Updated Trader Joe’s Products and Ideas for Weight Mastery
Welcome to the Trader Joe’s resource list updated for 2015. I am a big fan of the Joe’s because they have affordable products and a lot of them are weight mastery friendly.
This list was created by me and a number of clients over the years—scouring the shelves for healthy, lower calorie products. We even brainstormed meal and snack ideas here for you. Everything has been organized into sections to be user friendly.
The big lesson we learn again and again is you have to read labels! Otherwise, seemingly innocent “health food”– that actually is really caloric– ends up undoing you because you think you are eating light but you are not. Case in point—we looked at the sushi section the seemingly low cal “rolls” average about 600 calories per package!!! Yikes!
I hope you find this list a useful resource for ideas and inspiration for planning healthy meals and snacks for your week. Remember, if you don’t have a plan, the world has one for you and it usually isn’t a very healthy one!
The Dairy Section
You either embrace dairy or you don’t. We whipped by the milks because what’s there to say about milk—you either got it or you don’t.
For those of you who like your coffee on the pale side, the TJ’s Fat Free Half and Half has fewer calories at 50 cal per 2 tablespoons (note less fat though more sugar). There is now also a Coconut Milk Creamer which offers something for the non-dairy folk. Just be careful with any creamer—the calories do add up faster than you think. It’s easy to pour 50-100 calories worth in a cup and not even register it as something you ate.
For those of you who are looking to cut down calories in your milk substitutes—like soy milk, rice milk, etc.—I cannot rave enough about Almond Breeze’s Unsweetened Almond Milk. We were practically misty-eyed singing the praises of this slightly almondy beverage that doesn’t come from a mammal or throw your hormones into a funk. 40 calories a cup and it’s rich and creamy to boot.
Yogurt Rave: Many from this crew of Joesters agree about these products:
Fage 0% Greek Yogurt- Plain 120 calories per cup.
And Trader Joe’s 0% Greek version of the same thick and creamy, great for breakfast and snacks –topped with fruit or plain, stirred into savory dips. I use it to top stewed apples, bananas, and other fruit desserts.
Pasturized Egg Whites: (Near the egg beaters) I love these things because you can spray a casserole dish, pour some whites in, nuke ‘em, and you can keep ‘em for a couple of days. I sometimes make a breakfast from a tortilla, Canadian bacon slice-1 slice, one slice tofu cheese, and a bit of egg whites. It’s like an Egg McMuffin but it’s only 180 calories and low in fat and it takes seconds to make when the egg whites are prepped ahead of time. They are great for cooking, baking, and omelettes, obviously.
The Bread Section—
(reading the list is gluten free though eating may not be)
Zen Muffins and Fiber Cakes: These little fruit juice sweetened baked goods are the fiber child of The Zen Bakery. The fibercakes are 80 calories and 15 grams of fiber-wow going in, ‘cause they taste great—and double wow going out—if you get my drift! The Zen muffins are a bit more zaftig—weighing in at 250 cals but with fiber low fat and the same size as those big Starbucks’ muffins but a third of the calories. These go fast so store them in the freezer and take out as needed. Great for breakfast or snacking or dessert when crumbled up over some of the above-mentioned yogurt.
Mini Pita Pockets are also in the bread section. At 60 cals each, they’re worth a mention. Everybody has their own gluten or non-gluten thing going on, and TJ’s does seem to cater to everyone’s needs in the bread department.
Love the Sonora low carb tortillas only 60 calories
Ezekial tortillas, bigger, more grainy and good for veggie filled burritos and wraps
Look Pa Bread: whole grain, no flour, 90 calories, but as whole grain as you can get.
Check out other breads—check labels. A slice of bread can range from 40 to 160 calories a slice. Just because it is gluten free does not mean it’s calorie free.
The Vegetable Area
TJ’s has mastered the art of being green: bags of different lettuces, baby spinach, arugula as well as power greens, kale, cruciferous green mixes all make it easy to throw together a salad at the end of a long day. Now it’s even easier to get your veggies with pre-chopped stir-fries and vegetable mixes. Most masters of long term weight loss eat 6-9 servings per day and TJ’s makes that easy.
Don’t forget to load up on grab-and-go healthy, crunchy snacks like sugar snap peas, baby carrots, celery and bags of broccoli and cauliflower florets. Try these as a snack at 4 pm with some of the healthy dips mentioned below.
TJ’s is great because they package up prepped veggies so it makes cooking them a cinch. I buy the bag of Southern Greens and saute these all of the time. Liz puts cumin and paprika on them and says it gives them that smoky southern thing without the ham hock.
Broccoli Slaw: low in cals and super high in nutrients—add some dressing—toss in a salad, saute. When I met with Lisa Lillien (aka Hungry Girl), we both spent about 5 minutes just singing its praises.
Apples: We discussed slicing up apples, putting them in a microwave dish, adding cinnamon, a slice of ginger, some vanilla, and then microwaving for 5 minutes. The result is a comforting bowl of what tastes like apple pie. I will serve this as dessert to company with yogurt on top—always a big hit and great for breakfast, too.
The Deli Case:
Eggplant Hummus: the lowest calorie hummus in the case. At 35 cal a tablespoon, I spread it on whole wheat toast or the low carb tortilla, or as a dip for those sexy veggies that you all love to chomp on at snack time.
Hummus Quartet: It’s nice–4 different flavors averaging about 45 cals per 2 tablespoons. Great to bring into work to share over the week in the staff room with a bag of carrots (instead of a dozen donuts!!)
The below tomato based sauces in the deli section are great over everything in my book—steamed broccoli, salads, in soups, veggie dip—heck, if they made a vat big enough I would bathe in ‘em!
Salsa Especial Premium—fresh, very tasty, salsa 2T=5 calories!
Pico De Gallo 2 T =5 cals
Tomato Bruschetta sauce (amazing and garlicky, I eat straight from the container) 2T=20 cals. This is great over eggs, steamed broccoli, fish etc—very versatile!
Reduced Guilt guacamole—tastes as sinful as it’s heavier sister but only 30 calories for 30 grams.
Egg White Salad with Chives: This bad boy come in the same type of container as the hummus. I love this stuff; it tastes great, packs a ton of protein to keep hunger at bay and a whole container is 100 calories! Put it on salads, over steamed veggies (this is actually awesome) on w/w toast or the low carb tortilla.
Just Chicken, Just Salmon, Just Beef and now Just Roasted Chicken Breast: calories vary For the carnivore in us, these are packages of freshly poached and chunked meats and fishes that are prepped with no fat and have had all the fatty bits removed—they are located by the salads. These products would be great over a salad, tossed in a stir-fry, or just kept in the office fridge for a protein packed snack. Great for those of us who like to eat meat but don’t like cooking it.
Hard Boiled and Peeled Eggs in the bag: another great item to bring in and keep at work or in the front of your refrigerator to reach for some protein on the go.
TJs fresh Soups—a new line added to the deli section, these come in plastic containers
Heart Minestrone 110 cals per cup
Lentil 230 per cup
TJ’s Salads: these are the prepped ones that I have already mentioned but worth repeating because they are so convenient, tasty, fresh, and low cal—
Low Fat Southwestern
Low Fat Greek
Low Fat Chinese Chicken
Low Fat Shrimp Louis
NOTE: Some salads seem low in calories until you see that they are actually two servings—again a reminder to check the labels.
Chevre Lite, at 35 calories an ounce, is a great tangy topping to a salad, toast, apple slices—or dare I say it –a low carb tortilla, spread with a tiny bit of jam or a savory salty olive tapenade (just to impart a flavor).
Fat Free Feta 35 cals per ounce
Laughing Cow Plain, Herbed, or Bleu Cheese Flavors—35 cals per wedge—these are great melted over steamed veggies or spread on toast as a snack.
Any cheese that is pre-portioned and packaged like the Baby Belle or Laughing Cow or cheese sticks are a help because then your rebel isn’t tempted into having you continue slicing away at the bigger piece of cheese “Go on—even up that edge—you know you want to.”
Light String Cheese—many reach for this protein filled snack—60 cals. per stick.
Hebrew National Franks 97% Fat Free—A good tasting hot dog that weighs in at 45 calories.
Canadian Bacon-Surprisingly, this Canuck breakfast meat is super low in fat and calories—Oh, Canada! 20 calories a slice.
Reduced Sodium Turkey breast slices 60 calories per 2 oz
Beef–less and Chicken-less Strips these are fabulous for stir-frying with 9 strips =110 calories.
Roasted Chicken Patties (pre-cooked and awesome tasting) 140 calories each. I must admit when the hubby and kids were away last summer for a week, I lived on these—so easy to heat up and then cut up and toss on a salad or a bowl of steamed veggies with some sauce.
Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage 120 cals per link
The Freezer Section:
The freezer is your weight mastery friend. It is a wonderful hideout for all those healthy veggies and prepared dinners at your office and home for those days and nights that you just can’t put energy into cooking. The microwave and freezer together can be your answer to the take-out or fast-food drive-thru.
TJ’s freezer section has a lot of dinners, but you do have to check labels. Here are some lower cal items for snacks, meals, and desserts.
Chicken, Beef, or Black Bean Taquitos. 100 calories per taquito. Great for a snack attack—one is pretty big and can hold off your hunger. Or have a couple with a salad or veggies for din din.
Thai Frozen Veggie Gyoza: 50 calories each—not bad and decadent feeling. Keep on top of the number you eat though.
Pizza Fromaggio: These baby pizzas are very high quality and taste great. They have been the subject of my personal 3-bite rule many a time. Now they aren’t what I would call a healthy dinner, but if you have to eat pizza, these are small and only 250 calories each.
Roasted Veggie Pizza: W/W crust, no cheese, and lots of cool veggies, 1/3 of the pizza is 260 calories and another idea for a pizza jonzing attack.
Frozen Just Grilled Chicken: Slices of grilled chicken breast frozen and put in a resealable package. Need I say more—I see salads, stir fries, and romaine roll-ups in your future.
Asian Veggie Mixes: TJ’s is your hub for frozen Asian veggie mixes. Just look on the back-some have a ton of calories and some are down right low cal. Another way to cut cals is to stir-fry one of these bags with another bag of just veggies.
Soy Nugget 4 pc =120 calories
Mahi Mahi burgers= 110 calories each
Chicken Cilantro Won Tons 4 pc=50 calories
Cucumber Won Ton Rolls 4 pc=100 calories
Misoyaki Turbot Fillets 2 filets= 210 calories
Fish Vera Cruz: my personal favorite, this easy to thaw and cook option is full of chunky olives and tomatoes. It tastes sinful but is only a few hundred calories per serving—I put it over salad, the sauce serves as an amazing dressing.
Pork Roast Florentine 1/3 package = 240 calories
Battered Halibut 3 pc = 200 cals
Steamer Clams (in a box you just microwave)=70 cals for 14 clams, rave reviews on this one)
Wild Turbot Filets 4oz =210 cals (great flavor)
Seasoned Mahi Mahi 4.5 oz =130 calories (love this one)
Morning Star Farms: You either love the fake meat and soy burgers or you don’t and then sometimes you think you hate them but find a product that actually works. Here is a list of the MSF products that TJ’s carries that us Joesters are fans of:
Tomato basil burger=120 calories AND AWESOME
BBQ riblets=230 cals a serving and hits the BBQ spot.
Veggie bacon=the best I’ve had
Veggie breakfast patties=80 calories each-good Jimmy Dean feeling and Wilbur gets to live.
Dr. Praegers Veggie Burgers=100 calories each
Veggie Masala: Indian spiced veggie burgers-I love these-no protein though
Lime Cilantro Chicken Patties=100 calories.
Chicken Skewers= Phyllis put in a good word for these and 120 cals each-we listened!
The frozen broccoli, green beans, and spinach are all great ways to cut time and get green into your diet. Take the bag from your freezer, put it in your microwave, and hit 6 minutes—it will come out nicely steamed and ready to eat. Sometimes I will put out a bowl of salsa and dip the broccoli spears in for a snack or as I’m fixing dinner for the kids.
Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Mélange = 70 Calories per ¼ package
Grilled Cauliflower—so great with a curry sauce over it
Cauliflower “Rice”—can you believe it—this is better than sliced bread—just heat this and it will act like rice but is only 25 calories per serving and very nutritious and low carb!
The frozen fruit is a must for the freezer for smoothies, sorbets, or eating out of the bag frozen—the cherries and mangos are great for this—they slow down your eating and it satisfies that late night sweet tooth.
Another idea is to thaw and top cottage cheese, yogurt, etc. I will put frozen fruit in a cup and let it thaw on my desk at work and then eat it.
Dry Goods Aisle:
Here are some items from the always crowded pasta aisle:
TJ’s Tuscana Marinara sauce, no sugar low cal.
Sesame Oil-high in calories but imparts tons of flavor so a little goes a long way in sauces (soy sauce+sesame oil+rice vinegar+some sweetener and ginger if you want) and dressings or toss a ¼ t. in a stir fry.
Tapenades: Another higher calorie item but, as mentioned before, you can spread a bit on some goat cheese, on some toast or tortilla for a great lunch or snack. Ideas: pesto, black olive, artichoke, red pepper and green olive. Indian relish.
Masala Simmer Sauce, Red Enchilada Sauce, Red Thai Sauce, all come in glass jars and are great sauces that are low cal to transform humble proteins and veggies or beans into an amazing feast of the senses.
Roasted Corn and Pepper Soup in a carton=110 cal per cup—great!
Organic Creamy Tomato Soup=110 cup
Organic Lentil Soup in a can=110 cal per cup (kids love this one)
Low Sodium Chicken Stock: little packets=about 20 cals each. They deliver a ton of flavor. I toss my veggies with just a bit and it makes them taste amazing. Great to make soup in a pinch or to add to stir frys for more of a flavor boost.
Indian and Thai Boxed Pouches: A lot of these have 160 calories or less for ½ a pouch and are great tossed into a bowl of broccoli instead of the more caloric rice. Green Thai Tuna is my fave, and the eggplant Indian one is also full of flavor.
Canned Organic Pumpkin: I love making crustless pumpkin pie and eating it for dinner. Take a can of pumpkin (150 calories), add ½ c. egg whites, some sweetener (agave, stevia, applesauce splenda etc.), pumpkin pie spices, 1 cup almond milk, Put in a pie dish and bake at 300 for about an hour (depends—check). The whole dish is only about 350 calories if you get carried away and eat the whole thing. (Calories depend on how you sweeten it.)
Protein Bars: My new favorite is the Power Crunch salted caramel bar. It is 200 calories and satisfies your sweet tooth but is mostly protein so doesn’t spike sugar cravings or drops.
Many of my clients like the “Kind Bar” as well. Just make sure with any protein bar than you keep the carbohydrate level down under 24 grams. If you feel like eating one protein bar just causes you to want to eat another, then maybe it’s not the best protein bar for you.
Please feel free to share you favorite items with me so that I may add them to the list. I hope you have found these ideas not only helpful but they have inspired you to go load up on some healthy foods and to really treat yourself to a pleasurable and nourishing week, thanks to our good Friend…Trader Joe!
P.S. Please send us your favorite Trader Joe’s product, meal or snack inspiration.