The thing that sets Trader Joe's apart in a sea of other grocers is their willingness to chase down food trends, create demand for buzzy new products, and introduce shoppers to new ingredients and flavor combos in super-approachable (and affordable!) ways. And considering the frequency with which I shop at Trader Joes, I am bestowing upon myself the official title of Trend Spotter.
With my new Trend Spotting title on my resume, I made a trip to my local TJ's in search of the trendiest new items on shelves in 2019. Here's what I found so far.
1. Vegan Jackfruit Cakes, $4 for four
Jackfruit has been popping up on trend watch lists for years, but we've yet to see it break into the mainstream. (Come on, little buddy, you can do it!) Perhaps TJ's is the grocer that's finally going to get the job done this time around. When I found these jackfruit "crabless" cakes in the freezer section, I just had to give them a try. They're a little (a lot) greasy, but so are most of my favorite crab cakes, so I can't knock them for that.
The texture of "pulled" jackfruit is eerily similar to lump crab, combined with the seasonings and little bits of celery in each cake, I found these to be a solid substitution. It could stand for a little more seafood flavor, though, so I am going to dust the rest of them with Old Bay.
2. Malabari Paratha, $2 for five
THIS IS SO DELICIOUS. I first got a taste of this Indian bread at the sample station and knew I had to get a whole pack for myself. (Here's a helpful explainer as to how it differs from Tandoori naan, also found in the freezer aisle.) I recommend following the stovetop heating instructions rather than the microwave ones because mine came out a little bit soggy. I can't wait to eat the rest with the vat of chickpea stew that I have in hanging out my fridge.
3. Pancake Bread, $4 for 15 ounces
If you really want to indulge for breakfast but don't have time to make pancakes, might I suggest this pancake bread? A slice of this will transport you straight to Sunday brunch. Kitchn's Audience Development Associate, Emma Glubiak, helped me devour this and she said this: "The first bite reminded me of a traditional pound cake with a little extra sugar on top for pizazz. The aftertaste, however, is exactly like pancakes — right down to the buttery maple syrup flavor. I'm shocked, impressed, and will use this as an excuse to eat cake for breakfast." I concur!
4. Mushroom & Company Multipurpose Umami Seasoning Blend, $3 for 2.1 ounces
Serious seasoning fans are clamoring to get their hands on this umami-blasted mushroom powder, so I thought I'd join them. The mixture is a blend of kosher salt, black pepper, red pepper, mushroom powder, and mustard seed — and if you don't mind, I'm going to sprinkle this over everything I eat from now on. (Except for maybe pancake bread.) It's great on chicken and I kind of want to try it on popcorn.
5. Smoked Salmon Trio, $13 for nine ounces
I live in New York City, home to some of the finest smoked salmon on this earth, and let me tell you, this stuff is tasty. I've spent as much money on a single bagel with the tiniest sliver of lox as I did on this entire package. Bless you, TJ's. The black pepper was definitely my favorite flavor of the three, but to be perfectly honest, I had to pull myself away from all of them. While I typically eat smoked salmon paired with an everything bagel, might I suggest eating it with some toasty Malabari paratha? Allow me to demonstrate.
Here are the yummy lox flavors in order from left to right (and also in order of my favorites): black pepper, beet powder, and dried dill!
6. Spinach and Riced Cauliflower Salad, $5 for 12.5 ounces
We've been on a salad kit kick here at Kitchn, and after eating every single one I could get my hands on, they all started to taste the same. (Seriously, if I have to eat another Caesar salad, I might keel over.) This spinach salad kit with cauliflower rice, beets, almonds, and balsamic was THE MOST welcome departure. The combination of toppings is one I haven't come across before, and that's saying something.
Have you come across anything new and fun at Trader Joe's lately? Tell us about it in the comments below!