Category Archives: food

life without trader joe’s


Or, How Sabrina is Coping Poorly Outside of Her Natural Habitat.

I miss Trader Joe’s.

That can pretty much sum it all up.

But I’ll explain, because that makes a better story.

Okay.  I’ve lived within reasonable proximity to a Trader Joe’s (2-4 miles) for the past 8 years or so (and Whole Foods, but they’re becoming over-rated).  Oh, you don’t know what a Trader Joe’s is?  Let me fix that.

Trader Joe’s is essentially a haven for wanna-be foodies who have a budget, hippies who desire vegetarian, organic, and alternative fare, and it is also friendly to those who live gluten-free.  In Southern California, Trader Joe’s is frequented by yuppies; in the PNW, well, Trader Joe’s is a given for almost anybody.  There you can find the yummiest coconut milk ice cream, the cheapest organic spaghetti sauce, the tastiest dark chocolate covered almonds with sea salt, some of the most innovative food creations, cheap, organic veggies, the best junk food paraded as healthy food, and mostly, I was a very happy human being shopping there.

For four of those years, I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest, where I naturally acclimated as a nerd, quasi-hippie, musician, bookworm, and an individual who is generally interested in the arts.  Health food stores are a given there (Marlene’s was the best!  Who knew local health food stores could have such lovely delis!), and vegans are so common that no one bats an eyelash in encountering one.  I was safe, happy, and comfortable in this environment.  I shopped every week at Trader Joe’s, because, for the things that I normally buy, it was the least expensive option.  When I first moved to the PNW, Trader Joe’s was a welcome, familiar place.  I also frequented Marlene’s…surprise, surprise.

I moved to the South in July.  And boy oh boy, was there plenty of culture shock in the food department.  Nearest Whole Foods?  60 minutes away.  Trader Joe’s? Around the same.  Nearest health food store (a tiny one, without a deli)?  A good 6 miles away.  The nearest grocery store?  Kroger.  The only grocery stores in town?  Food Lion, and…Kroger.  I’ve had to reassemble life without inexpensive access to organic baby carrots, natural peanut butter, free-range chicken, gluten-free snickerdoodles, sweet potato chips, organic olive oil, vinho verde, and…basically everything I’m used to snacking on.  Any (rare) equivalent I might find at Kroger’s is around 100% more expensive.

The funny thing is, Trader Joe’s requires a high collegiate population in order to place a store in that city.  Lynchburg is teeming with undergraduate and graduate students.  Why no Trader Joe’s?  Why?

And it’s not just Trader Joe’s I’m missing.  I still mope over the fact that I can’t pop over to Metropolitan Market and grab a vegan, gluten-free cupcake.  Those kind of cupcakes don’t exist in Lynchburg.  I’d have to scrounge up the ingredients to make them myself, and would seriously luck out if I didn’t have to spend half a day traveling to find them.  BUT.  I would be very happy if there was just a Trader Joe’s nearby.

There’s something to be said for eating familiar foods; it’s good for the soul, don’t you think?  Somehow, everything else will be okay, as along as I can put familiar foods in my belly.  But for now, there’s an ache in my belly and consequently, my soul, because they miss Trader Joe’s.

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another silly food poll: almonds

Do you like almonds?  Which kind is your favorite?  Comment as you please; you may even include your favorite recipes that focus on almonds.  If you don’t like almonds, explain why.  If you like another kind not included in the poll, tell me which one it is.

(This is completely random; I have no motives other than curiosity.  🙂 )

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random idea #223

I’ve lost count.  I was going to put 666, but I’ve seen too much of that set recently.

I should write an ode to chocolate.

I am more in love with it this year than I’ve ever been.

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just because i feel like it, i’m taking a poll…feel free to comment if you wish to elaborate on your vote.

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“the foodie in me” update 1

I’ve finally uploaded a recipe onto “the foodie in me” page.  It’s a granola that tastes like an oatmeal raisin cookie.  If you appreciate an oatmeal raisin cookie, you will love how this granola tastes.  If you don’t like raisins, well, I pity you, but if you must leave them out, so be it.  At any rate, bon appetit!


Since it feels very out of place for me to be blogging about food on this page, I’ve decided to create and add another page to the blog. It shall be entitled “the foodie in me.”

Within you will find out the “how” of my veganish lifestyle (better late than never, eh?), and some recipes as I experiment.

I love food!

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i’m a vegan…sort of.

The word “vegan” is often misused and misconstrued, so I probably have no idea what that word means to you. (And my word processor didn’t even know the word. Sheesh.)

Admittedly, I am being tricky and somewhat deceptive when I use the word “vegan”, because I’m presuming (even though I really do not know) that you see it as someone who doesn’t consume fish, meat, dairy or egg products. This is the most commonly misconstrued view, but it’s me, in a nutshell. And vegan is a nice, little, convenient, descriptive word to use in a pinch.

What it REALLY means, though, is someone who abstains from animal products COMPLETELY. They do not consume it, use it, or wear it if it has come from any animal, bugs included, but there is a debate over whether an insect is an animal or not, though…go figure.

I guess that means I’m not really a vegan.

What am I, then?

I suppose the technical term would be strict vegetarian, or maybe even dietary vegan. I still consume honey occasionally, and I own a wool hat, and (gasp!) leather shoes (I hate the smell of new leather, by the way). I assure you I didn’t know they were leather before I purchased them, if that helps soothe the sting. I was all too hasty in making that particular purchase. Anyhow, I digress.

If you decide to forgive me, kind reader, for my deception, then we can proceed, because you are probably now asking, “why? why are you a strict vegetarian/vegan kind of person?”

Two main reasons: well-being and stewardship. I guess you could say that well-being is wrapped up in stewardship, but you’ll see why I have separated them. In the meantime, prepare for a story.

I have never been a hugely carnivorous. My mom said that I loved my fruits and veggies as a kid. Later on in life, I discovered that dairy products didn’t treat me very well, so I cut them out of my diet. As a high school student, I went through periods of abstinence from meat. As a college student, I discovered that it was cheaper not to buy meat, especially the organic, free-range meat that I preferred, after discovering all the added crap that’s in the standard meat. Besides, I hated, have always hated, handling raw meat, in any way, shape or form. Disgusting. Thus, I would eat meat only if I knew where it came from, and if someone else cooked it for me. That wasn’t very often.

Pretty soon, I figured, why pursue the meat thing? Whenever I actually took the time to chew meat, I noticed how I did not like the flavor at all, and I hated spitting out pieces of fat and bone. So, I gave up meat altogether, and it’s been a year since I made that decision. No dairy, no meat. Shortly thereafter, I gave up eggs, as well, because, as it was with meat, I didn’t really dig the flavor, just the flavor that was added.

And I noticed how physically awesome I felt. Really, I just felt good. This is where the “well-being” comes in. And because I felt so good on the inside, it felt pleasant mentally, knowing that I could survive mostly on a plant-based diet, which is very healthy (and yummy, too!).

Before I move on to the issue of stewardship, allow me to first make a couple other issues clear:

1) I am not an animal rights activist. I think that those who elevate animal life above human life have serious double-standards. There should be a balance.
2) I am not a “hard-core” environmentalist. Again, let’s be careful not to elevate nature above God. The plant earth is the way it is because of sin, yet at the same time, we are caretakers. Balance!

Moving on. Obviously, good stewardship is required with everything entrusted to us, including the body. When you eat well, you exercise good stewardship. No brainer there. A few months after I was into the vegetarian thing full-swing, I learned a couple other things:

1) How uncomfortable I was with most of the meat industry. I have no problem with people who treat their animals well and then kill them for meat. I suppose happy meat tastes better. The problem is when people become greedy for money, and they start to cut corners – injecting hormones and steroids and what-not, cutting off beaks, and letting the animals live in nasty conditions. I like animals (and as I said, I’m not an animals rights activist), so I care a little about how they are treated.

You may ask, “Okay, so you care about the meat/animal industry. What about all that stuff made in China (which is almost everything, it seems)? The sweat factories? Child labor?” Yes, I do care about that stuff. Recall what I said about balance? As much as I am able, I try to make good choices all-around, and attempt to stay informed.

2) Vegetarianism is more economical, more “green”, if you want to use that term. They say it’s cheaper to grow and harvest plants than it is to raise animals for meat (makes sense to me, at least). It’s been said that if more people cut back on meat (even just somewhat), there would be more resources to go around. (Although, for Americans, I think we just need to stop eating so much, period.)

So, there you have it. The what and the why of my vegetarianism (or veganism, if it paints a better picture for you). Next time I will address the “how” of strict vegetarianism. Meanwhile, feel free to ask questions. I don’t hate you if you’re not a vegetarian. 🙂

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