Trader Joe’s Favorites, Pt. 1

There is a heavy assumption that this is part one because I go to the Trader Joe’s by work at least twice a month, if not more since I’m always hunting for the Riced Cauliflower bowls (best easy healthy frozen meal, hands down), but also because they’re constantly adding new things and I’m constantly discovering new things. My favorites of the moment are these 10 things, in no particular order.

  • Riced Cauliflower Bowls. I was never super motivated to use the plain riced cauliflower as an actual rice substitute and I am pretty sure I am going to hell for the food waste generated by my impulse plain riced cauliflower buys that never made it to a plate, but y’all. The frozen, heat and eat Riced Cauliflower bowls are the shit. There’s a nice mix of sweet potato, cauliflower, chili paste, tahini, and tofu that makes you forget it’s not only meatless but arguably vegan. It’s my go-to frozen lunch when I’m on a relatively healthy eating kick. If I’m in the vicinty of TJ’s when I run my lunchtime errands I stop in to check if these are in stock, because they go fast.
  • Cauliflower Gnocchi. The first time I made this I followed the stovetop instructions on the package and added water to the pan before sauteing. My advice: don’t. Throw them straight on an oiled pan until browned, flip ’em, and top them with something cheesy, herby, or both (I like freshly grated parm and black pepper, cacio e pepe style).
  • Zhoug Sauce. For about a month on instagram I was spreading the zhoug gospel. Truly the spicy herby condiment of my dreams, but it feels weird merely relegating it to the condiment category. I think I may actually consider zhoug a lifestyle. Add it to the aforementioned cauliflower gnocchi, as a dip for falafel, on pita chips, etc. I’ve mixed with farro and rice as well to spice up a plainer rice + veggie + protein meal. It has a nice zippy heat to it, so if it’s a lot for you, mix with your favorite greek yogurt or sour cream to tone down the spice.
  • Cold Pressed Red Juice. I feel very Dwight Shrute about this, but my favorite juices always have beets in them. Maybe it’s the pink color (which I always forget about until I have to pee, and then it’s three alarms until I remember, beets), or maybe I just love stuff that tastes like root veggies and a little bit like dirt. Trader Joe’s as usual offers it at a price point that doesn’t make my butt clench in anxiety when I pick it up.
  • Chicken Tikka Masala. One of the best things Trader Joe’s does is their frozen food and I think their Indian offerings deserve a special shoutout for the kind of flavor they deliver for a microwaveable meal. This one is a staple – the rice is perfectly soft and the sauce is flavorful and appropriately creamy.
  • Miso Instant Ramen. This is one I’m waffling on because the flavor is fantastic but the noodle texture is more like skinny, chewy spaghetti than ramen, even the freeze-dried kind. Even so the broth is good enough that I can get over the noodle aspect.
  • Pepita Salsa. I am late to this train but oh my god. It tastes like fall and I am so sad I reached for this jar in the middle of January, and have about 9 months left til it comes back, if it comes back at all. It seems almost chunky and creamy enough to use as a pasta sauce much like the related fall harvest sauce (used with much success on ravioli), but I’m sticking to smaller grains for this. Will be eating with beans, chicken, and rice while the jar lasts.
  • Fully Cooked Pork Belly. I haven’t looked up the nutrition facts on this, so don’t tell me. Let me have this. Pork belly snobs have decried this as not flavorful enough, inauthentic, etc., but to me, for what it is, it’s a delightful and easy topper for rice bowls and ramen. (Sidenote: if you can get your hands on the Sun Noodle fresh ramen kits it’ll change your at-home ramen routine.) Like bacon, but slightly less greasy, and just better.
  • Brussels Sprouts Sauté Kit. Until I get motivated enough to break down what comprises and the ratio of the delightful lemon vinaigrette, I will keep buying this A+ saute mix made for my lazy self – flavor is great and the sprouts are already chopped and ready to go in the pan. Really, really good in a bowl of farro with the protein of your choice.
  • Roasted Red Pepper Soup. This is the ultimate ready-to-eat creamy comfort soup. I usually add seasoning to whatever creamy store-bought soup I get, namely butternut squash and any creamy root vegetable medley, but this doesn’t need anything but some cracked black pepper stirred in, and if black pepper isn’t your favorite, that’s fine too.

(Definitely not sponcon, but if anyone at Trader Joe’s wants to hit me up ever, not that they’d need to or that I hold that kind of sway, but I AM YOUR GIRL.)

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