I went to Trader Joe’s for the first time in a long time the other day and was shocked to see how many of their products are filled with ultra processed ingredients and added sugars. It seems that Trader Joes has somewhat of a “health veil” around it, and while there are some great affordable staples (like organic red wine, dark chocolate and frozen berries), the majority of their products are not particularly healthy. Don’t be fooled by these “healthy” foods from Trader Joe’s…
Cauliflower has become a staple for low-carb swaps, so it’s no surprise that Trader Joe’s has jumped on the trend with cauliflower gnocchi, crackers and of course, pizza crust. While a frozen cauliflower crust might sound like a good idea for a quick weeknight dinner or healthier indulgence on the weekend, this option is not as great as you might think. If you take a look at the ingredients, you’ll see corn flour along with corn starch and potato starch, all of which are highly refined carbs. Unfortunately, this seemingly low-carb option is actually fairly high in carbs, which means you’re more likely to experience blood sugar spikes and subsequent energy crashes and cravings. I prefer Cappello’s Grain-Free Crust when I’m in the mood for frozen pizza, which you can purchase on Thrive Market.
I love hummus. I often dip veggie sticks in it for an easy mini meal or add a scoop (or two) to mediterranean bowls. That’s why it was so disappointing to see that virtually every hummus contained some sort of canola oil or seed oil! These oils are highly processed and must go through numerous chemical treatments in order to remove their flavor and turn them into their recognizable forms. So while hummus is a great addition to a balanced snack plate, it’s important to choose options made with only olive oil (or no oil at all) and avoid canola, soybean and safflower oil to name a few. Hope Foods is one of the few brands I’ve found that offers hummus without these oils.
Another low-carb swap that’s become increasingly popular: grain-free granola. When you think of toasted nuts and seeds atop a bowl of coconut yoghurt or a green smoothie, you probably think of healthy eating. Unfortunately, Trader Joe’s grain-free granola is not the healthiest topping or way to start your day as it contains 8g of sugar in one serving from both coconut sugar and tapioca syrup. While it does contain considerably less sugar than classic granola, it’s important to be aware of its possible blood sugar spiking effects (especially if paired with a sweetened yoghurt) which may promote cravings and fat storage. Save this granola for a treat and instead opt for raw or dry roasted nuts and seeds and berries or a sugar-free option from Lakanto (code JENNY15 for a discount).
Oat milk has quickly become one of the top swaps for milk because of its sweet taste and the belief that it is healthier than real milk. I am here to tell you that this is not necessarily the case! Many oat milks, like Trader Joe’s, are filled with inflammatory oils (in this case sunflower oil) and ultra processed additives. Oats are also broken down into sugars (hence the sweeter taste) which can lead to blood sugar spikes and subsequent cravings throughout the day. For those that can consume dairy, I prefer grass-fed organic milk. If you are vegan or cannot tolerate dairy (like myself), I recommend clean brands like Malk and Three Trees.
Trader Joe’s has created crispy snacks of all shapes, sizes and flavors, and Crunchy Curls might just be the most popular of them all (at least for now). They might seem like a healthier option when compared to potato chips or cheese puffs – they are made with lentils after all. They are also, however, made with both soybean oil and safflower oil. Soybean oil is one of the vegetable oils that I always avoid and for good reason. Consumption of soybean oil has been shown to increase risk of obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes and even mood disorders. If you’re in the market for a healthier option, I am a big fan of Siete Chips, which you can purchase from Thrive Market.