Recently, I sat down for coffee with Westporter Kerry Wood, a local entrepreneur who's built a successful business making our lunches and dinners more delicious. Wood hails from New Orleans---"the food city," as she calls it---giving her both the passion and the bona fides when it comes to things that taste good. Before starting her company, Kerry Wood Healthy Foods, Wood worked as a record industry executive in New York for many years, breaking out bands such as Bon Jovi and Tears for Fears and promoting their hits, and as a busy professional eating out frequently, she found herself looking for healthy food choices. To stay fit, she became a marathon runner, and her interest in eating for health increased as she experienced the stress of constant business travel. For a period, Wood ran her own independent music company, but the cataclysmic shifts in the business opened up the perfect opportunity to pursue her passion of food, and she began by satisfying her quest for the perfect salad dressing.
"Salad is a staple of healthy meals," Wood explained, "with all the fresh vegetables, but the only options for dressing were store-bought bottles containing unhealthy oils, along with excessive amounts of sugar and sodium, not to mention preservatives. You've made a great salad, and you don't want to put goop on it." So Wood got out her mixing bowl, some top-quality olive oil, and other fresh, healthy, local ingredients and concocted dressings she could bottle and sell that "taste like homemade" because they are. Kerry Wood Healthy Foods was born.
Wood's current line of dressings, which also double as marinades, includes: Tuscany---a rich dressing with a base of parmesan; Lemon Tarragon---featuring cider vinegar, tarragon, dijon mustard, and garlic; Ginger/Carrot---with fresh ginger and rice vinegar; and Balsamic---made with organic tamari. All of Wood's dressings are made with only olive oil and no oil blends, and all are gluten-free.
I asked Wood for some salad and cooking suggestions to accompany each dressing, and she came through with these recommendations.
Tuscany---romaine or spring mix, cranberries and walnuts, shaved parmesan; or use as marinade for chicken breasts
Lemon Tarragon---Greek salad; or arugula, quinoa, goat cheese; or use as marinade on fish or chicken with capers
Ginger/Carrot---garden salad with cherry tomatoes, julienned carrots, red onion; or use to stir fry vegetables
Balsamic---romaine or iceberg with goat cheese, feta, or gorgonzola, and fresh fruit
Yum! No wonder Wood's business is doubling each year. I tried Tuscany on romaine with dried cranberries and cherries, walnuts, and fresh parmesan, and it's quickly become my staple salad.
All of Wood's dressings, marketed under the name Kerry Wood Healthy Foods, are available throughout the Northeast at Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Balducci's, Fairway, Stew Leonard's, King's, The Pantry, Organic Market, Village Market, and most specialty food stores. Be sure to look in the refrigerated produce section, not on the dressing shelves. The dressings retail for $5.99, and they can be refrigerated for up to nine months. Hint: run the bottle under warm water for a minute or two when you remove it from the fridge and shake well before serving.
For more information on Kerry Wood Healthy Foods, visit the website at www.kerrywoodhealthyfoods.com.