So, you probably already know this if you follow my instagram stories, or instagram, or blog.. or actually anything I do. Ha.
But I love Trader Joe’s. It’s kinda like a secret little guilty pleasure.
The fancy lady/serious foodie in me knows that of course, I should only shop at sustainable, local places all the time. But you know what? For parties, events, great deals on staples, #cookbooking for book #2, and just little healthy fun snacks, TJ’s will always have a piece of my heart.
And I love that they have stores everywhere, so that everyone, anywhere can get in on the action.
Can we talk about something first?
That just because something is at Trader Joe’s (or Whole Foods, or anywhere that’s known for having healthier stuff) does not… I repeat, DOES NOT automatically mean that it’s healthy or good for you.
You still have to be a REAL FOOD HUNTRESS, weeding out the gems from the marketing, no matter where you are, and slay baby slay. This is literally what I envision everytime I walk into a store. Feel free to borrow it, because it does work.
Because those little food companies and labels can be a tricky thing, if you don’t know how to distinguish the real food from the hype.
(And side note- if you need any help on this, get yourself into the Food Academy party train ASAP- it will teach you everything you need to know about finding, hunting and slaying real food, no matter where you are in the world. All at your own pace + with millions of resources to make it easy and streamlined, and without ever having to be confused about the latest studies/fads/trends).
I mean, honestly. Finding real food is a little like dating sometimes. Most of us just need to raise our standards a little bit. To not settle. Or make lame excuses. Because you’re only fooling yourself long term.
And yeah. I know what you are thinking right now. I DON’T HAVE A MILLION DOLLARS. I DON’T ALWAYS HAVE TIME FOR MY LIFE TO REVOLVE AROUND MY FOOD. SOMETIMES I DON’T PLAN WELL. SOMETIMES….
Honestly? For real. Being committed to eating ALL REAL FOOD in your life has nothing to do with those things. I truly, honestly know that you can eat well, and find real food anywhere. If you want to, and if feeling good is a value in your life.
Finding real food, may not always be ideal. Or 100% perfect, organic, sustainable or instagrammable. But, it’s more than doable, in a real, busy life.
You just have to know a few tricks. Like how to navigate Trader Joe’s the easy way, let’s say.
So today, let me give you a little head start- mostly because I feel like I pretty much live there these days with cookbook production, and every change of season they have new stuff to…well, slay.
So, my top picks for this new Fall season. Drumroll, please.
1.Crunchy Dried Fuji or Honeycrisp Apples: the perfect sweet lil treat or crunch factor to add to oatmeal, salads, or homemade trail mixes. Or to dip in natural peanut/almond/or sunflower butter.
2.Frozen Butternut Squash Pizza Crust: a pizza made from squash! Yes, please. I can’t wait to try this one with some shredded chicken or turkey sausage, pesto, artichoke hearts and arugula on top. The ingredients are so simple, and it’s the perfect thing to keep stocked in the freezer for a quick and fun dinner.
3. Frozen Cauliflower Pizza Crust: same as above, but made with cauliflower. I’m keeping both around to experiment with!
4. Trader Giotto’s Arrribiata Sauce: the only truly clean jarred tomato sauce in the store (read those ingredient lists people!). I love keeping this in the pantry at all times to top spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles, to use in tomato based soups/chilis, or to add to chicken and veggies in a crockpot for a quick meal.
5. Trader Joe’s Green Goddess Salad Dressing: the only truly clean pre-made salad dressing in the store– and it’s goood! Try it as a burger sauce, marinade for grilled chicken or veggies, or on butter leaf lettuce wraps.
6. Butternut Squash ZigZags: What I’m most likely to hoard in my cart when I go. This and the Broccoli Rice– get outta my way peeps.
These butternut squash pieces are pre-peeled and cut and shaped like fries (an obvious win no matter how old you are).And a win for your knives too if you’ve ever attempted cutting a real butternut squash in chunks. I love drizzling them with olive oil, sea salt and pepper and roasting them at 400 degrees alone, or with my other veggies. Great in soups, stirfry’s or risotto too for texture (like the Butternut Squash Risotto in the Fall Meal Plan this year), or dipped in a natural (high-fructose corn syrup free) ketchup.
7. Epic Bar’s Chicken Siracha Bar: real food, on the go. A great protein packed snack for traveling or that emergency stash. It won’t spike your blood sugar or make you crave more sweets, like most sugar-y packed bars do. The texture is interesting, but my rules for snack foods are that I don’t keep anything that’s too tempting to eat when I’m not actually hungry. When I am hungry, this works. Side note, I prefer Epic’s smoked salmon bites usually, but TJ’s doesn’t carry them. If you ever see them, give them a try!
8. Fall Harvest Salsa: a totally clean, real-food based salsa that would be sooo good in a crockpot with chicken, veggies & maybe even some garbanzo beans. A Fall pantry staple for sure!
9. Frozen Organic Delicata Squash: ingredients: organic delicata squash. Winning. A great freezer staples to quickly roast, add to soups, roasted veggies, risotto’s, or stirfry’s. Or just get the real thing– delicata squash have edible skins (so you can save time and avoid peeling) and the easiest seeds to scoop out with a spoon. Plus they last forever on the counter. Both options are available this time of year!
10. Organic Turkish Dried Apricots: the only apricots without sulfites and sulfur added to them (that’s why they’re not a festive glowing orange color). So good in granola (like as a swap for cranberries in my Cranberry Walnut Grain Free Granola), or just a quick sweet bite after dinner.
11. Trader Joes Mapple Ladders Cereal: Ok, so these aren’t totalllllllly clean, but pretty close. And this season being pregnant, they’ve been my best friends as a way to try and get some protein in my body (it’s made with garbanzo bean flour). A great GF option for kids, or those transitioning to eating more real-food.
12. Organic Coconut Milk: one of the only brands of canned coconut milk that is free of guar gum. I always grab a few of these to keep in the pantry for easy curries, soups, or homemade coconut milk (blend with a little water and store in a mason jar in the fridge for the week to use in coffees, your healthy bevvies, or my healthy pumpkin spice latte, etc).
What else have you guys found there this season that’s REAL and that you love?! Tell me below.
Love this post? You’d love the cookbook then too. And be sure to check out the new Food Academy, now open for enrollment, and the seasonal meal plans! Did you know you can download a free 3 day sample of the meal plan here?