The grocery retailer really outdid itself this year. Trader Joe's fall items are culinary creations featuring pumpkin and butternut squash in foods that are either already ready to eat as is or need very little prep. The vast majority of them are made with the actual veggies and warming spices—not chemicals crafted to mimic them. But in just a few weeks, the amber and orange-hued fall products will be replaced with holiday items so the time to stock up on them is now.
There are a few items registered dietitian Melissa Rifkin, RD, is stocking up on because they're as nutrient-rich as they are tasty. Curious to find out what she loves? Keep reading to see her six favorites.
Watch the video below to see what else a registered dietitian buys at Trader Joe's:
A registered dietitian's favorite Trader Joe's seasonal items
TJ's vegetarian harvest chili originally came out in 2018 and has been so popular that it's been brought back every year since. Made with black beans, butternut squash, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, pumpkin puree, and chili spices, Rifkin loves all the ingredients in this nourishing, hearty chili. "This chili makes for a wonderfully balanced meal," she says. "With carbohydrates coming from good quality sources, like butternut squash and sweet potato, and protein from black beans, you have a vegetarian-friendly meal you can easily heat and enjoy."
Rifkin says that while many frozen foods at Trader Joe's are fried in oil and heavily processed, these pumpkin empanadas are much more nutrient-rich. For one, the pumpkin is full of fiber and potassium. However, unlike empanadas made with meat, these ones are lower in protein, so Rifkin recommends either having them as a snack with a Greek yogurt dip or making them just part of a meal and incorporating another protein like beans.
If you do eat meat, Rifkin says this burrito—made with turkey, black beans, cilantro rice, pumpkin mole sauce, Monterey Jack cheese, and a sweet potato flour tortilla—is an excellent quick way to get your fiber and protein. "For a balanced meal, I would enjoy half of it—saving the other half for another meal—and add veggies and avocado as a side," she says. "You can also top it off with Greek yogurt for even more protein," she says.
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4. Pumpkin 4 Cheese Greek Yogurt Dip
Yep, dietitians love cheese too and Rifkin is particularly into this one because of its Greek yogurt base. "Because this dip is made with Greek yogurt, it provides a good amount of protein per serving, making it a better option than most other dips," she says. "Grab your favorite raw veggies, like bell pepper, cauliflower, and celery, and enjoy!"
As you can tell by now, Rifkin is a Greek yogurt fan and this yogurt incorporates all the fall vibes into it. "While this item does contain some added sugar, it is still a perfectly good option to have as a snack or meal component with some chopped nuts for healthy fats and texture," she says.
This heat-and-eat meal is full of veggies including napa cabbage, radishes, red peppers, shiitake mushrooms, and onions. "The tofu in this soup provides a great source of plant-based protein and the kimchi is a wonderful source of probiotics that promote gut health," Rifkin says. Basically, it's a dietitian's dream lunch.
There is such an abundance of delicious produce during fall and these ready-to-eat items all celebrate that. It's all the flavor and none of the meal prep work. A great win all the way around, wouldn't you say?
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