Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Trader Joe's All Natural Pasteurized Green Plant Green Food Beverage

About two months ago or so, Sandy and I started going to a spin class at the gym together. She's using it as crosstraining for a couple half-marathons this year, and I'm crazy enough to think I can do a 150-mile bike ride for the National MS Society this June. Anyways, we've always heard that spinning is a tough, tough class, so we were a little apprehensive about our first class. The instructor, who was this fairly young, scrawny, probably college-aged kid who looked like a hardcore cyclist, came in. Forty-five minutes later, we walked out, thinking, "Well, that wasn't too tough." Sure, we broke a sweat, but it seemed pretty easy and well within our range of capability without too much challenge. We went back the next week, although at a different time for whatever reason, for another one, which had a different instructor. This guy came in, and honestly, I couldn't imagine him being tough. He was easily mid-to-late thirties, balding, and not that I'm one to talk, big ol' hang-low-wobble-to-and-fro gut (I am unsure about any knot or bow-tying capabilities, but I'd assume no). I tell you the truth ... that guy was tough. High intensity climbs and runs, lots of sprinting, lots of quick up/down intervals ... it was ten times harder than the previous week. Easily. We've made it a point to go to his classes and get our butts kicked on Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings.

Why do I tell you this? To make a point: appearances can lie. Don't judge based on them.

It was with this in mind that we decided to pick up and try out this incredibly long-named product this week. For brevity*, I'll just refer to it as the green plant juice. Appearance-wise, it just looks weird and freaky and not so delicious. Green juice doesn't exactly have an illustrious history to my knowledge - the only semi-successful that comes to mind is Ecto-Cooler ... mmm, green orange juice. Combine that color with its murky, slimy, chunky appearance, and the green plant juice is something else. I actually made a list of what it reminds me of:
1. Swamp Thing, melted
2. Something you'd look at under a microscope in seventh grade
3. Pond scum
4. Bathwater for Oscar the Grouch
5. What you'd find in Oscar the Grouch's trashcan
6. Springfield River water, home of Blinky, the three-eyed fish **
And smellwise, to be honest, reminds me of jarred babyfood. So not off to the best of starts. I was definitely a little apprehensive about trying it.

It's actually pretty decent. It's not sugary sweet like some other reviewers in this blog would probably go nuts over, but it's kinda like pear juice, although there's no pears in it. But there's pretty much everything else - apple and pineapple juice, pureed peaches, bananas, and mangoes. Even has barley grass, spinach and and broccoli in it. Seems almost like a gym smoothie, without the smooth part. Texture-wise, it is a little bit of a challenge at first. Think orange juice with lots of pulp but a little softer, and you're on the right path. It also leaves some funky slimy film in your glass that's a little water-resistant. I'd say overall, if I were blindfolded and tasted this, not ever tasting it before, and afterwards I were asked what color I thought it was, I'd definitely go with green. I'd also wonder what the heck I just put in my mouth. Wouldn't be too upset, though.

This oddball beverage also has some green superfood-type stuff like spirulina and chlorella in it. What do those do? Glad you asked, and gladder that Wikipedia knows. They're both algae (so that pond scum thought wasn't too far from the truth) that are supposed to be loaded with protein (yet the nutrition label says the plant juice contains no protein. Hmm). Anyways, besides that, they both are chock full of other nutrients and minerals that made them an attractive food source at one point in time or another. In fact, the Aztecs loved spirulina so much, they called it Tecuitlatl, which apparently (and delicately) means stone excrement. Yum. Chlorella wasn't as lucky to be so beloved. In the World War II era, it was extensively researched as a potential untapped gold mine of nutrition for the exploding European and American population, until it was discovered how much of an expensive pain in the butt it'd be to grow in large enough batches to make it worthwhile. Today, these are still touted as champion green super-healthy food products, though probably only nutrition wackos (and now you) have ever heard of them. I didn't until trying this out.

Sandy said she kinda liked it overall. I knew she had at least a little affinity for it as she tried it the day before I did and said she'd drink a cup with me as I tried it. We might try to mix it up in a smoothie with some other stuff to try and make the texture not stand out as much. It's definitely not anything we can just gulp on down like some other juices and beverages out there. I like it okay too - drank some before spinning tonight, and poured myself another small glass to sip on while writing this. I think, for now at least, we'll both give it a three, and we'll probably pick this crazy green plant juice stuff up here and there at the very least.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons

* Brevity? Me? Yeah right.
**Despite the legend in the Pittsburgh area, there's no truth to the rumor that Blinky was inspired by the polluted waters of the Monongahela. Regardless, I bet he'd fit right in.


  1. Is this anything like Naked Juice's Green Machine? It's got a bunch of crazy stuff in it too, but we actually like it. Now, the price is a little off-putting, and it would be great if Trader Joe's had something that fit a bit more comfortably into the budget.

  2. I have not sampled of the Green Machine, so I don't know ... I don't think this stuff was all that pricey, maybe in the neighborhood of $3. Certainly not more than $4.

  3. I question the health benefit from this. Looking at the label, I think they use really pasteurized, trace amounts of this stuff (spirulina, chloerra, etc.) so there's not much good stuff in here.

    Don't get me wrong, it tastes decent, but I think the health benefits are oversold.

  4. Entirely possible there, Elmo. Still, it beats a jug of colored sugar water for sure.

  5. I think the Dynamo tastes, looks, and is better for you.

  6. No doubt on the first two at least. That Dynamo is really good and is a repeat purchase for us

  7. I was enjoying the taste and someone came by and pointed out the Sugar content per serving, were talking soda level amounts it seemed...

    1. I know it seems high but its REAL sugars not the artificial junk. Another tip, is to take it and half it with water. Cuts those in half but you still get the yummy green juice! :)

  8. You’ve really become a great writer. I remember when I first started visiting this blog and I thought you had a lot of potential. It’s great to see your hard work paying off and it looks like you’re getting a ton of comments. Congrats!
    Green drink

  9. I have recently picked up some Green Plant and I have been mixing it with protein powder in the morning for breakfast. The main reason I bought it was to get SOMETHING green in my almost 3 year old. I blend it up with frozen blueberries and strawberries and he sucks it down. He doesn't even pay attention to the color. Its not perfect but man its a lot better than some other options out there. I like it now just to get my hubs on board.

  10. Just picked this up. Ignore the name and color/appearance--this is tasty juice! It feels a little thick, like a nectar, but it is all juice with no processed sugar/HFCS added. It tastes mostly like peach to me, with hints of mango and pineapple. Not a low-cal beverage, but the green stuff can't hurt. If it had a different color and name, it would simply be a delicious juice blend. Like the lemon ginger echinacea juice, I find this to be very addictive, and a bottle doesn't last very long here!