Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Trip To Trader Joe's

I'm inspired by the Fit City chat I attended Tuesday evening. It's got me totally psyched for healthy eating. At least... healthier eating. I headed out to Trader Joe's on my lunch hour on Wednesday. I thought I would just share a few bits of what I picked up. My afternoon snack- Trek Mix and Apple Yogurt. The Trek Mix is chocolate chips, peanuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, dried apples, raisins, chocolate covered raisins, sunflower seeds. 1/4 c is 200 calories (12 g fat, 13 g sugar, 2 g fiber). The yogurt is a 4 oz container and is 100 calories (3 g fat, 11 g sugar, 2 g fiber). This will be a great pre-workout snack!

One of the best things about Trader Joe's is the aisle of nuts, nut/fruit mixes, dried and freeze dried fruit, and so on. In a traditional grocery store, I'm lucky to find very over priced nuts in the baking aisle. At Trader Joe's... they are a center piece!! One thing that was brought up on that chat Tuesday evening- and that was unfamiliar to some- was the idea of freeze dried fruits. We all know that dried fruit is usually loaded with sugar so it isn't a great juice for getting the benefits of fruit. Freeze dried fruit doesn't have any added sugar. It's simply- freeze dried. It has a different texture and the flavor comes through pretty intensely. It's not something I'd play on a regular basis- but there are times they are a fun treat! One other treat to share... kumquats! Up until last year, I didn't know what kumquat was, to be honest. I'd heard of them. But hadn't ever had one and wasn't sure I'd ever even seen one. They look like tiny little oranges. See how small they are? Here's the crazy thing about a kumquat- you eat the entire thing. Just pop it in your mouth. Opposite from an orange, the kumquat peel is sweet and the inside "meat" is tart. So a kumquat is a fantastic way to satisfy that sweet and tart craving. The thing I like about Trader Joe's is that the store is smaller so it's less enticing, less distracting, less confusing. Most of the items are made without high fructose corn syrup and less preservatives and junk like that. Lots of organic choices at better prices than the bigger stores. So if I pick up some cookies, I don't feel as bad about them because they are made better than "commercial" cookies. I can buy things that my kids like- cereal bars, for example- and the ingredient list is a much better fit for the healthy lifestyle I try to lead and provide. Here's another example of how I was inspired... I have to admit that I have a really bad habit of night time snacking. Jeff and I both tend to get the kids to bed, sit down and relax, and end up grabbing some very unhealthy snacks while watching TV. Lately, my snack of choice has been pretzels and french onion dip. Not good- and I tried making myself feel better because I was using pretzels instead of potato chips! And of course, I don't measure out a portion so I'm sure I've been consuming more than the 2 TB serving size (60 cal, 5 g fat). I picked up an alternative at Trader Joe's. Pretzel slims and garlic hummus. The hummus is 50 cal and 3 g of fat- not a huge difference. But the onion dip has 2.5 g saturated fat and the hummus has none. Sodium in the dip is about double the sodium in the hummus. So tonight? I measure out 2 TB and I count out my pretzel slims. One tip that was given in the chat is to take cottage cheese, puree it in the blend (until smooth) and then add a packet of ranch seasoning or french onion and make your own dip! Other items I picked up and am very much looking forward to enjoying: identity crisis chips (gluten free, whole grain, wheat free- 140 cal in 10 chips, 7 g fat- made with corn, potato, and brown rice). These are especially good with Pineapple Salsa (2 TB, 15 cal, 0 fat). take out thali- boxed indian cuisine in microwaveable pouches. Perfect for at work. Less on the healthy scale but certainly not unhealthy. 480 calories, 16 g fat, 13 g protein, 8 g fiber. Soup- like beef & barley, carrot ginger, and sweet potato bisque. frozen foods like meatballs, chicken quesadillas, soycutash (edamame, corn, red peppers), vegetable melange kid friendly options like peaches, yogurt, fruit leather, and even some organic lollipops I'm feeling like I'm well armed to face cravings and urges and so on. I've got a little stock pile of better choices within arms reach. I've been in such a bad place with eating and lack of motivation and lack of physical activity. Not so long ago, just the idea of thinking about healthy food choices made my head swim. I felt overwhelmed by the options and choices and I felt afraid to give up the junk that brings me comfort. It feels so good to be enjoying the better choices that I am better prepared to make!

None of this post was sponsored by anyone. While I wish I was making money off this sort of thing- alas, these are just my opinions and things I happen to be getting re-excited about! Photobucket


Unknown said...

Happy Friday I too had no clue what a kumquat was but my mouth watered by you just describing it yum!

Emily said...

Liz! I love your pics with the kumquats! I saw some a few years back and took a pic JUST LIKE yours with the kumquat in my hand haha. Love how similar we are!!

Teacher Tom said...

I feel the same way about TJ's. As an added bonus the one I drive past most often is near the university so it's teeming with attractive young women. (Hey! I'm just looking!)

I've found the quality level to be uniformly good, although I'm not a big fan of their produce.

I love kumquats as well. I like to mince mine into salads. If you use 4-5 of them you don't even need to add dressing.

My strategy on snacks is to simply not keep any in the house because I pretty much finish anything in the pantry. It drives my wife and daughter crazy, but until they do some of the shopping, that's just the way it is!

Momza said...

Growing up in Miami, we actually had kumquat trees and just ate em off the tree. Man, that was yummy! I miss it!
Sounds like you're set for all things "health-ier"!

C. Beth said...

It's SUCH a bummer not having Trader Joe's where I live. We do have Whole Foods (not near my house, unfortunately)--so good options of healthy food but SO expensive! TJ's ROCKS.

Nancy said...

Hey Liz, I tried the cottage cheese puree with ranch dressing dip and it is really good! I had carrots instead of chips with it today as well! Thanks for the tip!

Mrs4444 said...

Love, love, love me anything Trader Joe's, pretty much.

I'm certain that half the battle in weightloss is planning; shopping for healthy snacks and keeping the pantry stocked with healthy choices. Good job! :)

Katherine said...

Some awesome ideas about eating healthier. I really wish we had a Trader Joe's where I live as I've heard people just rave about it.

I am completely guilty of late night snacking. My new healthy favorite late night snack? A pomegranate. Sweet, tart, little bit size pieces without any guilt!

michelle said...

I LOVE Trader Joe's but the closest one is 45 minutes away. Not worth the trek, I don't think.

I sure miss it.

Maybe I'll take a roadtrip this week. Thanks for the inspiration

Anonymous said...

My daughter is in college in Milwaukee and she takes the bus weekly to TJ for her food. She is a freshman and dorm food is not to her liking. Their pre-made dishes are perfect for her and her roommate to throw into the microwave! Her care packages are made up, almost entirely of TJ food. My favorite place!

Karen M. Peterson said...

I love Trader Joe's because you can find things there you can't find anywhere.

One of my favorite things? Better Than Peanut Butter. It tastes a lot like peanut butter, except that it's sweeter and has about 1/8th of the fat!