November 29, 2009

Whole Foods Chicago, Lincoln Park

And I thought the Northbrook store was large! The new Whole Foods in Lincoln Park, which is located just across the street from where the old and impressive for its time Lincoln Park Whole Foods, is huge and fantastic.

It's the kind of place that makes you forget that part of living a "green" lifestyle is limiting consumption. The store is packed with hormone-free, additive-free, dye-free, organic, vegetarian, vegan and local goodness.

And the food court...ZOMG. They're got everything--at $7.99 a pound. The store also has a quite wine bar, fresh sushi and noodle soups, as well as a diner. In terms of size and variety, the store's food court rivals that of any shopping mall circa 1986.

I was there for a blog event with Underwriter's Lab, but I'm definitely bringing the family back for a field trip and a meal.

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November 27, 2009

First Blush: Wine Without Alcohol

Wine without alcohol? What's the point?

Well, we're always up for something new, so when I saw First Blush "grape juice all grown up" on the shelf at Whole Foods, I wanted to give it a try. No, I'm lying. My 11 year-old son spotted it first and since we'd seen the product on TV (Food Network? How Things Are Made? I don't recall), he begged me for it.

As someone who can't stand the taste of wine, I was curious to see what this would taste like. Like wine? Grape juice?

I purchased the merlot juice and the general consensus was that it didn't taste like either one. And that we probably won't be buying this product again. At least not this flavor. There are other flavors, erm, varietals, to try as well.

Have you tried this? What do you think?

November 24, 2009

Shopping Safeway for the Local Food Pantry

Though I do most of my grocery shopping at Jewel and the local green grocer, when I was offered a $25 gift card from the folks at Safeway (known in California as Von's and as Dominick's here in my Chicago suburb) I decided to pay the store a visit.

I used my windfall for good and dedicated my shopping trip to a local food pantry.

I went slightly over the card amount because my oldest son brought a bit of tzedakkah money along. But as you can see, For about $31.00 we got a good deal of food. There's a mix of name-brand and store-brand items.

We bought two 2-pound bags of spaghetti and two large cans of Hunts sauce, many packs of ramen, a jar of peanut butter, two large containers of chicken broth, canned vegetables and more. We didn't have any coupons with us, but we did take advantage of the in-store discounts and if I was more organized, we could have saved with a trip to the Safeway website.

The Dominick's I visited has a full-service pharmacy that provides things like immunizations at a low-cost, without an appointment. In fact, the last time I'd been in the store was to get my flu shot a few weeks ago.

Given how tight our family budget is right now, I appreciated the opportunity to do good with the Safeway gift card. Please note, I was not sent any other type of compensation beyond the gift card for this post. Also, I was free to use the gift card as I chose.

November 14, 2009

Artisan Chocolates from Sucre New Orleans

As if the offer to receive a sample pack of artisan chocolates wasn't enough, the folks at Sucre added a few tempting details about their business when they reached out to me. Not only are they in New Orleans (who doesn't want to support small businesses in that city?), they are donating a portion of their online sales this holiday season to the New Orleans SPCA.

Chocolate, charity and a city on the mend? What's not to like?

I was so taken by the lovely presentation and the unique confections in Sucre's holiday collection, that I devoted a Whrrl story to it.

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I've never seen a chocolate bar quite like the pistachio rose petal milk chocolate bar Sucre sent me. Its appearance was striking and unusual as was the bar's scent. Though the presentation was dramatic, and the taste was sweet, I'd like to see smaller bits of both the pistachio and the rose petals scattered evenly throughout the bar and maybe even a dark chocolate version to temper the sweet rose petals.

Of the three chocolates in the Sugar and Spice Holiday Collection, Candy Cane, Ginger Bread, and Eggnog, the Candy Cane was the clear winner. Filled with white chocolate ganache and bits of peppermint candy, they were smooth and creamy with just the right touch of mintiness. I'd love to see Candy Cane truffles offered in their own box next year (or next week- in which case, I promise to order some).

If you're looking for a unique hostess gift, something that goes beyond the typical bottle of wine or box of drug store chocolates, let your fingers do the clicking and consider Sucre. I've even got a discount code to share:
$5 off of shipping on Sucre confections (or shipping for $4.95) with code: SPCA

Good through November 30, 2009.

Disclosure: The folks at Sucre sent me a product sample for review. I was not compensated for this post or the Whrrl story beyond the complimentary samples noted above. Yeah, I'm easy when it comes to chocolate. It's better than being paid in gum, though, if you ask me.

November 13, 2009

Free Steaz Zero Calorie

Steaz, maker of tasty organic, fair trade, vegan iced teas, is my newest client. These bottle caps are from their Zero Calorie Sparkling Green Tea. It's like each bottle comes with a bonus mantra.

Am I Grateful? Yes, and you should be, too. Use this coupon and pick up a free bottle of Steaz at Whole Foods or your nearest natural foods store.

Am I Balanced? Not even close. But maybe if I fashion that bottle cap into a necklace or charm and keep in close at hand, I'll be making a step in the right direction.

If you're an old fan of Steaz, check out their new look below.

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