My Ode to the Whole Foods Salad Bar

If you’ve been reading AlmostVegGirlie for awhile, you’ll know that I have an unhealthy obsession with the Whole Foods salad bar. I first discovered it in July 2011–even though there’s been a Whole Foods in my city for years, I had never ventured to the salad bar side of the store. I fell in love at first bite, and the rest is history. Actually, after my first time trying it, I didn’t get it again for 7 months. But once this summer hit, I’ve been getting my salad bar fix on the reg (probably once or twice a month) and each box is totally worth it.

Some of my favorite salad bar creations, in collage form.

Some of my favorite salad bar creations, in collage form.

Dear Whole Foods Salad Bar, 

When I first met you, I had high expectations

I hoped you’d be delicious, and you were.

We didn’t meet again for many months

And I missed you every day

But now we’re reunited

And I won’t forget about you again.

I love your variety, your tasty flavors

You always have plenty of vegan options

You’re my favorite place to eat.

You have my old favorites

But there’s always something new to discover

And that’s why I love you…

Even though you cost 5 or 6 bucks

It’s a love affair that’s worth every cent 

 

Boy was that cheesy or what 😉 Obviously I have a scary addiction to it, but there are definitely worse things to be addicted to.

Other than that lame poem (that didn’t even rhyme), I wanted to share some of my tips for Whole Foods salad bar picking and some of my favorites.

Tips

  • If you want to save money, only put one or two heavier items in your box. They charge by pound (the bars by me charge $7.99 per pound) so you’ll want to load up on lighter weight items if you’re going for a cheaper meal.
  • Read the ingredients. If you have an allergy, intolerance or dietary preference, the salad bar will be your savior. They have cards out above each item listing all the ingredients in it, so you know exactly what you’re putting in your body.
  • Try new things. I have a few favorites I always get, but when I see something new and interesting, I usually put a little of it in my box. That way, if it isn’t great, I won’t have wasted valuable box space. But if it is good, then you’ll have a new favorite!
  • Go to different Whole Foods. If you have more than one in your area, I would highly recommend trying out different stores to see which one has the best salad bar variety. The Whole Foods I shop the most at at home has the best salad bar options, while the one in my college town is more hit-or-miss. And go on different days, too, since they usually switch up items a lot from day to day or week to week.

Favorites

  • Maple glazed sweet potato chunks. I can’t remember the exact name of these, but it’s big chunks of sweet potatoes in a lightly sweet sauce with bell peppers and currants. It’s one of my “heavy item” splurges.
  • Homemade wheat tortilla chips. I generally don’t eat wheat products on a daily basis because I feel better without it, but these chips are definitely worth it. They’re so fresh and thick and salty and delicious.
  • Guacamole. Whole Foods makes the best guac, period.
  • Coconut curry tofu. They also make the best tofu. This version is great, creamy without the dairy and a bit spicy.
  • Superfood salad. This combines so many superfoods in one–kale, cashews, blueberries and acai dressing.
  • California quinoa salad. I have yet to recreate this one but I really need to. It’s red quinoa, edamame, flaked coconut, mango and bell pepper in a really good light dressing.
  • Marinated artichokes. I love artichoke hearts anyway, but these are totally craveable.

Have you ever eaten the Whole Foods salad bars? What’s your favorite item there?

WIAW: The Random Salad Chef

Like a lot of bloggers out there, I love me a good salad. Not just any lame rendition of greens and too much dressing will do, though–it’s gotta be flavorful and unique. There are a couple restaurants that actually make some pretty awesome salads (like Panera and Chipotle) and Whole Foods always has some amazing versions at their hot and cold bars but making my own almost always beats them out because I control what goes in…and I can make them huge to last for several days! Lately I’ve been feeling pretty creative when it comes to salads and I made a couple in big batches so I can enjoy them again and again. And luckily, they’re delicious enough that I want to eat them daily!

Breakfast: peanut flour chocolate chip waffle topped with sunny “raw”nola and honey vanilla agave.

I’ve been on a pancake kick lately but I’ve been wanting to switch it up so I dug out the waffle maker and decided to wing a high protein waffle. I based it off my peanut flour pancake recipe and it actually turned out almost perfect. Sure, it was a little thin and crispy but I loved it, especially with a few dark chocolate chips thrown in there and topped with my sunny “raw”nola and agave.

Lunch: southwestern style pasta salad, baby carrots, half a raw brownie, fresh blueberries.

This pasta salad was not totally thought out, but it worked. It’s been hotter than hell here lately (in the upper 90s, yikes!) so I’ve been wanting chilled dinners. I boiled some quinoa pasta (I love it more than whole wheat pasta and it’s gluten free), cooled it off and mixed it with pinto beans, chopped sweet peppers, cilantro and a homemade dressing made with a little olive oil and chili lime seasoning. It made a huge batch–I had some for dinner on Sunday, lunch on Monday and I still have a ton left. Of course, I topped it with some nooch, aka my obsession and served it with a delicious raw brownie that I froze, baby carrots and blueberries. Perfect summer lunch.

Pool time is where it’s at!

Kiddie pool time, that is!

Speaking of being hot, we just invested in an inflatable pool for our new backyard. My sis and I tried sitting in it for awhile on Monday but the water was a little too freezing. We ended up just settling for putting our feet in it and it helped cool us down, at least for a little while.

Snackplate: kettle corn, sweet potato multigrain chips, frozen pineapple, Chocolove coffee crunch chocolate square, maple macadamias, peanut flour paste.

Nothing crazy or new here, just a different variation on my typical snackplate.

Hopefully I wasn’t a hot mess like I felt I was…

Dinner: Moroccan quinoa salad, unpictured carrot cake smoothie.

This salad was more thought out and actually turned out pretty delicious. I dubbed it the Moroccan salad because the flavors seemed Moroccan-ish but what do I know?!

Moroccan Quinoa Salad (vegan, gluten-free)

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup raisins, golden or regular

handful green kale, washed and patted dry

1 medium sweet potato

1/4 cup dry quinoa, rinsed

2 tsp olive oil

1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

cinnamon, hot chili powder, curry powder, sea salt (to taste)

sunflower seeds, to garnish

Place chickpeas, raisins and kale in a large bowl or container and set aside. Cook sweet potato in microwave for 3-4 minutes, or until partially cooked but still firm. Slice into thin rounds, brush with a little olive oil and some spices and place on oiled grill (or grill pan) for 15 minutes or until the sweet potato gets grill marks. Make quinoa (boil 1/2 cup of water, add in rinsed quinoa, turn down heat and let simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes) and then stir in with chickpea mixture. Once sweet potato is cooked, chop slices into quarters and add in with chickpeas and quinoa. In a small bowl, stir together olive oil, apple cider vinegar and spices until it forms a thin paste (add water if needed to thin out). Mix it all together and let it sit in the fridge for at least half an hour. Top with sunflower seeds. Makes 4-5 servings.

Dessert: peanut butter Puffins in almond milk, sunny “raw”nola, almond peanut cashew butter.

Cereal is the best way to end the day, obviously!

Oh, and before I forget–please keep Colorado in your thoughts and prayers. There have been way too many wildfires here within the past month and a lot of people have been displaced temporarily or even lost their homes. There are large fires burning near both of the cities I call home (my college town and my hometown) and it’s been kinda scary watching the news lately. Thanks for thinking of us!

One of the fires, only 30-ish miles from my house 😦

What’s the most random salad you’ve ever made? How have you been keeping cool (if it’s hot where you are)?

Friday Faves (June 15th)

Moving in the summer is no joke! It’s been at least 85 degrees here the past three days we’ve been moving stuff back and forth between our old house and our new one but it’s felt more like a million degrees in the house, especially carrying boxes and moving furniture around. I’m just glad I don’t live somewhere humid, so it’s sticky on top of being hot! I’m also glad we got our internet hooked up on our first full day of being moved in. It kinda sucks having to live without internet at your own house!

Favorite Workout: Walking to Starbucks with my sister

Tall coffee light Frappuccino with soy…worth the $4!

Like I mentioned in my WIAW post, we moved closer into town so now we’re nearby all the good things a city has to offer–like movie theatres, grocery stores, gas stations and…Starbucks! In fact, our new house is within walking distance of the ‘bucks! Okay, well if you consider walking distance a 20-25 minute walk in the blazing hot sun. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad though and going with my sister made it even more fun. And the drink was even more worth it since we had to work for it–win win! I love this Frapp flavor because it’s got a hint of caramely-ness (not a word but whatevs) that makes it perfect, and since it’s a light version with soy, it’s not a calorie bomb and I feel a little bit better about enjoying it!

Favorite Discovery: I love to drive…by myself

I have a liiiiiiiiittle bit too much fun while driving (no worries, this was taken in a parking lot!)

I don’t have a car of my own (yet…) but I’ve been doing a lot of solo driving lately and I’m loving it. It feels so freeing to sing at the top of my lungs to “Call Me Maybe”, go where I want when I want and cuss out other drivers for being stupid. Hey, it happens sometimes, and as long as I’m not actually engaging in road rage, I think a few choice words here and there are okay 😉 Anyways, it’s been a lot of fun realizing the independence that comes from having a car.

Favorite Thing That Cost Me $7: Whole Foods salad bar stuff

No boring salad bar for this girl! It was totally worth the money!

I always get super jealous when I see people’s pics of Whole Foods salad bar boxes on their blogs. The last time I went (before Tuesday and Wednesday) was February. Lame! So I used the opportunity of us moving and being too busy and tired to cook to pick up some of their salad bar goodies. Both days, I got basically the same things because I loved them all–chipotle orange tofu, chilled sweet potato chunks with currants and some yummy sweet dressing, salted pistachios, acai kale salad, Mediterranean crunch salad and California quinoa salad. Ah-mazing to all of the above, especially the sweet potatoes and quinoa salad. I also picked myself up a dessert on the side both days, one time it was a giant vegan chocolate chip cookie that I split up for two nights and the other time it was a vegan chocolate donut that I split with my sister. Actually, she ate most of it and loved it, which was fine by me. She’s usually wary of vegan items but she’s been loving the vegan desserts I’ve been giving to her lately! To anybody who thinks vegan means boring, it most certainly does not, as evidenced by this salad bar box and every vegan dessert I’ve ever tried 😀

Favorite Thing to Eat When I’m Not Feeling So Hot: Whole Foods Caribbean popsicles

Not quite the same, but you get the idea!

I generally don’t eat popsicles–like smoothies, they don’t usually do much for my hunger because I can eat them so quickly. But sometimes, you just gotta have a naturally-sweetened, giant popsicle. Yesterday, I was getting over some nasty stomach issue that left me leaving kinda queasy all day plus it was hot and I was moving stuff around. So a popsicle from Whole Foods was in order! I liked it a lot because it was pretty big so it took me longer to eat, it was tropical-flavored which is always my favorite and it only had a couple ingredients besides the fruit in it. It quenched my thirst, cooled me down and left my stomach feeling a little better.

What’s something you’re willing to spend a (relatively) large amount on? What do you eat or drink when you’re not feeling so great?