dedicating the dar bar

As some phyte clubbers know, we’ve been working on a new bar flavor for a couple weeks now, and I’m grateful to all those who tried the versions 1.0 (not enough lemon), 2.0 (a little too salty), and 3.0 (still not quite lemony enough, but a great pre- and post fuel for the Charlottesville 10 Miler, it turns out). With all the good feedback in our pockets, we cranked out version 4.0 over the weekend, and can’t wait to share it with you!

Powered with organic pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and chia, this bar is different than our others in that it’s sweetened with organic figs instead of dates, and sparked up with lemon zest. I’ve been struggling with what to call this tart little powerhouse for days, literally lying in bed tossing out possible names.  The obvious “fig & lemon bar” just seemed to boring and literal alongside “superstar” and “mighty mint” not to mention that we’re proud of the fact that figs are actually NOT among the first two ingredients, naturally making the protein content higher and sugar content lower than most commercially available bars. So, what to call it?

The snark in me wanted to play on the old “Fig Newton,” which is of course owned by Nabisco which is of course owned by Mondelez International, which, as I have noted before, is a global candy & junk food behemoth that spent almost $3.4 million lobbying the U.S. Congress between 2012-2016 (source: Center for Responsive Politics).  In case you want to know why so many public school vending machines are stocked the way they are…

Inspired by #InternationalWomensDay, I thought Rachel Carson would be a more apt scientist than Newton to be associated with good phyte foods (though I’ve got nothing against gravity, don’t get me wrong). But “carson bar” was a bit of a confusing mouthful, and “rachel bar” just reminded me of Jennifer Anniston’s face. And who wants that?

Then, one night last week, as I struggled to sleep (I had an unusual coffee at Brazos at lunchtime, okay? okay?), it hit me. The perfect name, honoring a woman in my life who has inspired me with her unflagging energy, kept me humble with her honesty, and always pushed me to strive for better.

I met Dar back in 2008, when I had just started working for the darlene wolniknational Farmers Market Coalition (FMC).  She worked at the time for a partner organization in New Orleans (market umbrella), and I had just been hired into a big position for which I was probably seen as too young, too unknown, and too inexperienced. I will never forget first meeting her skeptical self in that small Comfort Inn lobby in Los Angeles, and the energized discussions that bordered on arguments we would have there, on the windy streets of San Francisco, and just about any city where we met for a project collaboration or conference, including her hometown of New Orleans and right here in Charlottesville. She had been an environmental activist in Ohio before becoming embedded in the the movement to develop and restore thriving local economies. Geez, she was intimidating! The woman devoured books! She seems informed about everything! She never went to college (she didn’t seem to need to), but a wry brilliance emerged in even the most casual of conversations. When did she sleep? The woman was a dynamo who happily and humbly saw her role as a foot soldier in the pursuit of social justice and environmental sustainability. How could I keep up?!

Through the years, we would plot, plan, write, dream big, gripe, and seek solace about state and national politics together. We offended each other. We forgave each other. I was impatient. She was patient. I would offend her again. She would forgive me again. When I stepped away from FMC after having Fionn in 2012 and gradually stopped working with her on one project or another, I realized it was her verve I missed the most. Though even I didn’t recognize it at the time, it was, in part, her indefatigable “good enough isn’t good enough” energy that inspired good phyte foods.

Aside from working now herself for FMC part-time, she publishes almost daily on a blog she runs called Helping Public Markets Grow, where she recently gave good phyte foods some props. She maintains a local history web side called French Quarter Block by Block,  and of course manages to do what people do who live in the French Quarter- have fun. Laugh. Walk around. Talk to strangers.

Though I see her infrequently now, we can still talk on the phone for hours. She is one of those rare people who mails random snippets of wisdom for no particular occasion, miraculously knowing exactly what you need to hear when you need to hear it. 

Oh, and in Spanish, Dar is the verb “to give.”  Gracias, Dar. For all you’ve given me. In your honor, good phyte foods will donate 10 cents from every dar bar sold to the Urban Agriculture Collective of Charlottesville.

ingredients: organic pumpkin seeds, raw organic sunflower seeds, organic dried figs, organic chia seeds, organic raisins, locally grown organic kale, lemon extract, organic lemon peel, himalayan pink salt, vanilla extract 

beet thins

These crackers were first inspired by a millet cracker recipe in Ruth Yaron’s Super Baby Food (page 509). As I gushed in my book review back in March, I adore the book’s simple, practical language, and brief, to-the-point recipes. Her style makes it easy to experiment, using her recipes as templates from which to swap ingredients and play around a little with flavors. Some of my experiments are abject failures.  This one is, hands, down, my favorite cracker. Ever.

After making a few batches of these beet crackers with millet and pumpkin seeds (falling quickly in love), I swapped in quinoa, which I have since stopped using because the deep earthy grain flavor overshadowed the other subtle flavors.  The beets (which I’ve sourced from several farms, including Broadhead Mountain Farm, Double H Farm, Lettuce Grow Farm, and Bellair Farm) and figs combine with rosemary and sea salt to generate a sweet and savory quality without any added sweeteners. After making these with local pastured butter for many weeks, I responded to requests for a dairy-free cracker and managed to create a vegan version that should still satisfy crunch-craver. No one wants something that called itself a cracker when the crunch factor just doesn’t hold up to expectation.

These are tasty on their own and even better with some Caromont Farm goat cheese. A groggy post-nap Fionn gobbled several after sneaking them from the still-warm cookie sheet on top of the oven. Enjoy, and thanks for the inspiration, Ruth!

Ingredients: locally grown beets, organic golden flax, organic millet, organic pumpkin seeds, organic dried figs, himalayan pink salt, lemon juice, fresh rosemary

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Millet & Fig Crackers with Rosemary

These crackers were inspired by the Millet Crackers featured in Ruth Yaron’s Super Baby Food (page 509). As I gushed in my recent book review, I adore the book’s simple, practical language, and brief, to-the-point recipes. Of course, this recipe absolutely fails to uphold the simplicity principle, as her recipe instructions are a mere three and a half lines while mine are at least, um, well, just see for yourself. Crackers are a fickle art; what can I say? In any case, I found this to be a successful experiment in adding essential fatty acids, protein, salt, and sweet without crystalline or liquid sweeteners, nuts, or gluten. A groggy post-nap Fionn gobbled several after sneaking them from the still-warm cookie sheet on top of the oven. Enjoy (and thanks, Ruth)!

Millet & Fig Crackers with Rosemary
Serves 16
A crunchy, sweet, nutty cracker with pepitas, figs, and rosemary.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
35 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
35 min
92 calories
12 g
8 g
4 g
2 g
2 g
29 g
76 g
1 g
0 g
2 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 92
Calories from Fat 35
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 4g
Saturated Fat 2g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 8mg
Sodium 76mg
Total Carbohydrates 12g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 1g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 1 cup raw millet
  2. 3/4 cup pepitas
  3. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  4. 1/2 cup hot water
  5. 4 dried figs
  6. 4 tablespoons butter
  7. 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  1. Remove any stem pieces from dried figs and cut each in half. Place the halves in a glass or metal measuring cup and add 1/2 cup hot water. Add the butter so it can melt. Set aside for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Grind millet and pepitas in a blender (I use a Nutribullet) until a coarse powder consistency. Place this powder in a medium bowl and add the salt. Then crush the dried rosemary with your hands as you add it to the bowl, stirring everything until thoroughly combined.
  3. Blend the fig/water/butter mixture in a blender until the figs are pretty well blended (some small chunks are okay, but nothing larger than a pea).
  4. Combine the fig slurry with the dry ingredients, stirring thoroughly until the dough is a thick and just a little sticky. With oiled hands, roll into a two equally-sized firm balls, then flatten them to about 1 inch thick.
  5. Put them them back in the bowl, cover with a cloth, and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  6. Roll out a large sheet of parchment paper (at least 2 feet long) and place one of the dough balls in the center. Fold the parchment over the ball and then continue to roll it out to about 1/8 inch thick. Trim off jagged edges and score the rolled dough into 1 by 2 inch rectangles. Delicately move this sheet over to a cookie sheet.
  7. Add the trimmed dough to the second ball and repeat step 7. For any additional jagged edges, you can flatten then into cracker pieces with your hands or roll them into balls and let your kiddo taste-test them.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, take the crackers out of the oven and spread them out on the sheet, flipping each over to make sure they cook evenly. Turn off the oven and put the cookie sheets back in the oven, setting a timer for 5 minutes. Check them at this point, removing all the crackers except those that still seem too soft in the middle, putting them back in the warm oven for up to 5 additional minutes.
  9. Let them cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
  1. This recipe will yield about 80 1 by 2 inch crackers. I estimate a toddler serving to be about 5 crackers.
Adapted from Millet Crackers from Super Baby Food (p. 509)