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Showing posts from 2017

The Best of Trader Joe's 2017

It's that time of year again where I contemplate all the things that I've tested, loved, and peddled to anyone who might listen - all gratis sans sponsorship from the big [Trader] Joe himself. Can you put a price on loyalty? Maybe if the price is right. But isn't that THE definition of a cult following? Not only do you not have to compensate your followers to follow you, they will pay money to do just that! :P

Top Posts of 2017

#1.Trader Joe's Matcha Green Tea - This is not something I would personally recommend only because I cannot justify paying this much for the amount of matcha. Yes, it's a good product, but I stand convinced that for my personal taste and baking needs, I can find a suitable matcha elsewhere at a better price. But the internet loves this stuff...sooooooo if y'all wanna give away your money for this, by all means be my guest. As for me, I enjoyed the matcha Joe Joe's and matcha greek yogurt from this year.

#2. Trader Joe's Sliced Frenc…

Trader Joe's ABC+K Slaw

Maybe you're thinking, "my diet starts next year." I got news for y'all. Next year is in two days. Three if you think New Years Day doesn't count. Or maybe you think that one cannot simply subsist on cookies. Tell that to your nightshift nurses. I am not one to refuse a jam-filled shortbread. :P 

Trader Joe's Herbes de Provence

This lull between Christmas and New Years marks the time where many people, if not bombarded with holiday festivities, take time to reevaluate priorities and time spent in the past year. Yknow. Are New Years resolutions even worth it? Do I like how I spent my time? Did I spend too much money at TJ's this year? (Probably) In any event, I couldn't let 2017 end without mentioning at least one good decision from this year. 

Trader Joe's Sparkling Spring Water (Starfruit, Green Apple, Winter Sangria, Berry Bubbly Flavors)

Not gonna lie - the most recent sparkling water class of 2017 was kinda disappointing. I'm not a huge seltzer connoisseur, but from time to time I do reach for it when I'm craving something bubbly. 

Trader Joe's Pink Pomelo Grapefruit Hand Soap

Are you stressed out and find yourself overwhelmed with everything to do with the holidays? Do you find yourself up to your elbows in flour, sugar, and wrapping paper? Do you wish you had more time to spend with friends and family? Do you spend your days juggling kids wishing you had but five minutes to yourself? Have I got the miracle product for you! 

Trader Joe's Winter Wake Up Tea

It's pretty safe to say that it's officially winter, even if the calendar denies it. We just had our first snowfall, and the sun sets at like 3pm these days. Maybe 4 if it's generous. And it's around this time of year that I am tempted to wrap myself in a nice blanket, sit on my couch with a pipping hot cup of tea, and never leave. Probably bad to never leave your house. But the other two I can wholeheartedly endorse! Especially if that cuppa is this winter delight. 

Trader Joe's Beef Shepherd's Pie

Today's post features a frozen meal that appeals to what I perceive as the typical millenial TJ's patron - one who desires homecooked-ish meals with minimal work. It's not that we're lazy (although depends who you ask :P). It's that we're busy, life is busy, and it's kind of hard to cook for one. Or two. And while meal prepping is nice in theory and can be aesthetically pleasing on social media, it takes work and a commitment to plan ahead. And if it's one thing millenials tend to dislike - it's commitment. :P 

Trader Jacque's Cultured Salted Butter

Occasionally, Trader Joe's reminds me that they watch out for people that actually enjoy and care a little about cooking. Not that there's anything wrong with food for people who like to cook but not too much. Frankly, A and I find ourselves tired, hungry, and not wanting to cook at least once a week (and often times, it's the TJ potstickers that bail us out. But we're out at the moment sooooooo I gotta make a trip soon). But this product? This isn't a convenience food or something really Instagrammable (people going crazy over that coconut whipped topping, which I have no plans to review because it just doesn't appeal to me). It's more like I've been watching Julia Child and Ina Garten, and they've both convinced me that life is better with butter. French butter. 

Trader Joe's Stroopwafel Dutch Caramel Waffle Cookies

Three words. Great British Bake-Off. Fine four words. I'm sleep deprived and can't tell the difference. GBBO (baking show for the American Netflix crowd) has convinced me to attempt and taste baked goods I would normally never consider otherwise. I've seen mini stroopwafels before at TJ's (under some European brand instead of TJ's private label) but this drown-in-your-coffee-mug-size is new for this holiday season. Quaint packaging and a little GBBO nostalgia made me more than happy to plop down $2.99 for this baby. 

Trader Joe's Bamba Peanut Snacks

Happy Monday! Perhaps you are one of those people who dragged themselves to work or school this morning after a long weekend of feasting and merriment. Wouldn't we all like 9 days off, *cough* A *cough* Would your days not be filled with dread but hope, productivity, some pep in your step, and snacks to fuel your brain. Who am I to refuse a snack? :P

Trader Joe's Apple Cranberry Herbal Tea Blend

I've reviewed quite a few teas on the blog, but even still I haven't tried every single kind. I like tea. I even appreciate good tea. Although TJ's does carry seasonal loose leaf teas, I've never bothered because I'm not that picky if it tastes good and gets the relaxation or caffeination job done. And as much as I love the idea of brewing a nice cuppa and sitting down to enjoy it, time eludes me. But if y'all have tried the loose leaf teas at TJ's, I love to hear your recommendations. :) 

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Soup Crackers

I recently drove past a house completely decked out in Christmas lights. I love Christmas and all but is that really necessary? Anyway, I thought I'd throw in one last pumpkin review. Don't believe the mass retailers out for your holiday money - it's technically still pumpkin season. 

Trader Joe's Organic Cranberry Spiced Apple Kombucha

It appears that my wish for more kombucha flavors has come true.  While everyone was fawning over everything pumpkin (which is like soooooo last month by the way :P) on opening day [of the TJ's grand opening I recently attended. never again people. never again] , I grabbed this kombucha partially because it's something I reach for when I'm crazy tired and because it's pink-tinged. Yaaaaass.

Trader Joe's Icelandic Style Nonfat Yogurt (Plain & Strawberry Flavors)

We are quickly approaching the [colder] season where we celebrate and spend time together by filling our bellies with copious amounts of delicious comfort food. And also when people ask me what they should get from Trader Joe's, I tend to recommend treats and special foods that are probably best consumed in moderation. Why? Uh..because it's good? Granted, there are tasty and healthy foods available, but realistically, who is going to drive 45 minutes to a Trader Joe's for some salad and yogurt? Not me. But if I happen to be at a Trader Joe's, lactose or no lactose, Ima try a new yogurt, especially if it has nice packaging. :P 

Trader Joe's Maple Pecan Shortbread Bar Mix

Welcome to another edition of baking for people who like to bake but not too much. Or for people who like to bake but don't want to wash as many dishes. Or for people wanting to impress people with their baking without having to drown in piles of flour and sugar. Trader Joe's has your back y'all. 

Trader Joe's Beer Bread Mix

I've never had beer bread. I also don't drink beer. While I never really saw the need for a beer bread mix, this mix remains dearly beloved by many. It comes around only during the fall and couldn't be easier to use. So if baking but not too much or beer in your bread sounds appealing, read on. 

Trader Joe's Roasted Cocoa Nibs

There's crunchy. There's make-your-own granola crunchy. And then there's crunchiness of stratospheric levels. Is there an objective standard for that? Depends who you ask. But I do know that we all have varying degrees of tolerance for crunchiness. Truthfully, I enjoy crunchy aka "healthy" foods just about as much as I enjoy unhealthy [salty crunchy] foods. Where do these roasted cocoa or cacao nibs fall along the granola crunchy spectrum? I'd say supremely crunchy approaching stratospherically crunchy. 

Trader Joe's Pain Au Lait

It seems fitting to follow up alternative pasta part 3 with its opposite - bread. Beautiful, soft white milk bread. From France. Carbs are life y'all. Carbs are life. I like the simplicity of it. No fillings. No plaits. Just bread. And definitely no pumpkin spice. :P 

Trader Joe's Zucchini Spirals

I'm bringing it back to earth this week with some vegetables. Just celebrated a birthday, the opening of a new Trader Joe's, and arguably the opening of a new Trader Joe's for my birthday (try to convince me otherwise, I challenge you). Of course, exciting new things and celebrations involve favorite snacks, desserts, and whatnot. I ain't getting any younger but I would like to live as long as possible. I can see the collective eye roll from everyone old[er] and still think I'm a fetus (there's truth to that). I present to you - alternative pasta part 3 (See part 1 and part 2). 

Trader Joe's Creamy Almond Butter

This here is one of my favorite, tried and true Trader Joe picks. As much as I love trying new stuff, it's good to have some reliable products that you can count on to work for you when you don't want to think about what to eat. Plus. The packaging. So matte. So pretty.

Trader Joe's Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Trips to most stores take a long time for me because I like to say hi to everything in the store, and of course TJ's is no exception. This wasn't pushed in my face, like little pumpkins and that awesome sauce, nor did I see it lurking about the pages of the Fearless Flyer. Apparently, this gnocchi has been a seasonal item for several years -- but my thinking is if the advertising isn't like, "tadaaaaaa it's baaaaack!" then it's probably just...okay. *Shrug* 

Trader Joe's Organic White Truffle Potato Chips

Want to fancify anything? Add truffle. Perhaps there are some people with refined taste buds out there who are wondering why you would put such a nice ingredient on something as common as a potato chip. Um because this is 2017 and if lobster and waffles (a la chicken and waffles) exist, then why not truffle chips? 

Trader Joe's Spud Crunchies Potato Snacks

In my house, one of our favorite activities is to potato. Not just eat potatoes but potato as in collapse into the couch. Yes, we love a couch that envelops you and hugs you back. Actually, I'm probably describing more A than me. But seeing as we're both homebodies for life, potato-ing is a shared past time. Therefore, y'all can understand the appeal of this snack for us, no? :P 

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Almond Beverage

This product is exhibit A of the dangers of online shopping. Or shopping after seeing people post delightful things on social media. Amazon knows we're weak. Could you imagine if you could order from Trader Joe's online? Could you imagine the damage that would cause? It would be..brilliant. 
I am not basic. I don't like pumpkin spice. The only pumpkin spice I like is pumpkin spice that doesn't taste too strongly of pumpkin spice. You've been warned. I picked this up because I read an article that suggested pouring it into coffee. Shouldn't I know better than to believe everything on the internet?? 

Trader Joe's Fall Zucchette Pasta + Trader Joe's Autumnal Harvest Creamy Pasta Sauce

Finally fall is upon us. Right around this year, there is something so right about plucking a beautiful apple right off the tree. Lugging home a nice haul. Baking something aromatic and yummy. Lighting a [pumpkin scented] candle. Sitting around the fire. Wrapping a scarf around your neck. Sharing laughs and stories with friends and family. Yes, Trader Joe's is one of my happy places where I enjoy frolicking up and down the aisles, saying hi to old friends and discovering the new. And it exists in a beautiful but broken world.  I cannot post lighthearted content without acknowledging that there are countless lives now ripped asunder by unfathomable evil. And catastrophic storms. And callous responses for that matter. We do not live in a bubble free from suffering and pain. And perhaps that's about as much as I can say coherently without trivializing the impact of recent events or turning this into a much deeper philosophical stream-of-consciousness rant - I believe y'al…

Trader Joe's Pound Plus Dark Chocolate

As much as I love fall, I have to say it's a bit confusing to see leaves falling steadily from my window but step outside only to be blasted by 85 degree heat.  Fall indicates that time where many of us trade in our barbecues for our ovens and slow cookers, but the occasional heat wave sort of discourages that. Not that it's slowed me down, much. I'd bake everyday if I had the time, patience, endless cupboard of ingredients, and masses of people to eat the stuff. Which occasionally happens. And when you desire to bake up a storm, I'd suggest stocking up a two pounds plus of imported chocolate. 

Trader Joe's Pumpkin & Roasted Pepitas Cookies

These are new, basic (yes, that PSL basic), and screaming to be reviewed. Maybe not screaming. Fine, I liked the packaging. It's not neither the first nor last time that I've done that. 

Trader Joe's Fall Grocery Guide

Do you find the onslaught of pumpkin items overwhelming? Do you want to find hidden gems without having to spend money on the duds? Have I got a grocery list for you!*

*I haven't tried every pumpkin or fall item Trader Joe's has to offer. Please note that I have a baseline ambivalence/apathy toward pumpkin spice and that it is not meant to offend any pumpkin spice lovers. My top five is meant to point you in the direction of things I think are worth trying and buying, but note that there are a ton of pumpkin/fall items available and you'll have to sift through a bunch to find your favorites too. 
**Check back for updates - this post will be updated as I try/find new things. Italicized links should take you to the Trader Joe's product page as I have reviewed everything on this blog. 

Trader Joe's Peanut Butter Protein Granola

I love a good granola. It's not terribly good for you, but it sure tastes good. Trader Joe's has made some pretty nice granolas that I would definitely recommend. But sometimes you get mesmerized by packaging and bold lettering so much that you completely miss what is right in your face.  I saw "peanut butter granola" and missed "pea protein" completely. What's the deal with "pea protein" you say? It's a euphemism for VEGAN.*

Trader Joe's Cornbread Crisps

About a year ago, my friend KK and I ventured out to Lancaster, PA like the grandmas that we are for a weekend road trip, which involved a wild night through a "flashlight corn maze." Yeah, I thought it sounded lame too but it turned out to be quite fun complete with fresh apple cider donuts (that were promptly dropped on the ground but they were very nice and gave us a new one at no extra charge. Yaaaasss). While this is no apple cider donut, I feel like this TJ's snack could easily be consumed, sitting around a fire on bales of hay, and maybe looking up at the stars while breathing in the crisp fall air. 

Trader Joe's Mango & Cream Ice Cream

It seems unfair to post this, tantalize you with photos, and rub in the fact that you can't get this anymore because it's only available during the summer. And according to Starbucks especially, summer is officially over. Not to worry - the timing never worked out for me to get the tantalizing pics in the first place. When I had time, the lighting was bad. When the lighting was good, I was working or busy with other stuff. Isn't that life? You can't sit around and wait for the perfect shot - you either make it happen or miss out and roll with the punches. Or the ice cream. Cuz life doesn't wait for anyone. That got deep real quick. 

Trader Joe's Cultured Coconut Milk Yogurt

It's in the dairy section right next to the yogurts. Pretending to be a yogurt. But you ain't got me fooled. Am I biased against coconut? Probably, but it's just not measuring up to its dairy peers. 

Trader Joe's Red Refresh Herbal Tea

I don't drink nearly as much coffee as I used to, mostly because I've gotten lazier and lazier. I can't be bothered to make it properly unless I'm spending the day at home. These days, I'm back on the tea grind - chai, matcha, regular green, earl grey, ginger tumeric - I drink whatever I can get my hands on. Most of the time it's caffeinated because I'm generally a more sociable and friendly person when caffeinated, but sometimes it's nice to be able to have tea at night and be able to sleep. 

Trader Joe's Sparkling Spring Water (Cranberry Clementine, Pineapple, and Grapefruit Flavors)

I'm not a soda drinker. It was very easy for me to stop because I didn't drink it in the first place. But there is something about the nightshift that makes a bubbly beverage rather refreshing. Between that, the darkened staff lounge, and whatever lame Lifetime movie is on - it's enough of a pick-me-up to keep me going. Of course, sparkling water is all the rage because it has flavor without the calories and sugar. 

Trader Joe's Kohlrabi Salad Blend

At this point in 2017, I think every neglected green vegetable is itching to be the next kale. Apparently kohlrabi was supposed to be the next kale, but I'm not sure that people care that much anymore. Zoodles, carrot spirals (because "coodles" sounds weird), and cauliflower pizza have captured TJ's nation. Me? I'm thinking...something not chips, fibrous, and keeps the plumbing going if ya know what I mean. 

Trader Joe's Gochujang Flavored Almonds

Gotta give a hand to dear old Joe. The cultural diversity you find at a Trader Joe's is commendable. The way you introduce to America the wonderful flavors of different cultures is so earnest. Some hit. Some miss. And others...pretty decent but totally off the mark of the real thing. I happen to like Korean food and like to think that while I am not an expert ahjumma (middle aged woman) who makes her own gochujang like nobody's business, I've had enough to form an opinion. How it is possible for gochujang, which comes in a paste, to be transformed into a powdered seasoning? I haven't a clue, but I sure am curious. 

Trader Joe's Gluten-Free Cheese Pizza With a Cauliflower Crust

While the world stopped in their tracks to watch last week's total solar eclipse, the Obamas moved their eldest daughter into Harvard. Very smart. And my friend Gracie and I tried this gluten free cheese pizza instead of burning our retinas. If I squint real hard, that sauce on the side looks like a crescent. And if I close them completely, I might believe this is a real pizza.