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While the wee-one is spending her time in preschool, Casey and I often times run errands for most of the day. I’ve yet to master the art of packing snacks for on-the-go ease, although as the fall semester approaches this is a skill I need to master. In the meantime, though we stumbled across a lesser-known natural foods store, Natural Gourmet, on Neil Street in Champaign. It’s nearly in Savoy, which is considerably far for our usual needs, but we happened to be in the neighborhood and gave it a go.

As a grocery store, it seemed to be lacking for our needs. There was very little by way of fresh produce, and while much of their freezer foods and shelf goods appeared to be very friendly to those with gluten allergies, there was not much in the realm of vegan offerings. Natural Gourmet had a wide selection of vitamins and a modest bulk good selection. One highlight was some oddly-named teas:

Terrible parent? Fear your mortality? Haunted by your past? Dislike your co-workers? Yeah, there is a tea for that.

We weren’t here for groceries, though. I had read online that they had a small deli that served vegan dishes from sandwiches to Thai food. Because there is a wealth of vegan Thai food in the area (look for an upcoming post on Nitaya!), Casey and I decided to have a light lunch and went with the sandwiches. Admittedly, this was a couple of weeks ago, so it is not very fresh in my mind, but I believe Casey ordered a basil-pesto tofu sandwich, and I had the vegan BBQ sandwich. The pesto sauce was very fresh, with sharp flavors that went well with the very mild tofu. The veganBBQ was really more like a sloppy joe; tangy and hearty, and I believe it was made with seitan. Both sandwiches came with blue corn chips and a ginger cookie. Casey and I also ordered the vegan spring rolls (we’re addicts!), but they were soggy and not very flavorful, undoubtedly the result of being cooked in a microwave.

Basil tofu with chips and cookie, lackluster spring rolls

Vegan BBQ sandwich

One appetizer and the two sandwiches, with no drinks, set us back about twenty dollars. Both Casey and I agreed that that was a bit too pricey for what we got: chips and cookies from a package; frozen-then-microwaved spring rolls, and while the sandwiches were delicious, they would be easy and cheaper to construct at home. Overall, this place is good if you are far from home and need a quick bite, but not worth going out of your way.

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