Friday, December 31, 2010

Getting Started on This Week's Dinners

Well actually, we've already gotten started. I usually plan out Friday through Sunday's dinners on Friday morning, but with New Year's Eve and Day dinners involved, those ideas are already posted. That just leaves Sunday. With the $7.99/lb fish sale happening at Sprouts, I've already warned that this will be a very fishy week, and Whole Foods has further fishied it up by offering wild halibut fillets for $15.99/lb during their two-day sale tomorrow and Sunday (scallops and shrimp will also be on sale). One of those fishes is going to wind up in the grill pan or under the broiler on Sunday. On the side, we'll celebrate the new year with a recipe from the new January issue of Bon Appetit, roasted potatoes with fresh herbs.

Stay warm out there today in Boulder.

Two-Day Sale at Whole Foods

Whole Foods will be doing a two-day After New Year's sale tomorrow and Sunday. I picked up the flyer at the Pearl Street store, don't know if the other local stores are participating. There are some good deals to be had, especially in organic produce, where 1 pound bags of baby carrots will be just $1, and red or green leaf lettuce will be $1.50. Start the New Year right by eating your veggies. Then top that salad off with a dollop of their own fresh guacamole, which will be $2 off at $5.99 a pound. In sustainable seafood, I'm very tempted by the wild halibut fillet, which will be $15.99 a pound. Sounds like a lot, but it's $6 off, and I'm thinking worth it for this wonderful fish that's responsibly caught. Other appealing specials include smoked mozzarella pasta salad for $5.99 a pound ($4 off), their own superfood salad with acai dressing for $6.99 apound ($2 off - start the year off right with superfoods), and their own Health Starts Here breads nearly half off at $2.50 each.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Lucky Foods for New Year's Day

If you're exploring ways to increase your good fortune in 2011, Epicurious has a great summary of the foods traditionally considered to be good luck eating at the start of the new year, as well as some background on the underlying thinking. And watch out for the lobster tails on sale this week in several stores. Very nice for Christmas Eve or Day, but a bad luck way to start the new year. Chicken, too - who knew?

New Year's Eve and New Year's Day Dinners

I don't contemplate a dinner plan for New Year's Eve with as much care as I devote to Christmas, so this only just came together. As reported earlier today, Sprouts has some nice looking swordfish on sale for $7.99/lb this week (also Copper River salmon), so fish simply done in the grill pan has suddenly become the focus for New Year's Eve dinner. To dress it up, we'll accompany it with an elegant potato gratin with Gruyere from this month's Bon Appetit, plus a festive green veggie like asparagus.

Since New Year's Day dinner is immersed in superstitions about what brings good luck for the entire rest of the year, we obviously can't jinx ourselves for a whole year by ignoring it. Our standard is a twist on traditional Hoppin' John, which Mark Bittman turns into a pretty healthy (and delicious) soup as black-eyed pea soup with ham and greens. Whole Foods (Pearl Street store and probably the others) currently has fresh, quick cooking black eyed peas refrigerated in the produce department. I like to add extra greens, and to do it in proportions that give us enough for a reheat dinner. Made with collard greens, this is supposedly a good luck dinner, with the collards and peas resembling bills and coins for a lucrative New Year. Homemade corn bread of course has to go along with this, and one of my favorites is green onion corn bread from Bon Appetit. Best wishes for 2011!

Nice Fish at Sprouts

Sprouts is doing a seafood extravaganza this week, with several varieties at $7.99/lb. I've had good luck with their "flash-frozen at sea" fish, so I was expecting the Copper River salmon that's on sale would look pretty good. But the surprise was the swordfish, which not only looks good, but is also a product of the U.S. of A. At $7.99/lb, I really expected to see it from someplace in Southeast Asia, as I have before. The heck with the menu planning this week. I might just alternate between swordfish and Copper River salmon!

P.S. Be careful out there, fellow Boulderites - the roads are getting treacherous.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Sale Prices Are Up

Say hello to the last of our new Boulder natural grocery highlights of 2010, posted to the left. Conventional avocados are making news at 3 for $1 at Sunflower, 49 cents each at Sprouts. Sprouts has an interesting fish sale going on, with several types at $7.99/lb, including Copper River sockeye salmon. Whole Foods' New York strip steaks are pretty tempting at $9.99/lb, although you can also get New York strips at Sunflower this week for just $4.97/lb. These are the deals that will take us into January, so happy 2011.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Whole Foods Recalls Ginger Bread Houses

Whole Foods is recalling some ginger bread houses that were sold in Colorado. Here's the jist of it:

"Whole Foods Market announces that it is recalling assembled Ginger Bread Houses sold in, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin that came from its supplier Rolf’s Patisserie of Lincolnwood, Illinois. The recalled ginger bread houses may have been assembled, decorated and packaged in clear plastic wrap and sold with a Whole Foods Market scale label; some scale labels also may list “Rolf’s Patisserie” as part of the description. This includes all ginger bread Houses made after Nov. 1, 2010."

You can read the full announcement, including refund info, here.

Seventh Generation Sale at Target

Our Boulder Target typically has some of the best prices around for natural cleaning products like Seventh Generation, Method, or Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day. This week, you can do even better there on Seventh Generation or Method laundry detergents, as the 64 load Seventh Generation (my fave) or 50 load Method are on sale for $12.99 each, and all other Seventh Generation or Method laundry detergents are 10% off.

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

Glad to see the return of our Wednesday one-day sales at our local Whole Foods stores after last week's hiatus. So for tomorrow only, Hass avocados will be half off at $1 each (if they're like the one I bought at the Pearl Street store last week, they're very large). On a more celebratory note, fresh whole Dungeness crabs will be $3 off at $6.99 a pound. Start thinking about New Year's festivities.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Rest of This Week's Dinner Ideas

Time to emerge from the Christmas weekend food stupor and get some plans together to lead us up to New Year's Eve. After the excesses of the weekend, our dual themes will be simplicity and lightness. Having eased off the rib roast with a vegetarian chili last night, the black bean chili with butternut squash and Swiss chard, we'll continue along those lines tonight with a rice-based vegetarian dish, a rice, cheese, and corn casserole. My version is from a cookbook classic, Jane Brody's Good Food Book, but Cat Cora has posted a pretty similar recipe. The chilies of course will be far better than canned, since the freezer is stocked with roasted chilies from this past fall's roasting season.

Then, speaking of roasting, it will be back to the roast, since there's plenty left. Baked organic russets will go on the side this time, still using my stock from Vitamin Cottage's excellent sale that recently expired. Also on the side will be Brussels sprouts with pancetta from Giada De Laurentiis, a dish I considered for Christmas dinner proper but didn't get around to making.

Continuing to laze through the week, Sunday's black bean chili will also do a reprise, making this an easy week indeed. It will also give us the third vegetarian dinner of the week as we hover between Christmas and New Year's excesses.

Finally, I plan to catch some of Sprouts' lovely stuffed chicken breasts while they are on sale through Wednesday, to make an easy Thursday dinner. Yup, more organic russets from the Vitamin Cottage bag will get baked on the side.

Then it's time to start thinking about New Year's Eve/Day. Enjoy today's sunshine, and just be glad we aren't on the east coast right now.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Salmon Primer

Since salmon is a perennial favorite here, thought I'd point out that Saveur magazine, always informative as well as entertaining, has a nice little guide to the various types of salmon that are out there. Interesting that they say wild Atlantic salmon has been decimated, when I thought the wild variety was completely gone. Perhaps there's a sliver of hope for its return.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Wishes

Best wishes for a Merry Christmas to those of you who are Christmassing. Best wishes also for a delicious Christmas dinner. But tomorrow's another day, another sale opportunity, so don't forget about the one-day sale happening at Whole Foods (see the post just below).

Friday, December 24, 2010

This Weekend's Dinners

I usually get my dinner planning for the weekend started on Friday mornings, but this of course is an unusual week, so plans for today and tomorrow, Christmas Eve and day, have already been posted. That leaves us with figuring out Sunday for the weekend, and after the gluttony of today and tomorrow, we'll compensate with a delicious vegetarian favorite, black bean chili with butternut squash and Swiss chard. It's a great time for buying winter squash, and Swiss chard in the stores has been looking beautiful recently, too.

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Sunday

We didn't get the customary Wednesday one-day sale from Whole Foods this week, but instead they're treating us to one this Sunday, the 26th. If you'll still be entertaining, jumbo Gulf white shrimp will be $11.99/lb, $4 off. Also, their fine 85% lean ground beef will be nearly half off at $1.99/lb. Not such a great thing to have when you're coming right off of eating a beef standing rib roast, but an excellent opportunity to stock the freezer. Also, their extensive prepared foods salad bar will be $2 off per pound at $5.99/lb.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Vitamin Cottage Sale Hiatus?

We've seen this happen before, and I think Vitamin Cottage must be taking a break on advertised sales across the holidays, as the big sale flyer they have posted on the web is still the one that expired December 15th. There were such good deals in that one, they deserve a break. (And I still have a lot of organic russets to eat from the $1.50 a bag sale.)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New Deals Are Up

This week's new Boulder natural grocery price highlights are up on the left. Although we still have Christmas to come, it seems like that was last week's emphasis, and we're trending back to normal this week. Bulk coffee is the star to me this week, $6.99/lb at both Sprouts (which has organic fair trade coffees, including decaf) and Sunflower (which used to sell regularly at $6.99/lb but recently went up a dollar).

Midnight Madness At Whole Foods Tomorrow

It will be a short one, just 10 pm to 12 am, but the Pearl Street Whole Foods store has on their paper calendar that they'll hold a midnight madness sale for just those two hours tomorrow. They usually have some spectacular deals during those sales.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Eve and Christmas Dinner Plans

I don't usually get around to planning for the weekend until Friday, but hey, we're talking Christmas here. My plans are still a bit in the formative stage, but here's what they're looking like.

Christmas Eve will be an easy festival of shellfish, centered around the lobster tails that Whole Foods has for $7.99 each (yes, you can get tails for less elsewhere, but these are from Maine), and Whole Foods' own fresh crabcakes. I tried the crabcakes when they were on sale a couple of weeks ago, and they are definitely worth the $12.99/lb that I last saw. They're also making them in cute cocktail sizes, in addition to full sized cakes, and the smaller size might work better with the lobster tails. For a side, we'll do Lundberg's fabulous wild rice blend, which I picked up for a steal at the Vitamin Cottage sale that recently ended. The veggie has yet to be determined, and I'm hoping tomorrow's new sales might provide some inspiration.

For Christmas dinner itself, we'll have an array of appetizers to get ourselves and our guests through a few hours before dinner. Easy ones will include hummus with lots of veggies (don't forget organic baby carrots for just 99 cents a one pound bag at Sunflower through tomorrow) and a few crackers, shrimp cocktail (lots of beautiful cooked shrimp made it to my freezer during that spectacular one day sale a while ago at Whole Foods), and endive spears topped with herbed cheese and smoked trout or salmon. You can go with a formal recipe for this, something like endive spears with smoked salmon, horseradish cream, and dill, but I've been making it for years just using a prepared herb cheese like Boursin or Rondele (the latter on sale at Sprouts through tomorrow for the excellent price of $3.99 for an 8 oz container), topped with the trout or salmon, and maybe a bit of fresh dill.

The centerpiece of Christmas dinner will be a standing rib roast, and no, I won't reveal where I decided to get it. I've yet to look up recipes, but it will probably be very simple, with some embedded garlic slivers, and an au jus finessed with some red wine from a good bottle (but not as good as the Corison cabernet that we'll open to go with the roast). The roast will be accompanied by our favorite, simple horseradish sauce from Bon Appetit published nearly a decade ago. The current issue of Bon Appetit will provide inspiration for the sides, including potato gratin with gruyere and rainbow chard and radicchio saute (check out the Christmas colors!). As for dessert, that will be a surprise to us, as friends will be bringing it. What a feast.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Celebrate National Hamburger Day!

Like we need an excuse, but tomorrow is national hamburger day (although May 28th and July 28th also make that claim). With choices in town like Larkburger and Restaurant 4580 (check out the ever-changing "Will Burger"), go for it!

Christmas Dinner Idea Guides

Looking for a little help with your planning for Christmas dinner? Here are some guides brought to you by my fave cooking magazines. Check out Bon Appetit,, and Saveur for great menu ideas, how-to videos, and the like.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Rest of This Week's Dinner Ideas

For our weekday dinner plans leading up to Christmas Eve, we'll continue trending towards simple and sometimes vegetarian to counter the feasting on the horizon. Tomorrow can't get any easier than a reheat of the weekend's smoky shrimp and halibut stew, with a big salad and some fresh bread on the side.

Next we'll opt for a big, vegetarian pizza, made super simple since Whole Foods has their lovely (and large) cinque formaggio fresh pizzas on sale this week for $7.99 each. I like to dress it up a bit with the addition of Yves vegetarian pepperoni, and maybe a few mushrooms.

Then, in a stroke of genius (if I do say so myself), the weekend's big baked rigatoni casserole will make a reappearance, this time as a side dish. Protein of choice will go with it on the plate, and I'm thinking of sauteing the chicken sausages on sale this week at Sprouts for $2.99 a pound.

Finally, for the day preceding Christmas Eve, we'll once again go light and easy with vegetarian baked stuffed potatoes, no recipe required. Just either bake or microwave some large russet baking potatoes (I stocked up at the fantastic Vitamin Cottage sale that recently ended) then mash the interiors with your choice of additions. Faves include light sour cream, chives, scallions, or shallots, and a bit of grated cheese (smoked cheese gives it that umami touch). An easy green veggie like sauteed chard or steamed green beans on the side, and you're done.

And that will bring us to the verge of Christmas Eve, with more celebratory fare.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Boulder Whole Foods Goes Upscale

The long-awaited expansion of the Pearl Street Whole Foods store opened today, and it is indeed impressive. Once they finish all the rearranging yet to come, our Boulder store will probably outshine their spectacular store in the Time Warner Center in New York City. The expansion is primarily dedicated to prepared foods, with several specialized stations featuring particular cuisines/food groups (shades of Manhattan's new Eataly?), but I'm more impressed with the vastly expanded bakery and cheese areas. It's also amazing what they were able to accomplish overnight in making the changeover, and it will be fun to see what they do in the future with the now empty areas that were occupied by the deli, cheese, and baked goods in the original section. Exciting times for the store and its shoppers, but believe me, parking is a bear.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Bit of a Grouse

Hmmm, I can't wait to see how parking will be at the Pearl Street Whole Foods store once its size doubles tomorrow with the opening of the expansion, when you can hardly get a spot in their #@! parking lot this afternoon. What a zoo.

Gluten-Free Holiday Ideas

Looking for ways to ramp up a gluten-free Christmas? Catch the Pearl Street Whole Foods' gluten-free holiday tour tomorrow. (Is gluten-free hyphenated or not???) Here's what they say:

"Saturday, December 18th
Gluten Free Holiday Tour
10am FREE
Are you working with a gluten free diet this Holiday season? Never fear! Stop by the store for a gluten free Holiday tour with our in-store Healthy Eating Specialist, Dani Little. RSVP @"

Standing Rib Roast Price Comparison

With beef standing rib roasts a popular choice for Christmas dinner, I've been looking around at our Boulder natural grocery stores to see how they're priced this year. When checking out the prices below, bear in mind that there can be differences in these products, so ask at the individual stores' meat counters if you want to know everything about them. That said, here they are in alphabetical order, presumably all bone-in roasts.

Lucky's Market - Niman Ranch choice Angus $9.99/lb through 12/22.

Sprouts - USDA choice "Presidential cut" $5.99/lb through 12/22.

Sunflower - "all natural" roast $4.97/lb through 12/22.

Whole Foods - $10.99/lb, seen at the Pearl Street store on 12/16.

P.S. Reservations for roasts usually suggested.

Getting Started on This Week's Dinners

On a slightly snowy (finally!) Friday morning, it's time to get going on dinner plans through the weekend. With lots of indulging surrounding us for the holidays, plus an elaborate Christmas dinner on the horizon, my thoughts are turning to simple and largely vegetarian dinner ideas this week as an antedote. With the snow outside, tonight's a good night for a big, hot chowder, and I'm thinking of an experiment with a favorite, smoky shrimp and halibut stew from Bon Appetit. As for adjustments to the recipe, first off, I never ever use the half pound of bacon it calls for, trimming that to two or three pieces for flavor. Sunflower has raw e-z peel large shrimp for $3.97 a pound so that part's easy. But sustainably fished halibut is likely to run you in the $20 a pound range, if you can find it, so I'll experiment with substituting the flash-frozen haddock that Sprouts has this week for $4.99 a pound. It won't hold together as well as halibut, but I bet it will be delicious.

Then, since Sunflower has winter hard squash for a stunning 27 cents a pound this week (it's conventional, but you're going to peel it or not eat the shell anyway, right?), that calls for a giant pan of roasted winter veggies. There are tons of recipes out there (like herbed roasted winter vegetables), but you don't really need a recipe for this. Just put winter veggies of choice on a greased baking sheet, toss with a little olive oil and herbs of choice, then roast in a pretty hot oven until they're done to your satisfaction. Any protein of choice could accompany them, including salmon on a grill pan (look to the left margin for prices), or even one of the already cooked chickens Sprouts has on sale this week for $4.99 each (stick it in that hot oven to rewarm it).

Then for the first vegetarian dinner of the week, we'll take advantage of the fresh ricotta that's $2.99 a pound at Sunflower to make a winter comfort favorite, baked rigatoni with ricotta and collard greens from Cottage Living. It makes a big casserole, and I'm already planning ahead to how both this and today's stew will make second appearances later in the week. More on that to follow. Enjoy the somewhat wintery day out there!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

And Another One-Day Sale

Whole Foods keeps cranking out the opportunities. Tomorrow, the 17th, satsuma mandarins will be just 69 cents a pound. (Any editors out there know if both those words should be capitalized? One? Neither?)

Another Holiday Tasting At Whole Foods

In addition to tonight's holiday tasting at the Pearl Street store (see post a couple of days ago), the Superior store will get into the holiday tasting act on Saturday. Here's what they say:

"Saturday, December 18th
Holiday Tastings
1:00pm-4:00pm Free
Join us Saturday throughout the store for a tasty sample of our Holiday items. What better way to prepare for your Holiday meal? Whether you are cooking from scratch or purchasing a meal from our Prepared Foods Department, our Team Members are ready with a Holiday sample and to answer all of your questions about our Holiday items!"

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Pearl Street Whole Foods Revelation

I'd heard rumors to this effect, but today's Daily Camera confirms that this Saturday we'll finally get to see the expansion of the Pearl Street Whole Foods store that's been hiding behind those wooden screens all these months. Nearly doubling its already big size to about 66,000 square feet, it will be pretty massive, but it sounds like the expansion will be largely dedicated to prepared foods. We'll see.

New Deals Are Up

The best of this week's new sale prices at Sprouts, Sunflower, and Whole Foods are up at the left. We'll have to wait another day for Vitamin Cottage, as today is the last day of their long lasting sale. Appropriate to the season, it's a week for warring prices on hams and standing rib roasts, so get those plans going. Some easy appetizers are also at good sale prices, including hummus, Rondele cheese, and already cooked shrimp. Check out the prices to the left and start planning out that Christmas dinner.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday Tasting At Whole Foods

Time for another holiday tasting at the Pearl Street Whole Foods store, coming up on Thursday. Here's what they say:

"Thursday, December 16th
Taste of the Holidays
4-7pm FREE
Join us for a taste of something special in each department. While you're in the store, stop by our Holiday Table and make things easy on yourself this Christmas by letting us do all the work."

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

Time for another one-day sale tomorrow at our local Whole Foods stores. This time they'll have Jonah crab claws for $5.99/lb, $4 off (time to start thinking about party dips), and 8 oz Allegro Celebration Caffe for $3.99 each, regularly $6.99. Party, party.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Last Call for Current Vitamin Cottage Specials

A heads up that you only have through Wednesday to catch the current batch of long lasting sales at Vitamin Cottage. Who knows what the next batch will bring, but it's hard to beat the five pound bags of organic russet potatoes for just $1.50 each, one pound bags of almonds for $2.99, excellent deals on Organic Valley half & half and sour cream, and Imagine broths at just $1.99 each. If you happen to have the Mambo Sprouts coupon book from last month, you'll also find some matches that will bring your cost to next to nothing, good deal.

Cookbook Gift Ideas

Looking for a gift idea for the foodie on your list? Consider a possibility from the New York Times' article on the year's best cookbooks. If you'd like a bigger list to choose from, check out their big cookbook roundup.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Rest of This Week's Dinner Ideas

Time to get going on dinner ideas for the rest of the week. Simplicity is the name of the game as we head into the holidays, so we'll start by reheating the great fennel-potato soup with smoked salmon that we made over the weekend. A nice tossed salad and some bread from Whole Foods' bakehouse round out an easy meal.

It will then be time for something rice-based, and for an almost-winter evening, butternut squash risotto with shrimp sounds appealing. This could be made with the very big shrimp on sale this week at Sprouts, or more likely with smaller shrimp pulled from my freezer from a prior sale. Tis the season of course for winter squash, pretty cheap everywhere.

On to a pasta dish, and keeping with the simplicity theme, it will be spaghetti with turkey meatballs. When I saw that Sunflower was emphasizing ground turkey in this week's sales, I hoped that their wonderful turkey meatballs might make an appearance (they don't always have them), and sure enough, they're back, and at a very reasonable $3.99 a pound. Some jarred pasta sauce enhanced with a little onion, and voila, it's dinner.

To round out the week's planning, since Sprouts and Sunflower are warring on chicken prices this week, and we haven't yet done anything with an Asian influence, how about Kung Pao chicken from Cooking Light, served over brown rice. There's lots of broccoli in the dish, but a little side of steamed edamame never hurts, either.

And that gets us through the rest of the week's planning, with some quick and easy meals for busy times.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

More Praise For Imagine Broth

I've previously sung the praises of Imagine Broth, my favorite, oh so useful cooking broth that goes into all sorts of soups, casseroles, and rice dishes (it absolutely transforms them compared to what they would be made with water). For fans of Imagine Broth, this is your week. Not only can you continue to stock up on them at Vitamin Cottage for the stunningly low price of $1.99 each through the 15th, you can also snag them at Sprouts for just a penny more, $2, also through the 15th. Since these store so well (the ones I just picked up have expiration dates of next August), you should keep a good supply on hand at these sale prices, never shelling out the full price, which runs around $3.39.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Getting Started on This Week's Dinners

If it's Friday, it must be time to get some plans together. For tonight, I'm inclined to go with fennel-potato soup with smoked salmon from Bon Appetit. This is written as a first course soup, but I turn it into a main one (with enough for a reprise later in the week) by adding significantly more smoked salmon than it calls for. Hot smoked salmon works well, rather than a delicate lox-like salmon, and I have a couple of packages in my freezer from an excellent prior sale. For the potatoes, don't forget the fabulous price Vitamin Cottage still has on five pound bags of organic russets, just $1.50 each.

Continuing with the salmon theme, but of a different variety, since previously frozen wild caught salmon has reappeared on sale at both Sprouts and Sunflower (see to the left for prices), more salmon will make it on the plates for Saturday. It might be simply done on a grill pan with a squeeze of lemon, or dressed up a little bit in a really simple preparation, pan-roasted salmon with ginger and curry from Gourmet. Rice on the side gets dressed up with shallots and herbs of choice.

To finish off the weekend, we'll go carnivorous, indulging in the beef short ribs that are $3.99/lb for boneless ones at Sprouts. They are easy to do in the oven, treated with a bit of barbeque sauce. And since the oven will be running anyway, throw in some russets from that organic bag from Vitamin Cottage to have bakers on the side. Even health nuts can enjoy a beef short rib every once in a while.

And that at least gets us through the weekend, with more planning to come.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

More Tasting Fair News

'Tis the season. All the Sunflower stores in the area are planning to hold a Holiday Tasting Fair this Saturday, the 11th, from 11 to 2. More goodies to try for your holiday planning.

Free Range Vs Factory Farmed

Those of us who are meat eaters are all in favor of the free range approach versus factory farming, right? Leave it to The Atlantic to challenge that assumption. Check out a thought-provoking article at, and don't miss the comments that follow, too. Perhaps not the best reading over breakfast, though.

Gift Card Deal at Sprouts

Many thanks to my astute shopper friend, Ms. A., for giving me a heads up on the three-day gift card sale that Sprouts will be doing tomorrow through Sunday, when you can buy a $100 gift card for $89.99. Of course it would be a nice gift, but whenever they've done this sale in the past, everybody in the checkout line (moi included) has bought it for themselves, then immediately started to use it to effectively get 10% off their entire purchase. Pretty smart shopping. Thanks, Ms. A.!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Chocolove Feeding Frenzy

Grab 'em while you can. Fortunately Whole Foods seems to be well stocked (at least at the Pearl Street store) with a wide variety of Chocolove chocolate bars, because the big bars are absolutely flying out the door for just $1 each during today's one-day only sale. That's better than half off the standard price anywhere for this yummy chocolate that's local, to boot. Think stocking stuffers, a little add-on to that Christmas present, and a few treats for yourself, too. Dark chocolate is getting excellent press these days for its nutrient benefits, and the cocoa content is displayed on the front of each package. Consider it health food!

New Deals Are Up

The best (IMHO) of this week's new Boulder natural grocery sales are up on the left, and it's a cholesterol-heavy week. Sprouts is notable for 40% off its entire bulk cheese department, plus BOGO on President brie cheeses. Salmon sales are back, although it's now the previously frozen variety (hey, it's December). Sunflower is doing good things with ground turkey and turkey meatloaf, and Whole Foods continues to have adorable Two Bite cinnamon rolls for just $2.99 a tub. Look to the left for more.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

And it's chocolate-lovers' nirvana. Tomorrow only, our local Whole Foods stores will have Chocolove chocolate bars better than half off at $1 each! Also platters of my very favorite two-bite brownies 2 for $10 when they are regularly $8.99 each (doing any entertaining soon?). To wash down all that chocolate, navel oranges will be 49 cents a pound, $1 off.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tasting Fair At Whole Foods

In their latest email, Whole Foods says the Pearl Street store will hold a Taste of the Holidays this coming Thursday, the 9th, from 4 to 7. Always a chance to get some good ideas, as well as some tasty samples.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Rest of This Week's Dinner Ideas

Moving on to the midweek dinners, there's always something for a quick reheat, this time the cod with fingerling potatoes. Quick salad and maybe the wonderful fourteener sprouted wheat bread that Whole Foods has for just $2.79 a loaf this week and you're done.

Then on to something both vegetarian and giving us pasta. Last week's chile made from leftover turkey reminded me to work on my wonderful stock of roasted green chiles in the freezer, collected during this fall's Hatch chile roasting season locally. I'm planning on chile 'choke pasta, which unfortunately doesn't have a link, but is basically roasted chiles to your liking sauteed with marinated artichoke hearts, and combined with lowfat sour cream and grated parmesan to mix with the pasta. Wow.

With both Sprouts and Sunflower having easy to cook shrimp on sale, I'm then thinking of a fun dinner of creamy shrimp grits with prosciutto from Bon Appetit. Sprouts also has prosciutto packages as a BOGO, but I haven't checked them out yet.

Finally, for our Thursday planning, I'm thinking baked potatoes with spiced beef chili (again from Bon Appetit) will fit the bill, especially since I sometimes like to do this with stew beef instead of the burger that's called for, and Sprouts and Sunflower are competing this week on stew beef prices. For the baked potatoes, don't forget that Vitamin Cottage has 5 lb bags of organic russets for an astonishing $1.50 each right now.

And that gets us through the week, whew!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Quest For The Perfect Pepper Grinder

I know it's out there somewhere, a pepper grinder to use for cooking, one that can crack nice chunks of pepper when you want it to go big. I used to have one. It was a cheap plastic thing, a gift from long ago that finally nearly broke in two. I've used Peugeot pepper mills on the table for eons and love them for that purpose, but when I want big cracks of pepper, I haven't been able to get them to go far enough. Seeking the perfect one for cooking, I stopped in at legendary E.Dehillerin, the store frequented by Julia Child, while in Paris last year. When I asked about pepper mills, they told me they only carried Peugeot, an affirmation that I should be content with what I have. Since receiving that advice, it seems my mills are producing bigger pepper cracks, either by psychological effect or result of greater vigor and determination. But I still know there's something out there, maybe even a cheap little something, that can crack like my old plastic grinder. Any suggestions most welcome.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Getting Started on This Week's Dinners

Heading into holiday season, the posts will probably get shorter as demands on time grow larger. So a quick look at the weekend. I have a crazy idea for tonight, when the temperature will be coming down from about 60%. How about bbqing (albeit in the dark) some country style pork ribs since they're only $1.99/lb at Sprouts, and we could use a reminder of the good ol' summer time? They're best smoked, but to be realistic, a basic grilling would be better for December (if you have a spot that's sheltered from the wind).

For Saturday, since cod is on sale at both Sprouts and Sunflower for $6.99/lb, how about cod chowder with fingerling potatoes from Bon Appetit? It's delicious if you don't even bother with the saffron, or make it lighter by eliminating the whipping cream (but what the heck, it's a small amount).

For Sunday, I'm thinking chipotle beef stew from Gourmet magazine. You could do it as written with a roast on sale at Sunflower, or simplify your life by using stew beef on sale at both Sunflower and Sprouts.

So that at least gets us through the weekend (not a piece of turkey in sight!). More planning to come.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

New Deals Are Up

New sale prices are up on the left for our Boulder natural grocery stores. Lots of price wars going on this week, including beef roasts, raw shrimp, Hass avocados, and more. Indulge your waistline with Two Bite cinnamon rolls for $2.99 a tub at Whole Foods. Brazilian lobster tails will be $7.99 each all week at Sprouts, but rush to Whole Foods to get ones from Maine at that same price for today only. Check out Sprouts' health, beauty, and vitamins department, where the whole shebang is 25% off, and don't forget a bunch of organic arugula for just 99 cents while at Sunflower.