October 14, 2016

Healthy eating earns good reputation at Oh! Veggies

Meg Brazill Photo

Anika Abrahamsen prepares vegetable fritters for customers to try with one of Oh! Veggies’ sauces on Columbus Day weekend at the Windsor store.

WINDSOR — “You love veggies — you just don’t know it yet.”

That’s one of the slogans Oh! Veggies uses to let consumers know that a healthy diet can also be a delicious one. The 2,000-square-foot retail store located in Artisans Park in Windsor features sauces, seasonings and spices created specifically to flavor vegetables. Oh! Veggies also sells a line of reasonably priced products such as chopping and slicing tools and steamers that make prepping vegetables faster and easier.

The idea for Oh! Veggies began when entrepreneur Terry McDonnell took his doctor’s advice to heart.

“The doctor had been saying to me that I had to eat better. I’d been hearing it for a long time but it finally got through,” McDonnell said. “The desire was there but the time was not.” For many families, time is in short supply, especially when it comes to making dinner. “We have five kids,” McDonnell said. “Like tonight, we won’t get home till 7 p.m.,” following a soccer game.

As his diet and health improved, McDonnell thought it would be great to share what he’d learned with other people, so this year he opened Oh! Veggies on Memorial Day. Oh! Veggies is centered around addressing the challenges of taste and time. The company includes a nutritionist and a natural-food chef who created most of the recipes.

“We’re trying to find recipes that people can fit into their weekly routine.”

McDonnell addresses some of the barriers to eating well with simple, healthy recipes that are easy and quick to prepare. Their line of recipes doesn’t require a lot of time, skills, exotic ingredients or special gadgets. They also created a series of 60-second stop-motion videos that show how quick and easy cooking the recipes can be. Customers can view the free recipes and how-to videos in the store and online. Recipes can be searched by vegetable, or by browsing the website to see what sounds good.

Oh! Veggies has three branded sauces — West African, Thai Peanut and Sesame Ginger, and two kinds of seasoning — Sesame Sizzle Seasoning and Go-To Blend Seasoning. All of the products are low sodium. Oh! Veggies also carries spices from local Claremont Spice & Dry Goods, which are fresh, flavorful spices from curry to five spice to turmeric. Tastings, recipes and how-to videos make a visit to Oh! Veggies more of an experience than just a shopping trip.

On Columbus Day weekend, employee Anika Abrahamsen was cooking up batches of vegetable fritters for customers to try with one of Oh! Veggies’ sauces. The fritters, made of corn, zucchini and chickpea, are made with one of the company’s seasonings. The fritters can then be dipped into any of the sauces. This way customers can sample a recipe that uses the products available for purchase. The tastings also let consumers see how easy cooking the recipes can be — and how food that’s delicious can also be good for you. Recently samplings included the fritters and Thai Squash Soup.

McDonnell plans to add other programming, including cooking classes.

“We’ll help people learn how easy it can be to cook the meals,” he says.

Located in Artisans Park, Oh! Veggies is in good company, with The Silo and Great River Outfitters flanking it on either side, as well as nearby companies such as Harpoon Brewery, the Cheese Board and Blake Hill Preserves. McDonnell founded Artisans Park as well as the nearby Path of Life Garden.

The building that houses Oh! Veggies is a modern, barn-like structure. Inside, horizontal boards line the walls and ceiling. One end is made of vertical boards, stained to suggest an old barn. Eight-foot-long wooden spoons, painted a bright yellow, hang on an end wall. A couple of wicker café tables and comfortable chairs and benches make up a reading area, where titles such as “Super Food Kitchen,” by Julie Morris; “The Simple Art of Food,” by Alice Waters; Mollie Katzen’s “Moosewood Cookbook;” Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food;” and “Food Rules, an Eater’s Manual,” are available for browsing or purchase.

Tastings are currently scheduled Friday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

The business, located at 9 Artisans Way in Windsor, is available by phone at 674-4280 or online at www.ohveggies.net.

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