Frailty, Thy Name Is Woman (At the Whole Foods Salad Bar)

I am by no means a Whole Foods hater. I don’t always feel comfortable or “in my element” there, but I recognize there is some mighty tasty food there.  In fact the one nearest my house is as big as the Millenium Falcon, complete with a bath crystals bar, a spice bar, an amazing fish counter, and a coffee bar where “local talent” plays to crowds of people eating behind lap top screens.

They also have a half-acre salad bar.  Anything I can conjure up to eat, I can find in this section.  And this is the section that is my undoing.  How I could take the most delicious array of healthy food and make something gross (and expensive) to cart away in my brown recyclable container is beyond me.  But I do.

It starts out innocently: I see the kale-avocado salad in the prepared section, so I spoon a bit of it in my brown container made of recycled paper.  “Kale is good for you, and I’m not going to cook so better get it here.”  As I make my way down the bar, that “I won’t make it at home” logic spawns a box of food as diverse as Shoyu tofu, lentil-apricot salad, pulled smoked turkey, and marinated mushrooms.  Individually, I am sure each one of these tastes delicious.  In the melange I concoct? The word that comes to mind is “inedible”.

Yesterday was no different.  I saw the gorgeous vegan seaweed salad.  Then, I saw the tofu scramble, followed by maple-glazed carrots, and quinoa with pearl onions and raisins.  I couldn’t help myself.  I got extra-screwed because they had the Sunday brunch menu out– so I added some berry-stuffed French toast and cheddar biscuits.  My new idea was to pick a salad dressing that would “pull it altogether.” Show of hands who thinks that salad dressing exists?  Maybe if I had gone a little easier on the jicama or had a few less roasted garlic cloves.

Looks pretty good right? At least, it looks totally healthy.  But the smell? The taste? Dear Lord, it could kill baby pandas.

Looks pretty good right? At least, it looks totally healthy. But the smell? The taste? Dear Lord, it could kill baby pandas. Also, below what you can see are 2 more layers of selections, ensuring that each and every bite totally sucked.

Maybe.  But I doubt it.

Now, it’s like a challenge.  Can I edit my choices like they always tell hideously dressed people on What Not To Wear?  What Whole Foods needs to add is the foodie version of those guys from Queer Eye For the Straight Guy standing at the end of the salad bar to caution those of us who are “over zealous” about adding food to our container.

There must be a way to do this without abandoning the salad bar and opting for the delicious chicken tacos (like my family does).

A normal meal that I refuse to order.

A normal meal that I refuse to order.

I gave up on Netflix, and in the anger stage of my break-up with Ann Taylor Loft, but Whole Foods? I am going to stick it out.  I am going to find way to sup from its sumptuous salad bar without making a mockery of its choices.  And when I do, you better believe I am going to be all over Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and this blog.

So, stay tuned and give me any tips you have about navigating those rows of silver trays teeming with deliciousness that I cannot resist.

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36 thoughts on “Frailty, Thy Name Is Woman (At the Whole Foods Salad Bar)

  1. Ha! I LOVE salad bars – like, adore them. I think the key is remembering that you get to come back again. So you don’t have to have everything this time, which is something I have to remind myself basically everytime I go anywhere with prepared food. At the ballpark – I can come back! I don’t have to get a chili dog AND cheese fries AND a pulled pork sandwich! At brunch – I can come back! I don’t have to get french toast AND a farmhouse omelet AND ricotta pancakes! And so on and so forth… It’s a constant battle. But I actually wrote a post about how to build a salad a while back – since salad bars (and recreating them at home) are my favorite. 🙂 – http://www.ktmade.com/2012/07/how-to-build-perfect-meal-salad.html

    • Thank god for you, dear! I need to go in with a plan and I definitely need to remember that I can come back. That’s a great mantra for all of eating– I don’t have to eat all the ice cream now, because tomorrow I can come back. You = genius.

  2. Mama,
    As a Food Channel follower, (I’m making that up about you) and a former Ann Taylor aficionado, I am amazed you don’t know how beautiful the words “less is more” are. Few ingredients, but wonderful ones, are always the best.

    But of course, people like you and me work from the base attitude that too much is almost enough.

    Keep up the good work.

  3. My dad’s side of the family firmly believes that food should not touch. We bring divided plates to any pot luck occasion. We have separate plates and bowls for anything that threatens to co-mingle. That brown box might be Eco-friendly but I would have to split up into several boxes to avoid my “more is more” recipe for disaster. Just look those dread-locked check-out granolas straight in the eye as you remind them your composting worms love their containers.

    • Food doesn’t touch? I would need 30 containers. I have heard of people like you with the no touch policy…I am a one-pot, put your salad/potatoes/meat all on the fork type of girl. If I can get my whole dinner in one pot, I am a happy person. It’s good to hear about life on the other side.

    • That is exactly what I was going to write about. Food shalt not touch. It’s not a commandment, but it should be. Next to the dreadful spork, divided plates are the world’s best invention!

      • Foods that are meant to touch (e.g. chili, casserole) are ok, not desireable (sp?), but ok. I am finally able to eat food dishes that include kernels of corn. That was a major step for me. I love corn, on and off the cob (but not cream style, that’s just…ick), but not in other dishes. I accidentally had some recently, though, and discovered it wasn’t too bad. Thanksgiving dinner is a tough time for me. Gravy runneth over onto everything. Yuck. (NOTE: I am not as bad as my younger brother, who only puts one food item on his plate at a time…or an accountant I worked with who had nothing touching on his plate, and ate around the plate clockwise, beginning at 12 o’clock and working around his plate one “hour” at a time. We accountants are a wacky bunch, eh?)

  4. so, I’m obessessed with the Whole Foods Salad bar…but I keep it safe and get the same thing every time. The key, of course, is Caesar dressing and sesame sticks. AND, if they don’t have sesame sticks at the salad bar, I will go to the trail mix section and get my own. (because what’s five more dollars). I also like the caesar pasta salad in my salad, green peppers, cucumbers, black beans, chickpeas and peas. I’ve been known to add turkey stew that was meant for my 10-month-old if I run out of caesar dressing. I’m convinced that I might as well eat at McDonald’s because really that salad bar is just as excuse to eat sesame sticks with dressing.

    • The Cesar salad dressing is very, very special. I love it so much. And the sesame sticks– well, I have been ignoring them, but now that you mention it, it sounds so good. For the record, I spent 18.00 on that layered salad yesterday. My hubs handed me a 20 and wanted the change. What change, dude? This is Whole Foods.

      Black beans, always get the black beans. I am going to get this right, I feel it.

  5. Whole Trouble Foods puts the WTF in decision-making. I just made that up. All rights reserved. Anyhoo, sometimes my germaphobe neuroses comes in super handy because I really can’t tolerate too many visits to open vats of communal food. It really saves the pocketbook AND my sanity. But, on days when I over-medicate and throw caution to the wind, I make the same disastrous decisions that you describe, so I don’t have one iota of good advice for you. Loved the post, though. xo

    • I keep waiting to become a better germaphobe. My life would be better if I was. I would just beeline for some prepackaged food or eat at home. Wait, home won’t work, because I know precisely how dirty my home is. In any case, germaphobia would come in so handy at a salad bar.

      • Trust me, not being fearful of germs is a benefit. I took Olivia to see a movie last week and nearly had a panic attack while my imagination ran wild.

  6. I liked the salad bars of yore where you could add sidebars to your bowl and pile on all you could eat, then go back for seconds. I’m always shocked at how costly these new pay by the ounce salads can be.

    • No joke! It’s insane how expensive it is. And it’s not fair…the stuff I like to eat is heavier than the stuff that should cost more. LIke avocado is light, but should be expensive. It’s all too much. I like the old school ones too with the three kinds of dressing: French, Thousand Island, and Italian. Oh, the salad days.

  7. Whole Foods just came to my neck of the woods this summer so I’m a newbie….but MAN it is nice.

    I absolutely, positively can’t do salad bars —or self serve food of any kind, I’m afraid. I am breaking out in hives just thinking about it. The public…right there…by food I will be putting in my mouth…coughing and contaminating….OMG…I JUST CAN’T. I’m not even a super germaphobe, but lawd!!! Ew, no. (It sounds like it’s a good thing in this situation because it’s going to save me some salad bar money)

  8. Good gawd, woman. You’re a mess. I need to be your personal valet so you can learn that the closed-eyes-shaking-head means “step away from the salad bar now.”

    Secret? Several boxes. Go around the whole salad bar once with NO box in your hands. Think about options. Now go through once for salad. Pick a leafy thing, put some single-ingredient things on it. Shoyu and tofu and beans and tomatoes and parmesan. But nothing they’ve prepared. Go through a third time now, with a separate box. Add the kale quinoa stuff, the tabouli, the whatever-grain-mixed-with-other-healthy-stuff. But choose four MAX and put them in their own corners. CAREFULLY put in cart so they don’t mix. One final trip around if you need something like stuffed french toast or scrambles. You may not put warm food on cold food. Do you understand me? No french toast on salad, Christie. Please.

    For the sake of all that’s holy, stop mixing. You’ve got a seven course meal in one box and hate it? Next time use seven boxes. It’s not like the nickel they charge you (by weight) for the box is the problem. Four boxes adds only 20 cents to our total but makes four edible meals for the low, low price of $43.76.

  9. I have a friend who goes to the salad bar at Whole Foods every Sunday morning and fills the entire salad container with bacon. He and his wife and kids love bacon, but he hates cooking it (messy, smells up house, etc.). Voila! Easy Peasy solution and way cheaper than the precooked Oscar Meyer bacon. I thought it was genius!

  10. Love this topic! I’m thinking a game show of who can make the worst tasting concoctions at that salad bar. Whole Foods does me in every time – I’m of the same ‘little of this/little of that’ mentality. Once I’m done with it, nothing from a salad bar like that ever tastes as good as it looks, no matter how I arrange it. No way could I ever get the chicken tacos with that selection in front of me, germs be damned!

  11. Pingback: There’s A Scooter In the Wine Aisle: Why You Should Avoid Whole Foods This Week | Outlaw Mama

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