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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Frank Oakes: A Passionate Voice for Healthy Food

Mar 01, 2013 12:34PM ● By Linda Sechrist

Frank Oakes

While Frank Oakes, Southwest Florida’s beloved Obi-Wan Kenobi of organic gardening and sustainability, is no longer with us, his rich legacy lives on. Long before he founded Oakes Farms and Food & Thought – The Organic General Store (which includes a café), Oakes generously shared the organic wisdom he learned throughout his life with anyone that asked for it.

Oakes, who took up organic farming in 1989, was a third-generation farmer whose earliest personal recollections were all connected in some way to food—growing, picking, preserving and retailing it. At age 6 and 7, he and his brother, Mitch, were waiting on customers, culling tomatoes and potatoes, bagging corn and raking the bare soil that was the floor of his grandmother’s Pine Tree Market, in Townsend, Delaware. Sometimes the Oakes brothers even tagged along to help her sell fresh produce and eggs, homemade chow-chow and pickles.

No one ever caught Oakes standing still, probably because he inherited his father’s perpetual animation, exuberance and marketing talents. These virtues all helped Oakes succeed—whether it was with the 20 retail stores and farms he owned or managed or with his wholesale produce operations that supplied restaurants.

Oakes became the change he wanted to see in the world, mentoring others that wanted to do the same. In fact, his gift for hiring and guiding all the right people became more evident every day at Food & Thought. Oakes said the café wedded the best grown, most nutritious food in the world to time-tested, unadorned recipes, prepared in the healthiest way—and his legion of loyal clientele agreed. He felt blessed to have a kitchen magician, Freedom Teague, who prepared the food in a way that Oakes’ mother and grandmother would have loved and admired.

As generously as Oakes gave away his wisdom, he and Teague share the café’s most popular recipes in a recently released cookbook, Food & Thought: Home Cookin’ the Healthy Way. Brimming with old favorites and new delights, the book also chronicles the history of Food & Thought and Oakes’ and Teagues’ shared passion for healthy, delicious food—a testament to Oakes’ mission to make the world a healthier place via farm-to-table organic cooking.

Food & Thought – The Organic General Store is located at 2132 Tamiami Trl. N., in Naples. For more information, call 239-213-2222 or visit


Recipes from Food & Thought: Home Cookin’ the Healthy Way
by Frank Oakes and Freedom Teague


Zucchini Crusted Pizza

This recipe calls for sprouted wheat flour, making it a great choice for those looking to cut back on their gluten intake.

5 to 6 zucchinis, shredded
1½ cups sprouted wheat flour
1 egg
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp oregano

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the shredded zucchini together with the salt. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes. Place it in a pasta strainer to squeeze out the excess water. Add the egg, oregano and flour and mix everything together. Press the crust mixture into two, nine-inch cake pans and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let the crusts cool for 10 to 15 minutes before adding the toppings.

1 can of pizza sauce
1 box of baby spinach leaves
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tomato, chopped
¼ onion, chopped
1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
½ cup olives
Fresh basil leaves, shredded

Spread the can of pizza sauce over the crusts, and then layer with the spinach, followed by the mozzarella. Top the pizzas with the tomato, onion, peppers and olives (or any preferred vegetables). Sprinkle basil on top of both pizzas. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.


Curry Chicken

This chicken dish, which incorporates coconut oil, cumin and snap peas, has a complex flavor and a delicious, creamy sauce. Serve it over basmati rice.

Curry Chicken
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp curry powder
½ tsp (scant) turmeric
½ tsp cumin

Rub the chicken with the curry powder, turmeric and cumin. Sauté the chicken for 11 to 15 minutes in the coconut oil. To make the sauce, simmer all of the ingredients over medium low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve the chicken together with the sauce over basmati rice.

1 13.5-oz can coconut milk
1 tsp curry powder
2 carrots, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
½ of a red onion, thinly sliced
Tricolored bell peppers, thinly sliced
½ cup snap peas
¼ bunch cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

Food & Thought: Home Cookin’ the Healthy Way is available at Food & Thought – The Organic General Store, 2132 Tamiami Trl. N., in Naples, and online at

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