Locally made snacks for your outdoor adventure

Written by Charlene V. Martoni
Published in VISITvortex

Part of what makes the Hudson Valley such a beautiful place this time of year is its many destinations that have been taken over by autumn colors. Now is the time to plan some outdoor adventures like a hike up Overlook Mountain, a climb on the Shawangunk Ridge, or a bike along the Hudson Valley Rail Trail.

It’s always important to be prepared whenever you explore the outdoors by bringing maps, first aid kits, and some form of communication. You should also bring energy-packed snacks to keep you going until the end of your excursion.

Here are some healthy, locally made snacks to pack for your next Hudson Valley adventure:


This homegrown, non-gmo popcorn is popped by the sun and seasoned with all-natural, gluten-free, and vegan ingredients—no butter or cheese. The BjornQorn signature flavor is created with nutritional yeast, making it high in protein and B vitamins. Bjorn and Jamie, the duo behind BjornQorn, met at Bard College where Bjorn was known for his family’s popcorn recipe and Jamie for his wild ideas. Thus, BjornQorn was born. You can buy this snack at The Big Cheese in Rosendale, High Falls Food Co-op in High Falls, Kelder’s Farm Stand in Kerhonkson, and at other locations throughout the Hudson Valley. Visit bjornqorn. com for a full listing of locations.


Runners and bikers swear by the New Paltz Bakery’s energy bars, made with nuts, dates, apricots, seeds, sesame tahini, honey, and vanilla. They’re gluten-free, have no refined sugar, and are high in protein. Dave Santner has been making this recipe for his whole baking career, even before opening The Bakery in 1981. The bars have been featured in Runner’s World, and the recipe is included in Runner’s World Cookbook. 13a North Front Street, New Paltz. 845-255-8840. ilovethebakery.com.


A cross between an energy bar and a candy bar, the fruit bars sold at Comparetto’s Bakery in Marlboro were originally created to provide bursts of energy for a local football team. They’re packed with molasses, nuts, and raisins to keep you going—a reward during a big adventure. 20 Western Avenue, Marlboro. 845-236-4440. comparettobakery.com.


Organic, vegan, and gluten-free, Ragi’s little energy balls are handmade in Woodstock with coconut, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and a hint of sea salt. They were created to provide energy without dropping blood sugar.

Try their cacao, cashew, strawberry, or mango varieties. You can pick them up at Mother Earth Storehouse in Kingston, Village Apothecary in Woodstock, and at many other locations throughout the Hudson Valley. Find more locations and varieties at rajisdivinedelights.com.


These delicious bites were inspired by creator Mark Reynolds’ childhood favorite—key lime pie. Mark’s energy bites are 100-percent raw, vegan, and organic, made with dates, coconut shreds, seeds, lime juice, lime zest, and Celtic sea salt.

With 2.4 grams of protein and 6.5 grams of fiber, these 290 calorie bites are loaded with vitamins E and B complex for eye, digestive, and muscle health. You can find them at the Tea Haus in Rosendale. For more information, visit facebook.com/chromaticculinaries.


If you’re looking for a unique granola, this granola made at Raspberry Fields Farms in Marlboro is just the ticket.

Rolled oats combine with crisp rice, whole dried raspberries, sunflower seeds, coconut, and more to create a delicious granola perfect for an outdoor excursion. Check out other varieties at raspberryfieldsfarm.com. 601 Lattintown Road, Marlboro. 845-236-2551.


If you’re going to explore the Hudson Valley, Upstate Granola just makes sense. This Woodstock company offers unique varieties of granola, like praline pecan, sunflower, and blueberry granola or maple pecan and dried cherry granola. They also offer gluten-free and paleo options. For a full list of flavors, visit upstategranola.com. 65 Tinker Street, Woodstock. 845-532-1218.


Perfect for the fall, the chai granola sold at LaGusta’s Luscious in New Paltz will reinforce the autumn-ness of your fall hike or bike. Taste the flavors of the season as you trek into the golden Hudson Valley wilderness.

LaGusta’s Luscious also sells a pre-packaged Rock Scramble, made with corn flakes, pistachios, marshmallows, and organic fair-trade dark chocolate—perfect for the chocoholic hiker. 25 North Front Street, New Paltz. 845-255-8834. lagustasluscious.com.


Grok Bites appeared on the Hudson Valley scene in 2015 and have quickly gained popularity in the area. These snack-sized, packaged squares are handmade in New Paltz with raw, vegan ingredients like dates, cashew nuts, cacao powder, and coconut. Each package contains about 10 percent of your daily protein and 15 percent of your daily dietary fiber. Try the Nutty Expressor variety for a caffeine kick, or try the new flavor, Purple Rain, made with mulberries, pomegranate, and lavender.

Grok Bites can be found at many local businesses, like The Tea Haus in Rosendale, The Cheese Plate in New Paltz, and Monkey Joe’s in Kingston. Find other locations and flavors at thegrokbar.com. 845-384-2264.


For a savory protein kick, try some venison snack sticks from Highland Farm in Germantown. At just two bucks a pop, these sticks are loaded with 8 grams of protein and come in smoked, teriyaki, pepper, hot, and cheddar varieties to satisfy any savory craving. Visit eat-better-meat.com to discover even more snacks from Highland Farm. 283 County Route 6, Germantown. 518-537-6397.


The easiest food to pack for an outdoor adventure is a fresh, locally-grown apple—or other fruit—from a local farm or farmers market. Pick your favorite!


Add this elixir to tea or juice for an immune boost during your outdoor adventure. Packed with ginger and turmeric, it will aid in digestion and help to control inflammation in your body.

Visit the ImmuneSchein Tea Haus in Rosendale for some drinks with this elixir already mixed in. You can also buy bottles of it to make your own personalized drink! 446 Main Street, Rosendale. 828-319-1844. immune-schein.com.


If you’re bringing your dog along on your excursion, remember to pack some food and water for her too. Highland Farm in Germantown sells all-natural, raw pet food, made with no preservatives, chemicals, or additives.
Try some farm-raised venison and game blended with locally-grown produce. It’s flash-frozen and vacuum-sealed, so just pack it in your bag. You can also request made-to-order custom blends for your pooch. 283 County Route 6, Germantown. 518-537-6397. eat-better-meat.com.

Another great option for pets are the biscuits made by Gooddog Biscuit Company in Poughquag. They’re always made with natural and organic ingredients.
Try the peanut butter cookies or the sweet potato dehydrated chips! You can buy these snacks at many markets and festivals in the Hudson Valley. Visit facebook.com/gooddogdiscuitco to find out where they’ll be sold next. 845-243-0673.

Care for our bees and butterflies: Plant a pollinator garden

Written by Charlene V. Martoni
Illustrations by Teresa Hewitt
Published in VISITvortex

Honey bees are actually not native to North America, but neither are many of our crops and garden plants. Nevertheless, these little golden soldiers have become essential to our horticulture.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, honeybees are responsible for pollinating 80 percent of our flower crops, which accounts for one-third of everything we eat. Nuts, alfalfa, apple, cantaloupe, cranberry, pumpkin, sunflower, and many other delicious and healthy foods depend on pollination by honeybees.

Yet the USDA also said that honey bees and other pollinators have had to face increasing obstacles in recent years, including deformed wing virus, nosema fungi, new parasites, nutrition problems, and possible effects of pesticides.Eric Stewart of Greenman Garden Design in Accord said that applying herbicides and pesticides to lawns and gardens not only harms beneficial pollinators like bees and butterflies, but it also exposes people and animals to these same harsh chemicals.

Stewart also encouraged taking action against the use of chemicals by petitioning local governments to stop spraying herbicides and pesticides. He said that in 2015, local legislators and activists convinced the New York City Department of Environmental Conservation to stop spraying a controversial herbicide, glyphosate, along the Town of Olive’s roadways.





Blue fortune is a vigorous variety of anise hyssop that grows three to four feet tall on tough, semi-woody stems. It features colorful spikes of violet-blue flowers that readily attract bees and other pollinators. This plant is not picky about soil and thrives in most any sunny location. Plus, the fragrant green leaves can be made into a tasty tea, and it is resistant to grazing by deer and other garden pests. To brighten your garden, try golden jubilee, another variety of anise hyssop with yellow-green foliage.


This native species is commonly found growing in meadows throughout the area. Often reaching three to four feet tall, its clusters of bright golden-yellow flowers provide a bonanza of nectar for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. If you have a stand growing on your property, do Mother Nature a favor and leave it be. Or, transplant a few stems to a garden where it can spread vigorously.


Milkweed is the primary source of food for monarch butterfly caterpillars. It’s a tall, native perennial with large, smooth leaves that ooze white sap when cut or broken, and it produces large clusters of small mauve flowers that transform into silky parachutes in the fall. You can usually buy two variations of milkweed at your local garden store: butterfly weed and swamp milkweed.


As the name suggests, this attractive perennial is a magnet for many pollinators, including hummingbirds. A member of the mint family that flourishes in average to moist garden soil, it features showy clusters of claw-like flowers in scarlet or magenta as well as foliage that can be used to make a delicious bergamot-like tea.


These plants are food sources for both you and for swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. Dill, the familiar herb used in pickling and on fish dishes, is a delicious yellow-flowering annual. Fennel is a tender perennial that can grow four to five feet tall and boasts airy clusters of pale yellow flowers with tasty seeds. Purpureum is a particularly attractive variety of fennel with lovely bronze coloring.


According to Victoria Coyne of Victoria Gardens, “One of the best ways people can help honey bees is by planting plants and flowers that help to feed them.”



Earlier blooms are literally a lifeline for bees to sustain their hive in March and April. Some favorites are valley valentine and brouwers beauty, which are floriferous and provide bees with much needed pollen and nectar. Also, hellebores perennials bloom in March, sometimes pushing blooms up from under a layer of snow.


In May, a great option for bees and other pollinators are annuals. Two favorites are lantana and sweet alyssum. These beauties will bloom all season long, providing sustenance for bees, butterflies, and humming birds.


Bees excitedly buzz from bloom to bloom once we enter the full swing of summer. Two of their summer favorites are lavender and pincushion flowers.


As other perennials fade, these flowers will extend your garden’s food supply for busy bees getting ready for winter: lion’s tail, red hot poker, salvia, and butterfly weed.


Autumn can provide boisterous color in your garden, even as the leaves change. Blanket flower, coneflower, yarrow, and sedum provide bees (and you) with continuous blooms right up to the first sub-freezing frost.


Stewart said an additional species to plant in your garden is the lovely butterfly bush, a shrub that acts as a butterfly magnet with its large panicles of fragrant pink, white, blue, or purple blooms.

HERBS like lemon balm and lavender are excellent for honey bees, and currants and blueberries are also great at attracting pollinators.

FLOWERING TREES, such as crabapples, dogwoods, and hawthorns also make wonderful additions to pollinator gardens. Other bee-friendly trees include willows, maples, sweet gum, and sumac.

GREENMAN GARDEN DESIGNelsgreenman@aol.com



1 Cottekill Road, Rosendale

845-658-9007 victoriagardens.biz

Hot Chokola

Recipe by Charlene V. Martoni
Published in VISITvortex “What we love about winter”

Yield: 4 cups

“Here’s a simple hot cocoa recipe, a variation on the traditional Hatian Chokola Peyi, which you’ll love.” —Charlene

Image from VISITvortex.com

2 cups of milk*
1 four-ounce bar of 100%
unsweetened cacao
2 anise stars
1 cinnamon stick
1 fourteen-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk* 1 twelve-ounce can of evaporated milk* Continue reading “Hot Chokola”

Ways to help this holiday season

Written by Charlene V. Martoni
Published in VISITvortex

The holidays have a way of inspiring the best in people, and whether it is helping to shovel a neighbor’s driveway or helping to take care of a friend’s dog, volunteering your time to make another person’s life better is really a noble thing—and it can be fun. Here are some suggestions to help you get into the holiday spirit and get involved with your community:

Volunteering at a soup kitchen, like the Caring Hands Soup Kitchen in Kingston, is a popular activity around this time of year because it involves helping to feed hungry bellies while meeting exciting new people. Volunteers may find themselves preparing and serving meals or assisting with an emergency food pantry and food deliveries. In doing these activities, there is always the hidden opportunity to learn something new.

The Caring Hands Soup Kitchen is a nonprofit organization partnered with the Clinton Avenue United Methodist Church, which serves meals Monday through Friday at noon. On average, the kitchen receives between 60 and 120 hungry people per day. That means there are a lot of occasions to help out.

To volunteer at the Caring Hands Soup Kitchen, located at 122 Clinton Avenue in Kingston, contact Stephen Crawford, office manager, at 845-331-7188. Walk-in volunteers are welcome, but some notice is appreciated so the regular kitchen staff can plan accordingly.

Image from VISITvortex.comAnother popular activity around this time of the year is helping those who do not have places to call home, and making care packages is a great way to do so. Put snacks and supplies into a waterproof container like a large zip-lock bag, and keep these packages in your car to hand out to people asking for help.

Try hosting a party to encourage your friends to keep some of these care packages in their car too. Go to the grocery store together, bring everything home, and assemble the packages while drinking some wine and watching holiday movies.

Some food supplies to pack include crackers, nuts, granola bars, fruit snacks, and pull-tab canned or pouched goods. Remember to only include items that can be easily opened. Keeping some water bottles in your trunk is a good idea too, and it is also important to pack things like socks, gloves, and air-activated hand warmers during these cold months.

For hygienic supplies, pack some individually wrapped toothbrushes and travel-sized toothpaste, 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, tissues, lotion, and hand sanitizer. Of course, some first aid items like Band-Aids, lip balm, and Neosporin packets are always helpful, and a few gift cards to local food venues and a letter with some words of encouragement would be nice additions as well.

Can’t find anyone to give the packages to on the road? Try dropping them off at local family support service locations like Family of Ellenville or Family of Woodstock.

Image from VISITvortex.comOne additional, and beloved, tradition during the holidays is participating in toy drives, like the CSEA Local 610 sponsored Annual Holiday Toy Drive, which benefits Family of New Paltz, a nonprofit walk-in crisis center that provides counseling and case management and also houses a food pantry and clothing store.

Anthony Adamo, New Paltz local president for the CSEA, passionately said the mission of the toy drive is to “make sure no child goes without a toy during the holidays.”

To make this happen, toy drive volunteers may find themselves requesting that community members donate toys by soliciting outside local businesses, communicating with Family of New Paltz in order to provide more personalized gifts to the children, and publicizing for the toy drive throughout town.

And of-course there is the opportunity to donate some toys yourself, which should be unopened and unused for safety reasons.

To volunteer for the toy drive or to donate, contact Anthony Adamo at 845-399-7426.

For additional volunteer opportunities during the holidays and throughout the rest of the year, visit ulstercorps.com, a non-partisan, countywide resource dedicated to fostering a community of volunteerism.