What's New at Trader Joe's?

Shopping with Mr. Balancing Act is all about efficiency. He likes to get the job done quickly and smoothly, without ever retracing any steps. I am more about the browsing, the leisurely strolling, the reading of signs and labels, the process of discovery. Needless to say, shopping together is quite a balancing act!

Trader Joe's is definitely one of my favorite places to shop. There are MANY things I love about this chain: the prices tend to be low, especially when you take into account the high quality. Although we also shop at Costco, we often choose to buy things at Trader Joe's instead since you can purchase just one (organic chicken, grass fed butter, etc) rather than several. The prices are usually almost the same per pound.

Recently, Trader Joe's added some new and awesome products to their inventory. I am deeply in love with the canned Coconut Cream. They have always carried a canned Lite Coconut Milk, but this reduced fat version leaves much to be desired. Like the fat! The fat is where all the flavor lives, so coconut milk without the fat is just sad. Besides, the fat in coconut contains medium-branch chain fatty acids which have particular health benefits. Not to mention decadent deliciousness. I added this Coconut Cream to the almond joy cheesecake I made (recipe posted!) as well as a Thai-style chicken soup with red curry paste. It would also be fantastic in coffee or chai.

Although they still do not carry hemp seeds, Trader Joe's does now sell chia seeds in an adorable little pouch. I have seen chia seeds at Costco also, but you must purchase an enormous sack which could last you well into the next millennium. If you are not planning to consume massive amounts daily, you might go for this cute pouch of seeds instead. One advantage of chia seeds (in addition to the fiber, omega-3's, etc) is that they act as a thickening agent when combined with liquids, so they work really well not just in smoothies but also in baked fruit desserts like crisps or pies. They can help tighten up a batter, too. I find this helpful when attempting to bake without wheat flour. The flavor is mild and pleasantly nutty.

And surprise! Trader Joe's now carries kimchi! This fermented cabbage product from Korea is typically found in Asian groceries in large jars, but Trader Joe's is now offering smallish (10 oz.) pouches in the refrigerated section. Kimchi can be used as a condiment, a side dish, or an ingredient. You can eat it as is, or stir fry it into your fried rice. You can form it into patties mixed with ground meat or pancakes mixed into a batter. As with all fermented foods, this stuff is great for your gut. The natural bacteria are good for digestion and boosting immunity. The taste? A combination of sour, hot, and salty.

These are my latest discoveries at Trader Joe's. If you have found a wonderful product that I missed (thanks to my husband rushing me along!) please share your information with the rest of us!