10 Trader Joe’s Items Nutritionists Swear By
By Kelly Plowe, MS, RDNUpdated October 29, 2019Reviewed by Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, CDN
Anyone who has shopped at Trader Joe’s knows that it’s a game-changer. Their aisles are bursting with snacks, convenient salad packages and other delectable items that are easy on your wallet. They also have deliciously nutritious finds that can help you slay the healthy-eating game. To help, we’ve rounded up top dietitians and asked them to share their favorite Trader Joe’s picks. Happy (and healthy) shopping!
Get cracking with this Israeli-inspired kit that becomes a complete meal once you add a protein-rich egg. “This is a great freezer addition with transparent ingredients that you can both see and taste,” says Rachel Fine, RD and owner of To The Pointe Nutrition, including just tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, olive oil, garlic and seasonings. Stick to one serving (half a package) and add sides of whole-wheat pita and fruit to round out the meal “since this is somewhat high in sodium,” Fine adds.
- Nutrition facts per serving (½ container): 80 calories, 3.5 grams of fat (0.5 grams of saturated fat), 340 milligrams of sodium, 11 grams of carbs (2 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar), 2 grams of protein
Buy it: Trader Joe’s stores; Price: $1.99 per 9-ounce container
The majority of us are coming up short on our omega-3s. Make it easier on yourself and snatch up this frozen, individually-portioned wild Alaskan salmon. “Omega-3s are good for our heart, brain and entire body. But our bodies don’t make it so we have to eat it,” says Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN, ACSM and author of Body Kindness. “Plus, salmon is one of the few foods with vitamin D, which affects our metabolism, our mood and other body functions.” Scritchfield offers some tips for cooking salmon: “I have used salmon in everything from fish tacos to salmon cakes(just replace crab in your favorite crab cake recipe).” For a quick dinner, try this Simple Dijon Salmon dish.
- Nutrition facts per serving (4 ounces): 160 calories, 6 grams of fat (1 grams of saturated fat), 125 milligrams of sodium, 0 grams of carbs (0 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar), 24 grams of protein
Buy it: Trader Joe’s stores; Price: $11.99 per pound
Nut butter can make pretty much everything better, from toast and oats to smoothies and sauces (like in this Cold Peanut Butter “Noodles” recipe). The Joe makes this pantry staple even better for you by blending in fiber-rich flax and chia seeds. The ingredients are simple: roasted peanuts, chia seeds, flax seeds and sea salt. The added seeds also bump up the omega-3 content, providing 420 milligrams of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) per serving. Just try not to eat the entire jar in one sitting!
- Nutrition facts per serving (2 tablespoons): 170 calories, 14 grams of fat (2 grams of saturated fat), 10 milligrams of sodium, 7 grams of carbs (3 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar), 7 grams of protein
Buy it: Trader Joe’s stores; Price: $2.99 per 16-ounce jar
Even though the ingredient list is short — it’s got just chickpeas, avocado, tahini, olive oil, jalapenos and spices — this spread that packs a lot of flavors. The avocado offers a dose of heart-healthy fats while the beans crank up the fiber factor. “Pair this hummus with your favorite legume-based chip or some veggie sticks and you’ll have a nutrient-dense, balanced snack to get through long afternoons,” Fine says. You can also try it on this Hummus Flatbread Pizzafor a creative twist on pizza night.
- Nutrition facts per serving (2 tablespoons): 60 calories, 4 grams of fat (0.5 grams of saturated fat), 115 milligrams of sodium, 5 grams of carbs (2 grams of fiber, < 1 gram of sugar), 2 grams of protein
Buy it: Trader Joe’s stores; Price: $2.99 per 8-ounce container
Patricia Bannan, RDN and author of Eat Right When Time is Tight, knows a thing or two about healthy shortcuts in the kitchen. This delicious Trader Joe’s find “works great for a tasty and convenient add to pasta, meatballs or a veggie dish,” she says. (You’ll want to try it in our Power Pasta Bowl With Turkey-Kale Meatballs!)
“Plus, it has a pretty clean ingredient list including tomato purée, diced tomatoes, spices (parsley, basil, oregano) and extra-virgin olive oil.” Those tomatoes are ripe with lycopene, an antioxidant that’s linked to preventing heart disease, according to a May 2018 study in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology.
- Nutrition facts per serving (½ cup): 90 calories, 5 grams of fat (1 gram of saturated fat), 580 milligrams of sodium, 11 grams of carbs (3 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar), 2 grams of protein
Buy it: Trader Joe’s stores; Price: $2.29 per 25-ounce jar
Whether you serve it atop a barbecue sandwich or as a salad on its own, this cabbage and carrot blend is a simple way to add color, vitamins and variety to your diet without chopping a bunch of vegetables yourself. “This is a convenient option for quick-fix meals,” Fine says, and it makes for a great addition to this Cruciferous Trio With Peanut Ginger Lime Dressing.
Try this tweak for an even healthier solution: “Swap the dressing with a homemade version using olive oil, dill and a dollop of yogurt to add a creamy texture with a boost of protein.”
- Nutrition facts per serving (1 cup): 130 calories, 9 grams of fat (1 gram of saturated fat), 140 milligrams of sodium, 12 grams of carbs (2 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar), 1 gram of protein
Buy it: Trader Joe’s stores; Price: $2.69 per 10-ounce bag
When you can’t score some real fruit, this is the next best thing. Trader Joe’s freeze-dried fruits — pineapple, raspberry, strawberry, banana and more — are perfect for when you’re on the go. “This dehydrated fruit pack has no added sugar and is perfect for DIY trail mix instead of dried fruit. They’re also a great snack to take when traveling,” says Beryl Krinsky, RD. And for a quick and easy breakfast, you can try this Trail Mix Parfait. Trader Joe’s also sells dehydrated vegetables (think: beets and broccoli), which offer a low-calorie crunch to salads and snacks.
- Nutrition facts per serving (1 bag): 130 calories, 0.5 grams of fat (0 grams of saturated fat), 5 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbs (5 grams of fiber, 20 grams of sugar), 2 grams of protein
Buy it: Trader Joe’s stores; Price: $3.49 per 1.2-ounce bag
Why resort to cold cereal when you can wake up your morning with a hearty, warm breakfast in a matter of minutes? “Oats are rich in soluble fiber, which has been shown to improve cholesterol levels. Fiber also helps to keep us full between meals, maintains blood sugar control for sustainable energy and promotes digestive regularity,” Fine says. “I love the blend of quinoa and flax here, which rounds out the nutritional profile,” by adding more protein and healthy fats. Try it in this Savory Tuscan Oatmeal.
- Nutrition facts per serving (1 packet): 160 calories, 3 grams of fat (0 grams of saturated fat), 0 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbs (4 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar), 5 grams of protein
Buy it: Trader Joe’s stores and Amazon.com; Price: $19.95 per two 11.3-ounce boxes
Speaking of warm wake-ups, a short stack of pancakes is rarely considered a healthy win. But the flavor and nutrition facts panel of this TJ find will make you flip. Whey protein, whole-wheat flour and whole-grain oat flour make these a strong breakfast choice, especially if you exercise in the a.m. “This pancake mix uses simple ingredients to deliver a well-rounded blend of complex carbs and protein. Starting your day with fiber and protein helps to provide sustainable energy through busy mornings,” Fine says. For even more feel-full power, slather a ‘cake or two with a serving of nut butter to boost the healthy-healthy fat content of your morning meal. And for an even better energy boost, try adding cold brew to your mix, like in this tasty Tiramisu Protein Pancakes With Banana-Cream Frosting recipe.
- Nutrition facts per serving (⅓ cup mix): 140 calories, 1 gram of fat (0 grams of saturated fat), 260 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbs (3 grams of fiber, <1 gram of sugar), 10 grams of protein
Buy it: Trader Joe’s stores; Price: $3.49 per 16-ounce box
We’re not hating on store-bought dips, but sometimes you need to switch it up a bit and go the homemade hummus route. Add this organic tahini from TJ’s to your DIY hummus and feel free to jazz it up with fresh herbs and roasted veggies. “Two tablespoons of Trader Joe’s Organic Tahini has only 10 milligrams of sodium, no sugar and just 7 grams of carbs. You’ll also find 6 grams of protein per serving along with 2 grams of fiber,” Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com, says. “Add a squirt of honey to this nutty mix and then spread it on a slice of whole-grain bread — you’ll have yourself a snack that’s fast and will last.” And best of all, the ingredient list is squeaky clean, only containing organic sesame seeds, she adds.
Despite its clean ingredient list, TJ’s tahini is much more affordable than nearly any other supermarket’s competitors. For a delectable dinner, use it in this Pan-Roasted Broccoli With Tahini Dressing.
- Nutrition facts per serving (2 tablespoons): 190 calories, 17 grams of fat (2.5 grams of saturated fat), 10 milligrams of sodium, 7 grams of carbs (2 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar), 6 grams of protein
Buy it: Trader Joe’s stores; Price: $3 per 10.6-ounce jar
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