7 Trader Joe’s Best Bite Entrees When Time is Tight!

It’s summer, and I cannot figure out why I am so busy! Today, as has been the case for the last few weeks, I am short on time. I decided to hit my favorite area specialty grocery store this morning for some “back-up” type meals to avoid being tied to the kitchen later in the day. I like to keep a few “convenience” type meal alternatives that do not require either thinking, or labor, when I am either very tired or too busy to spend time in the kitchen. My criteria when purchasing such foods is typically limited to evaluating: total fat, calories, and sodium.  For many convenience foods, it is easy enough to find limited fat and calories, or limited sodium, but rather a difficult task to find convenience foods already prepared that are acceptable in all three categories.

Here are my favorite “go-to” foods from Trader Joe’s

  • Breaded Tenderloin Chicken Breasts (per 66 gram piece, has 110 calories, 3.5 gm total fat, 180 mg sodium); toss on a bed of lettuce greens for a quick meal.
  • Roasted Vegetable Multi-Grain Lasagna (per 1/4 package, has 240 calories, 7 gm total fat, 480 mg sodium)
  • Wild Salmon in Yogurt and Mint Sauce with Orzo Pasta, Spinach and Zucchini (one container has 350 calories, 10 gm fat, 310 mg sodium)
  • Chile Lime Chicken Burger (one burger has 150 calories, 6 gm fat, 310 mg sodium)
  • Organic No Salt Added Marinara Sauce (has 60 calories, no fat, and only 35 mg of sodium per 1/2 cup).  Just put on pasta, add a dash of favorite cheese and serve with a salad.
  • Reduced Fat Fish Sticks (6 fish sticks have 220 calories, 9 gm fat, and 240 mg sodium)
  • Grilled Chicken Strips (3 oz. serving has 130 calories, 2.5 gm fat, and 210 mg sodium).  Toss on top of a bed of greens, with a lower sodium roll, and you are good for dinner.

Here’s to a night out of the hot kitchen! And, for dessert, there is always a bite of TJ 56% cacao dark chocolate (1/2 bar has 80 calories, 5 gm of fat, 0 sodium, and  a lot of antioxidants).

Do you have any healthy meals to recommend from Trader Joe’s or other specialty grocery stores?


Build a Better Breakfast!


My Creamy Berry Smoothie


Nutritionally speaking, there are a lot of important reasons to fuel up in the morning.  Research has noted that breakfast eaters have a jump-start on: maintaining a healthy weight, meeting daily nutritional requirements, and performing better physically and mentally all day.The “problems”, however, always seem to revolve around what to eat, how long will it take to prepare, and how fast can it be eaten! If you are getting tired of standard breakfast fare, consider the following as options:

Berry Creamy Smoothie

Blend 1.5 cups of blueberries (may start off as frozen and let thaw while in shower), ½ cup 1% milk fat cottage cheese, and ½ cup orange juice in a blender until thoroughly mixed.

Each 12 ounce serving has 260 calories, 15 grams protein, 48 grams carb, 2 grams fat, 7 grams fiber, and 275 mg. of potassium.

Oat Bran Muffins

Make from scratch.  This is about as easy as it gets and you know what is going into your body. They can be frozen after you make a batch, and then pulled out of the freezer when you get up in the morning. Let thaw as you shower. Enjoy with some orange or low sodium V-8 juice.

When evaluating an oat bran muffin recipe, if you are watching your waistline, consider recipes without dried fruits and nuts as ingredients. If a recipe calls for applesauce, that allows for a moister oat bran muffin.

 Oat Bran Muffin Recipe

Improvise with an English Muffin

Toast an English muffin, add one slice low-fat cheese and a slice of Canadian bacon.  Now you have an Egg McMuffin, sans the egg, and you don’t need to stop at the drive through and get tempted with hash browns.

What about English muffin pizza for breakfast? Toast each half to make it crispy.  Spread some pizza sauce on each half, some shredded mozzarella, and zap for a few seconds in the microwave.

Standby eggs

Consider hard boiling several to grab during the week. Each egg is a nice packet of nutrients and only about 80 calories. Or, consider making small cheese and spinach quiches in muffin pans and freezing. Making that little bit of effort ahead of time in order to grab these will be worth it as you head to work.

Bottom line, a better breakfast will mean a better you and better day.  If you are also thinking of lunch and dinner, here are some other suggestions! 

Do you have a favorite, fast, and healthy breakfast idea?



Got Gas? 10 Tips to Fight Flatulence!

It’s normal to pass gas

We all have gas production which is a normal bodily function. For some, however, gas production can seem excessive and uncomfortable, not to mention embarrassing. Some people are so bothered by excessive gas that they bring up the topic to their physicians.

While it is very important to rule out diseases, often the gas symptoms result from how and what one eats! In fact, once a gastroenterologist referred a healthy patient to me simply to help the patient minimize gas, or flatulence, with specific eating strategies.

Helpful strategies to minimize flatulence include:

  • Don’t go long periods without eating. It is very common to have more gas discomfort if you skip food all day and then gorge on a large meal at the end of the day.
  • Avoid drinking beverages quickly. Using a straw may lessen the amount of air swallowed.
  • Do not wolf down your meals. Eating too rapidly will also introduce extra air into your digestive tract. After all, what goes in must come out!
  • Steer clear of carbonated beverages, particularly without eating.
  • Stop chewing gum as this may also be a source of swallowed air.
  • Try decreasing or eliminating lactose in from your diet. Lactose is a natural sugar found in dairy products. As we age, we start making less of the enzyme necessary to break down the lactose. Lactose-free milk is readily available at grocery stores for those who want to continue drinking milk.
  • Certain vegetables are known culprits for causing gas. Vegetables such as cauliflower, asparagus, brussels sprouts, and cabbage all contain a natural sugar which some people have trouble digesting without an over-the-counter enzyme supplement such as Beano. Beano provides the necessary amounts of enzymes to break down the natural sugar from these vegetables. Or, simply consider eating smaller amounts of these foods!
  • Certain fruits such as apples, pears, prunes, and bananas may also be problematic due to the natural sugars fructose and sorbitol. No need to cut these fruits and the vegetables out, just try to pinpoint with food tracking which fruits and vegetables seem to be the gas culprits.
  • Try decreasing sorbitol from your diet. Low calorie foods often contain sorbitol.
  • High fiber grains can also be gas culprits due to the soluble fiber. Fiber is important for over-all health, so if you are having trouble with fiber rich grains, just increase these foods gradually.  Most people adapt to a higher fiber intake within a few weeks.

Try tracking your food and symptoms

The best way to determine your dietary gas culprits is to track your food and your symptoms. As everyone is different, some food eliminations work for some and not for others. Being aware of how you respond to your dietary adjustments is key to less gas discomfort. If symptoms persist and your physician has ruled out any medical conditions, seeing a dietitian can help you sort through the best eating strategies in order to both minimize gas and keep you healthy!

Have you found any ways to decrease your gas?