Charles Shaw wines, sold exclusively through Trader Joe's stores and affectionately known as "Two Buck Chuck," are one of many offerings that would catch a stoner's eye. (Courtesy of Bruce Wolf)

Trader Joe’s in Colorado: 11 stoney snacks

Is there a better job assignment than going into Trader Joe’s to pick out stoner food?

I think not. And I have had some pretty awesome assignments. Grocery chain Trader Joe’s (which has three Colorado locations opening on Feb. 14 — so, yes, it’ll be your Valentine) is a fabulously stocked treasure trove of munchies. (The chain’s Capitol Hill store will open later.)

There are lots more store-brand discoveries to be made in addition to the items listed below, and the seasonal offerings are always a treat.

There are some terrific breads, the coffee is great and well priced and the selection of frozen foods, from 3-minute microwaveable brown or jasmine rice to the fancy Breton pastry Kouign-amann, should not be missed.

Speculoos Cookie & Cocoa swirl
Speculoos Cookie & Cocoa swirl (Courtesy of Bruce Wolf)

Speculoos Cookie & Cocoa Swirl
This stuff is a stoner’s dream. Creamy and swirled with cookie and cocoa, man’s two best friends, this sandwich spread is easy to eat right from the jar. Too easy. I have spooned it on ice cream, and a friend who has the restaurant Roost in Portland has it stuffed in her French toast. Crazy good.

Rosemary Marcona Almonds
A great price for these crunchy nuts perfumed with rosemary. I was buying them, without the rosemary, at another market in town and when I found these I was stoked. Half the price of what I had paid before, and the rosemary is a total plus. Eat them as they are, or sprinkle on a salad or chop and put on pasta.

Marcona almonds with rosemary, pecan pralines
Marcona almonds with rosemary and Pecan Pralines (Courtesy of Bruce Wolf)

Pecan Pralines
Growing up in New York, I love the glazed nuts you buy from carts on the street. You can smell them a block away. I love glazed nuts, and these pecans are addictive. I love them in salads, chopped and baked in cakes and just right out of the container. I tried baking a pecan pie with them and, honestly, even for me, a bit over the top. However, I wasn’t stoned. Perhaps I should try again!

Dried peas snack
Inner Peas (Courtesy of Bruce Wolf)

Inner Peas
These baked green peas have just the right crunch and flavor to be a satisfying, kind of healthy, stoner snack. I sometimes dip them in hummus or add them to a steaming bowl of soup. Of all the newfangled baked-as-opposed-to-fried products, this is my current fave.

Both the pinot grigio and the merlot, considering the ridiculous price of $2.49 per bottle of Charles Shaw wine, go down surprisingly easily. Both are fruity, easy to drink and at that price you won’t feel bad having just a glass. In a restaurant this wine would sell for at least 5 dollars a bottle! Also, it would be great to use in a white or red sangria.

Trader Joe's flatbread appetizers
Tarte d’Alsace and Tarte aux Champignons flatbread appetizers (Courtesy of Bruce Wolf)

Tarte d’Alsace and Tarte aux Champignons
These paper-thin flat breads are baked and ready to eat in about 10 minutes. The Tarte d’ Alsace is topped with ham, caramelized onions and gruyere cheese. It is a wonderful meal with a salad, and its cheesy yet foldable crispness makes me very happy. The mushroom tarte has crème fraiche, emmental and parmesan cheese, and is equally wonderful. You can’t go wrong.

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Greek-style yogurt
This variety has taken over the yogurt section of most supermarkets. I love it for cooking, whipping and just eating the luxuriously thick and creamy non-decadent indulgence. My two favorite flavors, honey and apricot/mango, are always in my fridge. I made a stoner smoothie last week; one container of apricot mango yogurt, a frozen banana, some flax seeds, almond butter and coconut milk. It took me a few minutes — and a few paper towels — to realize I had the cap of the blender upside down. Oh well: You live, you learn!

Mac and cheese bites
Mac and cheese bites (Courtesy of Bruce Wolf)

Mac and Cheese Bites
I think one might be hard pressed to find a weed-loving soul who scoffs at mac and cheese, the ultimate comfort food. Well, Trader Joe’s has upped the ante with these breaded bites of creamy, cheesy mac. They are way decadent and, in my opinion, perfect fare for the munchies.

Beef Tamales
I have made tamales at home on several occasions, and they are kind of a pain. However, good tamales are hard to find. These frozen beauties from Trader Joe’s kind of rock. They have the right amount of spice, are meaty and the ratio of meat to masa is perfect. Try them with Trader Joe’s enchilada sauce; You won’t be disappointed.

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Chicken tikka masala and tandoori naan
Chicken tikka masala and frozen naan (Courtesy of Bruce Wolf)

Frozen Naan and Chicken Tikka Masala
When I am under the influence, there is nothing that hits the spot like Indian food. I adore the strong flavors, the breads, the sauces; It’s all heavenly. Trader Joe’s does a fine job with these two items. Both the bread and the chicken are surprisingly good, restaurant quality and when I am home, being able to whip this up in minutes is so nice.

The Dark Chocolate Lover’s chocolate bar
Two bars come in this package, just to be technical. I am generally not a fan of super-dark chocolate, but this bar from Colombia is stellar. Not the least bit bitter, even at 85% cacao, it has notes of fruit and is creamy and, actually, superb.