Trader Joe’s is dead to me; its low-salt products are gone

Trader Joe's high fiber cereal is my go-to breakfast choice every day, high in fiber, low in sugar and sodium.
Trader Joe’s high fiber cereal is gone, a very, very sad loss for people trying to eat healthy.

I’ve been eating Trader Joe’s High Fiber Cereal for breakfast for longer than I can remember, definitely longer than the 10 years since my first stent was put in. It was lower in sugar and salt than competitors and tastier too.

But I say was because it’s disappeared from Trader Joe shelves for the second time this year and I fear this time its gone for good. I visited three Trader Joe’s in Cook and Lake Counties, Illinois, recently and the cereal is nowhere to be found.

I also discovered that Trader Joe’s has dropped it’s no-salt-added salsa.

The two losses join a string of Trader Joe product disappearances. Here’s what I once bought regularly at Trader Joe’s:

Salt-free whole wheat bread

No-salt-added marinara sauce

No-salt added shrimp sauce

High fiber cereal

No-salt-added salsa

Trader Joe’s has decided to make it easier for Americans to continue eating more salt than is healthy for them.

I have no reason to shop there any longer so #traderjoesisdeadtome.

It’s very sad to see a food store abrogating its responsibility to offer at least some healthy offerings.

Trader Joe’s High Fiber Cereal Remains MIA — Here Are Some Alternatives

Trader Joe’s High Fiber Cereal has been missing from TJ outlets in the Chicago area for two weeks now and I’m becoming more and more convinced it is being discontinued. Store managers have consistently told me it would be in the next day only to not have any that day. This is a food disaster for me since that cereal has been my breakfast go-to for the decade since my first stent went it. I’ve written about how it is relatively low in salt and sugar compared with other breakfast cereals.

Nutrition information for three alternatives to Trader Joe’s High Fiber Cereal, which is gone from TJ stores in my area north of Chicago.

But facing the harsh reality that it may join a long list of low-salt Trader Joe’s products that have been dropped in recent years, I decided to see what alternatives are available on supermarket shelves.

I bought boxes of General Mills Fiber One, Kellogg’s All Bran Original and Kellogg’s All Bran Buds. A friendly woman in the store suggested the Buds to me, saying they are her husband’s favorite. Maybe he enjoys the added salt and added sugars. Buds has 300 mgs of salt and 12 mgs of sugar, highest among the three. Eating a cup of them left me extremely gasey as well, not a pleasant feeling to go through the day with.

Fiber One looks a bit like TJ’s except the strings are darker and a but thicker. It has very little taste but at least the nutrition numbers are;t bad, 140 mgs of salt and no sugar. The original All bRan has the least salt per serving, although the numbers are skewed a but because it and Fiber One considers a serving as two-thirds of a cup while the infamous Buds calls half-a-cup a serving.

All of these cost more than TJs, by the way. I paid $6.99 for Fiber One, $4.99 for All Bran on sale and $4.99 for Buds on sale (each was $1.80 off their regular prices). I’m going to keep an eye out for General Mills coupons for Fiber One.

I’ll be visiting the New York City area shortly, I’m planning to check there to see if TJ has in fact stopped selling the one item that would regularly draw me to its stores.


People still don’t get the connection between salt consumption and poor health

I’ve written about how food processors are not increasing the number of products they sell that have low-sodium claims on them. Maybe its because people still don;t seem to get how harmful all the salt they consume is.

A new survey found that while 64% of Americans know eating too much salt is unhealthy only 37% say they track their salt consumption.

You can read more about the survey — the site won’t let me take excerpts for my blog — by clicking here.

And if you’d like to know the difference between all the salt claims you see on food packages, check this Cooking Light guide to salt claims.

If you find yourself at a fast-food outlet, remember this list

Fast food is not a friend to people trying to eat low-salt, low-fat or low-sugar. I’ve written in the past about such troubles. But let’s face it, fast food outlets are ubiquitous and now that we’re all getting out more, you’re likely one day to find fast food is your only alternative.

McDonald's third-pound sirloin burger has too much salt and fat for me to eat it.

If that happens, review this list 19 Options for Low Sodium Fast Food from Healthline.com. It will give you some least-harmful choices like a baked potato at Wendy’s or soft tacos at Taco Bell (hard shells normally are loaded with salt). A lot of what’s on this list I wouldn’t eat (oatmeal, really?).

But if you do, remember this final warning from the story:

“Be sure to enjoy these foods in moderation, as most are still high in fat, calories, or added sugar.”

For more options when eating out, check my Eating Away from Home Page.

If you must buy pre-made tomato sauce, go low-salt

As an Italian-American, I consider it my duty to make my own tomato sauce (we call it gravy) for the various macaroni dishes I create. But if you’re one of those people who buys pre-made sauce, please, please read the nutrition label before you buy. Most sauces are loaded with salt.

Trader Joe's organic low-salt marinara sauce was a bit peppery for my taste but will do in a pinch.
Trader Joe’s organic low-salt marinara sauce is no longer being sold, a pandemic food casuality.

A recent taste test on Myrecipes.com reminded me how much salt is crammed into the jarred sauce. The winner of this taste test was Mezzetta’s Napa Valley Homemade Spicy Marinara, Looking up nutrition info for it, I found half a cup has 520 mgs of sodium. That compares to 140 mgs for the taste test low-sodium favorite, Engine 2, plant-strong, classic tomato basil pasta sauce.

My favorite low-sodium marinara sauce had been Trader’s Joe’s salt-free version but it was among many low-salt products that have disappeared from store shelves during the pandemic.

I plan to look for this Engine No. 2 variety (the site I found its nutrition info on says it’s sold at Whole Foods) to give it my own taste test.

Nutrition claims will continue to ignore low-salt

Food processors have been rolling out lots of low- and no-sugar products during the pandemic but not low-salt ones, said speakers at a 2022 food outlook presentation hosted by The Food Institute.

The pandemic has Americans thinking more about wellness and good nutrition, but that apparently hasn’t gotten them to realize they eat much more salt than they need every day.

Younger consumers also are concerned about sustainability, so sales of products with sustainability claims are likely to increase as Millennials’ buying power increases over the next five to six years, speakers said. Expect more meat-substitute products as well, including lab-grown offerings created cell-by-cell to resemble fish.

Looking at restaurants, the prediction was that restaurant sales levels would not return to what they were pre-pandemic in 2019 until 2023.

Speakers at the presentation included an old boss of mine, Joan Driggs, now vice president, content and thought leadership at IRI, a market research firm. We worked together at Mintel, another market research firm and were both journalists in our former lives.

Other scheduled speakers were:

Mike Kostyo
Trendologist and Senior Managing Editor, Datassential

Chris Dubois
Senior Vice President, Protein Practice Leader, IRI

The annual search for low-sodium Chirstmas meals — start here

Every year at this time I do a search for no-sodium Christmas meals” and I get disappointed. There are a few sites that talk about buying low-sodium turkey, which we’ve covered here too.

The Crab Pot seafood feast
We had this seafood feast at a restaurant in Seattle, but you can make your own at home for Christmas Eve.

And there are other sites that talk about healthy recipes, which usually mean lower-calorie alternatives to regular holiday fare.

But sites speaking specifically about low- and no-sodium Christmas meals? Our site is best for that, appearing on the first page of search results for our posts like 5 Sites With Low-sodium Christmas recipes and No Sugar, No Salt Recipes for the 12 Days of Christmas.

Holidays are difficult times to dump the salt, fat and sugar, but we’re here to help.

My 2021 Pandemic Low-Salt Turkey Quest

I knew this would be a difficult year to find a low-sodium fresh turkey for Thanksgiving because of the
Pandemic and supply chain issues it had caused. But I was not prepared for how difficult it would be to find what I wanted.

Keep in mind a fresh turkey, one not injected with sodium solutions for self-basting should have about 70 mgs of sodium per serving. Turkeys with liquids injected can range as high as 300 mgs of sodium per serving. And, really who eats just one serving of turkey on Thanksgiving.

My medium-sodium pandemic turkey from Costco, $2.99 a pound.

I’d written you might have to buy a bigger bird than you wanted this year. But what I found was the opposite, larger turkeys, those over 14 pounds, were extremely difficult o find, regardless of salt content.

I started at a local Jewel, an Albertson chain in the Chicago area, where I found Butterball premium turkeys that were loaded with salt. I next tried Whole Foods, one had no turkeys whatsoever, the other had only frozen turkeys. A butcher there told me fresh turkeys would be in a few days later. But when I returned on that day, they had yet to appear.

I then swung by a local Mariano’s outlet (a Kroger chain in the Chicago area). Its website listed a low-sodium Jenny O turkey option but there were none in the store I went to.

Continue reading “My 2021 Pandemic Low-Salt Turkey Quest”

A lesson in reading food labels — canned garbanzo beans can be loaded with salt

Canned chickpeas can be loaded with salt, always check the label.

When you’re trying to get the salt out of your diet, you need to be constantly aware of the salt hidden in every food you buy. This was recently brought home to me when my wife asked me to pick up a can of garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas).

She planned to put them into a homemade soup that she wanted to be low-salt for me. Luckily, when I was searching for them, I came across a low-salt variety.

The low-salt chickpeas had only135 mgs of salt per serving. Regular brands had 340 mgs! Multiply that by the number of servings per can and you can see your salt intake rising before your eyes.

For more tips on cutting salt, read my post, Salt is everywhere, beware; become a smart shopper & diner, and check my Ingredients and Smart Shopper pages.

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