How to Navigate Whole Foods' Cafeteria Without Getting Burned

Stick to the cold bar.
Stick to the cold bar.

It's noon on a weekday. You're running late. Alton Road traffic has sparked you to make wild, violent hand gestures. Suddenly, in the distance, you espy solar panels, pumpkins, and a Prius. It's the smallest freaking Whole Foods in the entire world! (AKA the South Beach store.)

You go inside. Surrounded by kombuchas and herbal soaps, you elbow your way toward the cafeteria.

You're hangry. And you're at Whole Foods.

What follows is a guide to the organic conglomerate's hot and cold food sections -- tips that'll ensure you never get burned by this pricey store, even when you're hungry, angry, or -- worse -- both.

Eat yo' greens.
Eat yo' greens.

Eat kale, but only when smothered with enough garlic to scare off potential suitors.

There's kale, and then there's Whole Foods' garlicky kale -- thick greens laced with nutritional yeast, garlic, garlic, and many other delicious things. Pile it on. It'll barely add to the $8.49-per-pound price.

Avoid the beets at the salad bar.

These beets are always undercooked. Don't give them an opportunity to splash your shirt with pink juice. These beets are merciless, tough to chew, and will break your flimsy compostable knife 100 percent of the time.

Keep it classy with some Mississippi caviar and lentil-quinoa tabouli.

These are always good. Embrace the quinoa.

Steer clear of the red sauce or brace yourself for an afternoon of deathly heart burn.

Often, the red sauce at Whole Foods tastes like a combination of sodium, tomatoes, and indigestion. It's on your cage-free chicken, your squeaky tofu, and your wacky lasagna. Do not eat anything red. Repeat: Opt against pyrosis.


Say no to red.
Say no to red.

Aramouni hummus is made locally and is kind of amazing.

If there were a gladiator-style showdown in the world of hummus, Aramouni hummus would kick Sabra's butt every time. Aramouni's stuff is fluffy, light, and airy. It tastes like a wonderful medley of tahini and fresh chickpeas. Eat it. Get some pita bread too. (Pro tip: The hummus is also sold in jugs under the moniker Nature's Healthy Gourmet.)

Love the grains; skip the pasta.

Some things, like rice, can still taste good after sitting out for a few hours in a temperature-controlled cafeteria counter. Other things, like pasta, get mushy. Mushy is bad. Grains are good.

Proceed to the Latin section.

Purchase a minimum of three oven-baked sweet plantains. Sweet plantains do not require further explanation. That's all.

Follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyCodik.

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