These are a few of my favorite things…from Trader Joe’s

By Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD

The perfect time to think about our favorite things is during the
holidays. Here are a few of my favorite things from one of my favorite
places, Trader Joe’s. These items make it easier and quicker to do the right thing—eat healthy and tasty foods!

Organic Kale

photo-5I worte a whole post on kale, but the bottom line is that it’s a top-rated veggie that it is full of nutrients. It’s great in salads, smoothies, or as a side dish. And you have no excuses because it is easy to use since it’s already washed and cut. Since it’s organic, it does not have any of the neurotoxic organophosphate  pesticides!

Roasted Mashed Sweet Potatoes

photo-4I love sweet potatoes. They are high in vitamin A and fiber and they taste good!The one disadvantage is the time to prepare and cook them. Trader Joe’s makes them easy to eat with their already mashed potatoes. They come in small frozen pellets that you just heat up with a dash of water in a pan. Yum!

Balsamic Vinegar of Modenabalsamic

This mild-tasting vinegar is great on a salad all by itself. It can also be used to enhance the flavor of everything from chili to a raspberry reduction.

Aartichoke heartsrtichoke Hearts

They are low in calories and a good source of vitamin C, K, and folic acid. Try adding them to a salad or even by themselves with a little balsamic vinegar.


This sauce is so tasty, that I have been known to eat it right out of the jar! I primarily use it on pasta and on top of grilled tofu

Organic Sprouted Tofutofu

Organic, no GMOs, a good source of calcium, inexpensive, and a great source of protein. What more can I say? Try it with the Bruschetta sauce on top for a yummy quick meal.

Canned Organic Beans

TJ BeansBeans are loaded with fiber, and they are a great source of phytochemicals and protein. I love kidney beans and garbanzo beans in salads and black, pinto, and kidney beans for chili. Their newest option, great northern white beans, is one of my favs to use in soup with carrots and sage. And Trader Joe’s organic beans are in cans without BPA (Bisphenol A),  a compound that can mimic estrogen and may be associated with health problems. If you have high blood pressure, rinse the beans with water to remove a lot of the sodium.

FBrown riceully Cooked Brown Rice
Healthy eating can’t get any easier than already cooked brown rice. I like to use it in soups instead of noodles and as a side dish with a meal.

Organic White Quinoa

quinoaQuinoa is such a super food. It acts like a grain, but it is actually a seed, which is why is has all the essential amino acids. It has a low glycemic load (which means it doesn’t raiser your blood sugar) and is a good source of fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron. Best of all, it cooks in about 10 minutes and can be used as a side dish or even a breakfast cereal.

HummusOrganic Hummus
Move over McDonalds, hello hummus, the perfect healthy fast food. You can have it with carrots, broccoli, sugar snap peas or any veggie. It’s a great tasting and healthy meal on the run.

Orgtomatoesanic Sugar Plum Tomatoes
These tomatoes are the perfect snack. Everyone loves them, even kids. The trick is to make sure they are a rich red, especially the area close to the stem.

From the moment I first visited a Trader Joe’s store, I was hooked. They always have interesting, trendy, and tasty offerings for a good price. So now you know my favorites. What are yours??

Copyright © 2012 Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD. All rights reserved.

Is Organic Food Better for You?

By Carole Bartolottto, MA, RD

A recent Stanford University Study found that organic foods are not more nutritious than those that are conventionally grown. This finding was the result of a review of about 200 studies looking at the health, nutritional, and safety characteristics of organic vs. conventionally grown meat and produce. The results were a surprise to many and created such a firestorm of media attention and headlines that I decided to take a closer look at the Stanford review and what benefits, if any, organic foods have to offer.

The Stanford Review

There were some major flaws in the review, including the following:

  • They did not consistently compare the same varieties of fruits and vegetables grown in similar locations.
  • They narrowly defined nutritious as having more nutrients and did not include the amount of bacteria or number of pesticides in their definition of nutritious.
  • They excluded evaluating a host of nutrients that are typically higher in organic produce.
  • The way they analyzed the data was more effective for a single medication and not the diverse array of nutrients found in food.

Additionally, the review was published at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford which receives major funding from Cargill. Cargill is a large multinational corporation that buys and distributes grain and other agricultural products; processes, refines, and distributes oil and glucose syrup; and slaughters cows for beef, to name a few of its businesses. Cargill also contributed nearly a quarter of a million dollars to the “No on Prop 37” campaign to label genetically engineered foods. Clearly, they are not supporters of organic foods! I recommend taking the results of the Stanford review with a very large grain of salt.

So what are the benefits of organic foods?

  1. They have fewer pesticides! Even low levels of pesticides can cause developmental problems in children, such as a lower IQ. Pesticides also harm farm workers and wildlife around farms. I can’t help but wonder what low levels over a long period of time are doing to us.
  2. Organic fruits and vegetables are generally 5 to 15 percent higher in nutrients, but they can be 30 to 100 percent higher in some cases. And they are much higher in the health-enhancing phytochemicals that plants create to fight off pests.
  3. Organic produce can have a longer shelf life since they have more antibacterial phenolic acids under their skin, which helps prevent mold, bacterial growth, and thus spoilage.
  4. Organic foods have more microbial diversity with plenty of healthy bacteria. So if unhealthy bacteria are introduced, they are not as likely to multiply and cause health problems for us.
  5. Organic meats and poultry do not contain antibiotics or added hormones. Conventionally grown meats and poultry usually do. And conventionally grown are also more likely to contain bacteria that are resistant to 3 or more types of antibiotics!
  6. Organic foods are free of GMOs (genetically modified organisms).
  7. Organic foods are better for the environment. They reduce the number of pesticides and other toxins found in the air, water, and soil.

As you can see, organics have a lot to offer. Since they are more expensive than conventionally grown produce and meats, you can save money by:

  • shopping at farmers markets or specialty store such as Trader Joe’s
  • growing your own veggies and planting a fruit tree if you have a yard
  • choosing organic versions of the most contaminated fruits and vegetables. See the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list here.

So are you ready to switch to organic foods? I am.

Copyright © 2012 Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD. All rights reserved.