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Medically reviewed by Phoowanai Ektheerachaisakul, RDN, CDN, CNSC
To a dietitian like me, Trader Joe’s is a haven for items that make healthy eating easier (if you look past the glazed maple donuts and breaded fried ravioli that is!). And it’s easy to see why the chain has earned a cult following.
Trader Joe’s is known for affordable prices, a friendly staff, and a great selection of must-have staples, seasonal favorites, and exciting new products, including lots of healthy fare.
Here are 15 items I buy as a dietitian, and recommend to my clients. Each one is a member of Trader Joe’s own private label collection, which makes up 80% of the store’s stock.
Organic Power to the Greens
This mix of organic baby kale, baby red and green chard, and baby spinach is the ultimate veggie shortcut. Blend these ready-to-eat greens into smoothies, use them as the base for salads, add a handful or two to grain bowls, soups, and stir fries, or simply toss them on your plate as a colorful bed for other foods, so you get a bite of greens with each forkful.
The entire bag provides just 50 calories and supplies fiber, calcium, iron, potassium, and antioxidants. Eating more greens is also a simple health hack. A 2021 study found that eating just one cup of nitrate-rich vegetables each day, including leafy greens, can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease.
You’ll find these pre-steamed lentils in the refrigerated produce section alongside pre-cut veggies. A half cup serving packs 10 grams of protein and over 20% of the Daily Value (DV) for fiber.
Stash them in the fridge and add a scoop to salads for a protein and fiber boost. Toss them with vegan pesto and chopped veggies like bell pepper, cucumber, and onion, for a quick meal. Or serve them in place of ground meat in tacos, stuffed peppers, chili, and more.
Organic Coconut Aminos
This condiment is a staple in my kitchen. Made from just fermented coconut sap, water, and sea salt, it offers a low sodium, slightly sweeter alternative to soy sauce. A one tablespoon serving provides 20 calories, 230 milligrams (mg) of sodium (10% of the DV), no fat or protein, and 5 grams of carbohydrate. Use it to flavor rice, veggies, and as an ingredient in umami-forward marinades and sauces.
Organic Brown Rice
The only ingredient in this frozen product is cooked organic brown rice. There are three bags in each box, which can be reheated in the microwave in three minutes.
Compared to white rice, brown rice consumption has been shown to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and curb weight gain.
It’s delicious on its own as a side dish and makes a hearty but healthy addition to anything from a stir fry or grain bowl to a breakfast porridge or plant-based rice pudding.
Crunchy Almond Butter
Whether you prefer creamy or crunchy, Trader Joe’s single-ingredient almond butters provide plant protein (7 grams per two tablespoons), fiber, and good fat, along with potassium, iron, and calcium.
Blend almond butter into smoothies, spread it on whole grain toast, scoop it up with cut veggies or sliced fruit, or drizzle it over hot oatmeal or overnight oats. You can also transform almond butter into a savory sauce for veggies, tofu, and noodles by thinning it with veggie broth and seasoning it with fresh ginger, garlic, coconut aminos, and crushed red pepper.
And don’t fret about the calorie level. Research shows that nuts and nut butters don’t cause weight gain. In contrast they boost satiety, up calorie burning, and reduce the risk of inflammatory diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Organic Popcorn with Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
There’s a lot to love about this crunchy snack, including its three simple, recognizable ingredients: organic popcorn, extra virgin olive oil, and sea salt. A generous three and a half cup serving contains just 140 calories and provides 14% of the DV for fiber.
Popcorn is also a member of the whole grain family, a food group tied to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.
Enjoy it as is, or add black pepper, cheesy-tasting nutritional yeast, chipotle seasoning, or cinnamon and cocoa powder. Or create a mix by adding nuts, roasted chickpeas, or dark chocolate chips.
Fancy Berry Medley
This frozen combo of blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries provides a year-round source of these low sugar, antioxidant rich superfruits. A one cup portion provides just 80 calories and 23% of the DV for fiber.
Berries are one of the core foods that make up the MIND Diet, an eating pattern shown to reduce the risk of dementia.
Blend them into smoothies or thaw them in the refrigerator to eat as is or add to oatmeal, yogurt, salads, whole grain sides, or healthy desserts, like chia or avocado pudding. I also love to warm berries over low heat in a skillet and top with a crumble made from a combo of almond butter, old fashioned rolled oats, and cinnamon.
Non-Dairy Oat Beverage
Unlike many oat milks on the market, this Trader Joe’s product contains no added oils, stabilizers, or gums. The ingredients are simply water and hydrolyzed (ground) oats. Oat milk is a great plant milk option for people with nut allergies or sensitivities. And because it’s lower in fat and higher in carbohydrates than nut milk, it’s an ideal pre-workout fueling option.
A one cup serving also provides 11% of the DV for fiber. A special type of fiber in oats called beta-glucan has been shown to act as an antioxidant and help support immune function.
Add oat milk to coffee, tea, or smoothies, or use it in place of dairy milk in cereal, mashed potatoes, creamy sauces, and puddings.
High Protein Organic Tofu Super Firm
This Trader Joe’s tofu is a quick, easy, and versatile protein option. A 3-ounce (oz) serving packs 14 grams of protein and 15% of the DV for iron with just 3 grams of total carbohydrates.
A 2021 study in over 100,000 postmenopausal women found that replacing animal protein with plant protein was associated with a lower risk of all‐causes of death, including heart disease and dementia.
Use crumbled tofu in place of eggs in a breakfast scramble, blend it into smoothies, bake or grill it in place of meat, or cube and add it to garden salads, stir fries, soups, curries, and tacos. Tofu also works well in sweet treats, like plant-based cheesecake.
Teeny Tiny Avocados
These avocado’s solve a problem many of my clients complain about: leftover avocado that turns brown in the fridge. Because of their size you can eat a whole teeny tiny in one meal.
Blend one into a smoothie, mash for toast, add to breakfast scrambles, salads, chili, hummus, or tacos, puree as the base of a creamy sauce, or simply enjoy one scooped straight out of the shell.
Like nuts, avocados are high in fat but support healthy weight management. They’ve also been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease, improve cognitive function, and support gut health.
True Belgian Brussels Sprouts
Trader Joe’s has a wide selection of frozen vegetables. Stocking your freezer with frozen veggies means you’ll always have them on hand, and you can simply heat and eat—no washing or chopping required. I especially love the Brussels sprouts because they’re small but mighty. A portion of six provides just 35 calories with 11% of the DV of fiber, along with potassium, iron, and calcium.
As a member of the cruciferous vegetables family (along with broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and others), Brussels sprouts are potent protectors against cancer and heart disease.
Sauté them on the stove top in extra virgin olive oil, or toss them with avocado oil and roast them in the oven. They’re great when hot, but also as chilled leftovers added to breakfast scrambles and salads.
Vegan Kale, Cashew & Basil Pesto
This flavorful mixture of kale, olive oil, and cashew butter can be used as a dip, dressing, or spread. A generous quarter cup portion provides mostly good fat with a few grams of protein and 5 grams (g) of carb.
Use it as a dip for raw veggies, as a salad dressing, mayo alternative, or to flavor anything from cooked veggies to tofu, lentils, pasta, and more. It’s a simple way to make lots of other healthy foods much more satisfying.
Organic Red Lentil Sedamimi
Trader Joe’s offers pastas made with whole grains, like brown rice and quinoa, but the red lentil is my favorite. Made from only organic red lentil flour, three quarts cup dry, which makes about one and a half cups cooked, packs 15 g of protein and 21% of the DV of fiber, along with 20% of the DV of iron.
Cook and enjoy hot or chilled, tossed with a generous portion of leafy greens and other veggies, like cremini mushrooms, yellow onion, and cherry tomatoes. You can also dress it with vegan pesto or extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and herbs.
Sauerkraut with Pickled Cucumbers
This raw, fermented mixture of cabbage and Persian cucumbers is low in calories, but rich in beneficial probiotic bacteria.
Fermented foods positively impact gut health and may help improve symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Enjoy kraut by itself or add it to breakfast scrambles, salads, sandwiches, wraps, tacos, baked potatoes, hummus, soups, stir fries, and more.
Green Goddess Dressing
This pre-made dressing, found in the refrigerated produce section, is made primarily from a blend of avocado, apple cider vinegar, and herbs. Because it’s low in fat and calories (1 g of fat and 10 calories per tablespoon) you can use it for flavor and still add other good fats to your dish, like nuts, seeds, or olives. I love it as a dressing for slaw, as a dip for raw veggies, drizzled over cooked veggies, or to enhance hummus, tofu, beans, and more.
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Read the original article on Health.