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Showing posts with label gluten free. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gluten free. Show all posts

Monday, November 28, 2022

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Triple Ginger Muffins


Like raw garlic, ginger is one of those miracle substances that's truly a gift to mankind. It has antibacterial properties. It can lower blood pressure. It can even aid digestion and help fight the common cold. Unlike garlic, it actually lends a great flavor to
candies, sweet beverages, and other treats.

I can't vouch for any health benefits or healing properties from this particular product, but I can tell you it tastes significantly like real, raw, unadulterated ginger. In my opinion, they got the ginger flavor juuust right. It's always a delicate balance. The recently-reviewed Gingerbread Sandwich Cookies didn't have enough real ginger flavor if you ask me, and products like the Ginger, Almond & Cashew Granola had too much raw ginger flavor. This product nailed the ginger level with ginger puree, candied ginger, crystallized ginger, and ground ginger. Wait. That's four kinds of ginger. That makes this product Trader Joe's Gluten Free Quadruple Ginger Muffins. I guess "triple ginger" rolls off the tongue a little better.

The ginger is balanced out by the alternative flours like rice, potato, and tapioca along with a sweetness blend including molasses and brown sugar. Sonia, in particular, loved the molasses and brown sugar. The ginger flavor is powerful, but not overwhelming.


Texture-wise, these are practically identical to October's Gluten Free Pumpkin Streusel Muffins. They're not simply moist or oily, they're nearly wet with a sticky liquid glaze. There's an unusual fresh-baked quality about them, and they don't suffer for a lack of wheat or gluten. Unlike the pumpkin version, these didn't seem to have that grainy or gritty texture at all.

$4.99 for four muffins. Sonia likes pumpkin just a bit more than she likes ginger, so she'll go a half star lower on this one. I'll go half a star higher since these didn't make me cough. So four stars from me, three and a half from the beautiful wifey on Trader Joe's Gluten Free Triple Ginger Muffins.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Trader Joe's This Coconut Brings Chocolate on a Date Bars


This product isn't very Thanksgivingy, is it? Not at first glance, no. But just think of all the travel that will be happening this week. You'll be stuck in the car with ravenous kids and nowhere to pull over. Everyone will be screaming that they're hungry while you're driving over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house you go, and then you'll remember you brought a box of Trader Joe's This Coconut Brings Chocolate on a Date Bars.

Convenient? Of course. Just five ingredients—that's a plus. The texture: soft, chewy, moist, with little bits of coconut swimming all throughout. Both Sonia and I like the mouthfeel just fine.


As far as the taste goes, this will be the second product in a row where we disagree. Sonia says the chocolate throws the whole thing off. She'd rather have a 100% fruit and coconut bar. We've seen those before: Trader Joe's Apple + Coconut Bar.

I think the chocolate is done exceptionally well in this instance: there's both non-sweet chocolate and cocoa powder, and it rounds out the product with a rich, dark indulgent quality that plain fruit bars lack. I'll plow through this box all by myself with little or no help from the beautiful wifey. Also, the size of the bars is absolutely perfect for keeping the blood sugar up and holding the munchies at bay.

As an aside, I should mention that I'm not sure why there appears to be a big white patch on the bar in the photo I took. It almost looks like a weird white mold on the bar. I assure you it didn't look like that in real life. Must have been a trick of the light or something.

$3.69 for five bars. Five? Why not six? Hmm. I'd still buy 'em again. Sonia probably wouldn't. Three stars from her. I've gotta throw out at least four and a half to keep Trader Joe's This Coconut Brings Chocolate on a Date Bars in the realm of respectability.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Trader Joe's PBC Bars


Long ago, we reviewed Trader Joe's ABC Bars, the almond butter version of this peanut butter-based snack. In the post, I came up with as many "ABC" word combos as I could think of. It'd be a pretty big charge to do it again. It's in the past, babe, chill. I couldn't possibly be creative like that again.


Pleasantly buttery, creamy, these bars make positively boss comestibles like their predecessors. Trader Joe's packed blissful cocoa all through these bars, also peanut butter, creamy-style—pretty basic concept. 

But now that I've tried 'em, I get powerful bad cravings. Perhaps babies cry for PBC. They'd be a proper buy at checkout.

Health-wise, these are presumably a better choice than pretzels, brownies, chips. I would personally bake cookies, but I'm sure they wouldn't be as good as these. Perfect bars for camping, they'd probably be convenient.

People begging for chow? Pickup a box of craveable peanut butter cocoa bars. Please be careful: they're addicting. 

$3.29 for six bars. Vegan. Gluten free. I think I prefer the almond butter version just ever so slightly over these. I'm usually a peanut butter guy, but almond butter works a little better in this application. Still, peanut butter is never unwelcome to the beautiful wifey and me. Four stars a piece from Sonia and me for Trader Joe's PBC Bars.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Pumpkin Streusel Muffins


Top of the muffin to you! In general, the observation from the famous episode of Seinfeld is accurate: that the top of the muffin is by far the best part. But in this case, I'd say the "stump" is just as good as the top—all part of one pastry. No reason to discriminate. Sonia might disagree.

We're looking at these particular muffins primarily for the benefit of the gluten-intolerant. Sonia and I, while both gluten-sensitive, generally just bite the bullet and deal with some mild discomfort after eating regular bread. Once in a while, we just avoid bread altogether, and once in a while, we seek out gluten-free alternatives. We've both known folks with Crohn's and celiac conditions and are well aware that for some people, "biting the bullet" just isn't an option. So for you all, here are our thoughts:

These were exceptionally soft and moist muffins. The liners were visibly wet when we pulled them off of the pastries. If not for the fact they were room temperature when we ate them, I might have assumed they were fresh-baked in a blind taste test. Sonia observed that the top portion of the muffin was sweeter than the rest. She thinks a bit of icing might have made it even tastier.

As far as the pumpkin spice goes, we both agree it was well-balanced. Everything was tangible and tastable but no single spice nor pumpkin element overshadowed the delicate sweet brown sugar flavor profile of these baked goods.

Our primary complaint was an odd coarseness in the bread that seemed to build up the more we ate. I used the word "grainy." Sonia used the word "gritty." We both felt it and both didn't like it, but in both cases, we agreed—not a deal-breaker. Still a good product, particularly in light of its gluten-free status.

$4.99 for four muffins. Four stars from Sonia. Three and a half from me.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, September 30, 2022

Trader Joe's Caramel Apple Mochi


I'm guessing during times of great economic strain there's not a lot of demand for food criticism—you know, like during the Great Depression and such. Any "problems" I have with the foods I'm reviewing here or anywhere else will suddenly seem completely irrelevant and inconsequential if we return to a time of stock losses, bear markets, high unemployment, and nutritional scarcity. I'm thinking food critics won't be counted as essential in any way, shape, or form and most food review blogs will fade away and eventually vanish altogether.

Some might say we're headed that way right now. But as long as we suburbanite middle-class Americans can keep our normalcy bias goggles on super tight, we'll keep overanalyzing pre-packaged "organic junk food" or, in this case, an odd fusion of a classic all-American flavor in a Japanese-American mochi ice cream format.


An initial observation: this is the first mochi I've personally seen from Trader Joe's that comes individually packaged. Each mochi ball comes in its own little cellophane wrapper. Previous mochi iterations have all come in an egg-carton sort of plastic tray with six indentations, one for each piece, all wrapped in one big cellophane bag. There are obvious advantages to having each one individually wrapped, but there might also be some disadvantages, too. I won't dwell on that issue too much.

The light brown rice-based shell is pretty much par for the course. It's soft, stretchy and dusted with a starchy powder. There's not much flavor in the outer shell. It just holds the ice cream where it belongs.

And the ice cream here is decent. Visually, it's not much different from plain vanilla, but it flaunts a good balance of both apple flavor and caramel flavor. It's nice and creamy, sweet, smooth. But Sonia and I both detected something...just slightly off-putting about the caramel aspect of it in particular. We both felt like it tasted artificial somehow. We were both wishing they'd put a glob of pure caramel in the middle of apple flavored ice cream, similar to the saucy mocha center we saw in the coffee mochi some six years ago.

But there is real apple in the ice cream, and you can taste it. I almost wish they'd simply done apple mochi or maybe apple cinnamon rather than caramel. But again, all these complaints are silly in the end. This is a fine product, all things considered, and I'm blessed to have been able to try it.

It's been a long time since I first had mochi, but there's still something novel about eating ice cream with your hands. I'll definitely buy Trader Joe's mochi again in the future, but not sure if this flavor would be my first choice. Apparently, this product is already done for the season. Sheesh, can't you keep a product around for two weeks, Trader Joe's? I'm sure it'll be back next year for those of you who want to try it...

$4.79 for six pieces of mochi. Four stars from Sonia. Three and a half from me.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Trader Joe's Instant Boba Kit

 

Seems there was a brief moment in time that boba or bubble tea was all the rage, somewhat nestled between my college and not quite married years. Before she would come to be known as such, my lovely bride and I would occasionally go grab one after her work somewhere near the Carnegie Mellon campus. Pretty sure there was a place on Craig Street, probably still is, but it always seemed packed full of college kids happily slurping away on these kinda oddball milky tea drinks with these goofy balls of whatever in them. Whatever, I kinda liked 'em too. 

Must still be a semi-popular thing, as now if the mood hits for a boba, we don't have to deal with a bunch of runty AirPod-wearing jaywalkers half our age. Naw. We just need to hit up our freezer, with the new Trader Joe's Instant Boba Kit. 

It's a weird concoction of sorts. Inside the boz there's four indicidual pouches, each with some flavor mix and those famous tapioca pearls, as well as an appropriately sized paper straw. Nuke the pearls and stuff for a minute, add some ice and milk, and voila, it's a boba tea, all right in the home, no real skill or even effort involved. 


That being said, it ain't the best.


For me, maybe it's just the flavor choice. I love brown sugar and all, but when mixed with the milk it just tastes like leftover cereal milk. Which is still kinda delicious, not gonna lie there. But then when paired with the tapioca balls, it must be a mental trick or something as I swear the boba tastes a little molasses-y. That and the pearls aren't as firm, and instead are somewhat rubbery and sticky. It's kinda close to the real deal, and does an admirable job for a freezer DIY concoction, but it still seems a little too nopticeably off.

Maybe that's just me. Sandy loved it. It was late at night when we finally made one to sample. She took one sip and asked if we really had to share. yes, dear, please. After two or three, i had my fill. Just not quite right, or maybe I've left all my crazy boba days behind me as I've just hit 40. Kinda makes me happy to see Sandy enjoy it then, maybe this'll be something all for her. 

Oh well. Maybe a different flavor, something kinda fruity, would've hit me different. Brown sugar just didnt do it for me this time. I'll be nice and toss out a few spoons for it, whereas my lovely bride will ring it up as perfection. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Instant Boba Kit: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons


Monday, August 8, 2022

Trader Joe's Organic Coconut Aminos Seasoning Sauce

Many years ago, while living in coastal North Carolina, I had a neighbor/friend who happened to be vegan. After repeatedly offering to cook me a vegan meal, I finally took her up on the proposal. She served me a dish featuring veggies and rice with a few bits of seitan sprinkled with amino acids. She explained that the amino acids made up for any general lack of protein in her diet since the human body synthesizes proteins from aminos. Flavor-wise, it functioned the way soy sauce does, adding a salty, savory, umami essence to the food. I liked it.

But I never bought my own bottle of amino acids until now, nearly twenty years later. It's got a big coconut on the label, as if to indicate it will taste like coconut. I mean, I doubt it will, but we're about to find out. Ingredients-wise, we're looking at "coconut sap" in case you couldn't read it from the picture. Sap? I've had coconut milk, coconut water, and coconut cream, but never coconut sap. Wouldn't that come from the tree itself rather than the fruit? I'm getting off track here...

Sonia and I heated up some instant rice in the microwave, some kidney beans on the skillet, and added a few splashes of Trader Joe's Organic Coconut Aminos Seasoning Sauce. First impression: wow, it's sweet! There's just a hint of saltiness and savoriness.

No, it doesn't taste like coconut by my estimation, but it's syrupy sweet. Sonia thinks it's like a watered-down tamarind sauce in both flavor and texture. I definitely don't disagree, but there's much less in the way of tangy, fruity flavor here. It's more like a sweetened soy sauce or like a very thin slightly salty maple syrup almost.

It's not exactly what we expected, but it's still a nice flavorful addition to rice and beans. I'm sure there's a million other things people are doing with this. If we get adventurous, we'll report back with our discoveries.

$2.99 for the 8.5 oz bottle. Product of Sri Lanka. Gluten-free. Kosher. Organic. It's not labeled as "vegan," but I don't know why it wouldn't be. Not sure if we'd purchase again, but not sorry we tried it. Three and a half stars a piece.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Trader Joe's Brown Sugar Non-Dairy Oat Creamer

Sonia is the designated coffee drinker in our household. I'll partake of the stuff out of necessity, or just once in a blue moon to change things up a bit. By and large, though, I'm an energy drink guy. 

Despite the wife's affinity for java, she's never really been a "black coffee" girl. She's gotta have her half and half or at least some type of non-dairy substitute. If we wake up in the morning and Sonia discovers we're out of coffee creamer...well, let's just say that's not a good start to the day for our family. As American women go, Sonia's among the least pampered and non-divalike I've ever known, but woe unto you if you used up the half and half the night before and didn't make a late night convenience store run to replace it.

So it's good we had some of this Trader Joe's Brown Sugar Non-Dairy Oat Creamer on hand the last time that happened. Sonia says this version is both sweeter and creamier than any other oat-based creamer she's ever had. She's tried at least three other brands: Califia Farms, Elmhurst, and Coffee Mate Natural Bliss. I'm sure I've tried at least one of those others, but it certainly didn't stand out as super-delicious or life-changing in any way. Sonia says other oat-based creamers seem much more watery than this Trader Joe's selection.

There really is a whisper of actual brown sugar flavor in this creamer. Mostly, it's just sweet, but there is some brown sugar in the ingredients and you can taste it ever so slightly. It's also got that faint nutty oaty wholesomeness that other oat creamers do.

As far as the creaminess is concerned, some extra thickness might be due at least in part to the presence of pea protein and/or the controversial ingredient: sunflower oil. I keep hearing from more and more sources that sunflower oil—and all seed oils in general—are carcinogenic and shouldn't be consumed at all, or at least not in large quantities. If you do an internet search, you'll find plenty of articles about the potential dangers of seed oils, along with dissenting opinions, and there's at least one piece about this product in particular. I'm no food scientist, and Big Seed Oil hasn't sent me any "financial incentives" to promote their products just yet...so I'll just leave it at that for now.

We're looking at about two bucks for 16 oz of vegan-friendly creamer. Possibly a repeat purchase for the beautiful wifey. Four stars from Sonia. Three from me.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Trader Joe's Papadums

Ever kinda bite your tongue and try to hold back because you know whatever you have to say is gonna be unpopular but you kinda have to say it anyways.

That's where I am when it comes to Trader Joe's Papadums, with one key exception: I'm biting my fingers, not tongue, cuz I have to type this all out instead of just saying it, hoping it goes unnoticed. 

I......do not like the TJ's papadums. Not at all. 

This is completely contrary to every other opinion I've seen on them online. I kinda get it. The idea behind them is wonderful. From what I can tell, papadums are a traditional Indian snack, with some variation, but a lot are crispy, crunchy, crackery chiplike guys made from lentils and chickpeas. Texturally, they're a lot like sweet potato tortilla chips. So far, so good. Flavorwise, there's not much except the natural lentil and chickpea flavor, with a small dash of cumin and salt. Again, we're off to a good start here...

...it's just...

...there's something about the taste. Upfront there's no offensive or wrong, but after a crisp or two, the flavor "turns." I don't know how else to describe it, but it changes from a pleasant earthy crispy crisp to something I can only liken to dirt. Just...gross dirt. Like dried up, bottom of the soccer cleat kinda stuff. No, I don't actually know what that tastes like. But it's just so off-putting.

I tried, really, I did. I ate multiple papadums in multiple sittings, just to see if it was my mood or something else. Nope. Each bite was worse. Can't take them any more. 

Now, sure, I'm sure some of you will say you had to try them with a dip. I'm sure that'd cover up some of their unpleasantness. But to me, for a product to be good, it has to stand independent from anything else, and not be reliant on something else to make up for what it lacks. That's not where I am here with these.

I don't know, maybe this papa is dumb for not liking the papadums. Everyone else does, including my lovely bride, so that means more for you all I suppose. Enjoy for me, I'm gonna be sitting these out from here on out. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Papadums: 4 out of 10 Golden Spoons
 

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Trader Joe's Fancy Cheese Crunchies

Generally when consuming Cheetos, the less digits you can get involved in the whole matter, the better. All that orange dust caking on everywhere? Ugh. It's even worse with the kids. 

Well, skip the kids and make sure to at least prop the pinkie, here comes Trader Joe's Fancy Cheese Crunchies. They fancy!

Sort of, anyways. I cracked open the bag and nearly gagged at first smell. Trapped up truffles can do that, I guess. Just smelled...musty and kinda stank. I don't know how else to describe it, and the first bite or two tasted like dirty feet to me. 

So yeah, not off to a good start.

Fortunately, I persisted, and by maybe the fourth bite, the real flavor of these new crunchers too effect. Instead of unnaturally glowing orange cheddar, these corn snacks are dusted with a mix of parmesan and black truffle pepper. While initially off-putting, the flavor grew on me with each passing bite. It's a little delicate and mild, with still a funky bite. I've never been able to get a truly good grasp on truffle flavor, mostly because I need to take a quick drink after or my mouth gets all itchy, but it's got that umami-licious funk that for those who enjoy it, they probably will here. 

Texturally, if you come into this expecting something akin to a Cheeto, that's what you got. There's only so many ways to conjure up corn meal and veggie oil, I guess. From the crunch I can't quite discern if they're baked or fried, but I'd presume baked given the overall lack of general greasiness. Could be wrong, won't be the last time here for sure. 

Overall, I'd give these a solid not bad. I can't see my kids liking them, though I've been proven wrong over and over with them, so that's a hearty who knows. Same with my lovely bride. I'm not 100% sure I'd rebuy them, mostly because of my mild truffle allergy and that I'm reasonably sure no one else here would eat them, but I can recognize them a little bit for what they are - a solid, not bad, slightly different, somewhat fancy spin on an old standby classic

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Fancy Cheese Crunchies: 5.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons


Monday, April 11, 2022

Trader Joe's Thai Banana Fritters

When Sonia and I lived in Los Angeles, we frequented a place called Vegan Glory. Sonia and I weren't vegan then, nor are we now, but their Thai food was so amazing that we went there regularly with friends, the vast majority of whom were not vegan. It was a small, simple, unassuming restaurant at the end of a strip mall, but it often attracted celebrities and high-profile customers because the cuisine was so consistently fantastic.

Our favorite dessert there was banana spring rolls (although the coconut ice cream was a close second) We had some on our latest visit to L.A. when we RV'd through SoCal in 2019. They were still ridiculously tasty. So of course we've been searching for something that could take the place of those spring rolls since we've been apart from that outstanding restaurant.

Enter: Trader Joe's Thai Banana Fritters. I won't say they're AS GOOD as those banana spring rolls, but they're pretty darn close. And of course, these are "fritters" as opposed to "spring rolls" but they're still a desserty banana-based vegan dish with crispiness on the outside...so very similar.


Six minutes in the air fryer and the smell just overwhelmed the kitchen. I snatched my three fritters out of the basket piping hot and ate them with my bare hands. I don't necessarily recommend consuming them that way, as they are quite oily on the outside. I think Sonia used a fork and ate hers from a plate. Either way, they were tasty.

Banana is the dominant flavor. But there's a nice blend of other essences like coconut milk and sesame. There's a good bit of added sugar, too—enough to appease the average sweet tooth at dessert time, I'd say. At least half of each bite is banana, but there's a significant amount of rice flour breading, as well. Texture-wise, there's a nice crispy crunch on the outside and soft, supple banana on the inside.


$3.79 for six fritters, found in the frozen section. We'd buy again. Four and a half stars from the beautiful wifey. Four stars from me for Trader Joe's Thai Banana Fritters.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Trader Joe's Tteok Bok Ki


 Here's another periodic reminder that I am a complete amatuer foodie-hack, not overly familiar with many great dishes and treats from around the globe, but always willing to try. 

So, Trader Joe's Tteok Bok Ki...can't say I've ever even heard of them before they plopped into my grocery cart. Thank goodness for the 'murican-'splained "Korean spicy stir-fried rice cakes" in the banner, because that, I can hold a concept of. 

These are, at first bite, interesting. There's a few ways to make them, I opted for what purported to be the crispiest option by inserting these oversized frozen rice poogs into the airfryer, while seperately simmering the almost glowing red sauce. I'm not sure if crispy is the right word, because there's still plenty of soft mochi-like chewiness to each bite, but the outside layer  did have a faint crispness, so there you go I guess. It's an unusual to my palate yet pretty fun bite. 


That sauce though...it never really thickened up the way I hoped it would despite following the instructions, far as I know. That being said, I almost didn't mind. It's vibrant and rich with plenty of red pepper and garlic kick. Man, if sold separately, I'd pour it over any number of things. Delicious stuff, and highly recommended as long as you can take some spice. 

Here's one of the times that TJ's really succeeds if looked at from a certain vantage point. Sure, I'm far from a tteok bok ki expert, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and wager that the TJ's version isn't the best in the world. Heck, how authentic it really is (or isn't) is above my pay grade here. But...now I know I'd stand a pretty excellent chance at enjoying the real deal, so if ever granted the opportunity, I'm gonna go for it without hesitation. That somewhat harkens back to the OG TJ's business plan of introducing new tastes and experiences to their customers. For me, it succeeds here. 

A good sized bag, enough for a big side dish or appetizer for two or more, was only around $3 or $4. Absolutely worthwhile in my opinion. If you got a more expert take than I do, fire away. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Tteok Bok Ki: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Trader Joe's Spring Gummies


The tulips in the backyard really want to come out. But just when we think they're about to go full-bloom, they get pummeled with cold north winds and snow flurries and they just stay tucked away—a few tufts of green leaflets poking out of the partially-thawed ground. One of these days soon they'll present their pretty petals, but for now it's a bit too chilly still.

Nevertheless, it is indeed springtime and Easter's not very far away. Nothing's more vernal than blooming flowers, playful butterflies, and cute chirpy birds. Even the convenient resealable bag boasts gorgeous green grass and beautiful blue skies.


The colors of the candies themselves are pastel pink, green, and yellow. As far as I could tell, however, there was no difference in flavors. They all had the same vaguely sweet, mostly forgettable taste. 

It's just cane sugar and a bunch of supporting ingredients that give the candies their color and texture. Fortunately, there's no pork gelatin. Hooray for kosher gummies. Also, they're gluten free.

So these would be fine for a kid's Easter basket or just a mid-day blood sugar booster. We've seen some disappointing gummy candy from Trader Joe's throughout the years and we've also seen some amazingly delicious offerings. These fall exactly in between the two extremes flavor-wise. But since they're presented so nicely, we'll be kind when we score them.

$2.99 for the bag. I think they were new as of last year, and they're making their second seasonal appearance right now. Three stars from Sonia. Three from me for Trader Joe's Spring Gummies.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Trader Joe's Sour Cream & Onion Flavored Rings

"You look pretty good...for your age."

"You're so pretty/handsome when you smile."

"I bet you were in great shape when you were younger."

Yeah, some "compliments" aren't exactly that, are they?

Kinda like when my lovely bride stated that the new Trader Joe's Sour Cream & Onion Flavored Rings were, and I quote, "better than Funyuns." I mean, I get the basis, as in comparing the most ubiquitous onion ring bagged snack to the TJ's noob here, but really? That, while not quite a low enough standard to be a tripping hazard in Hades, isn't exactly a difficult hurdle to cross. The thought of Funyuns doesn't leave me (or anyone?) reaching for the stars, much less a bag of Funyuns. Overly salty corn meal fried in vegetable oil? No thanks. 

Back to the TJ's snacker rings. These are legitimately and legume-ly tasty, with a much healthier base of lentils and rice, and baked deliciously to a light, airy crisp. The result is a slightly earthy, crunchy snack with a bite that keeps my chompers chomping for more. It really is pretty fun and somewhat novel. 

Results do vary somewhat as far as seasoning distribution. In the name of science I snagged two bags on my last trip. The first sack wasn't overly sour creamy or oniony - it was more a subtle suggestion than all out flavor blast. it was kinda nice yet somewhat lacking at the same time. Like, let's not get too refined here, k?  The second must have gotten whatever was leftover from the first and then some, because man, right from the first, it's all out sc&o. At time of writing it's been nearly two hours since I had my last bite and I can still taste it. Gonna have to brush before smooching the Mrs. 

Definitely give them a try if sour cream and onion are your kinda thing. I'd love for some more variations, like a jalapeno cheddar or ranch, or even just a plain one. While there's no doubt that the rings are absolutely a snack/junk food, they're pretyt healthy on that curve. And it's great that even a small handful has enough substance to them to fill ya up and help stave off the mindless eating. Mmm lentils. Just a couple bucks a bag and worth it. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Sour Cream & Onion Flavored Rings: 9 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Friday, March 18, 2022

Trader Joe's Egg Wraps


Look, in the deli section! It's an egg....it's a wrap...it's the new Trader Joe's Egg Wraps!

You ever eat something with a familiar flavor in an unconventional or at least non-standard form? That's pretty much the experience here with these new-fangled gluten-free dairy-free kinda crepe-like eggy tortilla type thingies. It's...equally somewhat familiar and somewhat foreign all at once. 

The closest approximation I can make as far as taste is a Dutch baby pancake, which are pretty heavy into eggs and flour if you're not acquainted with them. Even that's not quite right, as it's rice flour and millet used here, not all-purpose. And obviously the wraps aren't all big and poofy either. But it gets the idea of a super egginess into a pancake-esque form, with a slightly more "grain"y taste. Odd, perhaps, but it works. 


The wraps themselves are super pliable and easy to use, like any respectable tortilla. Whether warming up or eating cold from the fridge, the flavor and flexibility remained really about the same. it was easy to make a quick ham and cheese wrap that wasn't greasy or slimy or offputting in any way. For us, I could see us using the wraps as a quick morning breakfast when the craving for eggs hits, but the time doesn't allow. Of course, if you need to be gluten-free, or just want to sneak some extra protein into your diet, you don't need to wait til breakfast time. That's just us. 

Six wraps come in the package, which is good for three servings. Cost was about $4.49 if I recall right, so about 75 cents each. Seems fair to have that kinda convenience/novelty upcharge baked in. No real complaints, and they're differently interesting to try on out.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Egg Wraps: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons 


 

Friday, January 14, 2022

Trader Joe's Cheese Empanadas with Cassava Crust


I suppose if they can make tortilla chips out of a nutty, starchy root vegetable like cassava, then empanada crust shouldn't be out of the question either. The texture of this cassava isn't chewy per se, but it's just a smidge less crispy than traditional crust. It didn't bother me at all. In fact, I was surprised how much I liked it. It tasted like...well, a nutty, starchy root vegetable, but yet strangely similar to a normal, wheat-based bread.

Sonia made two odd comments about the product when she tried it. The first was that as soon as she cut hers open, it smelled like fish fillet. Um. Okay. I didn't get that at all. I assumed that meant she didn't like it, but the next words out of her mouth were something about enjoying the product a lot and that it was really good.


The second strange comment from the wifey was something about really wanting a dipping sauce, specifically a tamarind-based one. Yikes. I certainly wasn't thinking of any fixins here—despite the fact that I'm usually the condiment-craver between the two of us—and tamarind was about the last thing I would have thought of as a dipping sauce.

Some might think the filling here is a smidge on the boring, plain side I suppose, but we both loved the ricotta, onion, and spinach combo. To me, it was almost like a cheese-based spinach dip. That's why I didn't crave a dipping sauce I think. Spinach dip is already a condiment, and you don't dip a condiment in another condiment, right?


Two empanadas come in the pack. They're a bit smaller than other empanadas we've seen from Trader Joe's, but at about $3 for the box, they're a bit cheaper, too. No meat. No gluten. We'd buy them again. Four stars from Sonia. Three and a half from yours truly.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Stuffing Mix


 So listen...yes, it's Halloween in a few days and I hate the seasonal creep as much as anyone else. One holiday at a time. Yes, absolutely, yes. 

But stuffing really shouldn't be relegated to "just Thanksgiving" right? Like, when it's one of the first cold rainy days of the fall, when it's a great day to stay inside, watch some movies, play some games, read some books and snuggle some cats, a little warm stuffing will only do, right?

Such as it was this past weekend, and my lovely bride and I wanted to make one of her mom's classic comfort foods, chicken and stuffing. It's...what it sounds like it is, except with some cream of whatever soup and cheddar cheese all dumped in and mixed up. Not classy, per se, but pretty darn delicious. 

As you guessed by now, we used Trader Joe's Gluten Free Stuffing Mix. 

And you know what? it worked. Everything about the celiac friendly stuffing mix hit all the right buttons. We have no express need to be gluten free so we tend to judge these kinda products a bit closely. Honestly, and I mean this a compliment, I'd have no idea this was sans wheat if I didn't know.

No graininess. No dryness. No weird vibes. Okay, a few bites were a bit granular and sandy, but none so more that can happen with "regular" stuffing. That can be the fault of inadequate mixing more than anything. I'd never think that rice flour were capable of such a thing, but technology these days, I guess, right?

For taste, the stuffing gives off all the right flavors. There's all the savory aspects of chicken broth and celery and pepper and yeah, absolutely, a lot of salt. It's all there. If not making our particular dish, adding some apple slices or raisins like my mom did would have been a nice little touch. 

There's really not much to suggest that the TJ's GF stuffing is all that much different from Stove Top or even a decent homemade variety. It's easy and convenient and delish - all our kiddos gobbled it down and begged for seconds. Winner winner...turkey dinner? Grab some if you see it. $3ish bucks so it's worth it. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Gluten Free Stuffing Mix: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Trader Joe's Tofu Scramble with Soy Chorizo

 

Now that I once again am back to work at home in my basement at least half the time, I've recalled the numerous perks to this kind of arrangement. No commute. Sweatpants. No one minds if I sing along poorly to Amazon Music. Dependably good coffee. There's still catty coworkers, but at least they're the purry, four-legged kind. 

And if for lunch i want something that can be either microwaved or baked in the oven...I can go for the oven. No holds barred. 

Such as it was with the new Trader Joe's Tofu Scramble with Soy Chorizo. Nuke it for two or three minutes, or bake for 40-45? In CubicleLand, there's only the one...at home there's choices...well..let's take advantage then. That's exactly what I did. Lunch lovin' in the oven. Boom. 


Well-seasoned readers may recall I'm a huge fan of the TJ's soy chorizo. It's what made me want to join the TJ's review train years ago - that stuff is legit! And that's coming from a carnivore so that was a huge selling point right there. 

So here's the problem, sorta: this scramb-bowl of stuff just doesn't hold it's own by itself. Not really. This can be seen either way: on one hand, it's adaptable and suitable for a variety of tatse palates and preferences and attitudes. On the other: just feels like it lacks too much. For such a flavor and salt bomb, there's an almost surprising lack of vibrant flavor. No real spice or heat - the teeniest of smidgiest of tinges, sure, but not much. After a few bites I couldn't help but unload a torrent of my alltime favorite TJ's product into my bowl and mix around. Granted, that's kinda my default thing to do with eggy scrambles like this, so take as you will. 


That's the other thing. Aside from flavor, there's something else amiss here to really fill out the meal. It could be..an avocado. Or some sweet potatoes. Or a tortilla. Or tortilla chips. Or even some rice and beans. Something....something is needed to make the whole thing seem more complete. For me, at lunch that meant a bunch of crumbled up sweet potato chips because that's what I had. It kinda worked. 

Everything else is a plus. The tofu does a tremendous job emulating scrambled eggs - mine were dry and firm from its oven prep, so if microwaved YMMV. The cheese seemed like real actual cheddar enough, not a cocounut oil creation. Nothing offputting or weird or distasteful. If I had to go vegan, this would be a great convenience option I'd grab without hesitation. Just need the salsa and something else, too. 

There you have it. Not a bad deal all the way around for the $3ish bucks. Not earth shattering either, and made my day of insurance verifications and authorizations go by a little more happily with a satisfied belly. But not as happily as butchering "SemiCharmed Life" with only myself and the kitties as an audience. Semicharmed life, semihappy meal. Double threes.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Tofu Scramble with Soy Chorizo: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Trader Joe's Organic Veggie Bites

Alright alright alright....who here is HYPED for the brand new Trader Joe's Organic Veggie Bites?!?!?!

C'mon now I can't hear you!

Who here is...wait, what, none of y'all? Not even one? All of y'all getting too pumpkin spice drunk to even realize these were a thing? 

Can't blame ya one bit. On a scale of anticipation excitement between root canal and ditching the kids at my parents' and running away for a weekend with my lovely bride, these new TJ veggie tots probably registered between getting an oil change and paying the water bill for me. 

Gotta maintain your vehicle, pay your utilities, and eat your veggies. Ho-hum. Not complaining, just saying. 

All that being said, for what they are, these veggie bites are alright. If you'd like the over domineering flavor of mirepoix in a snackyish ball form, these would be right up your alley. First three ingredients are carrots, celery and onions. That'd be mirepoix, and what really rides out the flavor. Can't taste the tomatoes at all. Sunflower seeds? Nope. Kale? there visually, but not much else. Sweet potatoes, which for some reason are lumped in with the veggies on the ingredients label (they're tubers!)? I mean, yeah, they're there, mostly because something has to be the stuff that holds all of it together. But taste? Can't taste them taters so much. That, a (un)healthy dose of salt, a little pepper. Meh. 


The form itself works decently though. A few minutes in our air fryer produced the two-bite sized veggie balls that were warm, soft and a touch greasy. Those sunflower seeds must be ground up or something, because there's no sense of biting into one anywhere. 

And that's about what there is to them. Eating them straight up was kinda boring, so maybe a good dip or condiment was needed. I could see something creamy-ish working alright. Our kids didn't like them one bit, and normally they like veggies, but none of them would tell Dada what was so offputting about them. Sandy and I ate most of them, and by that I mean mostly me, and that was mainly out of a sense of obligation to not waste food. Safe to say on that hypothetical kidfree vacay, we will not be stopping at TJ's to snag a supply of them. 

Not gonna lie: probably not gonna rebuy, ever, not of spite or repulsion but more out of there's not much worthy of a return. I'm truly indifferent to their existence and would rather eat raw or roasted veggies. Double twos. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Organic Veggie Bites: 4 out of 10 Golden Spoons


 

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Trader Joe's Soft-Baked Sunflower Butter Cookies with Roasted Sunflower Seeds

"Anything you can do, I can do better. I can do anything better than you!"

Ugh. I hate that sentiment, and with a brother just two years older than me, it's one I'm well acquainted with from growing up. I can hear that sing-songy tune right now. It grates. 

And now, with kids of my own, I see this attitude playing out again...and again...and again...and again...

...and again, but instead of sibling rivalry, this time it's with Trader Joe's Soft-Baked Sunflower Butter Cookies with Roasted Sunflower Seeds. 

Who's doing the mocking though?

It's the ol' good 'merican standby: Peanut butter. 

Listen: it's fine that sunflower seed butter *exists*. I get it. Allergies are a thing, and some folks have to be careful, and it's great that replacement products and concepts are made and distributed to address that market need. +1 for capitalism there. Also, some people, for some odd reason, just prefer sunflower seed butter. To each their own, just don't infringe on my right to scrape out the Jif jar with a spoon. To me, peanut butter always has and will always be king. 

Maybe that's a big reason why, when it comes down to it, I just don't like these cookies all that much. They're undeniably sunflower buttery in a way that tries to emulate peanut butter but just can't. The first bite is bland and earthy, a touch salty, and with the soft and crumbly texture of the cookies it begs the question if I had just partaken of a clump of dirt. The seeds atop the cookies give a little crunch, but not in any sort of satisfying way. It's just there, and that's about it. 

Most of the rest of the tste experience is decidedly towards the bland side before taking a turn for the worse. You may as well add a bunch of sugar and sweeteners to try to overcompensate for the initial blandness. It just doesn't work here - while not overtly overboard, it doesn't mesh well and just tastes odd. I don't like it.


To be fair, I'm not sure I'd like these cookies much more if they were peanut butter anyways. It's just not a good cookie. Also, my mouth slightly itches for about five minutes after eating one.

And lest you think I'm overly prejudiced against sunflower butter, my lovely bride, with a palate much more gracious than mine at these kinda things, didn't like 'em much either. One bite was quickly followed by a grimace with a quick "sunflower butter doesn't work well in baking" comment. I've eaten enough of her cakes to know she knows what she's talking about. 

Oh well. at least they didn't turn green. I know that's harmless but unless it's St Patrick's Day, no green cookies please.

Yeah, no. We'll likely finish the box...eventually...but we are in no rush. The dozen cookies cost around $3 to $4 , so it's not a bad value for vegan gluten-free allergen free cookies, and I'm sure there's some fans out there, but that's not here. We'll be nice and do them some double deuces.  

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Soft-Baked Sunflower Butter Cookies with Roasted Sunflower Seeds: 4 out of 10 Golden Spoons