The first Whole Foods on Vancouver Island opened last week and I was slightly—no extremely frantic to hurry over and check it out, and so did the whole island it seemed! It definitely wasn’t easy maneuvering around as everyone stopped and stalled in the middle of the isles to gaze at all the different kinds of kale chips and kombucha.
Now, on the island we have a few organic franchises around, but none take the cake for vegans quite like the famous Whole Foods. The 365 brand alone is worth seeking out along with its famous buffet and special departments which makes having our own Whole Foods instead of going to one in Vancouver a wonderful luxury. Also, unique to this store are a few local gems: Discovery Coffee (no vegan donuts yet…:/) and Cafe Bliss (raw juices, treats and meal options).
As I sailed my way aisle to aisle, scoping out all the unfamiliar brands I could find, I was pleasantly surprised by a few items along the way — notably the frozen and fresh pizza sections. They were booming with vegan options like new-to-me Tofurky pizzas, a 365 personal vegan pizza and even a vegan option on the menu of their handmade wood-fired pizzas made fresh in store. Not a bad discovery which helped to elevate my disappointment in Fin & Pearl, a seafood restaurant, that isn’t likely to have vegan options (although, I’d love to told otherwise!).
The bulk section looked plentiful and worth exploring, the produce was colourful and hella expensive and the bakery was stocked full of clearly labelled vegan goodies such as chocolate mousse, baklava, cookies, cupcakes, chocolate chip scones, muffins and more.
There was also an intriguing beauty section consisting of brands like W3LL PEOPLE, Pacifica (swooning over their Dream Big mascara), Mineral Fusion and many brands I look forward to exploring. Yes, I am one of those people who can easily spend hours in a natural food store, looking over countless products and ingredient lists only to leave a with a handful of things 🙂
Whole Foods Haul + Taste Test
I grabbed a few favourites and splurged on some new brands at Whole Foods. Opening weekend had some nice deals going on such as 50% off Mary’s organic crackers (3.49) and Andalou Naturals shampoo and conditioner (2 for $12) which were some of the lowest prices I have ever seen on select organic brands. I saw one shopping cart full with dozens of the Mary crackers and I thought they are either stocking up or having one hell of a fancy dinner party.
Here are some previous favourites that are awesome and don’t need reviewing..
R.W. Knudsen Pineapple Coconut juice is so thick and creamy with a delicious hint of coconut. Belsoy (aka Alpro) french vanilla soy pudding is one of the best vegan puddings out on the market and should definitely be enjoyed by kids and adults and everyone in between. Mary’s Organic herb crackers have such a satisfying crunch and I love their ingredients.
Let me begin with baklava from a local company called Samaya Delights. These little puffs of joy are filled with walnuts and sans honey, a rarity, but it would have been nice if they were a little stickier like traditional baklava. The pumpkin spice also gives a kick without tasting like an artificial version of autumn.
Yoso‘s vanilla coconut yogurt hits the spot as far as the available nondairy yogurts in Canada. We have yet to be blessed with Kite Hill and sorry, but the So Delicious variety just doesn’t do for me. (Other noteworthy yogurts out there are Amande and Daiya). The only negative thing about Yoso is that there is a very prominent coconut flavour and as someone who has a love/hate relationship with coconut, I’ll be switching it up with other yogurts, until the glorious days us Canadians will have access to Kite Hill.
The bakery at Whole Foods was on my radar immediately as we walked in the door. I still remember many years back, entering a Whole Foods in Vancouver and trying a vegan cupcake just to be daring. Ha! And it was delicious! Their chocolate cake is just as scrumptious and of course, I went the extra mile and loaded it with some blackberries and pomegranate seeds. Would 100% buy again and again and again. 😉
Those maple gingerbread cookies are totally my jam.
You’d think that putting roasted garlic and onion hummus on onion crackers would be too much, but au contraire. That Sunflower Kitchen hummus paired with Mary’s crackers is just heavenly.
I’ve seen Zimt Chocolates around before and love that their entire line of chocolates are vegan! Also they use pretty interesting ingredients such as maple smoked salt and rosemary, but for my introduction to the company, I stuck with salt of the Earth. It has a texture on the softer side (like most raw chocolates I find) and a very intense flavour that doesn’t taste too bitter. Also I love their gorgeous packaging!
I have to thank my long arms for grabbing the last bag of Chimes hard toffee on the top of the shelf. Having never tried Cecemels (one day!), I can’t make what would be an easy comparison, but I will say that these are tasty and are like if a Werther’s Original had a coconut flavour and wasn’t filled with junk like glucose syrup and condensed whey.
Whole Foods will be a great addition to our grocery outings. I certainly don’t anticipate going there for a weekly stock up, however tempting it may be since it is only a 5 minute drive away. However, I am in a state of bliss knowing that in a pinch, we can stop by and grab takeout from their buffet or vegan pizza and chocolate cake. Okay, I can see how this will get out of hand….. 😉 And hey, I will never complain about the addition of easily accessible and yummy vegan options to our city!