Trader Joe’s High-Oleic ORGANIC SUNFLOWER OIL


Trader Joe’s High-Oleic Organic Sunflower Oil

I use a lot of olive oil to cook with. However there are times when you want or a recipe specifies, to use a “neutral flavored oil”. Meaning you should not use olive oil which has its own flavor, in which case I use TJ’s Organic Sunflower Oil. It’s a very good neutral vegetable oil, in fact it’s a fine all-around cooking oil. This is the oil I use basically whenever I am not using olive oil. For example it’s what I use when I am making a Chinese or other Asian dishes which always specify a “neutral” vegetable oil that won’t affect the other flavors in the dish. And Sunflower Oil is good for high heat which is good for Wok cooking. I had to look up “high-oleic” but that this sunflower oil is High Oleic means its quite healthy too, maybe even more than olive oil. And this oil is ORGANIC. TJ’s Organic Sunflower Oil is quite reasonable at $3.99 for a 33.8 oz bottle, which is of course far less than olive oil. So you probably want this as your “other” oil, like me. I would buy this again.

Trader Joe’s EGGPLANT GARLIC SPREAD


“A traditional Bulgarian recipe that pairs well with pita or flatbread. Use as a dip or as a spread on sandwiches, toast or crackers”.

Ingredients: Eggplant, red peppers, water, sunflower oil, tomato paste, sugar, sea salt, dried garlic….

This spread, which is made in Bulgaria, is absolutely delicious. I tried this as a vegetarian spread with some warm flatbread and it was a combo made in Heaven. Also I can also easily see this used in other ways besides being just a dip or spread. Serve this on top or on the side of some grilled chicken, or fish for a delicious accompaniment. Or you might use this with pasta. Add a few spoons to a pasta dish (or gnocchi or polenta) along with lots of garlic and olive oil. Inside an omelet? Sure thing. Now as yummy as it is, personally I would like more garlic. I have a feeling if your (Bulgarian) grandma made this spread it might actually have enough garlic in it to kill vampires. My late Jewish grandma (Romanian by birth) made a delicious roasted eggplant spread that had a ton – and I mean a ton – of garlic in it and it was fantastic. So just to see if more garlic would be a good addition with TJ’s spread, I mashed up a few cloves of garlic, mixed it in to this spread and let it sit for an hour to develop. OMG, it was now even better – if you love garlic of course. So I suggest doing that, and adding a slug of good olive oil too and mixing it all in. Now this spread tastes homemade. It will be better, but even just out of the jar, this spread is delicious, kind of an “Eggplant Caviar”. This spread is something I can easily see putting out for guests who suddenly showed up, along with some crackers, which would take all of 2 minutes of work, and would look impressive and have them asking you “yum, this dip is delicious; did you make it?”. If you put a few cloves of garlic in it, I would tell them with a straight face, yes I did.

$2.69 for a 12 oz jar. I would buy this again.

Trader Joe’s 10-minute FARRO (whole grain)


Farro is an Italian word basically meaning “ancient grain”, referring to ancient wheat varieties (emmer, spelt, or einkorn) forerunner grains to modern wheat. Farro is a very healthy food for you to eat, extremely nutritious and an excellent source of protein, fiber and nutrients like magnesium, zinc and some B vitamins. Its a much healthier alternative to some other refined grains for example white rice. If you’ve never had farro served on the side of a fancy Italian restaurant ( – it’s gotten a bit trendy – you should try this. You will probably like it’s very nutty taste. It’s delicious on its own even with just some butter, salt and pepper. You can cook it in water, or broth which will of course make it even tastier. This is a great and healthy product which we really like to make either as a side dish or even part of the main, say mixed with other veggies, maybe as the base of a protein bowl. A recipe for “Farro with Sausage & Apples” is written on the bag. Whole grains like this normally take about 45 minutes to cook however TJ’s “10 Minute Farro” obviously cooks faster in only about 10-15 minutes. I am guessing its been partially cooked. Trader Joe’s 10 Minute Farro sells for $1.79 for an 8.8 oz. bag. I buy this stuff all the time. Great for the pantry.

Trader Joe’s ORGANIC POLENTA


Trader Joe’s ORGANIC POLENTA; cooked; ready to heat and serve. Gluten Free.

Ingredients: Water, Organic Corn Meal, Salt

Just in case you are not familiar with Polenta, it’s simple – and delicious. Polenta is just cooked coarsely ground corn meal. This Organic version from Trader Joe’s comes in a tube pre-cooked. Slice the polenta into 1/2″ slices which you grill up into crispy fried polenta. Delicious – and cheap! This is why polenta has been a staple of Italian “cucina povera” for centuries, very similar of course to “grits” here. Polenta is inexpensive, healthy, gluten free, and vegetarian.

TJ’s tube of cooked polenta is convenient, shelf stable, and only $1.99. One tube can easily make a dinner for two people. We love it as an alternative to pasta. I like to pan fry it and recommend that as the best way to serve this. The package also says you can bake it. However please don’t even think about microwaving as it also says on the package; it has to be crispy, as crispy as possible. If cooked till crispy fried polenta gets a really nice chewy “meaty” texture.

As shown in the first picture is how I made the polenta into dinner recently for us. I sautéed the slices in olive oil plus a little butter to help it brown better, for maybe 10 minutes a side – note, this is double the recommended time of 4-5 minutes on the package. Trust me, you want this very crispy, golden brown and delicious. I flipped the first side over and put a bit of mozzarella on top of the slices, which melted as the other side cooked. When it was ready to serve, I plated it and spooned over tomato sauce, in this case TJ’s Roasted Garlic Marinara sauce which is quite good by the way. I grated some extra cheese, Asiago all over. This made for a delicious Italian dinner along with a little salad and crusty bread. Dinner for two for about $4 bucks.

I always like to keep one of these shelf stable packages of TJ’s polenta in the pantry as it can make an easy, fast dinner for those times when you have “nothing” to eat in the house. A tube of this and a jar of sauce and you have dinner in 10 minutes. Not to mention Polenta’s perfect for Meatless Monday’s. Would I but this again? Yes I buy this regularly, its an excellent cheap TJ product and a great staple to have in your pantry.

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/fried-polenta-5535085

PS DIY PAN FRIED GRITS – might be worth the little extra effort (cook the grits, let cool, cut into slices) not to mention even cheaper

Seen at Trader Joe’s: Coffee Plants for sale !


I was pretty surprised to see this yesterday at Trader Joe’s in the plants section. I’ve never even seen an indoor coffee plant before. I think it was $7.99. As a bit of a coffee geek, I was slightly tempted to buy it (but didn’t… yet) Just in case you do, here’s some Plant Care tips for coffee I found online below. I wouldn’t expect you are going to get a harvest from this but still kinda interesting….

https://www.bobvila.com/articles/coffee-plant-care/

Trader Joe’s HARVEST GRAIN BLEND


Here’s a TJ’s product that is easy, tasty and healthy: HARVEST GRAIN BLEND. A healthy blend of beans and grains. Ingredients include: pearled couscous (ie, Israeli couscous), orzo pasta, split baby garbanzo beans and quinoa. I have found this makes an easy, fast and super tasty side dish, instead of say rice, which is ready in only about 10 minutes. While it makes a great side dish as shown here with some broiled salmon, you could also plate it up as the “base” and put the fish on top – or whatever your main is: meat, chicken, tofu or some other protein or main dish. Another idea is using this as the base of a protein bowl with your choice of protein on top. You can make it with just water or even better with some broth which of course will make it even more flavorful. Just simmer this covered for 10 minutes, and Done! So really easy and it’s quite tasty. You could even toss in some veggies too if you like, maybe add frozen peas, or carrots or the mixed frozen veggies? All good. A 16 oz bag now goes for $2.99. This is well worth trying. I buy it all the time. Easy, healthy, real food.

Trader Joe’s GROUND TURKEY (with recipe: Turkey Bean Chili )


Ground turkey is something I buy fairly frequently at Trader Joe’s as I find it a versatile ingredient. It’s a convenient protein to have on hand in the fridge, or freezer. Obviously also it has less fat and calories than ground beef, plus is much less expensive, all of which is why ground turkey is a big go-to ingredient for many people. Taste-wise however ground turkey is on the bland side and needs some jazzing up to be tasty. I have found it benefits from two things. One, deep browning. Getting it really browned improves its flavor (due to the Maillard effect). Number two: using lots of seasoning. One excellent match for ground turkey is TJ’s taco seasoning, the 79 cents “miracle” packet. Other good Trader Joe’s seasoning blends that match well with it are: TJ’s Cuban Style Citrus Garlic Blend seasoning, TJ’s Ajika Georgian Seasoning, ground cumin, black pepper and of course lots of garlic, ground or especially fresh chopped garlic. So my “secret” for ground turkey is I season it really, really generously, coating it completely, as the TJ ground turkey is pretty “wet” which make it’s hard to brown. I’ve found a good amount of dry seasoning coating on the outside gives it a drier surface that makes it brown more easily. So if you put a good deal of seasoning on the outside to provide a dry surface for pan grilling (add as little salt or no salt since the seasonings may have salt, check the package) it helps. I also try to minimally compress the ground meat even if making into a burger. I don’t compress the meat much either, as minimally as possible. I sprinkle the dry seasonings generously all over and gently lay it into a VERY hot cast iron pan with good tablespoon or two of olive oil or an oil and butter mix. I don’t touch or move it at all until the bottom side has turned quite brown which can take a good 6-8 minutes. If making turkey for tacos, I just lay it from the package (seasoned) into the pan and try to not break it up until it is done and very browned. This yields large chunks which I like. If you want to mix it with other ingredients like chopped veggies, then you can even add an egg and some binder (panko, breadcrumbs, etc) and then form that into patties.

Ground turkey recipes are all over the internet and found easily. Here’s mine for a fast turkey bean chili.

EASY TURKEY BEAN CHILI: Season turkey as described above, Cook in a hot pan in a nice slug of oilve oil (better still and oil/butter mix). When turkey is very browned on one side add a chopped medium onion and ground cumin to taste. Sauté together until the onion is a lightly browned and fragrant. Add a few cloves of chopped garlic. Now break up the turkey keeping a few large chunks for texture. Add a large tablespoon of Tomato paste and mix it in and cook on low-medium heat for a minute or two. Add a can of drained red kidney (or black beans) then add in a can of Fire Roasted Tomatoes with Green Chiles. Rinse out the can with a little water to get everything and add that liquid. Simmer everything on low for about 20-30 minutes to let the flavors blend. Taste and adjust seasoning/salt if needed. Serve with rice with grated cheddar cheese on top. (Variation -Turkey Bean Chili Soup; this can easily become a soup instead of a stew, just add more liquid (chicken or beef broth or another can of tomatoes) and simmer together till done. )

The TJ ground turkey goes for about $4 a lb. The regular turkey is better overall. The more expensive all white meat ground turkey breast kind can turn out too dry unless you are super careful cooking it, and mix it with other ingredients to keep it moist. If you don’t use ground turkey within 2 days of purchase, put the package in the freezer, and do an overnight defrost in the fridge the day before you want to use it. Yes I know it has a 2 week “use by” date on the package but all ground meats are best used as fresh as possible, within a day or two. TJ’s dates are way too generous for me.

UPDATE: (April 2022, I noticed ground turkey has prices crept up about 50 cents due to rampant inflation)

Trader Joe’s ORGANIC DATE SYRUP


“Organic Date Syrup is made from 100% Deglet Noor dates with nothing added. It makes a deliciously sweet topping or ingredient and can be used in place of maple, agave or any other syrup”

This is an interesting product, a very, very thick, sweet dark syrup made solely from dates. It tastes exactly like dates of course. I find it delicious and unique. It is a little expensive at $3.50 for a 6 oz bottle, however you use it in very, very small amounts, way less than say you would use honey so a bottle will last for awhile. One use I find this date syrup goes especially well with is drizzled on top of plain yogurt on my morning cereal and I don’t use much of it, just a tiny drizzle or two is plenty as its so intensely concentrated giving everything a lovely flavor.

TRADER JOES HAS THIS TO SAY

“Dates have been a part of people’s diets for an extraordinarily long time — archaeological evidence suggests that date palms been cultivated by humans for at least 7,000 years! But even beyond their countless culinary uses when eaten as a whole fruit, dates have also been used to make other foods sweeter since the days of ancient Mesopotamia. So while we’d like to introduce Trader Joe’s Organic Date Syrup as a new item, it’s actually an extremely old one — just new to us, is all. Made entirely from organic Tunisian Deglet Noor dates, this Syrup has a naturally warm and caramelly taste and can be used to add sweetness to anything you’d use agave or maple syrup on. Everything from pancakes and French toast, cakes and pastries, cocktails and coffee drinks, vinaigrettes and marinades, all take on a rich sweetness with even just a light drizzling of our Organic Date Syrup — we find that its dark, butterscotch-y flavor feels tailor-made for topping ice cream.”

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/organic-date-syrup-070849

TJ’s ORGANIC ITALIAN ARTISAN GIGLI PASTA (with recipe)


Trader Joe’s Artisan Organic Italian Pasta

This shape, “Gigli” is sometimes also called “Campanelle” (tower) a twisty corkscrew shape with a frilly edge. This is one of TJ’s premium pastas that go for a bit more than the regular Organic pastas they carry. This one goes for $2.99 for a 1.1 lb bag, a premium price but its a premium pasta. This is a high quality Organic Pasta made in Italy by a premium manufacturer. You can note by the closeup of the pasta, it has that rough exterior indicating it’s bronze die cut and the lighter color indicating it’s slow dried, like the best Italian pastas you might find at a specialty Italian grocery – and which probably sell for double or more than this.

The cook time is only 5-7 minutes and I would stop it at a minute under Al Dente for finishing with a sauce (which means maybe around 4 minutes). I cooked this pasta with a sauce of sautéed fresh cherry tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and feta cheese and everyone seemed to love it. My only minor complaint is when it was cooked some of the frilly edges detached into little stringy things, which look a bit weird but again this a very minor complaint. Taste wise this is another excellent quality pasta from Trader Joe’s. This corkscrew shape will be good with any sauce especially any sauce that will get into every nook and cranny of this shape. Though I haven’t tried it yet for CACIO E PEPE, I have a feeling they would be good with each other

RECIPE – EASY CHERRY TOMATO AND FETA CHEESE PASTA

Put up a large pan of salted water to boil for the pasta. In a large sauté pan, cook about 12-16 oz of cherry tomatoes (sliced in half) in a good amount of olive oil on med-high heat until the tomatoes start to soften up, about 5-7 minutes. Throw in about 4-5 cloves of minced garlic and cook for another few minutes and at the same time, I push the tomatoes to the side and put a good amount of FETA cheese cut into cube on the other side of the pan and cook on medium heat until they start to brown a little bit. Turn off the heat. Cook the pasta; check it for about a minute under al dente and toss the drained pasta into the pan with the sauce adding about a ladle of the pasta water. Cook for one minute until al dente and mix it all together. Top with a bit of more grated cheese (Parm, Pecorino, or Asiago), some fresh ground pepper and plate it up. Enjoy!

TJ’S LINK

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/organic-italian-artisan-gigli-pasta-060942

TRADER JOE’S SAYS:

Traditional Italian pasta is made with only two ingredients, durum wheat semolina flour and water—a small amount of softer wheat flour is allowed by law, but Trader Joe’s Organic Italian Artisan Gigli Pasta is crafted with 100% organic durum wheat semolina sourced from farms in Puglia. Our supplier has been producing artisan-made pasta for more than 35 years. Most dried pasta are made in huge batches and dried quickly, from three to 12 hours. This Artisan Pasta is made in small batches, and dried at much lower temperatures for up to 24 hours, resulting in a more rustic texture that cooks to a delightfully al dente texture. Gigli, also known as Campanelle (translates to “bellflowers” or “little bells”), has a ruffled edge and hollow center, so it holds any sauce extremely well. Marinara? Carbonara? Just a bit of olive oil and shaved Parmesan? Any of these will do, deliciously.

Why you should eat SARDINES (Protein, Omega 3 & Calcium…)


You should probably add sardines to your diet if you don’t eat them already. Before you click away just hear me out. Don’t be squeamish about these little fishies. Sardines are good, and they’re good for you. In fact did you know Sardines are one of the healthiest fish you can eat? Not only are they are loaded with protein they are a terrific source of calcium (the ones with skin and bones but don’t worry these tiny bones are so soft you don’t even notice them). Women especially need extra calcium. And Sardines are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids giving one 2 grams of omega-3s per 3 ounce serving – which is one of the highest levels of omega-3s in any food per amount They also have the lowest levels of mercury of any fish. Sardines are WILD caught only, never farme and the sardine is a plentiful and sustainable fish. And they are cheap. But not only are these little guys healthy for you. I think sardines are DELICIOUS. Europeans love them and eat lots of sardines. Not so much here in the U.S, but you should if you don’t already.

Trader Joe’s sells about three varieties of canned sardines. I especially love TJ’s SMOKED SARDINES IN OLIVE OIL (purple can) which is just $1.69 (!). A can gives you a whopping 21 grams of protein. Plus Calcium and Omega’3. I probably eat a can for lunch at least once a week.

SERVING SUGGESTION: Drain and mash them up with a fork adding juice of a quarter lemon or lime and a teaspoon of mayonnaise, with a grind of fresh black pepper. Add a touch of hot sauce if you like. Spread this paste on fresh toasted bread or your favorite cracker. So yummy.

Trader Joe’s has 3 varieties of sardines. If you can’t bear to see the ones with skin, the skinless boneless ones in olive oil (grey can) are a good starting point but I do recommend the tasty smoked ones (purple can) which I love best. The “smoked Trader Joe’s sardines” are very tasty.

You can even saute cubed potatoes in the left over oil in the can.

Country of origin: Portugal (purple can), Canada (blue), Morocco (grey)

Get some more ideas here: https://wildplanetfoods.com/recipes-category/sardines/

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