I used to make secret Costco trips. "Where are you right now?" a friend would ask over the phone. "Shh, don't tell anyone, but I'm at Costco shopping for the party." Giant shrimp platters and vats of cocktail sauce aside, Costco has become a part of my weekly life in shopping for my restaurant in California.
During my shopping trips, I started noticing how many trendy items Costco was stocking — items I'd usually purchase at my pricey natural foods store in a smaller size, for a higher price per unit. It seems the Costco shopper is increasingly opening up to low-carb items, superfoods, health foods, Asian-inspired foods, and alternative coffees — and the grocery giant is delivering on the trends. Here are some of my favorites that I've noticed lately.
Sure, Paleo and keto folks can always grind away at big chunks of cauliflower in their Cuisinart food processors, but in my experience the chunks tend to make a big mess as they go through the shredder attachment.
This giant bag of riced cauliflower from Green Giant will save you both cooking and cleanup time, and it's organic to boot. This big bag lasts me at least a week or two, and is usually enough if you're making a casserole with cauliflower rice. Try stir-frying the rice with a little bit of coconut oil or avocado oil, along with spices. Or steam and then add olive oil for flavor. Or top with cheese and tomato sauce and bake.
So yes, cauliflower again. Who knew the last vegetable to be eaten off the crudité plate would become a trendy fitness favorite? I wouldn't eat it if it didn't taste good though, and this cauliflower crust pizza is pretty yummy. I mean, it's got three kinds of cheese (mozzarella, Parmesan, and pecorino Romano), plus roasted veggies (zucchini, onions, and green, yellow and red bell peppers). The crust is made out of cauliflower and mozzarella, plus rice flour, cultured brown rice, tapioca starch, and rice starch, so it's not completely Paleo.
Delicious and … dare I say nutritious? These little chocolate-covered açaí sorbet bars satisfy cravings. Organic and dairy-free, the chocolate shell is made with coconut oil. As açaí already carries a slightly chocolatey note, the flavors meld nicely. It's like the mini dessert version of an açaí bowl.
Coconut products keep surging. These sweet, flaky cylinders are similar to a popular snack food called thong muan in Thailand, where a batter of coconut milk, rice flour, and egg is poured onto a flat circular griddle iron and pressed, then rolled into cigar shapes. Light and crispy, these rolls are perfect with tea or on top of an ice cream sundae.
Adaptogens, adaptogens, adaptogens — well, as it turns out, you don't need Moon Juice's trendy, pricey dusts to face the stresses of daily life. When you're overheated after bustling around with the afternoon's errands, chill with a mug of this American ginseng tea, said to impart calming, cooling properties of yin, rather than the heating yang of Asian ginseng.
The Wisconsin ginseng market is booming, with most farmers planting the American variety. It takes four years to grow a ginseng root, with careful sheltering from sun and cold. (And you thought growing asparagus was a labor of love.) And this one isn't crystallized, plus no sugar is added — unlike some of the Asian ginseng teas that come in those foil packets. It's just pure ginseng: harvested, cleaned, dried, and chopped into pieces.
This traditional Korean dish is made with gondre, or Korean thistle. Gondre is a mountain herb popular in Jeongson, in Gangwon Province. This leafy herb has been shown in studies to have an antioxidant effect and also to be high in flavonoids — in particular, one flavonoid with a proven anti-diabetic effect in diabetic mice. It's also used in a Korean drink called taemyeongcheong, which has been shown to prevent acetaminophen-induced liver damage in mice.
Costco has been trying to woo shoppers, giving out samples of this superfood in its traditional rice mixture. The taste of gondre is a little bitter on its own, but is very mellow and pleasant with this rice, as if you'd just added some steamed spinach.
7. WTRMLN WTR
You may have seen or tried this refreshing, cold-pressed watermelon water at the health food store, but it's now available in six-packs at Costco, much to my parched Los Angeles delight.
WTRMLN WTR is another eco-friendly example of using ugly produce — in this case, blemished watermelons that couldn't be sold whole at market. There's no added sugar, but the juice is naturally sweet and delicious. Each serving contains 550 milligrams of the electrolyte potassium to keep you from fainting on those hot September days out at the park.
I love beets, but I don't love cooking them. They always seem to take longer to boil or roast than any other vegetable I'm making. When I want their health benefits but not their cooking time, I pick up these already-cooked organic beets. Sourced mostly from upstate New York farms and processed in Rochester, Love Beets sous-vides them for you (I'm probably never going to do that) so their texture is perfectly snackable, but not too soft. They then vacuum-seal them so their expiration date is ages away. I use them in salads, as a side to an entrée, or blended into sauces or purées.
Have you noticed the new salad kits popping up everywhere from Trader Joe's to Costco? They're a reflection of our busy times, when chopping a lot of greens to eat healthfully is too time-consuming for many people. The new salad kits aren't just lettuce and carrots, but more fiber-packed, nutritious blends of darker greens and cruciferous veggies, with nuts, grains, seeds, and hip vegan dressings.
Costco is in on the game with several salad mixes, including a wide variety of slaws and greens. What I like about this salad kit is that it's entirely organic and has a great flavor combination of unique ingredients. From savoy cabbage, which packs a bigger flavor punch than white cabbage, to crisped quinoa bits, to a strawberry vinaigrette, this salad kit is a little more exciting than the average.
Adding non-dairy milks to coffee can be a frustrating process. Sometimes, non-dairy milks can be too watery to properly cream up a coffee. That's why I was excited about this product: CAcafe adds the ground coconut directly into the coffee grounds to make a creamy coffee that's super simple to make. Like instant coffee, you literally add the mixture to hot water and you're done. It may take some adjustment if you aren't used to coconut milk in your coffee, but I enjoy the flavor every few days in addition to my regular coffee, or if I'm rushing out the door.