There are few places in my life where I don't mind battling the crowds in the parking lot and standing in line to check out, and Trader Joe's is one of them. Apart from their casual vibe and their ultra-helpful staff, their food selection includes plenty of nutritious options that make you feel virtuous about eating prepackaged meals. What's more, there are a host of healthy snacks at Trader Joe's that make it easy to nosh without feeling guilty.
What makes a snack good for you? Registered dietitian Jessica Crandell told Real Simple that a healthy bite should have about 150 to 250 calories, at least 3 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein, and 12 or fewer grams of fat. As with any food, a snack should be minimally processed and free of unpronounceable chemicals or dyes. And if it happens to taste great (as in, you don't wish you were eating a candy bar instead), so much the better.
Happily, Trader Joe's has a wide selection of foods that fit these criteria nicely, along with standard choices such as salads, fresh fruits, single-serve hummus packs, and even organic turkey bone broth, which you could drink instead of your afternoon coffee for a warming snack that provides 9 grams of protein and only 60 calories.
Next time you make your Joe's run, drop some of these snack offerings into your cart so you'll be prepared when the midmorning or after-school hungries hit. You'll satisfy your cravings and do your body good at the same time.
1. Vegan Crabcakes
Vegans rejoice: TJ's has come up with an alternative to crab cakes that are as tasty as the real thing. Thanks to jackfruit's meat-like consistency and ability to adapt to any seasoning, they make a delicious patty that can be fried or baked. Add your favorite sauce or just a squeeze of lemon, and you've got a filling snack that weighs in at only 150 calories and 6 grams of fat per serving of two.
2. Colorful Carrots
Eating fresh veggies suddenly becomes more colorful when you have a rainbow of baby carrots to choose from. Crunch them as is, or dip them in low-fat ranch dressing, hummus, or guacamole for added zing. A 3-ounce serving is a mere 30 calories, with no fat and 2 grams of fiber.
3. Healthy Popcorn
Portion control can be a snacker's downfall, but not in this case. The suggested serving size of TJ's air-popped popcorn is a full 4 cups, which makes a brimming bowlful — and for only 130 calories. Plus, it's a healthy whole grain providing 4 grams of fiber.
4. Peas, Please
5. Coconutty Treat
When you want to satisfy your sweet tooth without overloading on sugar, give these gluten-free clusters a try. Their natural sweetness comes from coconut sugar and tapioca syrup, so there are only 4 grams of sugar per 120-calorie serving, plus a dash of Himalayan pink salt to add a bit of savor.
6. Light Bites
Unlike most cookies out there, these light bites have just four ingredients (sugar, egg whites, vanilla flavor, and vanilla extract). A serving consists of four meringues, totaling only 90 calories and no fat. For a more decadent treat, Trader Joe's suggests combining them with fresh berries and whipped cream, but they're just as satisfying on their own.
7. On-The-Go Snack
TJ's takes the guesswork out of snacking by packaging this mix into individual pouches (a bag contains 10 pouches). Loaded with healthy fats from the nuts, plus 5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber, the snack also provides added potassium and calcium.
8. Gut-Healthy Tea
Instead of hitting the coffeepot or soda machine when you're looking for an energy-boosting drink, reach for a bottle of TJ's kombucha instead. The Asian-inspired drink is made by adding bacteria, yeast, and sugar to black tea, causing a fermentation process that enriches the drink with gut-boosting probiotics. Available in two versions: one with hibiscus extract and pomegranate juice, the other with chlorella and spirulina, plus apple and ginger juices.
9. Say Cheese
Whether or not you're going keto, nutritionists agree that a small portion of cheese makes a satisfying and healthy snack. One stick provides 20 percent of your daily calcium needs and 8 grams of protein, and at 80 calories, it's lighter than a serving of chips.
10. Apple A Day
11. Snack Bars
Next time the kids ask for a lunch-box treat, pop one of these bars inside. Made with peanut butter, peanuts, date paste, flaxseed meal, and sea salt, they're chewy and sweet without added refined sugar, and provide 4 grams of protein to boot.
After experiencing a traumatic c-section, this mother sought out a doula to support her through her second child’s delivery. Watch as that doula helps this mom reclaim the birth she felt robbed of with her first child, in Episode Three of Romper's Doula Diaries, Season Two, below. Visit Bustle Digital Group's YouTube page for more episodes, launching Mondays in December.