It’s easy to beeline right for the peanut butter cups and frozen food at Trader Joe’s (not to mention the cheap wine), but it is good practice to put some healthier items in your cart. So we asked nutritionists to recommend their picks for the best healthy items to buy at Trader Joe’s.
Trader Joe’s is an American grocery story that’s hugely popular among shoppers for its great prices, happy atmosphere, and its unique—and sometimes, healthy—food products.
“When shopping at many of these ‘healthy’ grocery stories, like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, people are sometimes under the impression that if they buy it there, it must be healthy,” says Elizabeth DeRobertis, Director of the Nutrition Center at Scarsdale Medical Group and White Plains Hospital. “But, we still want to keep our guard up and check nutrition labels for things, like calories and saturated fat.
If you’re a frequent TJ’s shopper, but sometimes wonder if the products you’re buying are actually good for you, here are 10 items DeRobertis swears by—and would recommend you to purchase when hitting up TJ’s, too.
1. Trader Joe’s Cage-Free Hard Cooked Peeled Eggs
“Often people are looking for a fast breakfast, high in protein, to take on-the-go. That’s why I’d recommend these pre-cooked hard boiled eggs from Trader Joe’s, which have just 60 calories and six grams of protein in each,” says DeRobertis.
They’re great for breakfast or even to eat as a quick snack. And, “the only thing that would make these eggs better is if they were organic,” DeRobertis adds. “I usually recommend purchasing organic—but these eggs are certainly better than picking up a doughnut for breakfast.”
2. Trader Joe’s Dover Sole
If you enjoy eating a delicate fish, try purchasing Trader Joe’s Dover Sole. “It’s wild-caught, and is sold at a better price than you’ll find at other supermarkets,” DeRobertis says.
“Fish, in general, is an excellent source of lean protein that is very low in saturated fat,” DeRobertis says. This particular Dover Sole option has just 90 calories and 15 grams of protein per serving.
3. Fish Burgers
Eating a burger made from fish is a much healthier alternative to red meat. “Trader Joe’s has Tuna Burgers and Mahi Mahi Burgers. The Mahi Mahi burgers are only 110 calories, they have no saturated fat, and 15 grams of protein. The Tuna burgers are made from wild caught tuna, and come seasoned and ready to cook,” DeRobertis says.
Related Reading: 5 Tasty Ways to Top Salmon Burgers (Or Other Seafood Burgers)
4. Trader Joe’s “Mini” 70% Cacao Dark Chocolate Bars
Looking for something to fulfill your chocolate craving? DeRobertis recommends shopping the Trader Joe’s Mini 70% Cacao Dark Chocolate Bars. They’re especially great for those who have trouble breaking off just a piece of chocolate since they’re miniature sized and individually wrapped. Each bar is just 100 calories with 4.5 grams of saturated fat.
“I would not make this an everyday type of treat, but when the chocolate craving hits, this is certainly safer than many other options!” DeRobertis says.
5. Trader Joe’s Chile Lime Chicken Burgers
Trader Joe’s Chile Lime Chicken Burgers are super easy to prepare—and they have just 150 calories and 19 grams of protein.
“This is great for those nights where you need to make a quick dinner, and it’s certainly better to pull something out of your freezer than to stop by the fast-food drive thru,” DeRobertis says.
6. Trader Joe’s Riced Cauliflower Stir Fry
Picture your favorite fried rice. Now, picture it without all the carbs. That’s the magic of Trader Joe’s Riced Cauliflower Stir Fry.
“It tastes just like fried rice, and even the kids won’t know there is cauliflower in there!” DeRobertis says.
Related Reading: Cauliflower Is King: Here’s Why It Rules
“The entire bag of this cauliflower rice has the same amount of calories as just over one cup of regular rice. Add some chicken or shrimp or eggs to this and you have a full meal,” DeRobertis adds.
7. Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi
Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi has undoubtedly become a fan-favorite among TJ’s shoppers. In fact, it’s quite often that this item completely goes out of stock. Seriously, it’s that good (and it’s healthy, too).
In a one cup serving, there’s just 140 calories, 22 grams of carbs, and six grams of fiber. You can compare that to regular pasta, which has about 200 calories per cup, 42 carbs, and two grams of fiber.
“This cauliflower gnocchi is a clear winner for a great ‘pasta swap’ to have for dinner,” DeRobertis says.
8. Trader Joe’s Organic Oven Roasted Turkey Breast
“Deli meats have gotten a bad reputation recently. But, this Trader Joe’s option is organic, nitrate-free, and doesn’t even have celery salt,” DeRobertis says. “Put this on a healthy whole grain bread, add some veggies and mustard, and you have a healthy lunch to take on the go,” DeRobertis says.
9. Trader Joe’s Mini Brie Bites
Most people who love cheese will gladly dig into a big block of Brie—but it can be difficult to practice portion control when doing so.
“Because Brie is high in saturated fat, anyone who has to watch their cholesterol should have it only sparingly,” DeRobertis says.
That’s why DeRobertis recommends Trader Joe’s Mini Brie Bites, which are individually portioned so that you won’t overdo it.
“Pair it with some little grape tomatoes, or between two thin cucumber or two thin apple slices, and this can be a delicious afternoon snack,” DeRobertis says.
10. Trader Joe’s Organic Lentil Vegetable Soup
“A perfect vegan option for a cold winter day, the entire box has just 200 calories,16 grams of fiber, and 14 grams of protein,” DeRobertis says.
Bring this hearty soup to work and pour into a big bowl for a nutritious and filling lunch.
Related Reading: 17 Soup Recipes to Keep You Warm and Cozy
- Susan Tucker, a plant-based health coach and founder of Green Beat Life, is a vegan. She scours the shelves of Trader Joe’s for veggie-friendly options. A few of her favorites include: Trader Joe’s Spicy Thai Eggplant with Thai Basil, Trader Joe’s Meatless Meatballs, Trader Joe’s Organic Peanut Powder, and Trader Joe’s Organic Creamy Cashew Cultured Yogurt Alternative.
- Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, is the founder and director of Real Nutrition in New York City. When she hits up Trader Joe’s, she always buys the following: Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Rice (fresh or frozen), Trader Joe’s Frozen Zoodles (made from zucchini or carrot), Trader Joe’s Frozen Tri-Color Cauliflower, Trader Joe’s Organic Wild Frozen Blueberries, Trader Joe’s Green Goddess Salad Dressing (in the refrigerated section), and “any of the seafood from the frozen section.
- Karen Moreno, MS, RD, CDN and Nutrition Counseling at Diets By Karen, is also a TJ’s fan and her must-buy items include: the Trader Joe’s High Pea Protein Veggie Burger, Trader Joe’s Reduced-Carb Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas, Trader Joe’s Chili Lime Seasoning, and the Asian Vegetable Stir Fry (in the refrigerated section).
Header image courtesy of Trader Joe's