The prizes were broken down into eight categories, like favorite produce, vegan/vegetarian item, and snack (which, spoiler, also happened to be the overall winner, too). To dish out whether these items are really worth the hype, we spoke with Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, CPT, a registered dietitian based in Charleston, that gave us her expert take on the popular items she’ll be tossing into her shopping cart the next time she stops by Trader Joe’s.
What a registered dietitian thinks about some of Trader Joe’s best items
1. Favorite Overall: Chili & Lime Flavored Rolled Corn Tortilla Chips
Coming in number one *drum roll please* are TJ’s iconic chili and lime-flavored rolled corn tortilla chips that are eerily similar to Takis. (And, as Gen Zs might say: They’re absolute fire.) Made from stone-ground corn masa that’s rolled up like a miniature scroll and dusted with hot chili and lime seasoning, these crunchy chips are a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. They even ranked number one in the “favorite snack” category, too.
It’s safe to say that these chili-lime corn chips aren’t lacking in the flavor department. Full disclosure: After eating a few of these fiery-hot chips, you might be tempted to break out the fire extinguisher. But to mitigate the heat, you can always dunk them into one of Trader Joe’s many delicious dips—like one of our all-time faves, vegan tzatziki. Not to mention, you can easily sneak them into a dinnertime dish, too. Crush them up to use as a gluten-free breadcrumb replacement when making homemade chicken tenders for an A+ punch of explosive flavor.
But how does it stack up for a registered dietitian? “It’s a great option for a satisfying snack if someone is avoiding gluten or simply loves a satisfying corn-based crunch. The chips are made with no artificial colors or flavors, which makes them appealing to many,” Manaker says. It’s true: The tortilla chips get their finger-staining, vibrant orange hue from anti-inflammatory ingredients like paprika and turmeric extracts.
2. Favorite Produce: Bananas
It’s no surprise that folks go bananas over bananas. After all, they’re basically the golden child of versatility, and this fruit is packed with nutrients. “Bananas are a low-cost and incredibly accessible and versatile food that is naturally free from added sugars and provides a sweet taste,” Manaker says.
In fact, at Trader Joe’s, you can get organic bananas for 25 cents or snag their conventional ones for 19 cents each. What’s more, Manaker says that a shelf full of unripe, green bananas isn’t a bad omen by any means. “Opting for a slightly under-ripe banana, meaning that the skin is a little green, can fill the body with important prebiotic fiber. Prebiotics act as fuel for healthy bacteria that reside in our gut,” Manaker says.
3. Favorite Vegan or Vegetarian Item: Kale & Cashew Pesto
This creamy green condiment is made with kale, cashews, basil, and absolutely zero dairy. It has a vibrant punchy flavor profile, thanks to zesty lemon juice and spicy raw garlic. But that’s not the only reason why this creamy sauce is guaranteed to make it to the checkout line with this RD. “The vegan pesto is made with gut health-supporting ingredients like kale and cashew. It’s not only a fantastic addition to pasta dishes, but I like to use it as a condiment on my sandwiches instead of mayonnaise for a bit of a nutrition boost at lunchtime,” Manaker says.
4. Favorite Beverage: Sparkling Honeycrisp Apple Juice Beverage
Although it’s only a seasonal item, sigh, this three-ingredient beverage—made from 100 percent Honeycrisp juice, water, and bubbles—is like taking a big, juicy bite from a freshly-picked apple at the orchard. Bonus: This drink contains a slew of health benefits since it’s made with real fruit juice from apples, which contain nutritious plant compounds. “Some varieties of apples contain a plant compound called flavan-3-ols. Consumption of dietary flavan-3-ols may help improve blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar,” Manaker says.
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Post source: Well and Good