Diet & Weight Loss
19 Foods Nutritionists Always Buy at Trader Joe’s
Looking for healthy food shopping inspo? Get the inside scoop on what’s in a dietitian’s grocery cart at TJ’s.
Cauliflower Pizza Crust
Gluten-free pizza, anyone? “I love this low-calorie pizza crust made from cauliflower and corn flour, as it is a great substitute for a typical high-calorie food,” says Amy Goodson, RD, a sports dietitian in Dallas, TX. “With only 80 calories a slice, you can decorate it with whatever veggies and toppings you want to give it a nutrient-rich twist. My favorites are spinach, mushrooms, and pesto.” Here are more healthy pizza crusts that won’t kill your diet.
Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend
This seasoning has so many uses beyond the bagel. “I just discovered this, and I can’t believe I didn’t find it sooner,” says Jennifer Bowers, PhD, RD, a dietitian in Tucson, AZ. “It contains white and black sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried onion, dried garlic, and salt. My favorite way to enjoy this seasoning is atop mashed avocado toast.” Also use it to flavor air-popped popcorn, roasted chickpeas, grilled tofu, and more. Get the inside scoop on things Trader Joe’s employees want you to know.
Vegan Kale, Cashew & Basil Pesto
“I love this pesto as a dip, marinade, or tossed with whole-grain penne pasta,” notes Angie Asche, MS, RD, owner of Eleat Sports Nutrition in Lincoln, NE. “It’s so flavorful and a great time saver when I don’t have the time to make my own sauce from scratch.” Pesto also tastes great tossed with zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash, or these other healthy pasta alternatives.
“Trader Joe’s sells some of the best frozen fruits and veggies—they often look like they did while they were fresh, and they are flavorful,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, author of Read it Before You Eat It. The frozen raspberries have just one ingredient: raspberries. “It’s best to read labels carefully to be sure you’re not buying items that have added sugar,” says Taub-Dix. (These are the Trader Joe’s foods to never buy.)
Organic Grass Fed Ground Beef
This 85 percent lean meat is a favorite of Kate McGowan, RDN, a dietitian in Brooklyn, NY. “There are leaner options sold at Trader Joe’s, but to me how the cattle are treated is more important,” she says. “This ground beef comes from cattle that are never given antibiotics or artificial growth hormones,” McGowan says. “They are 100 percent grass-fed, which contributes to full-flavored, well-marbled beef. This beef makes delicious burgers, so fire up the grill!” Score more grocery shopping secrets everyone should know.
“Bruschetta is a fantastic sauce to put over most proteins like chicken, fish, pork, and steak,” says Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN, author of 365 Snacks for Every Day of the Year. Also use it to flavor vegetables like roasted asparagus or zucchini, or sautéed green beans. “The sauce is very low in calories and high in flavor, while also providing antioxidants and vitamin C,” she says.
Organic Sprouted Tricolor Quinoa
“I always have a bag of this quinoa in my pantry,” says Asche. “It’s so easy to boil a pot of quinoa and use it in a variety of different recipes!” One of Asche’s favorite recipes to whip up is a grain bowl with quinoa, tofu, and roasted veggies. Check out these other creative quinoa recipes.
Trader Giotto’s Balsamic Glaze
“One tablespoon of this balsamic glaze adds just 40 calories and goes a long way, whereas one tablespoon of oil contains around 130 calories,” says Taub-Dix. She enjoys decoratively drizzling the glaze on a large salad or atop melon. It’s also delicious atop grilled peaches.
Mini Brie Bites
Ever stared at the cheese section at TJ’s? Then you’ve seen many, many options. “Trader Joe’s does some pretty amazing things with cheese, like packaging brie into mini-single serve bites,” says Karen Ansel, MS, RDN, author of Healing Superfoods for Anti-Aging. “Not only are these mini bites already portion controlled, but they’re individually packaged so you can toss them in your bag for smart snacking on the run.”
Cut Beets in Vinaigrette
“I am obsessed with these beets, which are packaged in a glass jar,” says Therese Bonanni, MS, RDN, a nutritionist at Navesink Wellness Center in Rumson, NJ. “They’re a simple, sneaky way to add a pickled food into my lunch salad for an added probiotic benefit, and a serving contains less sodium than a traditional pickle or sauerkraut. Their deep hue also means they’re full of antioxidants that fight inflammation.” Wine also has antioxidants—and here’s how Trader Joe’s can sell wine for $2.
Organic Reduced Fat Coconut Milk
This lightened-up version has almost half the fat of the full-fat version. “The TJ’s version is inexpensive, and I keep a can in my pantry at all times because it’s perfect for quick curry meals,” says Bowers. These are the 13 food swaps that save you money.
Brownie Crisp Coffee Ice Cream Sandwiches
“One of my favorite things about Trader Joe’s is its single-serve frozen desserts, which make it easy to have a treat without overdoing it,” says Ansel. “Right now, my freezer is stocked with at least three different kinds of these frozen desserts. But if I had to name my all-time favorite, it would be these ice cream sandwiches. They combine two of my favorite things in the world—coffee ice cream and brownies—for just 180 calories.”
Hi-Protein Veggie Burgers
Some veggie burgers are pretty low in protein, with 5 grams or less. But not this one. “It makes a fast, easy, and satisfying vegan meal with 25 grams of plant protein coming from pea protein and black beans,” says Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CFT and Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CFT, co-authors of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure. “So it’s packed with protein and fiber to help you maintain a healthy weight and improve overall health.”
Organic Riced Cauliflower
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Go ahead and embrace the trend: Use riced cauliflower in lieu of rice in a grain bowl, or combine it in a one-to-one ratio with brown rice. “This riced cauliflower has become a new favorite in my house,” says Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, a nutritionist in New York City. “Along with the obvious use as a substitute for grains, I use it to add more fiber, vitamins, and minerals to ground turkey dishes like tacos.”
Mixed Nut Butter
“This is my favorite nut butter!” says Asche. “It’s a blend of almonds, cashews, walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, and pecans. Each nut has its own unique nutrient content, so by consuming a variety you get a much wider range of nutrients.” Spread nut butter on whole-grain toast, use it in an energy bite recipe, or blend it into a smoothie. Did you know that Trader Joe is actually a real person?
Blueberry Bran Muffins
These are a favorite of Koszyk’s. “They are full of fiber, at 12 grams per muffin,” she says. “Fiber fills us up and keeps us full for longer. Eat them as a hearty snack or pair them with a hard-boiled egg for protein as a breakfast on the go.”
Japanese Style Fried Rice
“When I’m not in the mood to cook, I turn to Trader Joe’s frozen entrees,” says Stephanie McKercher, RD, a recipe developer at The Grateful Grazer. “My favorite is the Japanese Style Fried Rice. I love the combination of flavors from soy sauce, sesame oil, and seaweed.” Add extra shelled edamame for extra protein, just like McKercher does. “This meal helps me feel good for hours!” she says.
Chunky Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
“The dough is pre-portioned into 16 servings, so I keep it in the fridge to quell a warm cookie craving for only 120 calories,” says Bonanni. “I usually bake only one or two servings as needed, so there aren’t a dozen cookies sitting in the kitchen! Plus, the dough is made without preservatives, artificial colors, or sugar substitutes.” Flatten each cookie with a spoon prior to baking for a crunchier cookie, suggests Bonanni.
“I always stop by the floral section when I shop at Trader Joe’s,” says McKercher. “Setting the table with fresh flowers helps me slow down, eat mindfully, and feel more satisfied after meals.” The bouquets are pretty budget friendly! Get the list of things you should buy only at Trader Joe’s.