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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
 

Friday, April 2, 2021

Trader Joe's Better Than Leftovers! Dog Treats

Ah, the Easter season. Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, and everything's coming back to life. What a lovely time of year. 

There will be church services, big family meals, and Easter egg hunts. Speaking of Easter egg hunts, I heard about this couple...that actually does Easter egg hunts...for their dogs. I mean, wow. That's a little...eccentric, to put it kindly. What kind of social deviants do Easter egg hunts for pets?

Speaking of pets, ours absolutely LOVED these treats. Yes, you may argue, you've watched a couple previous videos and in pretty much every one, the dogs indiscriminately inhale the treats with little regard to the subtleties of the food's taste or texture, providing virtually no clues as to the quality or value of the product. In essence, it appears that Alfred and Sadie love all the Trader Joe's brand dog treats we've given them. 

While this may be true, you'll have to trust us, as their mommy and daddy owners, we can tell they liked these treats just a little bit more than the average doggie snack. Furthermore, there are five different flavors here, the treats are nice and soft, and they're a convenient, tiny bite-size for our small pups.


The flavors included are: roast beef, gravy, cheese, sweet potato, and apple pie. At a quick glance, there appear to only be two different colors of treats. I think we decided the lighter orange color was either sweet potato or apple pie. If you smell the treats, you can tell that there are, in fact, five distinct fragrances. I refrained from eating one (this time) to find out how they actually tasted, but the look on our dogs' faces said it all.

$4.19 for the resealable bag. I, personally, think this is the best dog treat we've seen from Trader Joe's to date. Four and a half paw prints a piece from Sadie and Alfred.

Nate's Notes: Sonia and I may or may not be the above-mentioned couple that does Easter egg hunts for their dogs. You'll just have to watch the video to find out.


Bottom line: 9 out of 10.

Happy Easter!