I Love Trader Joe’s : 4 Product Reviews (+meal ideas)

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you have likely seen Trader Joe’s products scattered throughout. My love of Trader Joe’s runs deep. I love that I can walk in and find products that you can’t find anywhere else. And they’re good! And they’re good for you! And (most importantly) they’re affordable!

I thought that today I would share some old favorites and new finds with you, and then maybe you can tell me what your favorite finds are.
Love # 1 – Trader Joe’s brand Sprouted Rye Bread
Nutrition stats per slice: 60 calories, 1g fat, 130mg sodium, 7g carbs, 3g fiber, 5g protein
Grade: A+ 
This bread is an old favorite of mine. I’ve loved it since I tried it. I love the flavor of rye bread, but it is unfortunately almost never whole grain in grocery stores! So we have here a partially sprouted (partially flour) bread that’s full of fiber, protein, and flavor. I just can’t stop myself from going back for more. (And why would I want to?)
See below the second love for one of the ways I love to use it.
Love #2: Trader Joe’s Fresh Goat Cheese Medallions

Nutrition stats per 1oz. medallion: 70 calories, 6g fat, 60mg sodium, 1g carbs, 0g fiber, 5g protein
Grade: A+
If you’re familiar with goat cheese, you know that it can have a very strong flavor. I chose this product mostly because I wanted to get more goat milk based foods in my diet (apparantly it’s good for you). I am sooo glad that I bought this cheese. It is so creamy, only mildly goaty, and has a great nutrition profile. It went wonderfully on my…
Tomato, Basil, & Goat Cheese Egg Sandwich (served on Trader Joe’s Sprouted Rye Bread)

Step 1: Spread a thin layer of spreadable butter w/olive oil (or just plain butter) on both sides of two slices of bread and cook each side on a skillet.
Step 2: Spread a goat cheese medallion on one slice of the bread.
Step 3: Cook an egg over medium in the pan sprayed w/cooking spray.
Step 4: Top the goat cheese with basil leaves, tomato slices, and the egg.
Step 5: Eat up and enjoy the ecstasy in your mouth.
Love #3: Champagne Pear Vinaigrette
This dressing is pretty sweet, so if you’re not into sweet dressing, this may not be for you. The gorgonzola in the dressing adds the perfect touch to any salad. I think probably my favorite part of this dressing is that it isn’t “light,” but it is.
side salad w/champagne pear vinaigrette
Love #4: Organic Baked Tofu (Savory Flavor)
Nutrition stats per block: 150 calories, 5g fat, 540mg sodium, 13g carbs, 3g fiber, 16g protein
If you don’t like tofu, you will like this tofu. It has a thicker texture than the regular stuff and loads of flavor. It’s a little high in sodium, but well worth it to plan into your day.
I made Quinoa & Savory Tofu Salad with this delicious goodness. This meal is sort of like tabbouleh on steroids. My changes to the recipe: I lowered the oil by 1 tbsp, replaced the bell pepper with sugar snap peas, and replaced the cucumber with zucchini.
served up over a bed of romaine lettuce
This is a meal that I seriously crave every once in a while. It packs excellently for lunches and will make you the envy of your coworkers (or classmates).
So there you have it. A small selection of my Trader Joe’s food loves. Don’t forget to tell me what your favorite brands/products are.


Workbot

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I worked 12 hours shifts yesterday and today, so I’ve been working on this post in the small bits of spare time I could find between the two days.
 First, WORKOUTS:
Sunday’s WORKOUT: Circuit Strength Training
Circuit 1: 3 sets — 12 squats w/2-17.5 lb dumbbells, 10 chest flys w/2-17.5lb dumbbells, 8-10 reverse flys w/2-17.5 lb dumbbells
Circuit 2: 3 sets — 12 plie squats w/1-40lb dumbbell, 8-10 shoulder exercise featured on pbfingers w/15 lb dumbbell
Circuit 3: 3 sets — 10 bodyweight triceps dips, 12 straight-leg dead lifts w/2-20lb dumbbells, bicep curls/hammer curls/isolated curls w/2-15 lb dumbbells 
Core: 30 sit-ups on the ball, 15 stability ball jackknifes, 20 russian twists w/10lb, 15 reverse curls w/leg lift, 25 butterfly crunches, 25 side plank hip raises, 45 second each opposite foot & arm diagonal kneeling superman w/ stabilizing foot lifted, 60 second plank w/alternating and dual knee dips
Monday’s WORKOUT: 45 minutes on the “interval” setting of the elliptical (where it raises and lowers the height). I alternated between going forwards and backwards every 5 minutes and caught up on some magazines as I worked out. Sometimes it’s nice to just have a sustained cardiovascular work out and read a magazine!
As a side note – I’m hoping to start posting about the interesting studies/advice that I stumble upon in magazines and on the Internet soon.
Tuesday’s WORKOUT: Circuit Strength Training
Circuit 1: 3 sets — 10 squats w/2-25lb dumbbells, 8-10 chest press w/2-25lb dumbbells, 10 assisted pull-ups (I accidentally bruised my hand when I was setting these weights back on the rack 😦 )
Circuit 2: 3 sets — 12 plie squats w/45lb, 10 arnold presses w/2-15 lb dumbbells
Circuit 3: 3 sets — 10 bodyweight triceps dips, 12 straight-leg dead lifts w/2-20lb dumbbells, bicep curls/hammer curls/isolated curls w/2-15 lb dumbbells 
Core: 30 sit-ups on the ball, 15 stability ball jackknifes, 20 russian twists w/10lb, 15 reverse curls w/leg lift, 25 butterfly crunches, 25 side plank hip raises, 45 second each opposite foot & arm diagonal kneeling superman w/ stabilizing foot lifted, 60 second plank w/alternating and dual knee dips
As you can see, I’ve been fitting a lot of strength training into my routine lately. I think that I must be compensating for only getting 1 (or was it two?) strength sessions in last week. 
Sunday night the Mexican Quinoa was a great success! I decided to add a few more vegetables and some nutritional yeast, and I also used amaranth instead of part of the quinoa (just because I have a bunch of amaranth and it’s good for you) to make it a more complete meal:
Mexican Quinoa & Amaranth w/Black Beans and Vegetables
Ingredients:
– 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
– 1 red onion, diced
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 4 white mushrooms, chopped
– 1 ½ – 2 cups red cabbage, shredded
– 2 whole carrots, diced
– 4 campari tomatoes (or 1-2 medium tomatoes)
– 1 ½ tbsp chili powder
– 1 tbsp cumin
– sprinkling of chipotle chili powder
– sprinkling of cayenne pepper
– salt
– 3 tbsp of Nutritional Yeast
– ¾ cup red quinoa, rinsed & drained (what I had on hand, but I think that white would look prettier)
– ¼ cup amaranth (or just use 1 full cup of quinoa above)
– 2 cups water (next time I may use less b/c I ended up having to a little bit more quinoa to thicken it up)

Directions
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet w/a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add onion through carrots and sauté until tender-crisp.

2. Stir in tomatoes. Stir in chili powder through salt and combine well. Cook 30 seconds. Mix in the quinoa, amaranth, and black beans until well distributed in the dish. Add water and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 25-30 minutes. (At this point, check to make sure that the quinoa & amaranth have absorbed most of the liquid. If they haven’t, you may need to add more or try to get out some of the liquid)




3. Remove from heat and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Enjoy!


I ate this over a bed of spinach (though I think romaine may have tasted better) and with a drizzling of a simple yogurt sauce I made by combining plain yogurt and garlic powder.
It turned out to be a really great meal! It was flavorful, filling, and fulfilling. I ate it cold today and yesterday for lunch, and it was just as good as the first time around.

Coming soon: Besides the studies/advice that I’ll be translating to you all through my magazine/internet finds, you can also look forward to a new page that I will be creating with a food reference with descriptions of different foods/vegetables/fruits and their nutritional benefits. Props to my friend Ashley for inspiring this idea.