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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Trader Joe's Cashew Apricot Date & Nut Bites with Coconut & Citrus

Oh goodness. Vacation. All. That. Food. And junk. Lots and lots of junk food.

Please tell me it's not just us.

In our regular day-to-day lives, Sandy and I try to reasonably limit our unhealthyish indulgences to maybe a small portion a day. But on our recent vacation - game on. Chips, candies, cookies, pie, cheese curls, whatever else - oh yes. All that. And ice cream. Oh goodness. If you're ever in the area of Penn Yan, NY, you gotta go to The Spotted Duck. We went there regrettably only twice, including our last official trip stop, and I'd easily consider making the 10 hour round trip just to go there again, it's that awesome.

All this to say, I still got a case of the snackies now that I'm home, but I need something healthy to counterblanace all it was great time to discover Trader Joe's Cashew Apricot Date & Nut Bites with Coconut & Citrus.

You could tell me these bites were a Larabar test product and I'd believe you. There's that very similar vibe, with soft chewy dates making up the body of the bar with nuts densely interspersed. I've grown to enjoy that kinda texture from most Larabars, and it's much the same here. Cashews are a great nutty choice - so much better than either peanuts or almonds IMHO - and I like how the dried apricot adds fruity flair and natural sweetness. The zested citrus peel adds a bright, somewhat unexpected finish - a real nice touch that sets these apri-nut bites apart.

Haven't mentioned the coconut yet. That's because while I'm not opposed to its presence, if I had to choose one ingredient to axe, that'd be it. There's so much else going on, the coconut just isn't terribly necessary, and the fibery specks do mess the texture up a small bit. Not awfully much, but enough to make note.

And another small note: the packaging. The outer bag isn't the problem. It's what's inside. Each bite is individually wrapped in a sealed plastic wrapper that's almost big enough for two bites. That's just unnecessary. I get that TJ's wouldn't want the date bites to stick together, but there's goota be a better solution than that.

So aside from a few small quibbles, we like them a bit. I'd consider them Paleo friendly as the only questionable ingredient is rice flour on the dried fruit...meh. Any way I look at it, the date and nut bites are a healthier bet than the half pound of Sour Patch watermelon chewies I gobbled on vacation. Or the quarter of a grape pie. Or the numerous scoops of ice cream. Or get the point. Check 'em out for $3.99 for the sack. Yums.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Cashew Apricot Date & Nut Bites with Coconut & Citrus: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Friday, June 23, 2017

Trader Joe's Calamansi Cooler

If you were to juice an octopus or squid and turn it into a drinkable cocktail, it might be a faint clear-yellow-orange color, and you might call it Calamari Cooler.

Because of its unfamiliarity, the word "calamansi" didn't exactly roll off our tongues, so we opted to be silly and call this drink "Calamari Cooler." We'd pour a can into a glass and offer our guests some Calamari Cooler and were met universally with surprise and/or disgust.

Only then would we explain that we were just being weird because that's just kinda what we do and then we'd show them the can. Neither Sonia nor I nor a single one of our friends had heard of the calamansi fruit before encountering this beverage. We Americans are so sheltered when it comes to exotic fruits. Thank goodness for Trader Joe and his daring ventures into Southeast Asia.

It's a strange flavor, especially at first. But it certainly grew on me since my initial reaction. It really does fall very close to a lemon-lime sort of taste, but there's something else there that's very difficult to put my finger on—almost something tangerine-esque. Sonia thinks it might be more like grapefruit.

The flavor is light, refreshing, and not very intense at all except for some moderate tartness. Despite the fact that sugar is the second ingredient, it's not overly sweet.

It's a nice summer beverage for sure. We'll probably buy it again to beat the summer heat. $2.99 for four cans. Four stars from Sonia. Three and a half from me.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Trader Joe's Kitchen Sink Dunkers

"Comparison is the thief of joy."

I've heard it said and quoted so many times...a quick Google search says its Theodore Roosevelt who coined the phrase. I'm pretty sure I've heard it was someone else...but then that's like comparing sources, and well, that's contradictory to the purpose, is it not? No matter who spoke it, it's no less true.

I say this because - Sheetz Trash Can Cookies. You ever one? If you haven't, and live near a Sheetz, or ever happen to be traveling by a Sheetz on an journey, go get one. Preferably immediately. If you have, i hope you know what I'm talking about - amazing cookies. Soft mealy, with a plethora of ingredients ranging for chocolate chips and Reese Pieces to popcorn and pretzels. Awesome cookies, one of our faves for road trips.

Was really hoping for a similar vibe with Trader Joe's Kitchen Sink Dunkers. The name carries the same implication, a little of this, a little that, and then there's that other stuff. Kitchen sink, as in, "everything but the..." Gotta be a lot of stuff, right?

Can't say they fully delivered. I like the premise, more or less, but the name sets up a little bit for failure. These dunkers are basically oatmeal cookies trying to pose themselves as being a bit more fancy then they actually are. I got nothing against pecans, or sunflower seeds, or chocolate chunks, because they can all make a fine cookie, but mixed all together with some rolled oats, there's not much that stands out or is terribly descriptive.

At least there's no...oh wait, yes there is. Not sure how they snuck in. But there's raisins in here too. So it's a showboating oatmeal raisin cookie. Listen: Nobody I know likes oatmeal raisin cookies. I only eat them when I didn't look close and thought they were chocolate chip, and am then immediately disappointed. Everyone I know thinks the same way, and so must a lot of y'all, because why then aren't raisins mentioned mentioned on the front of the package, hmm? It's a conspiracy 

Of course, as a cookie made for dunking in coffee, the dippy dunkers are pretty rigid when dry but soften in a crumbly way significantly once met with coffee. I personally did not have a chance to sample hem this way, but Sandy said so, so it must be true.

Not awful, not terrific. Could use a lot more pizzazz in my humble opinion. I'll munch on them but not seek them out. Too many other great cookies out there...these dunkers just don't really compare.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Kitchen Sink Dunkers: 5.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons