Trader Joe’s ORGANIC FLAXSEED MEAL


TJ’s unfortunately discontinued the Whole Roasted Flax Seeds they used to sell and replaced it with this version with the flax seeds already ground into meal. I preferred the whole flax seeds to this already ground version but if this is the only choice, then I will have to get this. Keep it in the fridge after opening. Its good for Smoothies of course or adding into baked goods or pancakes.

Trader Joe’s “SPICY JOLLOF SEASONED RICE MIX”


Trader Joe’s “SPICY JOLLOF SEASONED RICE MIX” with dried tomatoes, onion and garlic

There was a little controversy when this product first came out as some saw this as a bit of cultural appropriation. What is JOLLOF RICE anyway? It’s a rice dish eaten widely across parts of West Africa, especially Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal. Even in Africa the dish has a little controversy. Is it Nigerian or Ghanaian or Senegalese where it has a different name? It’s considered the national dish of Senegal where it’s known as Thieboudienne / Tchebu D’jen. (The word “Jollof” is an English variation of “Wolof” which is both a language and a people)

In my lifetime, I’ve eaten many many plates of authentic Senegalese Tchebu D’jen in many African restaurants back in the day when there were a dozen African restaurants on 116th Street in Harlem when the street used to be known as Petit Dakar . I love this dish and variations of it. Taste a real version of this dish if you ever have the chance. An authentic “JOLLOF RICE” (aka Party Rice, aka Tchebu Djen) from Nigeria, Ghana, or Senegal is an amazing dish. It’s complicated to make with a number of ingredients, another reason that Trader Joe’s coming out with this “instant” version caused a wee bit of controversy on the internet. The mix was developed by a Nigerian family here I believe.

Here’s my take. Out of the package, this is a far, far cry from an authentic African Joloff Rice. I fixed it up when I made it. It has some potential if you fix it up to make something better, not close to what your Nigerian granny would make but something semi-OK and better than just making this package as is.

Here’s my suggestions on how to fix this up: In a large pot, put a tablespoon olive oil and butter (you probably don’t have Palm Oil which is best) Stir in a huge tablespoon of tomato paste. Cook for 30 seconds and add a chopped up tomato, 1/2 a chopped onion, 4 cloves of garlic minced. Cook 2 minutes, then add your cooking liquid (water, but chicken or veggie broth would be better). 3 cups as the package says is a lot. I reduced to about 2 3/4 cups as the veggies have water. Add a few carrots and a 1/4 cabbage. Boil for 5 minutes. THEN add the package of this “JOLOFF RICE” mix. Add some Smoked Paprika and as much as you like of some spicy mix of PERI-PERI, BOMBA, or ZHOUG . Once it boils lower to a simmer and cook covered for 20 minutes. Turn off heat. Let it sit 5 minutes covered to absorb all liquids. When you are ready, serve rice with vegetables on the side/top, and serve some of those spicy sauces on the side for people to adjust to their tastes.

Tchebu Jen is made with smoky dried stockfish in the broth and served with fresh fish. I ate it with some fish on top (smoked sardines and salmon) Other ideas are serving this with grilled chicken or maybe grilled SHAWARMA chicken.

TJ’s SPICY JOLLOF SEASONED RICE mix is $2.69 for an 8 oz package.

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/spicy-jollof-seasoned-rice-mix-070883

“Originating in West Africa as far back as the 14th century, Jollof rice is more than just an esteemed and storied dish, it’s a cultural force of its own. It’s served as the inspiration for countless recipes across the African diaspora, including jambalaya and gumbo. It’s even sparked a friendly (if not, at times, heated) rivalry between a handful of nations regarding who makes the best version. If you’ve ever had the chance to try it, you know exactly why it’s remained such a vital part of African cuisine for over 700 years.”

Trader Joe’s GREEK CHICKPEAS with parsley and cumin


Absolutely great pantry item. For out of a can, this is really tasty. Trader Joe’s describes this as kind of a “deconstructed hummus” as it has many of the same ingredients in it as hummus does. In fact I served it alongside with hummus and even put some of this on top of the hummus which is a typical serving style, to have some whole chickpeas on top. The flavors in this are really good, they have lemon, parsley, cumin, garlic and black pepper and the seasonings have permeated inside the chickpeas so they are way more tasty than if you just poured on sauce. My only small complaint is they used soybean oil instead of olive oil to cut costs. However this is easily fixed with some of your EVOO. I poured off most of the sauce and added a nice glug of good Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which did improve it. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice too while you are at it, which will brighten it up so it tastes like you made it yourself. This would be great for say a picnic too. We ate it as a side dish with some Falafel. Good match. Or add a can on top of salad to add some bean protein.

A can is $1.99. PRODUCT OF GREECE.

I would buy this again.

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/greek-chickpeas-with-cumin-and-parsley-060205

Trader Joe’s SEEDS & WHOLE GRAINS CRISPBREAD Norwegian Crackers


These are really seedy, really crunch savory flats, made for us in Norway using the bakeriets proprietary process. The crispbreads make a wonderful snack on their own or are perfect with cheese and soup.”

INGREDIENTS: Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, wholemeal rye flour, oat bran, oatmeal, flaxseed, spelt bran, wheat bran, water, sea salt, oregano, thyme

I would put this on a Trader Joe’s Best Items list.

I love these crispbreads which are super crunchy Scandinavian crispbreads / crackers. These are good for breakfast, for lunch or for an appetizer/dinner. I buy these all the time, I have to have them in the house. They are super healthy crackers, absolutely loaded with seeds and whole grains. When I say these are “crunchy” I am not kidding, they’re stupendously, can’t hear yourself talk, crunchy. They make a good match with your favorite hummus or any dip or spread. They are great for those Scandinavian open faced sandwiches of course. You could load this up with some Lightly Smoked Salmon with a little cream cheese or mayo (see below) and you will be in Heaven (or Valhalla as the case may be). You can break them in half carefully to make a smaller size base if you want.

PRODUCT OF NORWAY. 8 oz package is $2.99. I would buy them again.

https://www.veggirlrd.com/a-very-versatile-cracker-trader-joes-whole-grain-crispbread/

Get your Viking on! You can not get more Norwegian than these.

Trader Joe’s ROASTED GARLIC HUMMUS


Of all the different kinds of hummus Trader Joe’s sells, I wanted to try this one for awhile. When I finally tasted it, I was very pleasantly surprised at how good it is. In fact the ROASTED GARLIC HUMMUS just became my new favorite of all the hummus I tried. It just has that little extra something from the roasted garlic which makes this a standout for me. It’s delicious and has just the right amount of the mellow roasted garlic flavor that blends perfectly with but does not overpower the overall flavor of the hummus. It was $1.99 for years but has gone up to $2.29 (8 oz) Yes, all of TJ’s hummus has gone up, sigh! Try this with TJ’s PITA CHIPS which are go great with hummus or eat the hummus with your favorite chip, crackers, or warm naan or pita bread.

NEED SOME SERVING IDEAS….?

Trader Joe’s ROLLED OATS (recipe: overnight oats)


All Natural. WHOLE GRAIN. GLUTEN FREE. Loaded with fiber. What’s not to like?

Trader Joe’s ROLLED OATS are good. Among other uses, I use these to make OVERNIGHT OATS which make a terrific breakfast. Need a no-recipe recipe? Here you go: Put some rolled oats into a container and cover them with your favorite ‘milk’ (I use TJ’s Oat Milk) and add some Kefir or yogurt. Stir, cover and leave the the container in the fridge overnight. Options? Maybe add a hint of a little natural sugar, some dried fruits: raisins or cranberries. The next morning you will have yummy but not mushy Overnight Oats ready and waiting for breakfast. These DIY ones are better (and way cheaper) than the prepared overnight oats TJ sells already made in the refrigerator, which for me are way too mushy from having sit “overnight” for a few weeks (!) To Serve: top your Overnight Oats with some fruit, sliced bananas perhaps, and maybe something crunchy, like cereal or Granola. Maybe some chia seeds too! I tried TJ’s “toasted rolled oats” but I didn’t taste any toasted notes any different from these oats (those say organic and cost more of course. So I stick with buying the bag of these rolled oats. This large bag of Trader Joe’s Rolled Oats is $3.99 (for 2 lbs, or $2 per pound). Of course you can cook these oats up for hot oatmeal. Personally I do prefer the texture of TJ’s Steel Cut oats for oatmeal and buy those as well. Use these oats for baking, and cooking too. I mix these into meatloaf for the binder.

GLUTEN FREE of course.

Trader Joe’s DILL PICKLE MUSTARD


NEW PRODUCT: Trader Joe’s DILL PICKLE MUSTARD. This is one of those Trader Joe’s products which once you try, you say to yourself “This is something I didn’t even know I needed but now that I know how good this is, I want this in my life from now on”. I saw this the other day in the NEW PRODUCTS section. Like so many Trader Joe items, you see it and are instantly curious to try it and see if it’s any good. Well guess what? TJ’s DILL PICKLE MUSTARD is really good. It tastes exactly what the name says it is, mustard with dill pickles. It’s a very good classic American yellow mustard with dill pickles in it and a lot of dill flavor. Hitting two good tastes combinations at the same time. If you like dill pickles you will probably love this as much as I did. I put it on a hot dog and it was so yummy. What if I put this on a cheese sandwich? What about on a melted cheese sandwich? I can even see mixing a little bit of this into mashed potatoes too…?

$1.99 (9 oz bottle) I would buy this again.

Trader Joe’s ORGANIC BUCATINI PASTA


Trader Joe’s Organic Bucatini Pasta

Trader Joe’s new imported Organic BUCATINI has pretty much become my favorite pasta that Trader Joe’s has. This is a high quality organic artisanal pasta in a shape called bucatini, which is a long pasta like spaghetti but with a little hole (buca) in the middle.

The hole really helps this pasta to absorb sauce way more than spaghetti does (twice as much). Bucatini can be really a good match also with hearty sauces such as a Bolognese sauce or ragu. This pasta is excellent obviously for most Italian pasta dishes, and a few even specify this shape, (recipe idea links below).

In the picture is a simple pasta dish I made with this bucatini pasta and just a basic marinara tomato sauce. Even with just marinara and cheese it made a delicious pasta.

Cooking tip: This says cook for 8-10 minutes. I would suggest pulling it from the water under al dente – say around the 7 minute mark THEN FINISHING it in a pan with sauce for a minute or two so it can absorb the sauce and flavor a bit. So pull the slightly undercooked pasta, toss it into a pan with maybe 1/2 the sauce you are serving it with, and finish cooking the pasta with the sauce adding 1-2 tablespoons of the cooking water as needed. (watch Vincenzo do this in the video below) Always save a 1/2 cup of your pasta cooking water. Starchy pasta cooking water is the magic “secret” ingredient to cooking pasta the way Italians do. Finish cooking the pasta for a minute or two until it’s al dente or to your desired degree of done-ness. Plate it up and serve with a bit of extra sauce on top. Garnish with a little grated cheese and chopped parsley. The Bucantini swells up a bit with the sauce giving it a delicious texture and taste. You can even try this Bucantini pasta to make Asian noodle dishes! No really. It works pretty well as an Asian noodle in a pinch.

TJ’s Organic Bucatini pasta is selling for $1.49 for a 1 lb. package. Ingredients: Organic Durum Semolina. PRODUCT OF ITALY. Here’s a few recipe ideas for bucatini too….

https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/a34922698/bucatini-pasta-recipe/

https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/bucatini-pecorino-and-coarse-pepper

https://www.bonappetit.com/story/bucatini-best-long-pasta

Trader Joe’s “Azmari BUUNNI Coffee” Afro-Latin blend


This blend combines Ethiopian delicacy with Latin verve…Notes of chocolate, nougat, cherry”

A blend of African & Latin American coffees
The striking, terrific graphic design of this bag of Buunii AZMARI coffee really caught my eye when I saw it recently in Trader Joe’s NEW PRODUCTS section. Bold bright colors and stylized images that say “farm” to me. Best is that the coffee inside the bag is as good as the outside. This Azamri BUNNII blend is an excellent coffee in a whole bean medium roast. In this case, an actual light-medium roast as some people complain Trader Joe’s medium roasts are a shade darker. The coffee is from a smallish coffee outfit called BUUNNI COFFEE which I am glad to learn is being sold under it’s own brand at Trader Joe’s locations in the North East. The packaging for Trader Joe’s looks different from their other packaging so likely it was specially made for TJ’s and the graphic design really works. It certainly caught my eye. Opening the convenient air-tight zip closure on the bag (yet more good design) I got a lovely coffee smell and when I ground the coffee, the aroma was truly wonderful. It did kind of have as they say “notes of chocolate, nougat, cherry…”. This coffee has a perfect mix of the best of “African” and “South American” coffee styles, for good reason, as that is exactly what this blend is composed of: two Ethiopian single origin coffees mixed with a coffee from Honduras. It has that “winy” sharp African coffee note which that is then balanced by the Latin American smoother notes of the single origin Honduran coffee. An excellent blend, roasted perfectly to bring out the best of this coffee. Trader Joe’s is selling it for $9.99 a bag (12 oz). I would buy this again, gladly and hope you give it a try; I don’t think anyone wouldn’t like this. This is an impressive “high end” coffee for a good price, well worth checking out if you see it and are a real coffee lover!

update: i went back to buy more and couldn’t find it; I am thinking (hoping) just out of stock… we’ll see – update2 – its back in stock (jun 2022)

https://www.thespruceeats.com/ethiopian-coffee-culture-765829

Trader Joe’s ORGANIC CHIA SEEDS


Trader Joe’s Organic Chia Seeds

If you aren’t eating chia seeds by now, you probably should be.

You’ve no doubt heard about what a superfood chia seeds are and all it’s health benefits. These tiny powerhouse seeds are packed with protein and Omega 3’s and other goodies. When soaked in liquid the seeds swell up into a gel. So they are great for adding to cereal, smoothies, yogurt or pancakes. They can be used as a thickener. The seeds are really tiny so be careful as if you spill some they have a tendency to go everywhere. Rather than pouring them out of the bag, I keep some in a jar so I can pour them or scoop out a huge tablespoon every day which I mix into oat milk and kefir. They take a little while to swell up and absorb liquid so I wait 10 minutes af so. A 12 oz bag of them now sells for $5.49. Trader Joe’s sells a number of superfood seed items, chia seeds, flax seeds, a mix of chia and flax, and hemp seeds. All of these tiny superfood seeds are good for you and things you can incorporate into your daily diet, especially I think at breakfast when you can eat a few tablespoons easily in cereal, yogurts, and smoothies.

Trader Joe’s carries a few superfood seeds: CHIA SEEDS, FLAX SEEDS, HEMP SEEDS. I saw a whole “smoothies section” featuring these seeds plus other products good to make your morning smoothie

https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-chia-seeds

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