Ever since a Trader Joe’s opened up less than 10 blocks from us on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Therese and I have been regular shoppers there. Over time, I have developed my list of dairy free items that they sell. Here’s what I bought on my most recent Trader Joe’s run.
Pineapple salsa. TJ’s makes all kinds of salsa I’ve never seen before, and we keep a variety of them on-hand at all times: corn salsa, peach salsa, salsa verde. Pineapple isn’t available all year round, so when it is on the shelf, I buy two just to make sure we will have it around for a while.
Beef Steak and Chicken Chile Verde Burritos. TJ’s frozen burritos make a great easy inexpensive lunch, but you have to know how to make them right. First of all, I wet the paper towel that I put on top of the burritos during de-frosting (I usually do two at a time), and I rotate the burrito so that they get evenly cooked. Then, instead of just cooking on high for one minute, I do one minute (still with the moist paper towel), rotate, and cook for another minute. That way, they get evenly cooked, and the tortilla doesn’t get all dried out and tough on the ends. To give it that little extra zip, I like to put some dollops of TJ salsas on the plate to dip my burrito in. And of course, I love the fact that neither one of these has cheese in them (beware, the rice and beans burrito does!).
Seafood Blend. I like to keep a bag or two of these in my freezer (it’s a blend of shrimp, scallops and squid). This makes a great seafood base for when I want to make paella (hmmm, it’s been a while, I am overdue to make some paella!). It’s also good for anything else that calls for lots of seafood. And if you wanted to make some quick easy seafood pasta, all you’d have to do is saute these in a pan with some onions for a couple minutes, throw on some sauce, stir, mix it with your pasta, and presto!
Shrimp Gyoza. Therese was the one who turned me on to these yummy quick cooking dumplings (actually, she’s the one who turned me on to most of what we buy at TJ’s!). I’ve had pot stickers of all different kinds over the years – brand names, ones imported from China, etc. – and these taste the best of any of them. We like to do ours really light and easy too. 2 tbsp of oil in the pan, cook them for 4 minutes, pour in about half a cup of chicken broth and sprinkle on some dried parsley flakes, cover them and turn the heat down a bit and let them steam for another 4 minutes, then serve them with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil. No heavy soy ginger sauces for us (though we do occasionally cook them with a little Hoisin sauce for a change).
Oh, and don’t waste your time with the Vegetable or Pork ones. Shrimp is the best tasting by far.
In addition to picking up these favorites, I also found some new things to try:
Chicken-less Pulled Chicken. I used to be a vegan once upon a time, and I still strongly believe in vegan principles of healthiness and justice, and give credit to people who live the lifestyle. I’ve turned to dark side, but I want to get back into eating vegan at least one a week, maybe more. TJ let us all down with their soy cheeses, which have casein (milk protein), but at least they are making some bona fide vegan meat substitutes that might be pretty yummy. I’ll let you know what I think with this one.
Speculoos Cookie Butter. Ever since I read about Speculoos spread in a post from Vegan Backpacker, I’ve been looking forward to traveling to Belgium where you can buy jars of this stuff in the grocery stores. So when I saw that TJ is making their own version, I got a little excited! OK, keeping this around for snacks is kinda naughty – it’s bad enough that I’ve been eating flavored peanut butters – but I swear that this will be an occasional treat. And if necessary, I will get out a dictionary and hold myself to the most restrictive definition of “occasional” that I can find.
Soy Yogurts. At some point in the near future, I am going to write a post comparing all the dairy free yogurts I can find, including So Delicious, Silk, Whole Soy, Stonyfield “O’Soy” and any others available in my neighborhood. If anyone has any favorites, please let me know. In the meantime, I’ve never had these, and I know that I should eat healthier breakfasts, so an occasional yogurt would be a good thing.
So that’s it for now. I’m sure that next time I go to TJ’s, I will probably pick up some other products. Like I know their Butternut Squash soup is really good. Until then, these are my favorites. I hope I’ve mentioned some of your favorites, too!