If you're one of the many people who've taken up the keto nutritional plan — a high-fat, medium-protein, low-carb approach to food — you know that it can be extremely rewarding. Maybe you've been deeply disappointed by calorie- and fat-reduction diets in the past, and the ketogenic lifestyle is helping you to make a more long-term, integrated shift in eating. Maybe you've finally been lost weight and keeping it off; maybe you feel sharper, happier, more energetic.
But keto isn't without its challenges and one of the biggest is that carbs are literally everywhere. They're in the obvious suspects, of course, but also hiding in foods we don't think of as having carbs (such as ketchup), or ones we might normally eat a lot (such as beans).
This can make sourcing ingredients problematic, most notably in the beginning when you're not yet a Jedi master of label reading. But the learning curve is quick — especially if you shop at Trader Joe's.
Trader Joe's has really been stepping up when it comes to stocking items that support a keto lifestyle. From low-carb baking essentials like almond and coconut flours to crunchy, no-carb snacks to an endless supply of coconut fats, you will find much of what you need for a well-stocked kitchen.
Having low-carb staples around the house means that whipping up a low-carb meal or baking a keto-style cracker is never a chore. I'm not sure if this is universally true in all areas, but my TJ's in Oakland, California, sells local organic heavy cream, quality butter, and high-quality avocados, all which are important foods for keto.
- Full-fat coconut milk and coconut oil: Coconut fats are must-have keto ingredients for cooking, baking, and snack-making.
- Coconut flour and almond flour: If you want to attempt any keto or low-carb baking, you're going to need these flours, and TJ's sells them at a great price.
- Spindrift and TJ's brand flavored sparkling water: Beverages are another challenge for keto and low-carb diets. These brands have a few carbs (often less than 2 per 12 ounces) but they're low enough to enjoy in moderation.
- Stevia sweetener: You will find a selection of liquid and granulated versions of this natural no-carb sweetener.
- Chia seeds: Chia seeds are great for thickening puddings and making carb-free crackers.
- Onion salt: Onions and other alliums are high in sugar and can add stealth carbs to dishes. This dried form helps you to use less while still adding that important onion flavor.
Produce and Meat
While sweet root vegetables and fruits are on the no-fly list, you won't be without delicious greens, broccoli, and cauliflower, and equally delicious fatty meats to serve them with.
- Cooked pork belly: A quick way to get some carb-free fatty goodness into your dish!
- Bacon, including diced pancetta: TJ's carries many kinds of bacon/pancetta that are very low in sugar (although they don't seem to stock a completely sugar-free option).
- Canned fish: Oil-packed tuna, mackerel, and anchovies are all high-fat/high flavor essentials.
- Cauliflower rice: Cauliflower rice is a decent alternative to regular rice. TJ's carries both fresh and frozen.
- Fresh and frozen greens: Kale, collards, and chard are excellent keto vegetables and should always be in your refrigerator/freezer.
Snacks and Treats
One of the more difficult things about going keto and low-carb is that most readily available, easy-to-grab snacks are out. Even more conventionally "healthy" foods such as fruit or power bars are way too high in sugar. And this is where Trader Joe's really saves the day.
- Oven baked cheese bites: These almost zero-carb crackers are made from 100% cheddar cheese and bring that crunchy texture missing from most keto-friendly foods.
- Roltini singles with mozzarella & prosciutto: Just peel open the single-serving packet and enjoy a mozzarella stick wrapped in prosciutto for quick, low-carb treat on the go.
- Roasted seaweed snacks: Again, crispy texture is hard to find when eating low-carb, so these tasty seaweed snacks are a treat on many levels. High in vitamin C, too!
- Inexpensive nuts: Within moderation, certain nuts such as macadamia and pecan are keto-friendly, but pricey — unless you stock up at TJ's.
- Inexpensive organic mozzarella sticks: Tuck a few of these into your bag for when you're out and about and need a quick snack.
Keto for Newbies: Curious about the ketogenic diet? This high-fat, moderate-protein, and low-carb lifestyle puts your body in a metabolic state called ketosis, where you burns fat instead of carbohydrates as the primary fuel source. Read more here about what keto is and see all of Kitchn's coverage on keto here.