Trader Joe’s is not just a grocery store. It’s our go-to for affordable wine (that will still impress guests), a favorite food sample destination (pre-pandemic, of course), America’s sweetheart of food stores, and my favorite place to score healthy products on a budget. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve had my fair share of emergency Cookie Butter runs, but I became a health coach in part because of my passion for nourishing myself with plants that make my body feel its best, in a delicious and satisfying way (because food is meant to be enjoyed). Trader Joe’s is full of hidden treasures that are as delicious as they are nutritious. Here are the 15 items I always have stocked in my kitchen that make healthy eating a breeze:
1. Kale Gnocchi
I’m also a huge fan of the Sweet Potato Gnocchi and the Cauliflower Gnocchi (who isn’t?), but my personal preference is the kale variety (maybe that just shows how weird I am?). The TJ’s Kale Gnocchi has a simple ingredients list of potato starch, chickpea flour, sea salt, olive oil, and, of course, kale, making it the perfect way to sneak in some extra greens. I know there’s a lot of mixed reviews on TJ’s beloved plant-based gnocchis (you either love them or you hate them), but I’ve found that sautéing them in olive oil or ghee and then putting them in the oven for a few minutes help make them crispier.
2. Green Goddess Salad Dressing
I’m not usually a big fan of bottled salad dressings, and much prefer to DIY with some olive oil and apple cider vinegar. However, sometimes we need a little change, and having an already-made delicious way to dress up greens for lunch can make all the difference in a stressful workday. Many salad dressings contain sneaky processed ingredients and added sugars, so I love this list of clean ingredients (avocado, fresh herbs, apple cider vinegar, garlic, etc.). Bonus: you can also use it as a dip or pasta sauce to sneak in the extra clean ingredients for little picky eaters (and no shame if “little picky eaters” means you, and not your kids).
3. Coconut Aminos Seasoning Sauce
If you’re a soy sauce lover, your life is about to change. This healthier version is free of gluten and soy, meaning it’s the perfect (more natural) option for people with any gluten and soy sensitivities or allergies. It also has one-third the sodium content of traditional soy sauce, making it the perfect guilt-free topper for all your stir-fries and sushi rolls. On top of the health benefits, it’s cheaper than other coconut aminos sauces on the market, and also happens to be certified organic (what can’t Trader Joe’s do!?). Order it online here.
4. Chickpea and Red Lentil Risoni
Is it just me, or is veggie-based rice all the rage these days? I love brown or wild rice as much as the next girl, but sometimes it’s nice to pack in even more legumes for extra protein and nutrients. Of all the veggie or legume-based alternatives out there, this one is my personal preference. It’s one of the cheapest options, happens to be certified organic (many aren’t!), and is made of chickpea and red lentils instead of just one, so you’re getting in a wider variety of nutrients. Make as any rice or orzo replacement, and you’ll never want to go back.
5. Shaved Brussels Sprouts
I always tell clients who don’t have the time or energy to cook to find ways to streamline the cooking process, like purchasing the prepared veggies at TJ’s. I particularly love the Shaved Brussels Sprouts because Brussels sprouts are particularly a pain to prepare. This packaged version is easy to toss into salads, stir-fries, sheet meals, etc. I’m also a fan of the Cruciferous Crunch collection, which is delicious in pasta or a creamy salad (see: the Green Goddess dressing above).
6. Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend
OK, it’s so popular it’s basic at this point, but this EBTB Seasoning is one of the can’t-live-without products I always have stocked in my kitchen. A bagel sandwich is one of my favorite foods, so I love making some sourdough toast with vegan cream cheese, red onion, lettuce, tomato, and topping it all with the seasoning to satisfy my bagel craving. I also put the blend on popcorn, avocado toast, eggs, etc., for a flavor that I truly cannot get enough of (plus, I’m a sucker for a chic black-and-white label). Order it online here.
7. Cauliflower Thins
These genius cauliflower thins are one of the newer products, and I could not be more thankful for the powers that be (AKA whichever TJ’s employee had the idea to turn cauliflower into bread). Made of cauliflower (over 60 percent), eggs, parmesan cheese, and deactivated yeast, they’re a delicious alternative to bread, tortillas, etc., for anyone who’s gluten-free or trying to sneak in more veggies. Full disclosure: I sometimes eat them plain because they’re just that delicious.
8. Juice Shots
Being the health nut I am, I’m a major sucker for a good juice shot. I like them for easily getting in some extra nutrients and good-for-you ingredients. The problem with juice shots? They’re hella expensive for literally one sip. Luckily, the shots at Trader Joe’s are the cheapest I’ve ever found, and are still certified organic (that’s huge for me, if you couldn’t tell). I’ll stock up on a few for when I feel a cold coming on and need an extra boost. Let’s be honest: they’re also a great hangover cure.
9. Frozen Wild Blueberries
Whenever I go to Trader Joe’s, I stock up on packs of these berries (like, there’s currently seven in my freezer). I eat blueberries every day because they’re so nutritious, and I swear they’re my #1 secret to glowy skin. Since they’re frozen, I can continue adding to smoothies, oatmeal, and baked goods for months. Why do I love Trader Joe’s specifically? You guessed it: they’re cheaper than other certified-organic varieties.
10. Cold-Pressed Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a serious staple in my kitchen. I use it to cook, blend in my coffee, and slather all over my skin for hydration (don’t worry, I have a separate coconut oils for cooking and for beauty purposes). I love this one from Trader Joe’s specifically because it’s certified organic (I know, I’m predictable, right?) and cold-pressed (which means it might retain more nutrients than oils treated with heat). Another bonus tip: the Coconut Oil Spray is not one of my ride-or-die products like the Cold-Pressed Oil, but when you just want a spray, it’s way better than your average Pam.
11. Brown Rice & Quinoa Fusilli Pasta
Yes, I’m a health coach, and nutrition is ~my life,~ but I also love food. Extra emphasis on love. It’s not that any food is “off-limits” (we’re not meant to eat from a place of deprivation!), but I know I can find more nutritious and plant-based options of the foods I crave. The perfect example: Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice & Quinoa Fusilli Pasta. I have a gluten sensitivity, so try to stay away from the white-flour version anyways, but we can all afford to opt for whole grains like quinoa and brown rice that are loaded with extra nutrients.
12. Organic Ginger Turmeric Herbal Tea
If you can’t already tell, the #1 theme here is organic. I love knowing that this tea is not only full of superfood ingredients, but TJ’s took the extra step of ensuring the superfood ingredients are organic too. I drink this tea when I’m getting sick (I swear it helps soothe any sore throat) or feeling bloated (the ginger and licorice can help soothe stomach discomfort or digestive issues). Order it online here.
13. Vegan Kale, Cashew, and Basil Pesto
Pesto is one of my favorite sauces to DIY, but we can’t all be Martha Stewart 24/7. For the weeks that I have very little time to cook or prep my meals, I love this vegan-friendly version. Not only is this option dairy-free, but it’s also more plant-based than the traditional version by incorporating kale and cashews (no, you cannot taste the kale). Use the decadent sauce on top of bruschetta, with your favorite pasta, or as a dip for veggies.
14. Cauliflower Pizza Crust
Perhaps one of the most beloved Trader Joe’s products of all time, the cauliflower pizza crust revolutionizes fast food (and drunk food) by replacing greasy crusts with nutrient-dense cauliflower and gluten-free cornflour. I always have a plain crust in my freezer for when I want to get creative (I make a mean Mexican pizza with smashed black beans, cheese, lettuce, and vegan ranch), but also keep one of the Cheese Cauliflower Pizza Crusts for the nights when I only have time to pop something in the oven.
15. Chocolate Hummus
I know what you’re thinking: chocolate … hummus? Before you think I’ve officially lost it, hear me out. I don’t like to think of it as a hummus because the only similarity is that it’s made with chickpeas. However, it tastes much more like a delicious chocolate frosting than anything in the hummus family. With a base of cooked chickpeas and tahini (a sesame seed paste), it’s a genius way to sneak in some extra nutrients like fiber, protein, potassium, and iron.
Just a warning, I do not eat gallons of this stuff, thinking I’m eating my veggies. It still contains some cane sugar, so use it as you would any other dessert, but knowing you’re giving your body an added dose of nutrients while satisfying your sweet tooth. I like to use it as frosting for baked goods or as a dip with apple slices when I’m craving something sweet.
What’s your favorite Trader Joe’s product? More