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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Friday, June 14, 2013

Trader Joe's Chicken-less Strips

A few months back, the wife and I decided to become more or less vegetarian, or perhaps more accurately, pescetarians who don't dabble too much with other types of meat. That's not to say we're perfect, like the other night when we were in such a rush to get down to PNC Park for the MLB debut of the next great Pittsburgh Pirates savior AKA Gerrit Cole that we kinda forgot about the whole "we should eat dinner" thing, were dissuaded by obscene concession lines and even more obscene prices ($9 for fries?)   and so were left with Wendy's late night drive thru afterwards. But we're working on it, and our efforts have paid off. I've personally dropped about 30 pounds and 20 points worth of systolic blood pressure (from high normal to perfectly normal) at least in part to our new diet. It's fantastic.

The kinda funny thing is, since beginning this a few months back, I swear we've eaten more fake meat options than we ever ate actual meat before. Maybe it's just how we try to placate our inner carnivore. From old stand-bys to new favorites, TJ's sure has a few worth checking out, and with most if not all being absolutely tasty (even veggie corn dogs, for crying out loud), we bought Trader Joe's Chicken-Less Strips on a recent trip.

And hate to say it, but these poultry fake-outs are the worst we've had from TJ's. It doesn't make them flat-out awful, but they're certainly a disappointment. Sandy and I decided to try them in more or less their purest of forms, which meant sauteed then served in a mixed greens/strawberry/almond salad. Every other bit of our dinner was delectable, but any bite with chicken....ugh. It wasn't quite the flavor, because they tasted like chicken, and indeed lightly seasoned, although I wouldn't label them as "delicious" or "tasty" or "pleasing." It may have been more the texture - it lacked the fleshy goodness of real, authentic chicken and was certainly fake and a little rubbery. Whatever it was that turned these guys, it wasn't good. Actual chicken strips would have made our salad an absolute killer. With these fakers instead, our dinner was much more ho-hum. Sandy even left a small pile on her plate and said "No mas", and instead of helping myself to them, I wasn't too bothered by throwing them away.

We'll be gracious, though. It's entirely conceivable our opinion would have been different if we have chosen to make fajitas or fried rice or some other type of dish that would help hide the flavor and texture deficiencies a little better. So there's some potential there, and while we're not completely enamored, both Sandy and I haven't completely written off the possibility of a repeat purchase. Based on that, and that alone, a score that hovers between "meh" and "not so great" seems fair at this point.


Bottom line: Trader Joe's Chicken-less Strips: 4 out of 10 Golden Spoons    

11 comments:

  1. These are actually really good in fajitas, curries and stir-frys. I like them a lot and keep them as a standby for veggie protein in my fridge.

    I can see that they would be a little odd solo though, but throw some sauce on them and they are a great veggie protein alternative!

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  2. I didn't enjoy these either! I do love their Chickenless mandarin morsels though! Even without the sauce, they taste like chicken nuggets without the rubbery texture these have.

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  3. Replies
    1. Crisp it in some coconut oil first and then add your favorite sauce. It'll give it more texture but a nice added taste from the oil.

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  4. Is it gluten free? Looks like it...

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    Replies
    1. I was wondering that too, but at the end of the list of ingredients, it says 'contains soy and wheat' :(

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  5. Alone they are abysmal and slightly rubbery. . And they aren't my go to when doing mock chicken crock pot meals.

    However, they do hold up in stir frys.

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  6. Made gnocchi casserole - Alfredo sauce, broc, cheese, a little onion and these and it was good!

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  7. Made gnocchi casserole - Alfredo sauce, broc, cheese, a little onion and these and it was good!

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  8. Made gnocchi casserole - Alfredo sauce, broc, cheese, a little onion and these and it was good!

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