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Friday, April 9, 2021

Trader Joe's Mini Coffee Bean Hold the Cone! Ice Cream Cones

There's pluses and minuses to being an adult. 

Here's a plus: No more having to go school!

Here's a minus: If you have kids, you have to relive all those years again. *Cannot wait* for my kids to be in middle school. Insert eye roll. 

Another plus: You'll have your own money!

Minus: You'll be responsible when things like the 106 year old cast iron stack pipe at your house finally crack and spring a horizontal geyser like Old Faithful. 

Plus: You can do whatever you want!

Minus: You can't do whatever you want!

One last plus: if you wanna eat ice cream for lunch, go right ahead. 

And minus: You'll know enough to know when the ice cream just isn't that particularly good, which kinda puts a damper on the whole affair. 

Sigh. Is what it is, my chosen adult mantra, when it comes to Trader Joe's Mini Coffee Bean Hold the Cone! Ice Cream Cones. 

Usually, us adults in my house like TJ's ice cream and love coffee ice cream. this really should be a slam dunk here. Like, how can this possibly get messed up?

Oddly enough, the answer is easily enough. First: the mouthfeel. This ice cream is bizarre...like it's almost more gummy  than anything else. Cold and creamy, sure...but there's a certain not-right bite to it that's almost chewy. If it had some mochi in it, well, okay, then, sure, but this is purported to be straight up ice cream, and it's just not. It's weird. 

But wait, there's more! Thanks Billy Mays! the taste just really isn't there either for the coffee. Looking critically at this, I think iIcan see why. it's a mini cone, so not so much ice cream - realistically we're looking at a few spoonfuls max per cone here. that's not a lot of really get a flavor going, especially when the vast majority of the ice cream is in close quarters to either the chocolate coating or cone or both. For it to work, the coffee flavor needs to be bold but it's just not, and it's not even just me saying it - it's my lovely bride as well. The ice cream is just kinda tan and bland. 

There you have it. Not quite good ice cream. Dashed desires, emptied expectations, floundered feelings...yup. Just gonna acknowledge it and hope for better next time, though by next time i mean I'm not buying these guys again. Too much disappointment. Matching twos from the Mrs and I. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Mini Coffee Bean Hold the Cone! ice Cream Cones: 4 out of 10 Golden Spoons



 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Trader Joe's Amped-Up Almonds

Whenever I think of things that are "amped-up" or amplified, I think of the classic scene from This Is Spinal Tap when Christopher Guest's character explains to Rob Reiner that his Marshall stacks are unique because "they go to 11." And then Rob Reiner asks why the band doesn't just make 10 louder. There's this brilliant awkward pause and then Christopher Guest goes "...these go to 11." I lol every time.

I'm not sure if an amplifier that goes to 11 is really any better than a regular amp that only goes to 10...and similarly, I'm not sure if these Trader Joe's Amped-Up Almonds are any better than regular chocolate-covered almonds, either. Maybe I'd feel differently if I did hardcore strength training more often, because these almonds are obviously optimized as a pre-workout snack. 16g of protein per serving...and 29g of fat per serving. Hmmm. I'm sure it's good fat, and I'm sure it gets burned off if you're benching your bodyweight for ten reps and you've got less than 15% body fat to begin with.

But hey, I'll leave all that worky outy stuff to the fitness experts and let you know what I think of these little guys just as a stand-alone snack for an average person.

There's a rather thick coating of chocolate here. And it tastes kind of like a chocolate protein shake rather than just plain confectionary chocolate. No wonder. It has pea protein in it. It's not so much pea protein that it ruins the candy aspect of the product, but it is enough pea protein that you can taste something a little health-food-ish, for lack of a better term. It pushes the product's flavor in the direction of "earthy" just ever so slightly, and it pushes the product's texture in the direction of "chalky" just ever so slightly. 

The almonds are pretty much what you'd expect—nice, whole, nut-tacular almonds. There are certain nuts I never get tired of, and almonds are definitely in that category. They've got a good amount of protein just on their own and they work well in all kinds of snacks and desserts. This particular version of almonds is most definitely filling and energizing. For $1.29, it's a lot of bang for your buck in terms of protein and fat, all in a convenient single serving pouch.

Sonia thinks they taste a little weird. They do. For that reason, we'll probably reach for a different almond snack next time we're at TJ's. If you're a gym rat looking to put on pounds of lean muscle, these might be a great choice for a pre-workout energy boost.

Three stars a piece from Sonia and me.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Cinnamon Coffee Cake Muffins

It doesn't seem all that long ago that being relegated to a gluten-free diet for any reason seemed to be a sentence for dry, weird, sawdusty, oddly starchy, or otherwise unpleasant substitutes for usual carby goodies like cakes and breads and whatnot. Seems to me I've tried a lot of them and ugh. For a guy who has no reason other than personal choice to avoid wheat, man, it was something I'd rather not do. 

Fortunately, for all the ways in which the world has not progressed over the years, there's some other ways in which they have. Overall quality of gluten free goodies is absolutely one of them, and I can think of no better example right now than Trader Joe's Gluten Free Cinnamon Coffee Cake Muffins. 

My goodness. Admittedly, I'm not usually much of a muffin-munchin' man, but I know a good one when I taste one, and these are absolutely on point. They're soft and crumbly, a little springy and moist, with an almost melt in your mouth feel. Must be all the fats like sour cream and buttermilk...I mean, seriously, don't look at the nutritional label. Shoot, you looked. No, these are absolutely not health food. Just move along. 

Moving along - and the taste! Getting a good cinnamon cake taste profile down isn't exactly rocket science - brown sugar and cinnamon make such an easy dynamic duo - but there's still much to be appreciated when done well, and that's what we got goin' on here. There's these little cinnamon bits floating around all over the place, which when when tasted give this little extra cinnamony spark, with ample molasses-y brown sugar to back it all up. Deeelish. Combined with the super soft moist texture, these muffins are a real treat. 

Only drawback I can think of is the lack of much topping. I'd love a little crumb topping, or instead of that, having something like apple added in. I mean, these muffins are perfectly tasty alongside a steaming warm cup of coffee as one would imagine, or a cup of cool milk if you're like one of my kiddos, but just a little added extra element would really put them over the top. 

Regardless, kudos to TJ's for finding an incredibly good muffin. It's not just a good gluten-free muffin, it's a great muffin, period, with bonus points for being gluten free. There's always extra credit given to inclusion. Love 'em and for $4 might be tough to beat. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Gluten Free Cinnamon Coffee Cake Muffins: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons