Living in Boulder, Colorado, there are a remarkable number of grocery store options, ranging from indie upstarts like Lucky’s Market to the big guys like Whole Foods, Safeway and King Soopers. Because of our community’s focus on health and wellness, even the big players try out new concepts with organic, natural, vegetarian and similar. Safeway, for example, had its North Boulder store as a showcase for its quite large organic and natural section, even flying in managers from other stores to see how it was laid out.
There are also a variety of natural food stores that keep trying to gain their share of the lucrative Boulder marketplace. Some have been around for many years, like Vitamin Cottage Natural Grocers, but others have just a store or two and try to earn their way into the big time. Two companies that were active for the last decade or so were Sprouts Farmers Market and Sunflower Farmers Market. Of course, they weren’t really farmers markets, but the idea was that they had an emphasis on fresh, local foods and bulk foods rather than the more common hermetically sealed foodstuffs.
Then a few years ago Sprouts and Sunflower merged, creating a new unified brand under the Sprouts banner. Now I say that like it’s just a few markets, but as far back as 2012 the new entity had 150 stores and annual sales approaching $2 billion. Definitely a player in the space, both in Boulder and throughout the United States.
And yet, I hadn’t been in a Sprouts for many years, until the company invited my daughter and I to join a group of bloggers on a nutritionist-led tour of new plant-based food options at their flagship Denver store.
Turns out that it’s lovely inside:
There’s a sort of homey Mid-Western sort of feel to the decor and design of the store which makes it almost feel like the old village grocers of a century ago.
We both enjoyed the tour and samples of various foods quite a bit. My daughter is vegan, though she describes it as “plant based” with her foods, so it was quite up her alley to talk with Melissa, the nutritionist, about non-meat nutrient sources, vitamin content of food, protein sources and such. Me? I was just along to learn…
First up we started with snacks; chips and dip. But not queso and Tostitos, however:
All the chips were good, and The Daily Crave’s Quinoa Chips were a standout, but it was the dips that were most surprising. I’ve actually written about Better Bean products before, but their refried red beans were quite good. Then the Boar’s Head Dark Chocolate Dessert Hummus. Yes, you read that right. A bit weird, really, as it was so thick and rich that it tasted a bit akin to fudge topping for ice cream, it would definitely satisfy any sweet tooth.
My favorite, though, was the Oasis Naturals Almond Dip in “Smoky Chipotle” flavor. That stuff is spicy! and with the quinoa chips it was fantastic!! So good, in fact, that we bought some after the tour so we could take it home.
Next stop was to try a pea-based beverage that offers a surprisingly high amount of protein:
This Ripple Nutritious Pea Milk is pretty thick stuff, almost like melted ice cream thick. And I have to say that I wasn’t too fond of the chocolate flavor, but the vanilla? Really good. It’s begging to be poured into a smoothie and then saves you from having to deal with protein powder to make that fruit smoothie more than just sugar. The company also makes a half-and-half for coffee that I’m most curious about so we’ll have to try that at some point.
After exploring more of the Sprouts store and meeting a number of their friendly staff, we ended up back on the front patio, ready to wrap up our tour and enjoy some dessert treats:
I’ve had plenty of So Delicious frozen desserts in the past, but hooo boy, the So Delicious Cashew Milk Dipped Salted Caramel bars are fan-darn-tastic. Because we had a fair drive home on a hot afternoon we didn’t get any for ourselves, but I’m 100% confident that my other kids would also swoon over this tasty and, yes, sweet confection. Highly recommended, and I promise, you’ll never even realize that it’s dairy free.
All in all, our visit to Sprouts Farmers Market was not only tasty, but fun and educational too. My daughter and I both enjoyed the experience and all of the various foods and beverages we were able to sample. More importantly, we are enthused to head to our local Sprouts market and do some of our shopping there too, as we have learned that their sandwiches, salads and sushi are all splendid and inexpensive too.
How could you tell? Well, we went right back into the market and bought almost $40 worth of foods and snacks, including the following:
Yes, you can see a significant overlap between what we sampled and what we bought. But that’s how it’s supposed to work, right? 🙂
Now, is there a Sprouts Farmers Market near you, and have you tried expanding your culinary options by shopping there? You definitely should!
Disclosure: Sprouts Farmers Market hosted our visit to the store and gave us a lovely gift bag afterwards in return for this writeup on my blog. Thanks, Sprouts!