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, August 19, 2015

Trader Joe's Reduced Guilt Chicken Salad

When I'm eating a piece of meat, be it chicken, steak, or what have you, I never want to see actual fat. I hate it. I've always been repulsed by the sight of real animal fat. I'll cut it off, I'll feed it to the dogs, or I'll just leave the fatty portions on my plate. Likewise, I've never liked things coated with grease or lard. If there's excess mayo on a sandwich, I'll scrape most of it off. I'm the weirdo that uses two or three napkins to sop grease from the top of a piece of pizza. Other people see me doing it and they say, "Why are you doing that? The grease is where all the flavor comes from!" Maybe so. But I prefer it without the excess grease.

However, all that being said, I must point out that when fat is seamlessly blended into a product, be it a doughnut, milkshake, cookie, or delicious chicken salad, I eat it up like it's going out of style. And not only that, but I'm usually actually turned off by lower-fat, lighter options of the same products. This chicken salad is no exception.

It's not really terrible, though. In fact, Sonia loved it. But I'm going to immediately compare it to the two best chicken salads I've ever had, Wine Country and Curried White Chicken Deli Salad, and find it wanting. The only ingredients that are comparable between this and the wine country salad are the white meat chicken pieces and the celery bits. I'm not sure how, but I feel like even the celery flavor is more enjoyable in the wine country option. The carrot bits in this dish add some pleasant crunchiness—but very little in terms of flavor. I must admit, though, that the chicken in this reduced guilt salad was good white meat, and it was relatively moist and had a nice texture. 

Furthermore, in this product's defense, the difference in fat content is astounding. We're looking at 2.5 grams of fat per 99 gram serving here, whereas the wine country salad has 11 grams per 113 gram serving. That's something like 1/4 the amount of fat, plus there's less than half the calories. This isn't one of those situations where TJ's cleverly changed the container size and serving size by a third and then boasted "33% less fat!" There's a marked difference here. The problem is you can taste it.

Or rather, that you can't taste it. I think it's bland. A bit of mustard certainly does this product a service. The chicken is okay as I mentioned before, but in the end, I think I'd rather just buy my own lean chicken breast, some lettuce, and some Miracle Whip and make my own low-fat chicken sandwich—and at $4.49 for a small tub of this stuff, you could probably assemble those three ingredients for less money.

Sonia gives this product four stars and says that it's a great, healthy alternative if you don't want all the fat and calories in the wine country chicken salad (which she insists on calling "Sonoma Country Chicken Salad." She's so cute). I think it's worthy of three stars—not exactly a treat, but it's amazing they cut such a drastic amount of fat and calories and still yielded something that's even edible.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

4 comments:

  1. Have u ever noticed that TJ's will always throw some fancy name to a product just to get the customer to buy it? I take that as a red flag...'Wine Country Chicken Salad'??? come on already!... does that mean there's a bit of wine in the chicken salad? or was that chicken living in wine country? lol... just sayin'...

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    1. Gimmicky name or not, that stuff is GOOD!

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  2. I'll stick with the Curry Chicken Salad. It is THE BEST!!

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