recipes + food

This month my daily health challenge is to not eat any added sugar. Foods with naturally occurring sugars, like fruit and plain yogurt, are okay but nothing with sugar, honey, maple syrup, or even Stevia or sugar alcohols (a newer sweetener common in protein bars and all those high-protein ice creams). I knew that would eliminate a lot of foods but I was surprised by just how many! In the week before the challenge started, as I started reading food labels in earnest, it was disheartening to realize sugar is in e v e r y t h i n... Read more →


From now through the new year, going to Trader Joe's is not just a trip to the grocery store – it's a seasonal excursion. Pumpkin products are hitting their peak and soon Thanksgiving and Christmas/winter holiday items will start rolling in. It's the most wonderful time of the year! Speaking of seasonal shopping, are you listening to the Inside Trader Joe's podcast?? The most recent episode is all about holiday items and they mention a few new ones heading to stores this year! I am very excited for a bûche de Noël ice cream and an apple brandy cheese. There... Read more →


Fall is arriving at Trader Joe's and I don't think I can overstate the happiness that aisles festooned in leaf garland, with orange and yellow products peeping out, bring me. Every week new goodies are arriving. Some are old friends and quite a few are newcomers to the party that is autumn at TJ's. I will definitely be piling lots of these into my red cart this season and sharing what I try but for today I am sharing two simple fall snacks with a common ingredient. One is an annual favorite. The other one I just discovered and –... Read more →


Friday is my Trader Joe's day and I love starting the weekend with a full pantry and fridge. I used to go on Friday afternoons on my way to pick up the boys from daycare but now I try to go as early as possible after school drop-off. Nowadays I have a sidekick shopper to boot. Luckily Cedric is a helpful and fairly courteous shopper. Although he did accidentally ram my heels with his little cart today, ouch! The seasonal fall items are starting to arrive at Trader Joe's which is verrrry exciting. Especially since we have little weather indication... Read more →


If you've listened to The Girl Next Door Podcast or know me in person then you've probably heard me talk about ... TRADER JOE'S! I started shopping at Trader Joe's about six years ago after a good friend kept mentioning all the great things she bought there, especially as she made us delicious meals. Conveniently, it turned out there was a Trader Joe's just a few miles from our house. (Thank goodness!) After being used to the big grocery stores, it took me a few shopping trips to "get" Trader Joe's . But then I saw the magic. Instead of... Read more →


One afternoon last October I was at work and needed a break from the project I was working on. So I checked my blog feed and a post from one of my favorite blogs made my heart skip a beat. The post, A Secret to a Happy Marriage, describes a long-married couple's weekly tradition of dining together al fresco at a pretty overlook in Brooklyn– which they have been doing for 24 years! The couple said that having a way to connect everyday, without distractions, is key to a happy marriage. How simple and true is that? Instantly I loved... Read more →


When Chris and I have a date night planned I find the time leading up to the date night a tiny bit stressful. We're trying to get the house tidy, prep the boys' dinner, get pajamas out, and get ready ourselves. On top of that the boys started getting clingy and emotional when we would leave them with a babysitter. A crying child is not the ideal way to start a fun and relaxing date night. Enter: the snack pack. Based on the logic that a little treat can go a long way with toddlers and preschoolers, we started putting... Read more →