As you guys know, I've been on my trying-to-be-healthy, no-sugar-no-white-flour-no-red-meat diet for the past 10 days or so (7 lbs lost, it's slow going!) I'm trying not to care about the losing weight, and care instead about the important things; feeling better, having more energy, having a more stable mood that isn't affected or effected (depending on how one spells it in this case, and I can never get it right!) by my sugar levels, trying to make sure I don't get real diabetes since I had the gestational kind and it was miserable, etc... However, I'm not gonna lie to you guys, I CARE about the weight part! Way more than I would like to admit. But I DO feel way better and have more energy and all that other lah-di-dah stuff, so I'm trying to be happy about that for the time being. ANYHOO...
While in Durham back in the summer I made a little trip to the Chapel Hill Trader Joe's, had heard about it from friends and family for years and really, really wanted to try it. Found a lot of good stuff there and so when I got home, I searched and found out there's one in North Charlotte, so I've been going there ever since, and I luuuuvvvvv it!
For one thing, it makes it so much easier on a person like me who's trying to eat healthy and gets bored eating the same things. How many times can a person have brown rice as their side item in a week? And if you look at Walmart or Food Lion or other stores like that, they HAVE the stranger, more organic type whole-grain stuff, but it's all ridiculously overpriced. Also, I just love to use strange food ingredients, and it's the same thing with those type items. At regular grocery stores, you pay through the nose for them. So I just thought I would share some of my favorite purchases from Trader Joe's, in case anyone wants to hitch a ride with me next time I go.
First of all, I was, as I said, so sick of brown rice. Well, at Trader Joe's, they have quinoa that isn't priced ridiculously high. (Quinoa is it's own protein source, so if you're trying not to eat as much meat, like me, it's perfect. Just add veggies and you have a meal!) They also have whole wheat cous-cous, and Israeli cous-cous, which is the puffy pearl-shaped kind, and it's yummy. Aila likes to eat it one little pearl at a time! This last trip, I found "Harvest Grains Blend," which has Israeli cous-cous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans, and red quinoa. It's so good! It only takes 10-15 minutes to cook, and it has a neat kinda crunchy texture cuz it has all the different things in it. I love it.
I also found red split-lentils. I know lentils are supposed to be really good for your digestive system, but I was never a fan of them when my mom made them when I was younger. But these looked pretty, and I decided to try it. There's a recipe on the back that you can make, using chicken broth and sherry, but I skipped the sherry. I cooked them with chicken broth and leeks. (I also found frozen leeks, quite cheap, in a bag in the frozen foods section!) You thaw the leeks for a few minutes, add a little olive oil to your pan, add the leeks and sautee, add the lentils and sautee, then add chicken broth, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, and voila! They're delicious! The twins both loved them and so did I. I served them with the harvest blend stuff and it was delicious together.
Their frozen foods section is great. You can get frozen leeks (as mentioned) for cheap. Also, frozen whole green beans (they call them haricots vert cuz they're being all french and fancy and whatnot!) And something else I love, something they call "melange a trois" which is just a kinky way of saying it's green, orange, and red peppers cut up and frozen. If you wanna give ANYTHING flavor, throw some melange a trois and some frozen leeks in with it. It makes everything better and more flavorful.
They have all the sauces I love really cheap. Mango chutney I LOVE and it cost a small fortune in a regular store. It's a couple of dollars at TJ's! Throw that stuff on some chicken and bake it, and YUM! Also, Thai sweet chili sauce, and Thai Lemon Curry sauce (the babies loved that on whole wheat pasta with some veggies mixed in.) All kinds of interesting sauces to add kick to whatever you're making.
Then there's the boxed stuff. Their "Joe's O's" which are just Cheerios really, are 1.99 a box. They have a selection of fruit/cereal bars called "A Blueberry Walked Into A Bar" or "A Strawberry Walked Into A Bar" or whatever fruit the bar is made of, they have about 5 flavors. Dalton and the babies eat them every day. They're low fat, made with organic grains, and they're only 2 bucks a box, cheaper than Nutri-grain bars at Walmart.
Brenna's favorites are the spinach-artichoke dip, the mediterranean hummus, and the multi-grain crackers. I particularly love the greek yogurt, the asparagus/mushroom stir fry, and the sesame sticks. And Dalton loves their crumpets, which he of course discovered and freaked out about cuz he's all into London and stuff, and he thinks eating crumpets make him British.
The bananas are always 19 cents a pound, unless you get the organic ones, which are 29 cents a pound. You can't beat that!
So anyway, that's my little free advertisement for Trader Joe's. I have kinda fallen in love with that place. Also, the cashiers there are pretty funny. One told me the other day that at night, when I crave chocolate, if I eat baby carrots, the sweetness will make me stop craving chocolate. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!! That was the best joke I've heard in weeks!