Tag Archives: trader joes

Like a Ninja! : Homemade Cashew Butter, and a Smoothie to try out my new Ninja Kitchen System!

Please note, I am in no way affiliated with Ninja, or any of the brands mentioned in my blog posts. I also do not get any money from you going and buying their products. I’m just sharing my own personal experience.

How have I gone this long without a blender/food processor? I have no idea. I’ve been using a hand blender for select things up until now, all while looking enviously at high powered Über blenders like the Vitamix, while sobbing at the price tag, and waiting for the day that I could bring one home. Then yesterday my parents decide to get me the Ninja Ultra Kitchen System 1200 for a gift, to congratulate me on another successful challenge completed, and for all my healthy efforts and success. Best – Parents – Ever! It’s not a Vitamix, but it’s seriously an awesome and waaaaay more affordable option. I couldn’t wait to try it out! It comes with a 72 oz Blender, a 64 oz Food Processor/Dough Mixer cup, and 3 single serve containers. My brain was racing with possibilities all the way home. Here’s a link to the Ultra Kitchen System on Amazon


If you are a member at Costco, it’s also available there for considerably cheaper.


The first thing I wanted to try, was making my own nut butter. In my house we LOVE Artisana’s Cashew Butter, but it’s definitely a luxury at $15-$19 a jar. We picked up some Raw Cashews at Trader Joe’s and decided to start with that! Then, being that I’ve never made nut butter from scratch, I did some research on the inter-webs.

In the end, I soaked the cashews for 3-4 hours, drained the water, and put them in the processor still a little wet. I didn’t dehydrate them or roast them first like some of the blogs. I also decided not to add any extra oil. The only ingredient I added was a little sea salt at the end. It wasn’t as sweet and creamy as Artisana, but I think it was pretty awesome for a first attempt! It definitely has a creamy smooth texture, and a nice flavor. I think it came out lovely, especially considering how EASY it was.

Raw Cashew Butter

  • 2 cups Trader Joe’s raw cashews (Soaked)
  • A few shakes of sea salt

The first link I listed outlines the process pretty well. You really just have to keep processing until it gets creamy. It takes longer than you might expect, and it definitely goes through different stages. It’s the same process for making nut meal and nut flour, but you leave it in longer to get nut butter.


This morning, I decided to try the single serve containers, and make smoothies.The containers are built well, and have a clear “Max Fill” line. The top with the blade screws on securely, and when you’re done, they also have tops with a hole to drink out of, so you don’t even have to take it out of the container. They are also super easy to clean.

Nutty Cocoa Berry Smoothie:

  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 heaping tablespoon cashew butter
  • 1 pitted medjool date
  • 3-4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries (approx.)
  • 1/2 cup frozen cherries (approx.)

I put everything into the containers, starting with the coconut milk.


Then I hit the “Single Serve” button until everything was blended.


That’s it, super easy! I am so psyched to try more things in this. It’s a really solid machine and performs wonderfully.  It’s new, so time will tell how long it lasts, and how it handles in the long run, but I definitely am prepared to keep testing it!

While I was making the smoothies, I also got the rest of breakfast ready. I cooked some Portabella Mushrooms on the griddle, and topped them with heated Applegate Herb Turkey, Applegate Roast Beef, and Two Eggs. YUM! (Note, I know the Applegate roast beef is compliant for the WLC, but the Herb Turkey has Carageenan so it is NOT compliant)



Crock Pot Pulled Balsamic Chicken and Mushroom

Served with baked Cauliflower Polenta (Click for Recipe)

Served with baked Cauliflower Polenta (Click for Recipe)

My poor crock pot is such a work horse. I really should get a few of them. This dish, like pretty much anything I do in the crock pot, is really easy, and yields a lot of shredded chicken so you’ll have Leftovers for sure! I’m always excited to try new experiments with the crock pot, since it makes  dinner after a long day at work, and a busy life, seem a little less overbearing. Give this a try, It’s not too earthy, but comforting and flavorful. It’s lightly spiced, so it can be really versatile, and can be served with almost anything.

In the crock pot, combine the following ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs of chicken breast
  • 1.5 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 onion, cut into a few chunks
  • 5 small or 3 large shallots, halved
  • 3 medium portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • 4-5 large shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/3- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 can (14 oz) Trader Joe’s Light Coconut Milk
  • 6 oz vegetable broth
  • Spices: oregano, thyme, basil, salt, pepper, allspice

Cook on low for 8-10 hours, then shred the chicken with a fork.


Spiced Raspberry Mahi Mahi (Over Salad)


This dish was actually a pretty random creation, that worked amazingly well, and ended up on “Mike’s Favorites” list. Being that the weather is getting cooler, and I’m really starting to feel the fall, I use a lot of “Fall Spices” which to me mainly consist of nutmeg and cinnamon. I never really thought of using them on fish, but it went really well with the flavor of the Mahi Mahi. I think It’s a really nice holiday dish, and the raspberry sauce would probably go well over duck or turkey. In this instance I put it over a cabbage and endive salad, but you can prepare the fish and serve it with any seasonal vegetables.

First, I seasoned the Mahi with:

  • Ginger powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cayenne
  • Basil

Then, I placed it in a foil lined and covered glass pan, and baked it in the oven, at 375 degrees, for about 30 minutes. In the meantime I made the sauce.

Raspberry sauce:

  • 1/8 C. Coconut water
  • 2 C. Raspberries
  • 4-5 Allspice berries
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut aminos
  • Pinch Orange peel
  • 1 teaspoon or generous shakes Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon or generous shakes Nutmeg
  • A few good shakes Ginger powder
  • 2 tablespoons Apple cider vinegar

Starting with the raspberries, coconut aminos, vinegar, and seasonings, I simmered over medium heat, stirring often. I added coconut water as needed, to get the consistency I wanted, alternating between stirring  with the cover off (and letting it thicken) and covering to manage evaporation. When it was done, I put it off to the side and made the salad.


  • Belgian endive
  • Savoy cabbage
  • Green heirloom tomato chunks
  • Avocado
  • Yellow onion
  • Olive oil

When the fish was done, I drizzled some raspberry sauce over the salad, placed a piece of fish on top, and then drizzled the fish with the sauce. It had this wonderful and festive holiday spice to it, and the tart sweetness of the raspberries balanced the spice and also the bitterness of the salad greens.



Sweet Cabbage Chicken


This recipe is actually A revision, or rather a version of my Hot, Sweet, and Sour Chicken which can be found by clicking the picture below.
hotsourchicken 118

This version, has red cabbage, and isn’t QUITE as asian inspired. It also isn’t as spicy or sour. In a way it’s a completely different thing, but at the same time, there are a lot of similarities, and the basis is pretty much the same.


  • 1 tablespoon duck fat
  • 1 lb chicken (2 breasts cubed)
  • 1/2 a head of red cabbage – chopped
  • 2 cups broccoli slaw (Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks (fresh, or frozen from Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 or 3 tbsp Coconut aminos
  • Generous amount of Ginger powder
  • a little Salt and pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp Apple cider vinegar
  • 2 large radishes sliced – added 5 min at end


Look how pretty it looks for something so simple! I just melted some duck fat in a pan over medium heat, threw the veggies in for a few minutes, added the liquids and chicken, covered, and let cook until the chicken was cooked through, stirring occasionally.  with dishes like this, I don’t really pay much attention to the order I put the ingredients in, or even cook time, It’s kind of hard to screw up. I stir often, and keep an eye on the chicken, but because of the liquids, I never have a problem with it getting dried out. The radishes were the only thing I left out until the end. Dishes like this are really great for the week, because they take minimal effort and cook time for you busy folks like me.


Getting Ready for the WLC: Pantry Stuffers

Since the Whole Life Challenge is coming up fast, I thought I’d write a post about canned goods and items I frequently keep in the pantry. Of course, with things like vegetables, you want to buy fresh when possible, but there are inevitably items that you are going to purchase canned, I’ll also touch on fat sources (which are usually in a jar not a can). All I can say is – READ LABELS! You can’t even trust a particular brand, since ingredients may differ from product to product. If you find one thing that is compliant, don’t assume that all related items are also compliant. For example, legumes are allowed on the challenge. Here is a picture of 3 cans of various beans. Two are 365 (Whole Foods) and one is Stop and Shop. All 3 are compliant to the WLC, as the only ingredients are the beans, water, and maybe sea salt.



Awesome. Now here is a can of Dark Red Kidney Beans – Also Stop and Shop brand. Very NOT compliant. It contains a bunch of forbidden ingredients, including sugar, calcium chloride, and Disodium EDTA! WHY…..why does it need that? The others just needed water…..I don’t get it!



Anyway, Here is a list of products I use all the time, that should be pretty easy for you to find, so stock up!

1. Coconut Milk: Trader Joe’s Light Coconut Milk


I use this A LOT. You can use it for anything, from gravies to curries, smoothies to sauces. This stuff is really versatile. It is one of the few brands I’ve seen (without buying online) that does not include guar gum. It’s also really yummy, and I haven’t had any issues with it being a little thinner than traditional full fat coconut milk when using it in recipes. I wouldn’t mind finding a full fat coconut milk, but in a pinch, and in most curries and smoothies, this works just fine. It’s affordable too at only $0.99 a can!

Ingredients: Coconut Milk, Water

2. Cento Brand Crushed Tomatoes

20130821-225924.jpgThis is great for sauces and stews. I get the large 28 oz cans. You have to be careful though, most of Cento’s other products contain Citric Acid.

Ingredients: Fresh Vine Ripened Tomatoes

3. Wild Planet Sardines in Water


Now I know this nutritious little fish is not for everyone, but you should really learn to embrace this potent little swimmer. They are packed with good protein, calcium (eat the bones and all… really they’re good!), and omega 3’s. I’ve always just eaten them straight from the can, but throw them on a salad, or cook them into a sauce if you want to mask the flavor a bit. I stay away from “Natural Smoke Flavors”, and while you can find quite a few cheaper WLC compliant brands, I find Wild Planet Sardines the most enjoyable. Some of the cheaper ones have grainy roe in their stomachs, and off flavors. Most of the really cheap ones have additives, and are just really poor quality. More expensive Brislings are always safe flavor wise, and might be better for newbies as they are smaller and easier to eat, but read labels. Wild Planet Sardines are sustainably produced and look and taste fresher than any sardine I’ve tried in the past. They are kind of mid range in price, and can usually be found under $3 a can.

Ingredients: Sardines, Water, Sea Salt

4. Trader Joe’s Pitted Green Olives


These are awesome. They don’t contain citric acid, or sulfites, or any of the colorings and nasties that are in most canned olives. I love chopping them up for recipes, or adding them to salads. Just for your information, if you are put off by variances in color, you may be alarmed. I have never found a can without flaws, as there are always spots, or discolorations between the olives. I just take it as a sign that they are not hiding the fact that fruits, vegetables, and seeds are hardly ever perfectly uniform. They always taste good, and so I embrace it!

Ingredients: Green Olives, Water, Sea Salt

5. Purity Farms Ghee

20130821-221830.jpgOk, so let’s talk Ghee. I discovered it when I ran out of Duck Fat. I was skeptical, because it’s made from butter/dairy, but this brand which is Organic and GMO Free, is Lactose (The protein found in milk) and Casein (The protein found in cheese) free. Because of this, it doesn’t seem to bother my stomach (While butter, milk, and cheese will), though I still try to limit its use. I use it as a backup, in case I run out of other fats. Unfortunately, because I do have a problem with dairy products, I’ve noticed that if I have ghee a few  days in a row, my sinuses start acting up, which is annoying because it’s tasty, but for many of you it won’t cause problems. For myself, I’m going to stick with Duck Fat and Tallow, but my love affair with ghee was nice while it lasted.  I found it in Wild By Nature, but you should be able to find it in most natural food stores (or online). It has a really nice, rich, buttery flavor, and is better for cooking as it doesn’t burn like butter does. Sometimes, you don’t want to use coconut oil, and in those cases you should use this ghee (or get yourself some FatWorks!)

Ingredients: Clarified Butter

6. Trader Joe’s Coconut Oil

20130821-221958.jpgAs you can tell by the picture, I go through a lot of this. I think it’s $5.99 which isn’t too bad. I haven’t really tried any other brands, but I am happy with Trader Joe’s product so far, and always have a jar (or two!) in the pantry. The flavor is nice, and it behaves beautifully when cooking. Sometimes I blend it into my coffee….yum.

Ingredients: 100% Organic Coconut Oil

7. Trader Joe’s Spanish Olive Oil

20130821-222035.jpgYou can find a lot of information about what to look for in an olive oil. I don’t know how this stacks up against some of the more expensive brands (I think I pay around $8), but it has a fantastic flavor, and is perfect on salads, marinades, and drizzled over food for flavor. I keep it in the pantry, so it’s stored away from light, and I don’t cook with it, so for what I do use Olive Oil for, this is a really good option.

Ingredients: Olive Oil

8. FatWorks Duck Fat

DuckFatAdventures 106

I am completely I FatWorks fan girl, I admit. I just ordered another jar of this stuff, since I’ve been out of it for a couple of weeks (*Sobbing*). I ALSO ordered the Tallow (which is rendered beef fat) so I’m sure that will end up on this list as well. Like I said, I had my brief love affair with ghee, even though it was mean to me (aka sinus inflammation), but my true love lies here, with this glorious golden goodness (hows THAT for alliteration!). Now, you can buy duck fat elsewhere (my mom proudly showed me her shiny SMALL jar of Duck fat she got off amazon, for practically the same price as this nice big FatWorks jar), but WHY on earth would you do that! FatWorks is quality, and most importantly, it comes from pastured ducks. So really, what are you waiting for! There is a permanent link to the FatWorks website on the left side of my blog. I love them THAT much.

Easy Grilled Tuna

easygrilledtuna 129

Monday my refrigerator was pretty bare, so dinner was simple but fun. I’ll try and include more posts like this, instead of sticking only to full blown “recipes” – since I realize we are all busy people, and simple dinner ideas are a good thing to have! With that being said, the George Foreman grill is seriously a great tool for quick dinners, and along with my electric griddle and crock pot, an invaluable gadget in my kitchen arsenal.

Anyway, I thawed a package of tuna steaks that I got from Trader Joe’s in the refrigerator overnight. While the grill heated up I quickly marinated them in a zip-lock with a combination of random but intuitive things, giving them a nice sweet and savory touch of flavors.

  • coconut aminos
  • ginger powder
  • cayenne pepper
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • rosemary
  • thyme
  • coconut milk (Trader Joe’s Light)
  • stone  ground mustard

I stuck them on the grill until they were cooked through. If you like, you can even put some additional mustard on after it’s done. For side dishes, I just did some cucumber salad (an easy mixture of cucumber, celery, and onion – with coconut aminos, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar) and some ginger seaweed sauerkraut stuff I got at Wild By Nature up the block. I love fermented foods.

easygrilledtuna 130

Creamy Mushroom Shallot Soup

20130608-001347.jpgshown here served with Bison Meatballs and spinach
Let me start off saying I LOVE Trader Joe’s Light Coconut Milk. It’s cheap ($1 a can) and versatile. I’ve used it for smoothies, curries, soups, and beyond – as well as adding it in small amounts here and there.

This recipe started initially as a mushroom gravy – simmering mushrooms in a little coconut milk until it took on a mushroomy color and the flavors melded together a bit. Then one night, the boyfriend decided he wanted a “creamy soup”, so it popped into my head to take the gravy one step more and make a cream soup. We were both really happy with the results…and the simplicity!

Creamy Mushroom Soup

2 shallots
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon coconut aminos
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/8 cup vegetable broth
1 package sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 package baby Bella mushrooms (sliced)
3 cans trader joes coconut milk
Salt, pepper, sage, thyme

Combine everything but the coconut milk in a pot and let cook over medium heat until mushrooms begin to soften

Add coconut milk turn heat up to medium-high and when it starts to bubble turn back to medium. let simmer until it starts turning brownish (mushroomy color) – keeping an eye on it and stirring as needed.

I would cover it sometimes, but my pot was too small and I was worried about it boiling over.

%d bloggers like this: