Before I started food-blogging, I thought I was the only person who delighted in trips to the grocery store. Friends would describe grocery trips as simply another daily chore, and give me sidelong glances when I launched into rapturous descriptions of my latest isle-perusing, or begin to giggle when I mentioned that Zach and I plan grocery store "dates" on the weekends. Now that I'm surrounded by my wonderful blogger friends, however, I realize joyously that I'm not alone! Furthermore, I now love reading about other bloggers' trips to the food market, as through all of your vivacious posts I learn about new products, economical shopping tips, novel ingredients, and, most of all, I get to savor the thrills of being a foodie in the produce section, the oatmeal isle, or perhaps the dried fruit shelves...
For example, last night at work, somewhere around midnight, I miraculously found myself with a few spare moments while waiting for a patient's respiratory treatment to finish, and I slipped over to a computer to read a post written by ktbwood, of Faith Food & Fitness, about the wonders of grocery shopping at Ingles. We have Ingles stores all over Georgia, and in fact there's one down the street from us, but somehow, in the 3 years since we moved here, I've never found myself inside an Ingles. I suppose this is akin to the classic scenario of the difficulty of acting as a tourist in one's own city, for Ingles had simply slipped quietly past my radar... Until, that is, I read of ktbwood's exuberant praise for Ingles, and instantly decided to visit Ingles for my planned grocery shopping trip today! I am so thankful to ktbwood (who, by the way, writes such beautifully uplifting and posts; I am delighted to have been introduced to her blog recently...) for guiding me towards Ingles!
As I pulled into the parking lot I was quite thankful that my little morning jaunt had miraculously fallen upon this very day, for I felt a bit in need of cheering up - I had come straight home from work this morning, and instead of taking a brief nap I had just been able to shower and change before zooming off to the doctor's office to investigate a mysterious hip injury that occurred at work around a month ago, and has stubbornly persisted, only to be informed by the doctor that I may have incurred a stress fracture. I'll need an MRI before any certainty can be discussed, so I'm determined not to worry one bit until the need arises, but the mere prospect of having fractured my hip at, well, an age when I'm not exactly going about expecting to fracture my hip, was rather startling.
I needn't have worried about brooding for long, though, because I had the grocery awaiting me! I quickly discovered three things I adored about Ingles - the unusually extensive selection of health-conscious products and ingredients; colorful signs hanging from the ceiling directing one to sections of shelves with "organic/natural/healthful products" (such a great idea!); and, most exciting of all, an entire section of organic produce priced identically (and quite economically, too) as the non-organic produce! I was ecstatic! Before I reached the produce isle I had already noticed that many of the more health-oriented brands, such as Newman's Own, Cascadian Farms, and Amy's, were liberally marked on sale, making them much more financially accessible than usual, and once I saw the prices on their organic produce I was officially and thoroughly impressed with what appeared to be a true commitment to removing the oft-cited dichotomy between "healthy" and "economical."
Returning to the items in my cart, though, just what did I actually bring home? :-) Well, I'm trying to pre-spring-clean our pantry, so I was fairly well-behaved and managed to contain myself most of the time, but I did allow myself enough fun to bring a few new treats along...
Good Earth Sweet and Spicy Tea with Herbs! I've had a coupon for Good Earth tea for quite some time (yes, I confess, I'm so frugal that I do use coupons... Guilty as charged... ;-), but hadn't yet been able to actually find Good Earth tea... until now! I love the idea of cinnamon, peppermint, lemongrass, and black tea all in one cup!
Fiber One "Toaster Pastries..." These are a bit too processed and sugary for my liking, but Zach, who diligently hasn't had a "poptart" for as long as I've known him, has been charmingly asking me to bring these home for him to try... How I could I resist granting his wish? :-) At least they have 5 grams of fiber! :-) I confess I am looking forward to trying one too... ;-)
Nut free brownie bites and nut free trail mix! These are actually for my friend's son, who is severely allergic to peanuts and all tree nuts - as soon as I saw these I was SO excited! He's only 6 and has never been allowed to have trail mix before - I can't wait for him to be able to try this lovely mixture of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried apples, chocolate chips, cranberries, and raisins!
I adore the Enjoy Life brand, but hadn't been able to find it outside of Whole Foods, and I'd never even seen the trail mix before! Next time I return, I'm definitely bringing home some of their sunflower-seed-butter granola bars for us to try... Since all their products happen to be gluten free as well, I'm definitely planning on surprising my mother with some gluten free treats when we visit my parents in two weeks!
In the organic produce section, I spotted some lovely fresh broccoli...
What's a girl to do with this bounty of broccoli? Well, I do believe supper tonight shall include roasted broccoli with a feta-tomato sauce...
(A heavenly gift from my parents - Israeli feta cheese! So dreamy!)
Roasted Broccoli with Feta-Tomato Sauce
1 large head of broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets 3 T olive oil, divided 2 T rosemary 4 cloves garlic, minced 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, un-drained 1 T ketchup (yep, ketchup! :-) 3 T feta cheese 1/4 cup 1% milk
~ Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. ~ Toss the broccoli florets with 2 T of the olive oil, along with salt and pepper to taste, and spread the broccoli in a single layer in a large baking sheet. ~ Roast the broccoli in the upper rack of the oven for around 25 minutes - until the broccoli is tender and the edges are nicely browned and caramelized. After the first 10 minutes, give the broccoli a toss with a spatula to flip the florets over onto the other side for even browning. ~ To make the sauce while the broccoli roasts, saute the rosemary and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat just for 30 seconds or so - until the garlic begins to brown. ~ Add the diced tomatoes with their juice, along with the ketchup, to the garlic and rosemary, and allow the tomatoes to simmer gently until the broccoli finishes cooking. ~ Just before serving, reduce the heat to low and stir in the feta cheese and the milk. Crumble the feta with a fork and continue to stir until the milk and feta are incorporated and the sauce is heated through once more. Season to taste with black pepper (I found that the feta made the sauce salty enough on its own). ~ Serve the warm sauce over the warm roasted broccoli!