What I buy at Trader Joe’s

Readers have been asking more and more what real food products to buy at Trader Joe’s, so I thought I’d just turn the discussion into a blog post! First of all, I don’t do all my shopping at Trader Joe’s (I get produce, dairy, and other items at Earth Fare and the farmers’ market), but I do go there every couple weeks for some staples that in some cases I can’t get anywhere else. Secondly, I know Trader Joe’s is touted as a health food store, but just like the rest of them they still sell a whole lot of (organic, gluten-free, vegan, multigrain, etc.) junk food! A reader asked me once if there was anywhere she could shop for food without having to scrutinize labels and just buy anything that’s available (while still avoiding processed food). To be honest the closest you are going to get to a place like that is the farmers’ market, and even then I still like to ask if they spray chemical pesticides or use synthetic fertilizers on their produce. So long story short, you pretty much always have to have your guard up…and that even includes shopping at Trader Joe’s!

Before I dive right into the products though I want to be sure to tell you about two of our sponsors. Our sponsors are what keep this site going for free so we really appreciate it when you send them some love. :) First there’s Real Salt that’s produced without additives, chemicals, or heat processing of any kind. Real Salt has a pinkish tint with flecks of color from more than 60 naturally occurring trace minerals. All salt is not created equal so you should definitely check them out.

I’d also like to make sure you know about Tattler’s BPA-Free Reusable Canning Lids. If you haven’t finished canning all your summer produce yet then now is the time! I canned some green tomato relish myself last weekend and it was super nice having the Tattler lids on hand because to be honest I have trouble keeping track of which Ball lids have been used before or not. :) If you want to give them a try be sure to use coupon code “100Days” for 5% off! And now back to Trader Joe’s products…

What I buy regularly at Trader Joe’s…

  • Trader Joe’s Whole-Wheat Pitas
    Finding decent bread products at the grocery store is no easy task. Most people have to go to a bakery or make it themselves in order to have 100% whole-grain bread made with only 5 or 6 ingredients, which is why I was so excited when I figured out that these Trader Joe’s pitas fit the bill. It’s so great to have an alternative to regular sandwich bread…because I like to switch things up every now and then!
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Recipe: Whole Grain Pumpkin Muffins


Pumpkin Spelt Muffins Recipe from 100 Days of Real Food

Whole Spelt Pumpkin Muffins

I finally did it. I’ve been wanting to bake with some alternative flours for some time and this weekend I finally made Pumpkin Muffins using whole spelt flour! And they are deeeelicious. We’ve definitely been missing out. The texture is much more cake-like and the flavor is milder than whole-wheat flour. And it was super easy to make the 1:1 substitution…I have no idea why I kept putting it off! I must thank our sponsor, Nature’s Legacy, for giving me the final push (i.e. a bag of spelt in the mail!) that I needed to dive right in and give it a shot.

Spelt may sound like a “new” grain, but it’s actually been around for more than 9,000 years. As I mentioned the flavor is “lighter” than wheat and even though it contains gluten, some with an intolerance to wheat find that they are able to enjoy spelt. Just like wheat though, you want to be sure to select “Whole Spelt” products as opposed to the refined (white) version. And to keep your whole spelt flour fresh, it’s best to stick it in the freezer (or fridge) along with your other whole grain flours. In addition to flour there are also other spelt products available, like pasta. To learn more about the benefits of eating whole spelt and how it differs from wheat check out this FAQ page.

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Product Review: Eco-Friendly Lunchbox Accessories

This product review is a guest post by Kiran, our Sales Manager…to learn more about Kiran check out our team page!

Whether you pack your little one’s lunch, bring a bag lunch to work yourself, or take family road trips near and far, storing snacks and other sides are an integral part of the packing process. And with messages everywhere reminding us to “go green” why not ditch the disposable baggies for some more eco-friendly choices instead? The concerns are numerous though: What’s the best material to store food in? Will the storage system leak? Will it help the food stay fresh? How easy is it to use? And at the end of the day (literally), how tough will it be to clean up?

Because I pack lunches for all four of my children, it’s important to me that the products I use are effective and not too time-consuming. And naturally we are concerned with what materials are coming in contact with our foods. Last month we looked at the lunchboxes to use; this month we’re scoping out the best in bags, tins, and other creative containers. I’ll start with an overview and then dive into the details.  Let’s take a look:

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Why are Americans so concerned about protein?

One of my daughter’s lunches that received a lot of comments about not containing enough protein: Bell pepper and carrot slices, homemade ranch dip made with sour cream, a frozen smoothie pop made with yogurt, berries, banana and spinach, and brown rice cakes (in the bag)

You may have noticed that almost every time I post one of my child’s lunches on Facebook quite a few readers leave comments such as…”Where’s the protein?” or “I personally need a lot more protein to feel full” or even “My kid wouldn’t have enough energy to get through the day if I don’t give them more protein.” All of this feedback has gotten me wondering…why is our society so concerned about protein? When and how did the notion begin that we need protein, protein, and more protein!? So here’s what I’d really like to say about protein…

Why we don’t count protein (or grams of anything for that matter)

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again…part of eating a real food diet means not counting fat grams, calories, carbs, protein, etc. You simply eat a variety of whole foods (without overeating) and the rest falls into place. Other countries outside of the U.S. routinely follow this practice and don’t obsessively add up numbers like we do. According to Karen Le Billon in her book French Kids Eat Everything, in France “Enjoyment is the goal of eating. You can’t enjoy yourself if you are … counting calories [or] keeping score of micronutrient consumption.” She also says “Variety is a happy side effect of this approach (because new foods are interesting thus making the French happy).” Continue Reading »

Why my kids don’t take vitamins

A lot of readers have been asking me lately what kind of vitamins my kids take and the answer is…none at all. Vitamins aren’t necessarily harmful or going to cause medical problems when they’re used properly, but it’s not something we personally choose to deal with (or pay for). First of all, we pretty much rely on our steady diet of whole foods (including lots of variety and plenty of produce) when it comes to getting all the vitamins and minerals we need. No one does a better job than nature when it comes to creating the perfect delivery package for the nutrients your body needs. Secondly, in Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food he indicates that those who take supplements may be “healthier for reasons having nothing to do with the pills” because in controlled studies most supplements “don’t appear to work.”

Now a lot of doctors and nutritionists do recommend taking a daily multi-vitamin, and, since you should of course take your doctor’s advice over mine, I want to share some of the better vitamin brands that are out there. My doctor recently recommended that I take a short term Vitamin D booster, based on my most recent blood results, and when I was out shopping for this vitamin I couldn’t believe how many of them are full of junky additives! Vitamins, especially for kids, are oftentimes full of artificial sweeteners, colorings, and flavorings. I’ve found that there is a bigger – and better – selection if you shop at places like Amazon.com as well as stores that are dedicated to vitamins and health like Swanson Health Products or your local Vitamin Shoppe. I’ll warn you now to just forget Target when it comes to shopping for vitamins because the choices there are pretty slim. Continue Reading »

Special Offer: Cookbook and Meal Plans from Deliciously Organic

We have some fun offers for you today from my friend Carrie with Deliciously Organic! She’s offering our readers a very special deal on her beautiful cookbook (that uses only unprocessed ingredients), a weeknight “Real Food, Real Fast” meal plan (for all those busy parents out there), as well as some fall recipes and holiday menus. There are two different packages to choose from and the details are as follows…

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