Trader Joe’s is considered a supermarket mecca by so many shoppers—customers come from all corners of the country to wait in excruciatingly long lines for their otherworldly sauces, salad kits, snack mixes, and dark chocolate peanut butter cups et al. Whether you’re in need of fresh fruit, a delicious chunk of cheese, or a pre-made meal that tastes nothing like your standard frozen dinner, you can count on an impressive selection at this grocery purveyor.
Of the many snack and meal options that Trader Joe’s offers, a number of them are not only great tasting, but are also great for you. Since the start of 2021, the market has been rapidly expanding its lineup of vegan and plant-based products to help those shoppers who have food allergies or dietary restrictions, as well as those who opt to avoid animal products either full- or part-time for personal reasons.
That said, not all vegan products are created equal in both the taste and nutrient-density departments. After all, snack foods filled with added sugars and highly-processed ingredients may be vegan, but not exactly ideal for those looking to pack heart-healthy nutrients like fiber and protein into their meal regime. “It’s really great to see Trader Joe’s adding so many new products to its vegan line,” says Keri Gans, RDN. “Keep in mind, however, that just because something is vegan doesn’t mean you should skip reading the product's nutrition facts panel for important information. For example, Trader Joe’s non-dairy oat frozen dessert is still a dessert—and a delicious one at that. It's excellent to have more ice cream options for those that are plant-based or vegan, but if you down the entire pint, you still will be consuming 61 grams of added sugar.” On the other hand, Gans adds that “if you choose the vegan caesar dressing you are getting a lot less sugar and saturated fat compared to most bottled dairy-based caesar brands."
This is only the beginning of her brilliant nutritional intel on TJ's new plant-based items. In order to get the full lowdown on which of Trader Joe’s vegan products are actually worth the space in your pantry (and fridge, and freezer), we’ve rounded up a few delicious RD-approved items below.
The 11 best Trader Joe's vegan products, according to a dietitian
1. Organic 3-Grain Tempeh
"Trader Joe’s tempeh is also packed with 19 grams of protein and nine grams of fiber per serving, and it's very low in sodium, making it an excellent choice for those following a plant-based diet," Gans says. The tempeh is made from soybeans, rice, barley, and millet—and because it is a fermented food, it packs gut-friendly probiotics. It also has 15 percent of your daily iron needs. What's more, their organic tempeh retails for just $1.99 for eight ounces, which is a very nice price for a vegan meat alternative.
2. Vegan Ranch Dip
This vegan ranch dip made with a base of coconut cream—the primary ingredient—is a delicious and wholesome option for those that avoid dairy and/or eggs, says nutrition expert Krista Linares, RDN. The only other ingredients in it are canola oil, water, red wine vinegar, parsley, garlic, sea salt, shallots, chives, black pepper, dill, and xanthan gum. Pair it with cut veggies, pita chips, pretzels, or spread it into sandwiches or wraps to add a creamy, herbaceous kick.
3. Chicken-Less Crispy Tenders
An oldie but a goodie, these soy-based vegan Trader Joe’s tenders are a favorite for Gans. “The crispy tenders are not only delicious, but they provide 11 grams of plant protein, three grams of fiber, and 15 percent of your daily value for iron for a single serving.” Best part? The tenders take just 15 minutes to make in the oven, and six if you zap them in the microwave. Dip them into barbecue sauce, honey mustard, or the aforementioned TJ's vegan ranch dip.
4. Vegan Mac
Great news, plant-based peeps: you no longer have to forgo the delicious perfection that is macaroni and cheese. This microwave-ready mac and 'cheese' combines butternut squash with coconut milk to make the most silky, flavorful sauce that both vegans and dairy-lovers alike will love. “The fat from coconut can give foods a rich and satisfying mouth feel,” says Linares. For extra protein and fiber, stir in tofu or chickpeas plus roasted broccoli or cauliflower florets.
5. Vegan Taco Salad Kit
“For a very quick and easy salad as a meal this new one is an excellent option,” Gans notes. “A one-cup serving provides eight grams of protein and two grams of fiber. And by the way, this salad is a smart pick for those who love spicy salad dressings.” Trader Joe's Vegan Taco Salad Kit packs a blend of chopped romaine lettuce, red and green cabbage, and shredded carrots for the base. You'll also get a packet of pico de gallo, crunchy tortilla strips, zesty plant-based jalapeño ranch, and chipotle-infused seitan. Assembly couldn't be simpler: crumble the seitan and toss it in with all your ingredients before dressing it with the vegan ranch.
6. Herbed Tahini Sauce
“With grilling season still in full force, this tahini sauce can come in handy because it pairs perfectly with grilled veggies,” Gans notes. “A single portion will give you five grams of protein and ten percent of your daily value for iron.” The vegan sauce beautifully balances tahini's smooth, creamy nutty flavor with the freshness of parsley, garlic powder, and a hint of chili flakes. Use it as a dip for falafel, drizzle it on grilled mushrooms, or toss it into your next salad dressing.
7. Vegan Tzatziki Dip
Gans says this also a great dip, especially for raw veggies. It's made from a base of dairy-free cream cheese plus lemon juice, chopped cucumber, fresh dill, and garlic. It is creamy, herby, and deliciously tangy, which makes it the perfect match for any dish that's seasoned with coriander or cumin, like roasted eggplant or spiced carrots.
8. Cold Brew Coconut Cream Latte
If you’re looking for a cold brew made sweet and creamy without any animal products, Linares recommends this coconut cream version. You'll find it in two flavors—original and caramel spice—for just $1.99 a pop.
9. Cauliflower Tabbouleh
Cauliflower is a common grain-free replacement for rice and will boost the fiber content of any dish significantly. This cauliflower tabbouleh has a vibrant nutty and zesty flavor, thanks to the fresh tomatoes, parsley, onions, and lemon juice inside. Serve alongside lentil soup or stewed chickpeas for a delicious, heart-healthy lunch.
10. Spicy Pumpkin Curry Simmer Sauce
Where to even start with this plant-based pumpkin curry simmer sauce? Whatever time of year it is, you'll definitely (ahem) fall hard for it. The jarred meal shortcut is made from a mix of pumpkin, lemongrass, coconut cream, chopped onions, and all the warming spices. The RDs recommend simmering your favorite vegetables and tofu or chickpeas in it, then serving the stew over quinoa, roasted cauliflower, or brown rice for a complete meal.
11. Ube Mochi Pancake and Waffle Mix
Ube, a purple yam, is a popular ingredient in many Asian cuisines, especially the Philippines. It not only creates a delightful color, but also a delicious taste and texture. Vegans can use an egg replacement (such as flax or chia) and a non-dairy form of fat (like vegetable oil or coconut butter) to make the perfect gluten-free pancakes, waffles, or breakfast pastries from this mix.
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