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Top Ten Best Trader Joe’s Purchases

October 29th, 2009 No Comments

Top Ten Best Trader Joe’s Purchases

—By Nutritionista

A few days ago, I got a question from reader Mary Beth. She’s one of the lucky ones who’s getting a Trader Joe’s in her neighborhood, and asked me for a list of my top ten favorite items. What a great (but hard-to-answer!) question. It’s no secret that I love Trader Joe’s and basically think it’s the mecca for healthy foodies everywhere. So I thought long and hard about this question, and here’s what I came up with (note that this is not a comprehensive list of all great TJ’s items, just some of my classic and versatile favorites!):

  1. Flavored Greek yogurt (honey, blueberry, and pomegranate): Though fun-flavored Greek yogurt is popping up all over the place now, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for TJ’s version. This yogurt is filling, has great flavor and consistency, and is fairly affordable.
  2. Just A Handful trail mix: Yes, it’s true, you CAN make your own trail mix and portion it out into individual baggies. But let’s keep it real: Will you? This is such a great item to have on hand, and I almost always keep a pack in my desk at work or in my purse. I think they make two or three different types, but they all contain a mix of dried fruit and nuts in a nice portion-controlled serving size. If you do want to make your own trail mix, TJ’s sells a plethora of affordable dried fruits as well as a variety of nuts (some flavored).
  3. Apple cranberry bran muffins: I’m in awe of the nutrition stats on these babies: 80 calories, 13g fiber, and 5g protein. These make for a perfect (filling) snack or accompanyment to breakfast. I’ve mixed them into yogurt and oatmeal, too. A warning: these muffins are pretty “branny” (read: they taste like they have as much fiber as they do), so if you’re not a fan of bran, stay away.
  4. Multigrain cereal: I’ve basically replaced oatmeal with this stuff. It looks like oatmeal, tastes like oatmeal, but boasts better nutrition stats (see the linked post for more info). I usually mix in PB and banana for a little more flavor.
  5. Organic peanut butter: The first time I had organic PB, I almost chocked. That stuff tasted nasty to my Jiff-seasoned tongue! But I was relieved to find that TJ’s peanut butter doesn’t have the weird texture and taste that other organic PBs do. And peanut butter is one of the things to definitely buy organic (nuts can soak up a lot of pesticides!). Their almond butter is also affordable and delish.
  6. Shelled edamame: Trader Joe’s is one of the only places I’ve found that sells shelled, NON-FROZEN edamame. It’s perfect for snacking or adding to stir-fries, etc.
  7. Precooked grains and beans: I know this is kind of a cop-out answer, but for the time-crunched chef, TJ’s sells all the precooked time-savers you could ever ask for. I’ve heard the frozen steel-cut oats are great, and they carry lots of premade rices and other grains. The precooked beans (like lentil and fava) come packaged rather than canned, so they don’t have that weird tinny taste. They’re great for throwing in soups or salads.
  8. Dark chocolate wedges: These come in a little tin by the front of the store. At 35 calories each, they’re a great way to get a portion-controlled hit of dark chocolate without having to break a bigger bar with a hammer.
  9. Banana, flattened: This “banana roadkill” (tm delishyourdish) is a great portable snack. Turn it into a roll-up by spreading on some PB or AB, and adding dark chocolate chips if you like. Say “yum.”
  10. Mirepoix: This one’s just on the list for it’s pure usefulness. It can be the base of almost any sauce or soup, no chopping necessary! A great thing to have around.

I know there are so many other great items at TJ’s that aren’t on this list. And now I feel really bad for those of you without a store nearby. I also feel bad for rubbing it in just now. Sorry! I’m sure someday, you’ll get to know Joe. Anyway, for those of you who shop there already, what are some of your favorite healthy Trader Joe’s finds?