Colfax’s new business, Sourdough Solutions, could be life-changing

By: Tessa Marguerite, Reporter/Page Designer
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Where’s the white bread? You won’t find any at Sourdough Solutions, but what you will find is an array of highly nutritious bread bursting with flavor, whole grains and antioxidants.

Sourdough Solutions is a new micro-bakery and cafe near downtown Colfax. Since its grand opening June 10, Rob Ferguson and his small staff have been baking long-term fermented bread, and serving vegan waffles, French toast and open-faced sandwiches called toastwiches at the storefront along Highway 174.

Ferguson’s endeavor to create this nourishing product stemmed from an effort to get healthy and resulted in an entire lifestyle change.

The solution’s source

Ferguson, a Dutch Flat resident originally from the Bay Area, said he had been “obese” all his life. In 2006 Ferguson weighed over 300 pounds when his doctor told him he needed to drastically change his life. Ferguson had diabetes, high blood pressure and was on seven different medications. After a gastric bypass surgery, Ferguson said he re-engineered his life to be different every day.

“It opened my eyes to what life could be,” Ferguson said.

Within a year, Ferguson had lost 125 pounds by exercising and implementing a Mediterranean diet consisting mainly of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

“I began to live a new lifestyle,” Ferguson said. “I’m now 66 going on 36.”

However, with the exception of rice and quinoa, he encountered a problem: Even breads that were labeled “whole grain” were still enriched and processed with unnecessary additives. Ferguson did some research and learned to bake his own bread at home that was jam-packed with seeds, nuts and real whole grains. After about 10 years of trial and error, Ferguson found the solution in long-fermented sourdough.

Before his life change, Ferguson was all about business. He had worked as a business management consultant for 35 years and was the host of a weekly radio business show. His transition into the world of health was aided by his experience as a businessman.

Ferguson became a certified personal trainer in 2009, helping others reach their health and fitness goals through resistance training, meditation and mindfulness, hydration and cardio training. He encouraged his clients to embrace and entire lifestyle of rest, diet and exercise. He also started a training program called Second Nature Health Training, wrote a book and was selling his sourdough breads at farmers’ markets in the Bay Area.

When Ferguson and his wife moved to Sacramento, and then Dutch Flat, his plan was to find a location to package bread mixes to sell to restaurants, cafes and individuals around the country. But things didn’t go exactly according to plan.

“In the search, I found this facility in Colfax and I fell in love with it immediately,” Ferguson recalled. He decided to operate a retail store, café and bakery out of Colfax while still making packaged bread and mixes to sell to other commercial businesses.

The simple solution: sourdough

A French couple recently came into the café on their way Oregon and ordered a French toast, toastwich and waffle. Ferguson said when he approached them to see how they were enjoying their food, they looked up and they exclaimed, “This is better than anything we’ve had in France or Europe. It’s the best French toast we’ve ever had!” While it was gratifying to hear this response, Ferguson said it is not unusual for customers to be very pleasantly surprised with his creations.

Sourdough Solutions makes all of their sourdough food from flour that is organically grown with heirloom seeds, mainly from California’s central valley, and whole grain from stone mills in Woodland. The dough is fermented in stages over several days, and then mixed with seeds, grains, dried fruits, nuts, spices and hydrations to add more nutrition and flavor.

Ferguson said the grains incorporated in this bread — quinoa, chia seeds, flax — are a cornerstone to a whole, healthy diet to lose weight, manage diabetes and promote high metabolism. This recipe for sourdough is also safe for those with gluten intolerance.

Ferguson intends to engage restaurants, coffee houses and cafeterias to incorporate his healthy foods.

“My vision is to have Sourdough Solution bake centers to be all over the country promoting and teaching people how this way of eating works,” he said. “I could teach anybody how to do this in no time.”

In September, Ferguson plans to introduce meal kits that will include up to a month’s worth of food for a whole family. Classes on healthy eating and lifestyle changes will also be offered in the café and online in the coming months.

Scrumptious sourdough

Curious about toastwiches?

A toastwich is an open-faced sandwich, with the choice of regular or thick sliced wheat, walnut, rye, cinnamon raisin or super seed sourdough bread. Next, a choice must be made between 11 sweet and savory house-made spreads including chunky artichoke pesto, sourdough sauce, marmalade and Russian dressing. Toppings include baked chicken breast on a bed of lemon slices, spicy turkey meatballs, sliced tomato and basil, avocado and a host of other fresh options. The final touch is a slice of cheese, vegan or dairy, melted to perfection on a toasted slice of sourdough.

The pesto sauce, sold in individual containers, is vegan and is made with marinated artichoke hearts, kale, spinach, basil, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, olive oil. A sourdough sauce — especially delicious on rye bread — is also sold individually and is made with infused olive oil and garlic.

The French toast is made with walnut or raisin sourdough bread and is soaked overnight in an egg mixture. In the morning, it is cooked to perfection and ladled with honey cinnamon butter, pure maple syrup, blueberries and more.

The vegan Belgian waffles are hydrated with almond milk, pumpkin meal and apple sauce and are filled with nuts and cinnamon. They can be topped with butter or vegan butter, Greek yogurt, fruit and/or walnuts and more.

Sourdough loaves are sold in large, 5-pound bags, for $19.95 divided into three parts to retain freshness. Banjo Boy Coffee is brewed in-house and also available for purchase, in addition to a selection of house-made lemonade, black tea or a combination of the two.