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Costco's Latest Food Court Addition Is Actually Pretty Healthy

Costco's Latest Food Court Addition Is Actually Pretty Healthy

Maybe you're not stopping by for the hot dogs and pizzas—but this new item might be worth a trip.

UPDATE: The lucky few fans who were able to try this new addition must have truly loved it, because Costco has decided to roll out their $5 Acai bowl to all of their stores nationwide. Hooray for an ultra affordable snack topped with fresh fruit!

We initially reported on the select markets where Costco offered shoppers this $5 treat, topped with fresh berries and Costco's own Kirkland Signature Granola, back in May, but we were unsure if the membership-only store would expand the offering beyond their western markets.

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We've since confirmed with Costco's customer service team that all stores across the United States will serve Acai bowls in the cafeteria by the end of June.

The plant-based, vegan Acai bowl is made with an Acai mix (served fresh via Costco's soft-serve machine) and is topped with blueberries, strawberries, banana chips, and Kirkland granola, according to Vegan News.

The original article, published May 22, 2018, continues below:

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We've seen headlines praising Costco for their apparently "irresistible" $1.50 hot dog and soda combo, which isn't something we'd get excited about. But their latest addition actually looks both tasty and healthy.

Back in January, there were whispers about a few Costco locations out west bringing fresh Acai bowls to food courts for just $5. But now they’re spreading: The newest addition to Costco's in-store menu is here to stay.

The trendy healthy dish has landed in Costco's cafeterias across the nation, including locations in Hawaii, Oregon, and California. The extra rich smoothie is topped with a medley of fresh berries alongside banana chips and Kirkland Signature Granola, a private-label touch.

While you'd normally shell out upwards of $10 for a freshly made Acai bowl at restaurants and specialty stores, Costco has kept the price of their Acai offering in line with many of its current offerings.

Sadly, we're unsure if Costco plans to expand the Acai bowl offering to all of the 500 plus locations in the United States. We reached out to Costco for comment and we'll update this post when more details become available.

If you're not one of the lucky ones with access to this exciting addition, you'll still have to look out for these healthy meal-prep hacks during your next Costco trip for now.


Dietitian-Approved Grocery Items You Should Be Buying at Costco

Costco is a great place to find organic and healthy foods for your family on a budget.

Photo: Getty Images/ SOPA Images

While Costco may be famous for 27-lb buckets of macaroni and cheese and super deals on food court pizza, it can also be a fantastic place to find healthy and organic options at a great price.

Our resident dietitian at EatingWell, Lisa Valente, R.D., says there are some pretty amazing deals on healthy food and beverages out there for Costco shoppers-you just need to be strategic about what you buy.

"Sometimes it doesn&apost make sense to buy in bulk-like getting a three-pound bag of broccoli if you&aposre just one person," Valente said. "Depending on how many people you&aposre feeding and how much space you have to store pantry goods, you can score all kinds of healthy foods at Costco."

With that in mind, we&aposve found some of the best healthy non-perishable, fresh and frozen items to feed yourself or your whole family Here are some of Valente&aposs top picks:

1. Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

Kirkland Signature, Costco&aposs private label, offers some fantastic deals on our favorite healthy foods and drinks, and this unsweetened almond milk is one of them. It costs just five cents an ounce, and is fortified with Vitamin D, E, and B vitamins for a nutrition boost. This is an especially great option for vegans, as one servings packs half the daily recommendation for B12.

2. Organic Peanut Butter

Peanut butter has been a sneaky contributor of trans fat for years, masquerading as partially hydrogenated oil on the ingredients list. Thankfully, more natural options have made their way to the market over the years, and we are loving this option from Costco&aposs private label. This peanut butter is simply made with peanuts and a little sea salt for a healthy addition to meals or snack time.

3. Organic Dried Apricots

Dried fruit often gets a bad rap since many brands add sugar. Fortunately, Costco carries some great fruit-only options, like these dried apricots by Made in Nature. Not only is are they added sugar-free, but they are also a great source of potassium and a sneaky plant-based source of iron.

4. Old Fashioned Oatmeal

There&aposs a reason why so many people choose oatmeal for breakfast-it&aposs a great source of fiber, protein, and other important micronutrients, like magnesium. Thanks to Costco you can always have oats at your fingertips! They sell giant silos of Quaker Old-Fashioned Oats for just six cents per ounce.

5. Organic Salad Greens

Costco sells a wide variety of organic produce, and we are loving their salad greens. Whether you prefer spinach, kale, or romaine, you can find an organic yet well-priced version of your favorite for salads, smoothies, and more. Now there&aposs no excuse for leaving these highly-nutritious foods off the grocery list!

6. Nuts

Now that fats are on America&aposs good side again, we are all about consuming heart-healthy ones, like the monounsaturated fats found in nuts. The protein, fat, and fiber content of nuts make them the perfect healthy snack to keep in your desk at work or to boost the nutrient profile of your favorite baked goods. Costco carries roasted and raw varieties. Check the sodium if you&aposre buying salted nuts. And store large packages in your freezer if you don&apost go through them quickly, to keep them fresher for longer.

7. Sparkling Water

Sparkling water is a great way to drink more water or finally kick that soda habit, but it can be pretty pricey. Costco sells some great all-natural, no-sugar-added options, such as this line from Perrier.

8. Natural Almond Butter

We love almond butter, but it can be pretty pricey, costing around $10 or more for a 16-ounce jar. This one-ingredient almond butter from Costco costs less and you get almost double the amount. Consider this a huge win for wallet and your tastebuds.

9. Avocado Oil

Not all cooking oils are created equal, and avocado is a relatively new addition to the market that boasts some pretty great health benefits. Besides being made from one of our favorite foods, it contains mostly mono- and poly-unsaturated fats, which are good for our hearts. However, it can be pretty expensive, unless you buy it from a big-box store like Costco.

10. Frozen Fruit

Frozen fruit is an amazing way to enjoy your favorite fruits in peak season year-round. You can enjoy delicious, juicy peaches in the middle of December thanks to most frozen fruits being picked at their peak and then flash-frozen to maintain flavor and freshness. Buying frozen produce is also almost always cheaper too! This Triple Berry Blend from Kirkland Signature is sure to be one of your new favorite smoothie additions.

11. Avocados

The price of avocados are climbing-but not at Costco! You can still find Haas avocados at a reasonable price. We are big fans of this plant-based fat, as it is also full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making it more than just a deliciously creamy addition to a dish.

12. Hummus

Hummus is an extremely versatile ingredient-a protein and fiber-packed spread for sandwiches, a creamy dairy substitute in pasta sauces, and is great on its own with some fresh veggies and whole wheat pita. Find hummus at Costco in big tubs or in pre-portioned snack packs for convenient and healthy noshing when that mid-day slump hits.

13. Olive Oil

Cooking with olive oil can be a worthwhile financial burden, as it&aposs linked to longevity and improved heart health, but it doesn&apost have to be a burden at Costco. Their Kirkland Signature brand sells two-liter bottles of cold-pressed EVOO for just $16.99.


These adult ices made with premium charcoal-filtered vodka and a splash of vermouth are labeled as bar favorites such as “Cosmopolitan,” “Watermelon Lemonade,” “Appletini,” and “Lemon Drop” inside your Costco store. At only 100 calories, they’re less caloric than a frozen banana or a dish of ice cream. Plus, at 8 percent ABV, they only have about half a shot worth of alcohol each, meaning you can chill with your Skinny Freezer poolside without worrying about turning your pool situation into a lit-uation.


A Definitive Ranking Of Costco's Food Court Menu

What to order (and what to skip) after your next bulk shopping spree.

Costco's food court seems to be almost as popular as the big-box store itself. From its iconic $1.50 hot dog and soda, to newer menu items that aim for healthier options, there is definitely something for everyone at the food court. We tried and ranked every item at a New York Costco location so that next time the samples don't cut it, you'll know what to do order at the food court afterwards. Enjoy!

The Italian sausage was excessively charred, and the roasted peppers and onions were wayyyy too mushy. It's cheap ($2.79), but definitely not worth the 610 calories. May be a different story if the sausage weren't so burnt.

I was excited to try this one&mdashthe description on the board makes it sound like a fancy (Costco fancy, that is) turkey sandwich: "Oven browned turkey, provolone, red onions, tomatoes, basil garlic mayonnaise on a toasted torta roll."

In reality, though, this is a basic sandwich that you'd be better off making yourself at home. It's dry and just. not worth it. Skip!

Okay, honestly, this frozen yogurt is good, but it's. just. so vanilla. If you're going to indulge in Costco's popular treat, at least get one of the other options that add a little

to the dessert. You can get vanilla frozen yogurt anywhere.

It's fine, but nothing remarkable. It's a berry smoothie, with emphasis on the strawberries. The ice wasn't quite blended enough, so it tasted a bit more like a strawberry slush than smoothie, but the flavor is good overall.

Costco says the smoothie has four servings of fruit. This would be a good option for sipping as you're shopping (and to wash down all the samples)!

First of all, the churro is CRAZY long, especially for just $1. This one is soft on the inside and fairly crispy on the outside. I wish there was more cinnamon covering it, and I reaaaally wish there was something to dip it in!

This summer, when you're sick of your normal iced coffee (does that happen??) and are down for a sweet treat, this is it. The Cold Brew Mocha Freeze is pretty much exactly what it sounds like&mdasha frozen cold brew, PLUS you can add chocolate to it (which I recommend)!

As mentioned above, Costco's vanilla soft serve is actually really good. especially when swirled with the chain's acai (which tastes more like acai-flavored soft serve than traditional acai). This is refreshing and a perfect treat for hot summer days.

What you see is what you get. this is a basic chicken caesar salad. It comes with an excessive amount of dressing, but it's pretty thin and light. Maybe start with half and see if you want to add more? I would have liked some sort of crunch going on here. (I think it's supposed to come with croutons)?!

Remember when I said the plain vanilla soft serve is good, but you can get that anywhere? Truth be told, you can get a strawberry sundae most ice cream places, too, but probably not for $1.65.

I loved the chunks of actual strawberries in here and that it wasn't just made with a strawberry-flavored syrup. TBH, I would probably plan a trip to Costco for this dessert alone.

Ahhhh, the Costco hot dog. At just $1.50 WITH a 20 oz. soda, it's easy to see the appeal here. As someone who has a strict "Only Eats Hot Dogs At The Ballpark" policy, even I was pleased with this one.

You can add relish, onions, ketchup, and mustard, too. SORRY everyone, I'm boring and skipped the relish and onions. Sue me.

The chicken bake is basically a glorified Hot Pocket&mdashif a Hot Pocket were twice as long and way fluffier. It tastes like a croissant with crispy asiago cheese on top, and I am HERE for it.

Inside, there's chicken breast, cheese, bacon, and caesar dressing, which is a fairly random but decidedly delicious combo. Come hungry for this one or plan to split it with your Costco buddy, because it's HUGE.

@COSTCO! I am so impressed. That presentation, though! As previously mentioned, the acai at Costco is definitely more in the realm of frozen yogurt than die-hard acai fans are used to. I personally did not have a problem with it&mdashyou just have to know this is Costco's attempt at being healthier, and look at ALL that fruit!

That's more fresh fruit than I have ever seen on an acai bowl, for sure. The Costco shoppers on a Sunday afternoon were generally either eating this or the pizza. so it's definitely a hit!

You can get Costco's pizza by the slice, but I watched a bunch of people carry out an entire box. and I get it! The slices are huge and the pizza is super soft and dough-y, which sometimes is a problem, but Costco makes it work.

It's also very cheesy, especially the plain cheese (duh), and the pepperonis have a nice lil' spice to them. The combo slice is topped with sausage, pepperoni, green pepper, red onion, mushrooms, and olives, and it's filling + satisfying. The pizza is ALWAYS a good option!


It's updating the food court menu.

Shutterstock

For most, a trip to Costco isn't complete without a stop by the food court—despite some heart-crushing losses to the menu over the years, and even during the food kiosk's pandemic-limited offering period. But never say never when it comes to discontinued items: the food court's beloved churros are coming back after disappearing from the menu last year. Testing in one location revealed a slight change in price from $1 to $1.49, but the jump in price was also evidently matched with an increase in size, much to the delight of Costco customers.

Another popular item that is being revived is the customer-favorite chicken bake. Similar to the churros, the fried treats are now cost $1.49 instead of only $1. And while only one Costco location is getting the new version of this old staple for the time being, the frozen section might have a box you can take home and bake yourself while you wait for a larger rollout. According to Fox Business, boxes of six individually wrapped and microwavable pockets follow the tried-and-true food court recipe.


Best: Hot Dog

David Tonelson/Shutterstock

"The entire selection is totally loaded with sodium…so beware," says LeeAnn Smith Weintraub, MPH, RD. But if you're looking for a quick bite, there are some options that are better than others. "The hot dog and the Hot Turkey and Provolone tie for the best, but neither are particularly healthful with still too much salt and fat for a balanced meal. In fact, the hot dog is lowest in calories and saturated fat, but the Hot Turkey and Provolone is served with red onion and tomato, which give it a nutritional boost."

The hot turkey and provolone sandwich isn't available during the pandemic, but the hot dog is. And if your Costco location lets you top your dog with onions and sauerkraut for a veggie boost, that's even better.


Keeping condiments, straws, and cutlery behind the counter.

Unlike adding touchless soda machines so customers can get their own drinks, Costco is still keeping condiments, straws, cups, cutlery, napkins, and more utensils behind the counter. You’ll still have to ask an employee for anything you need (like ketchup, mustard, onions, or relish for your $1.50 hot dog and soda combo). It can be tricky to clean the stations after each customer touches them, so removing them altogether was a choice many retailers and restaurants made last year.

While this isn’t really a recent change, it’s a pandemic food court rule the warehouse chain is keeping around for a little while longer.

For more info about what’s different at your local warehouse since 2021 started, here are 7 Major Changes Costco Is Making Now.


WHAT I EAT FOR BREAKFAST: Dr. Esselstyn & Other Plant-Based Docs

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Costco sells a potentially artery clogging lobster bisque

Costco prides itself on offering a rather impressive selection of health-forward items, including fresh organic produce and even Keto diet approved products. Amidst the endless sea of protein bars and collagen powders, Costco does carry a rather alarming supply of some potentially artery clogging items, though. At first glance they may seem harmless, but the nutritional label tells quite the different story. When samples are being offered around the warehouse, we are not one to shy away from a pizza bite here, or a dip there.

Has the taste of Kirkland Brand's lobster bisque conjured up images of sunny summers along the coast with family? While delicious, according to Slim Kicker, a single serving of this sinful soup packs a whopping 32 grams of fat, including 20 grams of saturated fat. In basic terms, that's 49 percent of the suggested fat you should consume on a daily basis, and that's 100 percent of the suggested saturated fat you should consume in one day. According to Eat This, Not That!, another crustacean friend, the Inland Market blue crab spread, "boasts a laundry list of ingredients that include multiple sources of added sugars."

Step away from the spoon! Some of the tastier items Costco is pushing may be tasty, but they're bad choices for your health.


Courtesy of Costco

Not a food? Not a problem—because these baskets that you can set straight on your grill are going to get so much use this season. These are a great container for veggies, potatoes, even fruit on the grill—and, they're oven-safe. They're also less than $8.00 each for a two-pack. Get them while they're hot.

This should certainly get you going—but don't grocery-shop when you're hungry. Check out five items Costco is bringing back to their food court.