A FEW WEEKS ago I got a call from Jamie Davidson, author of a cookbook called "Quick and Healthy Meals from Trader Joe's," ($14.95, ReSolve). Before she could even offer me a copy of her book, I rudely interrupted her to say that I already had it.
"I don't think so," she replied, describing the cover of her book: red and white, with a Hawaiian print on the cover.
Confused, I started asking questions, and found out that Davidson, who lives in Walnut Creek, is the author of one of three books featuring foods from Trader Joe's. Like the other two, her book was not requested, promoted or even sanctioned by Trader Joe's. Rather, the company agreed not to sue her for publishing it.
What's even more interesting about Davidson is that in addition to the book itself, she has been teaching classes in weight management through diet for more than a decade.
Recipes in her book are all simple to make, and promise big flavor: Potsticker Soup using stir fry vegetables and frozen pot stickers; Chicken Salad Wraps using hummus, cooked chicken and flatbread; Tofu Tacos using tofu, fresh salad fixings and fresh salsa.
Davidson, whose official title is "weight management coach," says she could care less that Trader Joe's doesn't support her efforts, since her goal isn't to sell their food, but rather to help people be the weight they want to be. Davidson can be reached at 925-934-4477 or at
BETTER BEANS: If you need a good reason to make your own cup of coffee at home, I have it. It's Equator Coffee's Chido Coffee, a blend that is not only fresh and sustainable, but is made specifically to benefit programs for orphaned girls in Rwanda. It's named after Chido Govero of Zimbabwe, founder of the Zeri Foundation, an organization that trains orphan girls to use coffee pulp and other wastes to grow and sell edible mushrooms.
Exactly how Equator, based in San Rafael, got involved is simple. Company co-founder Helen Russell visited Africa and wanted to help. Equator, which supplies custom coffees to top restaurants — including The French Laundry in Yountville — specializes in roasting to perfection a range of coffees from around the world. Chido's blend, which comes from a handful of coffee farms in Africa, is bright, almost citrusy. All of the profits from sales of this coffee support the project. The coffee is $13.95 per pound and can be found online at www.equatorcoffees.com.
CHIP KICK: If you find yourself digging into the chips and wishing you had something more exciting to dip them into, I have a suggestion. Mrs. Renfro's has just introduced three new salsas laced with some unexpected ingredients — pineapple and pomegranate. At first bite, I wasn't sure I liked these odd salsas, but by the third dip, I was sold.
The Tequila Salsa offers the most expected flavor profile. The pomegranate is sweet, with chipotle pepper notes, and the pineapple is fruity and just barely sweet.
Mrs. Renfro's Salsa is about $3 per jar and can be found at BevMo and other specialty grocery stores.
Reach Jolene Thym at 510-353-7008 or jthym@bayarea newsgroup.com.