• Becky Berberich

7 Trader Joe's Staples That Make Life Tasty

It is no secret that I love Trader Joe's, but living where I do, one must commit to either driving 25 minutes and paying a bridge toll or sticking to their regular grocery store. Thus, I often get asked, "Well what things should I look for?" or "What's your favorite?" In an effort to answer this question I decided to jump back into the swing of things by creating a series of review posts about some of my favorite things to food shop for because I LOVE to food shop, much to many people's shock and disbelief.... see my posts about budgeting for confirmation.

I was also asked to come up with my reviews for the best veggie burger, but that needs to wait for another day.

The items I picked for this list are:

1) Purchased by me on the regular

2) Multipurpose or multiuse

3) Great values for the money

Number 1: Raw Cashew Pieces

Raw cashews are a vegan's best friends. They lay the foundation for sauces, cheeses, and creams. Can be blended with herbs to make dressings. And added in noodle dishes or salads for a bit of crunch. Coming in at $6.99 these are the cheapest pound of cashews I've found around and I actually like that they're already in pieces. Easier to soak and blend and ready to be added to dishes as is. Perfecto!

Number 2: Teeny Tiny Avocados

These little bad boys are a perfect single serving size version of their big brothers and sisters. If your on the go and don't want to find a place to keep half an avocado, are keeping portions under control, or just have a smaller appetite these do the trick. At about 160 calories each, you don't have to worry about going over board on whole fats. I will admit though that occasionally you'll get a big pit and roll your eyes at the quarter inch of avocado lol. Nothing's perfect!

Number 3: Cashew Fiesta Dip

This beauty is really good cashew cheese where you have to do none of the work, thus making it taste even better. I also feel that at 35 calories for two tablespoons, it manages to be lighter in calories that I can seem to make it at home. It's got cashews and potatoes as a base and works great on taco bowls, cracker dip, wrap spread, anywhere you would use cheese. It's not overly fiesta-y which in the end makes it more versatile and better value for you money.

Number 4: Umami Seasoning

I will admit that I bought this purely for the, "huh, I've never tried it" factor, but have since bought multiple shakers of it; including one for my boyfriend's house so I never have to be without. Maybe two years ago I bought TJ's Umami paste for the same reason only to discover that it had anchovies in it. Womp womp. This version is based in mushroom powder and adds an earthy, savory, yes also slightly mushroomy, dimension of flavor that goes great with rice, roasted vegetables, sandwiches,and beyond burgers. Highly recommend to try and see what you can create!

Number 5: Cruciferous Crunch

Heartier than lettuce, but somehow kinder than straight cabbage, this mix of greens is hearty, foundation for salad, in soups, or lightly roasted. I often saute the whole bag at once and then keep it in the fridge. This breaks it down a little so I don't feel like I'm chewing to exhaustion, but still holds plenty of crunch factor.

Number 6: Jackfruit in Brine

Jackfruit fully ripe is a sweet, mango like delight. Young jackfruit, in this case caned and in brine, makes a shredded meat substitute that can easily fill in for pulled pork, or what I more prefer: crab in cakes and dip. It's very low in calories and very high in versatility. TJ's has the best price and it's always in stock so if I ever need it I know where to find it.

Number 7: Antipasto Vegetables

Described as 'semi-dried' these are packed in olive oil and bursting with flavor. I have rough chopped them for lettuce and pasta salads, blended them with cream cheese for sandwich spread, and simply spread them on toasted bread with a little salt when I just want carbs and oil. They are a happy sweet spot in Italian cuisine between dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts in water that are somehow rich but light.

If you have other Trader Joe's staples you can't live without I'd love to know what they are! Perhaps there's something I've been missing out on in the past 15 years of my Trader Joe's obsession that has been living right under my nose.

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