Trader Joe's

I’m a Health Coach—These Are the 20 Trader Joe’s Items I Always Buy

written by JOSIE SANTI

Trader Joe’s is not just a grocery store. It’s our go-to for affordable wine—that will still impress guests— and a favorite food sample destination. It’s America’s sweetheart of food stores. And it’s my favorite place to score healthy products on a budget. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve had my fair share of emergency cookie butter runs. But I became a health coach because of my passion for nourishing myself and others with plants that make my body feel its best—in a delicious and satisfying way because food is meant to be enjoyed. Trader Joe’s is full of hidden treasures that are as delicious as they are nutritious. Here are the 20 items I always have stocked in my kitchen that make healthy eating a breeze:


1. Jicama Wraps

Maybe you’ve heard of jicama as a salad bar staple to add some crunch without the calories, but Trader Joe’s did the impossible (again!) and turned the root veggie into a tortilla. The best part? It is literally one ingredient: jicama. Think of it as a combo of hard and soft corn tortillas with a bit of crunch but easy to bend and mold. You won’t have to think twice about having seconds or thirds on Taco Tuesday. 


2. Green Goddess Salad Dressing

I’m not usually a big fan of bottled salad dressings. I prefer to DIY with some olive oil and apple cider vinegar. However, sometimes I need a little change. Having an already-made delicious way to dress up greens for lunch can make all the difference in a stressful workday. Many salad dressings contain sneaky processed ingredients and added sugars, so I love this list of clean ingredients: avocado, fresh herbs, apple cider vinegar, garlic, etc. Bonus: You can also use it as a dip or pasta sauce to sneak in the extra clean ingredients for little picky eaters. (No shame if “little picky eaters” means you and not your kids.)  


3. Dark Chocolate Drizzled Plantain Chips

If you have a major sweet tooth or crave dark chocolate on the regular, I’m about to change your life. This TJ’s item has become one of my favorite go-to’s for both healthy snacking and desserts. It has only 4 grams of sugar and a decently clean list of ingredients that combine chips (made out of bananas) and chocolate. This bag is the perfect way to satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthier way while simultaneously satisfying your snacking craving for all things salty and crispy. Satisfying two cravings at once? That’s the genius of Trader Joe’s.


4. Coconut Aminos Seasoning Sauce

If you’re a soy sauce lover, it’s about time you hop on the coconut aminos bandwagon. This healthier version is free of gluten and soy, meaning it’s the perfect (more natural) option for people with gluten or soy sensitivities or allergies. It also has a lot less sodium content than traditional soy sauce. This makes it the perfect guilt-free topper for all your stir-fries and sushi rolls. On top of the health benefits, it’s cheaper than other coconut aminos sauces on the market. Plus, it happens to be certified organic. (What can’t Trader Joe’s do?)


5. Chickpea and Red Lentil Risoni

Is it just me, or is veggie-based rice all the rage these days? I love brown or wild rice as much as the next girl, but sometimes it’s nice to pack in even more legumes for extra protein and nutrients. Of all the veggie or legume-based alternatives, this one is my favorite. It’s one of the cheapest options and happens to be certified organic—many aren’t! You’re getting in a wider variety of nutrients since it’s made of chickpea and red lentils instead of just one. Make this as a rice or orzo replacement, and you’ll never want to go back. 


6. Shaved Brussels Sprouts

I always tell clients who don’t have the time or energy to cook to find ways to streamline the cooking process, like purchasing the prepared veggies at TJ’s. I particularly love the shaved brussels sprouts because brussels sprouts are particularly a pain to prepare. This packaged version is easy to toss into salads, stir-fries, sheet meals, etc. I’m also a fan of the Cruciferous Crunch collection, which is delicious in pasta or a creamy salad (see: the Green Goddess dressing above). 


7. Dill Pickle Hummus


Before you scroll past this one because it sounds kind of gross, hear me out. If I had the immense privilege of being the person who names Trader Joe’s items, I probably would have gone in a different direction. This hummus is less of a combo of chickpeas and pickles than the name suggests. Instead, it’s more of a delicious, creamy, satisfying dip that tastes like vinegar, sea salt, and savory spices. It’s basically salt-and-vinegar dip, which sounds much better, right? Either way, you will love this dip with veggies, crackers, or spread onto a sandwich. 


8. Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend

This EBTB Seasoning is one of the can’t-live-without products I always have stocked in my kitchen. It’s so popular it’s basic at this point. A bagel sandwich is one of my favorite foods. I love making some sourdough toast with vegan cream cheese, red onion, lettuce, and tomato and topping it all with the seasoning to satisfy my bagel craving. I also put the blend on popcorn, avocado toast, eggs, etc., for a flavor that I cannot get enough of. (Plus, I’m a sucker for a chic black-and-white label.)


9. Cauliflower Thins

I could not be more thankful for the powers that be—AKA whichever TJ’s employee had the idea to turn cauliflower into bread. Made of cauliflower (over 60%), eggs, Parmesan cheese, and deactivated yeast, they’re a delicious alternative to bread, tortillas, etc., for anyone who’s gluten-free or trying to sneak in more veggies. Full disclosure: I sometimes eat them plain because they’re just that delicious. 


10. Shishito Peppers

Shishito peppers are one of my favorite foods to eat when ordering takeout, but they’re difficult to find when trying to cook them myself. Of course, Trader Joe’s makes trying out new produce very convenient, thanks to their inventive products and perfect packaging. Roast a serving of these tasty peppers with a little lemon, olive oil, miso paste, and coconut aminos (see above). I swear these will become your new go-to veggie. Forget boring carrot sticks and steamed broccoli–shishito peppers are my must-have side dish. 


11. Frozen Wild Blueberries 

I eat blueberries every day because they’re so nutritious, and I swear they’re my #1 secret to glowy skin. Whenever I go to Trader Joe’s, I stock up on packs of these berries—like, there are currently seven in my freezer. Since these are frozen, I can continue adding them to smoothies, oatmeal, and baked goods for months. Why do I love Trader Joe’s specifically? You guessed it: They’re cheaper than other certified-organic varieties.  


12. Cold-Pressed Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a serious staple in my kitchen. I use it for cooking, blending in my coffee, and slathering over my skin for hydration. (Don’t worry: I have separate coconut oils for cooking and beauty purposes.) I love this one from Trader Joe’s because it’s certified organic (I know, I’m predictable, right?) and cold-pressed, meaning it might retain more nutrients than oils treated with heat. Bonus tip: The coconut oil spray is not one of my ride-or-die products like the cold-pressed oil, but when you just want a spray, it’s way better than your average Pam. 


13. Spicy Mexican-Style Riced Cauliflower

Come one, come all: The best new TJ’s meal is here, and we’re not talking about it enough. The Spicy Mexican-Style Cauliflower is everything you want out of a quick lunch or simple dinner: lots of nutrients and lots of flavors. This genius invention combines riced cauliflower, other veggies like tomatoes and bell peppers, and flavorful toppings like cumin, cayenne, and lime juice. Oh, and don’t let me forget about the pickled jalapeños. (Isn’t the best part of any meal jalapeños?) Heat it up on the stove for a vegan side dish, turn it into a burrito bowl, or add it to a tortilla for a tasty meal. 


14. Brown Rice & Quinoa Fusilli Pasta

Yes, I’m a health coach, and nutrition is ~my life~ but I also love food (extra emphasis on love). It’s not that any food is “off limits.” (We’re not meant to eat from a place of deprivation!) But I know I can find more nutritious and plant-based options for the foods I crave. The perfect example is Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice & Quinoa Fusilli Pasta. I have gluten sensitivity, so I try to avoid the white-flour version anyway. But we can all opt for whole grains like quinoa and brown rice that are loaded with extra nutrients. 


15. Moroccan Mint Tea 

If you can’t already tell, organic is the #1 theme here. I love knowing that this tea is full of superfood ingredients and that TJ’s took the extra step of ensuring the superfood ingredients are organic too. I drink this tea after meals or whenever I feel bloated. (The mint can help soothe stomach discomfort or digestive issues.) Pro tip: Buy it in bulk because you’re going to want to drink it every day. Order it online here.


16. Vegan Kale, Cashew, and Basil Pesto

Pesto is one of my favorite sauces to DIY, but we can’t all be Martha Stewart 24/7. For the weeks I have very little time to cook or prep my meals, I love this vegan-friendly version. Not only is this option dairy-free, but it’s also more plant-based than the traditional version, thanks to kale and cashews. (No, you cannot taste the kale.) Use the delicious sauce on top of bruschetta, with your favorite pasta, or as a dip for veggies. 


17. Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Perhaps one of the most beloved Trader Joe’s products of all time, the cauliflower pizza crust revolutionizes fast food—and drunk food—by replacing greasy crusts with nutrient-dense cauliflower and gluten-free cornflour. I always have a plain crust in my freezer for when I want to get creative. (I make a mean Mexican pizza with smashed black beans, cheese, lettuce, and vegan ranch.) But I also keep one of the cheese cauliflower pizza crusts for the nights when I only have time to pop something in the oven. 


18. Chocolate Hummus

I know what you’re thinking: chocolate hummus? Before you think I’ve officially lost it, hear me out. I don’t like to think of it as hummus because the only similarity is that it’s made with chickpeas. However, it tastes much more like a delicious chocolate frosting than anything in the hummus family. With a base of cooked chickpeas and tahini (a sesame seed paste), it’s a genius way to sneak in some extra nutrients like fiber, protein, potassium, and iron.

As a warning, I do not eat gallons of this stuff thinking I’m eating my veggies. It still contains some cane sugar. So use it as you would any other dessert, but know you’re giving your body an added dose of nutrients while satisfying your sweet tooth. I like to use it as frosting for baked goods or as a dip with apple slices when I’m craving something sweet. 


19. Unsweetened Coconut Chips

Another favorite solution when that snack craving strikes is coconut chips. They can be used as a tasty topping on any yogurt, açai bowl, or cereal. Or they can be eaten on their own for a tasty snack. My favorite part (you guessed it!) is that they’re organic and unsweetened. So you know you’re only getting the good stuff. Another tip is to DIY a trail mix with nuts, cacao nibs, and these tasty coconut chips. You’ll never feel bored with your afternoon snack ever again. 


20. Manuka Honey

I love manuka honey for so many purposes. Not only can this honey help heal minor wounds and improve common cold symptoms, but I also love manuka honey to help ease digestive issues and help balance the immune system. Oh, and I’ve been known to use it to wash my face. (Now, that’s a superfood). I love purchasing this honey from Trader Joe’s because it’s usually super expensive anywhere else. It comes with an ingredient list that I trust and a price tag that I don’t have to think twice about.