Dietitians Weigh in on All of the Newest Products at Trader Joe’s
Walking through the aisles of Trader Joe’s, you can sometimes feel like a kid in a massive candy store — especially as the latest new products are unveiled. Many of them are intriguing, but some of them might seem a little healthier than they actually are. So we asked the advice of two registered dietitians to tell us what they think about some of the newest products at Trader Joe’s.
Root Vegetable Fries (CP Grade: A)
Trader Joe’s new root vegetable fries (available in the frozen section) are a healthy snack or side dish option when you’re craving the feel and texture of a fry, but are trying to keep things a bit healthier. This mix of roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, and parsnips can be thrown in the air fryer or oven, and is ready in minutes. “A good source of fiber, these unseasoned, low-sodium fries are a blank canvas waiting for you to make it your own,” says Ashley Petrie, RDN, LDN of Everyday Nutrition and Wellness. Season with a low-sodium or salt-free seasoning for a flavor-packed, heart healthy treat.
Organic Date Syrup (CP Grade: B)
This syrup has so many uses. You can mix it into tea or sangria, or add another layer of flavor to anywhere you’d normally use agave or maple syrup. While organic date syrup should still be considered a form of added sugar and eaten sparingly, date syrup has some benefits over granulated sugar that should be considered. “Since date syrup is derived from dates, it retains some of the naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals such potassium, magnesium, iron, selenium, and zinc,” says Petrie.
Guajillo Salsa (CP Grade: A)
Trader Joe’s Guajillo Salsa makes for a fun salsa variety to add to family taco night. It’s made of a spicy, smoky blend of lycopene-rich tomatoes, guajillo pepper, red chili flakes, garlic, and chipotle pepper powder. This option will be beautiful anywhere you’d use a salsa, from breakfast burritos to lunchtime taco salads. “Low in calories, with no added fat or sugar, this salsa is one condiment you can feel good about,” says Petrie. One note: A two-tablespoon serving size contains 9% of your daily sodium, so if you’re watching your salt intake, keep an eye out if you’re planning on using a lot more.
Sour Cream & Onion Flavored Rings (CP Grade: C)
Onion rings can be an addictive snack, whether on their own or on top of a burger, but they are not always the healthiest choice. These onion rings though are made with red lentils and rice meal, so they definitely sound healthier than your regular onion rings. However, you should still enjoy these as a treat, not as a regular part of your diet — the same way you would regular onion rings. “They’re a better option than most onion rings and the protein content is a little higher, but that doesn’t make them a healthy food,” says Kathryn Bonilla Strickland, RDN.
Cucumber Avocado Smoothie (CP Grade: A)
This is a great product and a good way to get more vegetables into your diet. This smoothie is sweetened with mango puree and cherry juice, but also uses lime juice and ginger juice to give it more flavor without making it too sweet. “Most smoothies have a lot of sugar due to the fruit content, but this has minimal sugar from the fruits at 11g,” says Strickland.
Tamarind Sauce (CP Grade: B)
Tamarind offers a delicious combination of sweet and sour, and it’s a popular ingredient that you can use in everything from marinades to stir fries to dips. This is also a surprisingly low-sodium choice for a product containing soy sauce. “The sodium is relatively low at 330mg for two tablespoons,” says Strickland. “For anyone watching their sugar intake, however, it is still a bit high.”
Cocoa & Sea Salt Instant Oatmeal (CP Grade: B)
This instant oatmeal is a tasty blend of rolled oats, sugar, cocoa powder, and sea salt. It’s a hearty way to start the day with a good breakfast, but watch out for the sugar content. “It has 8g of added sugar, but for a quick breakfast or snack, it does contain whole grains and is therefore a reasonably healthy option for those who need something quick and easy in the morning,” says Strickland.
Incredisauce (CP Grade: C)
This dipping sauce has received a lot of fanfare online, and we get why: The flavor is reminiscent of honey mustard, and it works as a spread on sandwiches or to dip nuggets and fries in. Still, a little goes a long way here. “This sauce is high in fat and has 8g of added sugar in two tablespoons,” says Strickland. “However, it can be beneficial if used as a dipping sauce for vegetables to enhance their flavor.”
Organic Creamy Cashew Cultured Yogurt Alternative, Plain Unsweetened (CP Grade: A)
This is a great yogurt product — especially for vegans. “The protein content is lower than other Greek yogurts, but it has no added sugar,” says Strickland. (A ¾ cup serving of this cashew yogurt contains only 4g of protein, while the same amount of Greek yogurt contains 17g of protein.) However, it can be a great way to start the day as an easy breakfast or as a snack with added fruit and a protein source like almond granola — and it’s great to use in recipes that call for a yogurt marinade.
Jasper Hill Vault No 5 Cave Aged Cheese (CP Grade: C)
This creamy, toasty cheese will be a star on springtime cheese boards. But remember to watch that serving size. “This cheese is a good source of protein and calcium,” says Strickland. “However, like any cheese, the sodium and fat are high.” The serving size is the usual one-ounce cube, which is smaller than most people think, making it easy to overeat.
Impossible Chicken Nuggets (CP Grade: B)
Plant-based meats have had a moment the last few years, and for good reason: They offer an option for vegans and vegetarians, and also for those of us who are just trying to eat less meat. These plant-based nuggets are frankly delicious — they’ve got exactly the texture and taste we’re looking for. But are they healthy? “Impossible Chicken Nuggets are high in fat,” says Strickland. “However, they’re not fried, and they’re low in saturated fat, which is good. The sodium content is less than 500mg, and it has a decent amount of protein at 10mg, from the soy,” said Strickland. Overall, this isn’t as healthy an option as a poached chicken breast or a block of sprouted soy, but as far as chicken nuggets go, this is a good option.
Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Filled Pretzel Nuggets (CP Grade: B)
While we can’t pretend these chocolate and nut butter filled nuggets are exactly healthy, we’re giving them a B grade based on how they compare to other, similar sweet treats. “This dessert is still pretty sugary,” says Strickland, noting that it contains 9g of added sugar per serving. “But it has dark chocolate and almond butter, which are not super processed.” So compared to other dessert options in the same category, this one is a pretty solid option.
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