In what will likely be considered one of the bravest moments in food journalism this year, I brought my kids to Trader Joe’s and let them pick out all the snacks they wanted. I know, I know, this sounds like a terrible idea, and it was. There was hysterical laughter and audible explosions of unfettered glee — the 8-year-old managed to get his hands on five coffee samples loaded with cream and sugar, then ended up running in circles in the dog food aisle till he passed out. Will I do this again? Hell no. Hold on to this list for the rest of your life, because this was the dumbest decision I ever made.
But why did I do this? Because now you don’t have to. I am sharing the knowledge of snacks that live in that sweet spot between what the kids want and what I’m actually willing to feed them without having to hide in the closet and press my ear to the door, waiting for the glorious silence that accompanies an epic sugar crash. Your children’s teachers will thank you. You will thank you. You will thank Trader Joe’s for giving you these options and not feel guilty buying six boxes of chocolate-covered marshmallows all for yourself. You won’t have to eat them while hiding in a closet anymore. Life is good.
Blueberry Breakfast Biscuits
I personally can barely contain my excitement writing this, because this may not only be my favorite snack of this roundup, but it may actually be my favorite snack I have ever had at Trader Joe’s. Seriously! I was the one who wrote a massive ode to cookie butter on this site not too long ago, and this has rocketed past it on my shopping list like my kid on five coffee samples with cream and sugar. (Sidenote: I haven’t tried eating this with the cookie butter, but I’m assuming that if I do, this will be my final SheKnows article, because I will have died from ecstasy.)
First thing that makes these great: They’re cookies but called “biscuits” because that’s what they call cookies in England, and Trader Joe’s knows you should be kicking off your day feeling fancy. Pinkies up while eating a four-pack driving carpool, everyone.
Second thing: These taste incredible. Like, better-than-junk-food-cookies incredible. They’re not too sweet, perfectly crisp and so full of flavor that you don’t have to eat an entire box to feel satisfied. They use actual dried blueberries! This may not seem like a big deal, but most blueberry products (including most of your morning muffins) use these bizarre nuggets made from starch, artificial flavoring and blue dye because they are lying liars who think you don’t deserve real blueberries. Trader Joe’s thinks otherwise, and the results are magical.
Third: They’re healthy(ish)! They’re made with whole grain and packed with fiber, which is why you can feel full with just a few. They’re low in calories and fat and have far less sugar than your normal cookie snack pack does. You can feel good giving this to the children and feel good stealing from their cookie jar.
I’ve already bought an extra box of these to keep in my purse at all times for a certain little boy who is prone to extreme bouts of hangry-ness, which is particularly fun, as there are fewer than five foods he’s approved for personal consumption. Beggars can be choosers, apparently.
These may actually be better than sandwiches, and not just because they can hold up better to all the things in my bag, which can render a sandwich inedible because “the corner is smooshed.” They’re low-sodium, low-fat and have far more whole grains than white bread (the only appropriate bread for a PB&J — don’t even attempt to fool them with that healthy bread nonsense) does.
Sweetened Dried Orange Slices
In theory, I like my kids eating fresh oranges. In reality, they end up disgusting, sticky messes, and I don’t want them touching me or anything around them. These dried orange slices are a goddamn miracle. Bonus: They’re awesome at the bottom of a cup of hot tea, which goes lovely with your blueberry biscuits.
Chocolate Brooklyn Babka
I grew up in Brooklyn and am not sure what is so “Brooklyn” about this babka, but I do know that it’s nearly as good as my homemade one, which takes an entire day to make, and I have neither the time nor patience to do this on the regular. This really isn’t good for the kids — or anyone at all — but I made a fantastic “less bad” dessert by taking a small slice of babka and topping it with a hefty scoop of TJ’s honey Greek yogurt, which is the greatest yogurt ever. I will fistfight any person who says otherwise. That’s the Brooklyn part, I suppose.
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