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Since the grocery store seems to be my home-away-from-home these days, I have no problems telling you the exact layout of all the departments, including where to find the quinoa, hummus and tamari sauce. But I only recently began to notice the bulk bin aisle, an up-and-coming trendy spot to shop.

With a growing interest in health food, bulk bins have become a popular way to purchase those unfamiliar items, such as flax seed, quinoa, rice flour, cashew butter, or soy nuts. Since you can scoop up as much or as little as you wish, buying bulk items is a good option when contemplating whether or not the food will be up-to-par on taste; little is lost if it tastes horrible! Recipes calling for a particular spice that may have you scratching your head as to what it is and if you'll ever use it again, can still be made when bought in bulk.

Bulk bins can appeal to the environmentally and economically-friendly consumer. It may minimize waste, both food waste and packaging waste, since no extra-frill packaging is needed. Therefore, that may translate to more money in your pocket. Most stores will have a PLU number on the bin or label to place on your bag for the cashier to enter. Weighing your bulk purchases before checking out can avoid any price shock. Compare prices with the same amount of the packaged item to see if you're getting a deal.


Trail Mix Cookies

½ cup unsweetened applesauce

½ cup no calorie sweetener, granulated

¼ cup no calorie sweetener brown sugar blend

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

2 egg whites

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 ¼ cups quick cooking oats

½ cup mini chocolate chips

½ cup sliced almonds

⅓ cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease baking sheets. Beat applesauce, sweeteners, and vanilla in a large bowl. In another bowl, use an electric mixer to beat egg whites until they are frothy and begin to firm up. Fold egg whites into applesauce mixture. Fold in flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir in the oats, chocolate chips, almonds and cranberries. Drop by spoonful on prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies in until lightly browned, about 6 - 7 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Yield: 18 cookies


Nutrition analysis per serving (1 cookie each): 130 calories, 3.5 grams fat, 140 milligrams sodium, 21 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 3 grams protein