Wednesday, September, 04, 2013
I was invited to attend a sneak peek event of a new location of The Fresh Market opening near me in Overland Park, Kansas. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was to get a glimpse of a never-shopped-in store.
Perhaps this is just another indicator of my food nerd-ism, but I love grocery shopping. When I eliminated gluten, I found myself spending hours reading labels, searching aisles for ingredients I’d never heard of. The grocery store became a new adventure for me, a place I knew I could find the answers to how I could continue eating with my new guidelines. So the chance to visit a new store, one that is completely new to my area, was exciting!
A small group of us were led on a tour of the store, along with several sample stops along the way. But before the tour even started, I eyed these beautiful nectarines. I just spotted a peach recipe round-up at All Gluten-Free Desserts, perfect timing!
Oh, the beautiful produce section! Lots of conventional and organic fruits and veggies, much of it local. I like The Fresh Market’s labeling system of the Local 100 and Regional 300 items,, indicating items sourced within 100 miles or 300 miles.
The bakery counter, all items baked in house, was definitely drool-worthy. Unfortunately nothing I could try, but sure fun to look at and get a little inspiration for home baking projects.
After seeing this display of one of my favorite gluten-free crackers intermingled with a non-gluten-free snack mix, I asked about their gluten-free labeling. They do have gluten-free tags marking products in the aisles and only use those tags on items that the manufacturer has labeled gluten-free. As with any store, you should still read product labels. I initially was excited to check out the bags of snack mix intermingled with the crackers, thinking I had discovered a new gluten-free item (by association of proximity to the crackers) and quickly discovered it contains gluten. Keep reading labels, folks, but know The Fresh Market is taking steps toward making it easier with the on-shelf labeling.
The Fresh Market has in-store Fresh Flavor Cooking Demos taught by a chef. We watched a demo for Blackened Steak with a Cabernet Blue Cheese Sauce. While I couldn’t sample it, it was a terrific demo. Each month they offer a different demo and along with a sample, you get a recipe card. They also have an Inspirations publication, part sale ad, part food magazine. The copy I picked up has several recipes that are easily modified to fit my dietary plan.
Speaking of publications, look what I found in the store: Simply Gluten-Free Magazine! I also spotted several other magazines that are faves.
It was fun to see local coffee connoisseur and founded of The Roasterie, Danny O’Neill, in the store. He shared a bit of company history with us, talked briefly about where coffee is grown and how The Roasterie selects beans before serving coffee. I had the EthiopianYirgacheffe Fair Trade Organic. It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Roasterie coffee and I’m happy to see The Fresh Market is carrying their product.
Another stop along the tour took us to the cheese department. We learned what the stamps on a wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano mean, how long the cheese is aged and a bit about the process. I was surprised to hear it takes 165 gallons of cows milk to make an 85 pound wheel of cheese. Everywhere we turned in the store, there was a staff member with a great amount of knowledge about their area of the store. So nice!
A big YAY about this: there is a store brand at The Fresh Market. One of my greatest challenges is eating healthy on a budget so I often look for store brands. Here are a couple of the items I tried from The Fresh Market:
The Vidalia Onion with Dijon Mustard salad dressing made a great marinade for veggie kabobs.
The Hot Salsa was great with chips. I rarely buy salsa at the store, preferring homemade and questioning the ingredients in many, but was thrilled to read the label on this one. The ingredients are so simple: tomatoes, onions, cilantro, habanero peppers, garlic, salt and lime juice. Pretty similar to what I make at home!
A few other areas in the store caught my eye, including the spices, the beautiful candy aisle and the large seasonal display loaded up with fall and Halloween goodies. I can already tell I’m going to like shopping at The Fresh Market!
The Fresh Market visited in this post is located at 6261 West 135th street in Overland Park, Kansas.
Full Disclosure: I received a goodie bag and store gift card while attending the Sneak Peek event. No further compensation was received for this article. The opinions expressed are my own, as always.
Friday, March, 08, 2013
On a recent ski trip, we spent just enough time in Denver for me to snag a few of my favorite cookies, have an amazing breakfast and visit a store I had heard great things about on-line but had not visited in person, Nooch.
Did you know I really dig nutritional yeast? It’s my favorite popcorn topping. When I reduced the amount of dairy in my diet, nutritional yeast became even more important than a popcorn topping, although those are pretty important here. It’s wonderful in anything that needs a cheesy flavor and contains the elusive B12 for those of us who consume few or no animal products. We might as well buy 50 gallon barrels of the stuff. Yes, we call it Nooch. I can’t think of a more clever name for a vegan market than Nooch, the slang term for nutritional yeast.
Nooch is a deceptively tiny corner store near downtown. I say deceptively because the store is packed to the gills with so many wonderful products!
Not even far enough inside for the door to close us, I had already spotted Bearded Brothers bars. On the same shelf were some terrific dairy-free candy bars that I had not tried before. Also, Primal Strips and some goodies from Hail Merry!
I also scored raw nut cheese from Punk Rawk Labs. I hear chatter of this cheese often but had never tried it before. I’m writing a separate post about it soon. All you really need to know is it is AMAZING.
My favorite find at Nooch was Kolat nut butters. The Espresso Hazelnut is divine and appealed to the fella, who is chocolate hazelnut fan and rabid consumer of all that is coffee. If you like some variation of Nutella and a cup of joe, try this. While it doesn’t contain chocolate, it hits the same flavor notes and is a healthier option than most chocolate hazelnut spreads.
Between me and my favorite fella, we loaded up our basket, (warning: profanity in photo below) with enough snacks to last a couple of days. I was able to find lots of gluten-free goodies I was familiar with as well as many I had never seen before. It was also nice to know everything was dairy-free, one less red light for me to look for while shopping.
I got a fun new shopping bag (just in case someone asks me where I get my protein…since that never happens!) and had a nice chat with the folks working there. Really terrific people and a great little store full of lots of yummy goodness.
As we were leaving, the Waffleganger food trailer was parking out front. I hear the folks at Nooch often save a space for a vegan food truck. You might check their Facebook page before visiting to see if there’s a food truck visit planned! While most of them don’t fit my dietary challenges, had we been an hour later, the fella would have indulged in some Waffleganger goodness.
Nooch is located at 3360 Larimer Street in Denver, Colorado. 720-328-5324
Shop with: confidence. Read labels as you always would. (I bought a candy bar that contained no gluten but was manufactured in a facility that also processes wheat, use the same caution as in any store.) That said, I found the staff here very knowledgeable and friendly so ask away if you want to know more about a product or need help locating something.
Wednesday, February, 27, 2013
I occasionally share “I Ate Here” posts of restaurants where I have dined. By request, I am adding more to this series, as well as “I Shopped Here” and “I Drank here” posts to help y’all have an even more fabulous time living a healthy, gluten-free life!
When I am teaching cooking classes, my students often say, “Trader Joe’s should sponsor you!” in response to my frequent plugs for their products. I do buy quite a few items from Trader Joe’s and was a customer before there were stores in Kansas City. I would pack an extra suitcase if I was traveling to a city with Trader Joe’s and on a few occasions, made trips to St. Louis to re-stock the pantry. Once I even saw Elvis shopping at Trader Joe’s in Las Vegas.
Folks who haven’t shopped at Trader Joe’s ask me why, what’s the big deal? For me, the big deal is primarily cost. I can buy dried fruit and nuts for a fraction of the price at the supermarket. Organic produce is often priced similarly to conventional produce elsewhere. Ingredients are a big deal to me, I never have to worry about artificial colors or HFCS in products at Trader Joe’s.
There are a fair number of gluten-free products in the store and many products are labeled g+, which means no gluten ingredients used. As with any store, please read the labels carefully! Although many of these products do not contain gluten ingredients, they are manufactured in a shared facility that does use wheat. You know your body well, buy only those products you feel safe consuming.
Below is a list of the products I most frequently buy at Trader Joe’s. I’ve created the list aisle-by-aisle to help you easily locate the items. If you have a healthy, gluten-free product you buy at Trader Joe’s that isn’t on the list, please leave a comment below. Let’s help each other shop!
- Organic Romaine Hearts
- Organic Carrots
- Butternut Squash, cut into cubes
- Organic Blueberries
- Medjool Dates (almost hidden on the top shelf, half the price of most stores!)
- Super Firm Organic Tofu
- Organic Fruit is often very affordable, take a look to see what looks good!
- Organic Brown Rice Packets (I can cook rice quickly, but sometimes don’t plan well. Lifesaver for me!)
- Gluten-Free Pizza (read my review here)
- Gluten-Free Toaster Waffles (I don’t eat these often, but they are the best I have tried. And only $2!)
- Organic Frozen Veggies, offerings vary. In the Winter, I buy frozen Brussels sprouts here.
- Udi’s bread, buns and bagels
- PLEASE NOTE: I do not buy the brown rice tortillas at Trader Joe’s. See Gluten Free Watchdog reports for why.
Canned Foods Aisles
- Organic Diced Tomatoes
- Organic Crushed Tomatoes
- Organic Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes with Chiles
- Organic Black Beans
- Organic Tomato Paste
- Crushed Garlic in a jar (works great in a pinch if out of fresh garlic!)
- Roasted Red Peppers in a jar
- Pickle Relish (no HFCS!)
- Organic Marinara Sauce (only a few cents more than conventional, great price!)
- Pizza Sauce in a jar
- Pink Himalayan Sea Salt in a grinder
- Cold Pressed Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil (To me, the Trader Joe’s brand has a distinct coconut flavor. If you don’t like coconut, buy a different brand.)
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Organic Coffee, many varieties!
- Raw Almond Butter
- Vegetable Broth in a box (regular and low-sodium varieties available)
- Applesauce Cups, unsweetened (each cup is 1/2 cup, which is great when a recipe calls for a small quantity.)
- Organic Pumpkin Puree (seasonal, stock up when you spot it!)
- Brown Rice Fusili
- Brown Rice Penne
- Brown Rice Spaghetti
- Corn Penne
- Corn Spaghetti
- Gluten-Free Oats
- Almond Milk (Almond Breeze, same as supermarket, just a great price!)
- Chia Seeds (little purple bag, around $5)
- Raw Agave Nectar (I only recommend buying raw agave)
- Coarse Almond Meal (I don’t recommend this for fine crumb baking, like cakes, but this is wonderful for a rustic pizza crust.)
- Maple Syrup, Grade A and B are priced similarly and there is a Vermont-only bottle available.
Dried Fruits and Nuts
- Raw Sunflower Seeds
- Raw Pepitas/Pumpkin Seeds
- Pine Nuts (amazing price!)
- Raw Almonds
- Raw Cashews
- Raw Walnuts
- Just Mango (dried, unsweetened mango slices)
- Nothing But Banana (I call this Flat Banana, dried banana leather)
- Dried Cherries, unsweetened (two varieties, Montmorency and Dark Sweet)
- Dried Peaches, unsweetened
- Dried Apple Rings, unsweetened
- Dried Apricots, (two varieties, standard and Turkish)
- Raisin medley (three pretty colors of plump raisins)
- Dried Baby Pineapple, unsweetened
- Sundried Tomatoes, NOT in oil, in a baggie (these are sometimes with dried fruit, sometimes with canned tomatoes)
Trader Joe’s has a No Gluten Ingredients Used list on their website. My list is not intended to provide a comprehensive list of all gluten-free products in the store, just the ones I use most. I hope this is a good resource for those of you cooking the recipes I share here on my blog and also those who attend my classes. When I first made dietary modifications, knowing where to get the goods was really helpful to me and I hope this helps you! Shop on, happy eaters…