Kristin Donaldson is turning a health-food passion into a new venture at the Center Market.
Donaldson is cooking up tasty treats at her new business, Alaska Vegan & Gluten Free. Wednesday will be her fourth market day inside The Mall at Sears.
"I got into this business as a result of proven lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol," Donaldson says. "My boyfriend of 10 years has struggled with genetic high blood pressure and high cholesterol. We decided together ... to dramatically change our diet to see if this could affect his numbers. We embarked on a vegan and gluten free diet. His blood pressure and cholesterol have both dropped into normal ranges and we credit our diet. As a result, he has been able to go off his medications.
"We are so excited about this and have found so many amazing recipes, that now we love eating this way and don't really miss animal products or wheat. Aside from this, I have been in the restaurant business for over 20 years on and off, so I was a natural to try to start my own business in this field."
Wednesday's lineup includes: spinach mushroom soup, carrot ginger soup, split pea soup, roasted beets and sweet potato soup, fresh made corn tortilla chips and pico de gallo.
Donaldson makes everything from hand the day before the market. Nothing is frozen. She says about half of her produce is coming from other vendors at the market, including Alex Davis, Duane Clark and the Rempel Family Farm.
"I love cooking and I have thoroughly enjoyed my years in the restaurant business, serving as a waitress and behind the scenes as a low level cook in a few kitchens around the country," she says. "Since I was 20, I have been a photojournalist working at various newspapers and magazines in Washington D.C., Maine and Las Vegas. After being in that field for 26 years, I wanted a change, so four months ago, I moved over to my second love which is cooking. The creative side of me really enjoys what I can do in the kitchen. I love packaging my goods and making everything look beautiful and I won't put out anything that I don't love to eat myself."
Look for Alaska Vegan & Gluten Free at both the Wednesday and Saturday Center Markets. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday.
Pick up some halibut
Halibut season ends Thursday. Now is a great time to get the last fresh whitefish of the season -- and to put a little away in the freezer.
Dannon Southall of 10th & M Seafoods in Anchorage says they have the flatfish arriving all week. "We will have fresh 10 pound to 20 pound headed and cleaned fish at $8.95 per pound and fillets going for $19.95 per pound. As always, we will steak, fillet, or cut the headed and clean fish anyway you would like," he says.
While the halibut are about to bid adieu for a bit, there are plenty of other seafood options out there.
Southeast Alaska is providing fresh winter troll-caught king salmon. Southall says there should be both red and white kings and they are $14.95 per pound for head-on fish, with fillets also available. Gulf of Alaska yellow-eye rockfish is also in the shop this week.
"These are the best of the best in the rockfish family and we will have fillets going for $10.95 per pound," Southall says.
Inside the Markets
Shopping at Anchorage's two indoor farmers markets might be a bit surprising right now.
"What an incredible fall," says Arthur Keyes of the South Anchorage Winter Market inside the Dimond Center. "Normally this time of year everything would have been frozen solid, but last weekend we added fresh picked cauliflower to our farmers' market lineup. What an incredible year!"
This week look for a special treat at the market. Chef Dave "Delicious" Thorne will be on hand offering samples of his "dish of the day" prepared with items available at the market.
Vendors this week include: Arctic Choice Seafood; Mat Valley Meats; Stockwell Family Farm with carrots, potatoes, pie pumpkins, turnips and other produce; Alaska Sprouts with a wide variety of sprouts, shoots, tofu and fresh herbs; Maryjane's cinnamon rolls and breads; and Glacier Valley Farm with broccoli, potatoes, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, beets and other items.
The market is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The best way to reach the market is via the Old Navy entrance on the north side of the mall. Head up the stairs to find the vendors.
The Center Market will feature Alaska Vegan & Gluten Free, Rempel Family Farm, A.D. Farm and Country Health Foods.
Rempel Family Farm will have 11 varieties of potatoes, sugar pumpkins, jumbo pink banana squash, acorn squash, red kuri squash, stripetti and spaghetti squash, beets, green cabbage, parsnips, collards, rutabagas, daikon radish and kale.
Clark is handling both his booth and that of A.D. Farm this week. Among the items available are carrots, beets, potatoes, parsnips, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, along with A.D. Farm's full lineup of pork products, chicken and duck eggs. Country Health Foods will have grass-fed beef, free range chicken, seafood, local honey and Alaska Sprouts.
Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By STEVE EDWARDS
Daily News correspondent