As much as I want to pretend that I stay on the outskirts of the grocery store as health experts recommend and just buy natural products that cave men would have been able to find, I have to admit that the inside aisles always seem to call, maybe scream, my name, especially when I shop at Trader Joe's. They just have so many fun and interesting products and I, embarrassingly, hopelessly read the Fearless Flyer in search of something new, yummy, and diet friendly. Don't get me wrong, I obviously love to cook, and many times from scratch, but we all need some short cuts, go to meals, and prepared food and snacks to get us through the week, and in my opinion, Trader Joe's has some of the best weight watcher and diet friendly ones.
1. Butternut Squash Soup - 2 P+ per cup
There really aren't too many bad things I can say about this soup - it's creamy, warm, and delicious with an earthy, sweet taste of butternut squash and to be honest, about as good as any homemade butternut squash soup I have made. The other thing I love about it is it's versatility. Add soba noodles, ginger, and some leftover pork or chicken like the recipe on The Kitchn, and you have a great Asian meal. Add basil, roasted garlic, a dab of marscapone, and leftover toasted bread and it's Italian. Literally, the combinations are endless.
2. Mini Blueberry Fiber Cakes - 2 P+ per cake
Although I wouldn't really categorize these treats as cakes, they are more like a dense muffin, these little fiber cakes are a great go to snack or breakfast that come in lots of flavors and taste delicious. I like to warm them up in the microwave or toast them with a little cream cheese, and with 12 grams of fiber they will keep you full for awhile for only 80 calories.
3. Meatless Meatballs - 4 P+ for 6 meatballs
My old roommate was a vegetarian and turned me on to these delicious vegetarian meatballs. They are packed with fiber and soy protein and are delicious with marinara sauce over whole wheat pasta, or even with barbecue sauce as a quick appetizer or snack. You can heat them up in the microwave in just a couple of minutes and quickly have a great and filling meal or snack. One of my favorite ways to eat these are sliced up in a sandwich for a "meatball sub" or sliced on a pita pizza.
4. Eggplant and Red Pepper Dip - 1 P+ for 4 tbsp
With most dips, I always find myself finished with the dip long before I am finished with whatever I am dipping in it, however for only 1 point for 4 tablespoons ( 1/4 cup) this dip lasts through almost anything. It is great with veggies, baked chips, or pretzels and also makes a great spread on sandwiches. Sometimes I also use it as a pasta sauce or pizza sauce which adds a nice depth of flavor in place of marinara.
5. Shrimp Stir Fry - 2 P+ for 1.75 cups
After living for years on a diet replete with lean cuisines and weight watcher meals, when cooking to me meant punching a couple of buttons on the microwave, I pretty much swore off frozen food. To this day, the site of a lean cuisine still makes me cringe a little. However, when I am in a bind and need a quick meal, I do love this simple frozen shrimp stir fry which is ready in minutes. Toss it over some whole wheat soba noodles or brown rice and you have a pretty yummy meal in no time.
...And although they didn't make the top five, I also love the Roasted Seaweed Snack - surprisingly delicious (1 point per package), goat cheese medallions - inherently portion controlled (2 pts+), no sugar added frozen fruit - great for smoothies, oatmeal, and yogurt (o pt+), pumpkin and cranberry butter - perfect for toast, oatmeal, or waffles (1 pt+), Roasted Veggie Pizza (7 pts+ for 1/3 of the pizza), Chicken Chili Lime burgers (3 pts+), and the Ranchero Egg White Salad (1 pt+). Not to mention the incredible and affordable wine selection....
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