Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Random TJ's Photos, Episode 1

...in which I post a few Joe-related pix, with explanations, and hope you are mildly amused and/or interested.

Was surprised and delighted to find this distinguished-looking
fellow staring up at me from the inner surface of my
TJ's chicken-salad-sandwich-wrap tray during my lunch hour
at work the other day.

Today Hunter and I made this granola, which incorporates
a few TJ's products: rolled oats, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Deee-lish!
(Hunter has been eating this stuff by the handful. It is soooo satisfying
when you see your kid actually ENJOYING healthy homemade food. Right?!)

Does anyone else think of TJ's (and their hibiscus-heavy logos)
when they see one of these?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cornbread Mix

You know Mom's getting desperate when...
The other day I needed a dinner menu that was very convenient, very easy to prepare, and not at all cognitively challenging. Also, there needed to be slightly better than a snowball's chance in Hell that my kids would eat at least some of it. (The little dears seem to be more picky and behaving more obnoxiously at the dinner table lately, which is for sure going to drive me to drink an unreasonable amount of TJ's Two-Buck-Chuck Shiraz if our newly posted Mealtime Rules don't have their desired effect soon. See photo at left.)
While cruising the aisles of Trader Joe's with my little guy Hunter that morning, I decided on TJ's Turkey Chili (in a can; reheat and you're done) over tortilla chips, and cornbread made from TJ's Cornbread Mix.
I like making cornbread. I've never made it entirely from scratch, but I've had good luck with mixes. For awhile I was using a Marie Callender mix that required only the addition of water before baking, and it was moist and tasty, and the kids loved it. On this day, however, I found myself in TJ's staring down the Cornbread Mix and decided to go for it.
I like this cornbread's texture: it's a little grainy; the cornmeal used is ground coarsely enough to keep the bread from feeling too cake-like. It's also got---and please hold your judgment till the end---a very, very mild vanilla flavor, which sounds hideous, I know, but which actually works here and complements the flavor of the corn.
(Note: The vanilla is SO mild that at first I couldn't even place the flavor. I knew there was something ever so slightly different and yummy going on, but I had to read the ingredients list to know what it was. "Vanilla powder." Bingo! Tangential thought: Is it the same kind of vanilla powder the barista uses in my vanilla latte at our local coffee shop? I wonder.)
The cornbread's preparation was simple: Add oil, an egg, and milk. Combine. Bake at 350. Done!
Now the oooooooone little thing that bugs me just a smidge and will keep me from buying this mix too, too often is that it contains more sugar than I'd like. Sugar is, in fact, the second ingredient---it even beats out cornmeal for second place after wheat flour! One serving contains 15 grams of the stuff, which, if memory serves, was more sugar per serving than Dark Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Wafer Cookies.
So while this cornbread mix won't become a staple of my pantry because of the sugar content, I won't hesitate to buy it again next time we do a Chili Night (or even a "Chile Night," as I accidentally typed the first time around. "Hey, kids, who wants to discuss Pinochet and his Caravan Of Death over dinner this evening?" Also, did you know Chile is the longest country in the world in terms of length-to-width ratio? Thanks, Wikipedia!).

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Dark 70 Chocolate Bar Caramel With Black Sea Salt

I may have to find a way to incorporate this chocolate bar into my sex life. It is THAT GOOD. Like, scandalously good. Like, as I'm eating it, I can't stop whispering "Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod," and I feel like I'm doing something kind of dirty and naughty every time I take a bite.
That is the caliber of product we are dealing with here.
You have been warned.
Strangely, I have never noticed this chocolate bar in TJ's. I received Dark 70 Chocolate Bar Caramel With Black Sea Salt from friend J as part of a birthday gift, and she had casually offered, "It's really good" when I opened it. I said, "It does sound yummy" and "Funny, I've never seen it before," and then I didn't really think about it much till later that night, when Seth and I dug into it on the couch while watching one of those ridiculous "Real World/Road Rules Challenge" shows on MTV. (Quick episode recap: Young people drinking. Young people arguing drunkenly. Young people in helmets trying to push each other through a tunnel, for money. Young people talking to camera, reflecting on their drunken arguments and helmeted pushing challenge. The end.)
But now back to the chocolate. Oh my. For starters, this is 70%-cacao dark chocolate, my friends. Sooo deliciously bitter! Secondly, the bar itself is thin and delicate, which causes the chocolate to melt very quickly in your mouth---mmm. Thirdly, the combination of caramel and sea salt inside the chocolate is totally perfect and addictive. Salty-sweet! Sweet-salty! ...playing on an endless loop, with that velvety bitterness of the dark chocolate mixed in. PERFECTION. Naughty, naughty perfection.
And I should add, too, that I'm not normally a caramel-with-chocolate fan. That combination is usually too sweet for me, too one-note sugary. But THIS caramel is more buttery than sugary, and the addition of the sea salt keeps the sweetness from overpowering all of the other flavors.
I am going to have to keep one of these in stock in my cupboard at all times, going forward. It is one of those to-be-savored-on-couch-after-kids-have-gone-to-bed indulgences.
Now I just need to find a fabulous TJ's wine to pair it with.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Dark Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Wafer Cookies

Two of my favorite foods are dark chocolate and peanut butter, so when I find them together, blended into one deliciously sweet-and-salty treat, I reflexively grab that treat and tuck it right into my shopping cart faster than you can say "Try exercising some self-control for once, Mo."

When I spotted TJ's Dark Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Wafer Cookies earlier this summer, I did not hesitate to pounce on them like a cat pounces on shiny moving objects. Reese's has nothing on TJ's reputation for using pure, simple ingredients---these cookies contain dark chocolate, natural vanilla, peanut butter, sugar, enriched flour...and that's about it. No preservatives or artificial flavors to be found.

Not at all surprisingly, these cookies barely lasted half a week in our house. I loved them, the kids loved them, and Seth presumably would have loved them, too, had he gotten the chance to try one before they were devoured by the rest of us. Maya, in particular, enjoyed them so much that she couldn't understand why I refused to bust them out at breakfast.

What makes these cookies so great and addictive is the inclusion of dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. The bitterness of the dark chocolate keeps the cookies from being sickeningly sweet and rich, which, in turn, makes these cookies easier to eat in large quantities. The light, crispy wafer cookie inside the chocolate achieves the same feat, so that the cookies seem less sugary than they probably are.  (The label says there are 10 grams of sugar in four cookies. So, yeah: they are sugary; although, I've seen breakfast cereals that contain twice as much sugar than these cookies do.)

The end result is a snack that has crunch, creaminess, sweetness, saltiness, bitterness, and airiness, and that really can't hold a permanent place in my cupboard because I lack the self-discipline to handle such a perfectly delicious treat in a mature and reasonable fashion.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Old-Fashioned Cinnamon Grahams

Graham crackers evoke some nostalgia for me. They're something my mom always kept in our pantry; they were a snack I nibbled on throughout my childhood. (Ever had a bowl of graham crackers and milk? We did that pretty frequently in my house growing up.)
So I have a fondness for graham crackers, which is why I was eager to try TJ's Old-Fashioned Cinnamon Grahams the first time I spotted them among the crackers and cookies on the shelves over the freezer case. (So glad someone thoughtfully and accurately placed that hyphen between "old" and "fashioned," btw.)
My assessment of these graham crackers can be summed up this way: If you were to make a homemade graham cracker, from scratch, this is how it would taste, and this is what the texture would be like.
They are really a far cry from anything produced by Nabisco or Keebler. For starters, they are thick and substantial, and much more filling than a traditional grocery-store graham cracker. They're more hearty, which I think must be a result of the whole wheat flour used to make them, and they have a very distinct molasses flavor, which I LOVE.
And---my kids' favorite part---the grahams are covered on one side in a thick layer of cinnamon sugar. Delicious!
These make a great snack just eaten on their own. I haven't actually tried them in milk, I think because they are so rich and flavorful, they just don't need anything extra.
I bet these would be reeeeally great substituted for regular graham crackers in pie crust; however, since I am, so far, too lazy to make pie, I'm not likely to test this hypothesis anytime soon.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Wasabi, Wow!

Last week my coworker and fellow Joe lover, Jamie, essentially dared me to eat this stuff. "My husband and I have found the one single disgusting thing Trader Joe's sells," she said (I'm paraphrasing), and then presented me with this bag of Wasabi, Wow! trailmix that the two of them had tried and hated during a car trip.
I accepted the challenge after conceding that the components of the mix---wasabi peas, peanuts, almonds, golden raisins, and dried cranberries---did seem a little strange put together. It was the fruits, specifically, that seemed to me not to fit. I'd eaten wasabi peas on their own and in rice-cracker mixes, but never with anything sweet.
Anyway, my interest was piqued and I gave Wasabi, Wow! a go, right there in my cubicle, fully expecting the worst.
But...I loved it! The cranberries and raisins lend just enough sweetness and a nice chewy texture to counter the crunchy ingredients. And the key, I believe, is that the fruit and other ingredients are proportioned correctly. In other words, there isn't too much fruit---just enough. It's actually a pretty addicting mix in that it's salty and sweet, with a pleasant little burn from the wasabi peas. It's also hearty, so a little goes a long way (if, unlike me, you have good self-control where tasty snacks are concerned).
My only, tiny little complaint is that the wasabi peas aren't the best I've ever had. They lack that fake-looking bright-green color many wasabi peas have, which is encouraging, but they also lack some zip. I like a wasabi pea to make my eyes water and my sinuses clear, and these don't quite get there.
All in all, though, I have to say woo-hoo to Wasabi, Wow!---with apologies to Jamie and Mr. Jamie.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Rainbow Peppercorns

This stuff right here, Rainbow Peppercorns, manages to be both a material representation of why I love Trader Joe's so much and my kids' absolute worst culinary nightmare.
Let's begin with the former: What a fantastic product this is. For starters, it's unusual. In a good way. It's the kind of unassuming yet exciting little food item that makes so much sense and gets so much use in my home that I wonder where it's been all my life and what I did without it. "Why has no one combined four varieties of peppercorn until now?" is the kind of question begged by Rainbow Peppercorns. (Or maybe this combination of peppercorns has been done before...? Even so, it's certainly not ubiquitous to grocery-store spice aisles, right? Correct me if I'm wrong!)
Yes, the pepper bottle in this photo is nearly empty.
Rainbow peppercorns go quickly here at Chez Mo!
The taste is really fresh, thanks to the built-in grinder, and spicy and a bit hot, and bold. It's like freshly ground black pepper dialed up several notches and with a little extra zing ground in. I LOVE IT. There's really nothing it can't enhance: eggs, a green salad, soups, chicken, pasta, rice, cooked vegetables, tuna salad, a turkey sandwich...I use it almost daily.
My kids, on the other hand, are revolted by the very idea of freshly ground pepper. Why would Mom taint a perfectly good, perfectly bland, perfectly uniform gob of mashed potatoes with this crap? they wonder. They look on, aghast, as I aggressively grind and grind and grind the pepper onto everything on my plate. And if I'm off my game one night and accidentally season the family's veggies---let's say broccoli---BEFORE dishing out their portions, Maya and Hunter both freak out and point to the offending pepper specks that are poisoning their food: "It's got the black stuff! The black stuff! GET THE BLACK STUFF OFF MY BROCCOLI TREES!!!"
...which, maybe, now that I'm really pondering it, is another reason Rainbow Peppercorns delight me so much: They annoy my children! I am all for annoying my children in small doses.
Keep on doin' your thing, Rainbow Peppercorns!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Reduced Guilt Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese is a big deal in my household. For better or worse, it is a staple of my kids' diets: they eat it several times per week, it is their go-to menu item when dining out, and it's one of the few fairly nutritious foods they'll talk about with earnest reverence and near-zealotry. ("Yay! MAC AND CHEESE!!" they'll shout when I whip some up in the microwave, as if they hadn't just eaten it 48 hours before. And 48 hours before that.)
So when we happen upon a mac and cheese that's both quick-cooking AND exceptional in flavor and texture, that's something to get excited about over here at Chez Mo.
Reduced < Guilt Mac & Cheese is indeed exceptional in flavor and texture for a prepared, microwaveable mac and cheese entrée that's relatively low in fat. (Plus, there's a "less than" sign right there in the name of the product, which is, frankly, adorable, and earns it a couple of bonus points in my judgment.)
I cannot abide a mac and cheese whose sauce is thin, watery, bland, and lacking in strong cheese flavor. What's the point? Rather, a respectable mac and cheese must include a robust, gooey, perfectly cheesy, flavorful sauce. That kind of sauce is, after all, what separates a homemade mac and cheese from its boxed, instant-powdered-cheese-sauce counterparts.
I am pleased to report that Reduced < Guilt Mac & Cheese is fast-cooking and as easy as pushing a few microwave buttons, yet it reads more like a homemade mac and cheese than a boxed variety. And 3.5 grams of saturated fat for the entire tray (about two entrée-sized servings) is really very good. I can feed this to my family without feeling like I'm causing their arteries to instantly harden.
Pair it with some broccoli (which Maya will devour and Hunter will gingerly pick at) and an apple, and you really could do much worse for a kid-friendly, wholesome meal.
...and at the end of the meal, when the kids have bolted from the table and my husband and I are absentmindedly eating the remaining food off their plates while venting about work and bills and our perpetually messy house, we get a nice, comforting couple of mouthfuls of mac and cheese minus the sky-high fat content. Not too shabby!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage

A caveat: These sausages aren't going to change your life or anything.

But, it occurred to me the other day while grabbing a couple of packages from the TJ's meat cooler for probably the 100th time since I first became a TJ's shopper that these humble Sweet Apple Chicken Sausages deserved a post on this blog. Here's why: They have become a reliable, highly valued staple of my (admittedly limited) meal-prep repertoire. Their versatility and quick cooking time come in SO handy on hectic, time-crunched weekdays, yet they're equally useful on a weekend morning. Plus---the importance of this cannot be overstated---MY ENTIRE FAMILY LIKES THESE SAUSAGES AND WILL HAPPILY EAT THEM. If you're a parent or friend of any small, highly particular, frustratingly ambivalent children, you understand my choice of all caps there.
We often eat these sausages butterflied and pan-fried for dinner, with rice and a vegetable on the side. Simple as that. We get a well-rounded meal of basic, not-too-bold flavors that everyone enjoys. Sometimes we'll make them part of a "breakfast dinner" and serve them alongside fried eggs, fresh fruit, and toast. They also work beautifully on a weekend morning as a protein to go with a stack of pancakes.
What makes these sausages so kid-friendly, besides their mild, sweet flavor, is the absence of a casing. So they're as easy to eat as hot dogs, but way better. (Love the juicy little apple chunks tucked inside!) And nutritionally, they seem pretty reasonable: no nitrates or nitrites, all recognizable ingredients, and a decent amount of protein.
Oh! They're precooked, too, which is a bonus for those of us who live in constant fear of undercooking our poultry and poisoning everyone in our homes with Salmonella.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Frozen Steelcut Oatmeal

You know what I like to do when work is shitty, my taxes aren't done, my living room needs vacuuming, and I have no clean laundry? Blog about Joe's Frozen Steelcut Oatmeal, that's what!
I so enjoy oatmeal (or "oapmeal," as Maya insists on calling it. Made from 100% whole-grain oaps!) Oapmeal is comforting, isn't it? But not bad comforting, like the Reese's peanut-butter chocolate egg I just scarfed down a moment ago. The nice thing about oapmeal is that not only does it feel cozy and satisfying on a chilly morning, it's also so jam-packed with nutrition, you feel downright virtuous for eating it. It's a win-win kind of food.
Really the only downside of oatmeal is the inconvenience of cooking it on a weekday morning. Oatmeal Complete is, of course, a super-quick, healthful, yummy solution to this problem. However, if the texture skeeves you out, or you're looking for a more-generous serving size, or steelcut oats are your preference, may I introduce you to Frozen Steelcut Oatmeal (flavored with brown sugar and maple syrup)?
This oatmeal is GOOD. My husband loves it, my good friend Carie loves it, Maya loves it...I don't know anyone who's tried it who didn't like it. It's the closest thing to homemade oatmeal you're going to get in a box.
The way this oatmeal works is that it is already cooked, then frozen into pucks and individually shrink-wrapped. You can't deny the fun factor here: Oatmeal pucks! My kids always want to touch the frozen pucks before I pop them into bowls and zap 'em in the microwave. (It's gotten me wondering, too, whether this could be done from scratch. Couldn't I cook up some steelcut oatmeal on a weekend, then freeze it in small Tupperware bowls for future weekday breakfasts...?)
Anyway, you take the puck out of its wrapper, drop it into a bowl, cook the thing in the microwave for a couple of minutes, remove it and stir, cook it another minute or so, and you're done: Very thick, very hearty, very delicious steelcut oatmeal with a mild sweetness that is just right.
Which do you prefer, btw: steelcut oats or rolled? I prefer rolled when I'm making granola, but I like either for oatmeal. I like that steelcut oatmeal makes you work a little bit---the grains are chewy; your jaw gets some exercise.
I should mention that we recently tried Fresh and Easy's version of this product, and it was disappointing. The pucks were tiny---maybe 2 ounces of oatmeal---and there were things on the ingredient list that didn't need to be there, like milk and butter. (If I want to add milk and/or butter, I'll do it myself!)
Sorry Fresh and Easy, the winner of this round is TJ's!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Organic Greek Style Nonfat Yogurt Vanilla

Wow, that name is a mouthful right there: Organic Greek Style Nonfat Yogurt Vanilla (and I even left out the "0% Milkfat" part)! Good lord. I eat this yogurt almost daily, but I'd never noticed its awkward, rambling nomenclature until studying the photo just now. I always just seek out the squat purple-and-white containers in TJ's aforementioned huge yogurt section, chuck them into my cart, and move along.
So anyway, here's the thing about Greek yogurt in general: I am conflicted. On one hand, the texture is thick and dense and creamy and perfect. I remember taking my first bite of Fage about a year ago and being like, "Oh. OH. So THIS is what yogurt really is. Right. OK. I stand corrected. Got it."
On the other hand, having been raised on Yoplait and Dannon and accustomed to such sugar-bombed flavors as "Key-Lime Pie" and "Raspberry Chiffon," I haven't yet been able to enjoy the taste of plain, unflavored Greek yogurt. I actually find it kind of revolting, honestly. It's just too "sour cream meets unidentifiable musky note" for me at this point in time. I'll keep trying, but so far, no thank you.
So what's fantastic about TJ's vanilla-flavored Greek is that you get the dreamy, super-satisfying texture and mouthfeel of Greek yogurt but ALSO just a smidge of sweetness and vanilla flavor. Enough to make this yogurt seriously delicious and the perfect partner for fruit and granola, but not enough to overpower the tart or dairy flavors or make you feel like you've just eaten dessert.
Also, for what it's worth, OGSNYV contains 12 grams of protein, which is about double that of typical American (or, I guess,"non-Greek-style"?) yogurts---a boon for those of us who don't eat a ton of meat and could therefore use extra protein grams wherever we can get them.
I am always interested in new ways to get even more yogurt into my life, so I'd love to know how others eat it. Here's my preferred method:
1. Dump a container of OGSNYV into a medium-sized bowl.
2. Slice strawberries and bananas into it.
3. Sprinkle generously with granola (preferably homemade!) or whatever other crunchy thing I have available: Grape-Nuts, Joe's O's (review to come!), etc.

P.S. Maya (age 6) loves this yogurt concoction, too, which kind of blows my mind apart, considering her other favorite foods include such paragons of nutrition as corn dogs, mac and cheese (packaged, mind you), and Chicken McNuggets.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Cocoa Powder Unsweetened

Thanks to Joe, I can make a warm, comforting, decadent-tasting mug of hot cocoa and feel very little guilt about it. Trader Joe's Cocoa Powder Unsweetened is the only cocoa powder I've come across that isn't "processed with alkali" and that contains literally nothing but cocoa powder. At 20 calories per tablespoon and one gram of fat, this fine, silky cocoa powder feels almost healthful to me, in that it's likely delivering the benefits of chocolate without all the saturated fat and sugar.
For homemade hot cocoa, I just pour milk (usually 2%) into a mug, heat it in the microwave for 2 minutes or so, then add a couple of heaping teaspoons of the cocoa powder. I stir a LOT and for a LONG time to fully blend the powder into the milk and break up most of the little lumps. Then I add sugar to taste, usually not much more than a teaspoon or so, because I like bitterness.
And that's it! I make it for my kids, too, of course, and they enjoy it. (Don't get me wrong---they'll suck down that Swiss Miss crap just as fast, but they certainly don't turn up their noses at the homemade stuff.)
I should mention that I haven't used this cocoa powder for baking, much, mostly because I don't bake chocolate cakes and the like all that often. My friend and mother-in-law, Lala, did use it for brownies the last time she visited us, and oh my, those brownies did not disappoint! They were perfectly rich and chocolatey. Mmmm.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Oatmeal Complete

First off, apologies for the grainy, dark, generally lame photo on the right here. It was shot at night in my dimly lit kitchen, on my phone. So...yeah. I'll replace that with a better shot the next time I buy a box of Oatmeal Complete---probably next weekend.
Uninspiring photography aside, who loves a warm, hearty, thick bowl of not-too-sweet instant oatmeal on a weekday morning? I do! And so does my three-year-old son, Hunter, who occasionally throws back three bowls of oatmeal (one at breakfast, one for a snack, and one at lunch) in one day, which is fine by me. Oatmeal is healthful, what with all the soluble fiber and all, and it's filling and whole-grain.
Hunter, oatmeal enthusiast
Now THIS particular oatmeal right here, Joe's Oatmeal Complete, is different, special, and probably not for everyone. I've actually gone through times when I've eaten it every morning, day after day, for weeks on end, then suddenly thought, "Ugh. I need a break," and abruptly cut myself off for a few months. I believe this has something to do with the texture, which is slightly atypical for instant oatmeal. It's creamier, I think because of the powder of good-for-you additives that puffs out of the pouch when you dump the oatmeal into your bowl: namely soy protein isolate and flax meal. When this powder mixes with the boiling water, it amounts to an oatmeal texture that is creamier and smoother than other instant oatmeals'. And I believe those additives contribute to the ever-so-slightly different flavor. (I would describe this flavor as somewhat sweet and even milky.)
Most of the time, the things that make this oatmeal different are what draw me to the oatmeal and make me want to eat it---but I do get tired of it after awhile and will want to switch it up. (See soon-to-come post on Frozen Steelcut Oatmeal.)
All in all, though, Oatmeal Complete is a healthful, satisfying, just-barely-sweet alternative to the instant oatmeals sold in other grocery stores. (And my three-year-old loves it: SCORE!) I like to maintain a steady supply of it in my pantry.

Chocolate European Style Lowfat Yogurt

Trader Joe's Chocolate European Style Lowfat YogurtLet's jump right in and waste no time: Trader Joe's does a kick-ass job with their yogurts. Would you agree? Michael Ian Black once joked on his "Mike and Tom Eat Snacks" podcast that approximately 80% of grocery-store real estate these days is dedicated to yogurt, and thankfully, that figure holds *true* (give or take) for every Trader Joe's I've shopped. And really, hooray for that, because first of all, yogurt is tasty and interesting and healthy, and there are so many varieties and flavors to sample and experiment with; and secondly, Trader Joe's yogurts in particular are generally high quality and priced well. Bring on the 'gurt, I say!
...and for the first of many TJ's 'gurts to be featured on this blog AND the first Mo Loves Joe product post, period, I present to you Chocolate European Style Lowfat Yogurt. (Resisting strong urge to insert much-needed hyphen between "European" and "Style," btw. It's not a Chocolate European we're referring to here---thankfully---it's a chocolate-flavored European-style yogurt. But, okay.)
This yogurt is simple yet decadent, and that's why it's fabulous. It is tangy and tart, as yogurt should be, plus chocolately, bitter, and mildly sweet. Other chocolate yogurts from other places and other manufacturers are hardly yogurts at all---they are nauseatingly sweet confections and read more like pudding in flavor and texture. This yogurt is thick and creamy and feels "real." Simply put: I can eat THIS chocolate yogurt as a late-morning snack and feel good about myself afterward.

I've got your Trader Joe's fangirl right here

Mo plus TJ equals love
Hello there, and thanks for stopping by Mo Loves Joe! I love Trader Joe's: the cheery, kitschy vibe inside the stores, the cute handwritten product labels on the shelves, the free samples, the ridiculously reasonable prices, the kid-friendliness, the whimsical product marketing, and most of all, the products themselves. I love that I usually discover something new and delightful every time I shop there. (Block of cheddar cheese marbled with dark chocolate, anyone?) I love that I don't have to worry about scouring ingredients lists for artificial colors or flavorings, or high-fructose corn syrup, or other dark and beastly things, because there just aren't any in Trader Joe's products.
I guess I'm a fangirl, because I can't really ever shut up about how wonderful and fabulous and essential Trader Joe's is whenever it comes up in conversation. I'm guessing YOU love Joe, too (right?), and I look forward to geeking out with you over all things Joe right here on this site!