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Showing posts from 2017

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. 

Trader Joe's Mango Mini Mochi

It's another mochi ice cream! With MANGO! I NEED! Wait a minute. This looks VERY familiar...where have you been for the last year??? But the packaging looks different? Is this different? Is this a refurbished old favorite? TJ's, take my money! 
And yes, happy 50th anniversary to Trader Joe's. And yes, I've seen the alleged list of Top 50 products. With all of the delicious mochi ice creams that TJ's has made, how did a single one NOT make it on the list?? But seasoning salt did??? And Everything But the Bagel Seasoning did not??? 

Trader Joe's Cold Pressed Matcha Green Tea Lemonade

Gratuitous. Completely gratuitous. But there's matcha, so go ahead TJ's. Celebrate your 50th anniversary and take my money. Happy Monday y'all. 

Trader Joe's Handmade Dried Fruit Bars Ends & Pieces [of Assorted Flavors]

Whenever I travel, I am suddenly endowed with the power and self-control to make better snack choices. I suddenly get somewhat repulsed by the idea of eating entire bags of chips and I reach for moderately healthier snack choices. This certainly doesn't happen all the time in real life. Also a side note, if you happen to give birth at a hospital, it is very nice to bring snacks as a token of appreciation for the NURSING STAFF (I suppose we could share with everyone else too). I really enjoyed those Cheez-Its last night. Thank you. 
Maybe it's related to the fact that A and I tend to take food-centric trips. All the sightseeing, activities, and bum time help pass the time between meals. Snacks then take a back seat, unless we're hiking or something. Then it's all about the snacks. 

Trader Joe's Popcorn with Herbs & Spices

This is one of those snacks I tried when I first started this blog. Then life got busy. Pumpkin spice this and cookie butter that were far more scintillating to blog about, so this got pushed back further and further in the queue until I promptly forgot about it. TJ's recently held a #50YearsofTJsContest on Instagram (I came nowhere near winning but it was fun :P), and I had some lofty idea to use 10 bags of the best popcorn ever.* Of course, pickle popcorn vacates the shelves around this time of year to make way for the onslaught of pumpkin spice (I love fall. But I love to hate on pumpkin spice. And fidget spinners for that matter). 
*I'll be the first person to say that the pickle popcorn isn't objectively the best popcorn ever. It's a very niche product. Highly addictive if you love salty, dill-y, pickly/briny-flavored snacks. Sometimes nostalgia trumps objectivity. 

Trader Joe's Organic Tahini

A is very happy that The Bachelorette is over, because I can stop watching trash and telling him all about it.  It all started as a "I can't sleep, let me watch trashy reality tv (although, considering what trashy reality tv shows air at work...The Bachelorette looks pretty tame TBH). " After watching 10 weeks worth of episodes, I can sum it up with one word - LETDOWN. Seriously. Although some of you might disagree with me on this. Let's discuss further. :P 
Compare that to Terrace House(the more polite Japanese version of Real World on Netflix), which I started after hearing other people obsess about it. It was another show A couldn't understand why I watched...but then he got hooked. WHY? Various reasons, one of which is that it got better over time as we understood more the basis for the show, the commentators, etc. You want to know what this has to do with tahini...not much. I just wanted to plug Terrace House but also state that tahini is an underrated but v…

Trader Joe's Organic Turkish Dried Figs

Figs don't particularly excite me, partially because I haven't had enough exposure to proper figs. When I think fig, I think fig newton. Basically, it's the equivalent of thinking sushi and thinking about the seaweed or the rice and completely missing the point. Whatever, I liked the packaging. It appealed to my inner old lady that collects doilies, drinks tea, and owns a dozen cats. Not that I would ever own a cat. Ever. 

Trader Joe's [Next to Godliness] Fruit & Vegetable Wash

The nice thing about living further away from a Trader Joe's now (there are positive things, yes!) is that I have more opportunity to make the trip with other people. If I'm going to trek 45 minutes to see if Trader Joe's restocked the matcha ice cream (even if they found trace bits of metal in it, BRING IT BACK PLEASE. I NEED TO TRYYYY), might as well have some company. Anyhoo, my neighbor mentioned this fruit & veggie wash and how she started using it after she had her daughter...because if we didn't already know, as A and Ron Swanson would say, the food our food eats is covered in pesticides and chemicals. 

Trader Joe's Coffee Cocoa Batons

Does anyone else find it rather jarring to see back-to-school sales at the end of June? oh wait. Wrong month. It's July. Almost August. Where does the time go. For today's post, I dig up something I should have posted at least a month ago. Trying to start what I finish...proverbially speaking. I finished these delicious coffee cocoa batons a while ago. :) 

Trader Joe's Organic Gently Gingered Kombucha Tea

I've gotten into kombucha over the past couple of months, much to A's dismay (related to an incident where I didn't have the bottle cap screwed on all the way and the Verizon guy accidentally knocked it over and it fizzed all over the carpet with its sugary fermentedness. At least it wasn't the couch. Clutch, I know. I may or may not have dropped a vial of blood last night at work. I'm on a roll y'all). 
TJ's carries another brand of kombucha, but I recently saw the TJ's brand and picked it up. And yes, the packaging with the modern calligraphy helped. :P 

Trader Joe's Matcha Green Tea Greek Whole Milk Yogurt

I can't get enough of matcha, even when it takes the form of a potentially regrettable dairy product (no need to go into detail about my last escapade). But for matcha? I welcome the lactose intolerance with open arms. It's worth it. :P

Trader Joe's Organic Cold Brew Coffee

Sometimes, I feel like my relationship with coffee is similar to my experience of my new job in labor & delivery. You get into it because it seems like it's a cool thing to drink/do. Do I get the intricacies of fruity notes and smooth finishes and precise brewing methods? Ehhh...I learn a few things along the way but real talk - a lot of it is faking it till you make it, which as a coffee drinker who cares and as a L&D nurse it's living life on the edge (so comforting to the public lol). But I like it. It tastes good/I like moms and babies. I get this visceral feeling that it's right. So I go with it. 

Trader Joe's Brownie Crisp Coffee Ice Cream Sandwiches

I'm quite fond of ice cream sandwiches. It conjures up childhood memories of sneaking out of the house when I heard the ice cream truck (sneaking because my dear mother would scold me like crazy for using my pocket change on a bad deal. $1+ for a mediocre vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two really soft chocolate wafers...in hindsight I concede she was right. I could have saved my money by getting it in bulk). Incidentally, the highest rated product I've ever tried/made from Trader Joe's goodies happens to be an ice cream sandwich. This product is right up my alley. 

Trader Joe's Avocado Citrus Greek Whole Milk Yogurt

In case I haven't mentioned it enough, in the past couple of months I've joined the ranks of the lactose intolerant. I'll spare the internet the gory details. Healthcare people talk very naturally about TMI bodily functions in public and over meals without realizing that they're grossing everyone out. :P

Trader Joe's Matcha Green Tea [Unsweetened]

I've only visited Japan once, but one of the things I would like to do one day is witness and take part in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. With some ridiculously awesome, ceremonial grade matcha for an out-of-body experience. Or at least out-of-body in my head. 

Trader Joe's Ranch Seasoned Crispy Chickpeas

Chickpeas are one of those foods that I've tried tricking myself into enjoying. I don't hate them. I enjoy them when blitzed into something completely unrecognizable, like hummus, but other than that  I tolerate them at best. Yes, apparently you can roast/bake them into a healthier salty crunchy snack. I've tried it before and haven't had success yet. But apparently TJ's did it. 

Trader Joe's Organic Coconut Aminos Seasoning Sauce

Here's another one of those trendy niche market health foods that has been becoming more and more popular. You can allegedly use this instead of soy sauce in any recipe that calls for soy sauce. Skeptical? Curious? Yes? Then I suppose it is worth a try. 

Trader Joe's Organic Lemongrass Spearmint Herbal Flavored Water

In case you live under a rock,  Amazon recently acquired the organic grocery store [that I love to trash talk] - Whole Paycheck. To be fair, there are things that I like about Whole Foods, and there are certain products that I like and have purchased from Whole Foods. I have a certain respect for Whole Foods. I just prefer not to spend my whole paycheck there for various reasons. Anyway, all this means for me is that with a new Trader Joe's store slated to be opening 15-20 min away from where I currently live, I fully intend to double down on my brand loyalty. No, this is not sponsored by Trader Joe's - none of my posts are - but wouldn't it be nice if it were so? 

Trader Joe's Dried Mango Chokanan Variety

To understand this post, I'm assuming y'all have a baseline knowledge of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. By that, I mean the interpretation where she looks for that bowl of porridge and the bed that is "just right," not the one where she crashes an innocent (are they really innocent though? Maybe they should have paid more attention to the ADT guy who came soliciting while they were trying to watch their Netflix in peace) bear pad, eats their food, breaks their chairs, and ruins all their stuff like an entitled princess. Where does this variety of dried mango sit with me? In the "just right" zone. 

Trader Joe's Carrot Spirals

What could be better and better for you than noodles? Fake noodles of course. I ain't knocking fake noodles. In fact, I've contemplated getting a spiralizer for some time to encourage more veggie intake around here.