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My first visit to Trader Joe’s

In my previous post, I mentioned that a Trader Joe’s store has finally come to Kentucky!

Well, there was no way I was going on opening day or even the weekend because I knew it would be crazy busy. I went today around 4:00 and while the parking lot was crowded and there were plenty of people in the store, it was easy to get around and I didn’t have to wait in line but for a few minutes to check out. I went up and down every aisle and was there less than an hour. Score!

So what did I get?

  • Diet root beer (6-pack)
  • Roasted veggie no cheese pizza
  • Strawberry and peach soy yogurt
  • Non dairy creamer (for Josh)
  • Edamame with red chile and garlic (so excited to try this!)
  • Frozen veg panang curry with rice
  • Chipotle pepper hummus
  • Tempeh
  • Veg soy chorizo
  • Masala veggie burgers (4-pack)
  • Twin pack of sprouted tofu

Now for the really shocking part. How much did all of this cost me? I would have expected much more than $26!!!

Granted, I only got stuff for me this time and didn’t happen to need any produce but I still can’t imagine ever spending more than $50 here in a single trip. I would bet that the same stuff above at Whole Foods or another grocery store would have run me more like $40. I was happy.

A couple of things worth noting: the roasted vegetable pizza was the most expensive thing on my receipt at $4.29. The Amy’s roasted veggie pizza I usually buy which is almost identical is $6.49 and that’s at Kroger where it seems to be the cheapest. On the down side, I didn’t realize it until I got home and drank one that the Hansen’s diet soda contains Splenda. Stevia is the only “artificial” sweetener I like to use but I guess even that has some drawbacks. Still, I won’t buy those diet root beers again.

I wasn’t going to but since I was already there, I decided I might as well stop into the wine shop and see what was up. It was really small but they had a great selection, many “Available only at Trader Joe’s” wines and while they did have an expensive section, most were well under $10. I decided it was time I met this Chuck guy everyone talks about.

I got the two above bottles plus a nifty little Trader Joe’s wine carrying bag for $7. Yep, I guess that’s why they call it Two Buck Chuck. I tried half a glass of Shiraz tonight and it was just as tasty as one I would have paid a lot more than $2.99 for. I foresee some Christmas presents coming ;)

A lot of my friend’s don’t get the hype over TJ’s and think the last thing Louisville needs is another grocery store and another store on Shelbyville Road at that — the place is already known for horrific traffic at certain times of the day. Also, a few friends were turned off by the packaging of produce — many items are already placed in plastic containers or bags. I can see their point, but at the same time, having exactly 1 lb of organic grapes in a container seems like a time and cost-saver to me.

I found a couple of articles about the store to be really interesting. First, The Best and Worst Products at Trader Joe’s  — I need to go back for the falafel and veggie burritos, definitely! Another, a local article entitled Seven Things That Make Trader Joe’s Different, pointed out some things about this store I can really appreciate. No sales, no coupons. You will always know how much everything costs and how much you would spend. I can dig that.

What do you think? Do you have a Trader Joe’s in your area? What do you like/dislike about it?

Pumpkin Gnocchi

Yes, more pumpkin! I’m glad you liked my Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins post from yesterday. Around here, it’s going to be all pumpkin, all the time. At least for a little while ;-)

For dinner on Thursday, I decided to try a new type of gnocchi (thanks to Matt’s post from earlier that day).

‘Tis the season!

I was really excited when I found this at World Market, the same place I found my Pumpkin Spice Coffee!

The first time I had gnocchi, I tried the Whole Wheat version and enjoyed that. I was super excited to see a pumpkin version but I wondered how it would taste, since most of my pumpkin consumption is in the form of sweets or oatmeal.

I cooked the package as directed and used this pasta sauce that I believe I purchased at Whole Foods (don’t quote me):

I mixed it with the last of these Boca crumbles which had been in my freezer forever. It feels so good to use stuff up, doesn’t it?

All together! It doesn’t look like much but this really filled me up and I didn’t want to stuff myself anyway because I went to a Body Pump class about an hour after dinner! :)

I believe the sauce might have taken away from the taste of the gnocchi but the sauce itself was delicious. I wanted to get pumpkin sauce to go with it but most of the ones I saw contained dairy. However, I did take a bite of one without sauce on it and the pumpkin flavor was still very subtle.

This was a good, healthy meal and very tasty but I think in the future, I will stick with the whole wheat gnocchi. Or perhaps I will try my hand at making some myself?

 What products have you tried recently that left you just slightly disappointed?

Making vegan pizza

At our Wednesday night potluck this week, it was my turn to bring the main dish and I finally made something I’d been wanting to make since I went vegan…pizza!

I started off with a store bought organic whole wheat crust from Whole Foods.

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I brushed each crust with a little extra virgin olive oil and spread it with tomato sauce sprinkled with garlic and oregano.

Then I started adding the toppings, including this meatless pepperoni:

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And Daiya cheese, which is all the rage in the vegan realm right now!

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Veggie toppings (all organic) included: mushrooms, green peppers, onion, olives…I think that was it. ;)

Before going into the oven!

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I baked each pizza (at 400 degrees) for about 17 minutes to melt the cheese and when the edges of the crust were crispy.

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Before I went home to start making the pizza, I stopped at the store to get some supplies in order to transport them to my friend’s house.

One fit into this cake carrier perfectly, best idea ever!

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And the other one stayed on the baking sheet and got wrapped with this, another very cool invention.

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Finally, served for dinner, alongside some romaine salad.

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It tasted great! The veggies were firm, the faux pepperoni was crisp, and the cheese tasted very cheesy! My only disappointment was that the crust did not get as firm as I would’ve liked. The edges were crunchy but the rest of it was still rather soft.

But everyone really seemed to like it. Between the 5 of us girls, both pizzas disappeared!

I highly recommend the Daiya cheese. It’s not quite the same, but it does have a very cheesy taste and it melts really well, unlike some other non-dairy cheeses on the market.

I can’t wait to use it in lasagna and some other recipes soon!

30 Whole Days – Day 1

In my last post, I discussed how I have decided to go forward with a 30 day whole foods challenge started by Happy Herbivore.

As I was preparing for this challenge, I couldn’t help but think it’s amazing how much my personal food philosophy has changed over the years.

I first got “healthy” in 2007 by making lots of lifestyle changes (drinking water, cutting out fast food, exercising, etc.) and lost a lot of weight in the process. But it wasn’t until later that I learned about things like artificial sweeteners, which prompted me to switch to a “crap free” approach to eating.

Then in late 2009, I decided to give vegan a shot after going back and forth with vegetarianism for over a year and now here I am. This challenge is just a reminder that I need to eat whole foods and not rely on processed stuff, no matter what my diet preferences.

I feel like the first day went really well!

For breakfast, I had oats (cooked with unsweetened rice milk) with banana and Krema natural peanut butter (which is made of just peanuts).

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Then I went out and did some shopping with my mom where I enjoyed a black Starbucks coffee (which I haven’t done in a while—I’d gotten hooked on their soy milk).

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I didn’t feel the need for a snack so I just ate lunch when I got hungry. I made some leftover vegetarian baked beans poured on top of a sweet potato and some leftover green beans.

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And later, I snacked on an organic Pink Lady apple before heading to a Derby party.

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I was a little nervous about the party food, but I have to say this challenge has given me more will power, at least today!

I snacked on lots of veggies with salsa and some fruit.

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And since everyone else was eating BBQ and chicken salad, I brought my own black bean burger which I laid on top of salad greens and topped with more salsa :)

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While the salsa was technically processed, it was all natural and was a lot better choice than some of the other dips or dressings I could’ve used.

I snacked on a few banana slices and carrots while we were there. One thing I didn’t plan on was the one cup of Coke Zero I had. But I think I’m getting over it – my stomach got upset and I got a headache after I drank it. Hmm…I had water the rest of the time!

When I got home later tonight, I felt hungry and knew I was low on grains for the day, so I had a small cup of oatmeal with peanut butter and some peppermint tea.

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I’m sure I am going to face more challenges, but one day in I have to say: so far, so good.

Guess who?

Hellooooooo!

Thanks so much you lovely people who left comments on my last post. I’m so glad I took a break for myself because I really, really learned a lot about stress the past week or so. I feel like I’m breaking some new ground :)

I’m not back 100% yet but I had such a good night that I couldn’t help but want to share it with you guys. First, a new vino!

I picked up this Bubo Pinot Grigio at Whole Foods yesterday along with a red of another brand I will try at a later date. I love trying new wines and this one stood out to me because of the cute owl on the label.

Did you know that “Bubo” means “owl” in Latin? ;-)

I tend to prefer reds over whites because I don’t like anything real sweet, but this one wasn’t at all. And it also wasn’t as “strong” like a chardonnay. I’m no wine expert so I hope my little “review” made sense!

For dinner, I made roasted chickpeas, mixed veggies and this whole wheat couscous. It does exist!!

I love couscous but one of the things that bothered me was the low fiber and not being a “whole grain” so I’m glad to have found this variety. It packs several grams of fiber and protein. Woo hoo!


Since I had a gift card to use at Whole Foods, I decided to try a new dessert as a celebration for finding my happy balance and a pre-celebration for the half marathon on Saturday!


When I still ate dairy, one of my favorite flavors of ice cream was coffee, so I was hoping this would be a good replacement!


And it was! :)

The best part about last night was that I felt totally in tune with my body. I waited to eat dinner until I was hungry (even though I hadn’t had anything in five hours), I only had one glass of wine and one serving of ice cream. It was all I needed and my full stomach and happy heart let me know.

It’s amazing how when I’m not incredibly stressed out, bored, tired, etc. I don’t “need” that second glass or cup. Instead, I treated myself to a nice hot bath with relaxing music.

Looking forward to more nights like this!

Day 24.2: Fall flavors

I ended up going to Whole Foods, Valu Market and Kroger before my grocery shopping extravaganza was finished! I went a little over my budget (which was $40) but I splurged on a couple of seasonal items :)

This is why I love Fall!

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There is also a “Nog” flavor that I will be getting closer to Christmas time.

I’ve been on the search for pumpkin butter for a while too and I finally found this little gem, which just happens to be local (from Hazard, KY) which makes it that much better!

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These apples were no splurge, I got 3 lbs for $1.50!

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When I got home, I was starving for lunch, so I had some leftover Vegan Refried Bean Cakes that I turned into a wrap when I topped them with salsa on a tortilla.

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Then I had some carrots and hummus on the side to round out my meal. I really enjoyed this!

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After shopping at all those places, I think I want to try and get more stuff from Whole Foods next time. They had a lot of winter squash on sale and also avocados for $1 each! I passed those up this time, but I did find peanut butter for $1.79, a new kind of hummus to try and of course the Silk Pumpkin Spice. I will be using that in my coffee tomorrow morning!

There were a lot of things that were more expensive though, like bread, lunchmeat, etc. that I buy for Josh so I doubt I will ever do all of my shopping there but maybe when we have a bigger budget.

I actually found some really great things at Valu Market, especially produce! So I think next week I may try to do Whole Foods + Valu only, we’ll see.

It’s time to go be crazy with Courtney at the Halloween stores!

Hope you have a wonderful day :)

The Fresh Market

For some reason, I always forget that I have a Fresh Market store near me. In fact, it is so close, that I could walk there (its somewhere between 1-2 miles away). Hmm…

On Thursday, I had a little time to kill before I met my friend for dinner. And since I am a self-professed foodie now, I spend most of my free time walking around grocery stores or the grocery section of stores like Target and Walmart!

I thought of Fresh Market because I hadn’t been there in a while and I’d heard they had Barney Butter, which is huge on the blogs these days. My parents go there every so often because they have pre-made foods like stuffed chicken breasts and chopped veggies, that are easy to throw in the oven or on the grill and include the directions!

I had avoided it because I had this impression in my mind that it was more expensive than Whole Foods or the other places I shopped. I was so wrong! At least with most of the products anyway. Some things there were more, but not by much.

Here’s what I walked out with:

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I had remembered reading about Ryvita crackers on another blog and wouldn’t you know…this whole box was only $1.83! Cheaper than my normal Wasa. I’m excited to try these!

And, oh my gosh, I found The Bee’s Knees from Peanut Butter & Co! I have wanted to try this one for a while after hearing a good testimony from a friend of mine. You can find this one at my Whole Foods but its $5.99; this baby from Fresh Market was $4.49, woo hoo! Let’s hope it is what it claims to be ;-)

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What’s this?! Honest Foods products?! Whoa…I still haven’t located the granola planks I’ve been searching for forever, but I did pick up these two whole grain country squares in Cran Lemon Zest and Apple Ginger Spice. While I’m really excited about these, there was a blank spot where Choco-Peanut Butter ones used to be :( Hopefully they’ll get restocked! These were $2.29 each, which is a big high, but I’ve wanted to try them for a while so we’ll see if its worth it!

And lastly, I’ve been craving hot cocoa at night and haven’t sat down to do some research on the healthiest kind yet (which I would want to be free of most artificial sweeteners and partially hydrogenated fats, which most boxed mixes have one or both) and I stumbled onto this little packet:

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Ghirardelli Double chocolate hot cocoa powder…just needs to be mixed with 6 ounces (or 3/4 cup) of milk and you’re set. It does contain some funky ingredients, but not partially hydrogenated, aspartame or sucralose, which are my big no-nos to myself. So I’ll give it a try!

I grazed through the milk and yogurt aisle and what did my eyes see?! My beloved Fage and CHOBANI! I have found Chobani at Meijer but it was only the peach and blueberry. Fresh Market was fully stocked with all flavors, so I will be going back to get some plain and vanilla, yes :) Their yogurt selection is pretty reasonable, about the same price-wise as Whole Foods, except Fage is about 10 cents more there.

I’m just glad because this place is actually more convenient to me than Whole Foods so I will be coming here to get my yogurt stash from now on I think.

Well, I hope you all enjoyed seeing my shopping experience, I sure enjoyed being there and I will definitely be going back soon! What a great excuse to get out for a walk and vice-versa.

Stay tuned for a mini-marathon recap coming soon…

What a relief

After my easy workout yesterday and a great night’s sleep, I have NO PAIN today. Whatever it was that was bothering my leg and/or hips is completely gone. I told the husband last night when we went to bed that if I woke up in a lot of pain, it was time to get a new matress, haha. Guess that scared it off?

The Fage + Pumpkin + Almonds combo ended up being a really good snack yesterday afternoon, which I knew it would be…

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Unfortunately, I got hungry for this at 1:00, so I was aching for another snack come 4. And also having a strange craving for some artificially sweetened cherry bubbles…

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The bar was good, hadn’t had one of these in a while! But the diet wild cherry pepsi was BLECH! I used to LOVE these and while it tasted okay, it didn’t sit well with me. I’m pretty sure I got whatever that was out of my system. I will only compromise once in a blue moon for some Coke Zero. Everything else is crap ;-)

I stopped at Whole Foods on the way home to pick up some much needed yogurt stash and some ingredients for the salad I made for girl’s night. My husband texted me while I was there asking for ketchup and cheese slices. I don’t think he realized I was at Whole Foods because he made a face when he saw “organic” cheese and 365 tomato ketchup in the fridge, haha. But once he tried them, he had no complaints. Plus, the price was pretty much the same as it would’ve been at Kroger. I’m thinking of switching over more purchases to WF. Hmm…

Here’s my stash!

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Ooh, I forgot about the Luna “cookie” and another package of Spirutein! I love the Chocolate PB stuff, can you tell?

Produce stash!

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Whole Foods has 3 lb bag of apples on sale for $1.99! And the Annie’s dressing was $2.50 :)

While putting away groceries and making my salad, I got hungry AGAIN, so I had a spoonful of PB to hold me over.

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And now the beautiful, colorful salad!

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This huge bowl contained:

  • 3-4 cups of spinach
  • 2/3 of large cucumber (from above picture)
  • Handful of mini carrots, chopped
  • 1 Braeburn apple, cored and chopped
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 2 tbsp Annie’s light honey mustard vinaigrette dressing

I had some spinach left over which is good because I want to make another salad tomorrow night (we’re having pizza takeout from Papa Murphy’s) and perhaps a green monster is in the works too? ;-)

Now for the rest of dinner…Beth made a really tasty tuna-pasta salad, Court provided carrots and “spicy” Sabra hummus, and then my salad.

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Oops, the flash kind of bleached out the tuna salad and hummus :(

For dessert, Margie, or Marge-Dog as we love to call her, brought some brownies she made, YUM! I hadn’t had a brownie in a while and this really hit the spot :)

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I ended up going back for another 1/2, plus some Peppermint tea, and a few handfuls of these bad boys:

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I <3 Jelly Beans!

When I got to the point where I felt like I might be overdoing it, I chugged some water and popped in a piece of minty gum. Works every time! Almost…hehe.

Hope everyone enjoyed their Wednesday, thank God its almost Friday!

Off to my last Anatomy & Physiology class, finals next week, ahhh!! ;-)

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