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Epic Bars: Stylish snacking

8 Dec

epicbars

You know what these are. You might deny it, but, come on. You can tell.

Even with the sleek packaging and the cool name promising an “Epic” experience, (though it delivers), you know.

It’s clear even though each parcel is veiled with the requisite hipster labels: “100% natural,” “X g. Protein,” the predictable “Sriracha” and the inevitable, “Gluten Free.”

There’s chicken, because that’s what’s for dinner anymore. And it’s NOT beef. It’s bison, the cow’s sophisticated cousin from the range.

You knew what these REALLY were from the moment you flipped the pretty package over and saw the enticing block of melded meat parts, albeit including cranberries, the tight-fitting plastic wrap clutching the treat within.

These are the next generation of on-the-go meat snacks. But you won’t find them sold at a service station. They rest in woven baskets at gourmet, high-end and unique food stores. They sit waiting for the lucky consumer in bins at the exclusive corner market in Brooklyn, and yes, at our favorite grocery mecca, Trader Joe’s.

Come on. You knew it: Beneath the slick wrapper and trendy words, these are your old friend Slim Jim with an advanced degree in delicious. “Stout James,” you might say.

What the new set of duds and fancy stores really do are take away our Slim Jim guilt. “Look at all these great qualities,” we say, trying to fool ourselves that Epic treats are more energy bar than meaty meat bomb.

We’re wrong, of course. But it’s a nervous, naughty, joyful wrong. When Epic slips out of his pop packaging, this bad boy’s all Jimbo. Healthier, classier, but still. Wink.

And while we’re devouring every speck, we choose to ignore the truth for a giddy glimpse of gas station bliss.

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Why Trader Joe’s is My, and America’s, Happy Place

5 Mar This container of candy from Trader Joe's holds a world of kindness

We all have rotten days. Yesterday was one of mine. Or at least, a day where things didn’t come together well, posed more problems than it solved, and just left me with a sad, crummy feeling.

And I needed to go to Trader Joe’s.

So, I tucked my feelings under my hat and went.

Walking around hunting and gathering for my dinner, I smiled at other shoppers and TJ’s staffers. I was OK. But as I walked to check out, I got sad again. Of course, that’s not too weird – feeling better walking around TJ’s, and getting sad as I’m leaving!

The checker Shaun greeted me with, “How ya doing?!” I said, sluggishly, “OK.” He said, “Just OK?” “Yeah,” I said. We continued chatting a bit. He loaded my bag and put it in the cart.

As we waited for my chipped card to finish processing, Shaun asked, “Do you like chocolate? Do you like dried fruit?” I said yes.

He walked to the product pylon by the check out lane, picked up a container of chocolate-covered dried fruit, put it on top of my bag and said, “I hope you have a good evening!”

I was blown away. And this isn’t the only time I’ve encountered amazingly kind behavior at Trader Joe’s. The store’s feel-good culture is an example for us all in how to care and treat each other. Just a little kindness goes such a long way. Thank you, Shaun! And thank you, Trader Joe’s.

A pot of gold

This container holds a world of kindness

 

A Christmas Story from Trader Joe’s

23 Dec

EucalyptusI was headed to the 12-items-or-less line on a Saturday afternoon with a basket of four things. The woman in front of me had two items – a package of eucalyptus and a rosemary tree.

At first she rolled her cart back to let me through. I said, “I’m going behind you!” As I took my position in line, she held up the eucalyptus package to my nose and said, “Smell this!” Of course, it was wonderful. I thanked her for sharing the fresh scent. Then she had me smell the rosemary – again, lovely – and even broke off a little bit to share with me.

She was drinking a coffee sample. I was a little tired, and realized I forgot to get a sipper. She immediately offered to hold my spot for me to go get a cup, pushing my basket in front of her cart.

I west to get the coffee, and I chatted with the woman in charge of the sample station. She pointed to an envelope full of coupons and said that a woman left it there, and she described the coupon owner. The physical description was similar but not exact to the woman in line, but the sample woman said, “She was so nice.”

I went back to the line and asked the woman, “Do you collect coupons?” She said, “Yes!” enthusiastically, and then turned to realize her envelope was gone. I told her it was at the sample station, and before I could get it for her, she was off to retrieve the pack.

She got back and said, “See, if you hadn’t gone for a coffee, I wouldn’t have gotten my coupons!”

The line finally reached the check out. She insisted I stay in front of her. She said, “You have so little!” I pushed back, “But I have twice as much as you!” She wouldn’t relent.

I told the guy at the check out that the lady behind me was one of the sweetest people I’d ever met. The checker – Cory – turned to her and said, “I’ve been hearing some really good things about you.” She said, “You have?” Cory looked at her basket and said, “You know what, for being so sweet, I’m not going to charge you for the eucalyptus.”

She looked at me with a big smile and said, “Merry Christmas.”

I said, “Merry Christmas, to you,” and left.

Several times I started to introduce myself and ask her name, but then got distracted by something and didn’t. I hope I see her again. She may have gotten the gift of the eucalyptus, but she was a gift for those she talked with even for a moment.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone! Wishing you that warm, fuzzy Trader Joe’s joy all year long.

Happy Hanukkah!

13 Dec

Another example of TJ’s “One-Buck-Chuck” greeting cards for every occasion! We hope everyone celebrating this holiday of light had a bright Hanukkah!

ChanukahCard

 

 

 

 

Happy Pickle Day! Pucker up and let the celebration begin!

14 Nov Pickles from Trader Joe's

Whether you’re feeling sour or sweet, this is a dilly of a day for pickle lovers. And Trader Joe’s is no slouch in offering a tasty array of gherkin goodness.

From traditional …

Pickles from Trader Joe's

The salivation starts here.


 

 

 

 

 

… to sublime.

popcorn that tastes like a dill pickle

Pickle Popcorn, making tastebuds happy since 2015

But you can also find ingredients at Trader Joe’s to make your own fabulous pickles – and what better way to celebrate than with a brine binge?! Check out “A Good Thing To Do With Persian Cucumbers from Trader Joe’s” for a mouthwatering pickle recipe, with step-by-step instructions.

And for facts, history and recipes about National Pickle Day, check out this post from International Business Times.

DIY Bloody Mary – when you need it now (recipe)

14 Jul

Sometimes the hankering for a Bloody Mary possesses you when you’re not prepared. Sometimes you just have to make do.

The inspiration hit at the beginning of the 2014 World Cup Finals. A friend tweeted a photo of a refreshing glass of Bloody Mary that looked very tasty. I remembered that I had an unopened bottle of TJ’s Bloody Mary Mixer gathering dust in the pantry. I dug it out and discovered that the expiration date was months past. Since it contained clam juice, I thought it was best not to take a chance with it.

when you're not in the mood to DIY

TJ’s recipe for a tasty Bloody Mary

I took a look at the ingredients on the bottle – a key reason I buy and love TJ’s Mary mix. Not a lot of ingredients with chemical names. It’s mainly tomato puree (tomato paste + water or tomato sauce). I decided to try and make my own!

Sadly, I didn’t have a few ingredients I really like in a Bloody Mary. I also tweaked the idea in a few ways, including substituting Gin (my preferred Bloody Mary Mix mixer) for beer, a twist on the refreshing Michelada.

Makeshift Bloody Mary Mix

Main ingredients

A makeshift Michelada

Beer Mary

Here’s what I came up with – and it worked VERY well. Tasty, relatively low cal and a minimum of preservatives:

Mix in a bowl:
1 can tomato sauce (includes onion and garlic powder)
1 can water

Per glass ingredients (Suggested amounts, but per taste):
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
Juice from 1/2 lime
1 teaspoon green Tabasco sauce
A jigger of vodka or gin, or beer as directed below

Directions:
1. Fill glass with ice
2. Add per glass ingredients
3. Fill glass 2/3 full with tomato sauce/water
4a. Add vodka or gin, or
4b. Fill remainder with pilsner of choice, like a can of Oranjeboom from TJ’s
5. Garnish with olives and/or celery and lime wedge
6. Enjoy!

It’s Shamrock time! Spring is near and so is St. Paddy’s Day.

11 Mar

I love my Shamrocks. I have the purple variety. From a small bunch from Trader Joe’s a few years ago, they now fill two pots, and another repotting is needed soon. I love how they go to sleep every night and stretch their petals full every morning.

Here it is again: Your yearly chance to invite a wee Shamrock plant to call your house its home.

Flowers of the shamrock plant

Shamrock blossoms purple

stocked in shamrocks

Stocked in Shamrocks

shamrock blossoms green

Shamrock blossoms green

Hello, moon. Good night, Shamrocks.

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