Trader Joes Staples

Wandering down the aisles at the grocery store is one of my favorite things to do.  When you walk down the aisles at Trader Joe’s is always a unique experience because you never know what you are going to find. Sure, there are going to be items that are new and a bit off the wall, but there are still solid staples at Trader Joe’s that you will want to snag the next time you visit.

Dips & Dressing & Sauces

These are all solid options to add to your meals to create new flavors, spice them up, or to have a new food experience.

Egg White Salad

Serving Size: 85g  (3f/2c/7p)

Reduced Guilt Spinach and Greek Yogurt Dip

Serving Size: 28g    (2.5f/2f/1p)

Avocado Tzatziki Dip GF

Serving Size: 31g    (1.5f/2c/1p) 

Everything But the Bagel Greek Style Yogurt Dip GF

Serving Size: 2tbsp    (5f/2c/1p) 

Green Goddess Salad Dressing GF/V

Serving Size: 30mL    (2f/1c/0p) 

Cilantro Salad Dressing GF

Serving Size: 30g    (3.5f/2c/1p) 

Chili Pepper Sauce GF/DF/V

Serving Size: 1tsp    (0f/1c/0p) 

Cashew Fiesta Dip GF/DF

Serving Size: 24g    (2f/2c/1p) 

Reduced Guilt Chunky Guacamole Dip GF

Serving Size: 30g    (2f/2c/1p) 

Cauliflower Jalapeno Dip GF

Serving Size: 30g    (3.5f/1c/1p) 



I love frozen foods because they last longer and you don’t need to worry about them going bad like you would fresh food. These frozen foods are great to keep on hand for times you are in a pinch or whenever you don’t feel like cooking.

Jasmine Rice GF/DF

Serving Size: 142g   (0f/46c/4p)

Riced Cauliflower Bowl GF/DF

Serving Size: 119g.  (7f/11c/5p)

Chicken Burrito Bowl GF

Serving Size: 330g    (10f/51c/22p)

Cauliflower Gnocchi GF/DF

Serving Size: 140g   (3f/22c/2p)

California Veggie Patties GF/DF

Serving Size: 71g   (5f/14c/5p)

Cauliflower Pizza Crust GF/DF

Serving Size: 50g   (0f/17c/1p)

Turkey Burgers GF/DF

Serving Size: 112g   (10f/0c/22p)

Reduced Guilt Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells

Serving Size: 241g   (7f/33c/20p)

Chicken Tikka Masala GF

Serving Size: 241g   (14g/39c/21p)

Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice

Serving Size: 250g   (6f/33c/21p)


Life is busy and cutting up veggies and fruits may be the last thing on your list. I love stocking up on the pre-cut options so that I am spending less time in the kitchen and more time living life.

Riced Vegetable Medley

Serving Size: 85g   (0f/5c/2p)

Butternut Squash Zig Zags

Serving Size: 85g   (0f/10c/1p)

Riced Cauliflower

Serving Size: 200g   (0f/10c/4p)

Riced Broccoli

Serving Size: 200g   (0f/10c/4p)

Sliced Crimini Mushrooms

Serving Size: 72g   (0f/3c/2p)

Asparagus Saute

Serving Size: 72g   (0f/4c/2p)

Shaved Brussel Sprouts

Serving Size: 85g   (0f/8c/3p)


Serving Size: 85g   (0f/5c/3p)

Jicama Wraps 

Serving Size: 36g   (0f/3c/0p)



In a protein rut or looking for 96/4 lean protein? Trader Joe’s has you covered in this department. 


Serving Size: 85g   (3f/0c/8p)

Fat-Free Crumbled Feta

Serving Size: 28g   (0f/1c/7p)

96/4 Lean Ground Beef

Serving Size: 113g   (4f/0c/21p) 

Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage

Serving Size: 68g   (6f/7c/11p)

Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt

Serving Size: 227g   (0f/7c/22p)

Wild Nova Smoked Salmon

Serving Size: 56g   (1.5f/2c/13p)

Uncured Turkey Bacon

Serving Size: 2 pieces   (3f/0c/12p)

Dry Goods

This is where you are most likely to find the unique, off-the-wall item’s that Trader Joe’s is known for. However, you can’t beat the  “Everything But the Bagel” seasoning and cookie butter! 

Green Jackfruit

Serving Size: 140g    (0f/10c/0p)

Buttermilk Protein Pancake Mix

Serving Size: 40g dry    (1f/23c/10p)

Speculoos Cookie Butter

Serving Size: 15g    (6f/8c/1p)

Everything But The Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend 

Chili Pepper Sauce

Serving Size: 1tsp    (0f/1c/0p) 

Mushroom and Company Multi-purpose Umami Seasoning 


Serving Size: 12fl oz   (0f/2c/0p)

Black Beans

Serving Size: 100g   (0f/15c/5p)

Reduced Guilt Pita Chips

Serving Size: 32g    (3f/15c/3p)


Pre-Made Food

If you’re on the go and don’t have time to make a meal or maybe you are traveling and need something easy, the pre-made meals have you covered. After a minute or two, you could have a meal ready to go. 

Chicken Tikka Masala GF

Serving Size: 227g    (9f/36c/18p) 

Just Chicken

Serving Size: 85g    (2.5f/1c/24p)

Mango Jicama Slaw GF/DF

Serving Size: 113g    (3f/14c/1p) 

Cauliflower Tabbouleh GF/V

Serving Size: 100g   (6f/6c/2p) 

Grilled Vegetables

Serving Size: 100g    (1f/5c/1p) 

Roasted Rosemary Boneless Chicken Breast GF

Serving Size 170g    (5f/33c/17p)



Should you go gluten free?

Chances are, you or someone you know avoids gluten for any number of reasons. What Exactly gluten is and why or why not it should be avoided can be confusing due to clever marketing, word of mouth games of telephone, and popular social media accounts.  If you are not sure if you should be eating gluten, consulting with your doctor should be your first step, however, being educated on the matter can be valuable not only for you but for others as well. 

What is gluten?

The term “gluten” refers to a protein, specifically gliadin, that can be found in wheat, barley, rye triticale, and spelt.  Products containing gluten make up a large portion of the modern diet due to ease of production, high nutritional content, palatability, and versatility. Over the past 30 years, there has been a drastic increase in individuals shifting to gluten-free diets and opting for gluten-free foods. In 2016 more than $15.5 billion were spent on retail sales of gluten-free food. which not only further drives innovation for new products but it brings greater attention to eating gluten-free. 

What does the science say?

Whether it is due to marketing, social media influence, one’s social circle, or medical diagnosis, gluten-free diets are becoming increasingly popular, so it can be confusing as to who truly needs to avoid gluten-containing products. Three groups have been researched and they have been shown to benefit from adherence to a gluten-free diet, individuals with Celiac disease, individuals with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and individuals with certain types of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).  

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that is triggered by the consumption of gluten proteins and classic symptoms include gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, and weight loss or weight gain. Non-gastrointestinal symptoms can include fatigue, slowed cognitive function, dermatitis, slower than normal growth in children, and infertility. Individuals with Celiac disease have impaired gut permeability, and are positive in the human leukocyte antigen HLA-DQ2/8. That means there is a testable blood marker for Celiac disease.    Celiac’s disease must be diagnosed by a healthcare practitioner and managed via a gluten-free diet to prevent long term malnutrition and other risks. 

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is a term that encompasses a wide variety of gastrointestinal and non-gastrointestinal symptoms to include bloating, fatigue, changes in bowel habits, bone and joint pain, headaches, and gas.  These symptoms match closely with what those with Celiac disease or IBS may experience, which can create some confusion amongst the population. However, NCGS individuals do not have impaired gut permeability and they are negative in the human leukocyte antigen HLA-DQ2/8

While there is some evidence supporting the benefits of a gluten-free diet for populations with IBS or NCGS, it is conflicting and not definitive. Further research needs to be conducted to better understand the impacts of gluten-free diets for individuals that do not have clearly diagnosed medical conditions. Thus, there is no definitive scientific evidence that shows a gluten free-diet is optimal for individuals or even beneficial for reducing body fat all else being equal. People may underestimate the cost of a gluten-free diet, as it can impose psychological and financial strain. 

Gluten-free carbohydrates

Due to the mounting interest in gluten-free diets and gluten-free eating practices, the number of people following gluten-free options has increased. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) requires that food must contain fewer than 20 parts per million of gluten to be labeled gluten-free. 

If you are Celiac or you have been instructed by your doctor to be gluten-free it is important that you are reading labels and asking questions if you are eating food that has not been prepared by you. The composition of products may change or cross-contamination may be a factor. 

Naturally Occurring Gluten-Free Foods

Fruit                                                   Quinoa

Vegetables                                     Sweet Potatoes

Red Potatoes                                Acorn Squash

Butternut Squash                       Beans           

Legumes                                           Rice

Cassava                                             Arrowroot

Amaranth                                         Buckwheat

Gluten-Free Bread and Mixes

Siete                                                   Canyon Bakehouse

Udi’s Gluten-Free                       Bob’s Redmill Guten-Free Products

Enjoy Life                                         Pamela’s Gluten-Free

KitchFix                                            Simple Mills Gluten-Free

Kinnikinnick                                   Ian’s Gluten-Free

Against the Grain                        Glutino

Gluten-Free Bars

Lara Bar                                          Perfect Food Bar

Epic Bar                                          RX Bar

Quest Bar                                      Macro Bar

Rise Bar                                           One Protein Bar

Built Bar                                         Luna Bar


  1. Niland B, Cash BD. Health Benefits and Adverse Effects of a Gluten-Free Diet in Non-Celiac Disease Patients. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2018;14(2):82–91.
  2. Wardlaw G, Byrd-Bredbenner C, Moe G, Berning J, Kelley D. Wardlaws Perspectives in Nutrition: Updated with 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education; 2016.
  3. Leonard MM, Sapone A, Catassi C, Fasano A. Celiac Disease and Nonceliac Gluten Sensitivity: A Review. JAMA. 2017;318(7):647–656. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.9730

Before eating, slow down.

Let’s set the scene!

Imagine if you were sitting down to eat a meal and you hear a loud bang! Someone hit your car, alarms were blaring and car parts were scattered everywhere. Now imagine you sit down to eat after having a stressful day at work. Emails are flooding in, your phone won’t stop ringing and you can’t stop thinking of everything that you need to take care of at home.

Both situations are stressful. However, your body does not categorize the two stressors and handle them differently. In scenario one, you would likely put your meal away and choose not to eat because you need to address what is going on outside.  However, in scenario two you are more likely to try to quickly eat your meal in between everything you have going on.  You simply don’t have time to take a break.  Eating when you are stressed or when you are feeling amped up may be problematic not only with fat loss or composition changes but it can also impact health markers and overall well-being.

What does the science say?

The autonomic nervous system is comprised of two components, the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. The parasympathetic nervous system is more well known as the “rest and digest state” because stress hormones decrease, heart rate is slow and blood flow increases to the digestive tract.  On the contrary, the sympathetic nervous system is commonly known as flight or fight, and when the activity of the sympathetic nervous system increases an individual can experience an increase in blood pressure along with decreased blood flow to the digestive system, a decrease in mucosal secretion, and inhibited motility. [2] [3]. Thus, if we regularly eat meals in a sympathetic state it can negatively impact digestion and over the long -term, it can impact the health of the gut [2]. 

Stress is not always negative and acute stress may promote adaptive responses [4].  However chronic, unmanaged stress above a certain threshold may suppress the parasympathetic system which can then lead to maladaptation of the peripheral nervous system (PNS).  If you find that you are often stressed and you are eating while stressed, you may benefit from intentionally working to get into more of a “rest and digest” state before eating. That might seem tough but it just takes some conscious effort and practice.

What can you do to slow down for meals?

We can’t ask life to slow down or try to have a time out

  • Take 5 to 6 deep breaths through your nose before eating.
  • When you are eating, chew your food completely & put your utensils down in between each bite.
  • Put away your tech devices while eating AKA no phone, computer, and TV. 
  • Block out time to eat just like you would an appointment.
  • Try to eat at a dining table or a space separate from your work.


Life is going to continue to happen and we can’t ask for things to slow down. So the goal is to adjust our approach and find systems that you can actually apply & don’t become just “one more thing” on your to-do. 


  1. Lechin, F., & van, d. D. (2009). Central nervous system plus autonomic nervous system disorders responsible for gastrointestinal and pancreatobiliary diseases. Digestive Diseases and Sciences, 54(3), 458-70. doi:
  1. Stanfield, C. L. (2017).Principles of human physiology.Harlow,Essex, England:Pearson Education Limited.
  1. Browning, K. N., & Travagli, R. A. (2014). Central nervous system control of gastrointestinal motility and secretion and modulation of gastrointestinal functions. Comprehensive Physiology, 4(4), 1339–1368. doi:10.1002/cphy.c130055
  1. Schneiderman, N., Ironson, G., & Siegel, S. D. (2005). Stress and health: psychological, behavioral, and biological determinants. Annual review of clinical psychology, 1, 607–628 doi:10.1146/annurev. linpsy.1.102803.144141

Why Lack of Sleep is Negatively Impacting Your Progress

Each day many of us juggle work, training, and the demands of day to day life.  It may feel like there are simply not enough hours in the day to get everything done so in an attempt to add more hours to the day, it is not uncommon to take time away from the hours spent sleeping. The popular phrase “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” may initially be motivating but it really misses the mark when we are looking at our long-term goals and health.   Sleep might be one of the most powerful and underutilized tools we can use to train harder in the gym, change our physique or simply feel better each day.


How can prolonged sleep deprivation impact you? 

Weight Loss

Research has shown that lack of sleep over a period of time can impact hunger levels while also potentially increasing circulating levels of ghrelin while reducing concentrations of leptin.  Ghrelin signals to your brain that you are hungry and leptin signals to your brain that you are full, so if ghrelin levels are up and leptin levels are down, it becomes far more difficult to stay within your caloric goals.  With the possible change in leptin and ghrelin levels and when we are operating in a state of poor or insufficient sleep, it becomes increasingly difficult to make choices surrounding food choices that are in support of our long-term health and goals and as a result, we may have a very difficult time adhering to our diet.


Energy expenditure outside of the gym also plays a role in weight loss however when you are operating in a chronic sleep deficit your energy expenditure can decrease.  Less movement outside of the gym can decrease your non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) which is the energy you expend for everything that is out of the gym and not sleeping related.  Less NEAT which in turn can negatively impact weight loss.


Insufficient sleep may also make it more difficult to maintain lean body mass and promote retention of body fat so if you are training hard and you are spot on with your nutrition, yet you are consistently getting poor quality sleep or not enough sleep, you may see that your progress is slow or stagnant.



If you have one night of not so great sleep, it’s unlikely that it will have an impact on your training session, however, if you are training with prolonged sleep deprivation, it is possible that you will see a decline in your performance especially with more skill-related movements.

When we are looking at performance, we cannot discount the impact that our mood has on the quality and enjoyment of our workouts. Research has shown that mood can be greatly impacted by lack of sleep which can result in lackluster training sessions and mustering the motivation to even step foot in the gym can be a challenge.


How can you improve sleep?

Create a routine

Work to go to bed and wake up around the same time each day.  This isn’t going to be a perfect practice and there may be times where life happens and you can’t stick to your “norm” but creating a routine that allows you to unwind and slow down around the same time each night can be really powerful.  Consider journaling, breathwork, stretching, or reading as practices to add to your routine. 

Change your environment

To help with the quality of your sleep and your ability to stay asleep, work on keeping your room cool and dark. So if you live in a city or an area with a lot of light, look to invest in blackout curtains and a fan to keep the light and external noise out.

Mind your tech usage

Watching TV or using tablets, smartphones, laptops, or other electronic devices can disrupt your ability to get to sleep or you may find yourself staying up later because you lose track of time. Trust me, I know that it’s NOT easy to put away your phone or turn off the TV because those devices can help you unwind. However, turning off screens about 30 minutes before bed can make such a big difference in your quality of sleep and your ability to get to sleep. 


Understand how sleep impacts you and what works for you allows you to adjust your routine to fit your needs and your lifestyle.  It may seem a bit trivial, but making time to learn “why” sleep is important for you can open up the doors for you to work on making changes in your day to day life. 


Kawada, T. (2017, July 1). Sleep Duration and Impaired Glycemic Control. American Journal of Medicine, Vol. 130, p. e311.

Beccuti, G., & Pannain, S. (2011, July). Sleep and obesity. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, Vol. 14, pp. 402–412.

4 Meal Prep Mistakes to Avoid

You want to enjoy your weekend or free time with your family & friends, not spending hours in the kitchen cooking and cleaning up. 

You want to feel inspired by what you are creating in the kitchen, not be stuck with the same few flavors.

You want to actually like what you eat, not eat the same meal for lunch 5 days in a row. 

Read more

8 Protein Packed Meals

If you are wanting to lose body fat, improve performance or simply be a healthy human being, how much protein you are eating is something that you want to pay attention to. However, protein tends to be something that is difficult to add to the mix of your meals or snacks.

I know that I am always on the hunt for simple and easy high protein meals so I want to share some of my go-to options with you but first I want to tell you “why” you should actually care about how much protein you should eat. Because I don’t know about you but I like to know “why” I am doing something before I do it!

What is protein?

Protein is best known for the role that it plays in muscle growth and recovery. It’s not uncommon to correlate eating protein with working out. Right? However, protein is essential for many other reasons, including contributing to immune function and maintaining fluid balance, hormones, and neurotransmitter production. 

How much protein do you need? 

The acceptable macronutrient distribution range (AMDR) for protein is for it to be 10-35% of your total daily calorie intake, and the RDA is 0.8g/kg. However, this amount is relatively modest, so if you are looking to have a protein goal, then 1.2-2.0g/kg of body weight can be an excellent place to start.

How to include protein into your day

  • Download my list of protein sources and include 1 source in each meal every day.
  • Aim for at least a palm-sized portion in your meals.
  • Look for high protein snacks such as greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or roasted chickpeas. 
  • Try out the meal ideas below! 

Meal Ideas

Protein Oatmeal

1/2 cup oatmeal

3/4 cup egg whites

1/2 cup strawberries

1/4 cup blueberries

1 tbsp nut butter


Egg Scramble

1/3 cup egg whites + 2 eggs

2 slices turkey bacon

2 tbsp chopped mushroom

1 tbsp chopped onion

4 cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup spinach


Steak Salad

3 oz strip steak

1/4 cup black beans

1 cup mixed greens

2 oz tomato

2 oz guacamole

1 oz shredded cheese


Protein Pancakes

1 scoop protein powder

2 eggs

1 banana

1 tbsp nut butter

1/2 cup syrup


Yogurt Parfait

1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt

1/2 cup mixed berries

2 tbsp granola

1 tbsp peanut butter

1 tbsp chia seeds



4 oz 93/7 ground beef

1 whole-wheat bun

1 slice cheese

2 oz tomato

1 oz onion



Tofu Bowl

1/4 cup Banza chickpea rice

4 oz firm tofu

2 oz broccoli

1/2 cup diced red peppers

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp low sodium soy sauce


Chicken Tacos

3 corn tortillas

4 oz chicken

1/4 cup bell peppers

1/4 cup shredded cheese

2 tbsp avocado

3 tbsp pico de gallo