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

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Trader Joe's Cauliflower Crisps Snack


Some days I don't have any silly intro story or clever segue into the actual review, so I just reminisce about products from the past and link to them at the beginning of the post. That's what we'll do today. We won't remember every single product with cauliflower that we've seen over the years, but we'll look at the times when cauliflower has become a substitute for some other food staple. Ahh...let's look at:

That time cauliflower became rice.

That time cauliflower became mashed potatoes.

That time cauliflower became pizza crust.

That time cauliflower became latkes.

That time cauliflower became tortillas.

That time cauliflower became gnocchi.

That time cauliflower became jalape├▒o dip.

That time cauliflower became risotto.

That time cauliflower became cookie butter.

Okay, well, that last one might not have been a thing. But you get the picture. They can turn cauliflower into anything. So crispy little crackers should be a walk in the park for the versatile cauliflower, right?


In my book, not so much. These snacky circles are too dense, too rigid. If they were thinner, they'd be much easier to bite and chew. As is, they're like little cookies—more three-dimensional than I'd have imagined them to be. I thought they'd be delicate like rice crackers, but they're much more solid than that.

They taste a little like cauliflower. They're much more earthy and bitter than typical rice crackers. I think I'd be fine with the product if they used all the same ingredients and simply lost the cauliflower. I mean, brown rice flour is the second ingredient, and I never met a rice crisp I didn't like.


Sonia enjoys them. She thinks they have a very unique flavor, and I don't disagree. She's just a little more fond of that unusual flavor than I am. I'd try redeeming them with random toppings and dips, but I'm afraid it would just ruin my enjoyment of said toppings.

We paid $2.99 for the 2.5 serving bag. I wouldn't buy them again if it were just me. Sonia might I guess. Three and a half stars from the beautiful wifey. Two and a half stars from me for Trader Joe's Cauliflower Crisps Snack.



Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Madeleine Cookies


Sonia's love of madeleines goes back to her days as a Starbucks barista. She'd snack on their mad cookies as she sipped some free-to-her yet otherwise overpriced coffee on breaks. She's been addicted to madeleine cookies ever since, and she's sold me on 'em, too.


We've reviewed at least two other varieties here on this blog. Despite not having any severe gluten intolerants among us, we've sampled dozens of gluten free cookies, pastries, and snacks over the years, and I'd say more than half got a basic thumbs up from our team if not enthusiastic accolades.

So we both had high hopes for Trader Joe's Gluten Free Madeleine Cookies. Let's be positive and focus on what's working, first. They're individually-packaged. It might be a waste of material and probably not very green, but all six of the cookies are wrapped separately in a small cellophane bag. It helps keep them fresher longer. You're not going to eat all six in one sitting unless you've got a big family. There's a pleasant amount of moisture to the cookies. They are lightly sweet and taste somewhat similar to traditional madeleines.

What's not working? These cookies aren't dry, but they're not particularly buttery. You could call them "oily" I guess. But they're not smooth or creamy like traditional madeleines. The flavor suffers for want of butter, too. They lack the sponginess of glutenful mads and instead come off as grainy or even gritty in a slightly unpleasant way. The main ingredients are egg, sunflower oil, sugar, and rice flour. It's an odd mouthfeel, and the flavor just lacks that certain something that makes other madeleine cookies special.

$3.49 for six individually-wrapped cookies. Would not buy again. Two and a half stars from me. Three stars from Sonia for Trader Joe's Gluten Free Madeleine Cookies.



Bottom line: 5.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Trader Joe's Ube Mochi


I neglected to post the nutrition information in the video review, so I'll post it here. And just so you're not looking at a weird skinny vertical pic in the middle of a white screen, I shall let this post serve as Ube Central, and it will contain all ube related links from our blog.

Man, when TJ's latches on to an idea, they really run with it. It was once referred to as "Purplepotatopalooza" by Mr. Shelly. I like that.

PURPLEPOTATOPALOOZA:

Trader Joe's Ube Purple Yam Ice Cream

Trader Joe's Ube Mochi Pancake & Waffle Mix

Trader Joe's Ube Tea Cookies

Trader Joe's Ube Pretzels

Trader Joe's Ube Spread

Trader Joe's Ube Joe-Joe's

I guess that's it. Did we miss any?




Four and a half stars from Sonia. Three and a half stars from me for Trader Joe's Ube Mochi.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Strawberry Muffins


Maybe I'm just getting used to it, but I feel like each time I have a gluten free muffin from Trader Joe's, the texture gets closer to normal wheat-based muffins. I honestly have to say that texture-wise, these muffins beat last week's non-gluten-free coffee cake hands down.

The flavor's nothing to complain about either. There's a good bit of strawberry taste all throughout these bready breakfast bites. There are bits of real strawberry, too. The only thing I can think of that would improve these muffins would be more and larger chunks of strawberry.


Sonia absolutely raved about them. I thought she was going to try to sneak three out of the four muffins for herself she was so enthusiastic. But no, she was nice and left me my fair share. 

Truth be told, I didn't even eat both my muffins before the best by date. Honestly though, they still tasted remarkably fresh. We'd buy these again.


$5.99 for four big, filling gluten free muffins. 
Folks with wheat allergies, celiac, or Crohn's disease, rejoice. Put these on your grocery list for sure. Put me down for a solid four out of five stars. The beautiful wifey will go with four and a half on Trader Joe's Gluten Free Strawberry Muffins. 



Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Battered Plant-Based Fish Fillets


As a lover of real fish, I'm coming into this one shaking my head, bracing myself for disappointment. A glance at the ingredients reveals this product is jackfruit-based. How can one fruit mimic barbecue pulled pork and fish fillets? It just doesn't seem possible.

There's air fryer heating instructions on the box. We'll go with that one. The air fryer seems to make everything taste better. 10 minutes at 400°F and we're in business.

The smell? Surprisingly, my nose doesn't detect much of anything after heating, in stark contrast to real fish fillets from the air fryer. I guess there's a hint of something akin to hot cooking oil, but that's about it.


Despite my instincts to slather Trader Joe's Plant-Based Fish Fillets with tartar sauce and slap them in between slices of bread and cheese, I think I'll just try them plain first to play it safe. First impressions? Surprisingly edible.

Using a fork to cut the fillets apart, the texture is somewhere between a normal fish fillet and a fried banana. The crispy coating is really nice. It's not very thick, but it does the job. Sonia likes that part the best.

Flavor-wise, they're not fishy at all, and I mean that in a good way. But at the same time, if you had to guess what meat they were trying to imitate, you'd all understand they were going for fish. Sonia said they vaguely reminded her of chicken empanadas. I can see that, too. You can faintly taste the king oyster mushrooms mentioned in the ingredients, and there's a nice savory blend of subtle spices.

I was really worried we had another meatless ground type situation on our hands, but that's not the case here. Not saying there aren't some folks out there who might find this product a little off-putting, but Sonia and I will easily polish off this box.

If you're vegan, gluten-free, or just looking to try something new, these aren't a bad option. $4.99 for three fake fish fillets. Three and a half stars from the beautiful wifey. Four stars from me for Trader Joe's Gluten Free Battered Plant-Based Fish Fillets.




Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Trader Joe's Sliced Korean Rice Cakes


To me, the term "rice cake" has always meant a dry, crispy disk of whole grain rice, usually Quaker brand, mostly plain but occasionally dusted with a flavoring of some sort. Growing up with a wheat allergy, rice cakes were a great alternative to wheat-based crackers and even bread. I'd eat mine with peanut butter and jelly or sometimes just plain and I honestly grew to love them. Despite not having a significant wheat allergy any longer, I'll seek out Quaker rice cakes once in a while just for nostalgia's sake or to curb my once-in-a-while craving.

These rice cakes are obviously a little different from those big crunchy pucks I grew up with. Apparently, something similar to Trader Joe's Sliced Korean Rice Cakes is widely available at Asian grocers like H Mart, but this will be the first time either Sonia or I have tried this specific type of mochi-esque side dish.


The little slices of rices are oval-shaped, but otherwise about the size of a quarter. I don't know if you've ever placed a coin on the railroad tracks and let a train run over it or used one of those novelty crank-operated machines that stamps your penny with the logo from some specific attraction, but they're in that ballpark, size and shape-wise.

I followed the instructions to boil them, and they came out quite chewy. They were pillowy and somewhat soft, but honestly, I was hoping for something a little closer to regular rice or pasta in terms of texture. They're surprisingly dense, and I won't say they're leathery per se, but they don't exactly melt in the mouth quite like I was hoping they would.

Still, they're unique and convenient. There's no sauce in the bag, so you can just add them to pretty much any Asian dish. In our case, we had them with leftover sesame chicken, egg rolls, and stir fry topped with sriracha sauce. You can't really see any veggies in the picture we took, but I promise there's some cabbage in that bowl somewhere.

The cakes, not surprisingly, taste like rice, and they add an interesting texture, particularly if you cut them in half for easier chewing before taking a bite. We both like 'em enough. Repeat purchase? Maybe.

$3.29 for the 5 serving bag found in the frozen section. Vegan. Gluten free. Three and a half stars a piece from Sonia and me on Trader Joe's Sliced Korean Rice Cakes.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Trader Joe's Mee Krob Snackers


I did exactly zero research before purchasing and trying Trader Joe's Mee Krob Snackers. They've been trending on social media, so I thought I'd just jump in head first.

So...as far as first impressions go, I'll start with the texture. It's not unlike eating uncooked ramen noodles, though slightly more pleasant than that. The noodles here are very thin, like vermicelli style. There's a thin glaze of a reddish sauce that's similar to the coating on flavored potato chips or rice cakes. The whole thing is extremely crispy and crunchy, with some cashews thrown into the mix that add a bit of softer texture. All in all, I'm a fan of the mouthfeel, though I wish the crackers were about half as thick as they are. It'd be easier to take small bites that way.


Flavor-wise, I'll just say this: Sonia and both of her parents are huge fans. I'm not hating on Trader Joe's Mee Krob by any means, but I can't say I'm as enthused as the rest of the family. I think it boils down to the fact that I'm not super fond of tamarind in most contexts, although there are some notable exceptions to that rule. Tamarind is a quintessential flavor for a lot of Hispanic beverages and treats, and it's also one of the key ingredients here, although this has an unmistakably Asian vibe in most respects.

"Sweet, tart, and savory" sums up the flavor pretty well. I actually wish there were more cashews and cashew flavor, but the bit that's there is mostly drowned out by the tangy sauces and starches. There's a tad too much vinegar flavor in the mix for my taste, as well, though I wouldn't call it a deal-breaker.


We all agree these would make decent croutons for an Oriental or Asian salad or wrap. They'd have to be broken into smaller pieces, but they'd work well. I guess you could add them to soup, too. Sonia and mi suegros are happy to munch away straight out of the bag, but I probably won't reach for them as a stand-alone snack.

But as always, I'm very glad I had the chance to try them. About three bucks for the 3 oz bag. Vegan. Gluten free. Product of Thailand. Four and a half stars from the beautiful wifey. Three out of five stars from me for Trader Joe's Mee Krob Snackers.



Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Rabitos Royale Ruby Cacao Figs


I just couldn't help myself. I know they're not Trader Joe's brand, but chocolate truffle figs sounded so interesting. The buzz about Rabitos Royale Ruby Cacao Figs around the web is pretty positive, as well. Just look at that fancy box. How could something so extravagant disappoint?

Provided you love the taste of figs and have five bucks to blow on four small pieces of candy, they most likely won't. They're super sweet, because it's not dark chocolate here. It's ruby cacao and milk chocolate. Figs are sweet to begin with and chocolate doesn't exactly temper that sweetness at all. There are essences of vanilla and brandy in the mix as well. All in all, chocolate, fig, vanilla, and brandy is a pretty tasty flavor combo. It might be a little too sweet for some folks, but lucky for me, I've got a sweet tooth.


Each fig is individually wrapped, which helps keep the unused specimens fresh. Although it's very much within the realm of possibility to eat the entire box in one sitting, particularly if you've got someone to share with. Again, lucky me.

Rabitos Royale Ruby Cacao Figs can be a little messy. The pink shell wants to break apart and fall on your lap as you bite into it. There's not a lot of juiciness, since the figs are dried, but there's enough of a crumble-factor that you might not want to eat these while you're driving or operating heavy machinery or wearing a light-colored Easter dress or something.


One of our candied figs had a very odd tough section. It wasn't like a fig seed. It was almost as if a small section of the fig skin was leathery and somewhat hard. It was a bit gross. I thought about spitting out that bite, but then I thought about the fact that each fig costs more than a dollar and decided to just chew through it. I made it without yacking or anything like that, but still you'd hope that for what you're paying, you'd get nothing but top notch quality fruit within the candy. Oh well. It was only one piece.

Trader Joe's is the only store where I've seen these, but I didn't see anything about them being a Trader Joe's exclusive or anything like that. Looks like you can order them online from a few places. Don't think I'd buy these regularly, but for a once in a great while treat, they're fine. Three and a half stars from me. The beautiful wifey gives Rabitos Royale Ruby Cacao Figs four out of five stars, remarking "This is the kind of stuff rich people eat!"

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Trader Joe's Riced Hearts of Palm


Trader Joe's is discovering that hearts of palm are nearly as versatile as cauliflower. We've already looked at Trader Joe's Hearts of Palm Pasta, and I've already given my contemplative spiel about palm trees, so this time we'll just jump right into the food review.

Inside the box, there's a plastic pouch full of the riced hearts of palm. After snipping the corner or top of the pouch, you have to squeeze the contents out in the manner of toothpaste from a tube. They land in your saucepan resembling a lumpy wet mass. Not particularly appetizing. The smell is odd and excessively planty, similar to the pasta version, but not something that's familiar otherwise. Again, not particularly appetizing.


After heating, however, the product improves drastically both in smell and appearance. The aroma gets richer and more earthy, almost squash-like. The little palm pieces start to resemble actual rice as the liquids are partially cooked away.

The finished product is still a little wetter than actual rice somehow. The pieces are slightly more gelatinous than grainy. Still, they're quite edible. They need some fixins, though. The box recommends serving the dish with olive oil, veggies, and spices. I tried experimenting with a bunch of TJ's seasonings but nothing stood out head and shoulders above the others.

I like traditional rice the best. And I'd probably take riced cauliflower over this stuff. Still, this isn't a bad option. I wouldn't go out of my way to purchase Trader Joe's Riced Hearts of Palm again, but if someone served it to me as a side dish, I would eat it without complaint.

$3.49 for the 9 oz package. Vegan. Gluten free. Three and a half stars a piece from Sonia and me.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Trader Joe's Maple Pancake Flavored Puffs


Usually Trader Joe's rolls out maple stuff in the fall, but I believe these little beauties debuted last month. Right now is actual maple harvest season—February into April, so let's take a look, shall we?

I was highly skeptical of these puffs before trying them. I mean, I love corn and rice-based snacks. They're so light and crispy and snackable. I'm thinking: Bambas, The World's Puffiest Sour Cream & Onion Puffs, and classic snacks like Pirate's Booty. They've generally been savory flavors like white cheddar cheese, rather than sweet, although a couple versions of the Bambas featured peanut butter and cocoa. How would they work with maple flavoring?

At first bite, both Sonia and I were a little weirded out, honestly. The texture was no surprise. Trader Joe's Maple Pancake Flavored Puffs are identical to all the above-mentioned puffs in terms of their crispy, crunchy mouthfeel. On the other hand, the taste was a brand new experience.

There's an amber dusting on each puff. It looks a bit like cinnamon, but it tastes distinctly mapley. It's also oddly buttery, too. Just like a real pancake. The flavor grew on me quickly.

Not the beautiful wifey, however. She was still saying they tasted weird after a couple handfuls and told me I could finish the bag. I happily did. It took me more than one sitting, but I finished the whole thing in less than 24 hours. I thought they were addicting.

$2.49 for the 4 oz bag. Vegan. Gluten free. I'd buy again. Sonia wouldn't. She says she didn't think they were gross per se, but rather they're just not her thing. She'd prefer a cheese or sour cream and onion flavored puff.

I think these could easily become churro flavored puffs if they substituted cinnamon for the maple and molasses flavors. I'd try that version, too. Three out of five stars from Sonia on Trader Joe's Maple Pancake Flavored Puffs. Four and a half from this guy.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Trader Joe's Super Seedy Cheese Snack Bites


Mmmkay. This is one of those "sexy" new items I was talking about last week when I promised I'd review something more interesting than common pantry fare soon-ish. Trader Joe's Super Seedy Cheese Snack Bites are definitely new, but are they really that sexy?

Welp, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say...no. But let's look at both sides of this equation. There are some things working here. Let's try to be positive and look at that stuff first.

Parmesan cheese. The number one ingredient. I like parmesan. These are indeed parmesan-laden and cheesy and that's the "CHEESE" part of the product title. In my humble opinion the cheesiness is good and the intensity is about right.


What else is working? The texture. These things are crispy and crunchy in a very unique way. I tried to capture the texture visually with the new macro feature on my phone camera. Pretty cool, right? You can see all the rifts, ridges, nooks, crannies, and seediness up close. 

Of course, that photo is larger than life. I mean...depending upon the size of your monitor screen. Maybe if you're on mobile right now, it's just about life size. But then I don't know how big your phone is. Maybe I should just tell you how big they are. Fortunately, there's a ruler right behind me as I write this.

They are 1.25 inches by 1.375 inches on average. Nearly square. Like maybe two or three small bites a piece for me.

So let's move on to what's not working: nearly everything else. The overall taste of these is like black pepper. And I like black pepper. Is it the peppercorns? I guess. They're overwhelming. It's a pungent, acrid, bitter pepper punch in each and every bite. Actually some bites are worse than others. It builds up on the tongue and honestly I can only eat one or two crisps at a time. They're very light, too, in terms of density. If the peppercorn flavor were tempered a bit, I think I'd plow through the bag in one or two sittings easily.

TL;DR - Crunchy parmesan aspects are nice. Peppercorn element is overpowering.

$3.49 for the 2.8 oz bag. I give Trader Joe's Super Seedy Cheese Snack Bites with Puffed Quinoa & Whole Peppercorns two out of five stars. Sonia liked hers in tomato soup okay, although she agrees they're not great on their own. Three stars from her.

Bottom line: 5 out of 10.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Trader Joe's Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert Chocolate Fudge Oat Bars


Let's kick the new year off right. It's January, and everybody's craving frozen treats, right? No? Well then, let's crank up the heat, put on a tropical island screen saver, and pretend it's the middle of July. Not every review can be seasonally appropriate.

I've honestly been surprised how well oat lends itself to fudge and chocolate flavors. In almost every case, these oats and oat milk-based products would have been a godsend if I were still on my milk-free diet as I was as a child, or for that matter, if I were vegan. I'm thinking these Chocolate Fudge Oat Bars, the recently-reviewed Very Chocolatey Oat Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert, and Trader Joe's Oat Chocolate Bars.

Conversely, in each case, these chocolatey oat desserts fall just shy of my good old dairy-based stand-by treats. Although it's not really my thing these days, I used to love a good Fudgesicle circa junior high and high school. That's basically what these are: vegan fudge popsicles.

They taste fudgey enough for me, although they might fall a hair shy of the originals in terms of rich chocolatey goodness and creaminess. Still, for being oat-based, it's hard to complain, since the differences are negligible.

Texture-wise, they're sorta creamy-ish, I guess, but also almost a tad oily I'd say. Is it the cocoa butter? Sunflower lecithin? Both? It's not really unappetizing, just unique. The mouthfeel of this product is...interesting.

$3.49 for four bars. It seems odd there are only four. Six would be ideal by my estimate. Sonia gives these oaty treats four out of five stars. I give Trader Joe's Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert Chocolate Fudge Oat Bars three out of five stars.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Trader Joe's O' Nog

History repeats itself. After trying Trader Joe's O' Nog for the first time, I think Sonia said verbatim the same thing she said after tasting Trader Joe's Almond Nog.

"I like this better than regular egg nog."

Blasphemy. Culinary heresy, pure and simple. Vegans and lactose intolerants, you guys get a free pass. But the beautiful wifey is neither of those.

I'm just kidding. She's free to think silly things like that. And I'm free to think that traditional egg nog will never be surpassed by anything non-dairy.

But comparing this to full calorie, milk-based, egg-laden nog is unfair in some ways. So let's look at it for what it is: it's an oat-based beverage that very nearly approximates the flavor of traditional egg nog. It got the sweetness level right. It got the spice blend right. And it came very close to getting the creaminess right.


The texture, like the almond nog, is noticeably more watery than the real stuff. And while the almond nog was predictably nutty, this oat beverage is predictably grainy in a similar sense, flavor-wise.

This drink reminds Sonia of atole, or atole blanco, a traditional corn-based Mexican beverage usually served hot. So, logically, Sonia tried Trader Joe's O' Nog warmed up and she absolutely loved it. I must agree it works as a hot beverage, possibly even better than it does when served cold.

I can verify it works well when mixed with bourbon. I'd assume, like egg nog or almond nog, that it would go great with rum, brandy, J├Ągermeister, or any number of alcoholic additives, too.

It's not just dairy-free, but also vegan, soy free, gluten free, and lactose free. The only ingredients not in the "2% or less" category are water, hydrolyzed oats, and cane sugar.

$2.99 for the quart. Sonia will go with four stars again. I'll go with a solid three for the noble effort on Trader Joe's O' Nog Non-Dairy Oat Beverage.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

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


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