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, February 24, 2016

Trader Joe's Simply Nutty Bars

My goodness...there's like a zillion different granola/ energy /Kind /fruit/ whatever bars out there these days. They're literally freakin' everywhere. At the local non-TJ's grocery store, there's an aisle and a half full of them, all different varieties.

Anyone else remember the good ol' days when there was just the variety pack from Quaker Oats, and not much else? How innocent and quaint.

I guess portable snackage is on the rise with our busy lifestyles. Like a lot of you, I'm sure, I got kids and fairly regular 10 hour work days to make ends meet. Food intake is sometimes completely dependent on what's convenient, but since I want what I eat to be healthy (or at least healthy-ish), as do a lot of folks, but everyone has their different ideas...well, that explains the market maybe.

Adding to the noise is good ol' TJ's with the new line of Trader Joe's Simply Nutty Bars. There's three varieties, of which I've sampled the two pictured, the Dark Chocolate, Nuts and Sea Salt bar as well as the Dark Chocolate, Walnut, Peanut, Fig & Date Bar. Not shown, and not tried, because it sounded the least interesting of them all, is the Dark Chocolate, Peanut and Almond Bar which comes in a orangey box. It's different from the sea salted bar mostly because it lacks walnuts and sea salt from what I can tell, so probably a little plainer.

I'd relate these bars mostly closely to the Kind variety, not just for ingredient similarity but also overall flavor and feel. Crunchy isn't the right word, at least not in the sense of those Nature Valley shrapnel-in-wait planks, but neither is crispy, nor soft, nor anything else. There's elements of all of that present from the toasted nuts, the little white crispy bally things which I never really know what exactly they are (pea protein pearls? Who knows?), and in case of the fig and date bar, from those respective ingredients.

Out of these two, I'd say I probably enjoy the dark chocolate, walnut, peanut, fig and date one more, and it's not just for the always appreciated ampersand. They're not figgy or date-y like Larabars (which I really enjoy, for the record), but instead they get reduced down to a paste that kinda fills the gaps between the nuts while adding a flavor depth, if that makes sense. The sea salt bar is pretty good in its own right, but it sticks mostly to a classic nut and chocolate mix with a trace of salt added. There's just something more to the figs and dates one.

Oh, and chocolate. Oh yes. There's a pretty good drizzling on the topside of each bar, with the backs completely dipped. And, as is custom with pretty miuch anything TJ's with dark chocolate, it's fairly high quality and tasty too - not exactly Belgian, but not Hershey's either. I'd reckon it's in the 60% dark range or so, and there's enough in there to give me the midafternoon chocolate boost I need, with enough nuts and protein to keep me from getting too hangry, that make skipping my cubicle neighbors' candy dishes so much easier.

Sandy and I both like what we've tried. We're suckers for this kinda stuff, and at $4.99 for a five pack, TJ's seems to be selling them at more than fair market price. At some point we'll probably try out the Dark Chocolate, Peanut and Almond Bar, but if you have, please comment away and let us know if we've missed something special (or not) there. We approve.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Simply Nutty Bars: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons (both varieties)

4 comments:

  1. My daughter and I love these! Just the right size for a quick breakfast and not too sweet. The only thing I would like is a chocolate-free version. As much as I love chocolate (and consider it a food group), there are some times when I need a short break from it.

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  2. These are very addicting. I had the dark chocolate and sea salt variety and they were almost too good. Felt like a candy bar...

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  3. I'm a little surprised since trader joe's sells Kind bars- which are about fifty center per bar more expensive. I would also appreciate a non chocolate version since i like to crumble a bar like this into a cup of yogurt for breakfast.
    Your comment about those nature valley bars is SO right!! I remember them in my lunchbox as a kid and don't understand how i ate them without making my mouth bleed....
    Ttrockwood
    Ps
    I tried the new "Bounce" balls the other day, sold individually by other bars, $1.75 i think. Basically a round version of a larabar. Yummy but felt small and expensive (and i make homemade larabars anyhow)

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  4. I've bought them all and I actually like the simplest one best. I keep them in the fridge because when it gets too warm in the kitchen, the chocolate gets all hazy-looking and it's gross. And I do eat them for breakfast with a yogurt. The chocolate just helps wake me up because I don't drink caffeine. :) And yes, they have more calories than I'd like - a bag of M&M's only has 50 more calories! - but it's worth it for the protein.

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