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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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Trader Joe's Peppermint Macarons

As I alluded to a few posts ago, I am actually trying to eat a little healthier the past few weeks when I'm not bouncing around from holiday party to holiday party. It's kinda slowly but surely working. My typical weekday breakfast is now an apple followed by a few cups of coffee at work, with a Clif bar (only a buck each at TJ's!!) for a mid-morning snack, followed by another apple, some baby carrots and a reasonable entree for lunch. I stash a little dried fruit in my desk for the drive-by rumblies I sometimes get. At dinnertime, I kinda eat whatever but keep it to an actual serving, instead of whatever I can jam into my tummy. I've heard it advised to try and cut about 250-300 calories a day from your diet, and although I haven't been keeping a strict count, I'm pretty certain I'm in that range. It's slow, small steps, and they're actually beginning to work, as evidenced by my decision on a recent solo TJ's trip that, while very hungry, I opted to pass up one of these delectable treats (which I totally could have gotten away with) for yet another apple instead. I'm getting there.

That whole mentality I'm trying to live into is what initially made me protest us buying Trader Joe's Peppermint Macarons. If there's two things I know about macarons, it's that they're tasty, nutritionally unnecessary, little bits of decadence, and that they're French. In my mind, however (in)accurately, I equate French food with lots of fat and calories, kinda like these. Like I said, I protested, however meekly. Sandy protested my protesting, and then pulled out the number one irrefutable reason to buy them: "Review them for the blog!" That love of mine sure knows to twist my arm. Okay, okay, for the blog, for no other reason, it can't be that they look amazing and their autumn cousins were hit with the rare perfect score back in September....nope.

All that being said, I feel a little let down by them. Maybe it's because I was expecting more out of them. It's not that these macarons are bad. Like their similar TJ cohorts, they're frozen and you sit them out to thaw for half an hour before eating them. Unlike other desserts prepped in a similar fashion, there wasn't any trace of freezer-y taste. So there's a plus. The peppermint cookie part is juuuuust minty enough for my taste, and has the typical tougher outside/softer middle ratio going on. As for the chocolate ganache in between, well....it's been a few days since we ate them, and I don't recall too much about it one way or another. Let's say that means that it's neither outstanding nor revolting. It probably leans a good bit more towards good than bad on the taste-o-meter, but it certainly wasn't redlining. Altogether, it's not a bad macaron (if such a thing even exists), but I'd relegate these to a supporting role on your holiday cookie tray instead of center stage. Maybe I'm just spoiled by my mom's cookies.

Anyways, I was happy to see at least a serving of these were reasonable enough fat and calorie-wise, especially in comparison to some other TJ cookies. I'd buy them again, but probably not until they semi-hopefully reappear next holidays as the Annual Shelly Family Christmas Cookie Onslaught looms ever closer. I'll be a little generous and swing these guys a four. Sandy? Not as impressed, which I found surprising. "If these were fresh and not frozen, they'd be way better," she says. She's had more macarons in her life then I've had in mine, so I'll presume she knows what she's talking about when she gives 'em a three.  

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Peppermint Macarons: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons


  1. Oh but I loved them. However, when I bought them, I took them back to the office, promptly ate one and then walked around and offered to all my co-workers. All but one was taken so I ended up with two. :) I loved the pumpkin ones also. Even if they have no real nutritional value, at least two don't kill a diet since the are low in calories and fat!

  2. My local TJ's was out of these, too! Darn it!

  3. Stash some TJ's cheese sticks and their roasted, salted almonds for a mid-afternoon bump.