Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve Wishes

Best wishes for a happy and safe New Year's Eve here in Boulder. And batten down anything outside that could possibly move, with the winds we're expecting today. If you need to do any last minute Whole Foods shopping, you might consider the Baseline, Ideal, or Superior stores. I was at Pearl Street yesterday, where it was already getting real in the Whole Foods parking lot, with people madly angling for spaces, and I doubt it will be any better today. I'm all set for tonight's linguine with crab, lemon, chile and mint and think I made the right decision buying prepared crabmeat for it. Although Whole Foods has Alaskan king crabs on sale for $16.99 a pound this weekend, I opted to pay a whopping $34.99 a pound for Dungeness crabmeat that's ready for the skillet, and still think that was a smart move. The whole crabs are super handsome, but by the time I finished cooking and shelling them, I'd probably waste enough for the price to equal the prepared stuff, not to mention all the time that would go into the process. So I've given myself the gift of time for New Year's Eve! Happy, happy.

Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Celebration Guides

Are you looking for a little inspiration for festive food for New Year's Eve and Day? There are guides out there to help, including New Year's Eve Celebrations from Epicurious, Food and Wine magazine's New Year's Eve Recipes (including a New Year's Day brunch), and Bon Appetit's New Year's Day Party Menu. Those should get 2012 rolling.

Weekend Dinner Ideas

New Year's Eve and New Year's Day make for a pretty big weekend of dinner plans. But before we get to the holiday stuff, the really big shrimp that Sprouts has for $6.99 a pound are making me think of something fun and a little festive for tonight, smoky shrimp and grits from Food and Wine magazine. Although the recipe calls for medium shrimp, we'll make it special with those gigantic ones at Sprouts.

Moving on to New Year's Eve tomorrow, there are many temptations out there. Both Sprouts and Sunflower are pushing surf 'n turf, with lobster tail sales and a multitude of steak sales. Then there's the Alaskan golden king crab sale at Whole Foods, too. I've decided to bypass all that to try a new recipe in the January issue of Bon Appetit, linguine with crab, lemon, chile, and mint. Of course I could cook and shell those crabs on sale at Whole Foods myself, but I just don't think it's worth the effort when you can spend a little more to have it already done for you with prepared crab meat (provided it's very good quality). To start the evening off, I'm thinking about smoked salmon rolls with ricotta and chives. Together, that's plenty of effort for an evening that will also include champagne.

We have a tradition of eating something "lucky" on New Year's Day, and in this house, that's Mark Bittman's spin on Hoppin' John, black-eyed pea soup with ham and greens from the New York Times. I'll adjust the amounts to be sure there will be some left for later in the week. I'll also increase the greens, which will probably be a combo of spinach and collards, to make it more like a stew, as Bittman suggests. There will definitely have to be homemade cornbread to go with this, and one of my favorites is green onion corn bread from Bon Appetit. With a salad on the side, we'll hopefully get 2012 off to a great start!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Lucky Foods For The New Year

Are you starting to think about what to eat on New Year's Day, something "lucky" to get a good start for 2012? There are traditions around the world about foods to bring you good luck, and Epicurious has a nice roundup of them in the article, Lucky Foods for the New Year.

P.M. Update: here's a new list of lucky foods just out from Bon Appetit. This one includes the Hoppin' John I'll be doing a riff on Sunday. But you probably won't find me smashing pomegranates on the floor.

Crab Sale At Whole Foods

Whole Foods wants to spin your New Year's Eve plans towards an elegant crab dinner with their weekender sale that starts tomorrow, the 30th, and will run through Monday, the 2nd. Alaskan golden king crabs will be $16.99 a pound, $7 off their usual price during the sale. Here's how they describe it: "Caught in the depths of the Bering Sea off of Alaska's Aleutian Islands; Golden King Crab is delicate, tender, and nectar-sweet." Hmmmm.

Year End Sale At Cured

Since Boulder's wonderful cheese and wine shop Cured will be closed the first couple of weeks in January while its owners run off to enjoy getting married, they are having a very nice sale now to clear out their inventory before they leave. Here's what they say:

End of Year Sale: Owing to the perishable nature of much of our product, and the fact that a week from now we will be sipping margaritas on the beach while Cured takes a proper European siesta, we are blowing out our shelves and cooler case and getting them ready for new product in 2012. Wednesday and Thursday we will be offering 15% off all products (excluding meat and cheese) and 15% off wines over $30. If you’ve been waiting to try that one olive oil, or beautiful balsamic, or eyeing that gorgeous linen Deck Towel, now is the time to snatch it up before someone else does (i.e. Coral brings it to Mexico). Then on Friday and Saturday, we’ll be offering 15% off store-wide, that means meats, cheeses, all our booze, and just about anything else you can dream up. So come in and get your last indulgences for 2011 before your two-week forced ‘fast’ takes effect :).

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

No One-Day Sale Today

Whole Foods typically does some one-day specials every Wednesday, but this week they're deviating. There's no one-day sale today, but stay tuned for news of a special weekender sale coming up.

This Week's Hot Deals (IMHO)

We have new sales starting today at our Boulder Sprouts, Sunflower, and Whole Foods. Vitamin Cottage is taking a bit of a sale breather until January, and I have no idea what's happening at Alfalfa's; their website still has the sale flyer that expired on the 20th posted, and I haven't been in the store since then to check. Here's what looks good to me in the new sales.

Avocado wars. Avocado fans will enjoy the competing prices happening on conventional avocados this week, 49 cents each at Sprouts, three for $1 at Sunflower (both through January 4th), and $1.25 each at Whole Foods (through January 17th). Since the size of the avocados carried by each store seems to vary in a way that matches their relative prices, that's a lot of good choices.

At Sprouts through January 4th, in addition to the avocados, I'm liking flash frozen Copper River sockeye salmon for $7.99 a pound (Whole Foods is also offering a wild sockeye for $12.99 a pound). Very big 16/20 count raw shrimp, notably from the USA, are $6.99 a pound. It's a New Year's week for steak wars, and Sprouts has five varieties at $7.99 a pound. Chicken sausage is $2.99 a pound, and center-cut pork loin chops are $3.99 a pound, not their best price, but still okay. They aren't advertising much in organic produce this week, but organic Cameo apples are 99 cents a pound, and three-packs or romaine hearts are $2.50. Select party trays are 25% off, and Cascade Fresh sour cream looks good at 99 cents for 16 ounces.

Through the 4th at Sunflower, in addition to the avocados, steaks are looking good, with bone-in New York steaks for $4.99 a pound, boneless New York strip steaks for $6.99 a pound, and filet mignon for $12.99 a pound. Ground chicken breast is $3.99 a pound, and $2.99 for ground pork. Organic produce looks great, with broccoli $1.50 a pound, baby carrots $1.50 a one pound bag, romaine lettuce or bunched spinach both $1.50 each, green or red cabbage 99 cents a pound, russet or red rose potatoes 99 cents a pound, and blueberries $2.99 for six ounces. In non-organic produce, 20 ounces of super cherry tomatoes are $2 each, which I'm pretty sure would be the EuroFresh brand, which is pesticide-free. Their own hummus is $1.99 for eight ounces, or $2.99 for a new 12 ounce size. My favorite Cascade Fresh yogurt looks great at 59 cents each, Horizon Organic sour cream is $2.50 for 16 ounces, including the lowfat variety, Mozzarella Fresca fresh half pound mozzarella balls are $3.99, and the big 28 ounce size of Muir Glen organic tomatoes is $2 a can.

At Whole Foods through the 17th, in addition to the avocados, Stonyfield yogurts are great at 60 cents each. I'm also liking their own teriyaki wild salmon burgers for $7.99 a pound, and top round London broil at $3.99 a pound. Their own sourdough bread loaves are 2 for $6, but it says "you pick two," so maybe two are required for the sale price. Their own excellent fresh large pepperoni pizzas are great at $8.99 each, their 365 Everyday Value frozen veggies are on sale for $1.50 a one pound bag, and wild sockeye salmon, presumably previously frozen, is $12.99 a pound (but Copper River is $7.99 a pound at Sprouts). Also, I haven't tried it, but Castor & Pollux canned pet food is 50% off.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

No Post-Christmas Sale

Still not having a chance to get there, I called the Pearl Street Whole Foods to see if they might be doing their customary special post-Christmas sale, and the answer for this year is no. They're still expecting the usual one-day sale for tomorrow, but there's been no word yet as to what that will be.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Post-Christmas Sale?

I doubt I'll have a chance to get there today, but Whole Foods is renowned for throwing special sales, usually lasting three days, right after a big holiday. So if you happen to be there, keep your eyes peeled for the possibility of some temporary, very good deals. You'd also probably find a special sale flyer by the door.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Weekday Dinner Ideas

Merry Christmas, everybody. On Sundays, I usually figure out what our dinners will be through Thursday, then the planning begins all over again on Friday. But for today, for Pete's sake (who is Pete?), it's Christmas! As for dinners all the way through Thursday, I just don't know yet! Well, I do know a couple of things. After tonight's feast of standing rib roast, we'll definitely want something vegetarian for tomorrow night, and Cooking Light's fettuccine Alfredo strikes me as perfect. Even though they have significantly lightened the recipe, it still tastes rich and creamy. Any leftovers would also make a great lunch with a slice of leftover rib roast.

And since Tuesday is our usual reheat of something big made over the weekend, we'll certainly have plenty of standing rib roast to fit the bill. You don't want to mess with actually cooking to reheat a roast done to rare. A brief encounter with a bit of warm au jus will be the maximum heat it will get. To change things up, I'm going to try a recipe from the current issue of Bon Appetit that was a contender for today, potato and celery root mash. I love celery root under any circumstances, and the horseradish should give it the perfect kick to go with the leftover roast.

Beyond that, I just don't know, and I don't care! It's Christmas - maybe that's my present to myself! Merry Christmas to all!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Best Store-Bought Broth?

I use a lot of boxed broth in all my cooking, and it can be a godsend during the busy holiday season (although stock made from scratch is obviously preferable for those with an abundance of time). Frequent readers know my devotion to Imagine organic broths and stocks, which have no MSG, come in low sodium varieties, and taste fabulous. I'm therefore surprised by the results of a chicken broth taste test done by Bon Appetit, in which Swanson certified organic free range broth came out the winner. Since it's organic and they also like its low sodium content, I'll have to check it out (checking the label for the various disguises that MSG wears), but it will be hard to shake my devotion to Imagine, which appears to have been part of the taste test.

And by the way, a very merry Christmas Eve to all.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Weekend Dinner Ideas, Including Christmas

I'm in the mood for a very festive weekend, since we very certainly will have a white Christmas here in Boulder. To kick off a weekend of special dinners, I'll start with grilled sea scallops and tomatoes with olive vinaigrette from Gourmet magazine. No, I'm not planning on lighting the barbeque that's buried under a foot and a half of snow on my patio, as the grilling only refers to using a grill pan. Sunflower has jumbo sea scallops for $11.99 a pound, and they also have organic on-the-vine cluster tomatoes for $1.99 a pound, a very good price.

There are so many traditions for Christmas Eve, including tamales in New Mexico, and seven fish dishes in Italy. We tend to lean towards seafood, and I hope it doesn't sound like cheating, but rather than spending the whole evening by the stove, I'm going to have Whole Foods' fabulous premade Maryland style crab cakes, which are on sale for $9.99 a pound. For a veggie, I'll repeat a side that was a huge success at our Thanksgiving table, Swiss chard gratin, a recipe from Whole Foods. The light sauce made with Comte (available in Whole Foods' cheese department) wonderfully dresses up a favorite vegetable for a holiday table. One of Lundberg's special rice blends will also go on the side; I adore their Black Japonica, but I think they also make a Christmas red rice blend that would certainly be appropriate, as well.

For Christmas Day proper, we'll bring out a beautiful standing rib roast of beef. Recipes for this abound, and the current issue of Cooking Light has a tempting one, rosemary-Dijon crusted standing rib roast. I'm more likely to follow the directions in Mark Bittman's trusted book, How to Cook Everything, inserting a few garlic slivers and making a red wine au jus. In addition to the au jus, we'll have a simple horseradish sauce from Bon Appetit. Sides will include golden potatoes with caper brown butter crumbs, Brussels sprouts (probably just simply steamed, and served with the horseradish sauce), and possibly a repeat of the roasted beet salad recipe from a friend that was such a hit at Thanksgiving. A store-bought buche de Noel is the only dessert I'd consider, but desserts aren't much of a focus in this house.

Which will get us through a very celebratory, but hopefully not highly caloric, weekend.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gluten-Free Hanukkah Recipes

Are you looking for gluten-free options as Hanukkah continues? Boulder's own elena's pantry has you covered with her Hanukkah Recipe Roundup.

January Hiatus At Cured

Fans of Boulder's wonderful cheese, wine, and other goodies shop Cured should be aware that the store will be closed for the first two weeks of January, reopening on the 14th, for a very good reason. In their newsletter, owners Coral and Will have very casually mentioned that they'll be taking the time off to get married. So congratulations to them, and plan accordingly to get your Cured fix around their celebration time.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

This Week's Hot New Deals (IMHO)

We have new sales starting today at our Boulder Sprouts and Sunflower, while the current sale continues through the 27th at Whole Foods (click that link for my prior report). Vitamin Cottage is taking a break on sales until next month, and Alfalfa's is unknown, as they still have their flyer that expired yesterday posted on their website. So here's what looks good to me at Sprouts and Sunflower.

"Good to me" usually means products I'd be inclined to buy, so I'm a little conflicted on mentioning the spiral cut ham that both Sprouts and Sunflower are both offering for $1.99 a pound this week (through the 28th). It's an excellent price, but when I checked at one of the stores a couple of days ago, it does contain nitrites in a list of non-natural-sounding ingredients, and I suspect that's true at the other store, too. As always, it's a matter of weighing your wallet against other considerations. In the best of all possible worlds, I'd only buy my chicken at Whole Foods or Vitamin Cottage, but the reality is I buy the much cheaper variety all the time.

At Sprouts through December 28th, Presidential-cut standing rib roast looks good at $5.99 a pound (although $4.97 a pound at Sunflower), previously frozen sockeye salmon is $9.99 a pound (but Sunflower beats that again at $7.99 a pound), value packs of boneless skinless chicken breasts are great at $1.99 a pound, stew meat is $3.99 a pound (same at Sunflower), and their stuffed chicken breasts that I like are $3.99 a pound. In organic produce, broccoli looks good at $1.49 a pound, dry pints of grape tomatoes are $2.50 each, russet potatoes are $2.99 for a five pound bag, gala apples are $1.29 a pound, butternut squash is just 79 cents a pound (beating Sunflower's 99 cents), garnet yams are 99 cents a pound (matching Sunflower), and D'Anjou pears look great also at 99 cents a pound. If you buy conventional, you can pick up a whole pineapple for just 99 cents each. Select party trays are 25% off, select varieties of their own organic spices are $2.99 a bottle, and I'm enthused about Chobani Greek yogurts at $1 each.

At Sunflower through the 28th, beef standing rib roasts are $4.97 a pound, beating Sprouts, and sockeye salmon (presumably previously frozen) is $7.99 a pound, beating Sprouts again. Beef stew meat is $3.99 a pound, matching Sprouts, bone-in ribeye steaks are $6.99 a pound ($8.99 for boneless), and boneless pork loin chops are $3.99 a pound. Both organic and conventional avocados are 50 cents each for the avocado lovers out there. More organic produce deals look good, as usual, with on-the-vine cluster tomatoes $1.99 a pound, chard $1.50 a bunch, red or yellow onions 99 cents a pound, four types of winter squash 99 cents a pound (although Sprouts is cheaper for the butternut), and yams at 99 cents a pound, matching Sprouts. They're also doing an organic apple & pear-o-rama, with quite a few varieties for $1.77 a pound. Cascade Fresh sour cream looks low at 99 cents for 16 ounces, select variety of my favorite Ling Ling appetizers are $3.50 each, and some of my favorite Ezekiel breads are good at $3 a loaf. I also need some Tribe hummus at $2.99 for eight ounces.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

Our local Whole Foods stores will offer us a quintet of special sales for tomorrow only, the 21st, including one I'd been hoping for: Boulder's own Chocolove Bars, at a fantastic price! (Just think - stocking stuffers, little office gifts? Perfect!) Here's what they say:

One-Day Sale
Wednesday December 21st only!

Chocolate Bars
4 for $5
(save $1.44/ea)

Whole Foods Market®
Mustard Dill Sauce
(save $2/ea)

Norwegian Salmon
(save $5/lb)

Triple-Cream Brie Rounds
(save $3/ea)

2 for $6
(save $2.99/ea)

Health Challenge Coming Up

Just as you're priming yourself for the height of the season of indulgence, Whole Foods is encouraging you to start thinking about healthier living in the New Year. They'll give you a way to jumpstart 2012 with their 28-Day Health Challenge in January. Here's what they say:

"We are kicking off our 28-day Health Challenge on January 16th and we would love you to be a part of it. During the 28-days you will have the chance to go to:

· Plant-Strong Supper clubs
· Healthy Eating Store Tours
· Go to free dance classes at Alchemy of Movement
· Attend ANY class at the Boulder Rec Centers (28 days for $28)
· Check out lectures from Joel Furhman, MD and Marc David
· Learn about healthy fats at a Lunch’n’Learn
· Find out the best work-out you can do at home from the Physiotherapy Associates
· Receive free recipes
· Expand your whole foods and leafy greens cooking knowledge with cooking classes

And all for FREE! Everyone of ALL ages is welcome to attend. Sign up at Ideal Market, Baseline Whole Foods Market, or Westminster Whole Foods Market or online (see below). Orientations start the week of January 9th, and there is a meet-up each week following."

Eileen back here again. I think more stores are participating, as Superior already has it on its January calendar, too. Check with the customer service desks for sign-up, or you can register online at and use the code HEALTH116.

Afternoon update: looks like they're now promoting registration via Eventbrite.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sale Hiatus At Vitamin Cottage

Vitamin Cottage, aka Natural Grocers, usually does sales that last quite a long time, in the area of six weeks or so, with their latest one ending on December 14th. I just checked, and those fine folks are taking a little sale breather, with no new sale starting probably until January. But they also have some of the lowest everyday prices around, IMHO.

Publisher Beats Amazon

I'm a big fan of managing my cooking magazine subscriptions through I generally expect to find the lowest price there, sometimes quite significantly lower than the publisher offers directly, and every subscription transition I've done through them so far has gone flawlessly. So I'm surprised to see that Cooking Light is offering me a better renewal price directly than I could currently get through Amazon. Moral of the story is it always pays to look around.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Weekday Dinner Ideas

It's crunch time, the week before Christmas, so this will be quick. Today is the last day of Sprouts' special 72 hour sale, and I'm going to grab some of those gigantic 16/20 count raw shrimp they have at $6.99 a pound in order to do another risotto tomorrow. I'm burned out on risotto with butternut squash, so I'll hit the freezer to do something different, shrimp risotto with peas, a "Recipe for Health" from the New York Times. I might hybridize it by adding some baby organic spinach, a spin on another favorite recipe.

Tuesday will be our customary reheat of something big made over the weekend, which in this case is the potato and root vegetable chowder with bacon from Bon Appetit. It will be accompanied by another wonderful fresh baguette for only $1.50 from Whole Foods, plus a salad, of course.

By Wednesday, I'm thinking that a pizza will sound great. When you make it using the fresh dough from Whole Foods to fill a cookie sheet, it makes a ton of pizza, and the leftovers will be handy to have around for lunches and snacks for drop-in friends before the holidays. Cooking Light has some great ideas for ways to top that dough (adjusting of course for the large size of the dough base), and this time I might try the pepperoni, onion, and olive pizza, if I can tear myself away from my favorite pizza Margherita.

We can't have a week without pasta, so we'll return to seasonality for Thursday with pasta with butternut squash and rosemary from Bon Appetit. This is another recipe that fares well with a large handful of baby organic spinach added to the sauce to wilt at the end. Sunflower has organic butternut for 99 cents a pound through Wednesday, and their price on bulk organic spinach is low all the time. For the prosciutto, I favor the pieces Whole Foods sells for considerably less than the kind that's super-thinly sliced in from of you, since it's going into a sauce, not being wrapped around an asparagus spear.

And that will get us to Friday's planning, dangerously close to Christmas Eve!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Reminder Re Fun Events Today

Don't forget that you have the opportunity for holiday tastings at both the Pearl Street and Superior Whole Foods stores (and maybe others) this afternoon. If you're out at the Superior store, do also head across the street to Superior Liquor, which will be doing a wine tasting to benefit the Boulder Humane Society.

Friday, December 16, 2011

More Whole Foods Holiday Tastings

Yahoo. For those of us who missed last weekend's big round of holiday tastings, our local Whole Foods stores will offer us a second chance tomorrow afternoon. Here's what's happening at the Pearl and Superior stores, and maybe the others are in the act, too (I can't check everywhere!). And don't forget, if you're out at the Superior store tomorrow afternoon, do also head across the street to Superior Liquor for their wine tasting and bottle signing to benefit our beloved Boulder Valley Humane Society. Here's what Whole Foods says.

Pearl Street Store

Saturday, December 17th

Holiday Entertaining Tasting
1-4pm FREE

Stop by the store for a taste of the season with our Holiday Entertaining tasting. Each of our teams will be samplilng some delicious dishes to help you plan your holiday meal.

Superior Store

Saturday, December 17th

Entertaining Appetizers
3:00pm-6:00pm Free

Join us throughout our store for samples of party favorites and entertaining appetizers. Order from our Holiday Menu for the perfect party!

Weekend Dinner Ideas

Since it's Friday, I'd best get going with dinner ideas for the weekend, starting with tonight. While I was hugely impressed by Cooking Coach Beth Pilar's performance at last night's French cooking and wine class at Whole Foods, creating such intricate dishes is something I'll leave to the Cordon Bleu-trained chefs like her. While I might take a little more time on my weekend than my weekday dinners, and like to make everything from scratch, there's no way I have the time, patience, or skill to create layer upon layer of complexity in a dish as she so capably did. So on to tonight's plan for a simple, but hopefully delicious meal. I've been wanting to try a recipe recently published in the New York Times, cod with sesame and ginger, and with cod $6.99 a pound this week at Sprouts, tonight will be the night. With the oven running, some baked yam spears will go with it, and Sunflower has organic ones for just 99 cents a pound.

I've been a little overwhelmed by all the rich holiday foods we encounter everywhere these days, so to counter them, for tomorrow we'll do a wintry and nearly vegetarian soup, potato and root vegetable chowder with bacon from Bon Appetit. Yes, it does have bacon, but it's only two slices in a whole big pot of chowder. One of the wonderful, fresh baguettes from Whole Foods that are half price at $1.50 will have to go on the side, along with a salad.

For Sunday, in perhaps a teeny nod to last night's French demo, we'll take advantage of the chicken tenders that Sprouts has on sale for $1.99 a pound (and Sunflower has boneless skinless breasts for $2.99 a pound) to do quick coq au vin from Bon Appetit. This is delicious served over wide noodles, or the savory broth could also be sopped up with another of those fantastic French baguettes from Whole Foods.

And that will get us through the weekend with some great food that's still pretty simple to prepare, just about my speed.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Recipe Guides

With just ten days remaining until Christmas, I guess it's time to get serious about planning what will be on the table. There are several excellent guides out there offering recipes, menu plans, videos, helpful tips, and the like. My favorites include Christmas Unwrapped from Epicurious, Bon Appetit's Christmas Food, Cooking Light's Ultimate Holiday Food, Saveur magazine's Holiday, and Holiday Recipes from Whole Foods. That's more than enough to get my planning started.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

This Week's Hot Deals (IMHO)

We have new sales starting today at our Boulder Sprouts, Sunflower, and Whole Foods, while Alfalfa's current sale continues through the 20th, and today is the last day of the current sale at Vitamin Cottage. Here's what looks particularly good to me in the new sales, IMHO as always.

Sprouts will have a special 72 hour sale this Friday through Sunday, the 16th to 18th, with avocados 50 cents each, very large 16/20 count shrimp $6.99 a pound, roasted almonds $2.99 a pound, whole cashews $5.99 a pound, and their own brand of frozen veggies just 99 cents each for one pound bags, among other deals. In their regular sale running through December 21st, chicken breast tenders or spiral-sliced ham (I wonder how it fares on the nitrates/nitrites front) are $1.99 a pound. Chicken sausage is $2.99 a pound, boneless ribeyes are $8.99 a pound, previously frozen wild caught cod is $6.99 a pound, and fresh farm-raised salmon is also $6.99 a pound. Their "Presidential-cut" standing rib roast is $5.99 a pound, with Sunflower countering with rib roasts at $4.97 a pound. Select party trays are 25% off. In organic produce, Fuji apples are just 99 cents a pound, celery is 99 cents a bunch, yellow onions are $2.49 for a three pound bag, and russet potatoes are good at $2.99 for a five pound bag (although today's the last day you can get five pounds for $1.69 at Vitamin Cottage). The big 28 ounce size of Muir Glen organic tomatoes look good at $2 each, and Annie's organic dressings are $3 for eight ounces.

At Sunflower through the 21st, I'm liking quite lean 93% lean grass fed ground beef for $3.97 a pound, ground chicken breast for $3.99 a pound (although Sprouts' sale ending today was better), and organic boneless skinless chicken breasts for $6.99 a pound. They're beating Sprouts' price in the standing rib roast wars, coming in at $4.97 a pound. Organic produce looks good as usual, with butternut squash, yams, and red or yellow onions all 99 cents a pound, broccoli $1.50 a pound, and one pound bags of baby carrots for $1.50 each. Noosa's yummy yoghurt is low at $1.50 for eight ounces, Robinson Dairy's sour cream is $1.50 for a 16 ounce container, bulk parmesan (presumably not from Italy) is $7.99 a pound, and 3 year extra sharp cheddar is $5.99 a pound.

Through the 27th, Whole Foods is trying to tempt me with a couple of my favorites: their Maryland style crab cakes for $9.99 a pound, and their Bakehouse French baguettes at $1.50 each. Organic cauliflower is $1.99 a pound (and the New York Times just published an appealing recipe for curried cauliflower soup), organic yellow onions are 99 cents a pound (same at Sunflower), and organic russets are also 99 cents a pound, if you aren't saving more by buying them by the bag. Their beautiful spiral sliced hams are $4.99 a pound, their own heirloom wheat bread is $2.99 a loaf, Farmhouse Barber's cheddar is $9.99 a pound, and beloved Cotswold cheese is $12.99 a pound (but $10.99 a pound at Alfalfa's).

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

Our local Whole Foods stores will offer us a sextet of special sales tomorrow (at least I assume it's tomorrow - they uncharacteristically don't specify the date, but Wednesday is customary). Here's what they're offering:

The holidays are here! We have 6 amazing products for you to choose from in this week's one-day sale!

Satsuma Mandarin Oranges
(save $1.50/lb)

Diestel Turkeys
(save $1.50/lb)

Wild Caught Maine
Lobster Tails
(save $5/ea)

Clarified Butter
(save $3/ea)

Olli Salumeria
(save $4/ea)

Whole Foods Market™
Pumpkin Pie
(save $4/ea)

Imbibe To Benefit Humane Society

I love the multiple ways that Superior Liquor (in Superior, where else) supports our Boulder Valley Humane Society, and this coming Saturday, the 17th, will represent a high point, with a tasting and bottle signing for its benefit. They're also offering customers an opportunity to donate their "points" to the Society, which will be tripled via two matching donations, a wonderful program. Here's what they say:

As most of you already know, Superior Liquor is deeply committed to supporting the Humane Society of Boulder Valley. We stand in awe of their tireless effort to be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. On Saturday, December 17th from 3-6pm, we will host an in-store tasting of the wines of Loyal Companion and Cru Vin Dogs, a local company that shares our commitment to the Humane Society. For every bottle of Loyal Companion wine sold, they donate 50 cents directly to the Humane Society of Boulder Valley. They also support numerous other animal directed charities nationwide.

Jay Snellgrove, the artist who creates all the labels for Cru Vin Dogs and Loyal Companion, will be here from 3-5pm signing bottles. Can you think of a better gift for the animal lovers on your shopping list? The Humane Society of Boulder Valley will also be here with some adorable, loving animals who are looking for a new best friend.

Don't forget that you may donate your frequent customer points to the Humane Society (or to Community Food Share) and your donation will be matched TWICE, by our friends at Pernod Ricard and Beam, Inc.

Layoffs At Alfalfa's

This is not the kind of news you like to read. Today's Daily Camera is reporting that Alfalfa's is laying off up to 35 workers in its corporate office, citing sales below expectations. You can read the entire article here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday Gifts From/For The Kitchen

Are you burned out after a weekend of commercialized holiday shopping, possibly with nothing even to show for it? Consider the personalized touch of making a gift from your kitchen instead. Whole Foods has a nice Gifts From The Kitchen recipe guide, complete with festive gift tags to go with each idea. Bon Appetit magazine also offers a Gifts From The Kitchen Slideshow. If you'd rather purchase a little something for the foodie on your list, check out the Foodie Stocking Stuffers from Epicurious. Our local Boulder natural grocery stores have also piled up tempting gift displays, or consider something from our wonderful local shops Cured or Peppercorn.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Three Day Heads Up Re Vitamin Cottage

(Or is it four days? If today counts, it's four.) Just a reminder that Vitamin Cottage's very long lasting sale will be coming to an end this Wednesday, the 14th, so if there's anything you still need to grab, time is running short. To me, highlights include the organic Colorado russet potatoes that they are practically giving away at $1.69 for a five pound bag, and my favorite MaraNatha organic no stir peanut butter at $3.49 for a 16 ounce jar. Given what's happened recently to peanut butter prices, that pretty darned good, especially for organic. I'm also a fan of the Lundberg gourmet rice blends that are $2.49 in one pound bags, and Nut-Thins at $1.99 a box. But who knows what Vitamin Cottage's next sale will bring?

Weekday Dinner Ideas

Quickly continuing the dinner planning during this busy time, for tomorrow, I'm wanting to do a pasta that will incorporate some of that asparagus that's just $1.88 a pound at Sunflower, but most recipes that feature it just seem too much like spring or summer. I'm therefore going to do an adaptation of a nicely seasonal dish, adding asparagus to cook in the sauce of pasta with winter squash and tomatoes from the New York Times. Sunflower also has organic tomatoes for $1.99 a pound, and their price on organic winter squash is usually good.

Tuesday will be our customary reheat of something big made over the weekend, which this week is the smoky shrimp and halibut stew from Bon Appetit.

For Wednesday, all the ground meats that are on sale through that day are having me think of what has become the new fave dinner in this house, Thai beef cabbage cups from Cooking Light. It's a version of the Thai or Lao dish laab, and can be made with ground meats other than beef, too. Sprouts has fresh ground chicken, chicken breast or pork all at $2.99 a pound, and at Sunflower, it's ground turkey at that price, so you have quite a choice. Also, I prefer to serve it in organic lettuce leaves rather than the cabbage, and Sunflower has organic red or green leaf lettuce for $1.50 a head.

In the interest of simplicity, Thursday will be what's becoming our end of the week fallback option, sauteed pork chops, and Sprouts has their very good boneless center-cut pork loin chops at $2.99 a pound through Wednesday. The also have pints of Cascade Fresh sour cream for just 99 cents each, to go on top of microwaved "baked" organic potatoes on the side (organic russets are $3.99 for a three pound bag at Sunflower through Wednesday).

Which gets us through a busy week!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Hanukkah Recipe Guides

Looking for some ideas for sprucing up your Hanukkah treats? Check out some of these menu and recipe guides: Hanukkah Recipes, Menus, and Gifts from Epicurious, Bon Appetit's Hanukkah Food, Saveur magazine's Happy Hanukkah, the New York Times' Hanukkah Recipes, and the Hanukkah Recipes Guide from Food and Wine magazine.

Kids' Events At Pearl WFM

I don't usually cover stuff that's specifically for kids at our local natural grocery stores, but since the Pearl Street Whole Foods store is doing not one, but two events for them tomorrow, here you go:

Sunday, December 11th

Healthy Kid's Club
12-2pm FREE

Do your kids like playing with food? Do you want them to eat healthy snacks? Join us for our Christmas Kids Club where you kids get to play with their food and learn about nutrition! No RSVP necessary.

Sunday, December 11th

Crafty Kid's Club with The Makerie
2-5pm FREE

Join Ali from The Makerie for this month’s crafty kid’s club activity- Holiday potato prints! These beautiful prints can be used on gift tags or to create your own wrapping paper- the possibilities are endless! No reservation needed.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Weekend Dinner Ideas

In this busy, busy season, the dinner planning needs to be quick, and the dinners even quicker. For tonight, with ground turkey $2.99 a pound, it will be spicy turkey burgers from Bon Appetit (it gets a rare four forks out of four in its reviews). Sunflower will also be the source of asparagus at $1.88 a pound for the side, and it even has organic cilantro for the burgers at 99 cents a bunch.

For tomorrow, Sprouts' sale on both haddock and shrimp for $3.99 a pound is screaming one thing to me: smoky shrimp and halibut stew from Bon Appetit. Haddock or cod is a perfectly reasonable exchange for the halibut, which I love but think is a waste of a very pricey fish in such a stew. Fresh bread and salad on the side (Sunflower has good prices this week on both organic lettuce and tomatoes), and we're done.

For Sunday, I'm considering experimenting with a recipe that appeared on yesterday's Today Show, boneless roast loin of pork, since Sprouts has center-cut pork loin roast for just $1.99 a pound this week. They also have whole conventional pineapples for 99 cents each, tempting me to saute some slices as a kind of dessert.

So that quickly gets us through the weekend.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Saturday Is Holiday Tasting Day

This Saturday, the 10th, is shaping up to be our Boulder natural foods tasting day for holiday ideas. Here, at a minimum, is what is going on.


Alfa la la la Holiday Tasting Fair
Saturday, Dec. 10th
Alfalfa's Inside and Outside

String the lights, bundle up, and come on down to Alfalfa’s for a bit of holiday cheer. We’re kicking off the season by sampling holiday foods both classic and new. Outside we’ll have piping hot chocolate and snowflake cookies. Inside there will be tastes of everything that makes the holidays, well, the holidays.

Oh, and come a little early if you can. At exactly 11 am, we'll unwrap and reveal Boulder’s newest and biggest citizen — Alfie! Our gift to Boulder, our gift to you.


"Holiday Tasting Fair! 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm. We will be sampling items from our holiday platters and delicious desserts. Yum!"

Whole Foods, Pearl Street

Saturday, December 10th

Holiday Entertaining Tasting
1-4pm FREE

Stop by the store for a taste of the season with our Holiday Entertaining tasting. Each of our teams will be samplilng some delicious dishes to help you plan your holiday meal.

Whole Foods, Superior (they're also doing a holiday kids club event that afternoon)

Saturday, December 10th

Holiday Tasting- Holiday Meals and Sides
3:00pm-6:00pm Free

Join us throughout our store for tasty samples of items from out Holiday menu and more. Let us do the cooking for you.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

This Week's Hot New Deals (IMHO)

We have new sales starting today at our Boulder Alfalfa's, Sprouts, and Sunflower, while current sales continue at Vitamin Cottage and Whole Foods (click those links for prior reports). Here's what's looking good to me in the new deals, in my humble opinion only, of course.

The new sale running through December 20th at Alfalfa's strikes me as having more tempting deals than usual on their fine products, probably to lure in all that holiday food shopping. While there's no way to tell from the ad what size it is, the Alfalfa's housemade yule log cake on the cover for $21.99 each looks spectacular. Bouches de Noel are infamously hard to make, best left to the professionals in my opinion. Their excellent meat and seafood department is also offering some shall we say more sophisticated options, like pheasant or poussin (poussin? - evidently a very young chicken), in addition to the usual suspects (lobsters, too, with pre-order). Returning to the more everyday world, specials in their cheese and deli look especially appealing, with Somerdale Cotswold cheese $10.99 a pound, $4 off (and from the looks of the picture, it appears to be with the chives that I love), and Diestel natural turkey pastrami at $7.99 a pound, $3 off. Organic navel oranges are $1.09 a pound, quite good for organic. In seafood, gulf wild sustainably harvested shrimp are $9.99 a pound, $5 off, and I have great faith in Alfalfa's sustainable commitment. Also, Echo Falls wild Alaskan salmon packages are $2 off at $6.99 each, but I already stocked up at an even better, brief sale at Whole Foods. They have some good deals in the bulk department, with roasted and salted mixed nuts for the holidays at $6.49 a pound, and organic wild rice also $6.49 a pound. Select Mountain high low-fat all-natural yoghurts are stunning at 50 cents each, and some Rudi's organic breads are good at $3.29 a loaf. I haven't tried the Tree of Life brand of gluten-free cookies yet, but they look great at $2.50 a box. To go with them, there are a couple of good beverage deals from their coffee, tea and juice department: any juice is BOGO, and if you buy a bag of Stumptown coffee, you get a free 12 ounce latte.

Things are a little more down to earth at Sprouts through December 14th, where you can find center-cut pork loin roast for just $1.99 a pound, and previously frozen wild caught haddock or 41-50 count ez peel shrimp both for $3.99 a pound. They've brought back their fantastic bulk sale, with 25% off that entire department, including their excellent Fair Trade organic coffee, even in decaf. Chicken sausage is $2.99 a pound, as are center-cut pork loin chops. Also at $2.99 a pound are fresh ground chicken, chicken breast, or pork, and whole or cut up chickens are $1.49 a pound. There are some good deals in organic produce, with red or golden delicious apples or D'Anjou pears all just 99 cents a pound, and organic celery is 99 cents a bunch. For conventional, whole pineapples are stunning at 99 cents each. Cascade Fresh sour cream looks low at 99 cents for 16 ounces, and in these days of soaring peanut butter prices, $3.49 for 16 ounces of local Justin's peanut butter looks great, although Vitamin Cottage also has organic MaraNatha for the same price.

At Sunflower through the 14th, the big temptations are family packs of boneless skinless chicken breasts or conventional asparagus, both at $1.88 a pound. They match Sprouts with chicken sausage for $2.99 a pound, and add another ground meat into Sprouts' mix, with ground turkey at $2.99 a pound. Since their fresh turkey meatloaf is on sale at $2.99, I wonder if they'll have their great turkey meatballs (or if I'd make the equivalent by rolling their meatloaf). Beef stew meat is okay at $4.99 a pound, and boneless rib eye steaks look good at $8.99 a pound. There are good deals in organic produce as usual, with bunched chard, spinach, or green top carrots all at $1.50 each, hothouse tomatoes for $1.99 a pound, cilantro, green onions, and Hass avocados all 99 cents each, red or green leaf lettuce $1.50 a head, and three pound bags of russets for $3.99 each. Select Stonyfield organic yogurts are 79 cents each, and Cascadian Farm frozen veggies look good at $2 for the one pound bags. Finally, if you don't already have a stock of Muir Glen organic pasta sauces in your kitchen, go for it at $2.50 a jar.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

For tomorrow only, the 7th (an infamous day in history), our local Whole Foods stores will offer us a quintet of special sales. Here's what they say:

One-Day Sale
Tomorrow's one-day sale items. 5 to choose from!

Country Natural Beef
Sirloin Tip Roast
$3.99/lb (save $3/lb)

South of France
French Milled Soaps
8.8 oz.
$2.99/ea (save $3/ea)

South of France
Liquid Soap
12 oz.
$2.99/ea (save $4/ea)

Whole Trade™
Holiday Arrangement
with vase
$12.99/ea (save $7/ea)

Golden King Crab Legs
$14.99/lb (save $9/lb)

"Italian America" in Saveur

Saveur magazine always has thought-provoking, illuminating articles, and the feature one in the current December issue is no exception. "Italian America" engagingly relates the evolution of Italian food on this side of the ocean. No wonder it's well done, as the main component of it is written by John Mariani, author of How Italian Food Conquered the World. Unfortunately, I don't see it online in this issue at Saveur, probably because it is the feature and they can't give just everything away. A sidebar headed "Classic Combo" extols the virtues of sausage and peppers, giving me background on why that's in my menu plan for Thursday, having grown up in a rather Italian area in southern New England.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hanukkah Tasting This Thursday

This Thursday, the 8th, the Pearl Street Whole Foods will offer Hanukkah ideas with tastings throughout the store from 4 to 6:30. Here's what they say:

Thursday, December 8th

Hanukkah Tasting
4-6:30pm FREE

Stop by the store for a taste of the Holidays with our Hanukkah tasting. Each of our teams will be sampling some delicious dishes to help you plan your holiday meal.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Weekday Dinner Ideas

With more snow expected to start this evening, on top of all that has already recently fallen in Boulder, it's time to get the rest of the week's dinners organized. I checked out the quite large 16/25 count "broken" shrimp that Sunflower has for $5.97 a pound, and they looked handsomely intact, which suggests to me the nicey seasonal butternut squash risotto with shrimp from Bon Appetit for tomorrow. Although I'll be pretty tired of it by March, I'm still in my pre-winter butternut nesting phase, can't get enough of it. Organic butternut is 99 cents a pound at Sunflower, and since it gets peeled, an even cheaper conventional might be a possibility.

Tuesday will be our customary reheat of something big made over the weekend, which this week will be the cod, potato, and fennel casserole from Gourmet magazine. A comfort veggie like sauteed chard will go on the side.

We'll want some pasta on the menu by Wednesday, and looking back to those shrimp from Sunflower and wanting something quick and easy, it will be spicy shrimp and fettucine from Cooking Light. Rather than using plum tomatoes, I'll check out the organic hothouse tomatoes that Sunflower has for $1.99 a pound through that day.

I'll pick up some of the sale chicken sausage at Sprouts by Wednesday (although chicken sausage is always cheap anyway), to feature it in a quick dinner for Thursday, chicken sausage and polenta. I'll wing it, sauteing the sausage with some bell pepper and quality jarred pasta sauce, and making the easy polenta in a three to one ratio of liquid to polenta, with a bit of parmesan added at the end. If you want to complicate your life by following a recipe, mushroom and sausage ragu with polenta from Cooking Light is a good one.

And that will get us through a cold week with more snow on the way. Stay warm.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Supper Club At Pearl Whole Foods

The Pearl Street Whole Foods will offer a four course Health Starts Here Supper Club this coming Thursday, all for $20. Here's what they say:

Thursday, December 8th

Health Starts Here Supper Club
6:30pm $20 per person, plus tax

Have you wondered if healthy food can really taste good? Join us for a Holiday 4 course meal centered around our 4 Pillars of Healthy Eating and we'll prove to you that it can! Space is limited, so please RSVP to or visit our customer service desk.

Holiday Tasting At Sunflower

According to the Boulder Sunflower calendar, from noon to 2 pm today, they'll be offering "Cheers to the holidays," for which they say, "While you are shopping, stop by for a special treat!"

Friday, December 2, 2011

Flatbread Cooking Class At Alfalfa's

Tomorrow from 1 to 3 pm, Alfalfa's will show you how to make pizzas using Udi's Italian flatbread. Plus, don't forget that they have free wine tastings in their Cellar from 5 to 7 pm every Friday, which is today (tonight will be dessert wines). Here's what they say about tomorrow:

Learn to Cook with Udi’s Italian Flatbread
Saturday, Dec. 3rd
Alfalfa's Pizza Oven
1-3 pm

Join us as 3rd and 4th generation artisan bakers from Italy, Maurizio Negrini of Udi's and his son Amedeo, teach you how to make 3 tasty pizzas using Udi's Italian Flatbread. You'll learn how to make:
• Prosciutto & Burrata pizza
• Prosciutto Pesto pizza
• Oven Roasted Peppers pizza

Weekender Sale At Whole Foods

For today through Sunday only, our local Whole Foods stores will be offering Celestial Seasonings' Kombucha Energy Shots for $1.99 each, nearly half price. I haven't tried them, but they sound like quite the interesting natural energy boost for this busy season.

Weekender Sale

Stay vibrant and focused with all-natural Kombucha Energy Shots from Celestial Seasonings. With the naturally revitalizing effects of live, raw Kombucha and the energizing boost of caffeine from guarana, plus B-vitamins and ginseng, you just shake and shoot – then feel the energy! Sale price valid Dec 2 - 4.

$1.99/ea (save $1.70/ea)

Weekend Dinner Ideas

After a week of turkey leftovers, in thinking about what to have for dinner this coming week, I seem to have fish and beef on the brain, basically anything but poultry. For tonight, I'm intrigued by the farm-raised salmon that Sprouts has for just $4.99 a pound. I usually don't bother with farm-raised, but if it looks good, there's a recipe from last month's Bon Appetit that I've really been wanting to try: pan-seared salmon with pumpkin seed-cilantro pesto. If I decide against the farm-raised, an alternative would be the presumably previously frozen wild Alaskan sockeye that Whole Foods has on sale for $12.99 a pound. One of Lundberg's beautiful rice blends, like their exotic black Japonica mix, will go on the side.

For tomorrow, while in poultry rebellion, beef will be what's for dinner. To still keep it on the lighter side, we'll try a new recipe from last month's Cooking Light, sesame beef stir-fry. Sunflower has stir fry beef on sale for $4.99 a pound, but I've also found these recipes work perfectly well with regular stew beef. Since we're having rice tonight, the stir-fry will go on top of buckwheat sobas tomorrow.

For Sunday, we still need to make something big that will also serve as a midweek reheat, and with cod $7.99 a pound at Sprouts, I'm thinking it will be cod, potato, and fennel casserole from Gourmet magazine. The reviews of this are a riot; people either absolutely love it or detest it. I'm in the love camp. One reviewer said it works well with sweet potatoes, which I think I'll try (what an antioxidant boost!). The alternative would be organic russets, which Vitamin Cottage is practically giving away at $1.69 for a five pound bag.

And that will be plenty of non-poultry comfort food for our first weekend of December, which looks to be very chilly and maybe a little snowy.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Boulder Farmers' Holiday Market This Weekend

This weekend will be the grand finale of the Boulder Farmers' Market season, with their special two-day holiday market out in Longmont. With chilly temperatures and possibly a little snow, note you will be doing your shopping in the comfort of being indoors for a change, as it will be held at the Boulder County Fairgrounds Exhibit Building. It's a chance to add unique gifts to your holiday shopping, as well as picking up some wonderful local food. Here's just a part of what they say:

The Boulder County Farmers' Markets 6th Annual Winter Market Is This Weekend!

The 2011 Winter Market is open Saturday and Sunday from
9am - 3pm.

Please join us for our final and largest market of the year - two full days in celebration of another fabulous season bringing together people who value and support local products.

Many of the farmers, ranchers, and food artisans from our Boulder and Longmont Farmers' Markets have everything you need for a FRESH & LOCAL holiday season... tender greens, vine-ripened tomatoes, fall produce, Colorado-raised beef, poultry, lamb, pork, award winning cheeses, eggs, apples, cider, preserves, baked goods, honey, Colorado wines, and much, much more.

This is also our best and biggest fine art and fine craft fair of the year, featuring over 40 Colorado artists. You will find everything from unique stocking-stuffers to one-of-a-kind museum quality gift items.

Olive Oil Class At Alfalfa's

Alfalfa's will be doing an Olive Oil Connoisseur Class this coming Tuesday, December 6th, from 6:30 to 8 pm. The $5 price includes a bottle of one of their wonderful oils (I'm especially partial to their Tuscan herb). A friend attended their prior olive oil class and found it well worth the time. Here's what Alfalfa's says:

Olive Oil Connoisseur Class
Tuesday, Dec. 6th
Community Room
$5 per person

Neil's olive oil tasting party will walk you through the olive oil creation process, inspire you with olive oil uses, and share party tips & recipes. We will all eat cake (made with olive oil) and you will walk away a connoisseur with one FREE bottle of Alfalfa's fresh exclusive olive oils.

Seats are limited, so please pay at Guest Services to reserve your seat

• face to face

• give ‘em a ring at 720.420.8400

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

For tomorrow only, the 2nd (happy December on this snowy day!), our local Whole Foods stores will be offering five pound boxes of satsumas for $4.99 each, and even cheaper by the case. As well as being something to enjoy yourself, these would make lovely hostess gifts, office munchies, etc. The gift of fruit is a welcome alternative in this season of overindulgence. Here's what they say:

One-Day Sale 12/2

No One Day Sale this Wednesday. Instead, join us this Friday 12/02 for our Satsuma Gift Box sale. Satsuma Mandarins are sweet, juicy and the easiest citrus to peel. Don't miss this opportunity to stock up on quite possibly the best piece of fruit in our stores right now!

$4.99/5 lb box (save $3/ea)

Buy 4 and save more: $15.99/case

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Another Whole Foods Cooking Class

Told ya. The Pearl Street Whole Foods' French wine and cooking class on December 15th that I suggested jumping on immediately yesterday is now sold out. But you have another opportunity for fun, as they'll be doing a Naughty and Nice cooking class on the 20th that currently has 13 tickets available. Those can disappear in 24 hours, as we saw yesterday with the wine class, so consider moving quickly if interested. Here's what they say:

Tuesday, December 20th

Naughty and Nice Cooking Class
6-7:30pm $10 per person

Join Cooking Coach, Beth and Healthy Eating Specialist, Sarah for a night of traditional and healthy alternative Holiday recipes. Class will be held in Whole Foods Wine and Spirits, cost is $10 per guest. Sign up via this link:

Free High Tea Party At Alfalfa's

This afternoon, Alfalfa's will host a free high tea party, where you can nibble on samples of the high tea dainties while getting ideas on how to do your own. Just don't forget to keep that pinkie extended while sipping your tea. Here's what they say:

High Tea with Heidi
Wednesday, Nov. 30th
Demo Kitchen

Come join us for a relaxing afternoon tea party. We’ll be serving up dainty foods like cucumber cups, sconelettes, salmon and cream cheese bagels and more. We’ll also give you all our secret recipes so you can host a high tea party of your own.

This Week's Hot New Deals (IMHO)

We have new sales starting today at our Boulder Sprouts, Sunflower, and Whole Foods, while current sales continue at Alfalfa's and Vitamin Cottage (click those links to see the prior reports). Here's what strikes me in the new sales, IMHO, as always.

At Sprouts' sale through December 7th, the stunner for me is fresh, farm-raised Atlantic salmon for just $4.99 a pound. I go crazy eating salmon during the fresh, wild season, then pretty much ignore it across the winter, but at that price, I'll check out the farm-raised. All chicken sausage is $2.99 a pound (pork, too, same at Sunflower for that), previously frozen wild Alaskan cod filets are $7.99 a pound, and 26/30 count peeled and deveined raw shrimp are also $7.99 a pound (if you want to peel your own, Sunflower has a better deal on even bigger ones). Their ad this week doesn't have much info about organic produce, but organic Italian squash (think zucchini) looks great at 99 cents a pound, as do organic honeycrisp apples for $1.69 a pound. Also, Muir Glen organic pasta sauce looks very good at $2.50 a jar.

Sunflower's sale through December 7th includes both conventional and organic Hass avocados for just 50 cents each, a rarity for the organics. Raw jumbo Gulf shrimp ("broken," so presumably not perfectly intact) are $5.97 a pound for the very large 16/25 count size. Organic produce looks good as usual, in addition to the avocados already mentioned, with several types of winter squash (the usual suspects) or red potatoes all at 99 cents a pound, hothouse tomatoes for $1.99 a pound, sweet onions at $1.99 for a two pound bag, one pound bags of baby carrots or bunched carrots at $1.50, and several types of apples and pears all $1.77 a pound. If you have the patience to deal with an organic pomegranate, they're $1.50 each. Half gallons of Horizon organic milk are quite low at $2.50 each, and yummy Tribe hummus is very good at $2.99 for eight ounces.

At Whole Foods through December 13th, their fine wild Alaskan sockeye salmon is $12.99 a pound (I'm assuming that's previously frozen), and organic D'Anjou pears are low at $1.49 a pound. Frontier spices are 20% off, and to further your holiday baking, pecan halves are $9.99 a pound, a whopping $6 off. Yummy Ford Farm Seaside cheddar is good at $8.99 a pound, and they have great deals on two of my favorites: their own Seeduction bread at $2.50 a loaf, and their own large cinque formaggio pizza for $7.99 each. I don't eat conventional blackberries, but if you're in the market for them, I'd skip the Whole Foods sale price of $2.50 for a 5.6 ounce package (since organic isn't specified, I'm assuming they're conventional), and go to either Sprouts or Sunflower, where they're 77 cents each.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ben & Jerry's Benefits Humane Society Tonight

Here's an excuse to indulge: the Pearl Street Ben & Jerry's will be donating 30% of proceeds to the beloved Boulder Valley Humane Society from 6 to 8 tonight. Here's what the Humane Society says:

Humane Society of Boulder Valley

Treat yourself tonight and help our animals at the same time! Stop by Ben & Jerry's - Boulder on the Pearl Street Mall between 6-8 p.m. and have a cone or dish of deliciousness, and they'll give 30% of proceeds to us.

Wine/Cooking Class At Whole Foods

The Pearl Street Whole Foods store will host a combo French wine and cooking class on December 15th at their wine and spirits store next door. These classes are incredibly popular and space is very limited, so if you want in, I'd suggest jumping on it immediately. Here's what they say:

Thursday, December 15th

Wines Around the World Cooking Class
6-7:30pm $10 per person

Come join Cooking Coach Beth and Wine Specialist Ben for the third monthly class series: Wines Around the World. The next stop is France. Beth will demonstrate a few classic dishes and how to prepare them, while Ben will be discussing and pouring some French wines that pair perfectly. Come taste and learn at our Wines and Spirits store. Cost is $10 per guest and space is limited.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Weekday Dinner Ideas

Following so much cooking and feasting for Thanksgiving and beyond, all I'm looking for is some simplicity and lightness for our midweek plans. That will start with tonight, when we'll do our customary reheat of something big made over the weekend, which in this case is the lovely sweet potato and butternut squash soup, a "Recipe for Health" from the New York Times.

Tomorrow will be a total cheat, since I want one of Whole Foods' large pepperoni pizzas that are on sale for $8.99 each, and tomorrow will be the last day to get it at that price ($3 off). Salad with my homemade buttermilk dressing will ease the guilt.

Wednesday will be last call for what little is left of the turkey, and it will be a green chile, turkey and white bean soup that unfortunately doesn't seem to be online, coming from an old issue of the newspaper in Taos, NM. Given that it includes roasted chiles and chipotle, longtime readers (thank you!) can imagine my enthusiasm for such a way to finish off the turkey.

Thursday again will reflect simplicity. My current five pound bag of organic russet potatoes from Vitamin Cottage (only $1.69 for the bag!) has the rare occurrence of some very large baking potatoes in it, which suggests to me stuffed baked potatoes. This is something that can be completely improvised, with my favorite base additions being Straus plain European yogurt, scallions or shallots, fresh parsley, and a bit of grated cheese. A touch of diced Black Forest ham or smoked salmon adds considerable interest.

And that gets us through a very simple weekday plan following a few Thanksgiving excesses.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Post-Thanksgiving Sale At Whole Foods

I'm a little late to this party, since Whole Foods didn't send an email about it and I haven't needed groceries for days, but I just discovered that Whole Foods is doing a three day After Thanksgiving sale, of which today is the last day. Highlights to me include Ducktrap Kendall Brook cold smoked salmon $4.99 a package ($4 off), 85% lean ground beef $2.99 a pound ($2 off), Market Made fresh hot breakfast burritos half off at $1.99 each, and Greenlees cinnamon bread $4.99 a loaf (it's so good). I was at the Pearl Street store, but the flyer I picked up doesn't mention location, so maybe it's everywhere.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Shop Small, Shop Local

So today is Shop Small Saturday is support of local businesses, much more to my liking than any Black Friday madness. From a food point of view, I guess that could mean supporting our local farmers and food shops, something that's a good idea year round. It's ironic that Shop Small Saturday falls on the first Saturday without our Boulder Farmers' Market, but you can still look for local farms in our stores, or head out to the Cure Organic Farm store, which should still be open this weekend, according to their website. Shop local!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Weekend Dinner Ideas

Sales on organic and natural meats and produce usually motivate my menu planning, but with a fridge full of Thanksgiving leftovers, this weekend I'm thinking about two things: finishing them off, and escaping from them. After yesterday's excesses and turkey sandwiches on deck for lunch today, we'll start our dinners for the weekend by getting away from the whole turkey thing. We'll keep it seasonal and lighten up from yesterday with a lovely, vegetarian soup, sweet potato and butternut squash soup. A "Recipe for Health" from the New York Times, it will be the perfect antidote to yesterday.

But then there's still that fridge full of turkey, dressing, gravy, and assorted veggie leftovers, so Saturday will be round two of Thanksgiving dinner, minus the wine, and approached with a more abstemious attitude.

By Sunday, I'll be looking for ways to transform that turkey, and I'm currently considering Asian turkey-noodle soup with ginger and chiles from Bon Appetit. The light approach and Asian spin will take it miles away from the Thanksgiving plates.

So that quickly gets us through the weekend, probably with more turkey yet to finish off.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Best Thanksgiving Wishes

As holidays go, one devoted to being thankful and to cooking has to be right at the top. My best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving, with great food and hopefully no culinary disasters (or at least fodder for a good laugh), and lots for which you are thankful.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

This Week's Hot Deals (IMHO)

This week's hot deals are actually also last week's hot deals, as our natural Boulder grocery stores are coasting through Thanksgiving with the specials they already have in place. So all the specials I reported on last week will still be good through next week's ads, at the earliest, with the exception of Sprouts. Sprouts' current sale runs through Thanksgiving tomorrow, at which point they enter some sort of sale void, with a note on their website to "stay tuned for 11/30 specials."

By the way, if you find yourself in some sort of ingredient crisis tomorrow, most of the stores are offering some hours open on Thanksgiving day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Eve Sale At Whole Foods

Despite the crush of business that will be happening tomorrow, our local Whole Foods stores will still manage to offer us a one-day sale for Wednesday, as usual. To help with your Thanksgiving entertaining plans, this one will be a seafood trio at nearly half price. Here's what they say.

Entertaining this Thanksgiving? Well, excite your guests with our show-stopping seafood trios, perfect for celebrating with others! Five flavors to choose from: Hot Mild Shrimp Trio, Southwest Shrimp Trio, Mild Shrimp Trio, Cocktail Shrimp Trio and Arancini Platter. Flavors worth sharing, free of preservatives or additives!

Market Made
Entertaining Trios
$9.99/ea (save $8/ea)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Community Food Share Needs Your Help

Perhaps a sign of the horrid economy, with the need for food way up, donations to Community Food Share's Let's Bag Hunger drive, which runs through Wednesday, are way down. Cmon guys, let's get going. You think you're a smart shopper? See how much bang for the buck you can find on behalf of Community Food Share. The receipt for my donation at Safeway shows me I saved $13.81, which was 29% of my purchase for them. Who can beat me in smarter shopping for Community Food Share? Come on, I challenge you!

Thanksgiving Dinner Plans

Since it's already Monday, we're at the point of having to make a commitment regarding the Thanksgiving menu. The mains are sacrosanct, absolutely unchangeable. There will be a fine turkey, with gravy and a dressing made with rustic white bread, a bit of onion and mushrooms, and lots of Bell's Seasoning, a natural herb blend that has been made in Massachusetts since the beginning of time (actually, since 1867). I used to depend on the kindness of relatives in New England to mail it to me, but now you can buy it off the shelves of the Pearl Street Whole Foods. The organic potatoes from Vitamin Cottage will be mashed, to best pool that gravy on top of, and possibly dressed up a bit with some organic chives from the Sunflower sale. The cranberry sauce will be homemade, again from the organic sale at Sunflower (there's nothing quicker and more fun than popping those cranberries in a pan).

Those are the traditional dishes at the center of the meal, and for the sides, I do like to play around. I've been lightening them up as years go by, and this year, since we have yams just about every week anyway, I'm going radical and skipping the yams entirely, opting for lighter veggies instead. One side will be a roasted beet salad recipe from a friend, served on endive with some toasted pecans. We'll also do a Swiss chard gratin from Whole Foods (it dresses up a favorite veggie with a light white sauce and a bit of Comte, one of my favorite cheeses). The third side is the one I'm still waffling about, kale and Brussels sprout salad from the current issue of Bon Appetit. With raw kale and Brussels sprouts, it might be just a bit too healthy, even for me. Maybe we'll just steam some Brussels sprouts instead. Dessert's not a big item in our house, but there might just have to be some pumpkin pie available, too.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Weekday Dinner Plans, Minus Thanksgiving

This is a monumentally big week for planning dinners. I have through Wednesday figured out, while I'm still finessing the Thanksgiving details. With Thanksgiving looming, my planning is being colored by a desire for lighter fare without poultry, in addition to the usual seasonality and good organic deals, which means the pressure is on. Tomorrow will therefore be Thai beef cabbage cups from last month's issue of Cooking Light. Sprouts has ground beef at 30% off, and Sunflower is doing a sale too. Served on cabbage or even lettuce cups, this dish meets all my criteria for the week, and it was a huge hit with the family when I first tried it last month. It's the best recipe I've encountered yet for the dish I've long extolled as laab, larb, or laap.

We always have something big made over the weekend that serves as an easy midweek reheat, and this week it will be the black bean chili with butternut squash and Swiss chard from Bon Appetit. It's seasonal, vegetarian (aside from my opting for chicken stock), and just plain yummy.

There hasn't been any pasta on the menu yet for the week, so for Wednesday, we'll turn back to Sprouts' $1.27 a pound asparagus on the last day of that sale to do a veggie-laden pasta dish, fettucine with peas, asparagus, and pancetta from Bon Appetit. It just has a touch of pancetta for flavor, and I'd normally omit the cream from something like this, but the CBS morning show just did a feature on fat being good for us, so maybe it will stay in, woohoo!

Which gets us to Thanksgiving day, which is nearly figured out, more to come.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Get Thee To The Boulder Farmers' Market

Because it's the very last one in downtown Boulder for 2011. (There will be a special holiday market in Longmont on December 3rd and 4th.) For this weekend before Thanksgiving, you'll even find two local turkey farmers to serve you. As for the farm-fresh produce, here's what you can expect to find this fine fall morning, with its tiny dusting of snow.

Now At the Market
Braising Mix, Chard, Kale, Lettuce Mix, Salad Mix, Spinach, Tatsoi

Catnip, Cilantro, Mint, Parsley, Sage

Beets, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Burdock Root, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Fingerling Potatoes, Garlic, Horseradish, Leeks, Mini-English Cucumbers, Mushrooms, Onions, Parsnips, Pepper, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Radish, Scallions, Sunchokes, Sweet Potatoes, Turnips, Winter Squash

Green, Slicing

Apples, Pears

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tomorrow's Thanksgiving Tasting Lineup

On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, our Boulder natural grocery stores are pulling out the stops to lure your purchases. Here's, at a minimum, what will be available tomorrow.


11 am - 3 pm. "Join us for a country kitchen holiday brunch! Enjoy a taste of our holiday meals -- from turkey to potatoes, cranberries to pumpkin pie. Savor the flavors of the holidays!"


11 am - 1 pm. "Stop by to sample something right out of our weekly sales flyer!"

Pearl Street Whole Foods

"Saturday, November 19th

Holiday Tasting- Thanksgiving Main Dishes
1-4pm FREE

Stop by the store for a taste of some of our delicious Holiday main dish offerings. It's never too early to start planning the perfect Holiday meal!"

Superior Whole Foods

"Saturday, November 19th

Holiday Tasting- Holiday Side Dishes
3:00pm-6:00pm Free

Turkey is a Thanksgiving favorite! Join us and enjoy samples of Holiday menu sides that will enhance your Thanksgiving meal!"

Wow, that's a lot of tasting!

Truly Natural Turkey

I've previously alluded many times to the variables involved in "natural" meats, a very confusing and slippery area. Alfalfa's meat manager has this very good post outlining what you should see on the label if you want your turkey to be truly natural. You'll find such fine birds at some other stores, in addition to Alfalfa's, but the post gives you excellent information about what to look for.

Weekend Dinner Ideas

As we count our way to Thanksgiving, we still need to eat our way across the weekend, although lightening up even more than usual before the big feast is already coloring my plans. For tonight, chicken will make its last appearance on our table for the week, and in the form of chicken sausage, rather than the boneless, skinless breasts that are on sale for super-cheap at both Sprouts and Sunflower. (Sprouts has the chicken sausage on sale, too.) The star of the meal however will be polenta, which we haven't had in awhile. My favorite recipe for it is baked polenta with fontina and tomato sauce from Bon Appetit. Neither Bon Appetit nor Epicurious managed to get it onto their websites, but Simply Recipes has replicated it as polenta casserole (duly giving credit to Bon Appetit, good guys). Trust me, life is much easier when using an excellent jarred pasta sauce, rather than making the sauce from scratch. With the oven running, some of the $1.27 a pound asparagus from Sprouts will roast on the side.

We always make something big over the weekend to serve as an easy midweek reheat too, and with Thanksgiving looming, for tomorrow we'll opt for a vegetarian fall favorite, black bean chili with butternut squash and Swiss chard from Bon Appetit. The veggies might come from our final Boulder Farmers' Market tomorrow (sniff), although you'll find good prices on organic butternut at our local stores, too. With some fresh bread and salad with my homemade buttermilk dressing, its a comfort meal from heaven.

We need to fit in some fish somewhere, so for Sunday, I'm thinking it will be salmon, mustard greens, and potatoes with mustard-dill glaze, also from Bon Appetit. Instead of using baby potatoes, I'll chop some from my stock of organic russets that Vitamin Cottage is practically giving away at $1.69 for a five pound bag. I'm not sure where the salmon will come from - possibly the farmed Atlantic salmon that's $6.99 a pound at Sprouts. I might make a little extra glaze, and toss it with more of that sale asparagus from Sprouts, too.

And that will get us through to the weekday plans, although it's one heck of a week when it includes Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving Recipe Guides

Like a lot of people, my Thanksgiving table tends towards traditional, with the turkey, dressing, and gravy being sacred unchangeable recipes. I do experiment with the sides, increasingly lightening them, and this year am looking forward to trying a beet salad recipe from a friend. If you're looking for some ideas for those parts of the feast you're willing to play with, there are a number of Thanksgiving guides to help you out. Check out Bon Appetit's 2011 Thanksgiving HQ, Thanksgiving recipes from Epicurious, Cooking Light's Magnificent Thanksgiving Menus, Saveur magazine's Thanksgiving guide, and Thanksgiving Menu Ideas from Whole Foods. There must be something perfect for your table within them.

Thanksgiving Tasting At Pearl WFM

The Pearl Street Whole Foods will switch its focus to main dishes for Thanksgiving for its next tastings, today and Saturday. (The Superior store will also offer a tasting of sides on Saturday from 3 to 6.) Here's what Pearl Street says:

Thursday, November 17th

Holiday Tasting- Thanksgiving Main Dishes
4-6:30pm FREE

Stop by the store for a taste of some of our delicious Holiday main dish offerings. It's never too early to start planning the perfect Holiday meal!

Saturday, November 19th

Holiday Tasting- Thanksgiving Main Dishes
1-4pm FREE

Stop by the store for a taste of some of our delicious Holiday main dish offerings. It's never too early to start planning the perfect Holiday meal!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

This Week's Hot New Deals (IMHO)

Okay friends, this is it, the grocery shopping week that leads to Thanksgiving. We have new sales starting today at Alfalfa's, Sprouts, Sunflower, and Whole Foods, with only Vitamin Cottage continuing its current sale (thank you, Vitamin Cottage!), so there's a lot to cover. Here's what looks best to me of the new sales, IMHO, as always.

Alfalfa's new sale runs through December 6th, and I can see from their ad that they are matching Whole Foods' price on Diestel fresh all-natural turkeys at $2.49 a pound. To go with that, they have some good produce deals, including organic cranberries at $2.99 for 7.5 ounces (that's good, but Sunflower has a stunner at $2 this week), organic garnet yams for $1.29 a pound (same at Sprouts, but Sunflower beats both at 99 cents a pound), and five pound bags of organic russet potatoes for $2.29 each (a very good price indeed, but still outdone by Vitamin Cottage at the giveaway price of $1.69 a bag). I bet their homemade whole pumpkin pie is great at $9.99 each (apple for the same price at Whole Foods, but my vote goes to pumpkin this week). My favorite Lundberg rice blends are good at $2.79 for a one pound bag (but it looks like Sunflower has them for $2.50), and while I haven't yet tried the Oliv brand, $2.50 is a great price for an eight ounce bottle of organic salad dressing. Finally, bring a friend with you, since smoothies at their juice bar are BOGO.

At Sprouts through the 24th (they're taking this sale through Thanksgiving day), I'm particularly enthused about fresh asparagus for $1.27 a pound (it's conventional, but asparagus very often is). I'm also really happy to see all their bulk coffee, which I love because it includes a fair trade, organic decaf, on sale for just $7.99 a pound. In meat, boneless skinless chicken breasts are very good at $1.67 a pound (same at Sunflower) for value packs, but I'll mostly shy away from poultry prior to t-day, with the possible exception of chicken sausage, which is $2.99 a pound for Italian or parmesan. Several kinds of ground meats are 30% off, fresh farmed Atlantic salmon is $6.99 a pound, and boneless ribeyes are $9.99 a pound (but $8.99 a pound at Sunflower). Good deals in organic produce include grape tomatoes at $2.50 for a dry pint, Fuji or red delicious apples, and D'Anjou pears at $1.29 a pound, garnet yams for $1.29 a pound (same at Alfalfa's, but 99 cents at Sunflower), and three pound bags of yellow onions for $2.49. Also, the convenient, smaller 15ish ounce size can of Muir Glen organic tomatoes is quite good at $1.25 each, beating Sunflower's $1.50 sale, and Cascade Fresh sour cream is very good at just 99 cents for 16 ounces.

At Sunflower through the 30th, boneless skinless chicken breasts match Sprouts' price at an excellent $1.67 a pound for a family pack, if you really, really want more poultry this week. Cooked shrimp (smallish 41/50 count, even though they are called "large") are good at $4.97 a pound, their nice pork loin chops are $3.99 a pound, and boneless ribeyes are $8.99 a pound, beating Sprouts by $1 there. The stellar prices are in organic produce, where I'm going for fresh cranberries at just $2 for a 7.5 ounce bag, garnet or jewel yams and yellow or red onions all at 99 cents a pound, baby carrots at $1.50 a one pound bag, and 13 varieties or fresh herbs at just $1.50 a package, wow. Select Lundberg rice one pound packages are $2.50, and there are good prices on Horizon Organic butter, half and half, and cream cheese.

At Whole Foods through the 29th, organic acorn or butternut squash are good at $1 a pound, organic yellow onions are 99 cents a pound (matching Sunflower), and organic russet potatoes are also 99 cents a pound (but you'll do better buying the russets by the bag at Alfalfa's and especially at Vitamin Cottage). I will definitely jump on their excellent Market Made smoked salmon spread for $9.99 a pound, $4 off. Their own, festive and seasonal cranberry walnut bread is $2.99 a loaf. Laughing Cow Babybels are half off at $2.50, and their great, large pepperoni pizza makes an easy dinner at $8.99 each. Finally, Desert Essence Organics shampoo, conditioner, or lotion are stunning at $3.99 each, $5 off.

For turkey prices, don't forget my previously posted natural turkey price comparison.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

For tomorrow only, the 16th, our local Whole Foods stores will offer us a quintet of special sales. Happy shopping!

2 for $3 (save $0.99/ea)

Cooked Shrimp 31/40
$9.99/lb (save $4/lb)

Pamela's Pancake Mix
$8.99/ea (save $6/ea)

$4.99/lb (save $3/lb)

Crave Brothers Mascarpone
2 for $5 (save $2.49/ea)

Alfalfa's Talks Good Sleep Tomorrow

Are you having trouble sleeping through the night? Alfalfa's may offer some help tomorrow with a good sleep lecture (that maybe you could sleep through). Here's what they say:

50 Ways To Get Great Sleep Lecture
Wednesday, Nov. 16th
Community Room
Wednesday, Nov. 16th

Trouble falling asleep? Not sleeping through the night? Whatever your sleep dilemna, our Wellness Manger Elizabeth will open your eyes to 50 strategies that will help you close ‘em. From blackout curtains and supplements to stress relievers and foot moisturizers, we’ll show you how to optimize your nightly rest and lay the foundation for all-day energy.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Community Food Share Needs Your Help

Community Food Share's annual Let's Bag Hunger food drive is underway through the 23rd, and this worthy organization really deserves your support, especially in these tough times for so many people. So you think you're a smart shopper? Put it to the test! Show off your smart grocery shopping savvy by seeing how much bang for the buck you can find in assembling a large donation for the drive (look here for a list of most-needed groceries). Although I shop our Boulder natural grocery stores when buying for myself, that's because almost all those goods are fresh, from the produce, meat, and seafood departments. Since Community Food Share needs non-perishable items instead, I find it more cost-effective to break out my commercial grocery store cards for my donation, combing the aisles of Safeway or King Soopers for BOGOs and good discounts on canned goods and the like. The Safeway store at the Meadows Shopping Center has been known to put out some special deals during the drive just to entice more giving. A couple of years ago, they were practically giving away Del Monte canned goods, at something like 30 cents a can. And if you've procrastinated on getting your flu shot this year, you can get it at their pharmacy, then receive a voucher for 10% off your food purchase within the week, thereby stretching your savvy shopping power even further. So please put on your smart shopping hat and see how much nutritious, non-perishable food you can assemble for Community Food Share!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weekday Dinner Ideas

By Sundays, I get our dinners planned out through Thursday, but this week is especially easy, since it includes not only our customary reheat one night, but I'm also reserving one night to head out for First Bite Boulder. I don't yet know which night it will be (which is probably pretty stupid, considering how popular and crowded it is), but that leaves only two dinners to plan, plus the reheat.

With organic leeks theoretically on sale at Sunflower for $1.99 a pound (they were out of stock yesterday), I still have leeks on the mind for a pasta dish, linguine with spicy leek and tomato sauce from Bon Appetit. The fennel seeds and dash of vinegar give it a special touch.

Another dish that will be on deck will be five spice pork stir-fry with soba noodles, also from Bon Appetit, slicing the nice, lean boneless pork chops that are on sale at Sprouts for $2.99 a pound. This is also good served over brown rice, but the soba noodles have the whole grain goodness of buckwheat too, and they cook in a flash.

Finally, the third dinner, whenever that will fall, will be our usual reheat of something big made over the weekend, which in this case is the leek and potato chowder from my faithful old cookbook, Jane Brody's Good Food Book. Since there's no link for that, this one from Cooking Light looks pretty good too.

So with a First Bite Boulder somewhere in the mix, that gets us to next Friday's planning.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Boulder Natural Turkey Price Comparison

Thinking about where your fresh natural turkey will come from this Thanksgiving? Here are a few observations, bearing in mind that they're only from the stores I get to most frequently, and even these stores might have additional options I haven't seen. Also keep in mind the many variables involved in "natural." Stores listed in alphabetical order, as always.


Diestel all-natural fresh turkey, $2.49 a pound (heritage turkeys also available).


Fresh Sprouts free-range turkey $1.49 a pound.


Fresh all natural turkey $1.47 a pound.

Vitamin Cottage

Several options, all "deep chilled, free range, antibiotic free, no hormones, $5 deposit required":
Mary's, $1.99 a pound
Shelton's, $2.99 a pound
Mary's organic, $3.39 a pound
Mary's heritage, $5.99 a pound

Whole Foods

Too many options to report them all, so check their turkey price website for the full array. Here are the majors:

Diestel all natural turkey, $2.49 a pound
Diestel organic, $3.49 a pound
Diestel organic heirloom, $4.99 a pound

Interesting that for the smaller feast, they also offer a six to 10 pound petite turkey at $2.99 a pound.

Boulder Farmers' Market Today

Market alert - you only have today and next week to enjoy our downtown Boulder Farmers' Market, as next week will be the last one for this year (aside from the special holiday market that will be held out in Longmont on December 3rd and 4th). Here's the list of lovely autumnal produce you can expect to find today.

Now At the Market

Arugula, Braising Mix, Chard, Collards, Kale, Spinach

Cilantro, Parsley

Beets, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Eggplant, Fava Green Beans, Fennel and Fennel Flowers, Fingerling Potatoes, Garlic, Leeks, Mini-English Cucumbers, Mushrooms, Onions, Parsnips, Pepper, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Radish, Roasted Peppers, Sunchokes, Sweet Potatoes, Turnips, Winter Squash

Green, Slicing

Apples, Melon

Friday, November 11, 2011

Oyster Sampling In Superior

Want to learn to shuck oysters from the masters? Check out the Oyster Fest happening this Sunday, the 13th, at the Superior Whole Foods store. Here's what they say:

Sunday, November 13th

2nd Annual Superior Oyster Fest
2:00pm-6:00pm Free

Join us at the Superior Store and spend some time with our Seafood Mongers in the seafood department and enjoy the experience as they shuck and sample oysters and other delicacies of the sea!

P.S. from me. Both the Pearl Street and Superior stores also have kids' events planned for Sunday, but I'm busy enough trying to cover what's happening for us grown up types.

Eat Out For Veterans

On this Veterans Day, if you find yourself eating out instead of cooking in, you might pick one of the many Boulder restaurants that are participating in Hungry For Change, through which they are donating 15% of their proceeds today to benefit a local program serving veterans. You can see the list of participating restaurants here, and it includes some good lunch spots as well as dinner places. Mmm, truffle fries at Larkburger to benefit veterans. Okay, twist my arm.

Olives Recalled At Safeway

This evidently doesn't affect the local natural foods stores I cover, but readers might want to know that some Divina olives sold at Safeways in Boulder and Longmont have been recalled due to botulism fears. You can read about it here, and thanks to an alert reader for notifying me about it.

Weekend Dinner Ideas

For a weekend that's going to be filled with raking leaves (why haven't we had big Boulder winds to blow them across the street, where they have landscaping crews?), I'd better get the dinner plans out of the way. Tonight will be a healthy fish, and I'm intrigued by a new recipe from the October issue of Cooking Light, salmon with red pepper pesto. We're sadly out of the fresh wild salmon season, but there are some frozen wild caught salmon options around, including sockeye at Sprouts for $8.99 a pound. I'm also thinking about another recipe from that same Cooking Light issue, roasted sweet potato salad with cranberry-chipotle dressing to go on the side, assuming I have that much ambition. Sprouts has organic yams for $1.29 a pound, and this might even be a tryout for Thanksgiving.

With today's one-day sale at Whole Foods on whole chickens for $1.29 a pound, tomorrow is going to be a simple, seasonal roast chicken with roasted winter veggies like organic squash on the side, no recipe needed. Sunflower has organic acorn, butternut, spaghetti squash and pie pumpkins all at 99 cents a pound (I wonder how a small pie pumpkin would do if wedged for roasting - probably great), and Sunflower also has organic leeks for $1.99 a pound.

For Sunday, needing something big for a midweek reheat, and also thinking about those organic leeks at Sunflower, I'll do an old favorite, potato-leek chowder, from Jane Brody's Good Food Book. I don't have a link for the old cookbook, but recipes for this abound, such as this one from Cooking Light, which also incorporates cauliflower and looks kind of tempting. Organic potatoes and cauliflower are also on sale at Sunflower at good prices, in addition to the organic leeks. Salad will go on the side, as well as some fresh bread from the Whole Foods bakehouse, perhaps the rosemary sourdough that's on sale for $2.99 a loaf.

And that will get us through a backbreaking weekend of leaf raking. Happy fall, and happy 11/11/11.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Best Deal Yet This Year On Imagine Broth

My apologies to anyone who thinks I'm obsessed with the virtues of Imagine organic broth, but when you find such a useful product that's free range, organic, MSG-free (read some of those other labels carefully for all the names under which MSG masquerades), and also is super-flavorful, it's maybe worth a little obsession. Since it also has a long shelf life (look at the expiration date on the top of the box), it's also a good stock-up item. Its usual price pushes towards three and a half dollars, so the discounts on it that crop up around the holidays present an excellent opportunity to lay in that stock. If you haven't already laid in enough to get you through several months (for me, that's a lot, and current expiration dates are next summer), there's an opportunity to do so at a place I don't usually cover: King Soopers. They're doing a "10 item mega event" through November 15th, in which $5 instantly comes off your price at checkout when you purchase 10 of the participating products. Their price with a King Soopers card is an already good $2.49, so if you buy 10 of them, it works out to $1.99 a box with that card. (You can mix and match participating products, so if you want something else to fill out your 10 items, Annie's mac and cheese, a pantry staple, is also participating, and that price works out to just 69 cents a box.) Yes, technically Whole Foods had an even lower price a few weeks ago with their $1 off coupon for a single box of sale broth, but $1.99 a box is the best price we've seen so far this season for buying a slew of them.

P.S. If you happen to be there this Saturday, the 12th, they're doing a Holiday Open House sampling from noon to 5, too!