Sometimes you’re just not in the mood to sit down in a restaurant. You want a quick meal but fast food just won’t cut it. After all, you want to feel good about your body afterwards – and a Big Mac never helped anyone in that department.
In times like these I head to one of my three favorite Whatcom County grocery store delis for a healthy heaping of salad. The delis’ healthy offerings quash those stomach rumbles, deliver a spectacular assortment of greens, carbs and proteins and though a smidgeon more expensive than fast food takeout, leave you feeling ready to take on the world. Or the afternoon, at any rate.
The deli at the Community Food Co-op has long been one of my all-time favorites and recently expanded its North Forest location with a hot bar and a salad bar that opened November 23. You can expect 12-to-15 different salads on display behind the glass case on any given day, the most popular being the Pacific northwest kale salad, wild rice and greens, balsamic beets and black bean quinoa.
“We have a recipe development team that comes up with new recipes for salads,” said Sarah Young, prepared foods production manager. “We also take suggestions from customers and employees for new salads.” Additional seasonal salads are added each quarter and my favorite dish is the salad sampler, which delivers three salads of your choice and a bun for $7.99. It’s impossible to be hungry after this meal.
The co-op deli isn’t just healthy – it’s as organic as it can possibly be. Its goal is to be GMO-free, get as much local produce as possible and keep the foods organic whenever possible. Of the deli’s proteins, peri peri chicken is a best seller, but meatloaf, Italian meatballs and tofu – available in cilantro ginger, teriyaki and tandoori, is also popular. The soups are also a great choice and tasters are gladly handed out for any of the deli’s dishes. In a recent month the choices were barley lentil, carrot ginger, Hungarian mushroom and split pea, among others.
“We also just developed a recipe for soy-free tofu, made from garbanzo beans,” Young said. “This way people who can’t eat soy can still eat tofu.” Okay folks – anyone who can make edible, soy-free tofu has my culinary respect!
The Community Food Co-op has two locations in Bellingham: downtown on Forest St., as well as at Cordata near Whatcom Community College.
Fifteen years ago, when my son was just an infant, my husband and I developed a weekend dinner tradition of picking up deli foods from Haggen and eating them on the beach in Birch Bay in the summer months. Ferndale was our go-to Haggen location and it helped me redefine everything a good deli could really be, because up until then the only deli food I’d seen was entirely unappetizing. Haggen’s innovative deli continues to this day and customers’ favorites include spinach pasta salad, old fashioned potato salad and cashew chicken. Like the co-op, Haggen also offers a three-salad sampler ($6.49 for three five-ounce salad servings) with up to six new salads introduced every season. Innovative grains include the quinoa salad, the cranberry freekeh salad (launched in November) and a new organic rainbow Thai peanut slaw.
“We’re trying to use more organic ingredients in our salads, but it’s hard to get every ingredient organic, especially the dressing,” said Cheryl-Ann Jones, director of food service.
Jones has been with the company 25 years and says the potato salad recipes haven’t changed in all that time. “More people are shopping in the store and using the deli,” she reflects. “Especially as they look increasingly for prepared foods that aren’t full of preservatives and are healthier.”
Haggen has 40 different sandwich recipes, meatloaf, prime rib you can buy by the slice, enchiladas, Swedish meatballs and soups, just to name a few of its deli items. Its fresh sushi is also a popular choice, particularly on Wednesdays when it’s offered at a reduced price. If you’re watching your calories, ask the folks behind the deli counter for calorie count details. That information isn’t posted on the salad labels but the staff will gladly share it if asked.
Haggen stores in Whatcom County are located in Bellingham and Ferndale.
Thrilled. That’s how I felt when I walked into the new-ish Safeway on Sunset Drive and examined its deli. The selection looked so good I was hard-pressed to make a choice. Eventually I settled on the kale blueberry salad and since then have requested it repeatedly from the deli, transcribed the ingredients from the label and even made it myself at home. Turns out that salad, which combines kale, sunflower seeds, blueberries, carrots and raisins with a vinaigrette, is a big-time crowd pleaser.
Safeway on Sunset carries over 32 different salads and sells a ton of coleslaw, loaded baked potato salad, Chinese chicken salad and ambrosia. There are also four soups a day and a Chinese food bar. Sorry folks – organic is low priority at this deli. Still, Safeway gets my kudos for variety and taste in its salad selection.
Safeway also has a additional store in Whatcom County, located in Lynden.