By Rich Place

A relatively new way to grab-and-go nutritious and delicious meals has made its way into Nature’s Remedy at 26 Monroe St. in Ellicottville.

Fresh Smart Cafe, led by chef Erin Horton, added the new location last autumn for hungry customers to pick up ready made healthy foods. Nature’s Remedy is one of three area locations, with the other two — Springville Health & Fitness and Fresh Floral and Gifts — in Springville.

From the paleo salad to fresh veggie Thai wraps, the products are prepared ready to eat, allowing customers short on time to walk into Nature’s Remedy and grab-and-go.

“I wanted to get products through a natural and organic distributor,” Horton explained about her early interactions with Nature’s Remedy. “I knew they got deliveries from them so I mentioned I could order my stuff through them. We started talking more and they asked if I wanted to sell the food there, too.”

A lifelong foodie, Horton also owns and operates Edible Crush Catering, which caters events both locally and in the Buffalo area. In fact, she’ll be catering the Springville Area Chamber of Commerce Awards Dinner held this weekend.

And she balances that with Fresh Smart Cafe, which requires her to develop the menus, prepare and package the food and deliver it to the three host businesses, a number she’s hoping to expand into places like East Aurora and Orchard Park, too.

“I alternate days,” she said while preparing a tray of bacon and a container of kale from her commercial kitchen on East Main Street in Springville. “I will come down generally on Monday and I’ll spend the day prepping and cooking. On Tuesday, we’ll package and deliver.

“On Wednesday, depending on how it needs to go, I’m out delivering to the community. We have systems in place to communicate inventory levels and rotation of food. Based on that, I prepare, deliver and make sure everything is full and fresh.”

The idea started in cooperation with Spring Creek Athletic Club late last spring before Horton just this month moved the cafe to Springville Health and Fitness. She also added the menu at Fresh Floral and Gifts this month.

Previously working out of Buffalo until mid-summer, Horton now lives and works right in Springville.

Horton is a graduate of Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and welcomed the opportunity recently to be more independent with these two similar food businesses.

“All I know is food, that’s all I’ve ever done,” she said. “I love people. I love making people happy and food makes people happy. When you are a check, 99 percent of the time people are happy to see you.

“It’s what I love; I love to play with food,” she added. “Some people love to play with graphics, some people love to play with fabric and material, food is my medium and the only one I know and I love it.”

And when it comes to food, Horton is dedicated to making it not only healthy, but also tasty. As she spoke during an interview last week, she took a handful of kale out of a container on the counter.

“Do you like kale?” she asked. “I make a cilantro vinaigrette and drizzle it on there and it marinates the kale pretty quick. That actually tastes really good and it’s healthy for you. I guess that’s my main goal.

“I like to make things healthy, fresh and delicious and you could surprise yourself if you try something you don’t normally try.”

She said she uses whole grain, healthy breads and lean meats like chicken and turkey breast, usually. And she uses lots of vegetables, often complemented with a healthy dressing.

“I make the sauces, which I think make them stand apart from the rest,” she said. “I use mostly nonfat Greek yogurt to make a mock mayo, so it’s a lot healthier that way.”

The menu at Nature’s Remedy differs from what the Springville locations offer, with diets like paleo, gluten-free and vegan more popular in Ellicottville.

“It’s a different market down there,” she said about Ellicottville. “So we use different breads, different wraps and do things just a little bit different. Some of the items are similar, some are marketed just for Ellicottville.”

The dressings and marinades are all gluten-free, she said, and she has gluten-free options as long as orders are made in advance. Menus at the location change based on demand and consumer preferences.

Grab-and-go items at Nature’s Remedy are available during regular business hours. For additional information, visit facebook.com/freshsmartcafe.