Tag Archives: Trader Joes

Vision Juice

On my couch waking up to the Today Show and taking a slurp of my morning Joe and it occurs to me: I LOVE COFFEE! So I had to blog about it. It’s a Monday morning and a new week froth with possibility. My planner beckons me. So much to do over the next month preparing for my CD release concert.

As much as I’ve tried to give up the stuff, coffee remains entrenched in my morning ritual. Yeah, I know too much caffeine is not good for you, but I drink far less coffee than I used to and I have limited my other caffeine intake to a little green tea in the afternoon. Everything in moderation. Is two mugs too much?

I just recently purchased a new coffee grinder, a table top Krups that grinds the prescribed amount of beans on demand. For a few years, I was purchasing pre-ground coffee because my old grinder was getting, well, old. Now I am trying various Trader Joes tins of Fair Trade Organic varieties. Fresh grinding the beans makes a huge difference.

Well, enough of my bloggering! Time to come up with some of those Big Ideas!! Happy Monday!


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Filed under Life, Music Career

Why Is Fat So Confusing?

I have been on a health kick lately. Part of my new program is to eat better, or at least eat less bad food. (I consider my consumption of a Bratwurst sausage and french fries the other day to be a total outlier of my new regime. But we were having a weekend at Leavenworth, WA, a town done up in a Bavarian theme. I left my liederhosen at home this time.)

The obvious items in my crosshairs are fat, dietary cholesterol, and refined carbs. A case in point is peanut butter which I wrote about in a previous blog post where  I compared the nutrition information between Skippy and Trader Joes. At the time, I noticed that Skippy’s label said “zero trans fats”, yet the ingredients included “hydrogenated oils”. I thought that hydrogenated oils are trans fats, but apparently, the FDA let the Skippy folks off the hook based on such a low amount of hydrogenated oils used. However, if one eats more than one serving, you will consume an unhealthy amount of trans fats. Meanwhile, my wife bought a new jar of Skippy and it no longer claims to be trans fat free. Instead, they point out that each serving contains “7 grams of natural protein”. Someone must have called them out on the trans-fat-free claim.

But all this got me wondering about hydrogenated oils and trans fats, and in my googling around, I discovered that sometimes, hydrogenated oils are trans fats, sometimes they’re not, and there are different kinds of trans fats that aren’t bad for you, supposedly, based on what they do to increase/decrease HDL/LDL. Confused? You bet!

Then there is the issue of rapeseed oil. Rapeseed oil has been used historically as an industrial lubricant, and it wasn’t until a hybrid variety called Canola oil was invented that rapeseed oil became widely used for human and feedlot consumption. “Canola”, by the way, is an acronym for “Canadian Oilseed, Low-Acid”, meaning low in erucic acid. A link between erucic acid and autism has been found, so Canola at least is better than rapeseed in that regard. However, some studies indicate that Canola oil, while low in erucic acid, not only contains trans fats, but is shown to increase the levels of the bad cholesterol, LDL.

Notice I put “some studies” in italics? That’s because other folks say that Canola is the healthiest oil of all, especially to cook with, since it won’t break down as quickly when it is heated, unlike olive oil, which releases toxins as soon as it starts smoking.

All to say, I’m conflicted. I have a bottle of Canola and Olive oil blend to prove it. Canola still concerns me because it is by far the most-consumed vegetable oil today. And rapeseed is now being used for biodiesel production. Think about it.

Meanwhile, I have moved on from “healthy” Trader Joes peanut butter to raw almond butter ever since I found out that peanuts are not nuts at all and contain a toxic fungus. I fear that I am becoming such a nutritional buzz kill that I will eating nothing but grass soon. Of course, I will need to make sure it isn’t a genetically modified Roundup-resistant variety.


Filed under Health, Life

The Power of Place

We were at DSW the other evening, killing some time between dinner out and a movie. I like DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse?). They have lot’s of shoes I like and they play some cool downtempo music. It’s fun to hang out there. It brought to mind something I have noticed. In the retail/service sector, there are places that I enjoy and can hang out for awhile and other places that I can’t wait to get out of. Why is this? I just don’t know. But off the top of my head here are some of my faves and not-so-faves:

Places I like. These are places where I can go up and down the aisles and generally put me in a good mood:

  • Small bookstores
  • Trader Joe’s
  • PCC (a natural grocery chain)
  • Metropolitan Market and Thriftway (local high-end chains with lots of specialty foods)
  • DSW – I am not sure exactly why I bought that last pair of shoes, but it’s almost like I need to buy something before I leave the store. And I’m not that into shoes!
  • Hardware stores (even Home Depot when it’s not busy and I’m not tired) – I especially like McLendons and Dunn Lumber (small Seattle-area chains)
Places I don’t like. Get in, get out, avoid if at all possible:
  • The Post Office. On those rare occasions when people working the counter actually have a pulse and there is only one or two in line, then it’s not so bad.
  • PetSmart – I love dogs and cats, so how can I not love PetSmart? I don’t know, but I don’t even want to be friendly back to the friendly cashiers.
  • Big box office supply stores – Staples, Office Depot, Office Max
  • WalMart – This place is generally oppressive to me and puts me in a bad mood.
  • Large shopping malls, especially the upscale ones – Recently I was in Nordstrom browsing the “sale” rack and saw a shirt on “sale” for $385.
What about you? What are your most-loved and -hated places?


Filed under Life

To Skippy or Not to Skippy

I’ve been trying to watch what I eat lately, as well as eat LESS. I just saw my niece and family the other day–up from Cali to visit my parents. (By the way, I hate it when people say “Cali”. I just did it to make myself wince, thinking perhaps that would burn an extra calorie or two.) Anyway, I hadn’t seen them in almost two years and my niece’s husband had lost 90 lbs. He looks so trim and fit now that I didn’t recognize him. I am both envious and inspired. If he can lose 90 lbs. then certainly I can lose the 25 that has been my constant companion for the past 15+ years!

So, I am making all sorts of little choices that I hope will add up to form my lifestyle change. (The term diet is SO 20th century.) Case in point: peanut butter. Here are the front and back labels of the ubiquitous Skippy alongside Trader Joe’s brand:

Due to the less than stellar photo taken by my cell phone, here are the ingredients and nutritional info:

Skippy: Roasted peanuts, sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oils (cottonseed, soybean, and rapeseed), salt. Sat fat: 3g, sugar: 3g, fiber: 2g, protein: 7g

TJ’s: Dry roasted peanuts, salt. Sat fat: 2g, sugar: 1g, fiber: 3g, protein: 8g, and it contains magnesium.

About Skippy. Until recently, Skippy had “Zero Trans Fats” on its front label. They must have taken a lot of flack from somebody due to the hydrogenated oils (which are trans fats). These are what gives Skippy its creamy, no need to stir, quality. The inclusion of rapeseed oil in particular concerns me. (I will write a separate blog about that.) Rapeseed oil was originally used as a lubricant in diesel engines for trains. What is it doing in our peanut butter?

Lately, I fill the half-pipe of celery with a couple of teaspoons of TJ’s peanut butter for a mid-day snack. Delicious!

Personally, I choose NOT to Skippy, although I’ve heard that choosy mothers choose Jif.


Filed under Life, Whatever