Well duh it’s Whole Foods, of course it’s healthy. Oh but explore Whole Foods with me and you will see that statement is not always true. Have you ever experienced their cookie bar? Or the gelato? Or the BBQ brisket? Or the seasonal pumpkin risotto cakes? I could go on for ages about all of my guilty pleasures in this store.
I spend an absurd amount of time in this Whole Foods which is hilarious because before I moved to Austin, I was not a fan of Whole Foods. I just did not understand the hype. But then you experience the Whole Foods flagship store in Austin and it changes your life. Well it changed mine. SO many options. SO many seating areas. SO many samples. SO much parking. I mean is this a foodie’s Disneyland or what?
But every Disneyland has its temptations (aforementioned), which you gotta give into sometimes but definitely not all the time. This is my guide for when you’re looking for a good, healthy meal either to enjoy sitting in one of the many areas throughout Whole Foods (I’m looking at you wine & beer bar) or taking on the go.
The Juice Bar
Juice = fruits + veggies + nutrients. This is clearly going to be a good choice not just for your body but also for your taste buds. I look for a comparable juice bar at every Whole Foods I go to throughout the country, but there’s really none like this one. My faves:
- Super Greens Juice: Kale, spinach, apple, lemon & ginger (12 oz $4, 16oz $5, 24oz $6)
- Almond Delight Smoothie: Coconut water, coconut oil, raw cacao, banana & almond butter (12oz $4, 16oz $5, 24oz $6)
- Pretty In Pink Smoothie: Agave, coconut water, pomegranate juice, banana, strawberry & raspberry (12oz $4, 16oz $5, 24oz $6)
- Acai Banana Berry Bowl: Apple juice, bananas, strawberries, chunky flax granola, kiwi, blackberries, acai puree ($8)
- Lemon Cayenne Maple Shot (2 oz $2)
- Blackberry Spearmint Kombucha (12oz $2.75, 16oz $3.50, 24oz $5.25)
Tacooooos! An Austin staple. Except Whole Foods makes it super cool because you order off of screens and has many unique, healthy options. Also the salsa bar is something else.
- Style: Taco, Tacos, Burrito, Salad
- Body: Salad, whole wheat tortilla, corn tortilla, spelt tortilla, in a cup with no tortilla or tortilla on side
- Protein: Health Starts Here featured protein, taco chicken, grilled vegetables
- Hot Toppings: Classic black beans, grilled veggies, brown rice, quinoa, no oil potatoes
- Cheese: Vegan mozzarella cheese, vegan cheddar cheese (I’ve been having an addiction to the taste of vegan cheese lately, and it is a good alternative for those with dairy sensitivities)
- Cold Toppings: Guacamole (add $1), steamed kale, brodie salsa – mild
Salad / Hot Foods Bar
I’ve seen oatmeal here made with almond milk and quite a few things on the hot foods bar that have very minimal ingredients. That’s the beauty of it… they list all of the ingredients on each item! While their selections change daily, you will always find the typical staples of organic greens, lots of vegetables, animal proteins, and tofu. The hot foods section usually has a theme, so you can end up going on Indian, Chinese, or BBQ day!
Love this concept where you grab a bowl and fill it up with all of the veggies you want stir fried. Then you walk to the counter and hand it to him to stir fry, then let him know what beans, grains, proteins, sauce and extra toppings you would like! There are also pre-made ideas and a seasonal offering.
Make Your Own
- Style: Bowl, wrap, salad, sweet potato
- Protein: I suggest the vegetarian ($6), tofu ($7), fish ($9), chicken ($7)
- Sauce: I suggest the peanut sauce, adobo sauce, thai red curry, thai green curry, chipotle marmalade
- Curry Bowl: Thai red curry, choice of greens, choice of beans, choice of grains, garnished with green onion, basil, carrots, bell pepper medley
- E2 Bowl: Beans of the day (double portion), brown rice, avocado, kale, pico
- GBG Sweet Potato: Sweet potato, beans of the day, wilted kale, chipotle marmalade, pumpkin seeds
Your standard sandwich counter, but with some great healthy options. All of the normal fixins are here, but I suggest sticking to leaner proteins such as the turkey meat and loading up on lots of veggies and adding a good fat like avocado. The thing I love about this sandwich counter compared to most are the bread/wrap choices. There’s truly something for everyone, satisfying dietary requirements like gluten-free and vegan.
My Favorite Bread/Wrap Options:
- Whole Foods Seeduction
- UDI’s Gluten Free Whole Grain
- Engine 2 Brown Rice Tortilla
- Vegan Ancient Whole Wheat
The Seafood Counter
Looking for a more upscale meal that you may or may not take your next date to? I mean I wouldn’t mind being taken on a date here, it is quite the classy joint. Fresh seafood prepared in a variety of ways, sounds both delicious and healthy to me!
Appetizers & Salads
- Lobster Gazpacho: Corn and cucumber relish, watermelon, tomato, lobster tail ($9)
- Peanut Shrimp Noodle Salad: Shrimp, romaine, brown rice noodles, cucumber, carrot, mint, Health Starts Here Peanut Sauce ($11)
- Black Drum: Sauteed broccoli, mushroom, cherry tomato, black pepper creme fraiche ($15)
- Salmon: Arugula, quinoa, black bean, tomato, Health Starts Here Avocado Pumpkin Seed Pesto ($15)
Build Your Own Plate
- Choose Your Fish: Daily catch offerings change daily but one day I went they were Snapper ($17), Shrimp ($13), Scallops ($18), Tuna ($18), Salmon ($15), Flounder ($17), Black Drum ($15), Chilean Seabass ($18), Barramundi ($17)
- Choose Your Sides: Roasted potato, brown rice, kale, spinach, green beans, broccoli, polenta, zucchini, plantains, mixed green salad, caesar salad, raita salad, asparagus
- Choose a Sauce: I suggest the Health Starts Here avocado pumpkin seed pesto or salsa verde or jalapeno lime yogurt or curry emulsion
Located right next to the seafood counter, Asian Express is another great option for freshly made food with a variety of flavors. Enjoy teriyaki dishes, soups, curry, and of course sushi rolls. There is also sushi to-go with different rolls than the freshly made.
Appetizers & Entrees
- Edamame 4oz ($2.69)
- Sesame Seaweed Salad 4oz ($4.39)
- Tofu Katsu Curry: 14oz served with steamed brown rice ($8.39)
- Chicken Katsu Curry: 14oz served with steamed brown rice ($9.39)
Freshly Made Sushi
- Green Veggie Roll: Inside-out roll with asparagus, avocado, cucumber and green leaf lettuce, sprinkled with nori komi flakes on top ($6.69)
- Fiery Hawaiian Roll: A choice of tuna or salmon with cucumber, green leaf lettuce and spicy sauce topped with himchi and sesame seeds ($8.39)
- Louisiana Roll: Cucumber, avocado, green leaf lettuce and sesame seeds topped with cajun salmon ($12.49)
Pre-Made Salads / Meals
Great for on the go, and they also offer 2 for $6 options so you can get a variety. There are also plates with a protein such as a chicken plate with sweet potatoes and kale, and Whole Foods has microwaves on-site so you can heat it up there. I like:
- HSH California Quinoa: Quinoa, mango, raisin, almond, edamame, red bell pepper, red onion, lime juice, balsamic vinegar, coconut flakes, cilantro (part of 2 for $6)
- HSH Roasted Butternut with Kale and Raisins: Butternut squash, kale, yellow onions, raisins, garlic, basil, salt, pepper ($9.99/lb)
To-Go Grocery Food
This is my standard go-to when I am on the go and want to grab something quick for a road trip or post-workout snack. I love to get Perfect Food Bars, individual Greek yogurts, kale chips, and freeze-dried fruit.
Safe travels y’all!
Chelsea Rose Martin