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Healthy dishes made easy with Santa Rosa's Three Leaves meal kits

How it works

Weekly menus include soup, salad, side dishes, entrees and dessert.

Each weekly share, $80, contains two hearty meals for two adults or a small family.

Members can purchase shares by week, month or season. Extra portions also can be purchased.

Served in reusable glass and/or recyclable containers.

Three Leaves Foods

Big Oak Shopping Center, 2484 W. Third St., Santa Rosa

(707) 595-0316, threeleavesfoods.com

You may have wondered why there is no local alternative to those home-delivered meal kits from Blue Apron, Sunbasket and other national brands that help busy families get dinner on the table.

Actually, there’s something that may be even better if you have zero time and little desire to cook.

For the past 18 months, brother-and-sister team Tiana Krause, 39, and Jeff Nunes, 33, have been creating healthy dishes that families can pick up at the pair’s west Santa Rosa commercial kitchen. The meals are made with local products such as pork from Devil’s Gulch Ranch of Nicasio and eggs from Wise Acre Farm of Windsor.

“It’s restaurant quality food, only better,” said Krause . “We want people to sit down to a dinner together.”

The siblings start out by sourcing products from the North Bay’s many farms and ranches, then use them to create salads, soups, side dishes, desserts and hearty entrees to go. Families stop by on Wednesdays or Thursdays to pick up their weekly “shares,” which include a couple of ready-to-eat meals for two, packed in compostable, reheatable containers or glass canning jars.

The pair named their business Three Leaves, because they wanted to connect the farmers with the chefs (themselves) and the consumers. It’s a win-win for all three, especially during the winter, when farmers have a hard time attracting consumers not overly fond of cabbage and root veggies.

“We like the ugly veggies,” said Nunes, who does all the savory cooking for Three Leaves. “Every Sunday, we pick up a truck load of vegetables ... we get 80 percent of our produce from local farms such as Tierra Vegetables in Santa Rosa, Beet Generation in Sebastopol and Quetzal in Santa Rosa. We source all meat locally, and it’s all pasture raised.”

Inspired by the Community Supported Agriculture model, Three Leaves calls itself a “Community Supported Kitchen,” with members signing up on a monthly, weekly or seasonal basis for a weekly “share” that includes enough food to provide two meals for a couple or a small family. The “share” costs $80 a week, or $300-$375 a month, with a supplemental plan for larger families. There are lots of “add-on” products available, from nut butters to bone broths.

It’s not cheap, but for busy families like Liam and Diana Callahan of Santa Rosa, it’s worth it. The pair who work long days as cheese maker and business manager at Bellwether Farms in Petaluma and have a sixth-grader at home who refuses to go out to dinner.

“I love to cook on the weekends, but on most week days, Liam and I get up at 5 a.m. and hit the ground running,” Diana said. “We don’t get home until 6 p.m., so starting something good for scratch ... you’ve lost all of us.”

For the past year, Diana has picked up her weekly Three Leaves share on Wednesdays, along with an extra entré e, a couple of extra chopped salads and two extra soups.

“I love the diversity of it - every week I know I’m going to get something new,” she said. “In five minutes, you’ve got an amazing meal. I put the salad in my salad bowl, warm up the entrée , and maybe make a couscous or pasta on the side.”

Then she washes the glass jars, puts them back in her insulated tote bag and places it by the door for the next pick-up. (Customers are asked for a down payment of $25, which goes toward the bag and a set of returnable Mason jars.)

Krause, who bakes the sweet treats, has a degree in environmental studies and worked for the state parks as an ecologist before coming up with the idea for the business while looking for a job that would allow her to stay home with her two kids.

She has been on a quest for better health since 2008, when she was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease that causes an underactive thyroid.

“I took myself on the journey to figure it all out,” she said. “It’s about healing the gut, managing stress and getting sleep.”

After going to Bauman College, a holistic nutrition and culinary arts college in Cotati, she removed gluten, dairy, soy, industrial seed oils and refined sugar from her diet.

“I started making my own bone broth and fermented products,” she said. “Then I went to an online school to become a Functional Diagnostic Nutritionist. It’s a whole body approach that, to me, is about healing through food.” With Three Leaves, she hopes to create healthy food that tastes so great even kids will eat it.

As the main cook, Nunes brings a lot of street cred to the table while creating weekly menus that range from American comfort dishes like smoked ham and scalloped potatoes to Asian menus like Hot and Sour Soup and Sesame Salad Kim Chi.

How it works

Weekly menus include soup, salad, side dishes, entrees and dessert.

Each weekly share, $80, contains two hearty meals for two adults or a small family.

Members can purchase shares by week, month or season. Extra portions also can be purchased.

Served in reusable glass and/or recyclable containers.

Three Leaves Foods

Big Oak Shopping Center, 2484 W. Third St., Santa Rosa

(707) 595-0316, threeleavesfoods.com

After attending the Maui Culinary Academy for two years, he worked as a tandoori cook at an Indian restaurant, then made soups to sell at a local farmers market and cooked for the lunch program at the Sonoma Country Day School in Santa Rosa, which has its own garden.

“I like working with my hands,” said Nunes, who grew up in Santa Rosa. “We always had a garden in our back yard, and we spent our childhood playing in Luther Burbank’s garden, picking his thornless blackberries. We always played with food.”

The siblings also have enlisted their mom, Robin Nunes, to help them with their business.

“We do it all - the labeling, ordering and coming up with recipes that people love,” Krause said. “And we pack hundreds and hundreds of jars.”

Right now, about 140 people subscribe to the meal service, but not everyone gets a delivery every week. The new menu goes up on Friday, and the deadline for that week’s order is midnight Sunday.

“Every week is a completely different menu,” Nunes said. “It’s grown here, made in this kitchen, by us.”

A recent menu included a Creamy Coconut and Carrot Soup, a Purple Yam Noodle Salad, an Orange and Avocado Salad, Orange and Five Spice Glazed Ham with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and a sweet treat of Toasted Sesame Popcorn Clusters. Each meal also includes a homemade condiment, such as mustard made from Kombucha or a homemade Hoisin sauce.

The meals are generally made without dairy, although Nunes does use sheep’s and goat’s milk cheese. All the meals, including the sweet treats, are gluten-free.

“Cooking this way is a lot more expensive,” Nunes said. “That’s why we display our ingredients proudly.”

Clients range from single men who don’t know how to cook to busy single women, families and folks going through treatments for cancer and other ailments.

“We want it to be simple and for people to eat well,” Krause said. “When you have great stuff to start with, it’s easy to make wonderful food.”

Staff writer Diane Peterson can be reached at 521-5287 or diane.peterson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @dianepete56.

Diane Peterson

Features, The Press Democrat

I’m interested in the home kitchen, from sheet-pan suppers to the latest food trends. Food encompasses the world, its many cultures, languages and history. It is both essential and sensual. I also have my fingers on the pulse of classical music in Sonoma County, from student mariachi bands to jazz crossover and symphonic sounds. It’s all a rich gumbo, redolent of the many cultures that make up our country and the world.

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