As a full-time working, co-parenting, constantly on-the-go mom of two young boys, I put a high value on easy, healthy meals that I can make for my family. Sure, I could quickly make nachos and English muffin pizzas each night with a side of high fructose corn syrup laden fruit juice, but then I lose every shred of healthy eating I could ever dream of. Thankfully, the Whole Foods Market 365 Everyday Value line of food products takes care of all those concerns for me and has got me covered! Whole Foods Market has very high standards for the quality of the products they sell and seek to support local farmers whenever possible. These are things that I can feel good about as a mom, a Cincinnatian AND as a person in general. And here in town, we have TWO locations where we can shop Whole Food Healthy…. Mason and Hyde Park.
And with the holiday season in full-force, including the Sugar Plums dancing on your dessert plate, Whole Foods Market has created an assortment of healthy and tasty alternative recipes and even drinks (kid-friendly of course) for those who love to cook and try new recipes (including yours truly) or even those that are more of a cooking novice.
I could not wait to try some of their new appetizers, not only because they looked delicious, but also because I knew the products being used to make them were healthy, fresh, and absolutely tasty! Oh, and all the recipes in the new Update Your Apps! recipe booklet available at Whole Foods Market have 6 ingredients or less! Family friendly party planning made super easy!
I decided to try out a variety of the recipes, (because they looked amazing in the booklet!), but also, I wanted to get a good feel of the different options. Whether it be sweet and savory, vegetarian, or with meat, there are options for every palate and diverse dietary needs.
So, I started with the Roasted Mushroom Crostini. Mushrooms CAN be hit or miss with some people, but this recipe I’m sure will win over even the most anti-mushroom party goer at your next holiday gathering!
Roasted Mushroom Crostini
- Mushroom Medley (4 ounces) – I used a mixture of Baby Bella, Shitake and Oyster Mushrooms. More on the mild side and not an overwhelming mushroom taste.
- Fresh Baguette Slices – You can buy the loaf whole, or ask one of the friendly staff in the Bakery at Whole Foods and they’ll slice it up for you!
- 365 Everyday Value Organic Sour Cream
- Fresh Tarragon & Fresh Chives – A little goes a LONG way when it comes to these fragrant herbs
Slice or largely dice your mushrooms and roast with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. Toast your baguette slices to a light brown color. Top each slice with your roasted mushrooms, sour cream, chopped chives and tarragon and pepper to taste. Word to the wise….don’t use too much sour cream on the top because it will overpower the delicate taste of the mushrooms.
This was my favorite of the recipes I made. It’s simple, it’s easy, and it definitely will be a crowd pleaser. The flavor is subtle yet rich in heartiness. Too many of these and you will be done for the night! Make sure to pace yourself with this savory app and save some room for more!
TOTAL PREP & COOK TIME: 20 Minutes, Makes about 18 Crostinis
Sweet and Nutty Ricotta Mini Toasts
The second recipe I was eager to try was the Sweet & Nutty Ricotta Mini Toasts. The idea of the sweet ricotta with hints of lemon and the honey and hazelnut mixture brought back childhood memories of eating cannoli’s from the Italian bakery in Boston we used to visit on occasion. And with only 6 ingredients, I was ready to tackle this simple sweet rendition.
- Hazelnuts (Toasted and Chopped) – I bought about 1/4 pound of hazelnuts from the large variety of bulk supply foods. This way, I would have just enough and not be overwhelmed with extras.
- 365 Everyday Value Ricotta Cheese
- Garlic or Shallots (Minced) – I used one large clove of garlic minced and found it to be just enough and not too overpowering in flavor.
- 365 Everyday Value Organic Mini Toasts
- 365 Everyday Value Organic Mountain Forest Honey
Zest and juice one lemon. Here’s a helpful tip to get the most juice out of your lemon. Microwave your lemon for 30 seconds and then roll it out on the counter. You’ll be amazed how much more lemon juice you’ll be able to squeeze out! Mix your lemon juice and zest with the garlic and then stir into your ricotta cheese. As a side note, I did add a spoonful of mascarpone cheese to the mix because, well, everything is better with mascarpone! After you have thoroughly mixed everything together, put in the refrigerator to chill while you are toasting your hazelnuts.
I chopped up the hazelnuts prior to toasting, but you can chop up after if that’s easier for you. Using a meat tenderizer tool was perfect in order not to crush the hazelnuts into crumbs, but it also created smaller bite-size pieces. I placed the chopped hazelnuts into a dry frying pan and toasted for about 15-20 minutes on low-medium heat, stirring constantly so that nothing burned.
After you are done toasting the hazelnuts, lay out your mini-toasts. For ease of use, I put the ricotta mixture in a piping bag (you can use a plastic zip bag if that’s available) and I squeezed out the mixture on each mini toast. Put a small dollop of the ricotta mixture on each mini-toast and then top with a sprinkling of the toasted hazelnuts and then drizzle honey on top. Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of honey in most instances. However, the 365 Everyday Value Organic Mountain had a mildly arromatic and subtle honey taste that had just the right amount of sweetness. It is absolutely delicious and the perfect topper for this sweet and savory appetizer. A definite palette pleaser with this one-bite-wonder!
TOTAL PREP & COOK TIME: 35-40 Minutes (with half of that time being devoted to toasting the hazelnuts), Makes about 4 dozen mini toasts
Shrimp and Pineapple Skewers
The last appetizer that I made from the Whole Foods “Update Your Apps!” recipe booklet was the Shrimp and Pineapple Skewers. My family loves pineapple and shrimp is always a hit at dinner (at least with my oldest son), and with only 4 ingredients, this easy, family-friendly recipe is sure to be a repeat dinner!
- Raw Shrimp, 26-30 count (Peeled and Deveined)
- Fresh Chives
- Fresh Pineapple – Diced
- 365 Everyday Value Organic Memphis Madness BBQ Sauce (or other flavor to suit your tastebuds)
Put your wooden skewers in cold water and let them sit while you take on the task of peeling and deveining your shrimp. Once you have finished prepping the shrimp, remove the skewers from the cold water and pat dry. Take your pineapple, and dice into larger bite-size pieces. I bought the in-store pre-cut pineapple and I cut the larger pieces into smaller ones. Overall, this is a big timesaver. Next, alternate the shrimp and diced pineapples on the skewers and brush on some barbecue sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for about 5-10 minutes, until shrimp are firm. Remove from the oven and top with your chopped chives and add more barbecue sauce in a bowl for dipping.
TOTAL PREP & COOK TIME: 45-60 Minutes, Makes about 14 Skewers
The additional time of peeling and deveining your shrimp is decidedly what takes the most time in this recipe. You can always do that the night before and put your shrimp in the refrigerator overnight for easy assembly the next day. I found that the combination of the Memphis Madness Barbecue Sauce made this appetizer on the sweeter side. The next time I make this (because there WILL be a next time), I’m going to try a sauce that is more on the savory/spicy side, like perhaps the 365 Everyday Value Organic Texas True Barbecue Sauce and top with some 365 Everyday Value Pepper Duo Hot Sauce. There are so many potential flavor combinations with this dish as it’s so versatile!
Lastly, as the temperature drops and the family gets together after a long day of Christmas shopping and caroling with friends, what could be more satisfying than a warm mug of Sweet & Salty Apple Cider?
Sweet and Salty Cider
- 365 Everyday Value Organic Apple Cider (Any Flavor)
- 365 Everyday Value Organic Salted Caramel Sauce
- 365 Everyday Value Whipped Cream
Heat one cup of cider for each serving in a large saucepan. Pour cider into mugs, top with whipped cream and drizzle with salted caramel sauce. For added depth of flavor, you can swirl some of the caramel sauce into the warmed cider in each mug prior to adding the whipped cream.
TOTAL PREP & COOK TIME: 5-10 Minutes (Depending on how many servings you have to warm up)
This is going to be a hit for all ages. If the look on my boys’ faces isn’t proof enough, I’m not sure what is!
If you haven’t tried Whole Foods Market 365 Everyday Value line of products, what’s stopping you? There is so much variety in their selection of products and none of them contain artificial ingredients. As a mom, I can stand behind and support that whole heartedly! Knowing that I don’t have to worry about any questionable ingredients puts this mama’s mind at ease! Let’s face it, some kids can be picky. I know my kids can be and it sure is frustrating. However, I love that the 365 Everyday Value line of products is full of healthy, flavorful options that are sure to please even my picky boys!
Delicious, healthy, and a good value for you budget-minded moms. Eating well has never been so easy thanks to Whole Foods Market!