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, March 21, 2014

Trader Joe's Thai Style Citrus Chicken Salad

Another month, another dietary page being turned here at the Western PA bookend of the WGATJ team. I'm not gonna really bother rehashing most of the past because, well, it's kinda boring and ultimately fairly mixed results at best. Our newest thing: the 21 day fix. I'll admit, as is our custom, I was pretty skeptical while Sandy very gung-ho about it. She did the first go around and lost about 10 pounds in three weeks, and I'll you what: there was nothing wrong with how she looked before, but now, let's just say, extra fine. Meanwhile, my weight loss/get in shape DIY plan has kinda plateaued after some decent results (lost about 35-40 pounds since my pregnancy-sympathy-cheeseburger-fueled peak), so I'm now giving it a try. Not the hugest fan so far. If you're not familiar, it's basically a repackaging of portion-control ideals mixed with exercise videos led by over-ecstatic half-naked people with a side of near-contempt for carbs (understandable) and dairy (whiskey tango foxtrot?). There's also an overpriced shake you can drink every night that if you try hard enough you can forget it has a very distinctive Alka-Seltzer aftertaste.

Anyways, we were both in need to find a lunch that easily fit into our diet, and would be hopefully tasty to boot. Our local Trader Joe's used to have only a small handful of salads to choose from; now, there's close to twenty, and so an early A.M. trip to scope them out seemed like a worthwhile endeavor. That's how we both came away with our own Thai Style Citrus Chicken Salad to give a whirl.

I'll give it this: it's a pretty flavorful little package that's pretty fun to crunch through. Almost everything is literally crunchy: the cabbage (there's a few types), the carrots - with lots of flavor assist by cilantro and scallions and the like. It all seemed pretty fresh, especially by prepackaged salad standards. Big plus: the little lime wedge that comes with to squeeze out for a little extra flavor. And the dressing kinda helped tie everything together with a gentle yet potent citrus flavor, and a little goes a long way, especially with adequate lime implementation. That's a bonus as most of the fat, calories, and assorted bad stuff are all in the dressing. I used maybe half the packet and that was more than enough. If you're looking at the word "Thai" and concerned about spiciness, don't be; there's next to none to be found here. It's much more flavor than heat.

The problem is, there's not a whole lot of it, even by fairly restrictive portion control standards. There were five miniscule nibbles of chicken in it - I'd estimate at best it'd be an actual quarter serving. Okay, I'll be generous: a third. The rest of the salad amounted to large handful of assorted veggies. Even Sandy, Ms. Portion Control Squadron Commander herself, said it seemed a lot more like a side salad than a main entree. Even after eating an apple and a couple handfuls of baby carrots, and drinking lots of water, I was downright hangry by dinnertime. For $3.99 a pop, I'd hope for more.

It's worth trying, but come prepared. There's some other fresh salads with some cous-cous and other tasty looking mix-ins that I'll probably try out before getting this particular salad again. Get a respectable amount of bird and some more veggies in there, and then we're talking. It's not like there isn't room in the container. Halve the dressing packet if you really need to. Eh. Good thing that what's in there is pretty tasty and flavorful. Though, upon inspecting the ingredients, I don't really recall tasting any papaya in there, but I could be wrong. Sandy gives it about 3.5, while I go a little lower.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Thai Style Citrus Chicken Salad: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons

3 comments:

  1. I agree with the portion size on this salad. When I was low-carbin' it, I'd eat it OFTEN. To bulk it up in a healthy way, I'd carry my own peanuts (they are the perfect addition to this salad) and/or avocado.

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  2. I miss the middle eastern pasta salad. I loved that one! My local store discontinued it. :(

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