While there’s lots of debate in the healthy food world over which eating plan is best or whether alt-meats are worth adding onto our plates, there’s one thing that everyone can agree on: Trader Joe’s can do (almost) no wrong. From their cauliflower gnocchi to their spice section and even their beauty products, they deliver quality and health on practically every level. And as I’ve recently discovered, this trueism expends to their sauces, too.
Sauces, of course, are a great healthy way to add flavor and nutrition to a dish without a ton of extra effort. But if you don’t have time or energy to DIY your own, store-bought options can be life-saving…if you do your label-reading carefully. There’s often a catch in the form of hidden salt, sugar, or preservatives in many pre-made sauces.
Not so with these five healthy Trader Joe’s sauces. They’re all approved by a dietitian, so you know they’re legit health-wise. And given that they’re all from TJ’s, you’re in good hands taste-wise, too. Consider tonight’s dinner plans saved with these delicious picks.
1. Best salsa: Trader Joe’s Salsa Verde
“You can do more than just dip chips into this salsa verde, which is why it should definitely be on your Trader Joe’s grocery list,” says Maggie Michalczyk, MS, RD. Made with simple ingredients like tomatillos, water, garlic, and salt, it’s pretty pure in terms of high-quality ingredients while staying relatively low in sodium and sugar. “Use it as a marinade for chicken or fish for taco Tuesday or use at the seasoning for a healthy chicken enchilada casserole,” she says.
2. Best hot sauce: Trader Joe’s Organic Spicy Taco Sauce
Want to bring the heat? Pour some of this sauce on tacos for some extra flavor that’s naturally good for you! “It tastes like homemade hot sauce from your favorite Mexican restaurant and you can literally use it on anything to give it a spicy little kick,” Michalczyk says. “I like that tomato puree is the main ingredient and it’s perfect for adding to your tacos or quesadillas,” she says. You don’t need to just stick with classic tacos, either. You can use it for any type of southwestern meal, like a black bean soup or a southwestern omelet to give it some added heat.
Looking for more dietitian-approved picks from Trader Joe’s? Here’s what You Versus Food host Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD, always buys there:
3. Best multi-purpose condiment: Trader Joe’s Organic Tahini
ICYMI, tahini is right on trend this year, where people are using the tasty sesame seed to do more than just make hummus. “This is a great inexpensive staple sauce to stock up on when you’re shopping at Trader Joe’s,” says Michalczyk. “Use it as a base for many different combinations of salad dressings and dipping sauces, or you can even bake with it how you would with nut butter.”
Michalczyk’s go-to? A lemon tahini salad dressing. “Combine a half cup tahini with 2/3 to 3/4 cups water (as needed) and 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice. Then add one clove of garlic, minced, one tablespoon of olive oil, and 3/4 teaspoon of sea salt and black pepper to taste,” she says. Use this over a bed of greens with some grilled salmon or lemon chicken for an easy salad for lunch or dinner.
4. Best pasta sauce: Trader Joe’s Giotto Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce
“It’s always a good idea to have a marinara sauce on hand for using on pasta or zucchini noodles,” says Michalczyk. Pick this one up on your next TJ’s run to use in a variety of ways,” she says. It has a very straightforward ingredients list and is lower in sugar and salt than most other jarred marinaras, she says, making it a great healthy option. “Use this in a simple and flavorful meal by topping a bowl of half spaghetti noodle and half zucchini noodles with spinach and chicken for a well-rounded meal,” she says.
5. Best wild-card item: Trader Joe’s Citrusy Yuzu Kosho Hot Sauce
This fruity Japanese-inspired sauce, yuzu kosho, combines citrus with chili to create a unique flavored sauce that works for marinades or dips. “Use it as a marinade for chicken before you throw them in the oven to cook in order to spice up boring chicken breast,” Michalczyk says. “You can also use it as a marinade for fish which will give them a little more of a sweet and spicy taste—perfect for fish with a mango or pineapple pico de gallo on top,” she suggests.
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