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13 Trader Joe’s foods that help maintain my 100-pound weight loss

From hearts of palm pasta to a veggie burger that packs 26 grams of protein — here is what you'll find in my shiny red cart.
Not a Trader Joes' fan yet? This list might inspire a shopping trip.
Not a Trader Joes' fan yet? This list might inspire a shopping trip.Courtesy Rachel Abrahamson
/ Source: TODAY

In the two years since I had weight-loss surgery, I’ve dropped 103 pounds and become one of those irritating people who bounds out of bed at 5 a.m. to exercise. I also lug around a water bottle the size of a gas can, have overcome my fear of group fitness classes, and after spending most of my life avoiding pictures, my camera roll now rivals that of a Kardashian sister.

Yet, some things have not changed. I still loathe yoga and bone broth. And when I’m having one of those days where I’m mad at the whole world, I still head to Trader Joe’s because how can you not feel happy when you’re surrounded by contagiously cheerful crew members and $1.49 daffodil bouquets?

Trader Joe’s also happens to be my favorite place to shop for meals that will keep me on track with my weight loss. While bariatric surgery is one of the most effective weapons in the fight against obesity, it isn't a cure by itself. I still need to commit to a healthy, high-protein diet and regular physical activity for the rest of my life. 

It's been two years since my weight-loss surgery and I feel better than ever.Rachel Abrahamson

It’s hard, but I found that carrying 240 pounds on my 5-foot-3 frame was a lot harder.

Below are 13 Trader Joe's items you will always find in my red shopping cart.

Hearts of Palm Pasta

This plant-based noodle is a total game-changer. Even my fussy 4-year-old daughter is a fan when they’re tossed with marinara sauce and meatballs. They resemble pasta, have a neutral flavor and don’t get limp and goopy like zoodles. Each serving has 20 calories and 4 grams of carbs. 

Hi-Protein Veggie Burger

Each 260-calorie patty packs a whopping 26 grams of protein and 12 grams of carbs. A blend of peas, black beans, brown rice flour, onions and seasonings such as garlic, they cook up crispy with a soft center. I like to slather avocado or hummus on top.

With so many veggie burger options to choose from, this one is a Trader Joe's fan favorite.Rachel Abrahamson

Cauliflower Thins

I’m don’t follow a ketogenic diet, but I am mindful of carbs. This bread alternative — ingredients include cauliflower, eggs and Parmesan cheese — is a cross between a flatbread and a tortilla. I use them for mini pizzas and sandwiches. There are 100 calories and 3 grams of carbs in two rounds. 

Jicama Wraps

These translucent discs are made from nothing but peeled, raw jicama. I break them out on taco night because the slices are sturdy, easy to fold, and go well with both meat and vegetables. You also get that satisfying crunch. 

Natural Turkey Summer Sausage

This is one of my all-time favorite midday snacks with 11 grams of protein and 90 calories per serving. I like to dip the slices in hot mustard for an extra kick.

White and Red Belgian Endive

Dunk the leaves in pico de gallo and you’ll feel like you’re eating chips and salsa. When Rebecca Baer, a Florida-based nutritionist, first shared this tip with me I rolled my eyes. But now, I’m a believer.

Riced Cauliflower Stir Fry

Seasoned with gluten-free soy sauce and sesame oil, then mixed with peas, bell peppers, grilled corn and spring onions, this dish is bursting with flavor. Each 1-cup serving contains 50 calories and 7 grams of carb. I recommend toping it with air fried tofu or two sunny side fried eggs. 

Shakshuka Starter

Shakshuka, a North African and Middle Eastern dish, is poached eggs in a flavorful tomato-based sauce. It can take up to 40 minutes to make from scratch, but you can have it ready in 10 minutes flat thanks to Trader Joe’s. There are 80 calories and 11 grams of carbs per serving.

Friendly reminder: Eggs are not included.Rachel Abrahamson

Cauliflower Gnocchi

This alternative to traditional wheat gnocchi is made with 75% cauliflower, gluten-free flour, potato starch, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. One-cup has 140 calories and 22 grams of carbs. I recently added it frozen to simmering chicken broth for a hearty soup. 

The kale gnocchi doesn't compare to this Trader Joe's gem.Rachel Abrahamson

Colorful Carrot Coins

These carrot slices are lightly seasoned with salt and thyme and they crisp up beautifully when air fried. I serve them as a side dish or in a big salad.

Soy Chorizo

A cult-favorite, soy-based sausage that has all the flavor of meat-based chorizo but 60% less fat and zero cholesterol. One serving contains 160 calories, 11 grams of protein and 9 grams of carbs. My family gives it a 10/10.

Chili Lime Seasoning Blend

I sprinkle this tangy goodness on popcorn, eggs and even watermelon.

The Dark Chocolate Lover's Chocolate Bar

This is an 85% bar, which means 85% of the ingredients come from cacao beans. The intense yet smooth flavor curbs my sugar cravings, so I keep a few squares in my bag at all times. A serving size — 10 pieces — has 10 grams of carbs, 190 calories and 15 grams of fat. 

Keep this handy for when you're craving a sweet treatRachel Abrahamson