Trader Joe’s Favorites

Trader Joe's Favorites

Do you have a favorite Trader Joe’s Product? One thing that makes the trip worth it? Favorite chocolate?

Some of my favorites are unsweetened unsulfered mangoes, Mediterranean hummus, pita bites crackers, and coconut chocolate almonds.

I’ve only been a Trader Joe’s shopper for about 4 years now. They are great for snacks, even if they often fall in the sometimes food category. A friend was told me she’d love to know what other people like to buy there. Why not? Sounds fun! So I blind emailed about 20 people asking what their favorite things were. This is the results! And no. I was not paid for this review or suggestions…it’s just a fun thing to do. Why not carry your camera around at Trader Joe’s!? Haha. Longest Trader Joe’s shopping trip ever! It was worth it.

*Note: things in (….) are comments from contributors.

Produce Section

Trader Joe's Favorites

-Stuffed Bell Peppers (I always feel so good after eating these and they taste like they came out of my kitchen)
-Cilantro Dressing
-Cranberry, Walnut, & Gorgonzola Salad Dressing (also used as a dipping sauce or marinade)
-Field Chopped Salad… 

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Coconut Chocolate Chip Bars

coconut chocolate chip bars

Happy Valentine’s Day!

How are you celebrating loving others? I was talking on my instagram the other day how my whole life revolves around love and kindness and accepting the best from others. What an awesome chance to celebrate that with a dedicated day every year…you don’t have to be in a relationship with someone special to practice this one!

And since it’s Valentine’s Day, you’ll need some sort of treat.

I’m going to give you something with chocolate (of course) and coconut. I love these two flavors together – macaroons anyone? These are easy, fast, and can be versatile with substitutions and additions…date bars in their finest hours…. 

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How to Make Almond Butter

How to Make Almond Butter

It’s the end of the week, so I guess it’s an appropriate time to make a food confession. I’ve already eaten way to many blueberry scones (that I was experimenting with yesterday, you’re going to love them) as well as some eggplant salsa dip. Top that off with putting pomegranate seeds on everything this week and I guess food confessions is really what a food blog is all about. Welcome to my world. I feel really blessed that I get to live somewhere that allows me to experiment with fruits and veggies like this.

For the real food confession…almond butter…. 

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Chocolate Chip Cherry Torte Bars

Cherry Chocolate Chip Bars

After running the Oregon Half Marathon two weeks ago, the watermelon at the end of the race tasted amazing. On top of that, they had a table full of snack-sized lara bars for everyone to take at will. I had several that I’d never tried before including: Sticky Bun and Chocolate Chip Cherry Torte Bars. Both were so good. I was expecting the sticky bun one to be too sweet, I mean really, it’s named like a cinnamon roll. It was surprisingly light and the cinnamon in it was perfect with the nuttiness. And the chocolate chips and cherries, yes please. I’ve been wanting to experiment with cherries in my date bars, so this pushed me over the edge. I had to make some up.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Bars

I’ve made these a couple times now and really like them. They are the perfect thing to wrap up in some parchment paper and deliver to friends. Like yesterday I took some to a friend for letting me throw a dresser in their large dumpster. (Thanks to an upcoming boy bedroom reveal and that it was simply falling apart). If you are going to make a double batch, make sure to make it in two batches so you don’t burn out your food processor. I might be saying this from experience. I had to dump some of mine out because I started to see smoke. No bueno. … 

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Smoothie Bowl Basics

Smoothie Bowl

Does anyone else have a growing pile of papers on their desk? I think it has something to do with school having started, feeling like I can’t cross off as many things on my list as I need to, and being a full-blown soccer mom for the next two months. Busy means happy for the kids though. They have a balance of school, down-time, homework, and extra activities – like most kids, they thrive on some routine. For me, all this means that I’m squeezing in food where I can. This is where knowing some smoothie bowl basics comes in handy.

This is simple people. If you are looking for something healthy, nutty, fruity, and filling = taaadaaa!! Here it is.

Here’s the super not complicated tricks to a smoothie bowl:
* make a smoothie
* pour it in a bowl
* top it with stuff
* eat it

When I make a smoothie, I like to make lots of it. I use some in that moment and pour the rest into cups that I stick in the freezer. These come in handy for my late night snacks, tomorrow’s breakfast, or maybe just 2nd breakfast. It makes a smoothie bowl even quicker if you have some prepared that you can just soften in the microwave (just make sure not to heat it, just soften).

I like to include fruit chunks in my bowl, mango and blueberries being my top choices. Banana slices will make their way there as well. I always keep frozen fruit on hand for this reason. Fresh peaches, pineapples, plums, nectarines, and kiwis would be great as well. Really, what fruit could make this go wrong? Is there any stinky ones? That would be gross. Don’t do those ones.

To give the crunch factor, I like to add sliced almonds and seeds.  I usually have sunflower and pumpkin seeds around, so that’s easy. For extra crunch, I like to add my granola or some grape nuts.

I often stop there, if it’s morning. But to be honest, if this is an evening snack there’s definitely going to be some mini chocolate chips thrown in there too.

I know I’ve talked about smoothie bowls before, but really, this is an underestimated meal/snack/get-in-my-belly-now food choice. So yah, here I am talking about it again. Cheers to green smoothies today and I hope you have a really good one!

Smoothie Bowl

And because I really believe in you and your amazingness…here’s a little reminder for the day:

magical person you are

(via my pinterest board quotes to live by)

Simple Hummus

Simple Hummus

I want to introduce you to one of my favorite things. Meet hummus.

It wins the contest for one of the easiest and quickest things to make.

With the end of school, this is a great quick snack that you can make all through summer with your kiddos. It’s a simple one for them to get involved in too. What kid doesn’t like to experiment by adding extra ingredients?! This simple hummus recipe is easy to personalize by adding different spices, beans, or veggies.

I love that it’s filling, it’s flavorful, and it can be used to amp up your veggies. I love that it can be used as a spread on sandwiches, a dressing for a salad, and a party dip. Let’s face it, hummus around here doesn’t go to waste. All it takes is a couple of tips and you’ll be making your own hummus too.

I literally eat this almost every day as part of my lunch, so I’ve made it lots and lots of times. Every once in a while I’ll splurge and buy some pre-made, but I more often like to make my own now. Sometimes it’s fun to buy a new flavor combo and then try recreating it at home. If you’re a hummus addict like I am, then you’ll be saving money if you learn how to make this at home. Points for extra fiber and protein plus extra points for saving money. I always like the sound of that.

Simple Hummus

Simple Hummus

Quick tips to make your hummus successful:

1.  I use my food processor or vitamix to make hummus. I’ve also used a kitchen aid blender before. It doesn’t get quite as smooth in the blender, but it gets the job done.

2. If you use a vitamix, you’ll need to add more water than if you were using a food processor. I don’t recommend using a regular blender for this one. It’s a little to thick to mix without the high-power. Add a Tbsp of water at a time until it’s creamy and combined…. 

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