Trader Joe’s.

Yesterday I made a rare late-night trip to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. I usually stop in about every other week to stock up on staples like Ezekiel bead and almond butter, and inevitably I end up swinging by their “new products” section to see what exciting things they’re featuring. I always end up with at least one interesting product, many of which have become staples (sunflower seed oil!). I thought that it would be fun to share some of the things I picked up this week, and my plans for them!

I was so excited to see big bins of sugar pumpkins throughout the store! Last year I must have bought a hundred of these- I don’t think I used canned pumpkin once all Fall/Winter! This year I’m going to do a mass roast, and store all of the puree in the freezer…but that is for another post. Last night I just bought three at $1.99 each, and immediately made a plan to make fresh pumpkin butter.

That plan was put into action as soon as I got home tonight. I much prefer pumpkin butter to apple butter- not that apple butter isn’t divine, but pumpkin butter has a much higher yield and spices up so darn well. Two sugar pumpkins roasted and pureed, after cooking down on the stove top, gave me a pint and two-thirds of butter. Not bad!

Yum! I actually put in a bit too much cinnamon, so it’s extra-flavorful. It isn’t as smooth as the store-bought kind, but that’s part of the charm of making it at home. We’ll just call it ‘rustic.’

I also grabbed a bottle each of Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar and Balsamic Glaze. I know that balsamic glaze is easy to make at home, as long as you keep a close eye on it, but I thought I’d cut myself a break and just buy the bottled stuff from a store I trust. It is sooo syrupy, with all of the sweetness and bold flavor of balsamic, but without that vinegar-y bite that makes my lips dry out. Perfect for drizzling over grilled veggies! The orange vinegar is also excellent, but better suited for grain salads and such because of its lighter taste and thinner consistency.

This was somewhat unnecessary, as I am fully capable of freezing my own kale, but I couldn’t resist trying it out. I haven’t actually cooked it up yet- I’m saving it for emergencies, but I have a feeling it will do well in soups and hot grain salads. I feel better knowing I have an emergency bag of frozen kale in the freezer now.

You know what I did not buy at Trader Joe’s? Apples. Because right now, we’re on apple overload- my fault for buying so many, but this has happened before and they’ve all vanished within a few days. I’m pretty sure this bin will be empty by Monday.

Brussels sprouts stalks have returned! These were another favorite item from last year that I’ve been looking forward to. Fun fact: you can marinate roast these whole! They make a unique centerpiece for dinners and parties- I’m going to give it a shot for Carolyn’s birthday if they’re still in season.

Finally, I passed these on my way to the checkout and they were screaming my name. I love seaweed salad! At $2.99 each, they were worth a try.

As soon as the kids were in bed, I dumped the dried seaweed into a bowl and covered it with some water.

It reconstitutes pretty quickly- this was after about three minutes, and the directions say to give it 10-12. Seaweed dries and reconstitutes so well, it’s about time someone came up with a bagged salad!

It comes with a dressing, so I figured I’d give it a shot, but it was honestly a little too spicy for my taste.

This would have been enough for two people as a side to some veggie sushi, but since it was just me and this was my entire dinner, I ate the whole thing. It was crunchy and umami-licious! The dressing was good, but it wasn’t what I would choose to dress a seaweed salad in. I really prefer a lighter dressing with less punch. I have the other bag of dried salad, so that’s on the to-do list for next week. Still, it’s a great option for busy nights when I don’t have enough time or hands to cook a full meal for myself!

So those are some of the things I found most interesting on my last trip to Trader Joe’s! Of course, that’s not all I bought, but most everything else was a staple of some sort, like brown basmati rice or bread. The next time I make a trip over there, I am going to type up a post about what a normal grocery store visit looks like for us- we’re pretty repetitive, generally sticking to the same great products with the occasional novelty here and there. Last night I managed to get in and out of both stores in under an hour because I tried to avoid mindless browsing. Good system!

By the way, I need to add in that I broke my fast a few days ago. I was managing fine up until Monday, when I didn’t have much time to juice. Then, on Tuesday I faced the same problem, and spent the day sucking down venti cups of herbal tea. By Wednesday morning I still hadn’t had anything but tea, and I felt like I was going to faint, so I caved and ate a handful of almonds. I have to accept that right now a juice fast doesn’t realistically fit into my lifestyle. It was frustrating, since I was doing so well, but I keep reminding myself to enjoy the place I am in now, and remember that there will always be time to do all of these things- just not all at the same time, right now.

Looking forward to this weekend- it’s going to be busy, but I am having way too much fun in my new car to care about running around in it!



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