Trader Joe’s. Ahhhh the Mecca of all things affordable groceries. There is something about TJs that makes it impossible for me to leave with just one bag of goods. I constantly go in with a very short list of necessities and end up leaving the store with 3 full bags, a loaded backpack, and the curiosity of how the heck I am going to get home (considering I walk about 15 blocks and 3 avenues to get there). New York City problems – am I right?

I was recently hosting a cooking class demoing some dinner prep and explaining that all of the groceries for that night’s meal were from Trader Joe’s when one of the guests proclaimed that she feels lost in TJ’s and never knows what to buy. Because of that, she suggested I create some type of guide to make it easier for people to attack the store. I also later learned that another one of my friends has never successfully purchased something at Trader Joe’s because every time she enters the store she feels too overwhelmed. Once I heard that, I knew it was time to get working on this guide.

No longer will you leave TJs with a spinning head wondering what the heck you just bought to fill 5 grocery bags. Instead, you will go in prepared and come out on top with a bountiful amount of healthy and delicious ingredients along with a (semi) full wallet. It is a great feeling to know you are bettering yourself by what you put in your body all the while saving money. This guide includes my top 11 tips, what aisles to spend majority of your time in, and some of my favorite products.

At that same cooking class, another guest proclaimed how she was struggling with meal prepping because she was cooking for one. Since I have now heard this from plenty of people, and because I am determined in making meal prepping approachable and achievable, I figured what better place to cook for one with the goal of saving money than Trader Joe’s! In this four day meal plan for one you will find a meal schedule, a master grocery list (of all Trader Joe’s items), and corresponding recipes. The best part about it all? The total bill comes out to just $6 a meal. Yes, you read that right. Quit your matcha addiction and you’ll be fed for the week!

To purchase my Guide to Trader Joe’s and Four Day Meal Plan for One for just $5, please click here to download the full guide!

 

Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Muffins

You won’t miss the “real” (but fake) version

Awhile back, after finishing a recipe that called for hazelnuts (hello you delicious rack of lamb and full head of cauliflower), I found myself with an extremely large amount of leftovers – thanks to a mother who multiplies anything on a grocery list by 5 just in case an entire unexpected party decides to show up for dinner. As I began reorganizing my drawers to fit the random bag of hazelnuts somewhere that I knew would go avoided for the next few months, I realized that hazelnuts are one of the main ingredients of an oh so deliciously unhealthy old school pantry staple that I haven’t had in forever: Nutella. While I’m still confused how Nutella is marketed as a “breakfast option”, being packed with sugar and other not-so-great ingredients, I thought to myself “what if I made a Nutella that would actually be an acceptable breakfast option? Like a muffin? And why not add in my favorite thing I used to put Nutella on – bananas?” With my mind whirling and my childhood Cam doing her happy dance, I decided to make my own Nutella to include in, and spread on top, banana muffins. Let me just say: Holy. Shit. Do yourself a favor and throw out the jar of Nutella in your pantry (seriously, do that) and make these muffins instead. You will not be sorry or miss the sugar laden real (but really fake) version.

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Coconut Brown Rice Risotto with Vegetables & Shrimp

A delicious dairy free spin on a kitchen classic

One of my favorite kitchen activities is creating homemade, and most times healthier, dishes upon the request of friends or family. So, when my mom and I were out to dinner and she was mentioning how much she missed risotto now that she is dairy free, I took it as a personal challenge to make her a dairy-free version the next time she came over. As I contemplated how I was going to prepare this dish, I quickly remembered the delicious coconut milk risotto I had at a recent mindbodygreen revitalize dinner. With the coconut flavor locked down as a definite, I then began to brainstorm for some complimenting ingredients and decided on asparagus, bok choy, mushrooms, and shrimp. With the ingredient list finalized, another lightbulb dinged – I could use my brand spanking new Mealthy Multi-Pot. As an avid believer in pressure cookers and their insane abilities, I was anxious to put this baby to work. I truly cannot believe how easy it makes cooking. This recipe uses both the sauté and multigrain function and prepares this whole dish without the need to wash another pot or pan. How simple is that!? Not only are you able to close the lid, push a button, and get back to that glass of wine you’re enjoying, but the result of enhanced flavor and perfectly cooked ingredients is truly remarkable. This recipe is one that will impress your guests and take minimal effort for you to prep; that’s all we ever really want, right!?

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Sweet Potato Toasts

Innovative Gluten Free Breakfast

Sure, there are some good gluten free toasts out there, but let’s be honest, some are pretty disappointing. As a sweet potato addict (seriously, I think I have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner), I am always looking to find ways to include them in all of my meals. So, when I was at my parent’s house sans any good GF bread to toast for breakfast, in went the sweet potato slabs. Holy moly was I pleasantly surprised. Beginning to wonder what other life hacks I am missing out on…

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What “Balance” Means to Me

In collaboration with Sweats & Balances

This post is in response to @sweatsandbalances’s question of what the term “balance” means to me. Check out the piece on their site also!

In today’s world, where the health & wellness movement has taken the forefront of attention, it is nearly impossible to read an article or listen to a podcast without hearing the trigger-word “balance”. It is sometimes being used as a filler to umbrella describe feelings, emotions, or situations that one struggles to fully explain. Some may use the term balance to describe having a kale smoothie for breakfast and a cheeseburger for lunch, or to kick ass in Soul Cycle class one day and then veg out on the couch the next. The term has almost become a noun we use to justify our actions; “hey, it’s all about balance, right?”

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Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

To fill any craving of childhood

Ever since saying hello again to my dessert addiction post Whole30, I have been craving oatmeal raisin cookies. Unsure why, but I legitimately couldn’t get them off my mind for three days straight. Instead of filling this need for sweets void with more chocolate and my freezer full of DF VL ice cream, I decided to give my heart what it wanted. It was time to create a GF & DF oatmeal raisin cookie recipe. Good lord, what the F took me so long!? These delicious pillows of heaven seriously satisfied my craving and then some.

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Why I Quit my Job on Wall Street to Place a Bet on Myself

Hands down, the most memorable and remarkable college course I took was “Women in the US Criminal Justice System” my senior year. The class took place in the recreational center of the local prison in our college town. Yes, you read that correctly; the course met once a week for 3 hours in the women’s minimum-security section of the correctional facility. No, we were not teaching the inmates, we were all, in fact, students. When we entered the so-called “classroom”, we were all equals; the college students referred to as “outside students” and the women living in the jail referred to as “inside students”, never once using the word “inmate” or “prisoner”. (I know you’re probably wondering right now why the heck I am telling you about this class in a blog post promised to discuss quitting my job on Wall Street to pursue my passion in the kitchen, but stick with me here.) At the end of the semester we were required to write a paper reflecting on what we learned from this experience. As incredibly moving this course was for me, and as much as I learned about the criminal justice system, I walked away from our last session with the realization that the inside and outside students all shared one thing: the fear of the unknown.

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Roasted Lamb and Full Cauliflower

How to wow a crowd

Believe it or not, this was one of the first meals I cooked after my concussion. This whole roasted cauliflower, which is inspired by one of my favorite restaurants in NYC (ABCV), has been on my “recipe to-do list” for an incredibly long time. I was sitting on my couch with my mom when she mentioned her and my dad were going to stay over for dinner followed by her asking, “what should we order in?” As someone who loves to cook for those I love, and have always promised my dad for a home cooked meal after work one day before his commute home, I finally had the opportunity at my fingertips.  It was finally time to cook my parents a delicious and impressive meal in my own kitchen. Although I had just suffered a pretty serious concussion and was still unable to turn on majority of the lights in my apartment, which also showed me how magnificently calming a dimly lit home can be, cooking was the one thing I was most definitely capable of.

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Gluten Free Five Day Meal Plan

Your guide to tackling a gluten free lifestyle!

Everyone loves bread; pizza is notoriously one of the tastiest foods out there. However, some of us, unfortunately, have celiac disease, a gluten intolerance, or have been tasked with an elimination diet. Cutting out gluten can at first be pretty depressing. How the hell am I going to attack and eliminate this beast that is such a staple in the American diet!? Fortunately, as this “lifestyle” has become more prevalent, there are a ton of great options out there in both restaurant and grocery stores. Also, that is why I am here to help; providing you with a 5-day plan of gluten free meals with corresponding recipes and a master grocery list.

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One Sheet Pan Salmon & Vegetables

Guaranteed easiest clean up

We have a general rule in our apartment that if one person cooks, the other cleans. Since I typically am doing the former, Joe is often times the person manning the sink after we finish up our meal. With the constant flow of recipe testing that goes down in our kitchen, I am often questioned how it is possible that I dirtied so many dishes. If you have ever tried to create a recipe, or you are like me and decide to somehow use every bowl, plate, or fork in your cabinets, you get what a shitshow your kitchen can look like after the fact. In order to avoid this situation, and really just make Joe a happier human, I started creating “one sheet pan” dinners. The main requirement of these meals: once done cooking, the only dirty dish (other than those you ate on) is the baking sheet. These recipes are proving to be delicious and, not surprisingly, incredibly easy. I now know what Joe is going to request for every dinner from here on out…

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