Friday, August 7, 2015

Lunch at Whole Foods & Vegan Grocery Haul

If you're vegan, you probably already know about Whole Foods, and the fact that they have a large salad and hot food bar. The food is pretty pricey, but you can usually get a really nice meal with your grocery shopping. My only knock (apart from the prices) on the food is that it's either too consistent, or too inconsistent. Sometimes there's something you absolutely love, like the Asian noodles, and they hook you on it week after week. Then, at the peak of your addiction, poof! Gone. On the other hand, sometimes they decide you want the vegan samosas, and there they'll be, week in, week out, until you want to scream.

During the summer my husband, my mother, and I go in for lunch before our groceries. We each make up our own quirky plates. This time around I had a salad with a bunch of stuff: spinach, couscous, black beans, mushrooms, broccoli, and corn, and the split pea soup, which wasn't labeled vegan, but was. They tend to mislabel the food, so you really have to read the ingredients, which are thankfully always posted (and, one hopes, correctly).

The salad was very fresh, and the soup absolutely delicious, even though we had to sit outside in the 93 degree weather--the one thing about Whole Foods is that the lunch crowd is insane, so don't expect to find a table without a wait. I got the soup thinking of eating inside, where it's supermarket freezing, but out in the heat it was not the best choice!

My husband also opted for a salad. He also got the couscous and some kind of beet-marinated tofu, with cauliflower and some spinach:

My mom got some pita bread and hummus, some mashed sweet potatoes, vegan lasagna, and tofu:

I think she paid the didn't-read-the-label price, however, assuming that the mashed sweet potatoes were vegan. I believe they usually add butter or sometimes honey, which is one of my pet peeves. So many dishes that would be vegan if not for the honey! What is this obsession with honey? Have they never heard of agave? I had the vegan lasagna last week; kinda wimpy.

And then I thought I'd include our grocery haul, just in case you're wondering what all vegans are buying these days, what there is to be found at Whole Foods:

Starting from the left and going across, we got some blueberries, some vegan cookies from the Whole Foods bakery (oatmeal raisin and ginger), some vegan cheese puffs from Earth Balance, some coffee creamer, spicy sprouts, vegan yogurt, whole wheat elbow pasta, a cucumber, some tomatoes, an Amy's soy cheese pizza, some Daiya mac and cheese, coconut oil, baking powder, Tofurky slices, almond extract, Yves pepperoni, and some pluots.

Some of these are staples, like the blueberries (I eat these with granola for breakfast), tomatoes, cucumber, and sprouts (for sandwiches and salads). The So Delicious coconut yogurt is also a staple. Some of these are very sugary, so I try to get the plain unsweetened, which you can also use for cooking, and then I add some Truvia if I want to eat it straight up (or some Love Crunch granola, which we didn't buy this time around but is really amazing and already sweet. The dark chocolate is vegan). Most dried pastas are vegan, so we always have some around, and the coconut oil has a myriad of uses from making fudge to moisturizing. The pluots are a summer staple. I can't describe how good they are. The word orgasmic comes to mind, but that's not enough. You'll have to get some of your own. The cookies are a splurge, but they are EXCELLENT. They also have chocolate chip. They always have the big ones at the bakery, but every once in a while they put the mini ones out in boxes and then you just have to buy them. You just have to. We've tried all the vegan pizzas on the market, but Amy's soy (they also have Daiya) is the one we keep returning to. It's best if you add extra cheese (Daiya) and your own toppings (hence the pepperoni), since the ones with toppings tend to be very skimpy. The Tofurky slices are my mother's go-to lunch meat. I think they're kind of bland, but I was never a fan of lunch meat, even when I ate things like that.

Two of these are new products that are exceptionally good: The Earth Balance white cheddar cheese puffs and the Daiya alfredo mac and cheese. Oh my! The one thing I miss from the dairy world is cheese puffs, which are so artificial anyway that I can't believe they're not accidentally vegan. These Earth Balance ones are delectable, however. We pretty much ate the whole bag minutes after taking this picture. We've also tried Amy's mac and cheese, but this Daiya one blows it out of the park. It's downright gourmet. The box says three servings, but if you want three servings, I suggest you get three boxes.

Well, that's all, folks. Obviously Whole Foods gets an A+ despite the prices, simply because they've been catering to vegans since before it became trendy. Luckily, these days you can get about 75% of your vegan groceries at regular supermarkets, especially Publix. My husband even found vegan mayo at Walmart! For the more esoteric stuff, however, Whole Foods continues to be the go-to place, with more selection than Trader Joe's. And don't forget those cookies.

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