Surprise, Surprise! Cauliflower Gnocchi Is the Trader Joe’s Fan Favorite Vegetarian Item—but How Do the Runner-Ups Stack Nutritionally?

Photo: Getty Images/Joes Istetiana
What came first: cauli-mania or Trader Joe's cauliflower gnocchi? This is definitely a chicken-or-the-egg situation, but one thing's for sure: the cruciferous veg owes a large part of its comeback-kid status to good old TJ's. The grocery store's 11th Annual Customer Choice Awards Winners confirms as much. Cauliflower gnocchi took first place of the vegetarian products at Trader Joe's—but what of its plant-based runner-ups? We asked dietitian Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition to spill the tea on each.

A dietitian offers a nutritional breakdown of 4 of the most popular vegetarian products at Trader Joe's (you know, behind cauliflower gnocchi)

2nd place: Soy Chorizo

"I like that this is an excellent source of vegetarian protein, providing 11 grams per serving. You also get a slew of other nutrients, including eye-helping vitamin A, bone-helping calcium, and iron—which is important for many functions within the body, including the transport of oxygen," says Gorin. Because the soy chorizo 730 milligrams, or 32 percent of your daily value of salt, so make sure you drink plenty of water and space out the yummy meals you include it in. "You can also include a source of potassium, which helps to counteract the negative effects of sodium on blood pressure, with your meal. For instance, pair the chorizo with some avocado slices," Gorin recommends.

Everything you've ever wondered about soy, answered:

3rd: Vegan Kale Cashew and Basil Pesto

Eat up, vegans! Our bronze-medalist ticks the dairy-free box, so you won't find any animal products in this fan fave. "In each serving, you get heart-healthy fats from the olive oil, safflower—or sunflower—oil, and cashew butter. You also get a little bit of protein in each spoonful," says Gorin. Its fat content gives pesto a smaller serving size (four tablespoons), so be mindful of that as you put the finishing touches on your pasta dish.

The facts about pasta:

4th place: Cowboy Quinoa Veggie Burger

"Not all veggie burgers are created equal, so I like that this one is a good source of protein and an excellent source of fiber—both nutrients that help to keep you fuller for longer. It’s made with whole-food ingredients such as quinoa, black beans, red peppers, and more—and both the saturated fat and sodium contents are on the lower side," says Gorin. To make the plant-patty feel more like a meal, she advises adding extra protein in the form of nutritional yeast or a sunny-side egg.

More plant-based protein sources:

5th place: Chicken-less Mandarin Orange Morsels

The vegan version of TJ's most-loved entrée, these morsels are straight-up delicious. While they do contain a nice serving of protein (16 grams), as well a good amount of iron and potassium, Gorin says their salt and sugar content should be on your radar. "There are two things that make this a food to eat in moderation. One is the sodium content, which is 670 milligrams, or 29 percent of the daily value. That’s higher than I’d like to see. The other is the added sugar content, which is 15 grams of added sugar, which is quite a bit for an entrée," she says.

Trader Joe's has kale gnocchi now, too. But is it healthy? Oh, and if you're wondering why all your alt-gnocchis keep sticking to the pan, ignore the instructions and put them in your air fryer

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