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An Ode to Trader Joe’s

December 10, 2009

The list of things that I can eat shrinks on what seems like a daily basis. While I try to isolate what I am allergic to, I am not supposed to eat gluten, wheat, dairy, any type of grain, or anything with sugar. I also don’t eat meat, chicken or soy. So that pretty much covers everything, doesn’t it?  I feel sorry for people who invite me over and have to cook for me. I also feel sorry for people who have to dine with me. But more than anything I feel sorry for myself!

Needless to say I am hungry most of the time. At lunch today I took one look at my perpetually empty fridge and fast tracked it over to my second home – Trader Joe’s. I knew that I needed to find something new to eat because if I had one more omelette I was going to lose my marbles.

After making my way through the seemingly mocking rows of Christmas cookies and chocolates, pies and fresh sourdough bread, I was suddenly inspired by these two items…

What Tongol means I’m not really sure but the label says its Dolphin-safe and that makes Tongol a winner in my book already. I mixed most of the can with some of the Broccoli Slaw, added avocado, and made a dressing of flaxseed oil, apple cider vinegar, and TJ’s salsa.

It was actually quite good!  Tongol tastes a bit like canned salmon.  For any of you struggling with stomach problems I suggest you try this dish because I can attest to the fact that there isn’t a single thing in here that can give you a stomach ache!  And when I shut my eyes real tight and visualized hard enough I almost convinced myself that I was eating Chick-fil-A’s coleslaw.  (How great is that stuff?  I haven’t had it in about 15 years and I still remember how delicious it is. )

While we are on the topic, here are other things I love from Trader Joe’s:

  1. Organic frozen fruit – especially the strawberries because they are perfect for smoothies.
  2. Peach salsa – this stuff is amazing on anything although these days I am not eating it because of the sugar content.
  3. Orchids – these are gorgeous and for just $12 they last for about 3 months.  I don’t exactly have a green thumb so they might last longer for other people.
  4. Organic green beans – is it strange that I defrost and snack on these?
  5. Pizza dough – comes in wheat, white, and garlic-rosemary (I think).  Great for calzones and pizza.
  6. Harvest Wheat Bread – this is the best bread (not that I am eating it these days) but it has about 5 ingredients and they all belong in bread.  Great price too, I think the whole loaf is $1.99?
  7. Frozen Garlic Naan – as a person of Indian descent I can say that these are as close to the real thing as you’ll get unless you fly to India.  Not crazy about the Plain Naan though.
  8. Masala Veggie Burgers – if I have to stay on a gluten-free diet this is what I will miss the most.  These are amazing, like samosas without the pastry shell.  I wish they could make them without the bread crumbs.
  9. 70% Pound Plus Dark Chocolate – luckily I can still eat this when I can have sugar again.  At least chocolate has no gluten!
  10. Almond-Windmill Cookies – these are heavenly.  The only problem is they get stale pretty fast and being that I was the only person in the house who ate them I would feel too much pressure to eat them before they got soft!  I had to stop buying them.
  11. Blue Corn Chips – these are super addicting and gluten-free!
  12. Organic Chunky Peanut Butter – just peanuts and salt but somehow it tastes like it has sugar in it.  So good.

Trader Joe’s is a lifesaver if you have kids too.  A few of Maya’s favorites things at TJ’s are:

  1. The free stickers – we have piles of them.
  2. The free snacks in the TJ’s mailbox – we have piles of Cat Cookies too.
  3. The free in-store samples – what can I say?  Maya loves a freebie. 
  4. Chicken Drumettes (spelling?) – so glad these are back on the shelves!  It’s the only kind of chicken nugget I will buy her.
  5. Fish Sticks – made from cod I think.
  6. Vanilla/Blueberry Yogurt Cups – good for lunch boxes.
  7. Popcorn – this is a great snack that isn’t bad for kids and Maya thinks she is eating “junk food.”

What I don’t like at Trader Joe’s:

  1. A lot of their fruit looks good but when you cut into it the whole thing is bad.  Pears and avocados seem to be their biggest problem.
  2. I found a hair on one of the Garlic Naan’s.  Really gross considering the product comes from India and thus the hair was on there for the product’s entire journey across the world and for God knows how long.
  3. Trader Joe’s Turkey Meatballs – back when I ate turkey I tried these and they were dry and disgusting!
  4. Crazy parking lots no matter what time of the day.  This is the case in L.A. at least, it may not be everywhere.

Anyway, if you are still reading this you must love TJ’s as much as me.  What are some of your favorite Trader Joe’s items?

15 Comments leave one →
  1. December 10, 2009 8:15 pm

    preach it woman! I LOVE Trader Joes and it’s probably one of the things I miss the most since moving up to Canada. I don’t know how you control yourself (besides painful allergies) because they have some of the best desserts ever. I love their frozen strudles. I’m not one for pre-frozen food, but Trader Joes does it right

    • December 11, 2009 7:14 am

      I agree! Frozen food is not something I usually bring home by they do have a special knack!!

  2. December 10, 2009 9:04 pm

    I LOVE Tj’s! What don’t I like. NOTHING!

    My fav has to be their eggplant garlic spread. YUM!

    • December 11, 2009 7:14 am

      I haven’t tried that Sana, and it might be gluten-free so I need to find it ASAP!

  3. December 10, 2009 9:23 pm

    I also love TJs – They have these lil chocolate bites with dates and cocoa nibs that are both healthy (for a treat) and amazing!

    • December 11, 2009 7:15 am

      Haven’t tried this either, thanks for the recommendation!

  4. December 11, 2009 5:01 am

    I’m sorry you’re having so much trouble with your diet– that sucks 😦

    But your tuna and broccoli slaw dish looks delicious!

    Um, that “hair in the naan” thing is disgusting! I would have been very grossed out!

  5. December 11, 2009 9:07 am

    Hey thanks for checking out my blog!

    How funny . . . I had Broccoli Slaw for dinner last night too! :-)Love that stuff.

    I have to check out your blog more but wowswers on the all the elimiation foods you have to go through. I am gluten free, dairy free and a vegetarian . . . I do eat eggs though. Ideally I know there is more I should be avoiding but the gluten was the hardest so I am sticking with that!

    Hope you can find some foods you like. Have you tried Quinoa yet? Made in a rice cooker it’s full proof . . . and spaghetti squashed cooked in a slow cooker is da bomb! 🙂

    And yes EVERY Trader Joes is crowded!

    • December 11, 2009 2:11 pm

      Thanks for the comment! I do love quinoa but for now I am supposed to stay away from it and then slowly reintroduce things to see what the problem might be.

  6. December 11, 2009 3:31 pm

    I love love LOVE TJs! sometimes I wonder if people think I’m sponsored by them, as A LOT of things on my blog is from there. I agree with 90% of your list, to which I would add an eggplant garlic Bulgarian spread, at of their Spaghetti sauces, dried mangos, and these sesame ww crackers that I used to eat before I went GF.

    • December 11, 2009 8:57 pm

      I have to try this eggplant spread that you and Sana mentioned!

  7. Lynn at The Actors Diet permalink
    December 11, 2009 4:03 pm

    TJ’s is the best. Some of my regulars are:

    fresh and frozen fruit/veggies
    greek yogurt
    fat-free multigrain bread
    meatless meatballs
    frozen egg rolls
    pizza dough

    gosh….there is just so many more on the lists! i love shopping there.

    • December 11, 2009 8:58 pm

      You are right! I forgot to add the TJ’s 0% Greek Yogurt, it is so delicious good.

  8. December 13, 2009 10:10 am

    I like their frozen fish and shrimp – you can even get them already marinated.

    And their canned spreads – perfect for parties.

  9. December 14, 2009 9:40 am

    OH I love TJ’s.

    We seem to go there in waves..and stock up. I am needing another loot run and will be getting a bunch of teas, (they have the most auromatic teas) and wasabi mayo…oh love that stuff..oh the the whole store is just perfect!

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