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A toddler-approved Trader Joe's shopping list, from a registered dietician

As if we needed more of a reason to love TJ's!

trader-joes-toddler
Karell Roxas

This morning, my daughter had an epic meltdown because we were out of Trader Joe's "Fig Walks Into a Bar" bars. I acknowledge that I had a pantry full of other choices and I should not give in to the tantrums of a threenager.

However, on this particular morning, my patience was already thin, and I just needed her freak-out to stop. I buckled her in the car and took her to the local TJs (that is 30 minutes away from our home BTW) and told her to tell me what she would eat. Our home has been through almost every food item in that store, so she is basically a TJ's connoisseur at this point.

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Here is what she came up with. Everything is mom and dietitian-approved, and for the record, most choices are the only vegetable that enters her body without being immediately spat out.

1. This Fig Walks Into a Bar bars.


This is number one on the list. No other brand would do, and I am not that upset about that. Although I don't tend to LOVE cereal bars, this one is trans-fat free, and that is surprisingly hard to find.

2. Freeze-dried Strawberries.

These berries are freeze-dried with no added sugar. I love these because I can keep them in my mom-bag and don't have to worry about then getting rotten. My daughter loves them because they are crunchy…and to a 3-year-old crunchy is hilarious.

3. Cauliflower pizza crust.

As a dietitian, I see many clients overindulge on cauliflower pizza crust because they think it is a vegetable and don't realize it also contains cornstarch and potato starch (and it isn't calorie free!). For a 3-year-old who refuses to eat vegetables, using this crust sneaks in some cauliflower without a protest. I also love how she can help make her own pizza and choose which toppings she wants. The crust is also trans-fat free which is a definite plus

4. Contemplates Inner Peas.

Girlfriend can go to town on these, and I am totally okay with that. They are super-cheap and provide 5 gm plant-based protein and 4 gm fiber per serving. I am always looking for snacks that contain protein to help keep everyone more satisfied.

5. Crispy Crunchy Okra.

For me, I am not a lover of these snacks. At 14 gm fat per bag (3 gm being saturated) I think that is a hefty price for a vegetable. Considering that this is likely the only thing that is naturally green that my daughter will consume, I'll give this a hall pass for her. She gets 11 gm fiber and a ton of vitamins and minerals per serving, so it is definitely better than a bag of Oreos!

6. Pistachio nutmeats.

I love pistachios for the magnesium, manganese, and other nutrients, but don't enjoy the process of shelling. Shelling under the pressure of having a hangry 3-year-old hover over you makes the process even more undesirable. Cue the pistachio nutmeats to the rescue. They are shelled pistachios! Genius!

7. Fish sticks.

I'm not sure why this is the only brand of fish sticks that my daughter will eat. I don't question it…I just buy it.

8. Uncured turkey bacon.

This is such an easy protein source that isn't fried fast-food chicken nuggets. I love how it is uncured and nitrate free. It is super easy to make, and my daughter is happy to eat it!

9. Cage-free, hard-cooked, peeled eggs.


I know I know…how hard is it to boil an egg, right? Sometimes mama needs to take some shortcuts, and if that means paying a premium for eggs that are already boiled and peeled so be it.

10. Apple and carrot fruit sauce crusher.

It has the word "carrot" in there, and my daughter doesn't gag when she eats this. That is good enough for me!

11. Mac and Cheese.


Need I say more?

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By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

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Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!

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If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

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Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

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