Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Food Revolution Friday Day 13: Jackpot

Where we are: Bend, Oregon

Plan for the day: Shop!

Food Revolution Challenge: We find a goldmine of great stuff

I've always loved Bend, or to be more specific, the Old Mill District in Bend. I've written about the Ameritel hotel before, and this time (the third for us), it was just as amazing as before, if not better. The only drawback with the hotel is that Bend is such a busy place, you have to reserve a room well in advance. As in, if you want a room in July, you need to reserve it in January. Or even December.

We waited until March. Which, of course, caused us to forfeit one of the nights we wished to stay, but no matter. We had a room! If we couldn't stay at the Ameritel we just weren't going to Bend at all.

We left the Holiday Inn Express in Nampa, making the trek to Bend in record time and stopping at Starbucks the second we arrived. Our first stop was, as it always is, Starbucks.

As we ordered I noticed something new. Bistro Boxes.

Now I don't know if you've been to Starbucks lately, and I'm guessing not nearly as much as I have been over the past three weeks. (as Food Revolution Road Trip has been self publishing, I've been roaring all over California on the back of a motorbike. I know. It's crazy.) To provide their customers with healthy options, Starbucks is now offering these great little bento box like snacks or meals that you can grab. In the USA they retail for about $5-$8.

I LOVE THEM. Granted, I have only tried the chicken and hummus one, but it made a perfect light lunch. The hummus was tasty, the pita fresh. I adored the fresh veggies, since I was getting tired of the lack of veggies in my restaurant offerings. The chicken was a teeny bit salty, but still delicious. I cannot wait to try more, and while I'm at BlogHer I plan to.

Thank you SO MUCH Starbucks.

When we checked into our room at the Ameritel, they had a great surprise for us-a room upgrade. Our room had a balcony overlooking the river, a jacuzzi tub upstairs, and a gorgeously comfy bed. We almost didn't want to leave!

Old Mill District
The view from our room

For us, Bend means shopping. And where did we go?

Trader Joe's

On Twitter, people have often told me to visit Trader Joe's. Each year I saw one, each year I passed, until this year.

Oh my.


So here's the deal. Everything that is made under the Trader Joe label is free of:

artificial colors
artificial flavors
no added trans fats

Plus, Trader Joe's has their own distribution. Big name grocery stores all have the same distributer, who they pay to deliver their food. Trader Joe's doesn't-which is how they keep the prices of their products low. We were astounded at how low. Things like dried fruit and nuts were easily 1/2 to 1/3 of the cost of things at home. As we browsed through the store exclaiming over products like dark chocolate covered blueberries (incredibly addictive) and massive containers of basil that were so cheap I almost fell over (not to mention the pine nuts), I began talking to one of the staff.

They were SO friendly. As in, "Oh! Find something you want to try and we'll open it up for you!"

Seriously? Kevin was floored. Anything? He could try anything?! (except the wine and beer of course)

As we talked, we got on the topic of health, Trader Joe's products, and ultimately, Food Revolution. I didn't mention it at all but suddenly, the question came up:

"Oh I love Jamie Oliver. I love what he's doing. Have you heard of Food Revolution?"

The three of us began to giggle, and John finally broke in.

"Um...WELL....." and told her our story. They were floored-and so were we, that we found this amazing place with so much great food, such an amazing philosophy, and such enthusiasm. See, I've worked for grocery companies. I know that you can't really force people to exude this kind of enthusiasm, it just happens when they love where they work.

We spent about an hour and a half in Trader Joe's, trying products, shopping, and talking to the staff and manager. They were amazing. When we walked out with a bag stuffed full of delicious food to try, both Kevin and John turned to me with their eyes wide.

"Now that is a cool grocery store!"

Note: I was not paid to mention either Starbucks or Trader Joe's in this post. However, Trader Joe's did send me home with a bunch of their favorite products for me to try, since it was my first time ever in their store. Either way, I would be writing about their company because I sincerely loved the experience.

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