Fit-n-Fresh owner Melissa Rakvica’s energy bars are sold at Orchard Fresh in Orchard Park.
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Former teacher Melissa Rakvica is making a name for herself with the mostly organic, mostly local fare she prepares as part of her business, Fit-n-Fresh Catering. Orchard Fresh, in Orchard Park, now carries Rakvica’s Fit-n-Fresh Energy Bars, but she’s also getting traction with a healthy set of sides and entrees available through

“I’m getting a lot of calls from people who are saying, ‘I really want a festive party, but I don’t want my guests eating like it’s the end of the world,’ ” said Rakvica, 43, of East Amherst.

What local foods can spice up a healthy holiday meal?

Brussels sprouts, butternut squash. I roast them on high heat, at 425 degrees, with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil from D’Avolio, with a little salt. Roast at high temp because you really want to caramelize all the sugar in it. The trick to healthy cooking is to bring out the sugars naturally without having to add in more sugar or salt. If you sprinkle a few pomegranate seeds on top afterward, it just pops.

What are some you’re recommending people try for the holidays?

Along with the roast veggies is a locally raised chicken. I’m stuffing that with quinoa and celery and onions and baby kale, and a little bit of cranberries which I’ve cooked down. Then I dress it with oils from D’Avolio, and a little salt and pepper.

– Scott Scanlon

On the Web: More on energy bars, healthy cooking at

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