Trader Joe’s has been killing it in the healthy food game lately, coming out with a slew of almost too-good-to-be-true products like cauliflower crust pizza, avocado citrus yogurt, and vegan cold-brew lattes. (Now if they could only keep the cauli-rice stocked….)
With the release of so many items that are nutritious and delish, it makes you wonder what other gems you might be missing. Curious (and hungry), I hit the grocery store with registered dietitian Tracy Lockwood, RD, founder of Tracy Lockwood Nutrition, to find the very healthiest options on TJ’s shelves—and we got the whole thing on video.
Lockwood’s biggest piece of advice: Look past the pretty packaging and zero in on the ingredients list. “Check that out first and the nutrition panel second,” she says, noting that brands sometimes try to manipulate the serving size listed to make a product seem healthier than it really is.
Watch the video above to follow along on our shopping trip—and scroll down to see Lockwood’s top picks.
Packaged, pre-chopped herbs
A little thyme or rosemary goes a long way when adding flavor to a dish, which is why Lockwood is such a fan of pre-chopped herbs. She even adds some, like mint, to her salad for extra zest.
While Lockwood loves ready-to-use chives and basil, you won’t find TJ’s bagged greens (you know, the ones that include all the fixings, like nuts, cheese, and dressing) in her cart—the one she pulled out and analyzed was loaded with sugar.
Cauliflower is no longer the only veggie being riced—and that’s a good thing. “They’re upping the game for [what] you can put into potatoes or even making into a pizza,” Lockwood says. Use the broc-rice as your base and load on your fave toppings for a veggie-on-veggie meal.
Everything but the Bagel seasoning blend
Trader Joe’s “Everything but the Bagel” spice only recently came out but has already garnered a cult following (especially in New York City, the unofficial bagel capital of the United States). Fortunately, it’s a whole lot healthier than your typical, smothered-in-cream-cheese breakfast order. Lockwood likes that it’s low in sodium and, despite the name, is really just made with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried garlic, dried onion, and sea salt—nothing processed. Use it to instantly upgrade your favorite toast recipe (avo or otherwise).
Multigrain fiber bread
Okay, so you probably know that plain-old white bread isn’t all that great for you, but if you’re thinking the healthiest choice is whole wheat, think again. Instead, Lockwood’s favorite is a multigrain fiber loaf. “It’s pretty dense, which is what you want in a bread,” she says. “That way, you’re full after just one slice.” (The six grams of fiber in each serving definitely helps with that.)
Gone Bananas chocolate-covered banana slices
One of Lockwood’s go-tos to satisfy her sweet tooth is Gone Bananas’ chocolate-covered banana slices, found ready-to-eat in the frozen foods section. “Four pieces only has 12 grams of sugar, which is pretty good for a dessert,” she says. The ingredients list is super clean too: It’s just bananas and chocolate, no monkey business here.
Montezuma’s 100 percent dark chocolate
The piece-de-resistance Lockwood discovered during our shopping trip wasn’t Trader Joe’s brand—but it was very exciting: Montezuma 100% Cocoa Dark Chocolate. Usually, finding something over 70 is pretty decent, but TJ’s went all the way to the dark side with this antioxidant- and polyphenol-rich bar. Hey, who says you have to skip the candy by the register to eat healthy?
While you’re at the store, you probably want to avoid these shopping mistakes even healthy people make. And here’s how to navigate the supplements aisle, too.