Healthy No-Recipe Eating and a Trek to Trader Joe’s

I’m very excited about next week’s Healthy Mind and Body Meeting!

The Topic

At first, I thought we might have a healthy recipe exchange but after further consideration… I decided to start with something a bit more basic and useful (at least I think so!).

The trouble with healthy recipes is that, like all recipes, they take time and a wide range of ingredients. Hopefully as we learn about health together, we’ll start to buy and store a variety of healthy food so that cooking healthy recipes won’t be such a challenge. But, for now… it seems like looking at a long, complex “healthy” recipe can be a good excuse to bust out Hamburger Helper and call it a night. 🙂

So instead, I’d like to swap ideas for “no-recipe” healthy snacks and meals. I’ll start the ball rolling at the end of this post, and I would love it if everyone would leave a comment on this post or email me at least a few ideas as well.

The Field Trip

We’ll be meeting at 7:30 pm, a bit early so that at 8:00 or so we can head out to Trader Joe’s. It is one of my favorite places to buy groceries for many reasons.
1) It’s cheap. All the time. No clipping coupons or scouring ads. Of course, not everything is cheap there, but it’s all high-quality and delicious. 🙂
2) They tend to sell simple foods. Nuts, dried fruit, whole grain breads with short ingredient lists, frozen veggies, etc.
3) Really cool ambiance. Just trust me on this one. I actually enjoy shopping there!

O.k., so why are we all going there together? I’m glad you asked. 🙂
1) It turns out that more than a few of you are a bit intimidated by going to a brand-new store alone. You’d like a little help finding which things are good buys and which things are skippable.
2) Um, it’s way more fun to shop and chat with friends. Duh.
3) Selfish, I know… but sometimes I get stuck in a rut with my grocery shopping and I’m eager to scope out what the rest of you have tried at TJ’s. I’m sure there are lots of good things I pass up simply because I’m unfamiliar with them.

If you already shop at TJs, I’d love it if you included some things you like to buy there in your comment or email. Again, I’ll start by putting my list at the end of this post.

To be clear: You are more than welcome to show up for the meeting and duck out before we leave for TJ’s. No pressure. Also, you absolutely don’t have to buy a thing at TJ’s when we go. I very well may not because I often do my shopping on Saturdays. So don’t worry if you feel like you’re just coming for the ride. I still would love for you to come! 🙂

Click to forge on ahead and take a look at the beginnings of my lists.

My Lists

Some of my favorite easy snacks/meals/tips
– I cut red or green bell peppers into slices and keep them in the fridge to munch on. I have also been known to eat bell peppers like apples, but I’m not brave enough to do this in public.
– Peanut butter on whole wheat pita or whole wheat toast.
– Whenever I bake something in the oven in the fall or winter, I throw in yams or a squash to bake as well. I just cut squash in half, scoop out seeds and bake squashy side down on a tinfoiled cookie sheet. The temperature can be anywhere from 300-450 and it’s done when you can easily stick a fork through it.
– I eat baked yams plain, skins and all!
– I love a cold bowl of applesauce in the summer.
– Ants on a Log: peanut butter on celery with raisins. A true classic.
– I dunk carrots and broccoli bits in hummus and make a lunch out of it!
– Cashew butter on whole grain crackers.
РI saut̩ up some bell peppers and onions and add them to my tacos or burritos for extra flavor and extra veggies.
– Speaking of burritos, one of my favorite no-recipe meals is a whole wheat tortilla stuffed with black beans, brown rice, salsa, guacamole, sauteed veggies and whatever else you have on hand.
– Dried fruit and nuts. No need for a trail mix, just buy your favorites and have them on hand for snacking. Our favorites? Dried apricots, peanuts and cashews.
– Oatmeal for breakfast. I don’t sweeten it, I just add cinnamon and raisins and I often just use rolled oats and make it in the microwave. It takes less than 3 minutes.
– I often make roasted veggies with whatever leftover veggies I have. Essentials are quartered onions and red potatoes, but I’ll toss in zucchini, eggplant, carrots, crookneck squash, or whatever else I have on hand. I just cut them in chunks, toss a bit of olive oil in there, garlic, and salt and pepper. Bake at 350-450 until they’re done, turning if you’d like. (Keep them in a shallow layer and it’ll take 45 minutes to get them crispy)
– Whole wheat pizza pitas. Spread pizza sauce and all the toppings you’d like on a whole wheat pita and stick ’em in a 500 degree oven until hot.

What I buy at Trader Joe’s
-Whole wheat pita, whole wheat sourdough bread, Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Cinnamon Raisin bread (I keep this in my freezer and pop a slice or two in the toaster)
– Breakfast cereal (It’s a bit pricey, but the ingredient list is short and we splurge on it. Our favorite? Barbara’s Multigrain Shredded Spoonfuls $3.19/24 oz box, I think)
– Peanut butter (our favorite is chunky, dry roasted, salted), Cashew butter and they also have great prices on almond butter and macadamia cashew butter
– Tofu (You can’t beat $.99/lb. You just can’t!)
– Orange juice (always a competitive price)
– Unsweetened soy milk ($1.50/quart. Whole Foods sometimes has a better price, but TJ’s is our usual stock-up place)
– Quinoa, whole wheat couscous, and all our whole wheat pastas. Best prices I’ve seen anywhere.
– Frozen fruit. Fantastic prices.
– Frozen bell pepper blend. $1.29/lb and it’s already seeded and chopped w/three colors of pepper in there. Great deal.
– Frozen Edamame. Just thaw and enjoy!
– Dark chocolate covered soy nuts. My absolute favorite indulgence.

Well, I’m sure I lost most of you somewhere between oatmeal, and edamame… but no matter because that’s all I can think of at the moment. How about you? Have a tip or two or twenty? Even the most common sense things could be news to the rest of us. So go ahead and leave a comment or shoot me an email. I’ll compile a master list (no names) and make it available for all of us.



About beanland

Scott is a family practice doctor and Anne is a full-time mother and teacher to three beautiful girls and one boy.
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5 Responses to Healthy No-Recipe Eating and a Trek to Trader Joe’s

  1. Trina says:

    Try the garlic in the freezer section. It’s packaged in little green trays of cubed garlic. A cube is the equivalent of a clove – about 12-15 cubes per tray. Just pop the cubes out without thawing – very convenient, fresh-tasting, and no mess. Cilantro and basil also come in the same packaging. Each tray is about $1.89.


  2. lisa h. says:

    You are so inspiring with the healthy snack ideas!

    Trader Joe’s has the best frozen pizza I’ve ever had! I love the spinach pizza. Short ingrediants, no hydrogenated oils.


  3. Kristin says:

    I hope that not having a TJ’s in my state doesn’t disqualify me for leaving a comment, but you see, TJ’s is my mecca. I do have these favorites to share:
    1. Spices. Super cheap, great house blends (I think it’s seasonal, but try their Pumpkin Pie Spice) and good quality.
    2. Blistered peanuts = peanuts that are boiled before they’re roasted and salted. Yumalicious.
    3. Dried bing cherries. I’ve never found them cheaper and I love putting them in my homemade granola.
    4. The bread aisle and refrigerated whole wheat pizza dough.
    Have fun! If I had the money, well, and the time, I’d come along too. Till then, you continue to earn my respect for eating shredded spoonfuls. (I just bought a box today at Good Earth)


  4. Angie says:

    I’m extcited to go to TJ’s. My favortite snacking tips are: I buy lots of carrots and celery (I cut it up soon after I get home and put it in the fridge so it’s easy to grap), whip up some humus (so easy to make!) and snack on this when I watch my favorite show. I also buy lots of fruit and keep it out on the counter. Olivia always chooses an apple above ANY other snack.


  5. Zach says:

    It looks like this thread may have died but I was searching the web to see if anyone else ate their peppers like apples and stumbled across your site. One of my favorite no hassle meals is the raw quesadilla. A bell pepper with pita or whole wheat tortilla and some slices of cheese. It’s like a healthy lunchable that’s good at home or on a camping trip.


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