Summer Picnic Essentials

Summer Picnic Essentials

Since this past weekend was Memorial Day, that means the summer barbeques and picnics have officially begun!  Praise the Lord our 3 months of warm weather is FINALLY here!!

Summer is my favorite time of the year for many reasons, but one of the things I most look forward to is parties with friends at the beach.  While this is super fun and an awesome time, it can be a little taxing on some of us with our health goals. Having pasta salad and hot dogs is great in May and then mid- July comes and you’ve already eaten 10 hot dogs over the recommended ‘1 hot dog a year’ limit, and it feels that if you just look at another pasta salad your shorts may bust open.  Or at least this is how I feel…

 

To keep myself on track with my healthy lifestyle during the summer party sessions, I make sure I always come prepared.  I come with healthy food options. I offer to bring foods and side dishes to share so that I know that I will always have healthy choices.  

 

Making these dishes delicious is a must so that you don’t feel deprived and everyone loves it and wants you to bring your “dish” to every summer party. Win/win. 😉

 

I am going to share with you my Summer Picnic Essentials, four things that are perfect for picnics, dishes that everyone loves and will be begging you to bring again and again.

 

A Salad the people can’t refuse.  

mediterranean-chickpea-salad-fb-ig-1.jpgI really appreciate a good salad.  Mostly because salads could really suck if you don’t put love and care into it.   My best friend Rachel and My Auntie Carol make the BEST salads, and if they make it, everyone’s eating it, even the guys.  They were my inspiration for this picnic essential because I have watched as people swarm around the salads that they bring to parties.  These are always healthy and delicious leaving you completely satisfied.

This weekend, for example, My Aunt Carol made a salad that we were all raving about.  It was a chopped salad with romaine lettuce, raw zucchini, blueberries, sliced radishes for a crunch, edamame and a poppyseed dressing… It was unbelievable.  We ate it on Saturday and couldn’t stop talking about it until, well, today. I am still talking about it and decided to base a blog around it.  It was that good.  Never underestimate the power of a good salad.

Some killer Kabobs

barbecue-barbeque-blur-604660I have always loved kabobs with chicken or shrimp.  Partially because it’s a fun thing to say, the pronunciation of ka-BOBs automatically puts a smile on my face, but it’s also fun and easy to eat.  When prepping for picnics I try to think about what would be the easiest dish to bring. A dish that’s either totally prepared or would be easy to cook once I get there with the least amount of prep and clean up needed.  Kabobs are a great option. All you have to do is defrost the shrimp, and cut up the chicken. Throw it in a bag of olive oil and an Italian seasonings packet or a teriyaki sauce, and mix it all up so it’s entirely covered and coated in the sauce.  Stick the shrimp or chicken on the skewer then pack it all up.  Grill it once you get there. Easy peasy, and a great way to get the protein in.

 

 

Guac and Veggies

guacamole-foto-heroe-1024x723-500x500Guacamole and cut up veggies is the best appetizer to have at any party all year long, but especially during the summer.  For starter’s, almost everyone I know loves guacamole. At any party, once the guacamole comes out people swarm around it, and you better run over too or it’ll be gone before you get there.  It’s a serious concern at every party we have.

You can serve it with tortilla chips or veggies.  Nothing really beats a tortilla with guac on it, but a cut up carrot or celery stick is still pretty freaking great and a healthier option.  Even if you bring both cut up veggies and chips, just decide to eat mostly the veggies with a just couple of chips. #balance. It’s all about balance and making small healthier choices.  

 

Cut up watermelon

blur-close-up-delicious-1070858.jpgNothing screams summer more than biting into a juicy ripe watermelon and having the sweet red goodness streaming down the sides of your mouth.  Having watermelon at a picnic is the ultimate summer essential. It’s the perfect dessert that leaves you hydrated, full and satisfied. I prefer to have watermelon up cut into chunks, but some prefer the quarter moon cuts.  Whatever tickles your fancy, or is easier for you, people will love it either way. It’s the great healthy dessert option for you to have over the plethora of sugar-filled store-bought baked goods that everyone else will be bringing.

 

Coming off a four day weekend, with three beach days filled with friends and family, partying and picnicking, I would definitely say that these are the four summer picnic essentials that will help you to continue choosing healthy options and staying on track with your healthy lifestyle.

 

I hope you enjoy and this helps you make healthy choices all summer long, but more than that, I hope you enjoy every minute of this summer time season.  It only comes once a year, so get outside, feel that glorious vitamin D seeping into your skin, play, laugh and let the good times roll.

 

Happy Summertime. =]

 

 

Level Up your Squad

Level Up your Squad

I was inspired to write this blog after seeing the ‘Avengers: Endgame’ movie.  I am not a crazy, obsessive Marvel diehard, but I am definitely a fan. I think they are funny and cool and if there is a popular Marvel film out I am likely going to watch it.  My all-time favorites are ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ 1 and 2. To me, they’re hilarious, light-hearted and have great endings, which is very important to me (otherwise I get pissed).

 

Without spoiling anything, at the highest level ‘Avengers: Endgame’ is the sequel to ‘Avengers Infinity War’, a pretty epic movie that brought nearly all the major Marvel superheroes together to fight the big, bad guy, ‘Thanos’, determined to end life as we know it.  Simply put, things didn’t so great the first time around, so ‘Endgame’ is their second shot to kill the bad guy.

Image result for avengers endgame

I don’t want to spoil the entire movie, so I won’t, but there was one scene in it that pulled at my heart and I can’t help but share.  It was actually the only part that I got super emotional during the movie, but MAN it was good.

 

At one point, Captain Marvel is getting ready to carry the Infinity Stones away from the enemy to safety, but what’s in front of her basically couldn’t be any worse. Rapidly approaching is a sea of evil, black creatures. Rabid Gargoyle-like soldiers, slithering alien warships, armored mutant gorillas all sprinting towards her. Now, Captain Marvel is pretty rad, but still, the odds didn’t look good.

 

Spiderman looked at Captial Marvel and said, “I don’t know how you are going to get through all that”.

But out of nowhere rolls in the ultimate SQUADDDDD.  All the female Avengers characters started flying in around her one-by-one, reassuring Spiderman, “Don’t worry. She’s got help.”  For a second, they all stood around her tall, proud for a glorious moment, and then proceeded to kick all ass in the surrounding zip-code  It. was. EPIC.

 

It’s a scene that probably no one is talking about except me, but in my opinion, it was by far the best scene in the movie and definitely one of my top 5 or 10 movie scenes ever.

 

I have been thinking about that scene for weeks now and have been trying to think about how I can write about it, besides the simple fact that I just loved it.  Then, I was on one of my lunch walks and it came to me. Leveling up your squad.

 

This scene hit me in many different ways because it show was a perfect women empowerment moment. It showed friendship and women supporting each other, believing in each other and standing up for one another.  Pretty much the best situation ever for all the girls out there that don’t always get the same superhero love as the guys. But, it didn’t really just stop at women’s empowerment.

It was the perfect example of what friendship and respect for a colleague SHOULD look like.  The only way to get a squad as epic as the Marvel squad here to level up your own squad.  Consciously surround yourself with people who believe in you and your dreams and who would fight through Demogorgon super creatures to help you succeed. Figuratively of course ;).

 

But, you all know what I am talking about here.  We all have different groups of friends or colleagues. There are some who you know have your back always and would fight for you. Then, there are others who are a bad influence or they make you feel small and think your dreams are dumb.   

 

When striving and working towards being the best version of ourselves we can’t have heavyweights like that holding us back.  Now, I am not saying to ditch all of your friends who don’t always see eye-to-eye with you or are exactly like you. Our friends come in all shapes and sizes and being different from our friends in ways can be healthy.  I am just suggesting to be mindful of how much time you are spending with the different types of people in your life and be sure you’re not surrounding yourself with negative influences constantly.

 

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”.

 

Take a minute to think here. Who do you spend most of your time within a typical week?  Think about who they are, what they do and what they stand for. Do you want to become more like that person?  Do you want that person to influence how you treat others?

 

At some point in our lives, which will be different for all of us, it’s important for us to take a good look at the people around us and ask ourselves “How they are influencing us?  Are they building us up or bringing us down?”

 

I did this in high school, college, after college, and before I got married.  And it wasn’t something I planned. I just naturally started asking myself which of my friends I really trusted and looked up to, who I was a better person around and who I wanted in my life for the long haul.  I naturally wanted to spend more time with the friends who built me up and made me feel good because I enjoyed them and I was proud of the person I was around them.  I also look up to them in some way and respect the person that they are. 

 

The friends I have today and the people I spend most of my time with I truly do think that they make me a better person and I know they are ALWAYS there for me no matter.

 

For those of you who maybe have never even thought about how the people who you spend your time with influence you, I put together a couple of things you can start to do or think about to level up your own squad. 

 

  • Raise your personal standards.

To level up our squad we need to start with leveling up our own standards.   Think about the person that you want to become.  Who do you want to become or be remembered as? Maybe a great friend or the mom that has everything right or a badass businesswoman.  Whatever it is we want to be, it starts with us believing in ourselves and our ability to become that person, followed by raising our personal standards to help us get there.  

Then the question is, “Am I surrounding myself with people who are making a positive impact on my goals and the person I want to become?” “Do I personally know people that I can learn from and look up to?”  If you do, great! Become best buddies with that person and learn from them, look up to them and their awesomeness.  People who make a positive impact on our life are gems to be treasured.  Absorb and take in everything that they do and learn from them.  You may start to notice that the reason they are who they are and do what they do, is because they hold themselves to a higher standard.

By simply being around people who hold themselves to a higher standard it will help you do the same for yourself.

 

 

  • Make a conscious effort to meet new people.

 

This is what I want you to do if you find that you DON’T have the friends or network of people you want to become like. There are always different types of networking events in local cities where you can meet people. You can try to reach out to people directly via Linkedin or anywhere you go by introducing yourself and just putting yourself out there.  

But to be honest, I have never loved the whole networking events, introduce yourself to random people thing.  Some people love it and it works great for them, and more power to them! It’s just not my thing. What I do is start to follow someone I look up too, in a certain area I want to improve in.

For example, I love Rachel Hollis.  I think what she is an incredible business woman and has been able to do inspiring things in her career, so I follow her and am a raving fan.  I read all her books and blogs, I do her programs and follow her on all forms of social media.

This helps me in two ways, 1. Having a role model to look up to who lives a life that I respect, and 2. Has been a way for me to meet people through a common interest.  

This method of meeting like-minded people with common interests can be done in so many different ways.  My way of connecting with people has been through a business role model, but yours could be through a lifestyle blogger or an art class you are taking or even joining a rec sports league you are a part of.  They are all great ways to meet new people.

 

 

  • Lead by example.

 

Whenever trying to level up your squad it is important to remember to START being the person you want to be for the people around you.

Finding new friends that help you grow and learn is super important, but it’s just as important to be a great friend and person towards the people in your life today.   Regardless of how they treat you, make sure you always treat them with the love, respect, and support that you would want. Lead by example and show up as the best person that you can every day.  We can’t always wait around for our hero to show up, sometimes we need to be our own hero.

By doing this, you will turn into that person that others look up to, seek out, and try to befriend because you are the person that they respect and love most.  You will teach those around you how good friends or colleagues SHOULD treat each other.  You will show them how they should act to become the best version of themselves.

Someone out there that you already know needs you to be the person they look up to and learn from.

Funny how that works. 😉

I hope this helps and inspires you to level up your squad.  Surround yourself with people who support you, love you and believe in your dreams.  If we all just tried to be a little better of a person to our friends and those in our lives imagine the impact we could all make on our world.

We can save the world, just like the Avengers. =]

 

In loving memory…

In loving memory…

This blog is meant to be about work, life, health and how to not only get by but also to become the best version of ourselves in all of these areas.

 

My goal is to be completely honest with you about everything that I do and try, things that I go through and learn from.  Today’s topic is a bit of a personal one, but I think it’s important to talk about. It’s important because I learned so much from it and it caused such a sudden shift in my life that I know it made a permanent impact.  

 

It’s also important because it’s just about life. In life, we experience happy, beautiful times and losses that make us want to just curl up in a ball and cry.  We aren’t always going to be able to be go-getters and achievers, there are going to be low lows. This past April was that for me.

 

To say that the month of April totally sucked would be an understatement.  I lost my Uncle Jim and Aunt Donna exactly one week apart. Both of whom I was very close to growing up.  Both of whom I love dearly. One death was sudden and the other was more anticipated, but both hurt. Both hurt so badly that it felt like my heart was breaking.  I couldn’t control the tears coming down my face, I couldn’t believe it was happening and I had no words or thoughts. I just saw complete grey and felt a heavy cloud all around me that I couldn’t seem to shake away.

 

If you can’t tell already from my blogs, I am a “fixer”.  A “solution-oriented” person always trying to solve the problem or find the good in the situation.  With something like this, it’s hard to find any positives at all because there is so much loss, hurt and anger.  I kept trying and failing to at least find my silver lining in the clouds.

 

I had nothing until I listened to the eulogy at both of their funerals.

 

I really debated even writing this blog because I thought, “No one cares about this.”  “This isn’t important to your audience and it won’t help them.” But it’s important to me and it’s helped me. It’s important to me that I always remember them and what they each taught me about life.  What legacy they have left behind that I will hold onto, look up to, and strive towards forever.

 

Their legacy and memories are my silver lining.  

 

I’m not sure if some of you ever think about this, but I think about the legacy I will leave behind and the impact I will make on this world often.  I was so attracted to being a recruiter because I truly believe I am able to help and make a difference in people’s lives. That’s also why I love writing this blog so much.  But when I would think about the impact I will make in my life, it was always a far distant thought, nothing that would actually happen any time soon.

 

When I was actually faced with the end of a story for two of my close family members, I was saddened, but also proud of the people they were and what they brought to this world.  And I felt so, so lucky that I had them in my life for a time and that I was able to be loved by them.

 

jungle jim.jpgMy Uncle Jim had a couple of different people speak at his funeral, but the message was consistent.  He loved everyone, always. It did not matter who you were, what walk of life you came from, or whether you had just met on a plane.  He made you feel special, loved and like you were the only one in the room. He had an energy that would light up every room he walked into.  He loved to make people laugh and was the funniest man I have ever met. He was constantly cracking jokes, but never making fun, again leaving you feeling special and light.  Any time I would walk in the room he would start singing, “There she is… Miss America…” He would sing songs loudly, dance regardless of who was watching and dress up as a Teletubby or Austin Powers depending on the occasion.  He never held back his own joy and had the type of laugh that would make everyone laugh. He has always reminded you, without actually saying anything, to not take life too seriously. My dad was one of the last to speak and he ended it with saying that he was, “Our leader in happiness” and that he was. He truly was a light in all of our lives.

 

My Aunt Donna was my mom’s sister so my mom spoke at her funeral.  Her stories also aunt donnawere consistent with every person who came over our house to visit. All of us just spent a lot of time sitting around the kitchen counter telling stories of Aunt Donna, just like she would have wanted.  My Aunt was fiercely loyal, protective of her kin, unapologetically her unique self, and was always helping others. She would help me study for tests at Sunday dinners and was always there whenever I needed her even if I didn’t ask. She would proudly talk about all of my siblings and our cousins to anyone she would meet, just because she was proud that we were all related.  When she was younger she would help the neighborhood kids who were being neglected by bringing them peanut butter sandwiches and bathing them in her parent’s pool. And she continued to do that as she grew up. She never had much, but she would always take the time to stop and help the wounded, hurt or less fortunate. Doing whatever she could to make their lives better, even if that left her with nothing.  She did all of this without any care of what others said or thought of her. She was quirky and beat to her own drum. She was unique, interesting and absolutely wonderful in every way.

 

I think part of the reason I am so sad is not only because they are gone, but because they were such lights and warriors in our world truly making it a better place for us.  They each did it in their own way, but the impact they made rippled into all of our lives and made it a little brighter and better.

 

Death and the rainy seasons in our lives are inevitable.  It’s going to happen whether we like it or not, but when that time does come what do you want to be remembered as?  

What will your friends and family say about you at your final chapter?  

Did you fully live out each day you were blessed with?  Did you love as much as you could? Did you reach for your dreams?

 

So often we let ourselves get stuck in the small details of life.  We get upset or consumed by things that don’t really matter. I am totally a victim of this and do it more often than i care to admit.  Too often, I get upset about what my body looks like, or that I am not performing well enough at work, and I get annoyed with people I love for the DUMBEST reasons or give attitude to a stranger because I’m not happy about something else in my life.  

 

This is my choice and my mistake.  Our lives and our worlds are what we make of it.  The legacy we leave behind, what we are remembered for after we leave is by the actions we choose to make every day, the things we choose to say or not say, the way we treat others, the way practice patience, the way we give and receive.  All our choices, our actions.

 

Losing them, reminded me of that.  It made me really stop and think to myself, right now, this very day, have a lived out a life I am proud of?  Have I made the type of impact on the world that they did on ours? How do I show up for those around me every day?

 

My pause in my response was enough of an answer for me.  I am hard on myself, but it made me realize that I can get so caught up in being successful in what I do, sometimes I forget about why I want to be successful, which is so that I can have the freedom to spend more time with the people I love…  

 

At the end of the day, we aren’t promised tomorrow, we are only promised today, this very moment to show up as the best version of ourselves.  Since then I have tried to remind myself that every day. I have made sure I made more time to be with my husband and family, doing small things for them just because I love them.  I will continue to work towards that, trying to remember to stop and think what the result of my actions will be.

 

I hope if this blog does anything for you, it reminds you to stop and give gratitude for what you have in your life today and to take a minute to think of the life you are living, the impact you are making and the love you are giving.

In your final chapter, would you be proud of you?

 

I am so incredibly grateful for the time that I was given to be with my Aunt Donna and Uncle Jim.

They taught me to love with everything I got, be unapologetically myself, not take life too seriously, be a light for all of those I come in contact with, laugh a lot, and, at the end of the day, family and friends always matter most.  I promise to them, to never forget that and to do my best every day, to chose to live this way.

 

April was a hard month, a very rainy season in my life, really it was more like a downpour.  But this beautiful May day, with the sun coming up behind me, it reminds me that after every season there is another one waiting for you.  Another opportunity to try to rewrite the ending of our story. Another opportunity to start new, try again, and to stand back up.

After all, April showers bring May flowers.

Reasons why you SHOULD take a recruiting call …

Reasons why you SHOULD take a recruiting call …

Last week I was going through a status update on one of the jobs I am working on with a hiring manager.  We were going over some candidates and he saw my note that one hung up on me. Once he saw that he asked, “Do people really hang up on you?”.  My answer, “Unfortunately, yes, and depending on the job, it happens often.” He was in shock and couldn’t believe that people would hang up on a recruiter.


I obviously hate when people hang up on me, call me names, tell me to never call them again and that they will never need a recruiter (not true, but good luck with that).  This does not happen to me all the time, and if it does it is mostly for more junior level positions.  Most of the people I talk to are kind and politely decline my offer, but it does happen, that’s just part of the job.  

 

I totally get that if someone is cold calling you at an inappropriate time, it’s easy to get pissed and we are all getting a bazillion robocalls. We are in a world of information overload, and hanging up the phone just seems like the easiest solution.  

 

I want to tell you WHY you SHOULD always pick up a recruiting call or at the very least give a nice brush off…

 

First I will start off with WHY recruiters are calling you and HOW we work. Companies, like the one you work at now, hire us to help them find top talent.  It is a necessary service, especially in today’s economy. If a company values its’ people, the company will pay us to find the best talent that is out there.

 

Now that we understand why recruiters are calling we will move onto the reasons WHY you should pick up the call…

 

1. You don’t know who has asked us to call you. Recruiters are often given direction as to who the best talent is and are given suggestions as to who a client would like us to reach out to on a company’s behalf.  Sometimes we get exact names to reach out to. If the hiring manager then follows up to see how the call went, having to let them know you hung up is not a poor reflection on us. A recruiting call truly is a compliment. It means you are in demand and someone wants you.

 

2. The top recruiters in the industry make cold calls I recently got asked by a reader if cold calling was dead. I was trained by one of the top recruiting trainers in the nation, Danny Cahill at According to Danny.  He is a big believer that cold-calling is vital and being comfortable making calls and being on the phone is imperative and humanizing. Everyone is so heavily relying on LinkedIn message and email and having a conversation with someone is the only way to establish a true relationship.

 

3. Top recruiters (who get there by making cold calls) have the best opportunities.  In our profession, the best recruiters are choosey with the positions they invest their time in.  They are only going to work jobs that they believe are “hot jobs”. A hot job is a job that a company has an urgency to fill the position and a great opportunity.  It has to be a win-win, a win for the company AND a win for the person taking the job. This is never overlooked by a recruiter before they start working something.

 

4. Even if you are not actively looking for a job, you never know when you will need to work with a recruiter again. -While I am sure you have a great network, you can NEVER have too many connections and people to network with.  Almost every senior person I call recognizes this and takes the time to call me back and have a conversation. They understand that there are NO guarantees in life and it is always a good idea to have an established relationship with a recruiter.

 

 

5. Speaking of help, when you work with a recruiter you receive career advice and interview help at no charge. –  When working with a recruiter you pay nothing, it is completely free of charge Recruiters to have a vested interest in your ability to succeed.  Because of that, they are more than willing to take the time to review resumes and give feedback, to prep you for interviews and to just give general career advice.  So TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT!!!

 

 

 

6. Your resume gets put right in front of the hiring manager.  -When you apply online or through a website, who knows if anyone has ever looked at your resume.  It’s put in through the system and a keyword search has to retrieve it.. A recruiter is your own personal marketing and sales rep.  

 

 

When working with a recruiter, what’s most overlooked is that a recruiter who you have established a trusted relationship with really does want the best for you.  They are invested in your next career step and are calling you to help get you there.

 

So just think twice before you hang up on them. 😉

My Top 10 Trader Joe’s Treasures

My Top 10 Trader Joe’s Treasures

If you follow me on social media, you would know that Trader Joe’s is totally my jam.  For those of you who are not familiar, Trader Joe’s is a neighborhood grocery store. That’s where I do all of my grocery shopping every week and I freaking love it. I am lucky enough to have one in two of the neighboring towns and I take FULL advantage of it.

 

It’s my favorite place ever because it’s so fun inside, they always have tons of beautiful flowers, your typical grocery store staples, AND “fun” food.  Fun food is something I totally made up, but it will make sense soon.

 

My definition of fun food is healthy food that has a fun twist!  For example chips, queso, pizza, and candy are all junk food.  They are fun to eat but they are junk and do nothing for us. Trader Joe’s has created different “fun” food that is similar to junk food except that it is actually good for you and you don’t have to feel bad after you eat it!

 

I am always on the hunt for the next fun food that I will find at Trader Joe’s, there is ALWAYS something new.  It makes shopping there even more enjoyable because it’s like you are on a treasure hunt every time you’re there, trying to find your next piece of gold.  

trader-joe-flower-display.jpg

The best part is that the fun food they have is not only good for you, it actually tastes good too.  In life, I am generally always on the hunt for the “fun” food and am more than often disappointed. The “fun” food I find typically tastes terrible or they put a million bad ingredients and chemicals into it making it not even worth trying.  For the most part, that doesn’t happen at Trader Joe’s. The food there is fun and different tastes great and is good for you.

 

Today I wanted to share with you my Top 10 Trader Joe Treasures.  These are ten of the gems that I have found during my shopping escapades at Traders that I truly can’t get enough of and I need the whole world to know my love for them!!

 

So here they are…

 

1.Red Lentil Pasta  

  • Before I found this pasta, I pretty much swore off pasta at that point in my life.  It’s red-lentils-pasta.jpgsad and my Italian grandma is probably rolling in her grave right now, but it’s true.  I try to eat very little to no gluten products, and normal pasta and even wheat pasta just didn’t give me the return I wanted after eating it.  Yes, I am thinking of the ROI I get from what I eat, I take my health very seriously. So when I found this pasta and saw that its only ingredients were red lentils and water, I had tears of joy in my eyes which was immediately followed by a happy dance in the middle of the aisle. Because….. PASTA!!!! I COULD EAT IT AGAIN and NOT feel guilty!!! Best.Find.Ever.
  • I now buy 1 or 2 bags every single week. #sickomode

 

  1. Cauliflower Pizza Crust
  • This find was another game changer for me.  Pizza was another food that I just didn’t eat anymore.  I love pizza with my whole heart and soul, but I don’t love how it makes me feel after.  I have tried gluten free crust but very few places make a cauliflower-pizza.jpggood one, so I just didn’t eat it.  Or I should say I drastically cut down how often and how much I ate it. I can still remember the day I found their Cauliflower pizza crust.  I read the ingredients and it wasn’t perfect but still pretty freaking good.  Then, I looked around me to see who was looking, like a total sketchy criminal, and then I quickly put three crusts into my carriage and then abruptly walked away.  I truly felt like I was stealing because I couldn’t believe that it existed and I couldn’t get my hands on enough of them.
  • This is now a weekly purchase, and what my sister and I base our Friday nights around. Pizza Friday is back.

 

  1.   Almond Cheese
  • I can’t talk about pasta and pizza without cheese.  Over the past two years, I have come to the sad, sad realization that I can’t eat cheese or really any dairy products. almond cheese Two years ago I like suddenly realized I had as much acene as a high schooler and wanted to clear up my face for my wedding.  My sister read an article about the correlation between dairy and breakouts, so I tried to cut it out to see if it would help and it did, drastically.  Since then I really haven’t eaten much dairy, which is the most depressing thing ever, especially when making pizza. I have tried vegan cheeses and other weird stuff I have found and it tasted like garbage.  Then, I found the almond cheese and felt like my prayers were answered! Now I must preface that’s still not normal cheese, it doesn’t get gooey and oily deliciousness but it does melt, taste goods and is perfect for pizza.
  • This is also a weekly purchase for me.

 

  1. Cauliflower Gnocchi
  • This was another fun find because it’s also in the pasta group and gnocchi was another delicious pasta that I wasn’t eating.  I was super skeptical when I first cauliflowe gnocchifound this one because I just didn’t understand how they could make gnocchi out of cauliflower, granted there is flour in this find, but I still couldn’t wrap my head around it so I totally thought it would taste terrible.  I bought it regardless but held off trying it. When I finally did I was kicking myself for waiting so long. It tastes GREAT! You just need to make sure that you follow the instructions on how to cook the gnocchi because you saute it frozen which is much different than normal gnocchi. Besides that, it tastes amazing with sauteed onions and mushrooms.
  • This one is perfect for a dinner date night at home. =] I always have a bag in my freezer but save it for special occasions.

 

  1. Eggplant Garlic Dip and Red Pepper Dips
  • Growing up, Happy Hours on Friday’s were a religious ritual.  My aunts and my mom would sit at the counter talk about the week while eating appetizer/picky pepper dipfoods and drinking wine. It’s my most favorite memory growing up.  Because of that tradition, anytime I see friends we ALWAYS do some kind of happy hour spread. Sometimes it’s a pathetic attempt, and other times we get fancy. Trader Joe’s Eggplant and Red Pepper Dip is perfect for both types of Happy Hour!  To start it is FREAKING DELICIOUS and you can eat it with crackers and cheese or, cut up bell peppers or cucumbers to dip into it. One time I even put it on a sandwich as like a condiment spread, and my goodness that was delicious.
  • I don’t buy this every week, but I almost always buy it if I am going to or hosting a happy hour.

 

  1. Almond Jalapeno Lime Dip/Spread
  • Since we are on the topic of dips and spreads I can’t NOT talk about my most recent find that I can’t get enough of… THE Almond Lime Jalapeno dip.  As I mentioned, I almond dipam always on the lookout for fun foods at Traders and was near the hummus section hoping that I would find some kind of non-hummus hummus dip.  I knew there were edamame dips and other bean dips in the world so I wanted to see if they had anything similar there. I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for but I was NOT disappointed.  This dip is like the combination of hummus flavored jalapeno dip with the consistency of the alloete brand cheese. I can’t get enough of it right now. I haven’t played around with the different ways to eat it yet, but for now, I am FULLY satisfied just eating it on a cracker.  I have done that every day since I have bought it.
  • This will be a staple in my home.

 

  1. Date Bites
  • I am a total sucker for Lara Bars and dried fruit.  These date bites are like mini Lara date and nut bitesbars. They are individually wrapped in little small squares and are a perfect snack before a workout class or if you need a little something to hold you over until your next meal.   I used to make these protein ball things that I would eat before a workout, but when I found these they were essentially the same thing and lasted longer and I’ve been completely addicted since! They come in three different flavors and I have tried and like them all. My favorite is the citrus flavored one.
  • This is a staple that is ALWAYS in my home, that I eat before every morning workout class.

 

  1. Oat Bran Vegan Blueberry Muffins
  • Now I am not much of a baked good person.  I pretty much never ever buy them but that’s mostly because I love them so much I won’t be able to stop myself from oat-bran-muffins.jpgeating all of it.  Growing up my mom would always buy my dad muffins from Stop n Shop as a Saturday morning treat. She would always buy bran muffins because that was his favorite and because they were always around we also ended up loving bran muffins.  So one day when I was on my treasure hunt in Trader Joes I found these Vegan Blueberry Oat Bran Muffins. My first thought was, “no way these actually taste good, that would be too good to be true”.  I bought them anyway because I had friends staying over that night and my GOODNESS they were amazing.  These muffins are nice and dense and have the perfect berry ratio.
  • This would not be an every week purchase for me, but definitely, a once in a while treat.

 

9.Chocolate Coconut Almonds

  • I couldn’t write this blog without slipping in at least ONE chocolate treat. =]  If you chocolate coconut almondshave been to Trader Joe’s you will know that they have an incredibly tempting sweet’s and treats section.  I have also purchased a number of those “just to try” and then accidentally ate the whole thing in a weekend, so I try to steer clear.  But when I do splurge, I get the Chocolate Coconut covered almonds. They taste like a mini Girl Scout Samoa Cookie, and they are completely addicting.
  • As long as you like coconut you absolutely need to try these the next time you go.

 

  1. Everything but the Bagel Seasoning
  • This isn’t necessarily a food, but I promise you this seasoning makes everything IMG_7302taste better.  I have friends that actually have this in their purse at all times, just in case there is an opportunity to use it, and I totally get it!  It literally makes anything you eat taste like an Everything Bagel, and I don’t know anyone who DOESN’T love an everything bagel. Throw it on roasted veggies, chicken or steak, avocado toast, eggs, the options are endless.  
  • When it comes to cooking healthy, half the battle is trying to make regular bland vegetables taste delicious.  This seasoning is a solution to that. Because of that, I have this seasoning with me at all times, one in my house and one at my desk at work.

 

Bonus Buy: The Flowers

  • Walking into Trader Joe’s you are always immediately greeted by their beautiful display of flowers.  There is no better welcome. Trader always has flower arrangements and different flowers for each season.  Some you can even mix and match to get Pinterest worthy bouquets.flowers.jpg 
  • I always buy flowers because they make me really really happy.  To me, they are like a ray of sunshine in my home.
  • Besides the fact that I just love them, one of the main reasons I love buying flowers from Trader Joe’s specifically is because they are so affordable, have a great selection and once they can no longer sell them, they donate them locally to different hospitals and senior centers.  
    • One of the workers at Trader’s told me that they always donate everything that they can’t sell while most grocery stores just throw them out.  If that doesn’t melt your heart and make you believe that Trader Joe’s is the best place around, I don’t know what will.

 

So there you have it!  My Top 10 Trader Joe’s Treasures and my Bonus Buy.  Next time you go to Trader Joe’s try to have a little fun with it.  Take your time and look around to see what treasures you can find. 😉

Until next time, happy treasure hunting!
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P.s. Keep your eyes out for some fun recipes I have made from these fun foods!