Sunday, November 20, 2011

Let Whole Foods Cook Your Holiday Meal

The one and only time I had a grocery store prepared holiday meal was about 15 years ago. My parents rented a cabin in Tahoe for Christmas and so we couldn't be bothered with cooking up things from scratch with limited cooking equipment. We went to XXX grocery and picked up a turkey dinner with all the fixings packed into Styrofoam containers. The mashed potatoes were a gummy puree and the rest of the meal was just an unmemorable.

I appreciate the working relationship I have with the Sacramento Whole Foods stores. Thanks to them, we were able to pull off SactoMoFo last April and now they are helping me get the Sacramento Food Film Festival going for next March. When they offered me a Whole Foods Holiday Meal sampler, I took them up on it and hosted a small dinner party last night to try out the dishes. I had high expectations for Whole Foods and they did not disappoint. Now I know I can, if necessary, reach out to them for a quality holiday meal.

There are a variety of Whole Foods holiday meal selections available. 
Some of the options are:

Intimate Goose Holiday Dinner - Pitman Farms, free-range geese

For my Holiday Meal sampler, I was given a variety of items. Pardon the photos. When you have guests chomping at the bit it's a challenge to take pictures.

The first was an organic, pre-cooked Diestel turkey.  Most restaurants in Sacramento these days are serving Diestel turkeys because they are raised locally in El Dorado County and are organic. This one was pre-cooked and frozen. My instructions were to thaw it out and then put it in a 350 degree oven for 60-90 minutes to heat and brown it. I will tell you to go for the 90 minutes. I went for 60 minutes and the center was still cold. But the turkey was juicy and flavorful. I had 5 guests and was worried that the turkey was small. I ended up with half the turkey as leftovers.

The next item was surprisingly my favorite sample. The field roast stuffed en croute is a vegan roast – a rich grain meat seasoned with toasted hazelnuts and rosemary stuffed with a sausage style mixture of field roast, cranberries, apples and crystallized ginger wrapped en croĆ»te with a vegan puff pastry. All of us were wary of a vegan entree, but two of us loved this one the best. It was hearty, full of flavor, and actually had a meaty taste to it. You bake it for half an hour at 425 degrees and the puff pastry gets a nice golden color. If you are hosting a Thanksgiving and have to cater to a couple of vegetarians/vegans, I highly suggest you pick this item up for them.

Another vegan item was the Health Starts Here stuffed acorn squash- roasted acorn squash stuffed with a mixture of lentils, wild rice, garlic, pearl onions, cranberries, pecans, currants, and apricot. This is filled with super healthy ingredients that are power packed with nutrients. I enjoyed this item and actually thought they might have overdid it with the amount of filling.

We also received the broccoli cheddar potato gratin- Yukon Gold potatoes layered with fresh broccoli, cream, onion, herbs, and lots of cheddar cheese. Everyone loves a good gratin, my only complaint was that it was on the dry side.

Most of the table liked the apricot glazed sweet potatoes the best, probably because those were closest to a traditional item that we all know. There were chunks of fresh sweet potatoes, seasoned with fall spices, glazed in orange juice, maple syrup, and apricots.

For dessert we got a traditional pumpkin pie. The one suggestion from my guests was that a can of whipped cream needs to be included. After all, rare is the person who eats pumpkin pie without whipped cream!

Not pictured but also in the Holiday Meal package is a beautiful bouquet of autumn flowers. (These got set aside since a guest brought me a lovely homemade arrangement.) There was also a bottle of wine - Pacific Rim Riesling. 

Be sure to also check out the review of the Paleo Whole Foods Holiday Meal put together especially for Cakegrrl.

There are Whole Foods recipes and tips for you as well.

Follow Whole Foods Northern California on Twitter. If you tweet with #WholeForTheHolidays you could win a turkey dinner! There is one winner a week. Good luck!
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