Sunday, October 5, 2014

My Top 10 Trader Joe's Must Haves

I have a healthy obsession with Trader Joe's.  I do about 90% of my food shopping there and can be found at the local store at least twice a week.  I love the smaller, neighborhood vibe and the atmosphere seems more personal than the big supermarkets.  It can make for a quicker shopping experience because there isn't as many choices of the same food item and it encourages shoppers to try new things.  There is a variety of ethnic type foods that are packaged to inspire you to try them. There is a certain level of trust Trader Joe's has managed to build with their shoppers.  If it's from Trader Joe's, you know it is going to be good.  Since I am there so much, I have had ample opportunities to try many, many things.  While it is hard to say what my favorite items are, I do have a list of things that can almost always be found in my kitchen.  These are my ten "go-to" items that I stock up on for day to day eating or easy entertaining. 

The Usual Suspects:

1.  Trader Joe's Mediterranean Hummus
I eat a lot of hummus.  So much that when I learned it was not a Paleo food, a deep sadness fell over me.  This particular variety is my absolute favorite of any I have tried.  It is smooth and creamy with a garnish of pine nuts and olive oil that seems authentically Greek .  I serve this with fresh veggies and my Homemade Pita Chips at almost every party or dinner I host.  My kids love it and I will eat it with veggies for lunch when not having a "Paleo Day".  If you have not tried this variety or are wary of hummus, this one will not disappoint!

2.  Organic Persian Cucumbers
I love cucumbers.  They are cool and sweet with a satisfying crunch to them.  My family and I eat them all the time in salads, with hummus and in smoothies.  If there is one vegetable that you can really taste the difference when organic, I would say it's the cucumber.  Which is why I adore these cute little Persian Cucumbers.  They are a perfectly bite sized and the organic variety is just barely more expensive than the non-organic kind.  Makes perfect sense to me.

3.  Light Coconut Milk
I try to limit my dairy and only have it on special occasions, like when a pizza magically appears in front of me or when a family outing for frozen yogurt is happening.  I use this delicious, thick and creamy goodness in my coffee and my Chia Seed Pudding  It is not too sweet and does not have a super strong coconut taste.  Two thumbs up from me!

4.  Party Size Meatballs
These are an incredibly easy, low carb appetizer that taste great.  I heat these up in a pan with a barbeque or a teriyaki sauce and serve with toothpicks.  It honestly cannot be easier and they always get gobbled up quickly.  I keep these in my freezer all the time for when I need an extra appetizer or need to throw together a dinner party.  Pick these up next time you are having guests!

5.  Organic Blue Corn Tortilla Chips
These are organic!  That means they are healthy and we can eat more of them, right?  I wish that was actually the case, but it is nice knowing that the blue corn used is organic and they look so pretty.  I always have these on hand for guests or when the need for chips and guacamole take over me.  They have the right amount of salt and are nice and light and crispy.  All things needed for a perfect corn chip!

6.  Tuscano Marinara Sauce
I have a confession, I use this marinara sauce as a base in just about about all my pasta sauces and my Homemade Sloppy Joes.  I add fresh ingredients to the sauce to fit each recipe, but this is amazing on it's own as well.  It's a perfect blend of tomato sauce and tomato chunks with olive oil, basil and other seasonings.  This is literally always in my pantry.  Give it a try!

7.  Simply Almonds, Cashews & Cranberries Trek Mix (10 individual bags)
These little snack packs are a great way to curb the late afternoon hunger that seems to get us all.  They have a ton of protein and just right amount of salty nuts and sweet cranberries.  I love the individual bags for the portion control and to throw in my purse for snacking on the go.  And really, who doesn't love almonds and cashews?

8.  Fully Cooked Organic Quinoa
This box contains 2 pouches of fully cooked quinoa.  It is microwaved for about 3 minutes and comes out fully cooked and only needs to be seasoned.  It's so easy and fast and pretty much fool-proof.  That is hard to beat in my book.  I use this in a lot of my recipes, like my Korean Lettuce Tacos and my Roasted Vegetable Quinoa.  Had I not told my secret that it is made with frozen quinoa, you would be none the wiser.  Give this a shot!

9.  Garlic Potatoes with Parmesan Sauce
I do my best to stick to a mostly low carb diet, but occasionally a girl needs some potatoes.  These frozen potatoes are absolutely delicious and come out of the oven perfect.  They could not be simpler and are great with a steak dinner.  I like to make these when we have guests over and my husband grills a tri-tip.  I know they will taste great and it frees up time because they require such minimal effort.  Sometimes that is all you need.

10.  Vodka of the Gods
Now for the good stuff.  Obviously, if I were to make a martini, I would prefer to have a more high brow vodka.  But martinis do not happen very often in my life.  What does happen is a vodka cocktail with a strong tasting mixer, like grapefruit or cranberry juice or a Bloody Mary.  This allows for some discretion on the brand of vodka.  And for the price, Vodka of the Gods will not disappoint.  Pick it up and pour yourself a cocktail!

Honorable Mention- Cocobon Red Wine Blend
I drink a lot of red wine, but in no way am I a wine connoisseur.  However, this wine is a fantastic smooth red that has deep velvety flavors of cherry and vanilla.  It pairs well with just about anything and the price is right.  In fact, I think it tastes better than many more expensive bottles I have had and for that reason, it is usually stocked in my wine rack.

Your turn!!  What are your "must haves" from Trader Joe's?  Do you share my healthy obsession with the place?  Am I missing anything?

I have no affiliation with Trader Joe's and this post is not sponsored.  All opinions are my own this post was done out of love for my favorite store.