THE 2021 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. Here’s a brief recap of what’s different:
- Just Beets Chips
- Epic Bars
- Strawberry Chia 100% Juice Smoothie
- Nothin’ But Fruit & Nuts
- Organic Coconut Sesame Seed Clusters
- Nutty Seedy Fruity Bar
WHAT’S NEW AS OF JANUARY 2021:
- This Coconut Brings Chocolate on a Date bars
- Grainless Granola (it’s back!)
- Pitted Salted Manzanilla Olives
- Montezuma’s 100% Absolute Black Dark Chocolate
- Savory Banana & Nuts Trek Mix
- Organic Coconut Smoothie
- Cold Pressed Juice (Green)
- Cage Free Fresh Hard-Cooked Peeled Eggs
- Organic Watermelon Jerky
- Wild Skipjack Tuna Packets
TRADER JOE’S DIRTY SECRET
There are a lot of thing to love about TJ’s: the super low prices, the fun, whimsical branding, and all the seemingly healthy options.
But here’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 over time, 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.
Avoid these health-harming industrial oils:
- 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. 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!
3. 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!
4. 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.
5. SAVORY BANANA & NUTS TREK MIX
INGREDIENTS: Banana chips (bananas, coconut oil), cashews, pecans, coconut aminos (coconut nectar, pink salt), apple cider vinegar, olive oil, sea salt, spices, onion powder, garlic powder.
WHY IT’S AWESOME: This is a clean, tasty alternative to traditional trail mix. The savory, salty flavors are addictive and it’s really neat to see coconut aminos used in a product! I love taking this trek mix along when I’m out hiking!
6. 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.
7. 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!
8. 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.
9. PITTED SALTED MANZANILLA OLIVES
INGREDIENTS: Manzanilla olives
WHY IT’S AWESOME: Honestly, I don’t like olives, but I know a lot of other people do! I love that these olives are packaged in individual serving sizes, making them a convenient snack on the go!
10. 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.
11. 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!
12. 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!
13. 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.
14. ORGANIC COCONUT SMOOTHIE
INGREDIENTS: Coconut water, young coconut meat
WHY IT’S AWESOME: This juice smoothie contains just two simple ingredients, both of which are packed with nutrients! Coconut water and meat contain vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, and potassium, as well as a antioxidants, all of which may protect against cellular damage and heart disease. This coconut smoothie is also very refreshing!
15. 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.
ADDITIONAL FLAVORS: Original Turkey Sticks, Jalapeño Beef Sticks
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!
16. 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.
17. 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!
18. GRAINLESS GRANOLA
INGREDIENTS: Almonds, dried coconut, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, coconut sugar, tapioca syrup, chicory root fiber, coconut oil, sea salt, mixed tocopherols (to preserve)
WHY IT’S AWESOME: It’s so rare to find a granola without grains, let alone one for $3.99! When I first made this list in 2017, TJs carried a grainless granola that I loved and it was a sad day when it was discontinued in 2018. Though this is a different grainless granola, I’m nonetheless excited to see that TJs has one once more!
19. 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.
20. 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!
21. 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!
22. FRESH HARD-COOKED PEELED EGGS
INGREDIENTS: Cage free eggs
WHY IT’S AWESOME: Simplicity is not to be overrated! Eggs are a great source of protein and healthy fat, which makes them a filling snack. Though these eggs aren’t pasture raised, they are cage free which is a step in the right direction.
23. ORGANIC WATERMELON JERKY
INGREDIENTS: Organic watermelon
WHY IT’S AWESOME: I’ve never seen anything like this, so points for originality! This tasty snack contains one simple ingredient and comes in a resealable package for easy, on-the-go snacking.
24. THIS COCONUT BRINGS CHOCOLATE ON A DATE BARS
INGREDIENTS: Date pasta, almond butter, coconut flakes, unsweetened chocolate chunks, cocoa powder
WHY IT’S AWESOME: TJs sent Larabar packing, so it seems like this is one alternative they’ve brought in to fill that hole. It also reminds me of their tragically discontinued Nothin’ But Fruit & Nuts snacks. These bars make a tasty, chewy treat – kinda like a healthier brownie!
25. COLD PRESSED GREEN JUICE
INGREDIENTS: Kale juice, spinach juice, apple juice, cucumber juice, celery juice, lemon juice, ginger juice
WHY IT’S AWESOME: If you’re a green juice lover, you’re going to dig this option from Trader Joe’s. It tastes fresh and “green”, and you can’t beat the price point! This is a great option for getting a dose of nutrient-rich vegetables between meals.
26. MONTEZUMA’S DARK CHOCOLATE ABSOLUTE BLACK
INGREDIENTS: Dark chocolate contains 100% cocoa solids
WHY IT’S AWESOME: If you’re looking for a sweet chocolate bar, this is NOT it. This is for serious chocolate lovers or keto dieters who love the darkest dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is rich in vitamins and minerals so chocolate in its purest form can make for a very healthy snack!
27. WILD SKIPJACK TUNA
INGREDIENTS: Wild skipjack tuna
WHY IT’S AWESOME: This wild tuna is individually packaged, making it a convenient protein-packed on-the-go snack. Plus it’s sustainability caught!
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!
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.