Ode to Trader Joe’s and Red Spinach!

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The girls and I took a quick trip to our favorite grocery store, Trader Joe’s after school. There are very few places where one can find as diverse a group of people as the shoppers at Trader Joe’s. From hipsters and hippies to college kids and soccer moms, everyone loves to roam its warm and welcoming aisles. When Angela was in Andover, where there was no Trader Joe’s, she wrote an article for her English class reminiscing and analyzing why she missed it so much and why Trader Joe’s was often rated as the most successful grocery chain in the country. 

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“… Generation Yers are often cash-strapped but are young enough to crave freshness and fun. They are drawn to Trader Joe’s first by each store’s distinctive nautical ambiance, designed to evoke nostalgic memories of childhood trips to theme parks. Employees, with their red Aloha shirts and huge smiles, are as patient and good-natured as the actors wearing Tigger and Snow White costumes at Disneyland, forever refusing to break character. Rows upon rows of budget swill, labeled TJ’s famous “Two-Buck Chuck” on colorful signs, are stacked neatly, enticing the significant portion of customers looking to become intoxicated for the price of a song from iTunes.

Adding to the friendly mood is the creative food packaging. Each product description sounds as if it were written by a friend. A package of trail mix, for example, reads, “Don’t worry. Perfectly portioned, this pack is just 100 calories. So feel free to eat the whole darn bag!” Many products have vintage packaging designs that can make even the most run-of-the-mill peanut butter seem like a fascinating relic from the early twentieth century. Ethnic foods are given labels like Trader Giotto’s or Trader Ming’s and have vivid decorations that can make shoppers feel as if they are being transported to another continent. Trader Joe’s is designed to be a happy place, full of adventure and novelty.”

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The essay ran many pages long and her teacher, who was from Nigeria, was completely convinced that he must check out the place the next time he went to Boston.

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Much to our delight, we made a new discovery today: red spinach! We made a spinach salad and finished it for snack.  The red spinach had a hint of sweet beet flavor to it.  Since we weren’t sure if we should use pecan or pine nuts, we used both.  Both nuts tasted delicious in the salad, but Angela thought the pine nuts complemented the spinach more perfectly.  I absolutely loved trying something new for the first time.

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ingredients

2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoons balsamic glaze

1 teaspoons whole-grain mustard

1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

2 cups lightly packed fresh baby spinach leaves

2 cups lightly packed fresh red spinach

1 persimmon sliced

1/2 cup toasted pecan

1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts

Put olive oil, balsamic glaze, mustard, salt and petter in a small bowl and stir until thicken. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Set aside.

Arrange the leaves and top with nuts.  Drizzle dressing on the salad before serving.

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We also bought dried cranberries and sliced almonds and made some gluten free, low fat high protein almond cranberry muffins for breakfast tomorrow.

Cranberry-Orange Almond Flour Muffins

2 cups blanched almond flour

1/4 cup oat bran (or coconut four if you want to go paleo)

1/2  teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

grated zest of 1 orange

6 large eggs

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or white vinegar

a heaping cup of fresh cranberries

1/3 cup sliced almonds

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a standard muffin tin with 12 unbleached parchment liners.

Place the almond flour, oat bran, baking powder, baking soda, salt, orange zest and half of the sliced almonds to the large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

In a blender, add the eggs, honey, vanilla and vinegar.  Blend until well combined.

Pour the egg mixture into the large bowl and combine well.  Fold in the cranberries.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin, and top with the other half of the sliced almonds.

Bake until lightly golden and when a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

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6 thoughts on “Ode to Trader Joe’s and Red Spinach!

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