Ellen’s note: This article was updated April 18th, 2018 to include new paleo snacks at Trader Joe’s and remove the products that have been discontinued. Enjoy!
Just because a product looks healthy, doesn’t mean it is. Avoid health-harming foods with these clean eats at Trader Joe’s!
THE 2018 UPDATE
Since this article was written in spring of 2017 Trader Joe’s has introduced a plethora of new paleo products and said goodbye to a few favorites on this list. If you read this article when it was first published, here’s a brief recap of what’s different:
- Grainless Granola (very sad to see this one go!)
- Nutty Seedy Fruity Bar
- Canned Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon
- Canned Wild Caught Sardines in Olive Oil
- Organic Apple Strawberry Fruit Sauce Crushers
- Strawberry Chia 100% Juice Smoothie
- Sliced Prosciutto
- Avocado’s Number Guacamole to Go
- Seasoned Kale Chips
- Dried Fruit Bars in 4 flavors
- Organic Coconut Chips
- Chomps Grass-fed Beef Sticks
- Nothing But Fruit & Nuts: Date, Hazelnut, Cacao treats
- Organic Coconut Sesame Seed Clusters
WHY DO YOU LOVE SHOPPING AT TRADER JOE’S?
Is it the super low prices? The fun, whimsical branding? The smorgasbord of unique and convenient products? Or because there are so many seemingly healthy options?
If your reasons include the latter, there’s something you need to know: many of the products at Trader Joe’s contain highly processed industrial oils that will wreak havoc on your health.
Seemingly innocent ingredients like soybean oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, palm oil, and peanut oil (just to name a few) actually cause inflammation and oxidative stress in your body, which overtime, can lead to a number serious health problems including obesity, diabetes, chronic digestive issues, cardiovascular disease, alzheimer’s, and cancer. That’s scary stuff. And it’s the reason industrial oils are not part of the Paleo Diet.
Now don’t get me wrong – I don’t want you to stop shopping at Trader Joe’s! I love Trader Joe’s! But if you want to feel good and look great, you can’t blindly trust your favorite brands – you have to become a label detective! That means before putting something into your shopping cart, taking 5 seconds to look at the ingredients list with a critical eye to identify industrial oils that are detrimental to your health.
These are the health-harming industrial oils you need to avoid:
- Corn Oil
- Cottonseed Oil
- Soybean Oil
- Canola (Rapeseed) Oil
- Peanut Oil
- Vegetable Oil
- Safflower Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Palm and Palm Kernel Oil
- Cottonseed Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Conventional Mayonnaise
- Hydrogenated Oils
That’s a long list! Now that you’re avoiding all these pro-inflammitory oils, what’s even left to eat? Don’t worry, there are still plenty of delicious and convenient foods at Trader Joe’s that are good for your gut!
Here are the grab ‘n go paleo snacks at Trader Joe’s that you can feel confident about putting in your shopping cart.
1. FRUIT BAR (APPLE + COCONUT)
INGREDIENTS: Apple, Coconut
ADDITIONAL FLAVORS: Apple + Mango, Apple + Strawberry, Apple + Banana
WHY IT’S AWESOME: These are Trader Joe’s version of the “That’s It” bar. They’re great because they cost less than a dollar and each bar is made up of just 2 simple ingredients! Plus, they come in 3 other flavors to keep your palette entertained. These bars are a convenient natural source of carbohydrates when you need a boost!
2. JUST BEETS
WHY IT’S AWESOME: Forget the raw carrot sticks! Now you can get your serving of veggies in the fun way. The name says it all – this snack is literally just dehydrated beets. Crunchy and slightly sweet, these make a delicious and nutritious chip substitute! For a well-rounded snack, try these with a packet of Trader Joe’s guacamole to go (#17).
3. RX BAR (CHOCOLATE SEA SALT)
INGREDIENTS: Dates, Eggs Whites, Cashews, Almonds, Cacao, Cocoa, Natural Chocolate Flavor, Sea Salt
ADDITIONAL FLAVORS: Mixed Berry, Chocolate Coconut, Blueberry. Note that the Peanut Butter RX Bar is not paleo.
WHY IT’S AWESOME: You’ve never tasted a protein bar this good! Seriously, it’s like eating dessert! And yet the ingredients are simple, natural, and each of these bars has 12 grams of protein to keep your energy steady when your tummy starts rumbling. Trader Joe’s carries several other flavors including Coconut Chocolate, Blueberry, and Berry for the best price I’ve seen in a store!
4. FREEZE DRIED BLUEBERRIES
ADDITIONAL FLAVORS: Freeze Dried Raspberries, Bananas, Strawberries, Pineapples, Fuji Apple Slices
WHY IT’S AWESOME: Yet another product in the Trader Joe’s line up that is a fun twist on one simple ingredient. These freeze dried blueberries are additive-free and have a sweet, satisfying crunch! Just try not to pound an entire bag in one sitting – though one bag is a single serving, it contains 25 grams of sugar, which may leave you sugar crashing. For a tarter crunch, look for TJ’s freeze dried raspberries!
5. COCONUT WATER
INGREDIENTS: Coconut Water
WHY IT’S AWESOME: Single origin, one ingredient, totally refreshing, and packed with essential electrolytes to keep your body functioning smoothly. And it comes in a single serving bottle, making it easy to keep your portion size – and consequently, your sugar intake – in check.
6. EPIC BAR (BISON)
INGREDIENTS: Bison, Uncured Bacon – No Nitrates or Nitrates Added (Pork, Water, Brown Sugar*, Salt, Vinegar, Celery Powder, Sea Salt), Dried Cranberries (Cranberries, Apple Juice Concentrate), Lactic Acid (not from milk), Celery Powder, Sea Salt
* The brown sugar is part of fermentation process to cure the bacon. It serves as food for the bacteria curing the meat so the actual brown sugar content is minimal in the final product. I consider this acceptable, but others may have varying opinions.
ADDITIONAL FLAVORS: Chicken Sriracha
WHY IT’S AWESOME: Trader Joe’s sells these bars in several different flavors including Chicken Sriracha. They’re a convenient and delicious source of protein, made with 100% natural bison. And to give you some warm fuzzies, Epic is committed to sustainability and recently partnered with a Northstar Bison to purchase 1,000 baby bison with the mission to eliminate waste and honor nature by using every part of their bison.
Beware of the Chicken Sriracha bar… its got a serious bite!
7. GT’S KOMBUCHA (GINGERADE)
INGREDIENTS: 100% G.T.’s Organic Raw Kombucha (Organically Produced), Fresh Pressed Ginger Juice (Organically Produced)
ADDITIONAL FLAVORS: Cayennade, Triology
WHY IT’S AWESOME: Kombucha is a sweet, slightly carbonated, fermented tea that’s packed with probiotics, making it great for your gut and digestion (among other things). This drink is sweet, flavored to perfection, is deliciously refreshing, and is so good for you! Trader Joe’s carries the Gingerade flavor and Synergy Trilogy flavor (a more fruity flavor) at a price that beats every other retailer in town.
8. JUST MANGO SLICES
INGREDIENTS: Dried Mangos
ADDITIONAL FLAVORS: Other dried fruits at Trader Joe’s also fall into the paleo snacks category, so if you’re not feeling mango, just check the label and make sure the only ingredient is the dried fruit (no additives or preservatives allowed)!
WHY IT’S AWESOME: One natural ingredient, no additives, with slices can be sweet or tart, but always perfectly chewy!
9. FANCY RAW MIXED NUTS
INGREDIENTS: Cashews, Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Filberts, Pecans
ADDITIONAL FLAVORS: Like the dried fruit, Trader Joe’s has a large assortment of nuts so if you prefer a different mix or type of nut, choose nuts without added sugar, industrial oils, and/or preservations. There should be just one ingredient listed – the nut!
WHY IT’S AWESOME: Sometimes trail mixes are filled with more junk than actual nuts… but not this one! This bag of mixed nuts contains only the good stuff! Nuts are a great source of healthy fat and protein and a handful can be the perfect solution to take the edge off when hunger strikes. But do try to keep it to a handful – nuts are calorie dense and even though I don’t promote calorie counting, it is important to be aware of what you’re consuming.
10. LARABAR (APPLE PIE)
INGREDIENTS: Dates, Almonds, Unsweetened Apples, Walnuts, Raisins, Cinnamon
ADDITIONAL FLAVORS: Cherry Pie, Cashew Cookie. You may also see other peanut containing flavors, but heads up – peanuts are legumes, and legumes are excluded from the Paleo Diet, so those flavors are not considered paleo.
WHY IT’S AWESOME: Larabars are a convenient and tasty way get some quality carbs on the go!
11. ORGANIC FRUITS & VEGETABLES
INGREDIENTS: Varies per fruit, but it should be one single ingredient!
WHY IT’S AWESOME: When in doubt, choose an organic fruit or vegetable to nosh on! Trader Joe’s sells a large variety of organic produce at very reasonable prices. They’re tasty, they provide your body with quality carbohydrates, and are packed with important vitamins and minerals! You can go wrong with a food that was grown the way nature intended.
12. WILD CAUGHT SARDINES IN OLIVE OIL
INGREDIENTS: Sardines, olive oil
WHY IT’S AWESOME: Sardines are a nutritional powerhouse! In addition to protein, sardines are loaded with beneficial EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids which reduces inflammation, increase heart health, improve joint pain, and boost mental clarity. Sardines make a great snack because the tins are a perfect serving size so you can throw it in your bag, eat it, and then dispose of the container – no mess required!
13. WILD ALASKAN PINK SALMON
INGREDIENTS: Alaskan pink salmon
WHY IT’S AWESOME: Similar to the sardines, canned Alaskan salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and a convenient way to enjoy some protein on the go! If you’re not on the sardine train just yet (don’t worry about it, it took me 2+ years before I worked up the courage to try sardines!) canned salmon is a great place to start!
14. ORGANIC FRUIT SAUCE CRUSHERS
INGREDIENTS: Organic fruit puree, varies per flavor
ADDITIONAL FLAVORS: Apple Mango, Apple Banana, Apple Strawberry, Apple, Apple Carrot
WHY IT’S AWESOME: Yes, these look like baby food, and yes, they could very well be used as baby food, but these are actually a super convenient way to eat flavored apple sauce on the go! No more messy apple sauce cup with the peel-off lid and the crushing realization you don’t have a spoon. Just twist the resealable cap off a packet, suck, and you’ve got a deliciously sweet serving of applesauce.
15. STRAWBERRY CHIA 100% JUICE SMOOTHIE
INGREDIENTS: Strawberry puree, chia seeds, apple juice
WHY IT’S AWESOME: This juice smoothie contains just three simple ingredients. Usually I’d be wary of a juice smoothie because even though it’s made from fruit, it’s still sugar, which is a recipe for an energy spike, followed by a swift crash. But the chia seeds provide healthy fat and protein, which can slow down the absorption of sugar and prevent a sugar spike. If you choose to try this drink, notice your energy levels immediately after drinking the smoothie as well as two hours later to see how you respond. If your energy remains steady, this is a good choice for you. If your energy spikes and then crashes, however, this might not be the best snack choice for you.
Note that the other fruit smoothies at Trader Joe’s are not listed for a reason. The mango fruit smoothie for example, contains modified cornstarch. No thank you.
16. CHOMPS GRASS-FED BEEF STICKS
INGREDIENTS: 100% Grass-fed beef, water, sea salt, encapsulated lactic acid, celery juice, black pepper, red pepper, garlic powder, coriander, stuffed in a beef collagen casing.
WHY IT’S AWESOME: Chomps sticks are an affordable, convenient, and delicious way to get high quality grass-fed beef. I didn’t include Chomps on the original 2017 list because my research yielded questionable results about the “encapsulated lactic acid” ingredient. Since then, however, I’ve talked to one of the owners of Chomps and the sticks have received both Whole 30 and Paleo certifications, so I’m a supporter!
17. AVOCADO’S NUMBER GUACAMOLE TO GO
PRICE: $3.99 (includes 6, 2 oz guacamole packets)
INGREDIENTS: Hass avocado, distilled vinegar, water, jalapeño pepper, salt, dehydrated onion, granulated garlic
WHY IT’S AWESOME: Does it get better than individual servings of guacamole? Hardly! Enjoy a 2 oz packet of guac with a side of raw carrots or paleo-friendly crackers for a satisfying snack or heck, just squeeze and eat the guacamole on it’s own. Either way, you’ll get a serving of healthy fats that’ll satisfy your hunger and give you steady, long lasting energy.
18. SLICED PROSCIUTTO
INGREDIENTS: pork, salt
WHY IT’S AWESOME: Trader Joe’s prosciutto isn’t made with the highest quality pork, but it’s minimally processed deli meat that contains just two simple ingredients: pork and salt. Even high quality brands like Applegate Naturals contains concerning additives to like carrageenan, a thickener or emulsifier, which can cause inflammation, so for a quick protein pick-me-up, this prosciutto is the safe way to go!
19. NOTHING BUT FRUIT & NUTS: DATE, HAZELNUT, CACAO
INGREDIENTS: Dates, hazelnuts, cacao
ADDITIONAL FLAVORS: Fig & Walnut
WHY IT’S AWESOME: I’m giving Trader Joe’s an A+ on this product. It’s made with 3 simple, real food ingredients, each serving is conveniently packaged in individual wrappers, and it’s super tasty! It’s a great dessert snack because it’s sweet, but not too sweet, making it the perfect way to curb a sugar craving.
20. SEASONED KALE CHIPS
INGREDIENTS: Kale, cashews, tahini (ground sesame seed), carrot powder, onion powder, cane sugar, lemon juice concentrate, mustard powder, sea salt, garlic powder.
WHY IT’S AWESOME: These kale chips are like a vegetable oasis in a food genre overflowing for nut and fruit based bars! Kale chips are crunchy and salty, perfect for the snacker with a savory tooth. Just be careful not to crush them if packing if a backpack or work bag, otherwise you’ll be eating seasoned kale chip dust.
21. DRIED FRUIT BARS
INGREDIENTS: fruit puree, varies by flavor
ADDITIONAL FLAVORS: Apple Mango, Apple Strawberry, Apple Apricot, Apple Raspberry
WHY IT’S AWESOME: They’re cheap, made with real fruit, and an easy, fast way to get a quick pick me up between meetings or on the go! Plus, they come in 4 delicious flavors so you’ll never get bored!
22. ORGANIC UNSWEETENED COCONUT CHIPS
INGREDIENTS: Organic coconut
WHY IT’S AWESOME: If you’re looking for a low carb, high fat snack, look no further than these unsweetened coconut chips. There’s nothing fancy about them, but that’s a good thing. Keep a bag of these coconut flakes at your desk and eat a handful or two when a hunger craving hits!
23. ORGANIC SESAME SEED CLUSTERS
INGREDIENTS: Organic dried coconut, organic coconut sugar, organic white sesame seeds, organic black seseame seeds, organic tapioca syrup, water, himalayan pink salt.
WHY IT’S AWESOME: Good luck not eating an entire bag of these in one sitting! They’re that good. Made with simple, organic ingredients, these sesame seed clusters will totally enable your sweet tooth. While I don’t recommend these as an everyday snack, they certainly make a tasty special occasion treat!
SHOP SMARTER TO LIVE BETTER
When you become a label detective and start paying attention to the ingredients in pre-packaged foods, I’m not going to lie – it can be overwhelming. You’ll start noticing health-harming toxins like industrial oils, hidden sugars, and other random chemicals in so many products you never would’ve suspected. But don’t bury your head in the sand and turn a blind eye to these discoveries.
When you eliminate pro-inflammatory ingredients like these from your diet, you set yourself up for drastic health improvements including, but not limited to: eliminating bloating and gas, fewer stomach aches, better skin complexion, less achy muscles and joints, and even loosing weight!
To beat back the overwhelm of detoxing the food you’re eating, start small. Start by swapping your regular snacks for any of the 13 paleo snacks at Trader Joe’s. And with each grocery shopping trip, pick 5 products that you’re going to be a label detective for. If you notice an industrial oil you should be avoid, put the food product back on the shelf and find an alternative! After a few months, you’ll have eased into a new grocery shopping routine full of clean foods to set you up for an effortlessly healthy diet!
Still overwhelmed by the hidden ingredients on product labels? Don’t worry! Take the guesswork out of label reading and put yourself on the fast track to eating clean with my free 7 day Total Kitchen Cleanse. To find out when the next Kitchen Cleanse begins, sign up here.
I am in no way affiliated with Trader Joe’s. These are solely my own recommendations based my own shopping, research, and use. The prices and availability of the products listed here may vary depending on your location.
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