Posts Tagged ‘trader joe’s’

Hmm, the Holidays Taste Good

Looking for a fun thing to do with your kids, your spouse or with alcohol? My fave, Trader Joe’s is selling giant gingerbread men for $3.99 a piece. The “kit” comes with your giant gingerbread man with a tube of frosting, candy and sprinkles. I highly recommend breaking out your leftover Halloween candy though…the more candy the better. My nephews Woody and Buzz, and I had a little bit of fun last night decorating our giants, then performing surgery, then cannibalism. It would have been even more fun if I was drinking spiked egg nog but I’m still off alcohol. (7 days and counting! Woo hoo! Go sobriety!) Hope you all are having a very merry holiday season!


PSMF; Day 1

I enjoyed a stroll through Target’s beauty section today, looking for the topical and face wash of my dreams. I’m starting to think I should have gone to Ulta. Anyways, I settled on Clearasil’s new Overnight Face Wash. I have no idea why it’s different than any other face wash since it’s active ingredient (like everything else) is salicylic acid-10%. But after looking over the label it does look like it carries other ingredients, and it also promises to reduce redness and size overnight. Hmm. Sounds good, if it works that is. So I put it in my basket. Next on the list, a daytime face wash. Well since I’m not really into mix and matching products I stuck with Clearasil’s acne face wash. Nothing exciting for this boring lassie. Alright, so far so good. I’ll give these things a try and if it doesn’t do anything, or worse, makes things more unbearable I will stop being so cheap and go to the freaking makeup counter at Macy’s.

Next, a topical. I didn’t like Target’s selection, since nothing really seemed natural enough to put on my face so I headed over to my fave place, Trader Joe’s. Here I found all natural tea tree oil. I had read online that this essential oil can kill propionibacterium acnes (big words for skin dwelling bacteria that causes zits). Compared to benzoyl peroxide (which is in dermatologist’s fave-Differin), tea tree oil has fewer side effects since it’s all natural. I shouldn’t experience itching, burning, stinging or dryness. Nice. I was even more sure of my decision when my teenage cashier said “Oh! This stuff is sweeeeeeeet!” Score! A puberty stricken teenager applauding tea tree oil!? This stuff has to work.

So tonight after washing my face I opened up the bottle of (expensive) tea tree oil. Holy crap. It smells. And not like flowers. It’s like opening up a cheap bottle of vodka  and inhaling it deep into your nostrils. Gagging will ensure. I dabbed the stuff on my face while complaining to my husband that I was going to vomit, and exited the bathroom, which now reeked of the stuff, as fast as possible. I didn’t know how I was going to go to bed tonight folks. No joke. My face smells. WIth every turn, every whiff, I smell a strange, strong, potent, mixture of cheap vodka and strong tequila. This stinks. Literally. But now that I have sat here and blogged for a while, the smell is (A) either gone or (B) I can no longer smell it.

So sweet dreams ladies and gents, lets see if there’s improvement in the morning! This smell better be worth it! Good night!

Day 1 of PSMF

Gelatin Vs. Agar

I usually don’t consume gelatin or anything like that because I find it to be gross but many vegetarians, even some vegans and most every day people will eat it because it virtually is nothing. Just gelatin right? Low calories and tastes good! Well do you know what gelatin is? Gelatin happens to be a collagen in animal’s tissues, skins and bones that has been boiled and combined with acids. And it’s usually from cows and veal’s cartilage and tendons. Now what’s even nastier? Most commercial gelatin, (think Jell-O) is pig’s skin. Pretty gross right? That’s why I don’t eat it. But don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the taste. And also sometimes I need that consistency in a dessert recipe. So what can we do? What do we turn to? Agar!

Gummy Bears = Boiled Pig Skin

A lot of vegans already know about agar but for anyone who doesn’t (which is mostly everyone) it is a substitute for gelatin for recipes requiring it. What is agar?  It is a gelatin like substance derived from red algae, which is seaweed. Sound gross? It’s not. Seaweed’s consistency is actually really similar to gelatin. Almost the same as Jell-o but a bit tougher and less floppy. The Asians have been using this for years to get gelatin like desserts. I have tasted it myself and think it’s just like Jell-o. But I’ve also tried seaweed too. (My mom served us seaweed all the time growing up!)



More benefits of switching? Algae is fat free, low calories, high in calcium (more than milk), high in iron (more than eggs), and can remove radioactive and heavy metals from your system (think Mercury). So it’s pretty cool that you can have your dessert and health benefits too! Can gelatin do this? Gelatin is known for it’s protein (since it is from meat after all) so studies (although I don’t know how extensive) have shown that it can promote stronger nails and hair.

So for any ladies out there wanting to get stronger nails and hair, you could eat gelatin or you could take a multi-vitamin! You can still make signature recipes too…Agar Shots, Agar Cakes, etc. 😉

You can find agar at health stores, Trader Joe’s, or supplement shops.

I can’t believe it’s not…meat!

By request from my good friend J, I will be posting some great vegan processed foods. Yes, that is such an oxymoron but it is true. It would be great to be 100% all natural but it does get hard, and new processed foods make life that much easier. Of course since they are processed the most healthy thing to do is eat things in it’s most natural form, like grains, oats, fruits and veggies but we are human after-all and Americans! As a nation we have grown to expect certain foods as everyday normalcy’s, like chicken nuggets, hot dogs, bacon and the like. Since thats what we are used to, its nice that we can still be vegan and enjoy our food. Luckily, most vegan processed foods are significantly healthier for you than true meats and dairy.

You can find anything these days, soy sliced turkey, beef, chicken, chicken nuggets, pizza, hot dogs, butter, cheese, the works. It has not been hard for me at all, and not really expensive either! Since I am buying these things instead of real meat (which is costly by the pound) I’m really not spending more money. As for the dairy, it is slightly (I’m talking cents) more expensive, but think of your health in the long run. Dairy is a huge contributer to high and bad cholesterol numbers, and soy or nut dairy has NO cholesterol. You are saving money AND your health in the long run.

So, the big questions J has are what is out there? Where do I find it? How much is it?

I don’t know about anywhere else in the States but the most common brands I find are: Tofutti, Earth Balance, Tofurky, Amy’s, Morningstar, Boca, Annie’s, Rice Dream, Silk, and Trader Joe’s brand. There are tons more out there but these are the ones I think are most common.

I swear by Trader Joe’s. (Here in MN we have locations in Maple Grove, Minnetonka and St. Louis Park.) I luckily live by one so I frequent it enough to call it my home store. I will occasionally shop at other places but I am pretty loyal to Trader Joe’s. They so far have offered me the most and best choices of vegan food out of all the groceries store in my vicinity. They are also very reasonably priced; I have found that they have cheaper prices than Target on vegan products which makes this frugal gal pretty happy. They offer so much stuff its unbelievable. There are bars, beverages, bread, candy, cookies, cereal, dried fruits and nuts, frozen desserts, produce, nut butters and snack foods that are vegan. (They also supply lists there that you can take with you that will list the vegan products, vegetarian products, gluten-free products and low fat products.) The key is to turn around the product and look for a bolded caption underneath the ingredients that says CONTAINS blah blah blah…. Almost all products have this and it should say if something has milk or dairy in it since many people have those allergies. It will also tell you if there’s wheat in it, nuts or soy (other common allergies.) This makes life a lot easier because you don’t have to stand there and read the whole list of ingredients,you can look at that one line and it will tell you automatically if you can put it in your cart or put it back on the shelf.

I find that Trader Joe’s will carry many of the product brands I listed above, but their version is superb. It tastes good and it’s the cheapest. They also offer great variety. This is where I got my BBQ Pulled “Chicken” that my non-vegan husband liked. I also purchased “Beef” Strips and “Chicken” Strips here. My favorite thing though from the “meat” section is the chicken nuggets. They are entirely made of soy and taste just like the chicken nuggets I grew up on. And it’s only 120 calories for 4 of them! Seriously! You can eat 8 and only have consumed 240 calories! Only 4 chicken nuggets from McDonalds is over 300 calories not to mention they are bad for you.

As for the other brands, you can find them at most grocery stores. In my circumference I sometimes go to Cub Foods, Byerly’s, Target, very rarely Rainbow and never Wal-Mart. But I have gone to all these places to compare variety and prices for this post.

Cub Foods: B- They have a really rather large natural/organic foods section that is full of different brands and selections. However most of it is vegetarian friendly, not vegan friendly. Of course you can find things but you have to look. (Though it’s not very hard to look.) They offer Amy’s, Tofutti, Earth Balance, Tofurky, Morningstar, Boca, Rice Dream, Silk and others.

Byerly’s: B- The only reason why this got the same score as Cub is because they offer awesome cheese. They are called “Veggie Slices” and “Veggie Shreds” and it tastes almost identical to real cheese products. I cannot find this cheese anywhere else! Of course I haven’t traveled far, but out of all the common places I have listed, they are the only ones that have it. They have other products as well that are hard to find. Amy’s Soy  Macaroni and Cheese can be found here, and damn, this is SO good. I actually prefer this macaroni to the one’s I grew up with. It tastes almost homemade for being a frozen meal. Much tastier (and healthier) than Kraft. One icky factor? Byerly’s stuff is more expensive. And you are paying for the ambiance much more than the product. I know this because I can get Tofutti Cuties ice cream sandwiches (which taste 100% like the real thing) at Byerly’s for $4.99 or go to Trader Joe’s and get the same thing for $2.99. Come on Byerly’s! Just because your grocery store has carpet!

Target: C Target does okay. They offer organic and natural foods but very slim vegan foods. This really puts them at a disadvantage because if they offered vegan food I’d probably do ALL my shopping at Target. They do offer Silk milk (which is soy milk) for the cheapest price out of all their competitors. (Trader Joe’s soy milk is still cheaper however. But Silk has the best taste.)

Rainbow: C+ They are getting on the bandwagon. They are very much like Cub…getting more health conscious to retain their customers. They are getting better although selection is still low and unfortunately they are overpriced. Everything you find here will most likely be more expensive than at Cub or Target, unless it is on sale/special.

Wal-Mart: D Terrible, terrible, terrible! The only brand I could find was Amy’s and the selection was only 4 measly rows in the frozen section. One small perk that saved them from failing? They were cheaper.

I have mentioned some tastes and preferences above but I can go into farther detail here.

Tofutti: They offer a lot of stuff man. They first came out with just ice cream (which is SO good you can’t believe it isn’t the real thing) but now have expanded. They now also offer frozen foods, cookies, cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, and other frozen treats. I have had their cream cheese (good) and a lot of their ice cream and frozen treats. My freezer actually always has something from Tofutti in it, because my husband eats it too! Again like I have mentioned, go to Trader Joe’s if you can for this because at Byerly’s it is off the wall expensive.

Earth Balance: I use their “butter” which is very similar in taste to margarine. I have no problem with margarine’s taste so I have no problem with Earth Balance. They also offer peanut butter and other spreads like jams but I have never seen them anywhere. I can easily find the butter but never anything else. Their website says that it can also be bought at Whole Foods, which I have yet to go to.

I cannot believe it’s not butter.

Tofurky: They offer our most common “meat”, like deli slices, sausages, links, jerky, but also have pizza. I have tried the turkey deli slices (A+ in taste) and the sausages (okay…but I’ve only had the italian sausage, not the plain).

Amy’s: They have way more natural and organic food than vegan but the stuff they do have is really tasty! It’s sick how addicted I’ve become to Amy’s burritos and macaroni and cheese. Hmmm….the mac and cheese is divine and the burrito is sooo yummy. All the burrito is, is straight up pinto beans and rice. Delish! They also have a veggie burrito with black beans but isn’t my favorite. The beans and rice one reminds me most of true Mexican food. There are also lots of Amy’s products for the vegetarian or organic food eater. The brand has soups, frozen meals, pastas, burgers, kid’s meals, pizzas, breakfast, etc.

Morningstar and Boca: Both of these are mostly just meats. They carry sausages, burgers, hot dogs, sausages, breakfast sausage, and so forth. The thing to be careful about is a lot of this stuff is veggie based, not soy based so they still sneak in dairy and/or eggs. I didn’t assume this the first time I grabbed some breakfast sausage patties and then was pissed when I got home and looked at the back of the box. Tsk, tsk. That’s why now I always make it a habit to look at the ingredients before I purchase. These will probably be your best bet in meat-like burgers and offer the most variety. I did love those nasty sausages. Damn them for not being vegan. But hey, if you are going vegetarian or just looking to eat healthier, they are great!

Annie’s: Mostly organic but they offer some good vegan options. You can also find this stocked plentiful at Cub, Rainbow, Target, etc. because it’s starting to become such a common and popular brand. I feel like they offer everything under the sun: sauces, dips, soups, crackers, cereal, and so forth and so forth. The all natural Goddess dressing is amazing. The natural Caesar dressing is really good too, and much MUCH healthier than restaurant versions without losing any taste; however it isn’t vegan.

Rice Dream, Almond Breeze, Silk, and VitaSoy: All of these will substitute milk. In taste I think Silk tastes the most like cow’s milk. But truly all of them taste good as long as they are ice cold! My husband loves Almond Breeze, and he drinks the Original, Vanilla and Chocolate flavors. He even mixes it with his coffee! So what is the difference and point of rice milk, almond milk or soy milk? Well it’s all preference in my opinion. They all taste very similar, but since I already consume so much soy in my daily diet I try to drink rice or almond milk just to get a different source of protein in my body.

Of course there are normal everyday things too that you can find that will fit into your vegan lifestyle. For example I can still eat most breads/bagels, most cereals, a lot of chips and crackers, obviously all fruits and veggies and even some treats! Did you know Oreo’s are vegan? That yummy white creme center isn’t even made of dairy! It’s soy milk!! Read the ingredients yourself and be amazed! A lot of things in your pantry are probably already vegan so you don’t need to worry that once you go vegan you won’t be able to enjoy some of the foods you currently eat. I’m not saying they are necessarily healthy for you, but they do fit into the vegan diet with moderation, like everything else.

Oh, and don’t forget Veggie Slices and Veggie Shreds. It’s the cheesiest non cheese you’ve ever had.

Hope this was useful! I will be back.

You can find out more about these products or order them @:,,,,,,,,,,, and my fave,