Search This Blog

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Trader Joe's Chocolate Chip Cocoa Meringues

My youngest offspring is currently obsessed with a show called The Bumble Nums. It's....well, I'll spare you all the details, but it's definitely geared for real little kids. The basic plot of each show centers around the three main characters getting "secret ingredients" for a dish they're gonna make. I suppose the point of it is to try and be cute while encouraging kids to try all sorts of food, but when the only word each character can say is a different intonation of the word "yum" and they things like snap peas somehow take on the characteristics and property of ninja stars, well, it gets old fast. 

Especially if watching the same episode over...and over...and over...just to keep quiet so school work and work work can get done around the house. Yeesh. 

Anyways, something like Trader Joe's Chocolate Chip Cocoa Meringues could probably be on the show. I mean,us adults know they're sure to be tasty, but a little kid has no idea what a meringue is. heck, even I have only more than a little clue. They sound fun and tasty...yet seem mysteriously with their swirrls and curls. 

So, as the narrator might ask for these, "What's the secret ingredient?"

Can't be the egg whites or sugar. I mean, that's all what a meringues is to give it a form and shape. Like most meringues, these TJ's cocoa puffs are light, airy, a tad aridly chalky, with plenty of chomp to them. Each meringues is easily three or four bites, giving plenty of time to bite on through. Yet there's a softer, not quite melt-in-the-mouth quality that does tend to emerge, just as a good meringue should. 

Maybe it's the coca? Nah. That's not a knock, as it's certainly a delicious flavor. Think of a really good hot cocoa mix, and that's about what these taste like, in meringue form. Plenty of flavor. If you were to dunk some in some warm milk, I'm pretty sure it'd turn right to hot chocolate. No complaints at all, especially for the chocoholic portion of the family...which is basically all of us. 

So i guess it must be the chocolate chips? Excuse me, in the Bumble Nums spirit I need to call them something like Chompy Chocolate Chips and pretend they all have mouths that go CHOMP so you got to be careful when you catch them scurrying around...I digress. There's mini chocolate chips! Like, super mini, so much that I kinda passed over them at first. But every few bites there's a slightly extra cocoa-concentrated pocket with a bit more of a chew to them, and they they are. They work, and pretty seamlessly well, that do give the meringues a little extra kick.

Meringues aren't my personal favorite, but they'll do for a treat now and then. Wife and kids all gave them a hearty thumbs up, and I'll give them a pass for being a fairly decadent, comparatively low-cal almost-guilt-free treat. You'll get a box of about 20 of them for around $3.69 which seems a fair enough value. 3s from me, 4s from everyone else. And a chorus of "Yums!"

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Chocolate Chip Cocoa Meringues: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons 



 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Protein Smoothie

Growing up, my family had exactly two sit-down meals a year when my mother and father and I would eat together in the same room: Christmas Day and Easter Day. They were both uber-formal, awkward, starchy events that none of us really looked forward to. Thank goodness it was only twice a year. Even Thanksgiving was usually a buffet-style, eat-whatever-you-want, whenever-you-want type affair. Sonia ate with her parents a little more regularly than that, but often just winged it and grazed like I did.

We've both carried those habits into our adult lives and into our marriage, for good or ill, and we're constantly snacking here and there rather than setting a designated time to consume a large portion together in the same room at the same moment. We're at home far more often than usual recently, but in years past, while we traveled, and before that in the normal commuter workaday world, we were both frequent smoothie and protein shake consumers, since in many cases, these types of beverages make an excellent, filling meal-on-the-run or meal supplement.

Fiber-rich fruit smoothies were generally my personal preference, although a protein smoothie was occasionally more convenient. I just found protein smoothies to seldom have a taste and texture that appealed to me. This one's no different. The texture isn't particularly gritty in my opinion, but the flavor doesn't really lend itself to pumpkin spice. It's not sweet enough to be dessert-like, and there's too much whey protein and soy protein taste to really be palatable to me. It still tastes like "health food" that they're desperately trying to dress up as something fun and chuggable. If you ask me, it's simply not.


Sonia disagrees. She's probably more accustomed to the typical taste and texture of protein smoothies more than I am, and she definitely has a bit more affinity for pumpkin spice come fall time. I had about two or three sips up front and let the wifey drink the rest. It didn't take her long to polish it off. She thinks there's enough pumpkin spice flavor to keep it interesting. We both agree it's very filling and most of the ingredients are pretty decent.

Sonia also points out that there's not only pumpkin pie spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, but also a good amount of pumpkin puree. So I guess you're getting your veggies in addition to your protein.

There are two servings in the 16oz bottle for $2.99. Since the texture wasn't awful and the smoothie delivers 11g of hunger-curbing protein, I won't shaft it completely and throw out two and a half stars. Sonia gives it four stars and her seal of approval.

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Trader Joe's Chicken Ginger Miso Soup

Got a meal rotation in your family?

We don't precisely...but we do have a fairly regimented meal concept rotation.

Monday is "breakfast for dinner" AKA "brinner" night. Wednesdays are "pack a dinner" night for the two hours of dance lessons we have the joy of being subjected to. Fridays are "jammie movie pizza night" and Sundays are generally leftover days. Conspicuously missing is Taco Tuesday, but tacos can work their way into all those themes easily anyways. Plus my kids are weird and don't like tacos. More for me. Shrug. 

As for Saturdays...now that it's officially crockpot season, it's gonna be Soup Saturday, and kicking us off, no crockpot required, is Trader Joe's Chicken Ginger Miso Soup. Hey sometimes we're low on groceries and have errands including a TJ's trip to do....skip leg day, but not Soup Saturday. 

Warming up on the stove, the aroma of the broth is nearly intoxicating with its promise of salty savoriness. That's the miso magic - who knew fermented soybeans could be so umami-fully delicious? Whoever invented that deserves a medal. But lay in a little lemongrass, gin up a little ground ginger, and boom! It takes off to another level. If this broth were sold separately as a warm sipper, I'd be all in. 

There's nothing wrong with the rest of the soup. There's ample pieces of white chicken that taste and feel just right, and all the veggies are that perfect not too firm/not mushy either. There's...just not quite enough of it. Interestingly, the chicken seems about right but the veggies feel skimped on. For instance, my lovely bride doesn't like mushrooms while i do, so she picked the maybe one or two max out of her bowl to give to me, which gave me like three total. Most of the soup seemed "empty" and was closer to that sipping broth than i would have liked right out of the package. It worked well for a lighter soup, but for something heartier, you may want to consider adding some rice noodles or something of the sort. 

Regardless, the soup tastes pretty great. It must be all that salt. It doesn't taste too salty, but it just is as part of the package deal with soups like these. You can find it in the refrigerated section for about $3 which makes this an easy, reliable, good option for Soup Saturdays or whenver the mood may hit. Double fours. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Chicken Ginger Miso Soup: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons