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? It’s urgent.
That just because something is at Trader Joe’s. does not… I repeat, DOES NOT automatically mean that it’s healthy or good for you. This goes for all grocery stores, of course, even the healthiest ones.
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… ha. So weird. But 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, just how lucky we are that we have that choice to begin with.
And yes, that’s a challenge. So if you feel challenged by it, well then good. I hope you take it.
Finding real food, may not always be ideal. Or 100% perfect, organic, sustainable or instagrammable. But, what is IT? 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. As a starter practice.
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 Fall season. Drumroll, please.
1. Spindrift Sparkling Water, in LEMON: So, honestly, I’m usually not a big fan of lemon flavored anything. I’m a lime girl, all the way, when I have a choice.
Ok. But this? This is the best tasting lemon sparkling water I’ve had (even more than fancier brands like perrier, etc), has zero vague and sketchy “natural flavors” involved. Just real lemon juice. Side bonus: I’m also convinced this tastes exactly like a gin + tonic (but minus the booze). You can tell me if I’m crazy.
2. Crunchy Broccoli Florets: um, so you definately already know this if you follow me on instagram, but I have a legit problem with these. Like, real talk right now: I clean out the shelf everytime I go, because between our recent move, remodel, working on shooting and cooking for the next book, launching the group program, I’ve been on the go, at coffeeshops, in the car, traveling, or without a kitchen for the last 3 months straight.
So, the options: buying a $15 salad or smoothie everyday, out (nope). OR eating these in the car on my way to and from things/ slash…. bringing them in to coffee shops, because anything they have there probably just isn’t going to cut it for my real food standards. Judge if you want, but now I always keep a few bags of these in my car, call it eating my leafy greens, and people, we are all GOOD.
3. Broccoli & Cauliflower Rice: there is no shame in this game my friends. Pre-riced cauliflower and broccoli = healthy muffin boosts, paella upgrades, stirfry or risotto additions (or swaps), so these give me all the heart eyes. Yes, you could easily use a food processer, ricer or try to pulse blend cauliflower or broccoli florets…. but why, when these are already done for you, and have no additives? A always grab a bag for a quick and easy warm little weeknight meal that takes under 10 mins to cook, and can use anything you have in the fridge.
4. Organic Peppermint & Cinnamon Tea: random real food fact: tea is super-important to get organic, always. And without any artificial flavors added in (seriously, go check your tea boxes now if you never have). And this one is basically like my 2 favorites flavors, all cozied up into one.
5. Frozen Cauliflower Pizza Crust: ingredients: cauliflower, corn starch & potato starch. All rolled out and ready for you, and waiting in your freezer? Yes, please. The texture is more thin-crusted, and I do still love my Nature Hilights brown rice pizza crust brand best (from Whole Foods or PCC), but this is a great thing to have around, to bring to other people’s houses for pizza nights or for easy date-nights in, real food style.
6. Carrot & Pea/Cauliflower Frozen Veggie Burgers: another great new frozen and totally normal ingredient/gf/healthy option. I feel like these would be great for kids too, as a warm little snack or easy meal. Because everybody knows that burger shaped anything always taste better. A great freezer staple for a easy meal!
7. TJ’s Pumpkin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds: consider this your warning, stock up on these babies now to make the Fall Salad You Won’t Be Able To Quit, because they’re only around for a month or two.
They have a bit of butter and sugar in them, but make EATING SALAD SO GOOD you won’t be able to stop, which seems like the best use of butter and sugar to me.
Butternut Squash Crinkle Fries, aka, I don’t have a picture for them because we ate them so fast. So, you get the point. These butternut squash pieces are pre-peeled and cut and shaped like fries (an obvious win no matter how old you are). I love drizzling them with olive oil, sea salt and pepper and roasting them at 400 degrees with my other veggies.
Sweet Potato Ribbons: same thing, pre cut and spiralized sweet potatoes to use in place of any noodles (phad thai, in soups, in a stir fry or with pesto or tomato sauce).
Spaghetti Squash: the most mild of all squashes, and the most similar texture to angel hair pasta make this guy a win for most palates. But it’s only around for a few months, so scoop them up (and scoop the seeds out to roast.
For help on how to cook it, check out this recipe on the blog for An Actually Healthy Breakfast Bowl (Anytime of Day)
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?
Or, check out my last Trader Joe’s Fav’s post from this summer, here.