The Best Vegan Trader Joe’s Products

August 11, 2012

Trader Joe'sThere’s a lot to love about Trader Joe’s; not the least of which is that they carry plenty of vegan products and they’re easily identified with a “V” on the front of the package.

We’ve only had Trader Joe’s stores here in Texas for two months now, and I’ve already made three 90-mile round trips to stock up on products that I can’t get anywhere else. These are some of my favorite vegan Trader Joe’s products so far.

I’m planning to keep updating this list, and to make it easily accessible from our home page. If you have any favorite items I should check out, let me know!



  • Pretzel Slims: Everything
  • Reduced Guilt Pita Chips with Sea Salt
  • Wasabi Roasted Seaweed Snack

Pantry Staples

  • Brown Rice Medley
  • Harvest Grains
  • Diced & Fire Roasted Organic Tomatoes with Organic Green Chiles
  • Artichoke Antipasto
  • 100% Spanish Organic Extra Virgin Garlic Flavored Olive Oil
  • Almond Butter with Roasted Flaxseeds
  • Cranberry Apple Butter
  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips


  • Sliced Roasted Unsalted Almonds
  • Whole Roasted Unsalted Almonds
  • Kalamata Olive Bread


  • Dark Chocolate Nutty Bits

Refrigerated Items

  • Organic Tofu Veggie Burgers
  • This is Not a Tub of Cream Cheese
  • Chunky Olive Hummus
  • Cut and Cleaned Bag of Kale
  • Tangerine Juice
  • Reduced Fat Mayonnaise


  • Chicken-less Mandarin Orange Morsels
  • Falafel
  • Dorot Crushed Garlic


For a complete list of Trader Joe’s vegan products,
please see the guide on their web site.


Welcome to Texas, Trader Joe’s!

June 17, 2012

I couldn’t stand it.  The first Trader Joe’s store in the entire big state of Texas opened a full 48 hours ago, and I hadn’t been yet. Regardless of the parking chaos and the packed aisles, I had to go. Happy day, oh happy, happy day!

The new store is in Fort Worth, with the next location in Plano opening September 7th, and two Dallas stores scheduled for 2013 and 2014. The Fort Worth store is about an hour away for me, so 3 hours and $124 later, here is a sampling of what came home with me.


Trader Joe Frozen Entrees

All 3 of these sound incredible. The bird's nests are kale, carrot and onion.


Trader Joe Refrigerated

Lots of lunches and snacks here...


Trader Joe Pantry Items

I couldn't leave without TJ's chocolate chips (vegan but not kosher now).


Trader Joe Spreads

The olive hummus is unbelievable!


Trader Joe Seasoning

Can you believe $3.99 olive oil and $1.99 pepper?


Trader Joe Produce

These heirloom tomatoes were only $2.99 and shiitakes just $2.79.


Trader Joe Snacks

The almond butter with flax is toasty scrumptious, and just $4.99 for 16 oz.


Trader Joe Grains

The best grain blends ever. My favorite is the Brown Rice Medley, LilSis' is the Harvest Grains.



Trader Joe Bistro Salad

TJ's, you're talking my lunch love language.


Trader Joe Nutty Bits

As delicious as they sound, even to a non-sweet eater. And they're vegan!


Trader Joe Cranberry Apple Butter

I can't believe I found this again, and it's not even Christmas!


Trader Joe Chai

Chai $3.49 + Almond milk $1.69 = LOTS cheaper than Starbucks!


Trader Joe Almonds

My favorite almonds ever!


Trader Joe Hand Cream

$1.99 vegan hand cream that's awesome!


Trader Joe Lavender Dryer

Buy these!


So that’s a quick look at my first trip to the first Trader Joe’s in Texas. It’s been a LONG time coming, and the Dallas/Fort Worth area is buzzing like you can’t believe.  Welcome to Texas, Trader Joe’s! We promise that you’ll be happy that you came!


Spinach Turkey Burgers

May 25, 2012

It’s hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that Memorial Day is just a couple of days away.  In celebration of  the upcoming holiday, this weekend will be filled with family get-togethers, cookouts, relaxing by the pool with friends, picnics, and trips to the lake or the beach.

Our weekend will also include lots of pre-Senior Prom picture taking. :-)

No matter what you’re doing this weekend, I’m sure there’s some grillin’ goin’ on! What are you having? Brisket? Hot dogs? Burgers? A little bit of everything?  Instead of a traditional beef hamburger, how about trying a healthy Spinach Turkey Burger instead?

Before you poo-poo the idea as dry and boring (like most turkey burgers), hear me out!

Spinach Turkey Burger

I’m the first to admit that I love sinking my teeth into a fat, juicy, double bacon cheeseburger but, since I’m trying really hard to eat healthier, I’ve eliminated almost all beef. We may make a pot roast on a cold day or grill a nice tri-tip for a special occasion, but other than that, we aren’t eating much beef. I’m substituting turkey for beef in almost all my recipes, including spaghetti sauce and chili.

The guys had their burgers on a bun but even if I wasn’t watching my carbs, I’d still rather just eat mine on a plate with tomato and avocado on the top and on the side.

Spinach Turkey Burger

When shopping in Trader Joe’s this week, I couldn’t resist buying these gorgeous heirloom tomatoes. I got 2 pounds of a nice variety for a great price and they were the perfect addition to my Spinach Turkey Burgers.

Heirloom Tomatoes

I’ve played around for a while with different variations of turkey burgers in an attempt to come up with a tasty and juicy burger. By combining the spinach and the mushrooms with the turkey breast, these burgers stay nice and moist.

Spinach Turkey Burger

Spinach Turkey Burgers

1 1/2 lbs lean ground turkey breast
8 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed
4 oz chopped mushrooms (I used Crimini)
1 egg
1/4 c bread crumbs
1 shallot, grated
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Drizzle of olive oil
Pepper to taste
Salt to taste

Mix together in a large bowl the spinach, mushrooms, egg, bread crumbs, shallot, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce.  Add that mixture to the turkey breast and stir together with a fork just until combined.

Divide the mixture and form into patties. Before putting the patties on a plate, drizzle a little olive oil on the plate. This will keep the patties from sticking to the plate and the grill.

Grill for 4-5 minutes on each side, depending on size. Turn as soon as the burgers look white around the edges and release easily from the grill. Let rest for 5 minutes.

(Note: For 1 1/2 lbs of turkey breast, I made eight burgers, but you can make them smaller and they will cook even quicker. The most important part about grilling these is to not overcook them.)

Check back on Sunday for another healthy burger. Since this one is coming from BigSis, it’ll be vegan, of course.

No matter where you are or what you’re doing this weekend, be safe and have a Happy Memorial Day!


Friday Favorite: Trader Joe’s Roasted Seaweed Snacks

May 18, 2012

When BigSis was here in CA last month for my birthday week, we made our usual trip to Trader Joe’s. We always try to pop in so BigSis can pick up a few favorite items since there’s not a TJ’s in Texas…yet!

Yes, Texans, get ready!  Trader Joe’s is coming to Texas. There are five confirmed locations in Texas so far. The first stores will open in Fort Worth, Houston and Plano, then in Fall 2012, they’ll open in Dallas and San Antonio. (I bet BigSis is first in line when their doors open at the one in Dallas, which just so happens to be pretty close to her house.) :-)

When she was here, BigSis picked up some of these Wasabi Roasted Seaweed Snacks since she regularly buys the wasabi flavor in the Annie Chun’s brand, and loves them. I’ve tried the plain ones without the Wasabi before and even though I did like them, they smelled a little fishy so I never bought them again.

Trader Joe's Roasted Seaweed Snacks

Can you see how yummy and crispy these are? Not only are they a great snack, but this is my new favorite quick and easy, healthy lunch.

Trader Joe's Seaweed Snacks

Two or three of these simply wrapped around a half a slice of  TJ’s low sodium turkey breast makes a perfect lunch.

Trader Joe's Roasted Seaweed Snacks

Here are a couple made with TJ’s no salt Solid White Tuna.

I’ve been making these almost every day with either the tuna or the turkey, depending on what I have on hand. It’s a great alternative if you’re trying to cut back on the carbs. For vegetarians, I’ve made these wrapped around an avocado and tomato slice and they’re super good!

I’m sure I could get even more creative with these; maybe crab and avocado like a California roll? Yummy!

If you’re lucky enough to have a Trader’s nearby and you like Wasabi, pick these up on your next trip and let me know what you think.

An added bonus is that they’re only 99 cents!  And, maybe the best thing is that they satisfy our cravings for a salty crispy snack, but they are actually low in sodium at only 65 mg per serving.

(Just so you know, this is not an “paid” endorsement for Traders, I just love their products and they have great options for low sodium products!)


Super Simple Chicken Enchilada Casserole

May 5, 2012

Super Simple Chicken Enchilada Casserole

If you still haven’t decided what you’ll be making for your Cinco de Mayo dinner tonight, here’s a super simple Chicken Enchilada Casserole recipe that I make quite often for my hungry guys. And, if you happen to be hosting a party, I promise you that this one is always a crowd-pleaser.

Super Simple Chicken Enchilada Casserole

4 chicken breasts (boiled and shredded)
1 lb. grated cheese (I use a 3 cheese blend)
8 oz. sour cream
1 bottle enchilada sauce
1 pkg. corn tortillas, cut in half

Put a few spoonfuls of the sauce on the bottom of a casserole pan. Line the pan with tortillas. Mix together the sour cream, chicken, and almost all of the sauce. (Save a little sauce for later.)

Layer half of the chicken sauce mixture, then cheese, then tortillas. Finish with the last half of chicken sauce mixture, cheese, and tortillas. Drizzle the remaining enchilada sauce on the tortillas and top with more cheese.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until cheese melts.

This is one of those recipes that you can very easily adapt to your liking. I’ve added green chilies to the chicken mixture a few times and I usually put sliced black olives on the top with the cheese. You could also add chopped bell pepper, onion, or any favorite veggie to this casserole.

I got the original recipe for this casserole from Trader Joe’s years ago and it called for their canned chunk white chicken instead of the boiled chicken. So, if you don’t have the time to boil the chicken, you can use a good quality canned white chicken and it still turns out very good. I made it that way originally but my guys wanted more chicken so if I have the time, I prefer to boil and shred chicken breasts or chicken tenderloins.

Even if you don’t make it for Cinco de Mayo, this is a great everyday “go-to” chicken casserole that you can put together and have on the table in no time at all!  Serve with some chips and salsa or guacamole and a salad and you’ve got dinner!

Happy Cinco de Mayo! 


Hearty Chicken Italian Sausage Soup

October 24, 2011


(Once again, I didn’t have time to ladle any of my soup into a pretty bowl to photograph it because I had two hungry guys hovering over me with bowls and spoons in hand. One of these days, I’ll plan better so I can take photos without my guys around.)

For any of you working women or busy moms driving kids to and from activities all afternoon, here’s a super easy and healthy soup that I think your families will love.

I first got the idea for this sausage soup from a recipe I saw on the side of a Premium cracker box but I altered it so much, it doesn’t even slightly resemble the original recipe. Here’s my version.

Hearty Chicken Italian Sausage Soup

1 lb. chicken Italian sausage (I use Trader Joe’s.)
1 shallot
3 or 4 cloves of garlic (I love a lot of garlic, you can use less.)
1 tsp olive oil
32 oz. low sodium chicken broth
1 – 2 cups water (Increase amount of water if you want to increase quantity of pasta.)
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
2 c. fusilli pasta (I prefer this pasta over rotini.)
1 bag baby spinach leaves, washed

Cook sausage, shallot and garlic in olive oil in large saucepan for about 10 minutes, or until no longer pink, stirring frequently. Add the broth, the water, and the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Stir in pasta and cook 8 minutes or until tender. Stir in the beans and the spinach and cover. Let stand 5 or 10 minutes and serve with crackers or toasted baguette bread.

(Note: one thing that HayHay mentioned is that he would like this better if it had less beans. He didn’t like the texture of too many beans with the pasta and I did agree. The original recipe called for one can of beans for 1 c. of pasta but I since I used 2 c. of pasta, I used 2 cans of beans; but it wasn’t necessary. Next time, I’ll use two pounds of sausage to make it a little heartier and only one can of beans.)

Like I said, this is a super quick and easy soup, perfect for a busy week night, and my family loved it! :-)


San Diego Vacay: Last Day!

August 22, 2011

This was the first photo we took on the first day of our San Diego Vacay.

Big Sis, SisMama, and Lil Sis at Cafe Coyote

A week ago Saturday, I picked everyone up at the San Diego airport and we drove directly to Cafe Coyote in Old Town for some awesome Mexican food and cold beverages.

Sadly, our much anticipated ten day vacay flew by faster than ever…

This last morning of our ten day vacay just involved a quick breakfast, a run to a t-shirt shop for some souvenirs for friends, and a trip to Trader Joe’s so BigSis and SisMama could stock up on some things that can’t be bought in Texas; YET! *

* (TJ’s has announced that they are FINALLY opening stores in Texas very soon and one of the first will be in Dallas, so BigSis is thrilled!)

We had a great time these past ten days and did almost everything on our “wish list”; so we’re happy, but sad to say goodbye. :-(

Next stop: Reality. Back. To. Work.




Homemade Easter Chocolate Candies

April 16, 2011

Easter Chocolate Candy Box Chicks

By now, you may know that I don’t do dairy or eggs, and chances are you know some other vegans.  You may be even more likely to know someone who is lactose-intolerant, or who just finds that dairy products don’t agree with them.

What if your children can’t have most of the candy that you find for sale at Easter time?  What if they can’t have eggs?  What do you do for them to keep them from feeling left out when all the other kids are eating Cadbury eggs and hunting for colored boiled eggs? How about making some special easy homemade Easter chocolates for them or with them?

It’s a stretch for me to even say these candies are homemade, because all you really do is melt chocolate.  First, choose a chocolate that’s made without milk products; Trader Joe’s semi-sweet chocolate chips are one example.

Then, find one of these Easter candy/chocolate molds.  If you plan ahead you could order it online, but if you have a cake supply store nearby like I do, you can find one there.  Craft stores carry some of these, but you usually don’t find a very broad selection there.

I’m semi-obsessed with these molds.  You fill the little cavities with a small amount of melted chocolate or hard candy syrup, and refrigerate for an hour or so til completely set.  When you tip it upside down to unmold, you have the cutest little things ever.  I promise you people will be impressed and think you’re some kind of culinary genius, when all you did was melt chocolate and buy a $2 mold!

Easter Chocolate Candy Mold

For Easter, I chose this mold with bunnies, duckies, Easter eggs and lambs.  I like to put the chocolate chips in a glass measuring cup, and microwave them until melted, stirring every 30 seconds. It won’t take very long; less than 2 minutes usually depending on how much chocolate you’re working with at once.  I’d recommend a small amount in each batch so that it doesn’t start to cool and thicken before you get it all into the molds.

I spoon the chocolate into a plastic squeeze bottle to fill the molds, but you could just use a small spoon to do it.  When all the cavities are filled, you need to carefully smack the filled mold on the countertop to settle the chocolate into all the little nooks and crannies.  You also want any trapped air bubbles to rise to the surface.  It might take a few smacks to get the job done.

Easter Chocolate Mold Poured

After unmolding, this is what you have.  You can see that I got in too big of a hurry, and didn’t get all the air bubbles out of my candies.  No worries though!  We’re going to wrap each chocolate in a foil square, and the bubbles won’t show.

Easter Chocolate Molded

I found gold and silver 4″ foil squares at my craft store, but I’ve seen pastel-colored ones at the cake supply store that would have been even cuter.

You could sprinkle these wrapped chocolates into an Easter basket, or you could use them as little Easter gifts or party favors. Remember the origami boxes I made for the painted glass marble cross magnets?  Let’s use those to give these chocolates away.

Origami Boxes

Add some pretty paper shred or Easter grass into the box, fill with the chocolates, and voila!  You have an adorable little gift that is handmade with love, but no eggs or dairy!

Easter Chocolate Candy Box Bunnies


Cruelty-Free Shopping: 2nd Update

February 20, 2011

Animal Testing Cartoon

Back in July, LilSis and I made a commitment to ourselves and to the animals in testing labs that we would eliminate animal-tested products from our worlds.  We’ve had some easy instant successes and some challenges.

I talked about one of the biggest challenges in my first shopping update in September.  The problem?  Paper products!

I dare say most of us are UBER picky about the toilet tissue, paper towels and napkins that we buy.  I certainly am. I was completely loyal to Charmin toilet tissue, Puffs tissues, Viva paper towels and Bounty napkins…all animal tested.  Viva is a Kimberly-Clark brand, while Charmin, Puffs, and Bounty are part of the Procter & Gamble empire.

I first tried paper products from Seventh Generation; a brand that I really love because of their dedication to green cruelty-free products.  On a side note, their Free & Clear Natural 2X Concentrated Laundry Liquid is actually less expensive than Tide and is just as effective, in my opinion.  Plus it is non-toxic, biodegradable,  and is free of phosphates.

I also love their Automatic Dishwasher Gel.  I tried another natural dishwasher gel that did a horrible job.  Even after thoroughly rinsing dirty dishes, they still didn’t come clean with that product. Seventh Generation’s gel is just as effective as the animal-tested, chemical-filled products I used to use.

Now back to the paper problem.  I’m sorry to say that I didn’t fall in love with Seventh Generation’s line of paper goods.  I wanted to!  I really, really wanted to.  They were just a bit too natural, if you know what I mean.  I tried a few other natural brands and Whole Foods’ store brand, and had the same experience with them.  For me, they were just a little too rough and scratchy, and didn’t have the strength I was looking for.

I can haz TPNever fear though!  I have a solution that I’m happy about, and it comes from an unexpected source.  Did you know that Safeway products are not animal-tested?  I didn’t until I found that bit of news on PETA’s Caring Consumers site.

To my happy surprise, Safeway paper products are pretty good, and I’m now purchasing them regularly instead of experimenting with other brands.

In Texas, Safeway products are the store brand for Tom Thumb stores.  In other states, you may find them at Von’s, Genuardi’s, Carrs, Casa Ley, Dominick’s, Pak’n’Save, Randall’s, Pavilions, and Safeway stores.

If you don’t have one of these stores in your area, you might try the store brands for Trader Joe’s and Food Lion, since they are not animal-tested either.  I don’t have access to those stores, so I can’t vouch for their paper goods, but if you do, please let me know how it goes.

The bottom line for me…if I can find a more-than-ok replacement for Charmin, then this endeavor is totally doable.  Safeway is obviously not a vegan company, and they don’t have the same focus and natural-dedication as Seventh Generation and some other companies like Method.  But they do make a lot of products that give us options, and allow us to enjoy quality products without supporting animal testers like Procter & Gamble.

I just noticed that Safeway makes a duster refill that fits the Swiffer duster handle!  Swiffer is another Procter & Gamble product, so I was dreading the day that my last box of duster refills was depleted.  Worry no more, me!  Safeway to the rescue!

Animal Testing photo credit: AlBakker’s Flickr photostream

I can haz TP photo credit: ixmati’s Flickr photostream

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Light Lunch: Quick, Easy & Under 300 Calories!

January 13, 2011

Light Lunch: Tuna wrap under 300 calories

I really don’t like to count every, single calorie in every, single meal and I could never do Weight Watchers because I would never keep up with counting points. I know myself well enough to know that would last about a week.

I have a few favorite breakfasts and lunches that I stick to that I know are under or around 300 calories so that leaves me around 600 calories for dinner, if I’m trying to stay around 1200 calories. But I don’t ever really total my calories for the day, I just try to stay away from carbs at night and will usually have some kind of grilled meat and veggies for dinner.

Last year I lost a pound a week for ten weeks, just by really watching my snacking, making healthier choices, and keeping a food log. I loved my little fitbook: fitness + nutrition journal so much that I didn’t find it difficult at all to log my daily workouts and food intake.

I find it easier to stick to a plan if I only give myself a few choices; that way I don’t have to think about it so much. For breakfast every day, I have an unsweetened applesauce with cinnamon, a small glass of unsweetened almond milk and a small bowl of oatmeal or a low fat Nutri-Grain waffle. It’s quick, easy, and requires very little thought or preparation.

The same goes for lunch. I stick to just a few easy choices. This is what I had for lunch every day this week; and you know what? It’s pretty satisfying. It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s healthy. And, it’s a no-brainer.

Light Lunch: Tuna wrap under 300 caloriesI use a can of Trader Joe’s low sodium tuna fish, packed in water, then add a few squirts of fresh lemon juice, 1/2 tsp. of Vegenaise and a couple of dashes of lemon pepper.

I like using the low carb Sonoma tortillas as a wrap because they have 7 grams of fiber. Just add some romaine lettuce, top with the tuna fish and presto…it’s a perfect, satisfying, healthy, lunch, for less than 300 calories.

If you’re not crazy about tuna, you can also use canned white chicken or salmon. If I don’t have this wrap for lunch, my other favorite is a low-sodium turkey breast sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and sliced avocado on a toasted ‘everything’ bagel thin. A light, healthy lunch doesn’t have to be complicated! :-)