For some, healthy and sweet have always had a tumultuous relationship. Do I want the chocolate or the salad? The healthy or the yummy? But healthy can be delicious and Sweet Harvest, the newest smoothie-centric shop in the Hudson Valley, opens July 4 to prove it.
Who’s the genius behind the mouth-watering menu? That would be self-declared “health nut” and owner Tara Flagler. Fitness and health run in Flagler’s veins. She grew up with an ill parent, became a fitness instructor and dancer at a young age, and has since gone on to work in cardiac rehabilitation, serve in the Red Cross, run an in-home daycare, become a fitness model, work in several health and fitness clubs, and pioneer an exercise science program at Dutchess Community College. Yes, all in only one lifetime.
She knows health and, as the born and raised Cold Spring resident behind the salt room at Hudson River Healing & Wellness in Cold Spring, she knows the Hudson Valley. Her latest enterprise, Sweet Harvest, combines the two, bringing together good food and healthy snacks inside an 800-square-foot shop tucked into the center of the village’s Main Street.
“I have been in the wellness field for over 30 years and have always wanted a place of my own to share healthy recipes,” Flagler explains. As a someone with Celiac disease and dairy allergies, she has always struggled to find enjoyable food while eating out. Sweet Harvest is her solution. The large variety of smoothies, acai bowls, salads, and other menu items use organic and locally sourced Hudson Valley ingredients as much as possible, meaning that even people with a variety of allergies can enjoy them. And when a self-declared “health nut” says she plans to offer local and organic, she means it.
Of course, the real key to making healthy food that everyone can enjoy is variety, and Flagler emphasizes that Sweet Harvest has plenty of that. Take the smoothie options, for instance, which she says cater to all different tastes and preferences.
“There are standard, simple recipes that everyone likes, [like] strawberry banana or chocolate peanut butter. I will offer smoothies that are made with only fruits and vegetables and no juice or sweeteners,” she notes. As for her personal favorite, that would be a green smoothie she plans to call the Green Machine.
But smoothies are far from the only options at this healthy and sweet treat shop. Flagler explains that Sweet Harvest has a whole range of snacks and drinks from which to choose.
“I will have 12-15 smoothie choices, acai bowls, salads, bubble tea, water, tea, Brooklyn egg creams, and many add-ons to the smoothies. We will also carry grab-and-go foods like yogurt parfait, fruits and vegetables in a cup, protein bars, granola bars, and a variety of juices and drinks,” she adds. In other words, the sweet tooths, the vegetarians, the grab-a-quick-bite-to-go eaters, and even the children (yes, even them) can find something to enjoy at Sweet Harvest.
Even though she’s excited to debut her shop in Cold Spring, Flagler recognizes that opening during the COVID-19 crises presents its own unique challenges.
“What has it been like opening during COVID?” Tara says. “It is a little nerve-wracking at times. There are many more things to think about for safety.” Sweet Harvest may be opening in a slowly reopening region, but Tara says she’s ready for the challenge. Along with strict sanitation procedures, she plans to allow only two people in the store at a time and mandates that both guests and employees wear masks inside the premises. “I am already someone who is always cleaning and safe, so this isn’t too far from my comfort zone.”
Despite all the challenges, Sweet Harvest is set to open with a bang on the Fourth of July. It is ready for the opening rush with options for curbside pickup, takeout, outdoor dining and, when the time is right, limited indoor window seating.
“I am excited to build something strong with my family and I am excited to share healthy food people can enjoy, especially those with wheat, gluten, dairy, and nut allergies [and] those who choose to be vegetarian and vegan” Flagler says.