My Love Affair With Trader Joes

Can you be in love with a grocery store? I think it’s possible 🙂 Since moving to Fairfield and living 2 minutes away from Trader Joes, I’ve developed a great appreciation for the store and it’s unique products, great pricing, and stellar customer service.

I figured I’d share a few of my most favorite products and how I use them.

Starting at the front of the store and working my may through, this is what I grab each and every time…

Not pictured but always in my cart- inexpensive flowers, organic fruit and vegetables, nuts in large qualities, and frozen acai

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Gluten Free & Dairy Free Mini Pancakes- these come in a pack of three and are one of my little one’s favorite breakfasts. I usually serve them with blueberries and strawberries and a bit of maple syrup.

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Frozen Mangos- so delicious, right out of the freezer, as a healthy snack and perfect to use in smoothies

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Zucchini Fries- these are my daughter’s go-to after school snack

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Chocolate Covered Bananas- a perfect nibble when you want something sweet

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Multigrain Crackers- We use these for blueberry cheese (more on that below) and hummus

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Everything But the Bagel Seasoning- Can you say OBSESSED? I put this in my eggs, on toast, and sprinkled over avocado

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Orange Blossom Hand Soap- I use this as my kitchen hand soap. It smells great but my favorite thing about it is how it feels; the oils in it make your hands feel super soft!

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Lavender Scrub- great ingredients, amazing smell and my skin feels awesome after using

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Coffee- just good coffee 🙂

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Blueberry Cheese- someone recommended this to me and somehow, someway this has become my little one’s favorite snack (goat cheese is a bit of an odd choice for a three year old but it’s so tasty so I can understand why)

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Spicy Hummus- WARNING! VERY ADDICTING if you like spicy things

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Cereal- I always need to have on hand when my college- aged daughter is home. She like this one and the Banana Crunch Clusters.

 

Did you know Trader Joes has a website with amazing recipes using their products? Check it out!

 

Finally, here are some links to some incredible blog posts which feature more Trader Joes recipes.

 

Are there any incredible products I missed? Please share your favorites in the comments!

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Friday Favs

Friday Favs- a spot where I share my favorite products, apps, sites, articles, and moments from the week.

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Struggling with a phone addiction? Who isn’t? Read these innovative tips to cut back.

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Attention Foodies! Have you checked out The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017? The world’s best restaurant is right in our backyard! I’ve listed the other restaurants that are also in NYC- Cosme is the only one I’ve been too and I can say it most definitely IS amazing.

1. Eleven Madison Park (New York City)

17. Le Bernardin (New York City)

40. Cosme (New York City)

Best Pastry Chef: Dominique Ansel (Dominique Ansel Bakery, NYC)

Speaking of food, please tell me you’ve jumped on the avocado toast bandwagon. How can something be so healthy AND delicious? Check out the below ideas from The Ambitious Kitchen for making your avocado toast even more fabulous.toast-1

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Finally, this moment from our Mother/daughter trip to Florida for our last college visits. Decision time!

Friday Favs

Friday Favs- a spot where I share my favorite products, apps, sites, articles, and moments from the week.

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A fun new Cuban restaurant in Garden City with live entertainment – food was good, drinks were better, entertainment was best!

The most delicious ice cream I’ve ever had.

SERIOUSLY.  If you’re near Barclays, you must check it out!

After I enjoyed the ice cream above, I decided to kick spring off with a week of clean eating. I used to do this every month but fell out of that practice a few years ago. It’s a great way to to get back on track. Here is a great reference on meal prepping which helps A LOT.

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I also made this healthy dinner (which I make only when my husband is traveling because he would disagree that it is actually, in fact, a dinner).

Kick off Spring by trying some of these 5 rituals

Friday Favs

Friday Favs- a spot where I share my favorite products, apps, sites, articles, and moments from the week.

This week has really been an amazing week for me and my family. My husband began a new job, we took a weekend trip to Florida to visit family, and Raina got into two more schools. We also listed our home! Big changes, all wonderful, are happening and I’m trying my best to embrace each moment.

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How delicious does this Irish beer cheese soup look? Click for the recipe.

Juliette and I absolutely love these books. She is sooooo into them and says “no, no no” when the baby is thinking about doing something bad.

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I love how Fisher-Price is keeping it real. The mom comes with a cup of coffee because, lets face it, how else do we function?! A wine glass might have been just too much 😉 Seriously though, this doll house is my 20 month old’s most played with toy.

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S’mores pancakes from Landmark Diner. I came across this list of 31 Foods To Eat on Long Island and thought I better get started.

Friday Favs

Friday Favs- a spot where I share my favorite products, apps, sites, articles, and moments from the week.

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This delicious Vegetable Cheddar Soup– perfect for the final days of winter.

Looking for something to do on a beautiful day in NYC? The Seaglass Carousel was amazing! My teens enjoyed it as much as my 19 month old.

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I’m loving this new-to-me app called Scannable. Scan anything with your phone! Easy enough for my tech-challenged husband to embrace. Can I finally stop scanning things for him? Only time will tell…

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Favs

Friday Favs- a spot where I share my favorite products, apps, sites, articles, and moments from the week.

Between taking an online class this week, two going down with the stomach virus, and my mom visiting from Florida, it was a busy week. Here are my Friday Favs a day late 🙂

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By know I’m sure you know what an Acai Bowl is but have you heard of a Buddah Bowl?

Check out these recipes.

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If you have a toddler and play their tunes in the car, you may love this rendition of If You’re Happy and You Know It just as much as I do- and yes, I need a car wash desperately 😉

I loved reading these reminders on Ways to Raise Good Kids.

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Favorite moment of the week- getting to see a bucket list concert with my 17 year old.

I’ve loved Red Hot Chili Peppers since I was 12 when Under the Bridge came out 🙂

Friday Favs

Friday Favs- a spot where I share my favorite products, apps, sites, articles, and moments from the week.

It’s Super Bowl weekend! Do you have your menu planned? Here is my go-to recipe for Super Bowl parties- Blue Cheese Chicken Wing Dip.

Have you ever done an insta-challenge? Me neither but I thought it might be something fun to get through my least favorite month of the year. I’m jumping in with #3 today.

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This recipe for a Kale Salad. Disclaimer- I’m the only one who liked it (but I swear it’s good!) so go into it with realistic expectations. It’s KALE. Good for you for lunch; don’t try to serve to your kids and your hubby for dinner like I did.

Three Simple Ways to Raise Great Kids. A short article with great reminders. My favorite is number 2.

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Are you a critical thinker? Would you like to raise one? I love these questions to get us all thinking!

Lets Eat! Starting Solids

It’s an exciting time. You and your baby are ready to explore the world of food together!

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Most doctors recommend starting between 4-6 months. Our doctor said Jules was ready at 5 months based on how she was sitting and her cues (beginning to show interest in what I was eating and trying to grab food from my plate). Back in the day, it was very common to begin with rice cereal because it is thought to be easy to digest. Nowadays, rice cereal is falling by the way side (did anyone see yesterday’s news report? Arsenic???) and most doctors will give the green light to begin with oatmeal or vegetables. Ask what your doctor recommends at their four month check up so you can put your plan in place.

First, will you be making some or all of your baby’s food? If the answer is yes, you may want to look at baby food makers and there are certainly plenty on the market. Since I knew I would be making some but not most of her food, I didn’t want to invest in yet another gadget. I have a Vitamix (which I highly recommend because it rocks) and a steamer and that is really all you need. I picked up a few freezer containers so that when I make a batch of food, I can freeze the rest in individual containers.

You will also need soft spoons, small bowls, and a ton of bibs of you don’t have already.

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I love this bowl and plate set and it’s currently on sale at Pottery Barn Kids

Next, if you’re buying foods, you’ll be starting with Stage 1. Baby foods come in stages based on the simplicity of the food, the amount it is pureed, and the size. For example, a Stage 1 food may simply be “carrots” while a Stage 2 may be “carrots, butternut squash and apples”. Stage 1 foods are typically 2 ounces while stage 2 are between 3.5-4 ounces. I did a lot of research on brands and I stick with Plum Organics and Happy Baby. Both are organic with non- GMO ingredients but what I think sets them apart is the variety of meals after stage 1 and less added ingredients. At most of my local stores, the stage 1 foods were in short supply (so annoying) so I did a big order from diapers.com and stocked up.

As per the doctor’s recommendation, we gave the same food for three days in a row to watch for allergies. We would try new foods either in the morning or around lunch time to allow for plenty of time to watch for any adverse reactions before bed.

With fruits or vegetables, you would begin by giving half the pouch and give the remaining half the next day (they are good refrigerated for 24 hours). If beginning with cereal, follow the directions on the box. If your baby is eating everything you are serving and wanting more, increase the amounts.

After we had a few foods under our belt, a typical schedule looked something like this.

7am- bottle

8am- oatmeal with fruit (we love this oatmeal that was recommended by a friend)

11am- bottle

12pm- a vegetable

You’ll then add dinner and eventually replace the afternoon bottle with a snack.

I felt strongly that I didn’t want to give her vegetables combined with fruit because I thought it would possibly turn her off to regular vegetables (I worried she would grow accustomed to the sweetness of the fruit) so I stuck with stage 1 for awhile.

Even now at 9 months, I still buy stage 1 fruits and buy only stage 2 vegetable meals, always with some type of protein.

Random Tip– Target makes these fruit pouches that we buy for the big kids which have exactly the same ingredients as the baby food pouches for a lot less $ so if you are a Target shopper, make sure to check them out

Jules did experience some constipation when we began solids, which is fairly common. Prunes and pears, as well as the probiotic oatmeal, worked wonders. We still stay away from bananas because they are so binding.

At our 8 month check up, we were given the green light for her to eat anything (with the exception of cow’s milk and honey which cannot be given until after the first birthday). Now the real fun begins!

All advice above is solely my personal opinion based on my experience. Always consult a medical professional with any medical concerns. 

 

 

Dinnertime Organization

When I first got divorced, I vowed to continue to have sit down family dinners every night. This was a staple in my home growing up and I wanted my girls to have the same great memories of sitting around the table and discussing their days, while enjoying a good, home-cooked meal. This was no easy task given I was a single mom to two young children while working full-time and tutoring most afternoons until 5pm. I would then rush to pick my little one up from pre-school and get home around 6, just in time to face the ever-stressful dinnertime dilemma. Necessity is always the mother of invention so I developed a process of meal planning that helped me considerably. Even though I now have more time on my hands, I still use this system because hey, it works!

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On a Saturday or Sunday morning, I sit with my cup of coffee, my folder full of recipes I’ve torn out from magazines, my personal cookbook (more on that in a minute), and my computer so I can pull up recipes I’ve pinned on pinterest (follow me here!) and plan my meals for the week. I make a quick list- M, T, W, T, F and plan full meals (usually adding one or two desserts for the week) for each of the five days. For each meal, I list all of the ingredients I’ll need on my running grocery list which I keep on my phone.

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Recently, I’ve taken this one step further by listing all the meals on this great chalkboard I found at Home Goods. I also add a quote of the week that we spend some time discussing (it works great for discussing literal meanings versus the deeper meaning most quotes have). We also do something called “high/low” where each of  us talks about the high of our day and the low of our day (the lows are always interesting…I have found that here you’ll hear things that wouldn’t normally get brought up).

Now about that personal cookbook- it’s really important in my house! This blank cookbook was given to me by my grandmother when I first moved to college. She told me to fill it with the best recipes I could find and I take that task very seriously. Since I enjoy cooking and like to try new recipes, I scour recipes online, on pinterest and in magazines and try them out on my family. If the comments are “it’s ok” or “it’s good but it’s not great” we toss it. If everyone loves it, it goes into the book. The book is now filled with my family’s favorite recipes and both girls have asked numerous times about getting the book when they move out. I figure I’ll convert it into a hardcover book when the time comes and I already know how much they’ll cherish it. Find something similar here.

I usually make two to three recipes from the book that are tried and true and two to three new recipes each week. This way the girls always have a few dishes to look forward to and new dishes and foods to try.

So that’s how I do it and I have to say, dinner is one thing I don’t stress about. 15 minutes on a weekend morning and a few minutes here and there looking for recipes is all it takes to have 5 well-planned dinners throughout the week.

xo,

Tanya

Book Review- French Kids Eat Everything

Have a picky eater? Or are you a picky eater? If so, you simply must check this book out! The title caught my eye in the window of a bookstore. I’m notoriously picky and, unfortunately, my youngest is taking after me. I was ready to do something about it and this book came at just the right moment.

In this book, French Kids Eat Everything, the married, mother of two, recounts her experience of living in France for a year. She has come up with ten food “rules” and goes into great detail about how she formulated them, as well as her experiences, challenges, and successes.

I happened to be smack in the middle of this book when we took a trip to St. Barth’s. Primarily a french island, I had tons of opportunities to put into practice what I was reading all about. “You don’t have to like it but you do have to taste it,” applied to all of us (I tried tuna tataki, lobster risotto, and even foie gras!). Will I be ordering any of these any time soon? Probably not, but I set a great example and my little one ended up devouring fried shrimp. I said no to quite a few snacks and look forward to implementing le goûter (a scheduled, afternoon snack) once the school year starts.

Most of the rules are common sense when you stop to think about it, but the problem is, we often don’t stop and think about our eating habits and the habits our children are forming. I know snacking isn’t good for my daughter’s dinner appetite but I didn’t connect the dots that it may be the reason she’s not open to trying new things. And I certainly didn’t realize how many times she needed to taste something before she accepted it! This book definitely opened my mind on how I eat and how I feed my family.

Bon appetit!

Tanya