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7 Trader Joe’s Dinners Perfect for Diabetics

October 11, 2023
Courtesy of Trader Joe's

If you have diabetes, you probably know that what you eat, how much you eat, and when you eat are some of the most important factors for keeping your blood sugar levels within the target range. And while you may not realize it, your local Trader Joe’s is stocked full of frozen and prepared dinners that can help you do just that.

“Pre-made dinners can get a bad rep for being high in calories, fat, carbohydrates, and sodium,” says Julianna Szatmari, RD, founder of Intuitively Nourished.

“While this can be true for some products, there are many nutritious options as well. The key is to look for a meal between 300 to 500 calories, with 2 grams or less of saturated fat, zero grams of trans fat, at least 15 grams of protein, and less than 600 milligrams of sodium.”

Related: These Healthy Dinners from Trader Joe’s Take 10 Minutes or Less

1. Spinach & Feta Egg White Burrito

Looking for a convenient heat-and-eat breakfast that will fuel you through all those morning meetings? Yelena Wheeler, RD with the National Coalition on Health Care, recommends the Trader Joe’s Spinach & Feta Egg White Burrito — which offers a whopping 19 grams of satiating protein.

The ideal amount of carbs to consume at each meal can depend on the type of diabetes you have, the diabetes medication you’re on — if any — and your current blood sugar goals. That said, experts say to aim for no more than 45 to 60 grams per meal. This burrito is right in that target range, with 43 grams of carbohydrates. Better yet, Wheeler notes that it packs 5 grams of dietary fiber to keep you fuller longer and prevent a blood sugar spike.

2. Premium Salmon Burgers

Traditional beef burgers can be high in saturated fat and cholesterol, which experts say you should try to avoid if you have diabetes. That’s where the Trader Joe’s Premium Salmon Burgers come in: these tasty alternatives offer 30% of your daily value for protein with 15 grams per serving. Not only that, but they have just 3 grams of carbohydrates per serving, 1 gram of sugar, and less than 1 gram of saturated fat, making them the perfect meal for anyone with diabetes.

Try sandwiching these salmon burgers between lettuce cups and topping them with mashed avocado — or crumbling them on top of a salad — for a light and easy dinner.

3. Jicama Wraps

If you’ve never tried jicama, this root vegetable tastes like a cross between a radish, carrot, and apple. Crunchy and refreshing, it boasts a mild and neutral flavor and is naturally low in carbohydrates. These are just a couple of reasons why Szatmari loves to use Trader Joe’s Jicama Wraps as a base for a quick and healthy dinner. They only have 3 grams of carbs and no fat or sugar whatsoever — and they can be used as a substitute for tortillas or traditional flour wraps.

“Load them up with your favorite lean protein and veggie of choice,” says Szatmari.

Try rolling up some Trader Joe’s Grilled Chicken Strips inside the jicama wraps with black beans, salsa, and a pinch of shredded cheese for a nutritious take on fajitas.

4. Riced Cauliflower Bowl

While some frozen dinners can be total sodium bombs, the Trader Joe’s Riced Cauliflower Bowl only has a reasonable 160 grams per serving. It also contains no added sugar, and only 1 gram of saturated fat and 11 grams of carbohydrates per serving. Did we mention how easy it is to prepare? All you have to do is pop it in the microwave for three minutes, mix the contents, and microwave for another two to three minutes.

Some experts advise opting for foods that are low on the glycemic index if you have diabetes because these foods are less likely to throw your blood sugar levels out of whack. Cauliflower is a low GI alternative to rice, and sweet potatoes are lower on the glycemic index than regular white potatoes, making this bowl an excellent choice for people with diabetes. It’s also bursting with flavor, thanks to the creamy, nutty tahini sauce and spicy sambal oelek red chili paste.

While there are 5 grams of protein in this bowl from the chickpeas and tofu, you can make it an even more filling meal by topping it with an egg or shredded rotisserie chicken.

5. Branzino Fillets European Sea Bass

European sea bass is light and flaky with a subtle sweetness, making it super versatile to cook with. Experts agree that lean proteins are the way to go when you have diabetes, and Trader Joe’s Branzino Fillets happen to pack an impressive 21 grams of protein per serving — with only 110 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, and less than 1 gram of saturated fat.

After thawing your fillets, drizzle them with avocado oil or olive oil and then coat them with herbs, garlic, and lemon juice. Then round out the meal by serving them with a Greek salad, sauteed veggies, or roasted sweet potatoes — or over a bed of lentils.

6. Spaghetti Squash Nests

“I hear from so many diabetic patients who wish they could have more pasta but are so concerned about the carbohydrate count,” says Szatmari. “Luckily, they can have larger quantities of ‘noodles’ if they substitute with the Trader Joe’s Spaghetti Squash Nests. These delicious nests are only 40 calories with 6 grams of net carbs per serving. As an added bonus, they’re also vegan and gluten-free.”

The meal possibilities are endless with these nests — try topping them with chicken and pesto, low-sodium marinara sauce, and meatless crumbles, or ground turkey with taco seasoning, avocado, and pinto beans.

7. Sesame Miso Salad with Salmon

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommends that people with diabetes add sources of heart-healthy fats to their diets — including fish high in omega-3s. The Trader Joe’s Sesame Miso Salad with Salmon, which is one of Wheeler’s go-to dinners, definitely fits the bill.

Out of the 9 grams of fat, just 1.5 grams are saturated fat — and it only has 6 grams of carbs and 3 grams of sugar per serving. While there are 310 milligrams of sodium — about 13% of your maximum recommended daily intake — Wheeler notes that you can swap in a low-sodium alternative or a simple homemade dressing with lemon juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and Italian herbs.

Read next: 8 Diabetic Desserts Low In Sugar But Still Super Tasty

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