Niha Zubair, Arivale Clinical Research Scientist, PhD
We all have our go-to’s for stocking the pantry at the beginning (or end) of a busy week. While every grocery store will have its share of healthy and unhealthy options, as a Dietitian, I do appreciate the amount of semi-processed foods Trader Joe’s provides to make healthy eating easily accessible to those of us who have the best of intentions but lack the time to plan and cook veggie-packed meals.
While there’s no substitute for farm fresh vegetables, I love how Trader Joe’s entire produce section is filled with gems of pre-chopped or sliced veggies and fruit combos.
So with that in mind—here are 10 Trader Joe’s items that will always be in my cart.
1. Black Bean Pasta
Black bean pasta is a gluten-free, fiber-rich and protein-filled alternative to traditional pasta. Keep an open mind, and if you don’t expect it to taste exactly like pasta, you will be pleasantly surprised.
I have found it tastes best with a white sauce (try out this vegan alfredo sauce made from cashews) than traditional marinara sauce. Cook the pasta for eight minutes in boiling water and then rinse the pasta with cold water to stop it from further cooking and keep an “al dente” texture.
2. Cruciferous Crunch
Raw or lightly steamed cruciferous vegetables are basically plant rockstars. Rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals—cruciferous vegetables can also help boost your body’s detoxification systems. They can be especially beneficial to individuals with genetic variants that potentially impact their ability to process toxins. If you have been working with an Arivale Coach for any amount of time, you know we’re all about them.
With their bagged salad greens, Trader Joe’s sells Cruciferous Crunch, a medley of chopped brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, green cabbage, and red cabbage. This is a great way to add cruciferous veggies to a side salad, a wrap, or on top of a soup or curry.
3. Organic Riced Cauliflower
Try the cauliflower rice (available in the frozen foods section) as an alternative to quinoa, rice, or pasta. Cauliflower is also a cruciferous vegetable and works well as a hearty base for your meal.
4. Roasted Seaweed Snack
Once you get past the fact that you’re eating seaweed, this really does satisfy that salty craving and provide you with a healthy dose of iodine which supports proper thyroid function. Win win.
5. Organic Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt
Trader Joe’s has the best price I’ve found for the amount you get, and greek yogurt serves as a great protein source and alternative to milk. You can mix it with herbs for an alternative dip, use as a sour cream substitute, add to smoothies for protein, serve with fresh berries for a dessert or snack—the possibilities are endless.
6. Eggplant or Edamame Hummus
If you’re sick of plain old hummus, Trader Joe’s has many exciting variations. Hummus has a solid amount of healthy fat, protein, and fiber, and it makes a great afternoon snack when paired with fresh cut vegetables.
7. Handful of Almonds, Cashews, and Cranberries
Trader Joe’s has great prices for nuts and trail mixes. I often purchase a few bags of raw nuts and mix and match to make my own trail mixes. Trader Joe’s also has individual packets of raw trail mix, which can be great to keep in your desk for a pre-portioned snack.
8. Pre-Cut Butternut Squash
Peeling and chopping up a butternut squash is a labor of love. But if you’re short on time, Trader Joe’s has pre-cut organic butternut squash available in the produce section. It makes it almost too easy to add the squash—which is rich in fiber, Vitamin C, and beta-carotene—into a soup, veggie roast, curry, or stir-fry.
9. Steamed and Peeled Baby Beets
Beets are rich in dietary fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin B, magnesium, and iron—but as anyone who eats them regularly knows—they take a lot of time to prepare and cook. If you’re trying to up your beets intake, I love Trader Joe’s pre-steamed and peeled beets. They have just one ingredient—beets—but it will cut out the prep time, allowing you to get your beet on in a hurry. I love adding beets to my salads or eating alone as a side dish.
1o. Uncooked Wild Argentinian Red Shrimp
Big, luscious bites of shrimp with a lobster-like taste and texture for the price of shrimp—I’m all in. Shrimp offers a great source of protein, selenium, and copper—and this product is reasonably priced and minimally processed.
As you can see, it’s hard to hold yourself to just ten items and yet, there are so many combinations from just these that would provide plenty of variety throughout the week for nutrient-dense meals and snacks.
Talk to your Arivale Coach about how to create a grocery list tailored to your needs and budget so that wherever you shop, you are getting the most bang for your buck!
What are your favorite Trader Joe’s hacks?