5 trader joe’s meals (5 ingredients or less!)

5 Trader Joe's Meals (5 ingredients or less!) | A Nutritionist Eats

Deep question of the day: where do you guys grocery shop?

5 Trader Joe's Meals (5 ingredients or less!) | A Nutritionist Eats

I tend to shop based on proximity, but the store has to have the natural and organic selection of foods I’m looking for or it just won’t work. In my current neighborhood (West Hollywood!) there are quite a few options within walking distance. I tend to visit most of them (Whole Foods, Gelson’s and Bristol Farms) on a pretty regular basis to see what new foods are out there, but Trader Joe’s is, without a doubt, a weekly stop for me. I can find most of the things I need – and for a pretty reasonable price – but I’ve got to admit that I love the frozen and convenience foods that Trader Joe’s offers. (If you’re ever wondering how something is, just ask. I’ve probably tried it!)

Recently, my friend Lynn and her husband came up with this super-clever buzzfeed video featuring Trader Joe’s mashups:

I loved the video and the premise –  it’s absolutely what inspired this post!

I started brainstorming some of my favorite trader joe’s combinations that fit the following criteria:

  1. under five ingredients (all but one are made with three ingredients)
  2. fairly healthy (all of them come in under or around 500 calories)
  3. include a vegetable (because every meal should!)
  4. delicious (again, because every meal should be!)

Here are the 5 Trader Joe’s meals that I came up with:

Classic Southern Dinner:

5 Trader Joe's Meals (5 ingredients or less!) | A Nutritionist Eats

Let’s start with an easy, classic meal: bbq chicken breast, mac & cheese and collard greens. Prepare the mac & cheese and bbq chicken as directed and lightly steam or saute the collard greens. *I really like their “reduced-guilt” mac & cheese, but have yet to try the gluten-free variety!

Palak Paneer Eggs:

5 Trader Joe's Meals (5 ingredients or less!) | A Nutritionist Eats

Why have I not combined Indian food with eggs before? Ah-mazing. Top cooked palak paneer with a fried or poached egg and serve with hot naan. This will definitely become a regular in our meal rotation – perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Tortilla Pizza:

5 Trader Joe's Meals (5 ingredients or less!) | A Nutritionist Eats
Tortilla pizzas are one of my favorite meals and considering that I’ve eaten them on  regular basis for years, it was a no-brainer. When topped with sauce, arugula, cheese and turkey meatballs, this is a particularly filling pizza. Simply bake the tortilla until crisp, top with sauce, cheese, arugula and warmed meatballs and bake until cheese has melted. (Brown rice and sprouted tortillas are my favorite to use.)

Chimichurri Rice & Sausage:

5 Trader Joe's Meals (5 ingredients or less!) | A Nutritionist Eats

Chimichurri rice is a somewhat new item and I’m so glad I finally put it in my cart – it’s delicious (so is the kimchee rice!).  When it’s combined with chicken sausage and a vegetable, you’ve got a balanced dinner that comes together in minutes. Slice and saute the sausage and rice as directed while you roast the broccoli in the oven.

Pasta with Mushrooms & Parmesan:

5 Trader Joe's Meals (5 ingredients or less!) | A Nutritionist Eats

This vegetarian meal is delicious and simple. And absolutely OUTSTANDING if you add a drizzle of truffle oil or sprinkling of truffle salt. Simply prepare the pasta and mushrooms as directed and top with a sprinkling of cheese. Use your favorite pasta variety.

Got any favorite quick meals to share? 

P.S. I’m really sorry if you don’t have access to Trader Joe’s! Come visit and I’ll take you on a tour. :)

5 plant-based (vegan) recipes

With Earth Day right around the corner, I’m making a conscious effort to think about my impact on this amazing earth of ours. I grew up in a family who recycled religiously, reused sour cream containers (and sugar bags for lunch bags – which was SO embarrassing!) and even composted. So at a young age, it was instilled in me that leaving as little of footprint as possible was of the utmost importance.

These days, I make the best effort I can to reuse, reduce and recycle. (And I’m proud that I’ve almost kicked my plastic water bottle habit!) But there is always room for improvement and that’s what is important to look at. In the coming months, my goal is to buy more local food – preferably straight from the source through a CSA membership or more frequent visits to the farmer’s market.

So why the plant-based recipes? It seems that every spring, I’m drawn to more plant-based foods and less meat. The term ‘plant-based eating’ has been growing in popularity but the phrase is a bit confusing – and I think that’s the idea. The short explanation is that it’s a vegan diet (while some may consume a limited amount of animal products like eggs or dairy) and it seems to me that it’s a vegan diet without the vegan junk food and without the (sometimes polarizing) vegan label. It’s real, whole, unprocessed food – full of plants – and most of the time it’s beautiful. (Learn more about plant-based diets here.)

But it’s not just about me. (Wait, what?!) A diet with more plants and less meat helps to reduce our ecological footprint (animal products require a lot of land, water and resources). As Mr. Pollan so wisely tells us, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” And also? It’s delicious. Here are 5 plant-based (ok, vegan!) recipes that are so tasty and gorgeous that even the most stubborn of carnivores won’t miss the meat.

 

5 Plant-Based (Vegan) Recipes

5 Plant-Based (Vegan) Recipes | A Nutritionist Eats

1. This Vegan Green Chili Mac and Cheese has been on my list of recipes to make since…the first time I laid eyes on it. And while we typically think of mac and cheese falling into the junk food category, this cheese, made with cashews, is anything but. (image & recipe via Minimalist Baker)

5 Plant-Based (Vegan) Recipes | A Nutritionist Eats

2. I know. I’m craving tofu now too. This Crispy Baked Salt & Pepper Tofu is much easier than it seems – simply toss and bake – and enjoy. (image & recipe via Heartbeet Kitchen)

5 Plant-Based (Vegan) Recipes | A Nutritionist Eats

3. Herby, Peanutty, Noodly Salad is just that. This colorful salad is filled with fresh veggies and nutritious buckwheat noodles for a meal that screams spring to me. This post also gives some great insight on not giving yourself a vegan label and I pretty much love it.  (image & recipe via Eating for England)

5 Plant-Based (Vegan) Recipes | A Nutritionist Eats

4.  These Not-So-Sloppy Tempeh Joes made such a satisfying lunch, I’ve got to make them again soon. Don’t be put-off by the steps and ingredients, it’s worth it! In fact, I’d recommend doubling the recipe. (image & recipe via Chickypea)

5 Plant-Based (Vegan) Recipes | A Nutritionist Eats

5. No matter the label, almost all of us love dessert and I think that Banana Split Ice Cream Pie is the perfect way to end things. (Both a meal and this post.) I mean, bananas are roasted and then turned into banana ice cream which is laid into an almond flour crust and topped with coconut whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Come on! (image & recipe via The First Mess)

What is your favorite plant-based recipe or meal?

warm farro & artichoke salad

I was visiting some friends at Intelligentsia (super cool coffee shop) a few weeks ago and I decided to stay and work through lunch after they left. There was a farro salad on the menu which sounded amazing.

I normally don’t order grain salads when I’m out, but the Warm Farro & Artichoke Salad on their menu sounded too good. As luck would have it they were out, so I had the pear salad (also delicious) but I couldn’t get the Farro & Artichoke Salad out of my mind. And when that happens, I usually find myself needing to make it the following day.

You may be wondering – what is farro? It was certainly my first time cooking with farro and I’m not even so sure that I had ever eaten it before! Farro is a whole grain that is similar to barley. It has a nice chew to it – like al dente pasta – and is related to wheat. Nutritionally speaking, farro has 100 cal, 27 g carbohydrates, 3.5 g fiber, 4 g protein per 1/2 cup cooked. More fiber than quinoa and almost as much protein!

This warm grain salad, with marinated artichokes, shallots, leeks and parmesan was just the salad I was craving. And it was really good. Really good! I packed it in Richie’s lunch (yes, I pack his lunch), I ate it for lunch, I ate it for brunch with wilted arugula and a fried egg on top (amazing!) and we ate it alongside vegetables for dinner.

 

 

Warm Farro & Artichoke Salad

by Emily Dingmann

Prep Time: 10 min

Cook Time: 30 min

 

Ingredients (4-6 servings)

  • 1 cup farro
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small leek, thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups artichokes, roughly chopped (I used marinated artichokes)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • parmesan cheese
  • parsley for garnish

Instructions

Bring farro and water to a boil.

Lower to a simmer, cover and cook for about 30-40 min, until tender and all water has been absorbed.

Heat oil in pan.

Add shallots and leeks, sauteing for about 3 minutes.

Add artichokes and cook for another 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and set aside.

Whisk together juice of lemon, olive oil and salt & pepper.

Toss farro, artichoke mixture and dressing together.

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

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spaghetti cakes

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Food was the main priority at our wedding. Well, I guess you could say our priority was that our guests have a great time, and to me, that means eating and drinking well. :)

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We didn’t have a sit-down meal, but instead had stations – each station had a few different items (salad, entree, sides) with lots of passed hors d’oeuvres. One of the sides that our catering planner strongly suggested was angel hair pasta cakes. She said that they were a big crowd-pleaser and while I thought it would go over well with kids, I really didn’t think adults would be into it. I cut the order way down, but somehow she convinced me to order more and I’m so glad we did. Everyone loved them. It was actually one of the only things I ate that night and even I thought they were delicious.

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Sometimes the simplest foods are the best.

When you combine the pasta with an egg, some cream and parmesan, it bakes into portable little cups that can work as an appetizer, main meal or packed in a lunch. I served our spaghetti cakes with some roasted tomatoes (tomatoes + olive oil + s & p), but marinara or a drizzle of pesto would be delicious as well.

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Spaghetti Cakes

by Emily Dingmann

Prep Time: 10 min

Cook Time: 30 min

 

Ingredients (6 appetizer portions)

  • 6 oz spaghetti
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp 1/2 & 1/2
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper
  • marinara or roasted tomatoes for serving

Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook pasta and garlic in boiling water until al dente, about 5-6 minutes.

Drain (but reserve a bit of the cooking water) and return to pot.

Whisk together egg and 1/2 & 1/2.

Add egg mixture and parmesan to pot, stirring to combine.

Spray muffin tin with cooking spray (only need 6 wells) and divide pasta mixture between the 6.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until cakes have set.

Serve with marinara sauce or roasted tomatoes and extra parmesan if desired.

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