My Top 8 at Trader Joe’s

I once had a waiter at a chain restaurant named Tom. I asked Tom if the dressing for the salad had dairy in it. He looked up from his notepad, half smiled and snarkily replied, “Well all of our salads, including the dressings, are gluten free. It says so on the menu.”

I took a deep breath, smiled, and sweetly replied, “Yes, that’s wonderful. However, gluten free means no gluten, like wheat. Vegan means no animal products, like dairy. That steak you just brought out is gluten free.”

With that realization, he released his locked shoulders, turned beet red and throroughly apologized. Needless to say, he was super pleasant afterwards and even comped a portion of our meal.

This encounter happened circa 2013 but I still remember it like it was yesterday. Most likely because I am constantly asking, “Is this dairy free?” to this day. And as of the past few years, also asking, “Is this vegan and gluten free?”

Suffice it to say, there are some foods I have come to love that are both vegan and gluten free. While I shop at many grocery stores to fulfill my dietary needs, Trader Joe’s has some key products that have a special place in my heart. And on my palate. With that said, here are my favorite vegan and gluten free items from Trader Joe’s:

One bite of these hash browns will render every other hash brown you ever had as inferior. Seriously. I like to cook mine at 425° for 20 minutes, flipping half way through.

There must be something in the water where these are grown that make these mandarin oranges so juicy and delectable. Great for the lunch bag or just on the go.

I can feel this instantly enter my blood stream from the first couple of sips. Ok, I may be a bit dramatic but this green drink is refreshing, filling, and full of the good stuff.
Morning, noon, or night – this lentil soup is just right. Full of nutritious whole foods, this one container can easily feed three people. (Or in my case, serve as three different meals). I like to pair with white rice or quinoa.
Cold or cooked, I love the convenience of this packaged cabbage. I typically cook it up with onions, garlic, and green bell peppers.
This doesn’t really taste like Caesar dressing that I remember in my pre-vegan days. It tastes better! The ingredients may be simple, but the taste is very umami and robust.
First, don’t follow the package directions. Cook in the oven at 425° for for 25 minutes, flipping half way through. Second, enjoy plain or tossed with your favorite pasta sauce.
I love to add a little of this almond butter in my smoothies for extra protein. Alternatively, I’ll make a AB&J sandwich. Or, sometimes, I’ll just eat a spoonful from the jar. Anyway you use it, make sure to always have this in your pantry.

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