Monday, February 28, 2011

New Deals At Vitamin Cottage

Our local Vitamin Cottage (aka Natural Grocers) stores have a new set of specials lasting all the way through March 26th. Deals looking particularly good to me are Clif or Mojo bars for 79 cents each (you probably won't want to buy them anywhere else in March), two pound bags of organic short or long grain rice for $1.99, eight ounce blocks of Organic Valley cheese for $3.49, Amy's Kitchen frozen enchiladas for $2.99 each (9.5 ounces), Mary's Gone Crackers gluten-free crackers or Sticks & Twigs for $2.89, and Santa Cruz organic peanut butter at $3.49 for 16 ounces, accompanied by their 9.5 ounce organic fruit spreads for $2.29. In health and beauty, ShiKai Color Reflect shampoos or conditioners look great at $5.49 each ($5.99 for the intensive conditioner), and of course there are tons of deals on supplements. Also, check out Mambo Sprouts coupons to make some of these deals even better, like taking an extra $1 off the Mary's Gone Crackers, 75 cents off any Santa Cruz organic product, and $1 off two Oikos yogurts (on sale for $1.39 each, not the best sale price, but great with the coupon).

End-of-Sale Headsup

Just a reminder that our local Whole Foods' two-week sale runs through tomorrow, if there's anything you still want to pick up from it. Standouts to me are the organic roma tomatoes for $1.49 a pound (too bad they're too perishable to be a stock up item, but yesterday's were on the green side, so will probably last a bit) and WFM Two Bite cinnamon rolls at $2.99 for a tub.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Whole Foods Sampling Report

When I should be snacking on an organic apple or orange, or not snacking at all, the Pearl Street Whole Foods store is severely testing my resolve by sampling yummy Laurel Hill potato chips and my fave Two-Bite chocolate brownies today, or at least just a few minutes ago. Oh, temptation.

Weekday Dinner Ideas

If it's Sunday, it's time to get planning again. For tomorrow night, I'm looking for a pasta dish, and something vegetarian would be a nice change, so with organic romas a fantastic mid-winter price of $1.49 a pound at Whole Foods, we'll go with pasta with winter squash and tomatoes from the New York Times. The organic butternut squash for it will come from Sprouts, where it's 99 cents a pound.

For Tuesday, it will be time to reheat the big pot of something made over the weekend, this time being the Mexican chicken soup, a big salad on the side (with more of those organic romas from the Whole Foods sale).

Moving on to something based on rice, I'm looking at the $2.99 a pound chicken sausage sales at Sprouts (apple or basil) and Sunflower (all varieties), and am thinking about sausage and lentils with spinach from Bon Appetit, served over brown rice. The chicken sausage needs to the thoroughly cooked of course, since it isn't a precooked variety, but that only takes a few minutes more.

To get us through Thursday, we'll do sirloin and vegetable stir-fry from Cooking Light, catching the the beef stir fry on sale at Sunflower (or the beef stew meat at Sprouts, a perfectly good substitute) and the organic broccoli on sale at Sprouts by the time those sales end Wednesday. The beef really can be bought any time, popped in the freezer, then taken out when you're ready for it, and broccoli has a pretty nice shelf life, as veggies go. I'd normally serve this over rice, but since that will have been on deck the day before, this will go over soba noodles, which cook in a flash and are whole grain, to boot.

And that will get us through to next Friday's planning.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Kitchen Musing

Looking around my kitchen, I have a whole chicken in the fridge that I couldn't resist because of the fantastic Rocky Jr sale at Sprouts, asparagus left from Whole Foods' great one-day sale, and a cupboard full of Chocolove bars, also from a one-day sale. Is this smart shopping, or the foodie equivalent of the Collyer brothers? I'd like to think the former, sort of a smart shopper's version of a CSA. Instead of inventing dinner from the contents of a surprise box of veggies arriving from a farm each week, I'm creating them from the best the weekly natural grocery sales bring me. Not Homer and Langley, no, not yet.

Finger Food Ideas For Oscars Night

Need more ideas for munchies for tomorrow night's Academy Awards? My fave Saveur magazine has collections of finger food recipes, including American Finger Food picks and Asian-Inspired Finger Food. There's also a collection for fried finger food, but I won't go there.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Fresh Domestic Swordfish Sale

Newsflash - the Boulder Sprouts has fresh, wild caught swordfish from the good 'ol USA for $8.99 a pound today. That's a decent price for a sale on previously frozen from who knows where, but absolutely fabulous on fresh and from the US. It's a "manager's special," so there's no telling how long it will be on sale. It changed my dinner plans for tonight in an instant.

Dinner Plans for the Weekend

Happy Friday all, time to get going with dinner plans, starting with tonight, which will be cod, potato, and fennel casserole from Gourmet magazine. This week's sales at Sprouts are screaming for this delicious dish, since organic russet potatoes are $2.50 for a five pound bag, and haddock, which is easily interchangeable with cod, is just $3.97 a pound. Asparagus from Wednesday's one-day sale at Whole Foods will go on the side, roasted in the oven in the style of my friend Ms. A., making good use of an already running oven.

A big soup for Saturday sounds like a good idea, and I'm in the mood for Mexican chicken soup. This recipe is from Whole Foods and calls for boneless skinless chicken breasts, which you can get there or through the sales at Sprouts and Sunflower. My own recipe isn't online, since it's from the American Heart Association Cookbook. It calls for a whole chicken, which I have from the last day that Rocky Jr chickens were on sale at Sprouts for the incredible price of 99 cents a pound. I'll also get to use some roasted chilies stashed away in my freezer during last fall's chile roasting season.

A bit of beef will round out the weekend, and the boneless beef short ribs that are $3.99 a pound at Sprouts are calling me. We'll probably bake them tossed in some barbeque sauce, baking some of those sale organic russets on the side. A fun alternative is pasta with tomato sauce and ribs, a slow cooker version originally published in the New York Times, although I don't see it there now. Having something in your slow cooker for Oscar night might be a good idea.

And that gets us through the weekend, with weekdays still to come. Stay safe in the little bit of snow we're having this morning.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Food Fit for the Oscars

Looking for a dinner menu or finger food suitable for Sunday's Academy Awards? can help you out with an Oscars Party Planner, complete with menus centered around each of the best picture nominees.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rocky Jr. Reminder

Just a reminder that today's the last day you can catch Rocky Jr. whole chickens for just 99 cents a pound at Sprouts. We see lots of statements about "all natural," but Rocky Jr. explicitly addresses the antibiotics issue, good for them.

New Sale Prices Are Up

Highlights (IMHO) of today's new sale prices for the Boulder Sprouts and Sunflower stores are up on the left, along with the Whole Foods sale that started last week and continues through this. Big news to me is the bulk sale at Sprouts, with 25% off the department, including their Fair Trade organic coffees.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

Our local Whole Foods stores will be tempting us with a duo of sales for tomorrow only. Get in a spring mood with asparagus for $1.49 a pound (not the lowest price we've ever seen, but still pretty darned good). And fresh, wild caught mahi mahi will be $9.99 a pound, $5 off their usual price. Whole Foods' fish is always superb, and the key word is that this is fresh, too, not previously frozen.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Events at Sunflower

The calendar for Sunflower's Boulder store says they'll be doing a cheese sampling tomorrow from noon to 2. Then on Wednesday from noon to 2, $2 will get you a bowl of chili in support of the American Heart Association.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weekday Dinner Ideas

Time to get going on plans for tomorrow through Thursday. Happy Presidents' Day tomorrow, and the holiday affords a chance to either do more heavy duty cooking, or kick back and relax. I'll take the middle road, doing a baked polenta with fontina and tomato sauce, accompanied by some chicken sausages from the sale at Sprouts. My baked polenta recipe is from Bon Appetit, and although I don't see that they've posted it themselves, it has been replicated in this post. I find the polenta works out better doing the liquid at three cups rather than four, and substituting chicken broth for some of the water. You can also really speed this up by using jarred pasta sauce instead of making the tomato sauce from scratch.

We always have something for an easy midweek reheat, and this week, it will be today's roast chicken. Some families might not get that much mileage out of one chicken, but in that case, why not roast two today. Buttermilk mashed potatoes will go on the side, with organic russets $2.50 for a five pound bag at Sprouts, and organic red rose potatoes 99 cents a pound at Sunflower.

By Wednesday, we'll want something involving rice, and it will also be time for a vegetarian dinner. Since Sprouts has bulk cut hot pepper jack cheese on sale for $2.99 a pound, I'm reminded of something I haven't made in quite a while, quick Mexican corn risotto from Bon Appetit. If your fridge isn't already stocked with frozen corn, you'll find Sprouts' own brand on sale, Cascadian Farms organic veggies on sale at Sunflower, and Whole Foods' everyday prices on their own brand are always good.

I'm thinking of the 100% organic ground beef on sale at Sprouts for $4.99 a pound for Thursday, and I'll have to catch it by Wednesday to get that sale price. I first tried this recipe fairly recently, but it was such a hit, we'll revisit it: chipotle sloppy Joes from Cooking Light. Organic onions are on sale at both Sprouts and Sunflower, and we liked this served over baked potatoes (organic russets on sale at Sprouts), rather than on buns.

And that will get us through to next Friday's new ideas.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Supper Club At Superior

The Superior Whole Foods calendar says they'll be doing a Supper Club this coming Tuesday, the 22nd. $10 will get you a three course healthy dinner. Here's what they say:

"Tuesday, February 22nd
Supper Club
6:00pm-8:00pm $10.00
Join us in our Superior Café for our first Heart Healthy Supper club. We will focus on whole foods, healthy fats, plant strong and high nutrient density foods. Dinner will include three courses [appetizer, main dish and dessert] Space is limited so sign up today at the Customer Service Counter. Dinner will include a demo on how to sauté without oil and super simple dessert."

Friday, February 18, 2011

Dinner Plans for the Weekend

Happy Friday, and time to get plans together for tonight through Sunday. I have my eye on the sea scallops that are on sale at Sprouts for $10.99 a pound for tonight, and a favorite way to do them is grilled sea scallops and tomatoes with olive vinaigrette from Gourmet magazine. Note that the"grilling" only requires a grill pan, so it's a perfect preparation for winter. The tomatoes work best using slices of a nice round one like a beefsteak, but I bet I can finagle something with organic romas that are $1.49 a pound, and excellent price, at Whole Foods. You can also take the lazy but speedy route with this recipe and substitute some lemon squeezes for the vinaigrette, but if you have the time, the sauce is worth it.

For tomorrow, I'm looking at a pasta dish, and with 41/50 count ez peel shrimp on sale at both Sprouts and Sunflower (Sunflower wins with $3.97 a pound, $4.99 a pound at Sprouts), I'm thinking it will be linguine with spicy shrimp from Cooking Light. For the pasta, note that Luigi Vitelli pastas are on sale at Sunflower for just 99 cents each (1 pound packages). The ad says "select varieties," but when they've done this in the past, the organic whole wheat ones have been included, a fabulous price. Stock up alert! Afternoon update: the whole wheat pasta unfortunately isn't included this time, a first in my experience. But its perennial "sale" price of $1.39 is great anyway.

We have fantastic whole chicken options happening right now, with today's one-day sale on organic ones at Whole Foods, and Rocky Jr. ones on sale at Sprouts through Wednesday (see this post for details), so Sunday's dinner will just have to be a classic roast chicken. We also have excellent prices on organic veggies to chop up, toss with a bit of olive oil and herbs, and roast on the side, including yams for 99 cents a pound at Sunflower, and potatoes, yellow onions (Sunflower also has red), and carrots on sale at both Sunflower and Sprouts. Toss in a few parsnip chunks too for a delicious taste. Recipes for roast chicken and veggies abound, but common sense will get you there as well.

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

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Another Whole Foods One-Day Sale

Our local Whole Foods stores will be doing a fantastic special for tomorrow only, Bell & Evans organic whole chickens for only $1.69 a pound. So we have a wonderful dilemma of great choices: the Rocky Jr. whole chicken on sale at Sprouts for 99 cents a pound through Wednesday, the Bell & Evans organic whole chicken at Whole Foods for $1.69 a pound tomorrow only, or the Boulder Natural Meats whole chicken that's $1.99 a pound at Vitamin Cottage all the way through February 27th. It's a great time for meat eaters, but probably not a good time to be a chicken.

More Sampling At Sunflower

Sunflower's calendar for the Boulder store says they'll be doing a seasonal produce recipe sampling today from noon to 2, and heart healthy product sampling from 11 to 2 this Saturday, the 19th.

Sprouts Makes the Business News

The Daily Camera is reporting that Sprouts will merge with Henry's Farmers Market, making two chains founded by the same family cosier. The combined companies will still be called Sprouts, so things probably won't seem different here. You can read the entire article in the Camera or by clicking on News and Announcements (on the basket of tomatoes) on Sprouts' homepage.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New Deals Are Up

Not so much happening with warring prices at our Boulder natural grocery stores this week, which means differing enticing deals are to be found everywhere, details found to the left. I'm especially excited about the Rocky Jr. whole fryer chickens at Sprouts for 99 cents a pound, plus they have my fave stuffed clams there for just 99 cents each, and 5 pound bags of organic russet potatoes to roast on the side for $2.50. Sunflower has a slew of organic veggies at 99 cents a pound, including yams, onions, and red rose potatoes, plus great prices on Muir Glen organic pasta sauce and the very useful 15 oz size of canned tomatoes, with Luigi Vitelli organic pasta just 99 cents a 1 lb package to go with it all. Organic apples can be found for just 99 cents a pound at both Sprouts and Sunflower. Meanwhile, Whole Foods continues to drive me crazy with their Two Bite products, this time the cinnamon rolls for $2.99 a tub. Whole Foods also has a stellar price on organic roma tomatoes, $1.49 a pound, a good price any time of year, but especially welcome now.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

More February Vitamin Cottage Specials

Another Vitamin Cottage weekly Hotline flyer arrived with my Daily Camera this week, with more specials good through February 27th. Items looking particularly good to me are four kinds of Rudi's organic sandwich breads for $2.99 a loaf, organic blueberries at $2.50 for a 6 oz container (hurray for a good price on organic ones!), my favorite Cascade Fresh yogurt cups for 59 cents each, and Lundberg's irresistible rice chips for $1.75 a bag. Nature's Gate shampoos or conditioners look great at $3.99 each for the 18 oz bottles, and $5.49 for the tea tree varieties, plus of course there are lots of specials on supplements. They must be doing some revamp work on their website, as the flyer posted there is still the January one.

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

Cheese lovers, rejoice. Tomorrow's one-day sale at our local Whole Foods stores will be Jarlsberg Swiss cheese wheel for $5.99 a pound, $4 off per pound. Yum.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Midweek Events At Sunflower

The Boulder Sunflower's calendar shows that this Wednesday, the 16th, there will be a weight management lecture and healthy smoothie demo with Jeffiger Tingstad from 7 to 8 pm. Then on Thursday, they'd do seasonal produce recipe sampling from noon to 2. I could use a few more ideas for butternut squash, which sustains me through these dreary winter months.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunflower Founder Resigns

Not sure what to make of this regarding Michael Gilliland, but it was reported by the Camera yesterday and today, and now has made it to the New York Times.

The Rest of This Week's Dinner Ideas

With tomorrow being Valentine's Day, we've already covered it with the Valentine's Day preview about the salmon with mustard-dill sauce. That only leaves us Tuesday through Thursday, which of course includes an easy reheat from the weekend's cooking, and in this case it will be the smoky shrimp and halibut stew. The shrimp I have in that stew from the Whole Foods one-day sale last week are so huge, they practically require a knife to eat.

Moving on to some actual cooking, we haven't had anything with rice yet in the week, and the current grocery sales are crying out for stir-fried beef with broccoli and yams from Bon Appetit. Stir fry beef is on sale at Sunflower for $3.99 a pound, and you'll also find organic broccoli there for just 99 cents a pound, while organic yams are just 97 cents a pound at Sprouts through Wednesday.

We'll finish off the midweek planning with a simple saute of pork chops, which are $3.99 a pound through Wednesday at Sunflower. Whole Foods also has American Homestead pork loin chops for $5.99 a pound through Tuesday, and I bet they're great. A microwaved "baked" potato goes on the side, along with a green veggie, perhaps the organic chard that's $1.50 a bunch at Whole Foods through Tuesday, or the asparagus that's $1.99 a pound at both Sprouts and Sunflower through Wednesday.

And that will get us through to Friday's planning.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine's Day Dinner Preview

Valentine's Day falls on a Monday this year, and its too important to leave to my usual weekday dinner planning to be done tomorrow. For a holiday pitched with surf 'n turf specials, my thinking tends to be a bit unorthodox. To me, the underlying message of a Valentine's dinner of filet mignon topped with Bearnaise sauce, with a cheese- and cream-laced potato gratin on the side is "Honey, I wish you'd drop dead, and I'm feeding you to expedite the process." To the contrary, my plan is a delicious salmon dish that's special enough to mark the occasion, but simple and easy at the same time: salmon, mustard greens, and potatoes with mustard-dill glaze from Bon Appetit. As you can see, the recipe covers all the main course elements in one concept, tying the three together with the mustard dill sauce. Healthy, easy, yet elegant and delicious.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine's Day Dinner Guides

Planning a romantic night in and trying to figure out what to make for Valentine's Day dinner? My fave cooking magazine sites have some terrific guides with recipes, menus, and videos to help you out. Check out the ones at Bon Appetit, its sister Epicurious, and sophisticated Saveur.

Getting Started on This Week's Dinners

All eyes may be on Valentine's Day Monday, but we still need to eat across the weekend, starting with tonight. Shrimp is on my mind, having scored big at Whole Foods' one-day sale two days ago, and Sprouts also has wild caught jumbo raw shrimp on sale this week ($8.99 a pound for the 21-25 count ones). I'm therefore going to try something new to me from Food & Wine magazine, smoky shrimp and grits. It's nice that the recipe has been lightened from the classic Southern style by cutting back on the cheese and adding spinach. Grits are so easy to cook too; if the name doesn't sound classy enough for you, call it polenta. I want to do something with the organic cauliflower that's 99 cents a pound at Sunflower for the side, so it will probably roast in the oven, possibly as roasted cauliflower with dates and pine nuts from the Food Network.

It will then be time for something involving pasta, something vegetarian, and something celebrating our winter veggies, so we'll turn to pappardelle with squash, mushrooms, and spinach from Bon Appetit. Peeled winter squash is one of the few veggies I'm willing to eat in a conventional version, and Sprouts has acorn, butternut, and spaghetti squash for 69 cents a pound this week.

To finish off the weekend, we still need our big pot of something to reheat for a quick midweek dinner, and this week's sales are calling for an old favorite, smoky shrimp and halibut stew. See the note above regarding the shrimp, and with sustainably sourced halibut nearly the price of gold, cod that's on sale at both Sprouts and Sunflower this week makes a perfectly reasonable and delicious substitute. Add a salad on the side, and a beautiful loaf of WFM seeded wholegrain bread, on sale at Whole Foods for $2.79 a loaf, and you're set.

And that will do us for the weekend. Valentine's Day preview coming shortly, or at least before Sunday's weekday dinners post.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Valentine's Events Saturday

Lots of things happening at our local natural foods stores this Saturday in anticipation of Valentine's Day. The Boulder Sunflower's calendar says they will be doing Valentine's Day Meal Ideas from 11 to 2 that day. The Pearl Street Whole Foods store is planning a fun-sounding afternoon of tasting and fiddling. Here's what they say:

"Saturday, February 12th
Irish Fiddler Adam Agee
12pm-4pm FREE
Join us for a special Valentine's treat- Irish fiddler, Adam Agee. Taste yummy treats from each of our departments and experience Adam's beautiful sound. Free and fun for the whole family."

And the Whole Foods store in Superior will get into the act with a Kids Club Valentine Gift and Cooking Class. Here's what they say:

"Saturday, February 12th
Kids Club Event- Valentine Gift and Cooking Class
11:00am Free
Hey kids, join us in our Café and make a Valentines gift for that Special Valentine in your life. Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate! Come learn how to have a heart healthy Valentine’s Day that will taste great! You won’t want to miss this class! Please sign up at the Customer Service Desk to reserve your space today!"

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Directory of CSAs Around Boulder

What a nice thing to think about in the middle of winter - signing up for this year's CSA (community supported agriculture) options. Somebody (looks like kudos to Joe Kovack) really did their homework at the Daily Camera, producing this terrific directory of Boulder County farms offering CSAs, through which you pick up the farm's selection of whatever produce is at its peak on a regular basis. The directory is excellent, with pricing, contact name, phone, pickup points, etc. Now's evidently the time to move, and I note that my favorite Cure Organic Farm has been so successful, their veggie CSA is already sold out for 2011. I really admire people who embrace the CSA approach - they must be knowledgeable, creative, and flexible in their cooking to deal with the regular arrival of a veggie box, the contents of which are outside their control. (Either that or they waste a lot of veggies, terrible thought.) I'm too much of a pre-planner to go that route, but just the thought of it is giving me warm, fuzzy feelings about the Farmers' Market and my favorite farm stands reopening in the spring. The Boulder Farmers' Market should open the first Saturday in April, and since we're heading toward the middle of February now, that really isn't very long, folks.

A Gigantic Shrimp Sale, In Multiple Senses

As previously reported, Whole Foods' one-day sale today includes 16-20 count shrimp from the US for $9.99 a pound. I can now tell you that these are the most gigantic honkin' shrimp I've ever seen. They're also wild caught in the US, and with Whole Foods' policies regarding responsibility and sustainability, that makes $9.99 a pound a most excellent price, a gigantic sale. At the Pearl Street store, you can buy them already defrosting in the case in any quantity your heart desires, and the island freezer case contains them still-frozen in about half pound packages, so you can store them if you don't plan to use them immediately. Also, the nice guy behind the seafood counter offered to bag a couple of pounds that were still frozen for me, so I didn't have to mess with storing and recycling four plastic containers, sweet service. If you really want to think big, the frozen shrimp also come in five pound bags.

And don't forget, Boulder's own fantastic Chocolove chocolate bars are better than half off at only $1 each during this one-day sale, too. I certainly picked up a few.

New Sale Prices Are Up

Highlights of new Boulder natural grocery sales are up on the left, so better get started on your Valentine's Day dinner plans. Surf 'n turf wars of course figure prominently. I'm more enthused about some of the organic veggie prices, with yams at Sprouts and broccoli and cauliflower at Sunflower all selling for less than a dollar a pound. Good stuff. And it looks like this time Whole Foods really does intend for their sale to go a full three weeks, through the 15th, since that's what the online flyers for the Pearl Street and Superior stores still say. Last time they published a three week flyer, they tripped me up by changing out the specials after two weeks.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, our local Whole Foods stores are offering us a lovely pair of specials for tomorrow only. Chocolate lovers take note, Chocolove bars (the big 3.2 oz ones, we're not talking the bitty ones here) will be better than half off tomorrow for just $1 each, so stock up! When they did this sale in December, I saw people buying them by the caseload. My stash is almost gone, since they made great stocking stuffers as well as irresistible snacking. We're poised for a similar opportunity with Valentine's Day - why not pass them around to your friends to say thank you for being your friend?

The other sale is also a good one, white jumbo 16/20 shrimp from the good ol' USA for $9.99 a pound, $6 off. Those are very large shrimp, perfect for impressing a sweetie, plus so good to have them from the US.

Soup Tasting and Cooking Class

For Boulder foodies who have dug out of today's snow, tomorrow is a busy one at a couple of our natural grocery stores. Sunflower's calendar says they'll be doing a soup sampling in the Boulder store from 11 to 1. And the Superior Whole Foods store will be prepping for a collaborative Valentine's Day with a Couples Cooking Class. Here's what they say:

"Wednesday, February 9th
Couple Cooking Class
6:30pm $10.00
Husband & wife, mother & daughter, friends…Give the Gift of Time this Valentine’s Day! Joins us on Wednesday with someone special in your life as we stir up the perfect romantic dinner for Valentine’s Day, shrimp and pink risotto with a chocolate dessert your sure to feel passionate about making at home this Valentine’s Day! Please sign up at our Customer Service Desk to reserve your space today!"

Monday, February 7, 2011

Vitamin Cottage's February Specials

Maybe I'll find a bigger sale flyer once I get into the store, but from the little flyer I have in hand, it looks like our local Vitamin Cottage is going for a smaller set of specials again. The flyer calls itself a "Weekly Hotline," but says these deals are good through February 27th. Supplements of course are prominent in the ad. Among the food items, I like organic kiwis at three for $1, 15 oz Westbrae organic canned beans at 99 cents each, and 16 oz frozen packages of Cascadian Farm veggies or potatoes for $1.99 each. The version of the Hotline they have on their website is still the one from January, so that's not currently a help.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Weekday Dinner Ideas

Happy game day everybody, but the rest of the week still requires attention. Since we're staying pretty healthy today with a vegetarian chili, for tomorrow we can indulge in Whole Foods' cinque formaggio pizza, currently on sale for $7.99 for a large one. This sale theoretically goes through the 15th, per the sales flyer, but the last time Whole Foods said they were doing a three week sale, they in fact replaced it after their usual two weeks. I'm therefore taking no chances; I'm getting my cinque formaggio pizza now! It's great embellished with some Yves veggie pepperoni, currently also on sale at Whole Foods (Pearl Street and probably elsewhere) for $2.50, plus mushrooms or whatever other veggie appeals.

Then of course we'll have an easy reheat dinner, and this week, there are two to choose from, Saturday's lentil soup with spicy Italian sausage or tonight's vegetarian chili. A big side salad, and cornbread leftover from tonight, and we're done.

With ground turkey 40% off at Sunflower through Wednesday, our experiment for the week will be a Lao dish (evidently it's no longer Laoatian, it's Lao), ground turkey laap from the current issue of Food and Wine magazine. I'm sure this is at least the second, if not the third, laap recipe I've encountered in the past couple of months, so laap seems to be a culinary rising star. Think I'd skip the first step of toasting and grinding one tablespoon of rice though - I can't imagine it would add enough flavor to justify the effort, especially in the middle of the week. Using lettuce or endive to roll up the laap is a great idea, and a little brown rice on the side would also be good.

Following Wednesday's experiment, we'll finish off the current planning with a simple standby, spaghetti with sausage, onions, and peppers, using the chicken sausage on sale at both Sunflower ($1.99 a pound) and Sprouts ($2.99 a pound) through Wednesday. Using bottle pasta sauce, this doesn't get any easier. Also, yesterday, Sunflower had excellent manager's specials on both Muir Glen organic pasta sauce for $2.99 a jar and Luigi Vitello organic whole wheat (or white) pasta for 99 cents a one pound package, although you can never tell how long a manager's special will hang in there. Regardless, it's a cheap and easy dinner.

And that gets us through to next Friday's planning. Happy game day, and enjoy our several days of snow.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Back To Plan A

A heads up for lovers of smoked foods: the Pearl Street Whole Foods has out-of-stocked on the smoked wings I rhapsodized over yesterday. Unfortunately, I didn't pick them up then, knowing I was doing a more major run there today, and fresher is better, right? Maybe they'll have them back tomorrow, but who knows. I called the Superior store to see if they might have them, and they said the Pearl Street store was one of very few in the state to have a smoking facility, theirs not among them. So I'm back to the idea of sauteed chicken breast strips in a wing sauce, this time a purchased one, since I didn't have the recipe for my original idea with me when I found out the smoked wings were gone. Looks like that will work well with the Wing-Time Buffalo wing sauce I picked up at the Pearl Street store, pretty easy in any case.

Cheers For Sprouts' E-Newsletter

It's really worth signing up for Sprouts' mailing list, just for the coupons. This month's newsletter includes coupons for a free Green & Black's 3.5 oz organic chocolate bar, plus half off a Natural Factors CoQ10 100 mg 30 count bottle. Signing up gets you the monthly newsletter plus weekly notice of new specials the day before they come out, so it's not like it floods your inbox. So if you aren't already on, I highly recommend heading to Sprouts' website, where you click on the mailbox in the lower right corner to sign up.

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Buffalo Wing Temptation

Okay, here I was, all set to do a healthier substitute for Buffalo wings this Sunday, making them from scratch from chicken breast strips, but then I saw the wing display at the Pearl Street Whole Foods today. In addition to the classic Buffalo wings, they have variants like sesame and the diabolical-sounding "atomic." But the option that totally arrested me was the house-smoked wings. How irresistible is that? So our Super Bowl plan might involve wings after all.

Dinner Ideas Across Super Bowl Weekend

Time to get our plans set for today through game day, keeping everything light, natural, and sale-oriented as usual, even on Super Bowl Sunday.

For today, with fresh mahi mahi available at Sprouts for $7.99 a pound, I'm thinking fish tacos. Mahi makes the best tacos, and a good recipe to adapt it into is crispy snapper tacos from Gourmet magazine. Use taco shells straight from the package (no extra frying step, please!), and don't forget that Sunflower has avocados for just 49 cents apiece this week.

The chicken sausage sales at both Sunflower ($1.99 a pound) and Sprouts ($2.99 a pound) are providing inspiration for tomorrow, which will be lentil soup with spicy Italian sausage from Bon Appetit. Using the fresh sausage instead of the cooked ones called for is easy, so long as (obviously) you cook the sausage. I like this recipe because it also calls for our wintery parsnips, plus the fresh touch of spinach leaves.

Finally, on to Super Bowl Sunday. Hummus with raw veggies and Crunchmaster gluten-free crackers makes a great, light snack throughout the afternoon. You can make your own, like smoky chipotle hummus from Bon Appetit, or shortcut that by buying prepared hummus, which is on sale at both Sprouts and Sunflower this week. For more substantial food, I'm going to experiment replacing traditional hot wings with a lightened version of Buffalo chicken "fries." This recipe was originally published in Cuisine At Home magazine, and was posted by an enthusiastic sampler. I like its being based on boneless skinless chicken breasts, and the cholesterol can be cut significantly by using Earth Balance instead of the butter called for. As published, the Buffalo chicken is paired with a mac n' cheese soup that looks yummy but beyond redemption in terms of cholesterol, so I'm turning to a light chili instead. It will either be my favorite vegetarian (and veggie-packed) black bean chili with butternut squash and Swiss chard from Bon Appetit, or a tofu chili such as this one from Whole Foods. Some variant of cornbread would be great on the side, and I'm thinking about cornmeal biscuits with cheddar and chipotle from Bon Appetit. (Witness my chipotle addiction - it appears in today's fish tacos, the hummus, and in these biscuits.) That recipe does look like a fair amount of work, so it might morph into a straight cornbread instead.

And that will get us through the weekend, including the Super Bowl! More thinking to come for the rest of the week.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Another Whole Foods One-Day Sale

Tomorrow only, our local Whole Foods stores will have organic Hass avocados for $1 each, just in time for your game day guacamole, and $1.50 off their regular price. Sunflower this week has organic Hass avocados for 99 cents each, and Sprouts has them for $1.25, both through next Wednesday. Can't say without seeing them which store is offering the largest avocado for the buck.

Super Bowl Foodie Ideas

First of all, happy Year of the Rabbit. Foodies are also looking toward this weekend's Super Bowl festivities, typically a time of overindulgence in food (snacks) and drink (beer). I've seen calls for elevating the cuisine to include roasts and wine, but to me, that flies in the face of the day's temperament. It's possible to have good, even healthy, food that still evokes Super Bowl fun. I'm working on my plan, and if you are too, there are several guides that are chock full of ideas. Both Bon Appetit and its sister, epicurious have good ones, and Cooking Light will show you how to lighten up several standards like chili. No need to have a pizza dripping with grease delivered to your door, and you don't have to go the roast and wine route, either (unless you want to).

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

New Prices Plus Last Day Alert

Prices for sales beginning today at our local Sprouts and Sunflower are posted to the left, along with those that are continuing at Whole Foods. With the new sales trending toward game day food for Sunday's Super Bowl, here's a reminder that Sprouts and Sunflower both have some stunning deals ending today on their "double ad" Wednesdays. At Sprouts, that includes asparagus for 99 cents a pound, the entire health, beauty, vitamin and supplement at 25% off, and their wonderful bulk coffee (including organic Fair Trade varieties) for $7.99 a pound. Meanwhile, if you haven't already stocked up on Seventh Generation bathroom tissue at Sunflower for half off the usual going price, today's the last day for a 12 pack for $4.99, so get thee hence.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

One-Day Sale at Whole Foods Tomorrow

Our local Whole Foods stores will be doing another one-day sale tomorrow. It's a duo this time, one healthy sounding, and one that evokes Super Bowl party snacks. Spectrum ground flaxseed will be half off at $3.69, which you can make even better with the $2 off coupon you can find in The Whole Deal or online at Whole Foods. Also, Garden of Eatin' party size tortilla chips will be on sale for $2 a bag, and you'll also find a $1 off coupon for it in The Whole Deal. Good deal indeed!

Good Timing on the Soup

Oh brrrr. Yesterday's immune building herbal tonic soup was very well timed, as we plunge into a deep freeze. The soup was delicious, too. It was a recipe from a friend, but you can find a recipe with similar properties here. It was the first I'd ever heard of astragalus root, but I see it's also the first ingredient in a sample of an immune boosting supplement I received at Sprouts last week. Learn something every day. Stay warm out there.