Tuesday, August 2, 2011

For the Love of Trader Joe's

I just got back from my favorite grocery store on Earth. Well, Whole Foods is probably my very favorite, but I just can't pay the exorbitant prices they charge. I love Trader Joe's so much that I literally mapped out the distance from the closest TJ's to any house we considered in purchasing. We live exactly 2.6 miles from TJ's and that's just the way things are supposed to be. Before you think I'm a huge crazy (okay, I know it's true), remember that I'm a vegetarian and crave flavor. Like different, cultured, unique flavor. I'm not your average veggie. I don't love tofu but will eat it if I must and I don't really like any of those soy-based products made to look like meat products. I'm a vegetarian for non-ethical reasons (read: I think meat is um, yucky) and don't want my food to really resemble or attempt to taste like that of a cow.

So where were we before I went off on that tangent. Oh yes, my love affair with Trader Joe's. California Trader Joe's stores have everything. In the Midwest, there are fewer options and the prices are higher. But that is a concession I'm willing to handle so long as a store is local.

I know I'm going to forget some items, but I thought I'd create a {running} list of my favorite vegetarian Trader Joe's items. I will add to this if I remember more or figure out the names-- and in no order of favortism because that would be too organized:
  • Cheese and green chile tamales. Yes, they're fattening. And delicious.
  • Creamy, salted peanut butter (crunchy or smooth. I like to be fair. Also, rockin' price!)
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • White cheddar corn puffs (read: Pirate's Booty)
  • Indian Pav Bhaji (beware, spicy!)
  • Indian Madras Lentil
  • Fiberful ends and pieces dried fruit mixed bag
  • Peanut butter filled pretzels (salted, with or without the chocolate coating)
  • Low fat chocolatey cats cookies
  • Low fat string cheese
  • Dried apple rings (sadly, they don't carry them in IL...)
  • Frozen French green beans
  • Chocolate ganache torte (best. dessert. ever.)
  • Fire roasted corn
  • Harvest grains blend (cook with stock instead of plain water)
  • Take and bake bread (a buck!)
  • All of their salad dressings, but I LOVE their Caesar--no anchovies!
  • Vanilla and almond granola (not that good for you... but so good. They have lowfat ones, too)
  • Frozen Mac n' cheese (read: artery clogging goodness)
  • Frozen edamame
  • Mochi ice cream & Bon Bons
  • 100% cranberry juice (warning: super sour)
  • French Market sparkling juices
  • Joe-Joe's (TJ's version of oreo, especially the peppermint ones at Christmas!!)
  • Lentil soup in a can
  • Dried, pitted, tart Montgomercy cherries (perfect for homemade trail mix)
  • Sesame sticks
  • Thai Lime and chili peanuts
  • Lemon sorbet
  • Frozen, cubed, crushed garlic/basil
  • Frozen potato medley (No where to be found in IL, SO SAD)
  • Frozen penne arrabbiata
  • Frozen crinkle wedge potatoes
  • Vegetable samosas
  • Indian-masala vegetarian burgers (kind of weird, but really delicious!)
  • Refrigerated bruschetta until they changed the ingredients and now it sucks. 
  • Muffaletta (RIP... no longer a product)
  • Sauces in general (olive oil, spaghetti sauce, marinara, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, balsamic... all good prices)
  • Colossal olives stuffed with jalapeno peppers
  • Julienne-sliced sundried tomatoes or the bottled kind. I love them all equally.
  • Organic Joe's O's pasta (yes, they're spaghetti O's)
  • Organic split pea soup
  • Organic black bean soup
  • All forms of their hummus
  • Low fat whole wheat pretzel sticks
  • Organic blue corn tortilla chips
  • Roasted garlic salsa
  • "This fig walks into a bar" cereal bars (like nutri-grain but so much better)
  • Sundried tomato tortillas
  • Cracked wheat sourdough bread (not in IL........)
  • refrigerated pizza dough
  • Panko bread crumbs
  • Refrigerated mixed greens (but honestly the quality in IL doesn't compare to that of CA... long country to travel, not their fault!)
  • Quick-cook steel cut oats (my absolute fave-- eat everyday when it's not a million degrees outside. Also, cheapest in town!)

I want to try but haven't:
  • Karat cake
  • Chocolate croissants
  • Chimichurri rice 
  • Vegetable root chips
  • some new frozen polenta but I can't remember the name...
  • Guacamole-hummus (but I'm a bit scared of the disappointment since I love both independently)
A few fun tidbits: TJ's is owned by the Germans--same group of brothers who own Aldi! You'd never know... and they also have an incredible selection of cheap-ish gluten-free items if you're G-free. I'm not (been tested!) but have a ton of friends who are recent converts to the G-free diet. Just a friendly PSA.

What about you? What are your favorites at TJ's? Anything you recommend I try or something my carnivorous husband might be interested in trying?


LauraJane said... [Reply to comment]

Why do I live in Canada? We don't even have TJs here. Bullshit, huh? First no Chipolte (which I saw in NYC) and now this.

Molly said... [Reply to comment]

No TJ's here either. But let me say, I want to be a veg for ethical reasons, but the reason I cannot is bc I would be a blimp! I don't think much of your veggie food from TJ's is WW friendly, no that you have to worry about that. But I DO! :(

LJ, haha! I hit up Chipotle in NYC Saturday afternoon (yes, after the mac and cheese, I ate a burrito!). We did just get a C in Mem, but again, not exactly WW friendly, so I chose to get it in NYC where WW points didn't count last weekend. :)

Addi's mom said... [Reply to comment]

Oh my Brandy...I was reading this on my phone and was surprised to keep scrolling and scrolling...you really do love TJ's you make me laugh! Thanks for that.

Bette said... [Reply to comment]

I love the oatmeal cranberry Dunkers. The closest TJ is 45 minutes away from me, I go there just to buy those!

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

The guac/hummus is really really great.

As is the fresh (like near the veggies and such) 4 cheese pizza.

Caroline said... [Reply to comment]

I love Trader Joes but we don't have them here in shitty GA. We did back home in Arizona and oh, how I miss them so.

I respect that you are a vegetarian just simply because you don't like meat. I get it - I mean, there are lots of things I don't like that people think are weird, or things I do like that are "weird". But God, I love meat.

At least you don't like cats. :)

Kristin said... [Reply to comment]

Hey! I just found your blog...and I'm not even sure how! Maybe from Stirrup Queens? Anyway, I LOVE TJ's too! You have to try:
black bean and cheese burrito-YUMMY!
mexican quiche (just cheese and chiles')
Precooked lentils mixed with cottage cheese

Those are a few of my faves! Also, I am so sorry for your loss. I've been through 4 IVF cycles and one miscarriage and it sucks...I can't even imagine what sense of loss you must be feeling. Life is super unfair sometimes and that sucks. I think it's good you have a place to be honest with you emotions and it sounds like you have an amazing support system. Good luck to you in the future. You guys are in my prayers. I'm going to keep following your blog.


katie illingworth said... [Reply to comment]

I agree with Caroline...I love meat, too. I'm an Okie. What can I say? There is nothing I love better than a good steak.

Luckily, after Georgie died, my distaste for food only lasted about a month. I am back to my foodie ways.

I went to law school in D.C., and really miss TJs. Especially I miss their hors d'oeuvres (used to buy them and pass them off as my own at parties, I know, bad) and their baked goods.


We've just moved to OKC, and they're building a ginormous Whole Foods. Despite my anger at the high prices of Whole Foods, I'll probably break down and start shopping there, at least partially. I recently bought Kiss My Face Honey Calendula lotion, and I am hearting it big time.

Krista and David Hart said... [Reply to comment]

The TJ's chocolate croissants are AMAZING! Also, as a fellow chocolate lover, I must recommend a new favorite... dark chocolate bar with caramel and sea salt, YUM! We also love the pretzel thins and hot sweet mustard for a salty snack.

tushkan122 said... [Reply to comment]

Oh you just made me so home sick!!! I am in London now, so no TJ's :( I lived in Chicago for many years and I loved Trader Joes on Clyborn! I second the deliciousness of their salsa, sauces, sparkling juices and they also have a great wine selection at very good prices too!

Sneaker Teacher said... [Reply to comment]

I didn't think the guacamole hummus was that great...ok but not awesome. I lived on their frozen quinoa with veges last year. Healthy and so easy to make. I can't wait to get back to Trader Joes and Target!,

Brooke said... [Reply to comment]

Oh mercy I LOVE TJ's. And seriously meat is gross. The smell of browned ground beef makes me want to gag. I still think bacon smells good, but no way I'm eating it.

Anyway, your shopping list matches mine in so many ways! (And mmmmm peppermint Joe-Joes, but I buy the vanilla ones all year round). You listed a few new things I'll have to try--including the frozen quinoa with veges! Haven't done it and it sounds like the perfect meal for lazy me.

LookItsJessica said... [Reply to comment]

We SOO calculated the distance to the nearest TJ's (and Whole Foods) before we moved. I'm the same way with WF versus TJ's. We had a WF across the street from our old house and I would walk there and someone spend $200 on like 3 bags of groceries. Ridic.

I love TJ and my favorites are the bags of frozen veggie fried rice and Thai lime and chili cashews. YUM.

Becky said... [Reply to comment]

The onlt thing I have ever had from TJ's are the dark chocolate peanut butter cups. We do not have one in Alaska and don't think Minnesota either when I lived there. I have heard so many people say they love it though and so when I was in California for my fetal surgery I had to find one and check it out.

Erin Farrell Speer said... [Reply to comment]

I was just thinking today as I drove through Cody, Wyoming how much I would kill for a visit to Trader Joes. Instead of vegetarian, I'm hunting for gluten free and TJs makes everything so easy because they label everything so clearly! Oh, Trader Joes!!!!!

Shell said... [Reply to comment]

Thanks for the list. I work about 10 minutes from a TJ and want to shop their more but it is always so darn busy. I have copied and pasted your list and have it on my phone. The next time I am there I am checking out some of the items on your list. It is probably good that we live 15-miles from the store or I'd probably frequent it much more.

Ben and Katie said... [Reply to comment]

Oh my goodness the peppermint jojo's ROCK!!
When Ben was in the hospital in Atlanta I would always buy them and eat the whole package to myself...and sometimes at a very rapid speed! We have one but I always forget about since we didn't for so long! Yummers!

Sneaker Teacher said... [Reply to comment]

I keep checking for a new post. Thinking about you!

Alison G. said... [Reply to comment]

Highly recommend the frozen chocolate croissants! Must, must try! And honey sesame almonds.