Not gonna lie, Whole Foods used to totally intimidate me. I distinctly remember the first time I went into one. I was having trouble tolerating prenatal vitamins, so my OB sent me to the fancy store in La Jolla to get some specially-formulated stomach-gentle ones. I was completely overwhelmed by the sheer healthfulness of these people. La Jollans are a special breed unto themselves, and the ones there were super-duper chic. They were the type of people who ate leeks before they were all the rage. To be fair, I was subsisting at the time on my pregnancy-craving diet of Cheetos and Hostess Cupcakes, so anything that didn't come out of a brightly-colored package was automatically suspect.
Fast forward a couple years. I've popped out a second baby after another doozy of a pregnancy. And it turns out this baby has a TON of food intolerances. Apparently it's pretty common: many babies don't develop the stomach enzymes to break down certain foods until after their first year of life, so things that the breastfeeding mother eats can cause trouble for the baby. Sidekick, it seems, has the full gamut of food intolerances, including dairy, gluten, soy and tomatoes. Oh, the irony! Now those junk food items I used to love are even more intimidating than the healthy stuff. At the regular supermarket, nothing is clearly marked. It seems that there are “traces” of gluten in everything. So guess where we've been spending all of our time? Those upscale health food stores that used to scare the pants off of me are now my favorite stomping grounds.
Oh, Whole Foods. Thank God for your clearly-marked packages. Your bins full of dark chocolate treats, your medjool dates.
Whole Foods is opening a new store in Del Mar tomorrow and I got to take the boys to Whole Foods Del Mar for the VIP sneak preview last night. Heck yes. This store – and this location in particular – is officially my favorite grocery store ever.
As I've learned more about our complicated digestive system, I've started getting more concerned about the stuff that I was feeding Some Boy. I've slowly been turning away from Nutri-Grain Bars in favor of Earth's Best snacks, which are certified organic. No fertilizers or pesticides for my little guy. Plus, he loves that Elmo is on the package. It's the little things.
I've started leading a semi-Paleo lifestyle (I figured since I was cutting out gluten, dairy and soy, I may as well go all the way and ditch complex carbs and refined sugars as well). These Kind bars are my latest obsession because they're one of the few grab-and-go foods that I can get away with on my new diet.
I'm digging almond butter lately, too. Peanuts, it turns out, break down important stomach enzymes. Again…not good for baby Sidekick and his troubles with said stomach enzymes. So I avoid them in favor of healthier nut butters.
For those concerned about the cost of feeding a big family healthy foods (let's all collectively raise our hands, shall we?), Whole Foods Del Mar offers a 10% case discount to help out. I've found that simple meal planning goes a loooong way in minimizing the expense of good nutrition. It's all about minimizing waste so that food doesn't sit around and go bad.
If you're still not sold on the idea of a better, healthier grocery store, I have a feeling this will be the final selling point. Whole Foods Del Mar has a bar inside the store. Apparently in Arizona, grocery stores commonly serve alcohol and people literally wander around the store with glasses of wine. The carts even have cupholders! Why can't we get some of that here in California?? Instead, us Angelenos and San Diegans get our coffee fix when we rush through the supermarket doors and then bolt through the store in a caffeinated frenzy, toting our toddlers on one of those obnoxiously-long kid's car carts, attempting to make it back to the car before one of us has a meltdown. A quick glass of wine after a leisurely stroll around the health food store sounds much more inviting.
Local readers, check out the new Whole Foods Del Mar!
The 30,000 square foot Whole Foods Del Mar store opens tomorrow, so head on out to 2600 Via De La Valle in Del Mar to check out the Trifecta Tavern (with free wi-fi!), sandwich bar, bakery (with gluten-free items!), locally sourced meat department (with 100% grass-fed beef!), in-store kitchen and Everyday Value section. If you happen to shop on March 6th, 5% of the day's net sales will go straight to the Del Mar Schools Education Foundation. You can get more details over on Twitter.
This post is sponsored by Whole Foods. All opinions are my own.