Posts Tagged ‘trader joes’

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for another WIAW. What I Ate Wednesday is a fun weekly post/blog social event started over at Peas and Crayons. If you want to follow my eats everyday, become my friend on MyFitnessPal.

This past week I found a bunch of fun new foods/drinks and I also started the new school year. Which means I’ve transitioned from “summer staples” to “school staples.” I have a lot of fun photos to share with you this week, so let’s get started.


My sister actually told me about this Arnold Palmer zero calorie drink from Arizona Iced Tea. It’s really refreshing and definitely not too sweet.


I’m a sucker for matching “lunchables.” I got the coffee tumbler from Target, and it keeps the coffee hot for quite some time. The insulated lunch bag is from Sachi.


My lunch staple for this time of year, before the weather turns cold. Fruit, salad (this version had mache, a tiny bit of sweet corn, 1/2 cup of sugar snap peas, and 3 oz rotiserie chicken) and Chobani yogurt. It keeps me full till dinner.

20120821-201643.jpg I tried The Fitnessista’s Breakfast Cookie for the first time this week, and I can say that it is the best make-ahead breakfast I’ve had. Period.  Delicious, modifiable, and packed with protein.  If you haven’t tried it yet, do it.

Next up is a fabulous food find from Trader Joe’s: Gourmet Chicken Meatballs.  I bought both flavors: sun-dried tomato, basil, provolone AND spicy buffalo style with blue cheese.   The nutrition is for the buffalo, but the sun-dried were similar (150 calories).



Tuesday’s dinner: Salad (romaine hearts, Persian cucumbers, raspberry vinaigrette), buffalo chicken meatballs, and brown rice medley.

Those who know me know that I am a coffee lover, so I was thrilled to see this can of limited edition Peaberry Kauai coffee beans at Trader Joe’s.  It says medium roast, but it’s definitely a full-bodied coffee.  A great way to start the day.


What was the best thing you’ve eaten today? This week?

  • Do you have a go-to salad idea to share?
  • Have you found any new foods?
  • What’s your favorite make-ahead breakfast?

I highly recommend joining in on the WIAW posts! Not only do you get a TON of great ideas for healthy, interesting meals, but you can make some new blogging buddies, too.


On a side note, late last year when school was ending, I was really struggling with heavy snacking in the afternoons, after school until dinner.  It was like I had a compulsion to overeat, and I set myself back every single day because not only was I eating way too many calories, but I would get really sluggish and not work out.  I had some ideas for how to tackle this, and I’m proud to say that so far this year (I’m only 2 days in, but I’m feeling confident about this), I’m not having that same issue.  Part of it is that I’m eating more at each meal (400 calories), but I’ve also changed my habits.  I get home, change, and take Sofi for a walk immediately.   Then when we get back, I clean up my lunch stuff and set up my lunch bag for the next day.  Afterward, I head straight into a workout.  And by then it’s time for dinner.  Alternately, I’ll go straight from school to workout, then come home and do the walk, clean-up, set out tomorrow’s clothes, and cook dinner routine.  The point is, I keep myself busy and don’t sit down until it’s finally time for dinner, and that makes all the difference.


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Tonight’s dish came together by looking at my refrigerator and picking out a few things that seemed to go well together.  You guys know what a fan I am of one-skillet meals, so once the idea was born, I knew just what I was going to make.  I hadn’t ever put these particular ingredients together before, but I knew I liked all of them individually, so it was sure to be a hit.  It’s fun to experiment in the kitchen – that’s how great recipes are created.

The main inspiration was the package of Trader Joe’s steamed lentils that I’d purchased months and months ago that were due to expire in a week.

If you like lentils but haven’t tried these, I highly recommend them.  They’re already cooked (steamed) and then vacuum sealed.  The expiration date is at least 6 months long, and they’re great to have on hand for quick, filling dinners.

Beyond that, I’d just done my weekly shopping at TJ’s and had picked up 4 bags of kale and some pesto chicken sausages, and after a bit of time in the skillet, it became a tasty, filling, healthy dinner.


Click on this pic for a clearer image



The first thing I did was sauteed the onions with a tiny bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes (optional).  Once they were translucent, I added the package of kale.

I’ve been loving kale for a while now, and bought 4 bags of pre-washed kale for this week alone!  I love the taste, it’s nutrient-rich, and it’s so easy to make.  (I want to look into some smoothie recipes that use kale instead of spinach – if you know of any, please let me know in the comments).

Once the kale was done, I transferred it to temporary bowl while I browned the sausage.  Since it’s already cooked, all I need to do was get a good color on each piece.

Portion Control Tip: I cut each sausage link into 7 even pieces, so that when I go to serve myself, I know that 1 link = 7 pieces.  It helps me stay on track.

Next it was time to add in the lentils, to which I added just a bit (1/4 cup?) of chicken broth, just to keep them from drying out too much.

Cooking tip: I was telling my sister how I hated to open a whole container of chicken broth just to use a tiny bit, because there was no way I would use the rest of the container in 7 days’ time.  She suggested pouring the remaining chicken broth into the ice cube tray and freezing it.  Then, I can defrost as many cubes as I need to in the skillet.  Brilliant!

Finally, I added the kale and onions back into the skillet, and let the flavors meld for a few minutes.

Within 20 minutes, dinner is ready!

I added about a tsp of parmesan cheese to the top. Delicioso!

Doesn’t that look delicious?  I think it’s the perfect meal for a chilly December night like this one. If you like lentils and kale, this will sure to be a  go-to dinner all winter long.  If you’re not staying low carb as I am, you could easily substitute pasta for the kale.  My mom makes a version of pasta and lentils that is a family favorite.

I took this last one to "show off" my dining table, which is festively decorated for the season.

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I’ve been in the mood for soup lately.  So much so that I made 10-Alarm Chili on Saturday, and a low carb version of the Michigan-Rainstorm Soup on today.  I love those two favorites, but I’d been wanting to try something with a bit more of an Asian flare.  And so I came up with this soup, Asian Soup with Shu Mai & Chili-Lime Meatballs.  (The meatballs were a bit of a last-minute addition, but they will definitely become a staple to the recipe).


Since MyFitnessPal has such a cool way of displaying the ingredients when you create your own recipe, I thought I would just show that list.  Scroll to the bottom for the “per serving” totals.

Start as you would any soup, with some olive oil and chopped onion sauteeing in the bottom of a large pot.  Then add the sauces – I used Veri Teriyaki Island and Newman’s Own Low Fat Sesame Ginger Salad Dressing. I also added black pepper and red pepper flakes, but I like things to have a bit of a kick, so omit that if you don’t like the heat.

It looks so rich, but is actually really great on calories.

Chop the bok choy. I used two packages (six baby choys).

Add chopped bok choy to onion and sauce mixture.

These are the shu mai before cooking. I added two boxes, plus 1 sauce packet to the soup.

Next add two 32-oz boxes of chicken broth with the shu mai and bok choy.

As I was waiting for the soup to come to a boil, I remember that I had two Trader Joe’s Chili Lime Chicken burgers in the fridge that I needed to use.  (I’m really trying not to waste food this year).

I am so glad they were uncooked, so that I could "re-form" them into mini meatballs!

Since they are only 150 calories per patty, I thought they’d be a nice addition to the soup.  Chili-lime can definitely be an Asian flavor, too.  Plus, I liked that they would be a low cal way to add more protein to the soup.  I had the idea that I could turn the burgers into meatballs.  And I knew that to get meatballs that don’t fall apart in this sort of a soup, you have to brown them first, so out came a mini frying pan.

Since the frying pan was small, I had to do them in two batches. These six mini meatballs were from 1 burger patty.

What a hearty helping - a little bok choy, a shu mai, and a meatball

So warm and so healthy! Yum!!

I absolutely loved this dinner.  The flavor was phenomenal and I surprised myself with just how inventive I can be.  I am proud to say that I am now what I consider a really good cook.  I can’t wait to see what other “stewoups” I come up with this season.

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Happy Monday!  Today has been the BEST!  Not only did I step on the scale and see that I lost 1.2 lbs, putting me into the next weight “decade,” but when I got to work, I got four separate compliments on my outfit!  Gotta love days that start like that, right?

I missed last week’s Friend Makin’ Monday, so I’m really excited about this one.  I love this week’s topic because I love to cook and try out new recipes.

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section at: www.alltheweigh.com so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links, as well so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers, so take a moment to write your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts.  Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

FMM: Recipe Exchange

Let’s share one or two of our favorite Fall recipes this week!  It’s always fun to mix things up in the kitchen!

The following is a “re-blog” of a recipe I originally posted back in November 2009.

Bella Cooks: Michigan Rainstorm-Inspired Soup

As the title suggests, this soup was inspired by a terrible rainstorm that we got caught in on our way to Michigan to visit my uncle for Thanksgiving in 2009.  When we got to the airport in Chicago, we rented a car and were prepared to drive 2 hours to my uncle’s house in Niles, Michigan.  We didn’t expect the bad weather and terrible holiday traffic.  These factors caused our drive time to increase to 4 hours!  We were in the car as long as we had been in the plane from California!!!  We were so tired, cranky, and hungry by the time we arrived at my uncle’s house that we were willing to eat anything.  My uncle had a great spread for us, which included a soup just like this one.  I enjoyed it so much that I decided to try to replicate it, using lower calorie ingredients.

I actually think I like my version better!

Michigan Rainstorm Inspired Soup

1 container (32 oz) Trader Joe’s Butternut Squash Soup
12 oz smoked turkey kielbasa
1 cup (dry) wild rice

garlic powder
hot sauce (I used a fire roasted chili pepper sauce from Trader Joe’s)

This recipe makes 4 huge servings.  

Nutritionals: (per serving) 316 calories, 40g carbs, 8g fat, 21g protein.


Cook rice according to package directions.  The brand I used cooks quickly, and was done in 12 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, heat the kielbasa.  I used my George Foreman grill, but you could quickly heat it in a skillet, or even in the mircowave.

Pour butternut squash soup into a medium saucepan and heat on low.  Add cooked rice and heated kielbasa.  Heat through.  Serve.

When I first tasted the warm soup, I felt it was very blah, so I started adding seasonings to it.  Feel free to add whichever flavors you enjoy. I added garlic powder, a bit of  salt, and a large amount of fire-roasted chili sauce.  It really helped to give the soup some kick, which is the way I like it.

I paired the soup with a salad of mixed greens, Persian cucumbers, and crumbled goat cheese, with a poppy seed dressing.

The rice makes the soup thick and hearty, while the kielbasa gives it smokiness (as well as some protein).  I will definitely “cook” this again.  It was super-simple and quick!  I was done in less than 15 minutes!!

Now it’s your turn to share one of your favorites! Don’t forget to go to Kenlie’s blog and link up in the comments! Happy Monday!

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My sister made this recipe last week for her family, and as I watched her make it, I knew I was going to have it this week.  I put my own spin on it, but the recipe comes directly from the Cooking with Trader Joe’s Cookbook.  I highly recommend picking one up if you don’t have one.  I’m lucky, because I just have to go next door to borrow my sister’s.  They have a few other cookbooks that look interesting, and I may pick those up eventually, because I love this one.  Simple, easy recipes with healthy ingredients.  It’s not billed as a “healthy” cookbook, but it might as well be. But enough about the cookbook, let’s get to the food!

TJ’s Turkey & Tofu Stir Fry (pg. 112 of the cookbook)
Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional Info: (using ingredients below, per serving) Calories: 272, Fat: 10.7g, Carbs: 23.7g, Fiber: 2.8g, Sugars: 2.4g, Protein: 22.3g

Ingredients (I changed it just slightly)
1/2 lb ground turkey
1 pkg (14oz) firm tofu
1 pkg (2 cups) sugar snap peas (my addition)*
3/4 container (2 cups) sliced crimini mushrooms (my addition)*
1/2 cup TJ’s General Tsao’s Stir Fry Sauce
1 TBSP reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tsp olive oil (it called for toasted sesame oil, but I didn’t have any and forgot to buy it)
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp ground ginger
2 green onions, chopped
salt & pepper to taste

*The original recipe called for frozen peas, but since I hate peas (weird, I know), I thought sugar snap peas would be a lot better.  I also added the crimini mushrooms, because I had them leftover from another recipe and I thought they’d be great.


Brown ground turkey on medium heat.  Add sugar snap peas, mushrooms, ginger, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Cut tofu into cubes.

(don’t mind the slightly dirty cutting board, those are mushroom remnants).

The ingredient that makes this dish is the General Tsao’s Stir Fry sauce.  It gives the dish a nice kick, and it’s relatively low in calories (no fat!).  I can see myself using this quite a bit in the future.

Add tofu, General Tsao’s sauce, oil, soy sauce, and cook about 5 minutes.

You can just tell it’s going to be good, can’t you?  I’m not a huge tofu eater; I like it well enough, but it’s not the first thing that I usually go for.  But in this recipe, it just works.  Since I knew I was going to be reheating this meal, I left the snap peas slightly undercooked so that they’d be perfect when I microwaved the dish later.  (I hate mushy snap peas)

The recipe also called for green onions, but I didn’t want to add those in now, for the same reason above.  So, I decided to pre-chop a whole bunch of green onions.  That way I can add them to these meals, as well as to salads, etc.

I can’t wait to try this meal this week.  As you guys know, I’m not one to eat the same meal 4 times in a row, so I kept two to eat this week and froze two for next week.  Perfect!

You could pair this meal with sticky white or brown rice, and it would be a delicious, complete meal.  Or, you can do as I am, and eat it as is for maximum protein minimum carbs.  Either way, it’s delicious, so enjoy!

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I love having big salads for my main meal, and this one is my take on a club salad.

Chicken “Club” Salad

Nutrition Info: (Makes 1 serving)  Calories: 379, Fat: 15.2g, Carb: 9.6, Fiber: 2.8, Sugars: 9g, Protein: 45.8g

5 oz chicken breast meat (I used Trader Joe’s Just Chicken, but you can use Tyson or any other chicken you prefer)
2 cups romaine & mache, mixed (or any lettuce you prefer)
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup shredded 2% cheddar
1 cup grape tomatoes
2 Tbsp light ranch dressing

Again, there are so many variations on this salad, depending on your taste and calorie budget.  I’ve made it with corn, olives, blue cheese, garbanzo beans.  I’ve used goddess dressing instead of ranch.  Obviously, the variations will change the nutrition count, so make sure you check those.  Have fun and make it your own.

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This is a great recipe for a big salad meal.  I love it, and make it all the time, with many different variations.

Asian-Inspired Chicken Salad

Nutrition Info: (Makes 1 serving) Calories: 298, Fat: 5.2g, Carb: 27.1g, Fiber: 7.3g, Sugars: 10.8g, Protein: 40.1g

5 oz chicken breast meat (I used Trader Joe’s Just Chicken, but you can use Tyson or any other chicken you prefer)
1 cup shredded cabbage
1 cup mache
~1 cup sugar snap peas
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
2 Tbsp Newman’s Own Lighten Up Low Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing

You can really add any veggies that you like to this.  I’ve added shredded iceburg, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, etc. depending on what I was in the mood for or how many carbs I was concerned about. This dressing is delicious, but I’ve also used Trader Joe’s Asian-Style Peanut Dressing with Jalapenos and Cilantro (a bit higher in calories, but out of this world good).  Experiment and make it your own.

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This meal was taken straight from the Trader Joe’s Cookbook.  I was looking for high protein, low(ish) carb ideas for my Lean &  Green meals, and my sister highly recommended it.  It’s so quick and easy that now I do, too.

Mediterranean Lentil Salad

Nutrition Info: (Serving size = 1 1/2 cups) Calories: 467, Fat: 14.3g, Carb: 59.9g, Fiber 21.3g, Sugar: 4.4g, Protein: 23.6g Makes 2 servings.

1 pkg Trader Joe’s Steamed Lentils (this is what makes it quick and easy)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice (to taste, I added more)
1 cup tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes)
1 handful Italian parsley, chopped
1 handful mint (I omitted this, because I’m not a fan of mint)
1/4 cup red onion, chopped (my addition, omit if desired)
salt and pepper to taste

There really aren’t any directions.  You just mix everything together in a bowl and enjoy.  This is a delicious side dish or a great main course.  Since I’m using it as a main dish, I made two portions, which I’m going to have over a bed of spinach leaves.

All ready to go for the week.  This is definitely the type of dish that gets better as the flavors meld together.  Quick, easy, nutritious.  Enjoy!!

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A day in the life. Or, all the things I did to avoid grading those darn essays that I need to get finished before Tuesday. (And I’d feel so much better if I went into the workweek with them finished).

Changed the sheets on the bed:

Drank lots of coffee!

(I hate that burn on the countertop, but it’s from a previous tenant).

Refereed overly passionate playing puppies.  And played with them a bit, too:

Went shopping at Trader Joe’s and Target and…

…filled the fruit bowl

…stocked the freezer (Lean Cuisine’s on sale at Target: $2 each, plus buy 4, get 1 free, so for 10 dinners, I paid $16: $1.60 each!!)

…made sure that all my favorite, healthy foods were ready for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner all week:

(Don’t worry about that overly-processed bologna-looking turkey, that’s what Lulu uses to take her daily dose of Benedryl when I run out of regular turkey).

Tweeted, blogged/commented on blogs, checked FB – basically went to all my favorite online haunts:

I even did a bunch of laundry and folded it and put it away.

But now I’ve come to the point in the day when it really is unavoidable.  I need to get to the grading:

Wish me luck.

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I had such a great weekend! It was a mix of fun and errands, nice weather and rain, indulging and counting calories.


My high school alumnae food & wine club (of which I’m the president) took a day trip to Napa to celebrate our 1st anniversary.  We hired a van service (a nice Mercedes diesel) so that we wouldn’t have to worry about driving and could just enjoy our wine.  The weather was gorgeous – a perfect fall day: just a bit cool, a slight breeze, and the colors of fall all around us.  Here are some of the best photos of the day.  (Click on any of them to make them larger, if you’d like).

Bouchon is a ridiculously popular bakery that had a line a mile long (which we waited in).  The second photo was snapped while we were waiting for the bread.

Of the 3 wines I bought, the Quackenbush Zin was my favorite of the day.

A great day of friends, memories, wine, food, and sisterhood. I’m also proud to say that I counted each and every ounce of wine and morsel of food into LoseIt, and sent my food journal to Scale Warfare this morning, flaws and all.  I’m glad I tracked each calorie, but I’m also glad that I let myself indulge and have a good time.  I need days like that, too, every once in a while.


Today I was determined to make that extra hour (the end of daylight savings time) count, and boy, did I.  I still work up at 5am (new time) and did my usual Sunday morning routine of coffee, newspaper, and playtime followed by a quick morning walk with Lulu.  I wanted to make sure to beat the rain, because as much as I love listening to the rain outside, I like to avoid being out in it, if I can.

Having said that, I decided that today was the day to fit as many errands into a hour and a half as I possibly could.  So out I went to Ace Hardware to get some light timers (now that it’s getting darker earlier, I want to make sure there are lights on for Lulu, in case I get home late. They also had the “must-have” dog lights that all the dogs at the dog park are sporting.  I didn’t want Lulu to be without, and I really do think it will be safer when we take our walks in the morning/evening this fall & winter.

Then I headed to the nursery to buy bulbs, because all the fall planting guides are telling me that between Halloween and Thanksgiving is the ideal time to get them in the ground.  The nursery had all sorts of bulbs on sale, but I got a combo of bright purple & yellow tulips, anemones, and freesias.  We’ll see how they turn out, but it will be a fun project to watch.  Because the dirt in front of my house is rock hard, my dad brought two planters over, pre-filled with dirt (he’s so good to me).

They should end up looking like this:

Then I headed to Michael’s to get a fall wreath for my front door.  I’m trying to watch my budget, and I got some good deals!
Everything I found was 70% off: the wreath was $11.99 and the flowers were $5.00.

Then I was off to Target to get the usual household items, although no matter what I go in for, I never leave without spending $70.  Am I the only one?  I also found this great water bottle, which is BPA-free, has a frozen core to keep the water cold, and the essential (for me) straw:

I went to Trader Joe’s to get my weekly salads and other veggies, and I saw another new seasonal coffee.  I mentioned on Twitter last week that I’d tried the Wintry Blend, and I LOVE it.  The addition of cloves, pepper, and other spices makes it perfect for this time of year.  Along those same lines, I thought my newest find, the gingerbread coffee, would be a budget-friendly way to have my version of a gingerbread latte.

After all the errands, I came home and tidied up a bit, did laundry, and planted the bulbs.  And after uploading a bunch of photos on Facebook and writing this blog post, I intend to spend the rest of the evening relaxing:

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