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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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Trader Joe's Omega Orange Carrot Juice

Here it is, right at the start of another month, and thus another fresh opportunity for the Pittsburgh home office of the WG@TJ's team to reassess our overall healthiness patterns and nutritional choices. Okay, it's probably not an every month kinda deal, but it's cyclical enough, and Sandy's got it on her mind, which means she's making sure it's on my mind, too. By "sure", I mean "very sure." For the whole month of June, we're going to be tracking everything we eat, estimate all our calories, focus on working out, and trying to start living our way into a more wholesome lifestyle. Or so we say, check back with us in a couple weeks. I suppose it's kind of a natural time to do so, with Sandy resuming her training for her next half-marathon after kicking some tail a couple weeks ago at the Pittsburgh half, and with me embarking on my two day, 135-mile bike ride to benefit the National MS Society* in just a few days. That and we want to be sure we're in tip-top bathing suit shape if we ever make a beach run to the pristine shorelines of Lake Erie. Or something like that.

With that in mind, Sandy and I promptly ran to Trader Joe's to find the healthiest non-swampy-looking juice we could ... Wait, that's not how that goes. Truth is, we bought the Omega Orange Carrot Juice sometime in the undetermined past, had it on the bottom shelf of the pantry for who knows how long until Sandy decided to try it a week or two ago (probably because the other drinking options were beer, milk, and water at our house), stuck it in the fridge, and I finally got my gumption sufficiently upped to give it a try because I was thirsty and the other options were milk and water.

Yeah, I'll admit it, I was a little apprehensive to give it a try. I understand what the typical run-of-the-mill sugary fruity juices are - they're delicious. Veggie juices and those that throw words like "Omega" in their name call to mind that ploppy chunky off-colored stuff produced by the Jack LaLanne Power Juicer. Please tell me how ramming through then drinking a whole cucumber gets anyone ready for a day of aimless posing around the senior center. I don't get it.

Anyways, TJ's has themselves another winner with this juice. It's not just legitimately surprisingly good, it's tasty enough to pass itself off as being unhealthy. The juice is actually a blend of four juices - carrot, orange, apple and pineapple - with the different qualites of each shining through in smooth, smooth fashion. The nose of the flavor hints at the citrusy qualities, while midway through it transitions seamlessly to a less acidic, more base-like flavor (a la apple juice) and finishes with a silky cinnamony flourish which I can only assume is the carrot segment of this tasty potion. If this sounds unusual, it's because it is - I'm never had anything that tastes quite like it. Want proof of how good this tastes? Take a look at what they sneak in - omega fish oils from sardines and anchovies, tilapia gelatin (now that's cringe-inducing). There's not one hint of it. Granted, I don't know if those fishy components are supposed to taste, well, fishy, but this particular juice easily incorporates and covers over them in a concoction so flavorsome it had me fooled, and that's not easy.

It's not just the taste that I appreciate, but also its smoothness. There's a pretty heady amount of sediment in the bottle until you shake it out, but once you do, there's no pulp or clumps or amebic blobs to gag on. It's just smooth, free-flowing, glorious juice. As for its healthiness, well, I assume it's pretty good for you based on what the label says and hearing a thing or two about omega fatty acids here and there, but really, I'm not an expert. Relative to most juices at least, I'll go ahead and say it is. Keep in mind, this is coming from the guy who on the first day of spouse-mandated food intake monitoring thought it'd be an okay idea to get a steak, egg and cheese breakfast wrap from the local convenience store. I specifically custom-ordered it from the touch screen to have them add lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers and jalapeƱos - that makes it kinda like a salad, right? Right? And the tortilla was whole wheat too ...

Anyways, I've been thoroughly enjoying a small cup of the juice while typing this review. Note to my wife: Sorry, dear, I forgot to pour it into a measuring cup first, but I'm being good and not gulping it down like I could very easily be tempted to, I'll track it, don't worry. Sandy's a fan of it, just not nearly as much as I am. She gave it only a three, saying she liked the cinnamony aspect to the overall flavor. I asked her what could be better, and she blinked once or twice and said "Meh." I'm not exactly sure how to interpret that. Anyways, a three is way too low in my book. I'll go ahead and give 4.5, if for no other reason than to make sure it is listed among one of TJ's "really darn good" items on this blog. Because really darn good is exactly what it is.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons
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* Hey, I made mention of this a while ago but didn't get much if any response but if you're interested in reading more about why I'm doing the ride, and would possibly be interested in supporting me, please check out my personal fundraising webpage. There's a lot of folks out there with MS, and I want to try and do something about it.

2 comments:

  1. I just tried this juice for the first time (poured it into a to-go container for work) and did a Google search for it because it didn't taste like pure orange & carrot to me...thank you so much for posting about it. Now I know that it has apple and pineapple in it--which is EXACTLY what I was tasting. I thought I hadn't properly washed my drink jar prior to pouring the new juice into it! LOL. I think I'd give the drink a 3, too...kind of meh. But I'll enjoy it for the nutritional value alone.

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  2. I strongly disagree. I bought the Omega Orange Carrot juice thinking it would be a nice, lower cost, alternative to the more expensive versions I had been drinking recently. I took a big gulp and almost spit it out. It TASTED LIKE FISH!!!. Weird. I thought maybe it was past pull date, but, no. Sure enough, anchovy and sardine fish oils were listed in the ingredients. I tried to get rid of it at work and had ZERO takers. So gross.

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