Trader Joe's Treats: A compilation of grocery guilty pleasures

Trader Joe's is like a toy store for food. Filled with novelties and joyful surprises, yet not lacking the basics, I genuinely look forward to getting groceries at Trader Joe's each week. The cherry on top of my shopping experience tends to be the friendly cashiers who often comment on how smiley I am. How could I not be smiley when I'm buying sparkling wine and marinated mozzarella?! How is anyone buying food from Trader Joe's not smiling? Explain this to me because I don't get it.

Even amongst a veritable treasure trove of fabulous foods, I still have a few items from TJ's shelves that stand out to me, and when my friend Morgan of Mrs. Priss asked if I'd like to do a Trader Joe's collab, I couldn't resist taking this opportunity to share ten of my favorite treats with you.

The Thinking Blonde's Top Ten Trader Joe's Treats

#1 Sweet Sriracha Uncured Bacon Jerky

If you've ever had candied bacon, and thought that was good, but you also like spicy foods - this is your holy grail splurge. Perfectly spicy and not-too-sweet, these thick-sliced pieces of cooked, ready-to-eat bacon are basically sticky strips of heaven. I had to stop buying them when I started on my weight loss plan last spring, because I can't trust myself to stop at one serving. Maybe I'll let myself try again after the one year mark of having lost the weight. If you have better self control than I do, you should buy a package and enjoy some for me, too, because these are one of the most satisfyingly complex tasting foods I've ever eaten.

#2 Marinated Mozzarella Braid

This tender, chewy piece of quality mozzarella is marinated in herbs, garlic, olive oil and crushed chili. It's delicious cut into small pieces on placed on an appetizer tray, or if you're not that fancy and just want to tear off pieces to snack on, well - you won't be alone! If you don't like spice, this may be a bit much for you, as the crushed chili packs a little kick. 

#3 Toffee Chips

Have you ever eaten See's Candies Molasses Chips? Like them? Then you'll love these. Trader Joe's Toffee Chips box boasts both dark and milk chocolate covered toffee rectangles that are significantly thicker than the Molasses Chips and every bit as good (for about half the price). 

#4 Sublime Ice Cream Sandwiches

These are truly sublime. The dense, chewy and soft cookies are like homemade chocolate chip cookies with the perfect amount of sweetness and that tiny saltiness that makes chocolate chip cookies taste really good. The little chocolate chips rolled on the outside of the sandwich add great texture, and the ice cream is rich and smooth, and very vanilla-y. They're not remotely diet friendly, but every bit as good as a trip to an ice cream shop, if not better.

#5 Creamy Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce

As an Italian, I am risking extreme scrutiny and judgment by saying what I'm about to say, but I'm a woman of authenticity and truth, so I must be forthcoming and share with you that: THIS IS MY FAVORITE PASTA SAUCE OF LIFE!! There. I said it. I love, love, love this sauce, and as long as I have it and some random pasta in my cupboard, I will always have a dinner option in my house no one complains about.

#6 Joe's Diner (Frozen) Mac 'n Cheese

If I ever have to choose a final meal, it would definitely be macaroni and cheese. If you want to pack a really yummy frozen lunch for work sometime, and don't mind it not being calorically in line with Smart Ones or Lean Cuisine, this Joe's Diner version is rich, creamy and loaded with real cheese. No powdered cheese sauce packet here. No time to bake up the homemade version yourself? You won't feel like you're missing out choosing this TJ's comfort food fave. 

 #7 (My dogs' favorite treats!) Chicken Breast Wraps

Our family has three sweet mutts, and though I'll admit, I'm probably not as picky about their food as I should be, I really don't want to buy them mystery-playdough-meat treats pressed into the shape or bacon or cartoonic t-bone steaks. These chicken breast wraps are clearly made from actual chicken, so I feel good buying them and my dogs love eating them.  

#8 (my skin's favorite treat!) TJ's Spa Face Wash

This refreshing, gentle yet effective cleanser smells great, is infused with tea-tree oil (a natural acne and bacteria fighter) and helps keep my skin clear. I often use it with my Clarisonic in the shower. Since I use a very moisturizing, heavy conditioner on my hair, I always wash my face with this face wash after to help ensure my hair products don't end up clogging my pores. It seems to be doing a great job of keeping my skin near my hairline clean and clear. 

#9 Balsamic Glaze

My husband and I LOVE balsamic glaze. If we go out to eat, and something on the menu is described as being accentuated with a balsamic glaze, we're sold. "Dried out crusty fishing boot with dirt clod side and old weeds salad, drizzled with balsamic glaze and..." "YES. We want this." (Ok, exaggerating slightly.) I love to sauteed halved brussel sprouts in olive oil, salt and pepper, then, when tender toss them with this glaze and a little crumbled bacon. My whole family loves that dish, in fact, we actually fight over seconds. I never would have thought we'd fight over brussel sprouts!

#10 Mini Milk Chocolate Bars

When I was a kid, I loved me a plain Hershey bar, but as an adult, they taste greasy to me. These Trader Joe's Mini Milk Chocolate Bars offer the perfect snap (a mark of good chocolate, or so I've read) when you bite into them, and they don't taste greasy at all - just smooth, rich and delicious. These are my favorite treats to keep high up in a cabinet for myself on rough days, and I don't feel too guilty reaching for them because they're perfectly portioned and just 100 calories each. (Each bar will give you 5 solid bites, these aren't as mini as you might expect!) 

Now that you know my ten favorite treat items from Trader Joe's, I'd love it if you left me a comment with some of your favorites that I might be missing! For ever more Trader Joe's joy, hop on over to Morgan's blog to read up on her current faves from our food happiness haven here!

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