Retail therapy. That's what this is.
Trader Joe's IS the total package. A triple threat, you might say. I guess it's the well orchestrated combination of enthusiastic, helpful employees, the Tiki culture theme and Polynesian style of the space, a manageable, intimate atmosphere reminiscent of the neighborhood markets of my youth and the seduction of beautifully packaged, affordable specialty foods (without Whole Foods prices) that lures me. Just thinking about it now makes me go all heart eyes, eager with anticipation for my next trip.
But, can I just tell you something?
Just a little something to think about.
Just because something comes from Trader Joe's, we can't assume it's healthy. We still need to be reading labels and checking ingredients. There is a thrill that can be found when hunting healthy food. Don't be afraid to go in there, like the super sleuth that you are, find your inner Food Babe and hunt that shit down.
Here are my top picks for Trader Joe's grocery items that are healthy AND delicious. (and oil-free!) I would love to know of your TJ's finds as well, so definitely leave them in the comments below. It takes a village, my friend.
Oh! And don't miss the super simple seasonal recipe for Pumpkin Spice Latte Smoothie! (down below)
1. Whole Grain Crispbread: These are more cracker-like than bread-like. And, let's face it. Oil-free plant-based crackers can be hard to come by. These are delicious with any hummus or nut butter. They are very nutty/seedy, but the flavor is neutral so will compliment a variety of dips, tapenade and spreads.
2. Organic Peppermint Cinnamon Herbal Tea: A soothing blend of organic peppermint leaves and cinnamon, this tea goes easy on the tummy when feeling under the weather. Plus with a hint of cinnamon, it feels a little festive this time of year and warms you up from the inside out in a very light and subtle way.
3. Organic Split Pea Soup: Though I like to mostly cook my own food, it's nice to have a few things in the pantry I can have in a pinch when I'm short on time. Like the other day when I got called into work and had nothing prepared. This soup was delicious over brown rice and a drizzle of hot sauce.
4. Sriracha Sauce: Speaking of hot sauce, Trader Joe's has their own brand of Sriracha sauce. I use Sriracha more than any other condiment, to be sure, except it might be a close second to Frank's Red Hot. Pizza, pastas, Asian dishes and noodle bowls, sushi, anything with avocado....pretty much anytime a dish needs a little somethin' somethin', Sriracha is the answer.
5. Organic Spaghetti Sauce with Mushrooms: Unless you make your own, it's challenging to find a spaghetti sauce that is oil-free. So when I find one (and this one is organic!) I buy as much as I can. It's a nice sauce that can be doctored up if you're feeling frisky. And for all of you who are turned off by mushrooms, there aren't any mushrooms to be found! This is a smooth sauce...no chunks.
6. Savory Thin Mini Rice Crackers Multi Seed with Tamari Soy Sauce: Phew. That was a mouthful. This was the first time I tried these crackers and I have to say they were pretty good with hummus. My husband wasn't a big fan and if you're allergic to soy than these would be out. They have a nice crunch and would lend themselves to more savory dips and spreads.
7. Nutritional Yeast: Admittedly, when I first started my plant-based journey, I wasn't so sure about "nooch". But I kept using it and now, looking back, I can't imagine ever letting myself run out of the stuff. Buyer beware, not all nutritional yeast is the same! But, TJ's has a tasty one, and finding this new addition in their product line is a sign of the times. Plus the bag is so cute, isn't it?
8. Apocryphal Pita 100% Whole Wheat: I have been buying these for years. It's so difficult, like so many pre-packaged foods, to find oil-free whole grain pita bread. I don't indulge in bread items on a regular basis, but these large pitas make for super quick pizzas of any kind. You can also slice them into triangles and toast them up in the oven to serve with dips, hummus, guac, etc. I stock up on these and keep them in the freezer and fridge as they are not shelf stable.
9. Black Bean Rotini: Ok, I love this pasta for two reasons. First of all, it has 1 ingredient: organic black bean flour. And second, it's got the body of regular pasta, kind of. Some of the gluten-free and rice pastas out there just can't hang for a second round, tending to fall apart when reheated. Like it's cousin, red lentil pasta, the black bean rotini is delicious and works well with a variety of sauces. Though, my favorite way of preparing it is to simply mix it in with a can of seasoned diced tomatoes and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper. Oh and some "nooch". Always.
10. California Style Sprouted Wheat Bread: In my opinion this would be TJ's answer to Food For Life's Ezekiel Bread. It can be difficult to not only find oil-free pre-packaged bread, but it's equally hard to find one that doesn't have a zillion ingredients. TJ's has a good handful of oil-free breads with clean ingredients to choose from and I mix them up from time to time. I love this bread toasted for paninis or grilled sandwiches.
11. Organic Refried Pinto Beans Salsa Style: I am super happy to find this little gem! Refried beans without lard...and they're saving me the hassle of adding my own salsa, a tip I learned from my mom in making semi-homemade refried beans. These beans make a great filler for wraps and burritos and also, it makes a great base for my 7 Layer Dip.
12. Sweet Potato Ribbons: Truth? Everyone is always making such a fuss over zucchini pasta or spaghetti squash...and I like them alright, but I love sweet potato pasta best with a good marinara. And I'll take it one step further by adding chopped Kalamata olives, capers and red pepper flakes to the mix. Oh and maybe a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
13. Steamed Lentils: I know I can make my own...I know. But I don't want to. I've burned lentils and turned them to mush too many times because babysitting the stove just isn't my thing. You can find these pre- cooked lentils in the produce section. Who knew!? I take them home, divide them into 1/2 or 1 cup portions and freeze for later use for soups, burgers, wraps, bowls or salads.
14. Organic Cold Brew Coffee: They had me at nitro, tbh. And let me just say, I've been on the hunt for this for MONTHS. So maybe cold coffee isn't sounding so hot now that we are nearing the end of October? Check this out.
Pumpkin Spice Latte Smoothie: 1/2 cup brewed coffee, cooled, 1/2 cup nondairy milk, 1 frozen banana, 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract, 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp allspice), 2-3 small pitted dates, optional and 1-2 ice cubes or frozen coffee cubes, optional. Whiz in high speed blender until smooth and creamy.
Jeanmare and Cristy are creators and contributors of the Living Simply Nourished Blog. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee!), find a cozy spot, scroll around, read some stories, find some inspiration, and enjoy!
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