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Whole Foods' New Holiday Products Are Here—And They're All Less Than $10

Whole Foods' New Holiday Products Are Here—And They're All Less Than $10

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From better-for-you peppermint bark to vegan ice cream made from almond milk, Whole Foods has your holiday snacks and treats covered.

Whole Foods certainly knows how to spread the holiday cheer—earlier this month, they introduced a line of Instagram-worthy vegan holiday meals that you can order to take home this year. And, as a bonus, most of the meals are under $15. Maybe affordability is this year's holiday theme at Whole Foods, because the healthy grocer just launched a new line of limited-edition products with price tags all under $10.

From wintery coffee blends to salty-sweet crunchy treats, Whole Foods has certainly brought the best of seasonal flavors—from peppermint to caramel and even maple—to better-for-you holiday items.

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Here, 10 holiday products you can buy at your local Whole Foods right now.

1) 365 Everyday Value Brown Butter Cinnamon Popcorn with Cardamom: $2.99

Photos courtesy of Whole Foods Market.

2) 365 Everyday Value Whipped Cream, in Maple Vanilla and Peppermint: $3.99

Photos courtesy of Whole Foods Market.

3) 365 Everyday Value Vegan Almond Milk Ice Cream, in Bourbon Salted Pecan, Cherry Bourbon, and Irish Whiskey Salted Caramel: $4.99

Photos courtesy of Whole Foods Market.

4) Mini Trio Panettones: Traditional, Limoncello, Chocolate Cocoa: $9.99

Photos courtesy of Whole Foods Market.

5) Whole Foods Market Milk Chocolate Snowballs: $8.99

Photos courtesy of Whole Foods Market.

6) 365 Everyday Value Blizzard Bounty Trail Mix: $4.99

Photos courtesy of Whole Foods Market.

7) 365 Everyday Value Apple Chai-der Bites: $3.29

Photos courtesy of Whole Foods Market.

8) 365 Everyday Value Chai Spice Cashews: $6.99

Photos courtesy of Whole Foods Market.

9) 365 Everyday Value Organic Ground Peppermint Coffee: $6.99

Photos courtesy of Whole Foods Market.

10) 365 Everyday Value Dark Chocolate Quinoa & Peppermint Bark Thins: $3.99

Photos courtesy of Whole Foods Market.

10 Best Protein Bars for Weight Loss, According to Dietitians

These healthy options curb cravings, pack on muscle, boost energy, and actually taste great.

It&rsquos Monday morning and you&rsquore running late for work again. No time to cook breakfast (or even throw together a bowl of cereal, for that matter), so you grab a protein bar to go. Packaged in healthful claims, you assume it&rsquos a good option that will hold you over until lunch.

But not all bars are created equal. &ldquoProtein bars can be a great snack, but some of them are very high in sugar and low in nutrient density,&rdquo says Mascha Davis, M.P.H., R.D.N., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. That&rsquos why it can be tricky to find one that checks all the boxes for you.

How to shop for protein bars that are actually healthy

First, &ldquowhether your goal is to build muscle or to stay full, look for a bar with between 6 and 12 grams of protein,&rdquo says Karen Ansel, M.S., R.D.N., author of Healing Superfoods For Anti-Aging. She also suggests looking for at least 3 grams of fiber. &ldquoNot only does it make the bar more satiating, but it will also slow the release of sugar into your system.&rdquo

To help you make the healthiest choices, Davis offers a few more pointers to keep in mind:

  • Look for a protein bar made with whole ingredients, like nuts and fruits.
  • Stick to bars between 180 and 250 calories.
  • Cap the total amount of sugar at roughly 12 grams, but the lower the better.

Be sure to also pay extra close attention to the ingredients if you tend to have stomach issues, suggests Heather Mangieri, R.D.N., C.S.S.D. &ldquoFiber doesn&rsquot taste very good, so the trend today is to add sugar alcohols to add sweetness, without having to increase the carbohydrate content,&rdquo she says. &ldquoNot everyone tolerates sugar alcohols the same. If you notice gastrointestinal discomfort, such as gas and bloating, after eating your bar, they may be the culprit.&rdquo (Common ones to look for include sorbitol, xylitol, erythritol, and maltitol.)

Even with those basic guidelines, there is an overwhelming number of protein bars on the market, so we&rsquove asked the pros to recommend their favorites. Here are the best protein bars you can try, when to eat them, and why you&rsquoll love them.

Millennials’ food choices are driven by quality and they’re willing to pay more for it

The way people shop for and think about food has a lot to do with their personal philosophies about health, the environment and where that food comes from. Many of these philosophies take seed in concern, ranging from the impact of buying certain food items to whether or not buying high quality foods is worth the money spent.

Trends tend to be dictated by younger generations𠅊nd the direction of food culture is no different. A recent study conducted by YouGov for Whole Foods Market reveals that Millennials are becoming increasingly careful in how they shop for foods: 60 percent of US adults aged 22- to 37-years-old say they are more concerned about food additives and growth hormones now than they were five years ago.

What could be driving the appetite for organic foods?

According to YouGov research, one in two Millennials (51%) indicate they are buying more organic products now than they did five years ago. Older Millennials (aged 33- to 37-years-old) and Millennial parents are especially likely to say they are buying organic more often now (60% and 57% respectively).

These two groups are likely driving the surge in interest for organic products, particularly since they tend to be more acute to factors such as food additives, growth hormones, and food labeling. In each of these instances, older Millennials and Millennial parents prove to be more concerned𠄺nd shrewd– in their food buying habits than Millennials are as a whole.

Millennials place their dollars behind high quality foods and responsible sourcing practices

Eight in 10 Millennials (80%) agree that when it comes to buying food, quality is important to their purchase decision. This appears to directly impact how they spend their money: 68 percent of Millennials agree that they are willing to spend more for high quality food products. To put this into context of the other ways Millennials may be spending their money, 69 percent of this group say they spent more money on food than they did on travel last year.

This emphasis on quality goes hand-in-hand with another aspect of food shopping: how food products are sourced. More than six in 10 Millennials (65%) say that transparency in food sourcing is important to them and the same number (65%) say they prefer to buy from brands and products that use responsible sourcing practices. In each of these statements, more Millennial parents expressed that it was important to them that food products be sourced in a responsible and transparent manner.

Other insights from the study:

  • Quality and convenience rise to the top as key factors in millennials’ food choices and 52 percent say they will pay more for ready-made meals that are high quality and healthy
  • 71 percent of Millennial parents agree they make an effort to cook new dishes (vs. 62% of Millennials)
  • ​� percent of Millennials overall agree they seek out food and beverages that are made with less packaging and plastic

Methodology: This survey was conducted online within the United States by YouGov for Whole Foods Market from August 5-9, 2019 among 1,006 US adults aged 22- to 37-years-old who passed an occupation security screening.

Check your fridge and pantry the night before you shop

It doesn’t matter how seasoned of a chef you are it’s easy to forget which ingredients you already have on hand. “You don’t know how many times I couldn’t remember if I had something only to re-buy it,” Dina says. “Check your fridge and pantry against your grocery list and make sure you are not overbuying.”

The Best Prepared Foods at Whole Foods (According to the Employees Who Know Them Best)

When you’re hungry and in search of a wholesome meal ASAP, there’s nothing better than the prepared foods section at Whole Foods . Your to-go box is a blank canvas, just waiting to be filled with your singular vision for lunch or dinner. Metal tongs are your paintbrush as you create your masterpiece, be it composed of just one dish or an eclectic variety of meats, noodles, salads, and slaws.

While there’s really no wrong way to assemble your meal from the trays upon trays of options, I thought it might be interesting to seek the insight of experts. So I visited five different Whole Foods stores and chatted with thirteen employees about their favorite prepared foods .

It should be noted that the salad and hot bars are constantly evolving due to ingredient availability. While you may not always be able to find the items highlighted below, my sources tell me that this first one is usually available in one form or another…

1. Mac and cheese

“I hear the macaroni and cheese is really good.”

“Everyone loves the mac and cheese.”

Out of the thirteen employees that I spoke with, eight mentioned the mac and cheese. One gentleman told me that the special guest ingredients have run the gamut from bacon to bleu cheese. But during most of my visits, the featured mac and cheese was baked with charred tomatoes and jalapeños. Despite the peppers, one of the cashiers assured me, “It’s not hot—just real fresh and good.”

Another cashier loves the mac and cheese but has one gripe about it: “It’s expensive. Do you know it’s like $7.99 a pound?! It’s delicious, but I keep away from that.”

I told her that my strategy to keep my grand total under $10 was to fill my to-go container with a lot of leaves. To that, she said, “I refuse. I mean it’s good for you. But I am not a goat when I’m hungry.” Amen.

2. Yucca fries

A man purveying samples of protein bars had good things to say about the yucca fries, an opinion that would later be seconded by the cashier at this same location. Not having experienced a yucca fry before, I had to try this one for myself. My verdict? Looks like a mozzarella stick, tastes like a steak fry. Will 100% eat again.

3. Tofu nuggets

When I asked a man working at the growler station about his favorite dish, he answered, “To be honest . . . I like the vegan tofu nuggets. For some reason—I don’t know.” He went on to tell me that while he’s not vegan and in fact eats a lot of meat, he enjoys the flavor and texture of the nuggets. Further recon taught me that there were actually a couple different tofu nuggets for sale that day, seasoned with either za’atar or sweet chili.

4. Chicken wings

While the thought of Whole Foods doesn’t conjure visions of chicken wings in my head, it turns out that you can always find a variety of wings in the hot bar at any given time. Across my five store visits, three different flavors were recommended to me: buffalo, Mandarin sweet and sour, and sweet chili.

5. Chicken fingers

Two employees at different stores told me that the chicken fingers top their go-to lists. In fact, one cashier told me they were the only prepared food item she liked. “There’s not too much flavor that’s why I like it. I don’t like a lot of seasoning.”

6. Even more chicken!

But if you like your chicken on the spicier side, the options abound. Some poultry-centric recommendations included BBQ chicken, grilled Caesar chicken, jerk chicken, and tequila lime chicken, which I was assured wasn’t prepared with an excess of alcohol and wouldn’t send me back to work tipsy.

7. Fish in Ginger Sauce

When I asked a cashier on Houston Street about her favorite hot bar item, she named this dish without delay. While she wasn’t sure exactly what type of fish it was, she described it as “some kind of light fillet.”

Don’t forget dessert! Starting earlier this year, Whole Foods has been introducing this Japanese sweet to their stores, sold at $2 per unit. “They’re pretty good,” one employee told me. “The texture is kind of like a marshmallow and then in the middle is ice cream.” While her favorite flavors are strawberry and cookies and cream, other flavors range from vanilla to mango to matcha green tea.

9. Honorable mentions

In my opinion, some of the Whole Foods salads and slaws make eating your veggies about as zesty as possible. But when I asked employees about their favorite foods , the greens just didn’t rise to the top of their lists on a consistent basis. However, there were a few veggies that were mentioned at least once, and I’d like to acknowledge them at this time. To spinach, broccoli, kale Caesar salad, curried cauliflower, and summer corn risotto—thank you for playing, and keep up the good fight. You may not be as drool-worthy as mac and cheese, but you do weigh less, and thus, cost less. And if only for that reason, you’ll always have a place in my to-go box.

Amazon's Acquisition Of Whole Foods Is About Two Things: Data And Product

A man walks past an AmazonFresh Pickup location on June 16, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. Amazon . [+] announced that it will buy Whole Foods Market, Inc. for over $13 billion dollars. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

With the news last week that U.S. regulators plan to take more time to review Amazon’s $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods, industry analysts can now take more time to speculate on the strategic implications of one of the biggest retail mergers in years. What is Amazon really up to?

Some have interpreted Amazon’s move as a signal that the online giant is finally giving in and investing big into brick-and-mortar retail. Digging deeper, though, it’s clear that Amazon’s real interest is in two things: first, the treasure trove of consumer data that comes with this acquisition and second, Whole Foods’ private brand product.

Let’s start with the data. What exactly is in the Whole Foods data that Amazon would want? Answer: Grocery buying habits and patterns. Preferences. Correlations between purchases of different products and even different categories.

Jeremy Stanley, vice president of data science for Instacart, one of Amazon’s competitors in the grocery space, recently told CNBC: "One of the wonderful things about groceries is that compared to other e-commerce purchases, groceries are habitual and frequent. People need groceries every week.”

With massive amounts of data from Whole Foods shoppers, Amazon will ultimately be able to tailor the grocery shopping experience to the individual. Amazon has already mastered the process of upselling, i.e. offering additional items that go with the items the consumer is looking to buy. With consumables like groceries, Amazon will know when you run out of cereal and will present you with the offer to buy more at precisely the right time. Alternatively, the new box of cereal may just show up at your door at the moment you take that last bite.

If it’s about the data, why would Amazon acquire Whole Foods instead of another large grocery chain such as Aldi or Kroger?

First, the data from Whole Foods customers is literally “rich”. This data is from affluent shoppers who represent high margin upsell opportunities for Amazon. Business Insider states that the typical Whole Foods customer has over $1000 per month in disposable income.

Second, and more interestingly, is that Whole Foods has a strong private label business with its 365 brand. Why is this important to Amazon? In case you haven’t noticed, Amazon is becoming more and more vertically integrated. It now runs eight private brand lines of fashion apparel, including Lark & Ro, Ella Moon and Mae, and this business has been growing rapidly. The online giant also offers private brand products for everything from batteries to baby wipes and diapers. Amazon is even developing its own content. Its “Manchester by the Sea” film was produced completely by Amazon and was a blockbuster hit last year.

The typical argument for vertical integration is that private brand product is higher margin than third-party branded product. That is true and is an important part of Amazon’s strategy. But even more important is the fact that private brand product represents differentiation. In a retail market where there is a “sea of sameness” and national brands can be found through nearly every channel, private and exclusive brands create a reason for the consumer to buy through Amazon as opposed to going elsewhere. If Amazon has the best shopping experience, the fastest delivery, the best prices, and now unique products, why would you shop anywhere else?

Amazon has a better understanding of the customer than any other retailer. The Motley Fool estimates that over 80 million people are Amazon Prime members. With this data, it is capable of building analytic models which can predict what these consumers will want, how much they will want, and when they will want it.

That’s great if you are Amazon. But if you are not Amazon, what do you do?

To compete with Amazon, retailers need to develop their own differentiated product. Department stores are realizing this. Kohl’s private brand products now account for nearly 50% of total sales. In a Fortune article, Michelle Gass, Kohl's Chief Merchandising and Customer Officer, said: “The health of our private brands is critical to our success." Bon-Ton Stores has stated that it wants to grow its private brand business from 19% of total sales to 25%. Dick’s Sporting Goods also recently stated that is will be reducing its exposure to national brands in favor of giving its private brands more floor space. These products cannot be found on Amazon, nor can they be found in any other department store. They give consumers a reason to shop at Kohl’s or Bon-Ton or Dick’s.

While Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods enables them to add a tremendous amount of data to their coffers, the true differentiator lies in the company's mastery of using data to better understand their customer’s needs, predict shopping behavior and generate longevity with its loyal customer base.

As Amazon's reach extends into other sectors, it's anyone's guess what they will do next. It is critical that retailers and brands learn to not only gather the right kind of data that helps them to understand their customer, but harness its power to ensure their products and pricing are in line with expectations and keep customers coming back.

What Words Like &lsquoOrganic,&rsquo &lsquoNatural,&rsquo &lsquoGMO-Free&rsquo and &lsquoGluten-Free&rsquo Really Mean

We’re so much healthier than we used to be! With a rise in the demand to know what it is in your food and where it comes from, companies are making the effort to label their products with stamps like ‘gluten-free’ and ‘organic’. But can we really trust that some printed words on a package really mean anything?

CNN recently broke down a whole slew of different food labels, trying to get to the bottom of what they mean or don’t mean. To make your busy lives easier, we’ve distilled this info down to a quick overview so you know which words to trust and which to be skeptical of.

GMO-free = Currently left up to manufacturer. Whether or not a food contains GMOs is a relatively cut and dry distinction. However, as of right now, labeling is still left up to the individual companies. But to ease the minds of skeptical types, some states, like Vermont, are beginning to pass laws on the state level (Vermont’s law kicks in in 2016), and the USDA recently announced they’re launching a “USDA Product Verified” label nationwide.

Natural = Vaguely defined and loosely enforced by FDA. The FDA openly admits, 𠇏rom a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is &aposnatural&apos because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth. That said, FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives.” But then the agency gives us a big 𠇋ut,” stating, “However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.” The flip side of that statement is that occasionally the FDA will “object” to the use of the term, and as CNN points out, the FDA has taken brands to task over misuse of the word in the past, so it’s not completely worthless.

Organic = Has multiple specific definitions that don’t always mean 100% organic. To be certified as “organic,” meat and produce have to be raised or grown according to specific USDA guidelines. But from there, different “organic” labels can take on different meanings. “USDA organic,” for instance, means a product is made from 95% organic content. But products can say “made with organic” ingredients if just more than 70% of the ingredients are organic.

Gluten-free = Regulated by the FDA. Though gluten-free diets are trendy, for people actually suffering from Celiac disease, mislabeled food can be a serious health concern. So thankfully, the FDA actually regulates products labeled “gluten-free” to make sure they are actually free of everybody’s new whipping boy, gluten.

Whole grain = Must be accurate, but doesn’t reflect amounts. If you’re in the mood for some light reading, the FDA has a seven page document on industry guidance for “Whole Grain Label Statements.” Though labeling of “whole grains” have to be accurate, the amount of whole grains in a product can vary. Check the ingredients and nutrition info, especially fiber, to get a better idea of how much of these ingredients you are getting.

Trans fat = Meaningful in most cases. The FDA requires all trans fats to be listed on the nutrition label. The only caveat here is that anything less than a half a gram of trans fat per serving can be rounded down to zero.

Great News: You Can Find Whole30-Friendly Meals At All Of These Restaurants And Fast Food Chains

Whole30 has a rep for being one of the most restrictive diets around: no sugar, no grains, no legumes, no dairy. That said, it's not impossible to eat out while following the rules you've jut got to be smart about it. The following chain restaurants and fast food joints will become your best friends when you need a break from cooking. Go forth and conquer.

Know your limits here and you'll be fine. Steaks (order them dry&mdashno sauces, no sugary seasoning) are typically compliant, and so are steamed veggies.

This one's a favorite for people doing Whole30 (follow this exact format). If you stray, you're in danger of breaking some diet rules: Order a bowl&mdashno rice, no beans. Get carnitas. Add any salsa but the corn. Don't you dare touch those fajita veggies&mdashthey're cooked in bad oils. Get guac. Top it with extra greens.

Ok, you can't actually have this sandwich here. BUT, you can have some less exciting, healthy version of it. Five Guys doesn't season its hamburger patties, so they're fair game. Order one in a lettuce bun and go crazy with the tomatoes, onions, and peppers.

Yah, that bun's gonna be a big ol' fat no. That said, you can hack the system at In-N-Out the same way you can at Five Guys. The patties are 100% meat&mdashno additives or fillers. Get one on a lettuce bun, with tomato and grilled onion.

If you ask for unseasoned steak or grilled salmon&mdashno sauce or butter&mdashyou should be fine. Many of the vegetables (even the basic steamed ones) are cooked with butter, so just ask for them plain.

You'll have to make a number of modifications to what you order at Panera, but it's not impossible to find a compliant meal. Your best bets are Green Goddess Club Salad with Chicken. Order it without the chicken, bacon, or dressing (you're still left with eggs for protein and avocado for healthy fat). For something smaller, opt for the Seasonal Greens Salad without dressing.

The Cheddar Bay biscuits may be off limits, but Red Lobster's classic Live Maine Lobster, Snow Crab Legs, and Filet are Whole30-approved, as is the Atlantic Salmon from the Today&rsquos Catch menu. As for sides, go for fresh unseasoned broccoli or asparagus, but make sure to ask for them without the butter.

Feel free to pop into the market when you're out and about. The salad bar is full of fresh vegetables you can throw together. Just make sure to look at the ingredients on all of them to check for anything off-limits.

How much do Amazon meal kits cost?

Amazon's meals cost less than most other meal kits, but Prime and Fresh are added expenses.

On the surface, Amazon meal kits are much less expensive than comparable meals from other subscription services. Currently, every meal kit Amazon offers costs between $8 and $10 per serving—most two-serving boxes from other services we’ve tested cost $9 to $12 per serving. Shipping is free for orders over $35, and $9.99 for orders that don’t meet that threshold.

When you factor in the cost of Amazon Prime and AmazonFresh, however, you start to see how the ecommerce giant can offer meal kits for such seemingly low prices. Amazon Prime currently costs $99 per year, and AmazonFresh is $14.99 per month, which adds up to just under $280 per year for the ability to even buy these meal kits. That cost quickly makes up for the $3 in savings per meal.

When you break it down, a couple interested in cooking three standard dinners a week would spend about $55.35 on Amazon meal kits, including the cost of Prime and Fresh, and about $59.70 at Home Chef, the best meal kit we've tested. Ultimately, the savings at Amazon are light.

Each recipe card clearly lays out step-by-step instructions.

If you’re someone who already regularly uses both Amazon Prime and AmazonFresh throughout the year, these meal kits are definitely affordable for what they are. But if you’re not already tangled in the web of Amazon and just want some meals delivered to your door, you won’t find a ton of savings here, and other meal kit delivery services may be a better fit.

Daily Harvest

The problem: Taking the time and money to prep healthy, satisfying meals can be inconvenient and exhausting.

Daily Harvest's solution: Making a smoothie should be easy enough, right? Just throw in some fruit, maybe a scoop of nut butter or a dash of almond milk and call it day. In reality, mindlessly tossing ingredients into a blender makes for a smoothie that's a lot less healthy than you intended. And, for many of us, busy schedules make the prep time of chopping fruit, freezing it, and measuring out ingredients feel like a chore.

Daily Harvest makes the process more efficient, sending you cups full of prepped ingredients already perfectly portioned. For most, all you need to do is add some liquid and blend or heat it up. Daily Harvest has a range of products including smoothies, soups, harvest bowls, and even plant-based cookies. The recipes are crafted by chefs and nutritionists, so they're just as tasty as they are healthy — and they're all made with organic ingredients.

Daily Harvest offers a few subscription options that you can cancel, skip, or change at any time. You can choose from a weekly or monthly plan, and then select how many cups you'd like with each delivery. The least you can get is 9, the most you can get is 24. Prices range from $6.99 to $7.75 a cup based on how big your order is. Its website lets you check out the ingredients, nutritional info, and how to prepare your cups, so you're ready to go when they arrive at your doorstep.

Order pre-made superfood smoothies, soups, and more at Daily Harvest

Learn more about Daily Harvest here

The problem: The sexual health and feminine hygiene space are a bit taboo and thus, many women don't know or think about what's hiding in the products they put in, or near, their bodies.

Lola's solution: Simple products, modern convenience, and total transparency are the basis of Lola's mission. It all started in 2014 when co-founders Jordana Kier and Alexandra Friedman got to talking about tampons. After realizing what actually was in them, they knew there had to be a better option. The two sought to make a brand that looks nice, uses simple, better-for-you ingredients, and ships right to your doorstep — meaning no more awkward stints at the drug store.

Lola offers a variety of sexual health products and sends them via a subscription service, though some products, like a first period kit, can be bought on a one-time basis. The products are made without toxins, dyes, or synthetic fibers, and you can find the ingredients in each item clearly listed on the product page.

The subscription can be completely customized, too. Just fill the box with the products you'd like to receive (including tampons, pads, condoms, wipes, and lubricants), choose whether you'd like them delivered every four or eight weeks, and feel free to adjust any of this information at any time.

When the time comes, your box comes delivered conveniently to your door in a package that's simple and discreet. It's not only a convenient way to make sure you're always stocked with sexual health products but a great way to know you're using products that are actually good for your body.