Friday, January 06, 2006

Canvas Bag

I hate those annoying paper bags from TJs because I don't like having to fold them up and put them in the recycling bin where they take up all the space. And the handles usually break. I do use those really bad for the environment plactic bags to take my lunch to work, but they pile up. I have enough to take 30 million lunches to work.

Then one day I spotted the Trader Joe's Canvas Bag hanging up near the register. I'm a huge register buyer. Even though I know that stuff right by the register is aimed specifically at people like me, who like making impulse purchases. I actually have begun to think of the impulse purchase area as a wonderful place for the store to put merchandise that they so kindly have decided to remind me to purchase. Because they are usually right. I do need those AAA batteries (thank you Home Depot), I do need that bleach pen (thank you Target), I do need canvas bags for my groceries to reduce my overdependence on plastic bags (thank you Trader Joe's).

I bought the canvas bags for a couple of reasons. Okay I like that I'm doing my really really really tiny part to help the environment (although according to a special that I saw on 20/20, the fact that we are running out of landfill space is a myth... discuss). I like that I don't have to deal with millions of plastic bags anymore. I love that I don't have to stop the Trader Joe's employees from putting my groceries in the hated paper bags.

I also read somewhere about how Europeans go to the grocery store way more frequently than Americans, and they get fresh wonderful food, making them wonderfully impossibly thin. So yes some strange part of me think that by going to the grocery store three times a week and eating fresh wonderful food, I will be impossibly thin and healthy and European. Oh but back to the bags, I only bought three so that forces me to go for smaller trips, more frequently, more European, more wonderful.

And finally, I always hated getting back from Trader Joe's with eight bags that I had to drag up to the house. Now that I do go more frequently (usually twice a week) its much more pleasant dragging three canvas bags upstairs.

Cost: $3.99 each

On Bag: Trader Joe's A Unique Grocery Store (come on that's cute)

Location: Usually hanging right near the register, near that bell that the employees sometimes ring and I'm never really sure why.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

About The Blog (And A Little Legal Disclaimer Too)

I just wanted to take a moment to say I'm not affiliated with Trader Joe's at all. Really I'm just doing this blog because (in no particular order)
  • there's nothing that good on TV, even though I just upgraded my cable to add Showtime and Starz (yes I do have a DVR but DVRs don't solve the problem of the fact that there's nothing on)
  • It's about time I jumped on this whole blog bandwagon. There was this guy at my work in 2000 that was posting stories and pictures about his vacations on his web log. I mocked him endlessly. I bet he's making millions from his stupid travel blog.
  • A Trader Joes just opened up in West Hartford, where my parents live. I tried to explain to them how magical Trader Joes was, but I think a blog is a much better way to go into great detail that probably they aren't even interested in.
  • Me and my friends always talk about how much we love Trader Joes. I just thought it was time to let the world know about our weird passion.
  • I tried to do a blog on TV shows that people should watch or a blog about Target or a blog about beauty products that I love but none of those really took off.
  • I like the idea of sharing my "Heating Up Cooking Concept (TM)" with everyone. Keep watching this blog for a video of my upcoming cooking show "Heating Up Food From TJs" if I can convince Paul to be my camera man.
Okay but back to the main point of this post, that I'm not affiliated with Trader Joe's. I really really really hope they don't get mad at me for doing this blog, I guess the only thing they could get mad at is that I'm publishing pictures of their food and their package copy (help me out here Aunt Marlene)? Well they shouldn't get mad because this is free publicity right?

So go visit so that they don't get mad at me. Plus you can learn more about their produts, find locations near you and download a copy of the latest Fearless Flyer.

Pear Halves

TJs Pear Halves (or Peach Halves) are pretty awesome, mostly because if you have some in your fridge, you always have some fruit to snack on. Fruit seems to disappear all the time in my apartment, mostly because it goes bad so quickly and therefore we feel compelled to eat it. And it's yummy. So I love the fruit in jars concept because it keeps so well (I couldn't even find an expiration date on the pear halves jar that's just awesome although some people would say that's just sketchy).

I usually take two or three halves and add them to TJs Greek Yogurt with a little sugar. With the peach slices, I like to just eat them with a little whip cream on top. You can also add the peach slices to cereal and the pear slices to oatmeal, yummy. I've never added them to salads, like the back of the jar suggests, but I guess you could make a pear, gorgonzola, walnut salad pretty easily. I think I might try that next time I buy the pears (these pears are almost gone, can you tell in the photo?)

Oh for the day that all fruit can be suspended in liquid and kept for a very very very long time! Actually one more thing about TJs Fruit In Jar Foods - the syrup is white grape juice and very light. Alot of Fruit In Jars have a very heavy syrup which even if you drain it off of the fruit when you take it out, still manages to make the fruit taste kind of funny and syrupy. Plus I think the white grape fruit juice manages to lower the calories a bit, but that's really an unconfirmed thought and I'm too tired to google it to confirm it.

Cost: $3.29 per jar

Nutrition Facts:
Serving Size: 1/2 Cup
Calories: 70
Sugars: 12g

Back Of Jar:
Trader Joe’s Pear Halves in white grape juice are grown in the region of Valencia, Spain. The warm Mediterranean Sea produces sweet, flavorful pears. Use them as a topping on your favorite desserts, such as ice cream or yogurt, or add them to salads.

Store Location: In the canned food aisle, near the sugar

Organic Sugar

I'm sure the fact that TJs Organic Sugar is labeled organic helps TJs sell a billion units to all the people that love organic food. But I have a little secret, I don't really care all that much if my food is organic or not. Actually anyone who knows me and knows what I eat is usually suprised that I shop at TJs because it is known for great organic foods (although I think technically Whole Foods really deserves that honor... god I hate that place but that's another story). I'm not known for eating really healthy foods... I just eat whatever is tastiest and quickest.

If it happens to be organic, that's cool, although again I have to admit that I still don't really know what the benefit of organic food is to regular food. Or really care, because sure, if I really cared I could google it and find out but I just don't care. I'm the type of person who doesn't usually wash her fruit before eating it. I know its gross but remember, tasty and quick, that's my food mantra.

It's the package that makes TJs Organic Sugar the best sugar in the world. I love the little bag that it comes in. It seals up really nice much better than regular ziploc. Plus the bottom is awesome so it doesn't tip over and make a mess. I threw away my special plastic containers that I used to package sugar in because of the awesomeness of the TJs Organic Sugar packaging. I've also really found a lot of great luck with keeping my TJs Organic Brown Sugar nice and soft and everyone knows how problematic brown sugar can be (damn you to hell brown sugar).

TJs Organic Sugar tastes pretty good, although I have to say that all sugar pretty much tastes the same. Plus I really only use sugar to sweeten my yogurt and the occasional cup of tea, so I can't comment on the baking properties, since I'm no baker (although ironically I did do that for a summer job in college, that goes in the "what the heck was I thinking" category).

Cost: $2.49 ($2.99 for the Organic Brown Sugar)

Nutritional Facts:
Serv. Sive: 1 Tsp
Calories: 15
Sugars: 4g

Back of Package:
Trader Joe’s Organic Sugar contains only one ingredient: pure, natural, organic evaporated can juice. Grown on sustainable sugar farms and plantations in Paraguay, the sugar cane is cut by hand, then delivered to a facility where the juice is extracted from the cane. The evaporation process produces perfect sugar crystals, rich in flavor and molasses. Certified Organic and Kosher, Trader Joe’s Organic Sugar is wholesome sweetener you can feel good about.

Store Location: In the canned food aisle, near the pear halves

Greek Style Plain Yogurt

I've always been a pretty big fan of yogurt, but I've never liked those fruit on the bottom or fruit mixed in yogurts. They always tasted really sweet to me and this was way before our current hate-affair with sugar. My mom invented her own home-made yogurts by mixing plain yogurt, sliced bananas and sugar. I liked this concoction better than the premade yogurts but it always turned out a little soupy to me, regular plain yogurt was just too thin.

Then my friend Cassandra introduced me to the magic that is TJs Greek yogurt. When she described it to me ("its like yogurt with the thicker consistency of sour cream") I knew I would love it, it's that thicker yogurt that I had always been dreaming of.

Trust me a little bit goes a long way. The serving size is 1 cup but I usually probably only have 1/2 a cup because its very very rich. And its pretty tangy (my boyfriend Paul makes that unhappy puckering face whenever he accidentally eats some of this yogurt, he's not a big fan) so be generous with the added sugar, fruit or honey. I like to add about three teaspoons of sugar and some fruit (usually TJs Pear Halves or Peaches since all types of other fruit always get eaten before I can remember to save them for my yogurt treat).

Growing up I actually didn't know that you were supposed to put sour cream on baked potatoes because in my house we always used plain yogurt (weird but true and by the way mom and dad I've never met anyone else who puts yogurt on their potatoes). So I use the greek yogurt on baked potatoes and dips for chips and basically anything that requires sour cream. A quick google just confirmed my thinking that the greek yogurt is a little better for you than the sour cream (1 cup of sour cream has roughly double the calories and double the fat of 1 cup of greek yogurt).

TJs has a bunch of pre-mixed flavors of Greek Yogurt that aren't actually all that bad, they are still a little too sweet for me. The fig Greek Style yogurt actually tastes pretty yummy, even though it seems a little weird. And come on how can you not love something that takes you "on a journey to the land of ancient gods and ruins?" (see: back of the container) My first official shout-out to the awesome product copy writers at TJs.

Cost: $1.99 per 16oz container

Nutritional Info:
Serving Size 1 cup (trust me that's too much)
Calories: 260
Total Fat: 20g
Sugars: 8g
Protein: 12g

Back of the container:

Ready for something a little unusual and completely delicious? Come with us on a journey to the land of ancient gods and ruins, where yogurt is a thick, creamy concoction with the consistency of sour cream. The tart flavor is similar to yogurt, but with more bit. Serve Trader Joe’s Greek Style Plain Yogurt with fresh berries or granola for breakfast, or sweeten it up with a bit of honey for a satisfying snack anytime.

Store Location: In the fridge section near the other yogurts