are liquid at room temperature. Many oils are mostly polyunsaturated fats. These include: corn, flaxseed, grape seed, safflower, sesame, soybean, sunflower, and walnut oils.

At this point, we’re not exactly sure what the most beneficial ratio of MUFA to PUFA is.  We do know they’re both good for us, and replacing saturated fats with MUFA and PUFA improves cardiovascular health.

Mind your omegas
Omega-3s and omega-6s are two types of polyunsaturated fat. Omega-3s reduce inflammation in the body, whereas omega-6s promotes inflammation Both are essential to the body, meaning the human body can’t make them and they must come from food. However, Americans tend to eat way too much omega-6s and not enough omega-3. A favorable omega-3 to omega-6 ratio reduces risk of inflammatory diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, type II diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Omega-6s are found soy oil, corn oil, grape seed oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil, which are often used to make popular processed foods like cookies, crackers, and chips. Oils that are good sources of omega-3s, like canola oil, walnut oil, and flax oil, are less popular, though healthier choices.

Know your smoke point
Not all oils can take the heat. When cooking with oil, smoke point is important. The smoke point is the temperature at which oil will begin to smoke. At this point, the oil chemically breaks down and produces free radicals that are harmful to health. Oils that are heated past their smoke point may also impart bitter, unpleasant flavors. High smoke point oils, like avocado oil and safflower oil, are best for high-heat cooking like grilling, frying, and stir-frying. Save low smoke point oils, like walnut oil and flaxseed oil, for salad dressings and garnishes.

Refined vs. unrefined
Oils come in refined or unrefined versions. Refined oils will say so on the label. Unrefined oils may use terms like “cold pressed” or “virgin” on their label. The more refined the oil, the higher the smoke point. This is because the refining process removes impurities that cause the oil to smoke. Because these impurities also serve as flavor compounds, refined oils have a more neutral taste. For example, choose refined coconut oil when you don’t want your dish to taste like coconut.

Choosing refined oils is a nutritional trade-off, however, as refined oils have fewer nutrients. For example, the “impurities” found in extra-virgin olive oil not only give olive oil its bold, botanical flavors, but are also antioxidants.

Savor the flavor 
Some oils have a neutral flavor that makes them versatile in the kitchen. Mild-tasting oils include canola oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, grape seed oil, and “light” (light in color and taste, not in calories) olive oil. Others lend themselves to bold flavors that can transform your meal. For example, avocado oil, coconut oil, and extra-virgin olive oil are fruity in flavor (unless they’ve been refined). Flaxseed oil and walnut oil have nutty and earthy flavors. Use peanut oil or sesame oil when you’re going for bold Asian-inspired flavors.

There’s so much to consider when shopping for oil! Here’s a handy chart to help you make the wisest choice in the aisle.

Oil comparison chart

Check back later this week for more tips on choosing and storing oils properly. 

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