Monday, January 31, 2011

Immune Building for Winter

With our abrupt return to the realities of winter, I'm going to warm things up by making an immune building herbal tonic soup recommended by a most knowledgeable friend, Ms. A. It includes immune boosting ingredients I've long believed in, like ginger and garlic, but I'm really looking forward to experimenting with astragalus, a root that's completely new to me. Fortunately she supplied the astragalus, but with her help, I've found that Rebecca's Herbal Apothecary here in Boulder also carries it. What fun!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Rest of This Week's Dinner Ideas

It's time to get started on weekday dinner planning, where simplicity reigns. A nearly vegetarian rice dish will be appealing after tonight's ribeye indulgence, and since I'm continuing to capitalize on Sprouts' 99 cent a pound asparagus sale, tomorrow will be asparagus and leek risotto with prosciutto from Bon Appetit. The prosciutto adds flavor depth with very little meat, and Whole Foods (at least at the Pearl Street store, maybe elsewhere) has chunks of prosciutto for cooking at nearly half the price of the thinly sliced product. A nice side would be sauteed chard with a bit of garlic and red pepper, with the organic chard just $1.50 a bunch at Whole Foods.

Then of course we have a midweek reheat, this time the big penne casserole, which I did simply with cooked penne and sausage, jarred Muir Glen pasta sauce, and grated mozzarella, baked to heavenliness, no recipe required (although baked penne recipes abound).

Continuing the midweek simplicity, it will be pork chops on the grill pan, since loin chops are $2.99 a pound at Sprouts this week ($3.99 a pound at Sunflower if you're there and don't want another store to visit). Baked sweet potatoes will go on the side, and more asparagus, to celebrate the last day of the 99 cents a pound sale at Sprouts.

Finally, we should celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Rabbit on Thursday, and with chicken tenders just $1.97 a pound at Sprouts through Wednesday (note the need to buy ahead of time) and organic green cabbage 99 cents a pound at Sunflower (ditto re Wednesday), I'm thinking it will be Chinese chicken and cabbage stir-fry, adapted from "Restorative Recipes." The combination of cabbage, carrots, dark leafy greens, and edamame (always in the freezer), served over brown rice, sounds like a great way to kick off the Chinese New Year.

And that will do us until Friday's next set of plans.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Celebrate Upcoming Chinese New Year

Thinking about how to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit coming up this Thursday? Epicurious has a guide to help you out, complete with recipes, menu ideas, and videos.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Getting Started on This Week's Dinners

Amazing how quickly Fridays come around, and it's time to start planning dinners again. With temperatures approaching 60 today, it's time for something light that reminds me of the shore, so why not sea scallops? Wild caught flash frozen ones are on sale for $9.99 a pound at Sprouts this week. A favorite recipe that works really well on a grill pan is grilled sea scallops and tomatoes, originally published in Gourmet magazine. You could go upscale with the organic heirloom tomatoes on sale at Sunflower for $3.99 a pound, or experiment with using the organic grape or cherry tomatoes also on sale there. The little guys would fall between the ridges of the grill pan but would probably char nicely.

Then, as usual, we need something big made over the weekend that will double as an easy midweek reheat, and I'll do a comfort food casserole that hasn't appeared yet all winter, a baked penne casserole. This can be done by following a recipe like penne with sausage and tomatoes from Bon Appetit, or more simply by combining a pound of cooked penne with cooked sausage, a jar of nice pasta sauce, and grated mozzarella in a large baking dish, and bake until it looks great. Basil chicken sausage is $2.99 a pound now at Sunflower, but I'm intrigued by the Market Made smoky chipotle sausage currently on sale for $3.99 a pound at Whole Foods, since they come in chicken as well as pork, and I love chipotle in anything, possibly including an Italian pasta casserole.

To round out the weekend, the Harris Ranch ribeyes on sale at Sunflower are high on the list, since the bone-in ones are $4.97 a pound, $6.99 a pound for the boneless. We'll bake potatoes on the side, more likely sweet potatoes than russets, to lessen the steak guilt. Either is great topped with my fave Straus European style organic plain yogurt, currently on sale at Sprouts at $3 for the big 32 oz container. Steamed asparagus will be a necessary side, since it's 99 cents a pound at Sprouts (while most of my veggies are organic, asparagus usually falls into the conventional category). Another I'll add if feeling ambitious is an intriguing one from the Food Network, roasted cauliflower with dates and pine nuts, since I've been wanting to try that recipe for awhile, and organic cauliflower is on sale for $1.99 a pound at Whole Foods.

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

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How Supermarkets Hook Us

Or at least try to. Tonight, CNBC will air "Supermarkets Inc.," a show addressing the psychology of supermarket design and how it affects our shopping patterns. In a quick clip shown on this morning's Today Show, I thought I saw the expanded section of the Pearl Street Whole Foods store (wouldn't be surprising). There was some filming going on when I was there last Saturday, so maybe we'll get some insight on national tv as to why we have to pass so many delicious temptations in our local store just to pick up that quart of milk.

Super Bowl Sampling

The Super Bowl will be upon us before we know it, time to have some fun with food if not with football. Sunflower will help with the ideas, as our Boulder store says they will be holding a Super Bowl Party Meals & Deals event this Saturday, the 29th, with sampling from 11 to 2. I figure the Super Bowl is a once yearly excuse to eat hot wings.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Kid's Cooking Class in Superior

Nice idea, the Superior Whole Foods store will hold a cooking class for kids this Saturday, hoping to get them on the road early towards being healthy foodies. Here's what they say:

"Saturday, January 29th
Kids Club- "Health Starts Here"Cooking Class
10:00am- 12:00pm Free
Hey Kids- you too can celebrate the New Year in a healthy and fun way! Join us and learn a healthy alternative to your favorite snacks. Please sign up at the Customer Service Counter to reserve your space today!"

New Deals Are Up

It's a pretty exciting week at our Boulder natural grocery stores, with several specials of particular interest. Since fresh asparagus most often is conventional anyway, grabbing it for 99 cents a pound at Sprouts is on my radar. While there, I'll also pick up their great bulk coffee (including organic fair trade, even in decaf) for $7.99 a pound, and will check out their 25% off vitamin extravaganza. Sunflower's looking good for Harris Ranch ribeyes, good organic produce (including baby carrots at just $1 for a 1 pound bag), and Seventh Generation TP just $4.99 for a 12-pack. In the new two-week sale at Whole Foods, organic chard is just $1.50 a bunch, Boursin is BOGO, and WFM's excellent seeded wholegrain bread is $2.79 a loaf. And these deals are just the tip of the iceberg. Look to the left for more deal highlights, IMHO.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

Our local Whole Foods stores will be doing another one-day sale tomorrow, and it's another good one, with two products basically half price. Applegate Farms chicken pot pies will be 2 for $3, and a honking 2 pound block of Tillamook cheddar will be $4.99, $5 off. Time to start thinking about gooey cheesy Super Bowl snacks?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Two-Day Heads Up

Just a reminder that you only have through tomorrow to catch the current set of two-week specials at Whole Foods, including some really good ones like organic red or green leaf lettuce for $1.50 a head, several varieties of freshly baked Health Starts Here breads nearly half price at $2.50 a loaf, and of course my favorite Two Bite brownies at $3 for a whole tub of them. Good stuff.

Cheese Platter Class

The Boulder Sunflower calendar says that they will hold a Learn To Make Your Own Cheese Platter class from 11 to 2 tomorrow, the 25th.

Bittman Moves On

Mark Bittman's The Minimalist column in the New York Times has long been a favorite recipe source for me. After 13 years of writing it, here's news that he'll be wrapping it up, turning instead to writing a food opinion column and articles for the revamped NYT Magazine. Fortunately, on Twitter he promises that there still will be many recipes in The Magazine.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weekday Dinner Ideas

If it's Sunday, it's time to start thinking about the rest of the week's dinners. I'm conflicted about tomorrow, since I have two possibilities. I'd really like to use the organic grass-fed ground beef that Sprouts has on sale for $3.97 a pound, so dinner will most likely be chipotle sloppy Joes from Cooking Light. This would also make use of the organic onions on sale at Sprouts for $1.99 for a three pound bag. Rather than serving the sloppy Joes on buns, I'd rather put it over a small baked potato, and lo, organic russets are currently $2.50 for a five pound bag, also at Sprouts.

While the sloppy Joes seem to be a dinner made for the Sprouts sale, competing with that is the fact that the current Whole Foods sale will end Tuesday, which means that tomorrow and Tuesday will be my last chances to grab their large pepperoni pizza for only $8.99, and they have the organic red or green leaf lettuce for a side salad at just $1.50 a head. Hmm, which dinner to do.

Then of course we've made a large pot of something over the weekend that will serve as a quick midweek reheat, in this week's case the smoky shrimp and halibut stew from Bon Appetit.

Then it's time for something involving rice, so to again capitalize on the shrimp on sale at Sunflower for $3.99 a pound, we'll turn to a winter favorite, butternut squash risotto with shrimp. Maybe I can catch the organic kale that's $1.50 a bunch at Whole Foods for the side dish before that sale ends Tuesday.

Finally for Thursday, before the planning begins all over again on Friday, we'll have Sprouts' yummy stuffed chicken breasts, purchased at $3.99 a pound in time for the sale that runs through Wednesday. Baked potatoes from the organic russet bags currently on sale there will go on the side.

And that gets us to the end of the week, ready to plan again.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Funny Conversation

Overheard at my gym today:

Person 1: "Are you heading to work now?"

Person 2: "No, I'm going to Whole Foods."

Person 1: "Well, that's like work."

Hmm, I don't think so, especially if they get to the festivities happening today at the Pearl Street store.

Big Doings At Whole Foods

Today's expansion celebration/Fourmile Canyon fundraiser is getting into full swing at the Pearl Street Whole Foods store as the noon rush approaches. Lots of vendors are already there sampling their wares, with more setting up. The Pappardelle's stand was particularly popular, sampling several of their pastas, and I can attest that their lobster ravioli is outstanding, especially topped with their lemon Alfredo sauce. Live music was getting started, and they have lots of prepared foods specials (like a Fourmile pizza slice with local ingredients for $2 or two street tacos for $3), all benefitting the Foothills United Way Fourmile Canyon Fire Relief Fund. Good times, good cause.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Getting Started on This Week's Dinners

This week's natural grocery deals are screaming fish and chicken, good stuff. For tonight, with Sprouts and Sunflower warring over haddock prices, and 41/50 count shrimp $3.99/lb at Sunflower, I'm thinking of an adaptation of smoky shrimp and halibut stew from Bon Appetit, using haddock in place of the halibut. It won't hold together as well, but who really cares. Whole Foods has organic red or green lettuce for $1.50 a head for the side salad, and Health Starts Here breads nearly half off at $2.50.

For tomorrow, it will be on to the boneless, skinless chicken breasts that are $1.97/lb for the value pack at Sprouts (family packs $2.99/lb at Sunflower). I'm so tempted to do quick coq au vin, but cooking with bacon two nights in a row, plus a reprise of the stew with bacon later in the week just sounds like an artery-clogger. So we'll be virtuous and go with spicy roast chicken with tomatoes and marjoram from Bon Appetit. Although it calls for bone-in chicken breasts, it lightens up nicely with boneless, skinless ones. My tomatoes are almost always organic, but for this recipe I sort of have an eye on the conventional cherry or grape tomatoes that are $2 for 10 oz containers at Sunflower. Organic russets or yams roasted alongside the chicken will be on the side. Sprouts has 5 pound bags of organic russets for $2.50 (99 cents a pound at Sunflower), while Sunflower has the organic yams at 99 cents a pound.

To round out the weekend, we'll turn back to that shrimp from Sunflower with a recipe I haven't yet tried, linguine with spicy shrimp from Cooking Light. A longtime fave, also from Cooking Light might be an alternative, spicy shrimp with fettuccine, since the two recipes are pretty similar.

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

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Whole Foods Celebration/Fundraiser

The Pearl Street Whole Foods will be celebrating its expansion this Saturday with a fundraiser for victims of the Fourmile Canyon fire. Lots of activities to enjoy. Here's what they say:

"Saturday, January 22nd
Pearl Street Expansion Celebration and Fourmile Canyon Relief Fundraiser
9 am-5 pm 100% of the proceeds will go to Fourmile Canyon Relief through the Foothills United Way
Join us as we celebrate our expansion while raising money for those affected by the Fourmile Canyon Fire.
We will kick off the day with a Pancake Breakfast at our Table Mesa Taqueria 9am-11am with 100% of the proceeds benefitting Fourmile Canyon Relief.
From 12 pm - 3pm we will offer different lunch items from our new venues with 100% of the proceeds benefitting Fourmile Canyon Relief.
Throughout the event we will feature kid's activities, a silent auction,live music and local vendor demonstrations.
Our goal is to raise $25,000!
Help us make a difference in the lives of those affected by the Fourmile Canyon Fire."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lucky to Have Lucky's

Much as I enjoy the natural stores that are closer to me, those folks living in north Boulder are fortunate to have a charm like Lucky's Market nearby. I rarely cover them since they're not in my usual travel pattern and, as befits an independent store probably not employing a 24/7 webmaster, their new Wednesday specials usually aren't posted on their website when I review prices early in the morning. But I happened to be in the neighborhood today and saw some exciting stuff. While I thought Sprouts was doing well with organic broccoli for 99 cents a pound ending today, Lucky's beat the bejeezus out of them at 49 cents a pound, and yes, it's organic. That special must be one that's ending today, as I don't see it in the new flyer I picked up. But the new flyer has another stunner: organic avocados at 50 cents each, and they're a nice hefty size (I can see avocado fans rejoicing as I write). Other good looking new deals include boneless center cut pork chops for $3.99 a pound (including a promise of no antibiotics, in addition to the usual suspects), fresh Atlantic salmon fillets (farmed is our only fresh option at this time of year) for $8.99 a pound, selected 64 oz Organic Valley Rocky Mountain Pastures organic milk for $2.49, organic green chard for $1.50 a bunch, and organic zucchini at $1.99 a pound, not bad in the depths of winter. Enjoy, you lucky north Boulderites!

New Deals Are Up

Lots of warring prices up on the left in this week's new Boulder natural grocery sales. Stuffed chicken breasts, beef for stewing or stir fry, Voskos yogurts, Annie's natural dressings, and more. Also, don't forget that today is the last day for some good specials like the 25% off gluten-free jubilee at Sprouts, and conventional asparagus for $1.77/lb at Sunflower.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Two-Day Heads Up Re Gluten-Free

Just a reminder that you only have today and tomorrow remaining to capitalize on Sprouts' Gluten-Free Jubilee, with 25% off tons of products throughout the store. This includes great stuff like Lundberg rice, Pamela's cookies, and Crunchmaster crackers, plus lots, lots more.

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

Our local Whole Foods stores will be holding another one-day sale tomorrow, and it's a pretty good one, and a doubleheader, to boot. Their certified sustainable, wild caught Alaskan sockeye (previously frozen of course at this time of year) will be $9.99 a pound, $5 off their usual price. Yummy Parrano cheese will be also be $9.99 a pound, $6 off.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Broccoli With Cheetos - A Must-Try

We usually eat pretty healthy stuff, but I just hit a recipe that has to be tried, regardless. It's broccoli with Cheetos from the current issue of Saveur. Not only is the broccoli topped with crushed Cheetos, it's also served on a bed of cheese sauce, wow. At least my broccoli will be organic, since that's just 99 cents a pound through Wednesday at Sprouts.

Pasta Cooking Class in Superior

The Whole Foods store in Superior will be holding a class on making fresh pasta this coming Wedesday. Sounds pretty ambitious to me. They don't give any details about preregistration, so I'd contact the store if you're interested. Here's what they say:

"Wednesday, January 19th
Cooking Class- Making Fresh Pasta
6;30pm-8:30pm $10.00
Artisan pastas made from ancient strains of wheat (like spelt,faro and einkorn) are nutritionally superior and exceptionally flavorful. Join us for a class where we'll share our techniques and ingredients for crafting one of the most beloved foods on the planet and keep it healthy!"

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Rest of This Week's Dinner Ideas

Had best get going on the modest planning for easy dinners to take us from tomorrow through Thursday. Since tomorrow's the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, it's an opportunity to either extend the weekend-type cooking through a Monday, or go the easier route to enjoy the time off. I'll take the latter option, and stick with weekday cooking. This is a week that calls for some sort of burger on the plate, with ground chicken or turkey $1.97/lb at Sunflower. Since they're in patty form, I'd also include the Maryland style blue crab cakes that are on sale at Whole Foods for $9.99/lb and worth every penny. So we'll go with crab cakes with some simple herbed rice on the side (this recipe in Bon Appetit is from Boulder's own Happy Noodle restaurant), and sauteed organic kale, which is $1.50 a bunch this week at Whole Foods.

Then of course we have our reprise from the weekend dinner, in Tuesday's case, a reheat of the New England seafood chowder, which turned out really well. The big side salad will use organic leaf lettuce that's $1.50 a bunch this week at Whole Foods.

Then, with asparagus $1.97/lb through Wednesday at Sunflower ($2.99/lb at Sprouts) and organic broccoli just 99 cents/lb at Sprouts (also through Wednesday), that practically screams to do chicken, asparagus, and broccoli stir-fry from (and created by a dude living in Carbondale no less). It will be served over rice, and I'm betting that when I finally get to Sprouts, bags of Lundberg's wonderful rice will be part of their 25% off gluten-free products sale.

Finally, there's been a family request for pork chops, which are easy enough. It's not the best week for sale prices on them ($4.99/lb being advertised by Sunflower for boneless loin chops), but that's okay. We might dress them up with a tomatillo and green apple sauce (organic Granny Smiths are 99 cents/lb at Sunflower). A simple microwaved "baked" potato will go on the side, along with either more asparagus captured during Sunflower's sale, or maybe the $1.50 kale from Whole Foods.

And that will get us through the rest of the week until Friday's planning starts all over again.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Crunchmaster Crackers Deal

I've become a rabid fan of Crunchmaster's fabulous crackers, which also happen to be gluten-free. Sprouts is doing a gluten free jubilee this week, with a vast array of gluten free products 25% off, including the Crunchmaster crackers. Even better, use this Mambo Sprouts coupon for $1 off a bag of Crunchmasters, and you'll be getting your crackers for a steal. (It does require downloading Mambo Sprouts' coupon printing software, but that's a one-time deal.)

Friday, January 14, 2011

What the Hey?

Good thing I stopped to look at a flyer while at the Pearl Street Whole Foods today, as they have a new set of specials that run from 1/12 to 1/25. This despite the fact that the last flyer I picked up there said it ran from 12/29 to 1/18. I know this to be the case because the old flyer is sitting in front of me at this moment, and yes, I'm wearing my eyeglasses. The old flyer no longer seems to apply, since I couldn't find a couple of the older specials. So the column to the left has been updated with the new ones, and the great news is that Two Bite brownies are almost half price again!

Getting Started on This Week's Dinners

Time to get some menus planned, starting with tonight's. With fresh, responsibly farmed tilapia just $4.99/lb at Whole Foods for today only, tilapia will definitely be on the table. It's excellent just quickly sauteed with a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, or a little fruit salsa on the side. Instead, I'm experimenting with a new (to me) recipe that dates way back in Bon Appetit, New England seafood chowder. It calls for cod or haddock among other possibilities (scrod? - but that is cod or haddock!), and since neither of those would hold together very much, I'm thinking tilapia would be a reasonable choice as well. It's appealing in that it calls for some fine veggies like kale and butternut squash (organic hard squash just 99 cents a pound at Sunflower this week). But the recipe also looks like it could do with significant lightening, cutting the bacon by at least half, using a low- or nonfat milk, and maybe reducing the half and half. Looks like an interesting experiment.

Moving on to Saturday, tomorrow's the last day of National Pizza Week, and since we have yet to celebrate it, obviously we'll have pizza. I love the multigrain fresh dough from Whole Foods, which spreads out to fill an entire rimmed baking sheet. You can improvise with whatever toppings appeal, but a favorite is pizza alla salsiccia, sausage pizza from Cooking Light. The ingredients have to be pretty much doubled to fill the whole baking sheet, and it's so delicious with lots of fennel and tomatoes, and a little bit of sausage (Italian chicken sausage $2.99 a pound at Sprouts this week).

For Sunday, we have yet to capitalize on Sunflower's asparagus sale, $1.77 a pound, so it's time for a pasta with asparagus. I'm very tempted by fettucine with peas, asparagus, and pancetta from Bon Appetit, but that involves cream for the second time in three days, plus the pancetta, so we'll more likely opt for penne with asparagus, spinach, and bacon from Cooking Light. It calls for a modest two slices of bacon, lots of veggies, and no cream. Bet it would be good with a few peas from the freezer tossed in as well, further resembling the richer dish.

And that will get us through the weekend proper, although for many folks, this will be a longer one, with the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday coming up on Monday. More plans to come.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Another Whole Foods One-Day Sale

Our local Whole Foods stores are at it again with another one-day sale tomorrow, and this one's a good one: fresh tilapia for $4.99 a pound, half price. It's responsibly farmed from Ecuador, with no antibiotics or preservatives, good stuff. Tilapia was recently on our menu, but I can see it's going to be again, this time maybe subbing for another light, white fish in a chowder or casserole.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Sale Prices Are Up

Good stuff (IMHO) from Boulder's new natural grocery sales is posted on the left. Looks like our stores are trying to give us a breath of spring in these frigid temperatures with asparagus sales, most notably $1.77 a pound at Sunflower. It's also good to see a return of Sprouts' gluten-free jubilee, when they do 25% off the many, many tagged items throughout the store. It's a good time to stock up, and if my memory serves me correctly, it includes Lundberg's great rice products. I'm sure it also includes Crunchmaster crackers and Pamela's cookies, among thousands of other products. An excellent sale for everyone, including people like me with no gluten sensitivities. I swear that when they take the gluten out, they sometimes pump the flavor way up.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

Tomorrow only, our local Whole Foods stores will have Traditional Medicinal Teas at 50% off, which is a savings of up to $2.74 each. Good deal for tea fans.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Modmarket Free Food Alert

If your plans include being in Denver either this evening or tomorrow, here's a way to celebrate National Pizza Week: with free food at the soft opening of Modmarket's new store (home of those yummy flatbread pizzas as well as other good, fresh food). It's also a benefit for LiveWell Colorado. A quick RSVP is required, and you can read all the details here.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Rest of This Week's Dinner Ideas

Hmm, I came up with these ideas before I knew today was the start of National Pizza Week, so there might be a pizza rearrangement somewhere herein (although we'll still have Friday or Saturday to fit in that pizza).

To start with tomorrow evening, we always have a reprise of something big made over the weekend, and with the way this snow is coming down, I think the reprise will happen earlier than usual. This week, it's last night's chicken posole from Food and Wine magazine, which was absolutely delicious. I like the extra veggie concept, with the fresh salsa to be stirred in, along with garnishes like radishes.

Then, assuming the roads have been cleared and more groceries are in the house by Tuesday, we'll turn to a seasonal favorite, winter squash and pork stir-fry, a Bittman recipe from the New York Times. I prefer a leaner cut than the pork shoulder the recipe calls for, perhaps the pork tenderloin that's on sale at both Sprouts ($2.99/lb) and Sunflower ($3.99/lb) this week. Serving this over brown rice will give us a rice dish for the week.

Then I'm thinking a good way to finish the rest of the tortillas that accompanied the posole earlier in the week would be to use them to wrap up sirloin steak with tomato and cilantro sauce from Bon Appetit, a headily fragrant concoction. The beef stir fry on sale this week at Sunflower for $3.99/lb would do just fine in place of the sirloin. Organic cilantro is also on sale there this week at $1 a bunch, and they usually have the best price in town on organic tomatoes ($1.99/lb for romas when last seen on Friday).

To finish off the plan through Thursday, we're looking at Boursin-stuffed turkey burgers from Gourmet magazine, using either the ground turkey breast ($4.49/lb) or ground chicken breast ($2.99/lb) that are both on sale at Sprouts through Wednesday (have to be careful to pick it up in time). Baked potatoes from the organic russets that are $1.99 for a five pound bag at Sprouts will go on the side.

And that's the plan for the rest of the week, at least until I learned this is National Pizza Week, and it also started snowing like crazy. We'll see how things develop.

Celebrate National Pizza Week!

Yahoo, today marks the start of National Pizza Week. Get out (once the snow stops) and enjoy one of Boulder's many artisanal pizzas or make your own easily at home. Fresh dough already prepared from a natural market (I'm partial to the multigrain at Whole Foods) makes a speedy base for your toppings of choice. Olive oil, a light spread of pasta sauce, sliced onions, shrooms, and grated mozzarella gets you a quick classic that you can vary any way you'd like.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Vitamin Cottage Sale Hiatus Update

Looks like our local Vitamin Cottages (aka Natural Grocers) are continuing to take a break from having a big sale flyer of specials. They do have a little four-pager with a few deals that are good through 1/30. Items to note include tamari almonds $3.99 for a l pound bag, organic avocados at 79 cents each, Barbara's cereals boxes just $2.49 each, 10 oz bags of Cascadian Farm organic frozen veggies for $1.69, and vitamin specials, of course. With these dark winter days, 200 softgels of 2500 I.U. vitamin D-3 from Country Life for $6.39 sounds mighty good, if your plans don't include a trip to the Caribbean shortly.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Goodies From Sprouts' Mailing List

Here's a good reason to be on Sprouts' email mailing list - coupons! In addition to getting a link to their weekly specials a day in advance, the list sometimes sends out a little newsletter. Yesterday's included two very nice coupons: one for $5 off a $25 purchase, and another for a free thinkThin crunch bar. You can sign up for the mailing list using the mailbox in the lower right corner of their website.

Getting Started on This Week's Dinners

Time to get moving on dinner plans for the weekend. For tonight, with tilapia on sale at both Sprouts and Sunflower, I'm thinking a simple saute of fish, finished with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, or may I'll try sherry vinegar this time. Baked potatoes will go on the side (5 pound bags of organic russets are $1.99 each at Sprouts right now), and the green veggie will get dressed up with a simple recipe from Bon Appetit, sauteed kale with smoked paprika.

Moving on to Saturday, Sprouts and Sunflower are also dukeing it out with chicken sales, reminding me of a recipe I've been wanting to try from a recent issue of Food and Wine, chicken posole. It calls for dark meat, but I'd substitute either a mix or entirely white meat to lighten it up. A big salad and warm tortillas will go on the side.

To round out the weekend, it will be time for a pasta dish, and also time for something vegetarian. Cooking Light has a wonderful recipe for a lightened version of fettuccine alfredo that has amazingly rich taste despite its reduced fat and calories. Best of both worlds.

And that will at least get us through the weekend. Get ready for the super chilly temperatures coming at us by Sunday.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Return of the Samples?

One thing lots of us like about Whole Foods is their pretty active sampling program, so that we can taste all sorts of products before buying. But ever since the Pearl Street store opened its expansion about a month ago, the samples there have totally disappeared, at least at the times I've visited. (I'm not counting the heavily guarded cheese samples doled out to worthy supplicants from behind the glass at the cheese counter.) Today however, I saw three vendors sampling their wares, with a fourth setting up. Now if they'd only bring back the plastic domes filled with bread, cheese cubes, and other goodies.

Meanwhile, rearrangement of the Pearl Street store continues, with meat now located where the bakery formerly was, and dairy has moved to the corridor between the old and new sections. In with the new!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Sale Prices Are Up

Highlights of this week's new Boulder natural grocery sales are up on the left. It's a week of lots of warring prices, and I'm especially pleased to see Chobani Greek yogurts for $1 each at both Sprouts and Sunflower. Both Sprouts and Sunflower have sales on organic green onions (69 cents a bunch at Sprouts, $1 at Sunflower) but it will be interesting to see if they can get them in, as nobody has carried them recently, and the Whole Foods produce guy told me they couldn't get good enough quality. So we'll see.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Two-Day Warning Re Fish

Just a heads up that you only have through tomorrow to catch the fish extravaganza at Sprouts, where several kinds of fish are just $7.99/lb, including their previously frozen Copper River salmon. My friend Ms. A., a salmon connoisseur, reports that they'll also sell the still frozen fish if they have it available, so it's a possibility for stocking up.

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

Our local Whole Foods stores will be doing a one-day sale tomorrow on 5 pound bags of Clementines, and also on CamelBak Groove filter bottles. You can check the details here.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Rest of This Week's Dinner Ideas

Have been a little slow to return to dinner planning, perhaps since I'm still basking in the glow of New Year's Eve's potato gratin with Gruyere. After something that spectacular, the healthy, mundane weekday plans just don't rev me up. But we all have to eat, so here goes.

It's been a while since pasta has been on the menu, so for tonight, we'll do a spin on mushroom and sausage ragu with polenta from Cooking Light, serving the delicious ragu on pasta instead (but it's also great on polenta). The big side salad will include plenty of organic lettuce and baby carrots from the two-day sale that ended yesterday at Whole Foods.

Then of course there will be a reprise of something, this week the black eyed peas with ham and greens that was our (hopefully) lucky New Year's Day dinner. That means we'll get to finish off the rest of the green onion corn bread from Bon Appetit too, along with another lovely salad.

Then, with so many fish specials happening, I warned that this would be a fishy week, so I'll definitely grab some of the Copper River salmon while it's still available at $7.99/lb at Sprouts through Wednesday. A simple baked potato (yes, I still have some from the Vitamin Cottage sale!) and green veggie like chard will round it out.

Then to finish off the week's planning, we need something with rice, so I'm thinking of trying the beef, shiitake, and snow pea stir fry that was in a recent issue of Bon Appetit, served over brown rice. A little edamame steamed on the side is always good, and always available from the freezer.

So that brings us back to earth with weekday planning to launch us into the realities of the new year. Happy cooking!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Best Wishes for the New Year

A very Happy New Year to all. Wishing you a happy, healthy 2011, filled with culinary delights from your smart natural grocery shopping. If looking for an indulgence to start the new year, I have to report that last night's potato gratin with Gruyere from Bon Appetit was absolutely stellar. But then it's hard to go wrong with anything containing a cup of heavy cream and topped with excellent cheese. Thank heavens we have excellent gyms in Boulder.