Oats and Quinoa and Grocery Stores: OH MY!

As I write this entry, I’m sitting in the deli/mini grocery/coffeeshop my girlfriend works in, and I’m reminded of how lucky I am to have a store so close to my apartment which sells bulk spices and grains.

Wait a minute, let me back up and give a little free publicity: the store of which I’m speaking is called Washington Perk , and it’s fulfilling a serious grocery shortage in the Winston-Salem, NC area.

Ok, I’ll be more specific- yes, there are tons of grocery stores in W-S. Harris Teeter and Food Lion pretty much dominate the grocery options, though many people also utilize other big name chains (Costco, Wal-Mart, etc.) In my immediate neighborhood, we have a very substantial Spanish-speaking population and are lucky enough to have a Compare Foods Supermarket. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Compare Foods specializes in items which are specific to Latin cuisine. There’s a great Spanish bakery, vast crates of bulk beans, as well as an extensive butcher and deli. There’s also a multitude of options in food categories which are typically sparse or bare in your typical “American” grocer- where else can you find ten different kinds of Mexican hot chocolate? Also, on the scale of “expensive grocery stores”, CF ranks on the very low end of the spectrum.

However, Compare Foods is not a great source for organic produce (or any other organic item), and it can be cost in-effective to shop for items which are not prominent ingredients in Latin food culture. For example, though cheese is used in different types of dishes, traditional cheese (cheddar, etc.) produced “for” American cookery is EXTREMELY expensive. This is very similar to Super G Mart, a store in my hometown of Greensboro, NC, which specializes in Asian cookery. Super G Mart’s produce and meat selections are an unbeatable price/quality equation. However, I’ve seen packages of cheese costing nearly $7.

Of the available stores, there are very few which are locally owned. There are also very few which offer a large selection of local and/or organic products. And in my actual neighborhood, there are absolutely no coffee shops, and very few restaurants. This is where Washington Perk comes in. The Perk is locally owned, and features fair trade coffee, a small (but growing!) selection of locally produced dairy and produce, as well as a number of organic grocery options. There’s also a fairly inexpensive deli, and the aforementioned bulk spices and grains.

These are all very important features because one of the only other organic grocers in town is Whole Foods Market, and it’s not near my apartment AT ALL (though, for the record, I’m a fan of Whole Foods and everything for which they stand.)

Wow. Um, ok. Shall we get back to the point of this entry? 🙂

Anyway, there are a number of foods which I want to endeavor to make part of my regular diet during the next few months. Several of these foods hold nutrients and vitamins which I’m definitely not getting enough of, and I think they will help provoke my urge to create new recipes and meal ideas. Here are three with which I can’t wait to get more familiar:

(Photo Credit: Stacey Boyer)

Steel cut oats

My father has sworn by steel cut oats for a number of years, but I’ve always been turned off by how long it takes for them to become soft and chewy, as opposed to tough chunks which get stuck in your teeth leading to a morning of being called ‘oatmeal mouth’. I’m also turned off by the price, but most foods which are actually good for the human body tend to fall outside of my budget. I’m coming to the conclusion that instead of choosing unhealthy options because of the price, I need to re-work my entire food budget.

Danica of Danica’s Daily has a great recipe featuring steel cut oats which I am extremely psyched to try.

(Photo Credit: Stephanie of Noshtopia)

Quinoa

Quinoa is the new love of my epicureal life. I can’t believe I’ve let my food discrimination keep me away from this delicious delicacy for so long! The texture is an excellent substitute for rice or couscous, and it is unbelievably versatile. It can be savory, sweet, salty, or all three and more!

(All these exclamation points are making me feel like Billy Mays. (!))

(Photo Credit: Benefits of Spirulina)

Spirulina

I’ve been reading a lot about the positive health benefits of adding spirulina into one’s diet. Spirulina is a complete protein, and contains all essential amino acids. It’s stronger than the average plant protein, and it’s rich in a host of vitamins and minerals. Of course, the color and flavor can both be rather off-putting, but I get the impression that spirulina powder can be painlessly added to food and drinks.

What about you? What foods/recipes are you excited to try out this year?

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9 Comments

Filed under food, grocery shopping, grocery stores, shopping

9 responses to “Oats and Quinoa and Grocery Stores: OH MY!

  1. Tangela

    This is too funny. On my way home from a devotional, I stopped at Earth Fare and bought fennel , dandelion and QUINOA! I want to incorporate these items (all produce since quinoa is technically a fruit) into my healthier diet…curioser and curioser.

  2. MRH

    I’m getting super-psyched about slow-cooking. Through sheer coincidence, from 3 different people I got 2 crock pots (different sizes) & a crock-pot recipe book for xmas (which really just means I didn’t have to commandeer my mom’s when I moved out…)
    As soon as I can find some steel cut oats, I intend to start crock-potting them overnight for breakfast.

    • I love slow-cooking, but I never remember to do it until 20 minutes before I want to eat! Don’t the slow cooked oats sound delicious? I usually only cook beans in my crock pot- I’m definitely not using it to the fullest potential.

      Wait, you got two different sized crock pots from two different people on the same Christmas? Hilarious.

      (Also, I’m pretty sure my crock pot is a TBStanley handmedown. If it’s good enough for my mom, it’s good enough for me.)

      • MRH

        I’m also a huge fan of the crock-potted beans. I’ve done a couple soups, applesauce, and some herb-y polenta, and I’m thinking about making my foray into the realm of slow-cooking dead animals. But much like you, I usually think about making food when I want to eat it, not 8 hours earlier.

        Meal planning is very high on the list of life changes in process.

  3. I am jealous of the bulk grain store near by you – I WISH I had one that was close by. Can’t wait to hear what you think of the steel cut outs.

    I LOVE Spirulina and how it turns smoothies and oatmeal green, yet, you don’t taste it 🙂

    Danica

    • That’s so funny that you would be jealous of me…I’m SO jealous of your Trader Joe groceries! The closest Trader Joe’s to me is over an hour away- going there is an expedition. Now let’s be real- I definitely make the trip every once in awhile 🙂 But I wish I could shop there on the daily.

  4. Pingback: The Couch to 5k Challenge: You Woke Up At WHAT time?! | One Is The Magic Number

  5. Pingback: Spirulina- Sounds like a Disease, Tastes like a dream | One Is The Magic Number

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