18 Secret Gems at Trader Joe’s That Philly Fitness Trainers Swear By

Get ready to add a few items to your grocery list.
Photo by Flickr user Christopher Long

Photo by Flickr user Christopher Long

I want to love Trader Joe’s with my whole heart — I really do. But I can’t, because every single time I walk into the store, I’m instantly so overwhelmed by the line snaking all the way into the produce section that I jump in line immediately, then grab whatever I can reach as I make my way toward the register. It’s like, regardless of season, there is always an impending blizzard at Trader Joe’s.

It’s not exactly an enjoyable shopping experience.

But I can’t knock the line too much, because this panicked, shopping-in-the-line method is how I discovered my favorite item at Trader Joe’s: the salt and pepper pistachios. These are found on the back wall of Philly’s Trader Joe’s at 21st and Market Street, and they are life-changing. They make for the perfect snack any time of day, and because they’re so flavorful, a handful is really enough to satisfy a snack craving. I’ve told just about everyone I’ve come into contact with over the past four months about them, and they have all thanked me.

And this discovery leads me to believe that, despite the fact that I often leave Trader Joe’s with a jumble of mismatched foods chosen solely because they were in arm’s reach, the store is filled with plenty of healthy gems. So instead of calmly perusing the aisles of the store to discover them myself (I’m confident this will never happen), I asked a slew of Philly fitness trainers to share their favorite finds at Trader Joe’s with me. And boy, did they come through. Below, 18 awesome food finds at Trader Joe’s — from to-go guacamole to steamed lentils to spicy mango — according to Philly fitness trainers. Now, I know what to look for from the line — and so do you!

Steamed Lentils
“Toss them in the microwave and you have an easy side that adds protein and texture to your meals. They’re already cooked you just have to heat them up, and they last forever.” Shoshana Katz, Body Cycle Studio
“I was iffy about this at first, but after I tried them heated up with spicy Italian chicken sausage, they won me over. They’re a low-calorie option that’s high in fiber and complex carbs, and they’re already pre-cooked.” Jordan Hankins, The Fit Complex (Psst: Hankins dished on his top 10 Trader Joe’s picks here.)

Grilled Lemon Pepper Chicken
“It may not be as interesting as the Uncured Bacon Jam or as tasty as the Bollywood Popcorn, but I’m not the best at meal-prepping for the week, so the fact that this chicken is already marinated and grilled makes it almost too easy. It’s located in the prepared salad section, which is convenient because that is usually what I pair it with.” Pat Kempsey, Pat Kempsey Golf Fitness and Personal Training
“Because who really has time to cook lemon pepper chicken on a Wednesday night at 9 p.m.? Having this viable protein source allows me to use it as I please — on top of a salad, with veggies, in a soup, or all by itself. I prefer to warm it up, but it’s equally as tasty when cold.” Jayel Lewis, JL Fitness

Just Beets
“’Im in LOVE with these. And they are JUST BEETS … literally. They’re not too dry, healthy enough for a snack, yummy enough for dessert (no, I’m not kidding) and give me energy and healthy carbs pre-workout! I eat them plain like I would chips and throw them in my purse, my daughter’s diaper bag, glove compartment of my car or wherever does the trick that day, depending on my plans. If I’m feeling adventurous, they are also delicious dipped in tzatziki sauce!” Ali Cook Jackson, Never Give Up Training

Organic Riced Cauliflower
“This is a low-carb option that doesn’t require you to rice your own cauliflower (a big pain in the ass). The best part about cooking it is that it takes on flavor very well.” Jordan Hankins, The Fit Complex

Avocado’s Number Guacamole to Go 
“I love avocados, but they they seem to only be ripe for five to six minutes before they go bad, so this to-go pack of guacamole is perfect for me. I really love putting the guacamole on whole-wheat toast with an egg done sunny-side up. It’s a really quick and easy meal when I’m short on time and it gives me my avocado fix.” Brian Maher, Philly Personal Training

Jicama Sticks
“There is something about the crunch of these refreshing sticks that satisfies my sweet tooth. At 30 calories per serving, I could eat the entire container, but I save them for snacks in between meals. They’re super rich in vitamin C and are almost 90 percent water, so I feel light and fresh as I’m eating them. I’d toss seven to 10 sticks in a small zip-lock for a pick me up as I traverse the city!” Serena Scanzillo, SerenaFit

Organic Mixed Berry Blend
“This frozen fruit is cheaper than usual food stores and keeps me making and drinking smoothies.” Kasey Manwaring, GoalsFit

10-Packs of Trader Joe’s Trail Mix
“It’s so great to have them portioned out to grab and go. The last pack I got had cashews, almonds and dark chocolate. Like, helloooooo!” Shoshana Katz, Body Cycle Studio
“This cures the sweet tooth without making me go overboard.” Kasey Manwaring, GoalsFit

Hard-Cooked Peeled Eggs
“They’re eggcellent because they’re already shelled and ready for me to grab as I’m heading out the door.” Jayel Lewis, JL Fitness

Boneless & Skinless Sardines in Water
“What I like about these sardines is that the Trader Joe’s brand is inexpensive ($1.99) and has more protein than some of the more trendy brands. I believe the best part is that it tastes more like tuna fish, and if you actually made a tuna fish sandwich, you really couldn’t taste the difference. Most sardines come with scales still on, and small bones — Trader Joe’s sardines don’t have any of that. Great source of protein that you can mix with a salad!” Patrick Rufo, Rufo Optimal Workouts

Organic Roasted Vegetable Pizza
“Before you judge, please know that everyone makes bad food choices from time to time, or has a late night where they’re tempted to stop at a fast-food place and try one of everything on the menu — this is when the frozen pizza comes in hand. It allows me to get my ‘fix’ of crappy foods, still eating a few veggies, and having zero guilt the following morning. Balance, people, balance.” Jayel Lewis, JL Fitness

Frozen Edamame
“Trader Joe’s Frozen Edamame is my favorite. Why? It’s a quick, easily transportable snack full of protein (13 grams in a serving). And it’s only $1.79 for a one-pound bag ($1.99 if you’re going organic). Since I usually eat breakfast on the go, having a healthy snack available is crucial to making it through the day. I typically buy them already shelled and eat them frozen. (Weird, but true).” Gina Mancuso, CoreFitness

Chile Lime Chicken Burgers
“Because they’re the bomb.com and don’t even require a bun. They have tons of flavor, barely take any time to cook in the oven and can spice up any meal!” Jayel Lewis, JL Fitness

Grilled Chicken Strips
“The convenience of this item is incredible. Getting in quality protein on the go as a busy coach is tough. These pre-cut, seasoned chicken strips taste amazing, offer a warm meal without having to cook up an entire meal and are an alternative to protein shakes or bars, which can get boring over time. I meal prep and pair a few strips with brown rice or potato in a tupperware. Or I’ll just have them solo with mustard!” Serena Scanzillo, SerenaFit

Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
“Again, this is less expensive than my favorite brand (Nutiva) and has more of that coconut taste if you like coconut. I am big on coconut oil. Great source of fat and makes you full.” Patrick Rufo, Rufo Optimal Workouts

Chile Spiced Mango
“How do I eat them?  Right out of the bag.  They’re seasoned with salt, paprika and cayenne, a perfect combination of sweet and spicy-hot, just how I like them. “ Gina Mancuso, CoreFitness
“These are hot and easy … my usual!” Holly Waters, Fitness Alive

Roasted Seaweed Snacks
“These are amazing on all levels. Crunchy like chips to fill my need-for-crunch cravings, with a bit of salt. Mmmmmmm! Think kale chips, but personally I enjoy these more. How to eat them? Simple … just devour them and enjoy! I have also tried them on salads before to avoid wasting and they are quite good with a bit of Tessemae’s Ranch Dressing.” Ali Cook Jackson, Never Give Up Training

Raw Creamy Almond Butter
“What I love about this almond butter is that it is (again) less expensive and much creamier than my other options. It also has no sodium, which is tough to find in any nut butter. This usually does the trick for dessert at the end of the day after a good meal.” Patrick Rufo, Rufo Optimal Workouts

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