What to buy at Trader Joe’s

First off, thanks to everyone who entered the Love with Food snack box giveaway–a big congrats to the winners, Holly and Leesa!

Now, on to the topic at hand. One thing I’ve been loving in the past few years is the expanded grocery store options in Boston (especially since Wegman’s has moved in–hurrah!) but my absolute favorite is Trader Joe’s. They have a great mix of traditional groceries and unique prepared foods, and they do a fabulous job with their gluten free items. They’re all clearly marked and there’s quite a variety, from snacks to fresh baked goods to fruits, veggies, and dairy products. In no particular order, here are my 10 favorite gf TJ’s finds!

  • Pumpkin Pancake Mix: Oh sweet lawd these pancakes… they are fluffy, sweet, and have the perfect amount of pumpkin flavor. These babies were a favorite among gluten freebies and gluttons alike in my house. I stocked up back in the fall when they were in stores but they’re sadly gone now (seasonal item). Hopefully they’ll be back!
  • Oats: TJ’s has really great reasonably priced certified gluten free oats–they’re a staple of my diet and it’s great to know I can always stock up. I highly recommend trying out the flourless oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe on the back of the bag–they’re delish.
  • Snickerdoodles: Are you a fan of moist, cakey, chewy, cinnamon-y cookies? Then these soft-baked gems are about to become your new favorite treats. They’re hands-down some of the best packaged gf cookies I’ve tried (and I’ve tried a lot!) Plus they’re vegan, if that’s your jam. Don’t miss ‘em!

    Trader Joe's Snickerdoodles
  • Sweet Potato Chips: TJ’s is basically the mecca of snacks, but their sweet potato chips are my number one salty snack favorite. Yes, they’re chips, but they’re not super processed and have some real veggie flavor to them. This makes them healthy, right? Great. Moving on…
  • Peach Salsa: This is certainly the perfect accompaniment to my sweet potato chips, but if you’re a sweet salsa fan this stuff can literally go on anything: fish, burgers, rice, burrito bowls, nachos–sky’s the limit. I like to combine this with the corn salsa for a unique and yummy treat.
  • Powerberries: In the not at all healthy category–these nummy little dark chocolate treats are an incredibly yummy treat. They’re little morsels of chocolate-covered fruit pieces–we love them as hiking snacks or as an after-dinner treat. Just be careful, because they’re addictive. You have been warned.
  • Soy Ice Cream: While I thank my lucky stars that I’m not at all dairy-intolerant, I absolutely love this cherry chocolate chip soy ice cream. It has big chunks of both fruit and dark chocolate, and has the traditional texture without any funky soy flavor.
  • Frozen Paneer Tikka Masala with Basmati Rice: This is one of my favorite go-to frozen dinner options (and I don’t love processed frozen foods in general). The ingredient list is short and pronounceable, and I like that each package has one single serving with rice–lots of packaged Indian food is multiple servings and you have to BYO rice on the side. The flavors are great and it’s enough food to fill me up–not an easy feat 😉

  • Two Buck Chuck: I can’t leave TJ’s without grabbing a bottle of this el-cheapo vino. It’s pretty darn good and you just can’t beat the price!! My faves are the Shiraz and the Cabernet. I’m a classy lady.
  • Udi’s, Luna Bars, and Larabars: I love always being able to stock up on my favorite tried and true brands, and TJ’s carries a great selection of these three.

Do you shop at Trader Joe’s? If so, what are your favorite items?

Boston gluten-free: my top three

I’ve been documenting my GF adventures for a few years now, and have eaten my way through a fair number of gluten-free spots in and around the the city. Below, in no particular order, are three of my favorites. Why these three? They offer affordable, accessible, varied GF options that I keep going back to again and again. So without further ado:

1. Life Alive: Hippie-dippy veggie-loving clean-eating folks, if you haven’t been to Life Alive, get ready to discover your personal food mecca. This uber popular vegetarian Central Square (and also Lowell and Salem) restaurant serves up some of the most delicious bowls, smoothies, soups, and salads in the city. You really can’t go wrong here–every dish is chock-full of veggies, fruit, leafy greens, whole grains, and mind-blowingly delicious sauces. Don’t be dissuaded by the line out the door, Life Alive is worth the wait. Plus, if you’re in a hurry, you can always call in your order ahead of time and skip the line to pick it up! My personal favorite combo is a demi bowl (try the Green Goddess–avocado, broccoli, kale, brown rice, and sprouted legumes–I add squash for an extra treat) and an Eros Alive smoothie (strawberries, bananas, dates, and almond milk–heaven with the addition of vegan ice cream). The staff here are super helpful and can make almost any menu item GF. Every time I eat here I feel full, happy, and energized. Even if you’re not generally a super healthy eater, check out Life Alive. Your body will thank you. ImageThe goddess–one of my faves!

2. Otto Pizza: Enough waxing on about health food, let’s get down to business and talk about the gluten free holy grail: delicious pizza. I was super sad last year when my favorite Zing Pizza closed, therefore super jazzed to see that the Portland, Maine based Otto Pizza is now offering a GF crust. Otto is doing a great job with their GF offerings–you can get almost all of their crazy topping combinations on a small-ish 10” pizza cooked in its own separate pan. My favorite so far is the number 9: butternut squash, ricotta and cranberry. The crust has a little bit of chewiness to it and is thin but substantive enough to hold all of those delicious toppings. This pizza is not cheap, but it’s worth it–with a side salad the 10” pie could be two or so servings, and it clocks in at around $16. More to come in a future post on the other GF pizza options in Boston!

ImageButternut squash, ricotta, and cranberries.

3. The Friendly Toast: Moving one more step away from my first virtuous and healthy recommendation, we’ve gotten to my favorite meal of the week: the ever-popular brunch. Like pretty much every other yuppie, I can’t wait to roll out of bed on the weekends (after 10 am, naturally) and head out for some cheesy eggs, crispy potatoes, and the world’s most giant mug of coffee. Since I’ve started eating GF, though, I’ve been jonesing for a delicious stack of pancakes and a side of toast to mop up my yolks. Enter: The Friendly Toast! For just $1 extra, this kitschy Kendall Square spot will make most of their their plate-sized pancakes gluten free. Beware, these things are HUGE, and also fluffy, moist, and tasty. I usually can’t eat more than one! If you really want to indulge, I recommend the King Cakes–with bananas, peanut butter, chocolate chips, fresh whipped cream, and bacon. Their omelettes (served with gluten free toast if you ask) and pint-size mimosas are also not to be missed, so come hungry and thirsty. The waits here can get a little out of hand between 10:30 and 1:30ish on weekends, so I recommend picking your favorite friend and grabbing the first two bar stools that open up. Or coming any other time. Nobody said you can’t eat your GF pancakes for dinner!ImageThe ultimate indulgence–the king cakes! Pancakes with banana, peanut  butter, chocolate chips, whipped cream, and BACON.

What are your all-time favorite gluten free spots in Boston? Spill!

– Leah