A Little Word On Garden of Eden
Every Sunday, after a solid workout and a rousing hour of Cardio Pilates, I make my way past Borough Hall to the Garden of Eden.
And let me tell you, it is truly a divine and fruitful place of pleasure.
At least for someone like me, who finds great joy in grocery shopping. It’s like a small, weekly journey; a pilgrimage made out of desire and necessity, to a temperature-controlled utopia where all things delicious are kept just within reach. While I’d prefer to forage, (in theory, anyway) in the city, this is as good as it’s going to get.
Unlike the everyday supermarket, The Garden of Eden Gourmet Marketplace is a true haven for health nuts and selective shoppers. They don’t carry your average jar of JIF, nor will you find a loaf of Wonderbread or box of Cheerios.
That’s not to say they don’t carry any familiar brands – but only the ones that are particularly healthy or high-end. Kashi, for example, or Amy’s Natural and Organic Kitchen, are easy to find at any Garden of Eden.
A Little Warning: Prices at Garden of Eden are what you’d expect from a NYC-based specialty store: high. Especially when it comes to their fresh produce and gourmet items. I recommend doing a majority of your shopping at your everyday grocer (especially Trader Joes if you’re on a tight budget,) and heading to Garden of Eden to fill in the gaps.
There are a few products I just can’t live without – and I’ve featured many of them in past posts. But getting your hands on these hard-to-find goods can make replicating a recipe, with the same nutritional output, quite difficult. Below, a helpful guide to some of my favorite health-foods that you can snag at Garden of Eden:
Maple Groves Farm Vermont Sugar-Free Maple Syrup, $4.99: I’ve used it to make low-calorie Sweet Matzah Brei or to sweeten a spicy batch of Ginger Sweet Potato Soup. For only 15 calories in 1/4 Cup, it’s the perfect substitute for the tree-tapped syrup which can total more than 200 calories for the same amount.
Also Try: Walden Farms Calorie Free Fruit Syrups, $4.50
Just Great Stuff Powdered Organic Peanut Butter, $8.99: The result of slow-roasting and pressing peanuts into a fine powder is a jar of just-add-water peanut butter that has 85 percent less fat and calories than what you’d typically find in a jar of Skippy. (Compare 190 calories for 2 tablespoons to 45 calories, and 16 grams of fat for 1.5 grams). The other bonus? No need for added hydrogenated vegetable oil. The ingredients are simply peanuts, sugar (only 1 gram), and salt.
Also Try: PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter with Premium Chocolate, $8.99
Also Try: Walden Farms Whipped Peanut Spread, $4.99 (Zero calories, but a lot of the artificial sweeteners and additives you can avoid for just 45 calories more in the powdered version. It also has no protein, as it contains only trace amounts of actual peanuts).
Kim’s Magic Pop Cakes, $3.49: Admittedly, I’m obsessed with Pop Cakes. I buy them impulisively every time I see them because they’re not easy to come by. Their larger-than-rice-cake surface area and lower-in-calorie, fat-free goodness makes them a fun and satisfying alternative to chips or bread. Garden of Eden carries Kim’s brand, typically in Sea Salt, Strawberry, and Blueberry flavors. I once stumbled upon a single bag of Maui Onion, which was perhaps my favorite and yet sadly, probably a stowaway in a box of the other varieties. The Union Square location has a larger flavor selection than the other locations.
Also Try: Les Trois Petits Cochons Petits Toasts, $2.49 (That’s right. Garden of Eden carries mini toasts. Enough said.)
Polaner Sugar Free Preserves with Fiber, $4.49: Jams and jellies are vessels for excessive amounts of added sugar and pack a deceptive calorie punch because of it. One tablespoon, on average, has 50-60 calories. And we all know how far that tablespoon really goes. For only 10 calories in a tablespoon, you can enjoy Polaner’s preserves and jams in Strawberry, Blueberry, Grape, and Apricot. Plus, each serving has 3 grams of fiber. Which is a 3 grams more than the average jar of jelly.
Also Try: StoneWall Kitchen No Sugar Added Wild Maine Blueberry Spread, $6.99. (If we’re being honest, which we always are, I prefer StoneWall Kitchen’s blueberry spread to the jams from Polaner. Also only ten calories in a tablespoon, Stonewall Kitchen’s spread is like a spoonful of small wild blueberries. Because it has no added sugar, rather than an artificial sweetener, it is also less coyingly sweet. Unfortunately, it’s not consistently available at Garden of Eden, and the amount of spread you get for your buck is significantly less than what you’ll have from a jar of Polaner.)
Walden Farms Calorie-Free Salad Dressing, $4.99: I don’t know where in the world Walden Farms is, but I would like to go and express both my gratitude, and genuine confusion, for their plethora of calorie-free, carb-free, fat-free, sugar-free, gluten-free spreads, dips, and condiments. I never even knew calorie free dressing existed until I found it at Garden of Eden. Try the zesty Italian, which goes with just about everything and requires less than a 2-tablespoon calorie-free serving to flavor your salad.
Also Try: Walden Farms Thick & Spicy BBQ Sauce, $4.99
Philadelphia Fat-Free Cream Cheese, $2.99: Another thing I didn’t know about until I stumbled upon Garden of Eden. I use this when making my own dips and spreads, such as my Savory Mushroom Spread. Original Cream Cheese usually has about 100 calories for a serving, and 9 grams of fat. Zero grams of fat and 30 calories in a serving makes for happy spreading.
Also Try: Tofutti, Better Than Cream Cheese, $3.49. (This vegan, lactose-free, gluten-free and kosher alternative is not easy to come by, and is still healthier than the Philadelphia Original variety.)
All the locations carry Shirataki Noodles (whether you prefer the tangle of angel hair or thick ribbons of fettucini), Danon Light & Fit Yogurt, Zero-Calorie Butter Spray, and an assortment of other unique health-food products.
Best of all, Garden of Eden is a year-round purveyor of spaghetti squash, and has a vast assortment of fruits and vegetables ranging from hothouse tomatoes to sweet, sherbety cherimoyas.
A Little Tip: At 7 E 14th Street, at The Garden of Eden Union Square, a college ID will get you ten percent off. Truthfully, that’s not enough to negate my earlier suggestion to do a bulk of your grocery shopping at a more affordable spot. Fortunately, however, if you plan carefully a do a large Garden of Eden run, you can save quite a few pennies on the speciality foods they carry.
Another Little Tip: Garden of Eden is also a fantastic place to pick up lunch – they offer high-end salad bars and hot-food stations, fresh-made sushi and sandwiches. Every day after 7:30, the food at the serve-yourself bars is 50 percent off. Another way to save big at a high-end grocer.
The next time you’re hunting for a healthy, low-calorie ingredient or a gluten-free, vegan specialty item; Whether you’re putting together a low-fat vegetarian salad for lunch or on the lookout for a unique, foreign import, Garden of Eden is absolutely the first-stop on your journey.
And, as no Eden would be complete without, if you’re passing by this culinary oasis and start to crave a crisp, red apple – they have those, too. And always in a dozen familiar and heirloom varietals.
Until next time, shop happy!