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Friday, May 25, 2018

Trader Joe's Spicy Cheese Crunchies

Just earlier today, Sandy was saying she wished I wrote for an ice cream blog, like say On Second Scoop, just so we could have a valid excuse to have a neverending stockpile of ice cream on hand.

Me? I sure am happy for our little TJ's blog, because without it, I'd never have a great reason to pick up a sack of Trader Joe's Spicy Cheese Crunchies.

But it doesn't stop there.

Nope, because if I never bought them, I'd never get the sneaking suspicion that were a lot like a more famous brand, like say Flamin' Hot Cheetos, but would be unsure as to the exact differences, and so purely in the best interests of my audience would also have to get those Flamin' Hots for direct comparision's sake. You know, for entertainment and science, and not just to mindlessly eat spicy cornmeal nuggets because yummmm.

See the pic here. I'm sorry, it's a sucky one, because I took it with my potato phone. On the left is the aforementioned FHC's, on the right is the newcomer TJ's. Visibly, they're different - the Flamers are decidedly more red and fierce looking. Must be all those artifical colors noticeably absent from the Trader Joe's spicy crunchers...score one for TJ's.

Once popped in the ol' snack hole, there's a few other fairly small differences. The spicy cheese crunchers from TJ's are a tad bit drier, it seems, from their Cheetos counterparts. There's a smidge less grease to them. This leads me to believe that the TJ's brand is baked as opposed to fried like Cheetos, and seeing that TJ's has 40 less calories and 5 grams less fat per identical 28 gram serving, I may be on to something.

But really, taste. That's what it all comes down to. Which one's better? It's...tough to say. The Cheetos seem more focused on vibrant spice and heat (if not a little on the vinegary side) whereas the TJ's is...different. Maybe slightly more cheesy. Maybe slightly less hot and more range of flavor (like garlic, turmeric, etc). Maybe, as Sandy said, more of a "tomatoey" flavor, by which neither one of us is precisely sure what she means, but there's something to it. In all, it's kinda subtle.

My three year old loves the TJ's spicy cheese crunchers. She'd melt after one Flamin' Hot Cheeto. So, there's that.

Anyways, if totally junky kinda grub like this is your kinda thing, grab a bag of the TJ's crunchies for only a couple bucks. I wouldn't proclaim them as "healhty" but they are "healthier" than the competition, and are of approximate quality. Admittedly and somewhat ashamedly I kinda like them both...slight edge to TJ's. Thanks for allowing me to eat these, my adoring fans!

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Spicy Cheese Crunchies: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Trader Joe's Salmon & Sweet Potato Dog Treats

Our dogs are picky eaters. We're well aware that pets are supposed to be fed a steady diet of one type of food, but our mutts get tired of the same thing over and over, just like people do. As evident as it is with their main breakfast and dinner type foods, it's even more so with treats, so we try to mix it up for them, since they're much easier to control when they're actually interested in whatever "cookie" Sonia's holding in her hand.

At $3.99, these weren't the cheapest option we've seen at TJ's, but with only two ingredients—Atlantic salmon and sweet potato—we figured they were worth a try. We know from experience our dogs love salmon—even the salmon we're not thrilled with ourselves.

Also, the bag is full of mind-blowingly helpful tips like, "Please provide fresh drinking water for your dog at all times." Gosh! Thanks, Trader Joe's. Insert macabre, sarcastic remark about pets dying of thirst. Hopefully we'll be able to hang on to Alfred and Sadie a little longer by putting that wisdom into practice.

Four out of five paw prints from Sadie. Three out of five paw prints from Alfred.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Trader Joe's Blueberry Lavender Flavored Almond Beverage

Our house is over 100 years old.

On the exterior, it's all brick, and on the inside it's all drywall or plaster. For years and years, nearly a century, that's all there was, until Sandy and I moved in. Our first winter was frigid cold with arctic wind blowing right thru the walls. I'm not joking.

So we got an insulation job done, whole house, spray in type stuff. Our heating bill has been cut by two-thirds. It's awesome...but there's a flipside.

It's summer, or at least getting there. We have no AC, and with our Therm/os-fied house, once heat gets in, it stays in. It's not uncommon for it to be cooler outside the house than inside, and even with open windows and fans, only so much can be done. Next few months are gonna be extra sticky.

So, naturally, let's get a nice refreshing glass of milk. Ron Burgundy cringes.

But in the case of Trader Joe's Blueberry Lavender Flavored Almond Beverage, it kinda works.

Sandy and I are not big milk drinkers, dairy or nut alternative. We're just not. Our kids are another story. But there's just something tasty and appealing about this kinda almond milk. Just sounds good, doesn't it?

Blueberry is definitely the predominant flavor. It's fairly natutral-ish, though. There's no excessive sickeningly sweet added sugar that artifically ramps up the flavor in this TJ's blueberry almond milk...nah, just a small touch of blueberry that plays well off the natural nuttiness of the milk. I don't taste much lavender, though. There really tastes to be not much more than a small, small touch, if even that. Maybe my tastebuds aren't quite senstive enough, or perhaps I'm a bit clueless, but there doesn't seem to be much there, which is my only real knock.

The consistency of the berry almond milk is much like any other almond beverage - thre word "chalky" comes to mind. "Smooth" and "creamy" are definite overstatements in my opinion...I mean, it's not gritty by any means but there's a certain slight chunkiness to it that takes getting used to if not accustomed to it, as with any other nut beverage.

Blending some up with ice and yogurt for a smoothie sounds fantastic. Adding much else, even a banana, would probably overpower a lot of the subtle berry flavor.

We let our kids have some straight up. M, our almost six year old, immediately exclaimed "Oooo this is yummy!" and prompty gave it 10 Golden Spoons. She's well trained. B, our three year old, smiled happily and made her own big "mmmm" before saying it was good for "5 Golden Spoons, then a lot." That sounds pretty postive. Sandy also exclaimed it was a hit, making it very popular in our hot, hot house. I'll defer mostly to the ladies here, while adding I'm glad it's only $2 for the quart as I'm sure it'll be a repeat buy.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Blueberry Lavender Flavored Almond Beverage: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons