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Showing posts with label vegan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegan. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Trader Joe's Savory Squares


Ah, nice. New crackers. Might as well try 'em. Kosher. Vegan. Gluten free, too, eh? Must be rice-based or something like that. Wait. Nut and seed flour? Tapioca, almond, sunflower seed, flaxseed, and potato-based?? Now this I gotta taste. To be honest, I'm a bit skeptical, but there's no way we're not trying these immediately.


From the moment you open the bag, there's an interesting smell. It's nutty, I'd say...not very cheesy to be honest...and definitely not like your ordinary wheat-based cracker. And the taste? I'm glad I went in with zero expectations, because I think I would have been disappointed if I had been craving a traditional Cheez-It type cracker. I mean, sure, it's an obvious comparison, but I don't find these fascinating alternative crackers to be a substitution for the classic wheat and cheese-based snack. 

I wouldn't say they're better than Cheez-Its. I wouldn't really say they're worse, either. They're just...different. I'm quite puzzled by these other reactions online that say these are "100% a dupe for a Cheez-It." I strongly disagree with that assertion.

These are like wannabe Cheez-Its from a health food store. I grew up with a wheat allergy when I was young. This tastes like the weird, expensive stuff my parents would give me to make me think I wasn't missing out on anything. When my friends would sneak me a taste of the real deal, I knew I was missing out on something.

As I got older, however, items with that health food store kinda vibe really grew on me. As a young adult without access to a Trader Joe's, I found myself craving that alternative stuff but actually buying the name brand wheat-based products simply because they were cheaper and easier to find in regular grocery stores. Now I'm middle-aged and I can buy original Cheez-Its or their alternative flour counterparts whenever I want to.

I'm not usually in the mood for cheesy crackers, but if I got a craving, I'd probably just get traditional Cheez-Its three quarters of the time and something like Trader Joe's Savory Squares the other quarter. Sonia doesn't like the aftertaste of these crackers. She thinks they're a little too bitter. She also thinks the texture is too hard and dense as compared to Cheez-Its and other wheat-based crackers.

$3.99 for the five serving box. I appreciate these crackers for their unique ingredients and pleasant crunchy texture but I don't think they're really my thing in the end. Six out of ten stars from me. Sonia will go with six out of ten as well for Trader Joe's Savory Squares. Let us know what you think of this product down in the comments, particularly if you're on a vegan or gluten-free diet.



Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Trader Joe's Korean Beefless Bulgogi


Small minds discuss people. Average minds discuss events. Great minds discuss ideas.

I've always found that quote to be mostly accurate. I mean, none of us are immune from chatting about our fellow humans once in a while, but some folks are just absolutely fixated on gossip. I'm far from perfect and have my fair share of faults, but if you're focused on other people all the time, doesn't that imply that you lack purpose? If you're a man (or woman) on a mission, then you've got far better things to do with your time than wonder what others are doing with theirs. I digress.

One line I'd add to that brilliant quote in the opening paragraph: hungry minds discuss food. So let's do just that.


It's a fascinating idea: vegan meat being eaten by non-vegans. Why do it? Because once in a while the fake meat is as good or better than the real thing. I've only heard high praise about this product so I figured it was worth a whirl. Thanks for the rec, Alek.

The flavor of this meatless meat is savory and succulent. There's an interesting array of essences including soy, garlic, pear, apple, and onion. It's very similar to the traditional bulgogi in terms of flavor, but I don't think I like this offering quite as much.

Texture-wise, it's the opposite, surprisingly. I like the feel of this bulgogi just slightly more than the sometimes-gristly dead cow version. This bulgogi is moderately chewy and imitates the mouthfeel of fatty meat. Fatty meat isn't my favorite, but it's better than gristle.

Each piece is a uniform size, which I like. Real bulgogi usually includes big long stringy pieces and tiny pieces and everything in between. Also these are quite thin. Considering their chewiness, any thicker would have made the mastication process overly difficult. Both Sonia and I wish there was a bit more sauce. Most bulgogi is significantly wetter and saucier than this offering, which might be attributable in part to the fact that we heated these in the air fryer.

$4.99 for a decent amount of vegan bulgogi. Sonia and I both give the same score on this one, and in the end, it'll get the exact same score we gave to the beef-ful bulgogi. Seven out of ten stars for Trader Joe's Beefless Bulgogi.

What do you think of this product? Have you tried both the regular bulgogi and the vegan bulgogi from Trader Joe's? Are you vegan and really love or really hate this product? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.



Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Monday, April 15, 2024

Trader Joe's Japchae Stir Fry


Sweet potato noodles sounded tasty, so I decided to check these out. They're sweet potato glass noodles, in fact. I'm assuming the name came from the appearance since they're translucent and do indeed look like thin shards of orange-tinted glass.

Never had japchae before. Apparently, it's a Korean dish, and it's actually pronounced like "chap-chay." It's often served with meat, which I could have added, but in the end I decided to just stick with the included veggies: spinach, onions, carrots, and red and green bell peppers.


It took 10 minutes on the stove top with medium-high heat instead of the prescribed three. Surprise, surprise. The dish is perfectly edible all by itself but I did have most of my portion with a bit of soy sauce. The sodium content is already significant...so I probably should have just gone without.

The noodles were soft, stretchy, and chewy, yet somewhat delicate, too. They were quite thin and very easy to eat with chopsticks. The veggies were all crisp and felt fairly fresh despite having been recently frozen. The only exception might have been a leaf or two of spinach that had extremely tough stems, which I simply removed.


$3.49 for the 2 serving package. Sonia and I both liked the taste and texture of the noodles quite a bit, though they're not particularly filling. Some folks who know the dish claim it's kinda sorta authentic, others say not so much. Sonia would definitely buy this item again. I think I might, too. Four stars from the beautiful wifey, three and a half from me for Trader Joe's Japchae Korean Sweet Potato Glass Noodles & Vegetable Stir Fry.



Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Trader Joe's Oat Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert Sandwiches


Oat milk is like, milk, but from cows that only eat oats, right? I once made the facetious argument that instead of nut milks, food manufacturers should use milk from vegan cows since they would logically yield vegan milk. I explained in the very next paragraph that the whole thing was a joke, but I still got a few snide remarks informing me that milk from vegan cows is not, in fact, vegan. Thanks for the tip. Unfortunately, I'm still one of those weirdos that prefers real cow's milk.

I suppose it's not fair to compare non-dairy oat beverage treats with actual dairy-based desserts. But once you're hooked on the creaminess of real milk and ice cream, it's hard to get used to anything else. Mostly out of curiosity, I've sampled all different types of non-dairy desserts and beverages: coconut, almond, soy, cashew, oat...you name it. I like them all just fine, but none have ever stolen the title from good old moo juice.


That said, these oat-based "ice cream" sandwiches are about as good as one could possibly expect. The oat milk is sweet and pleasant. It's just a shade more watery than traditional ice cream, but it's still somewhat thick and smooth.

The chocolate wafers are soft, and they have a nice cocoa flavor that pairs well with the frozen dessert. Everything else from the wrappers to the shape of the sandwiches emulates the traditional ice cream sandwiches I enjoyed every summer as a teenager.


For $3.69, you get six of the non-dairy desserts. I probably wouldn't buy these again if I'm honest, but I'd heartily recommend them to vegans and lactose intolerant folks. Sonia agrees, though she's a tad more fond of the flavor than I am. Four stars from her. Three and a half from me for Trader Joe's Oat Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert Sandwiches.



Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Trader Joe's Kanom Krok Thai Coconut Pancakes


Dang, I need to start being more adventurous when I go to Thai restaurants. If it's a place I've never been to before, nine times out of ten I'll get the pad thai on my first go around. On subsequent occasions, I might try some sort of curry or soup, but I rarely grab appetizers or desserts that I've never heard of. I've apparently been missing out.


So...people seem to be calling these "Thai pancakes." I guess I can see where that comes from. But to me, a pancake is a breakfast food—something carboriffic that you'd eat first thing in the morning alongside juice, toast, and milk. These do have a thin, crispy, doughy exterior layer, but that's just the outer shell.

It would be more accurate to call these "Thai coconut cream pies" in my opinion, because the main attraction here is the sweet, smooth pudding-like filling in the middle of the little dome-shaped treats. It's ├╝ber-coconutty and utterly superb.

The packaging says they're a good "balance of salty and sweet." Yeah, no. I'm not saying there's no salt in them, but you wouldn't reach for these if you wanted something salty. You'd reach for these when you want a blast of dessert-o-riffic silky coconut perfection—like a coconut cream pie, but better.

There's not much in the way of actual coconut texture. If you're one of those folks that doesn't like the feel of coconut shavings, you're in luck. The custard filling is fairly thick but extremely smooth. The beautiful wifey likened the creamy filling to the coconut version of sweetened condensed milk.

$3.29 for nine kanom krok, which are about two bites a piece. I really wish they sold a larger pack because it took Sonia and I about 90 seconds to demolish this entire box. If you enjoy the taste of coconut, these things are amazing. Incidentally, this was the item my Trader Joe's cashier chose for her obligatory "compliment one of the customer's choices" on my last TJ's run. No wonder. Four and a half stars a piece from the two of us for Trader Joe's Kanom Krok Thai Coconut Pancakes.



Bottom line: 9 out of 10.

Friday, March 8, 2024

Trader Joe's Organic Chocolate Chip Granola Bites


Well, this is pretty much your average chocolate chip granola bar rolled into tiny balls. There are five little bags of balls with about eight balls in each bag. Appropriately, each ball is a single bite...hence the name, "bites." It's not one of those products where they call them "bites" but they wind up being two or three bites each. These balls are indeed "bite-sized."

Okay, I've said the word "balls" enough to last me a while. I'll try to refrain from using it for the rest of this review.


The bites are sweet, oaty, and filling. Since the product is dairy-free, the chocolate bits have cocoa and sugar, but no milk. They balance out the grainy flavors pretty well. There's agave syrup and dried apple in there, too, but somehow the bites aren't overly sugary.

We like the artwork on the packaging both for being unique and clever, but also for being appropriate. These snacks are perfect for road trips and on-the-go snacking. Just one bag can curb the munchies pretty effectively and keep your blood sugar up for quite a while.


$2.99 for the box. Organic. Vegan. Gluten free. Would buy again. Four stars from Sonia. Three and a half from me for Trader Joe's Organic Chocolate Chip Granola Bites.



Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, March 1, 2024

Trader Joe's Organic Super Bread


Look! Up on the shelf in the baked goods section! It's a bagel! It's a pastry! It's Superbread!

I don't know if I'd call this bread "super" myself, but it is very earthy and seedy and unique, not to mention certified organic. For the third review in a row, Sonia is way more positive about the product than I am, although in the end, this product will get a thumbs up from me, too.

My in-laws have been sending us this delicious bread from Le Pain Quotidien that has nuts and seeds and dried fruit all through it. It's not dessert bread, but there is a bit of sweetness to it and it's amazing. I thought this bread might be Trader Joe's version of the same bread. And while it is similar in some ways, it's not quite as scrumptious as that LPQ selection.


Despite the "organic dried apple" mentioned in the ingredients, this bread really isn't very sweet at all. Aside from the wheat flour, seeds are far and away the dominant flavor and they add a lot to the texture, too. We've got pumpkin, flax, and sunflower here.

The most unexpected element? Carrots. I mean I guess it wouldn't be "unexpected" if I had actually bothered to read the front of the bag, but I tend to just impulsively yoink stuff off the shelves these days and ask questions later. But yeah, there are thin carrot slivers all through the bread. I wouldn't have expected that to work, but it does. Sonia is absolutely mad about the carrot bits. It'll be hard to go back to dollar store bread after this gourmet stuff.

Organic super bread isn't bad raw, but both Sonia and I prefer it toasted. It's nice with either butter or cream cheese. It's versatile enough to make sandwiches of all kinds. I don't know if I'd reach for this for, like, peanut butter and jelly. But for cold cuts and cheese it works well.

Organic. Kosher. $3.99 for the loaf. Sonia says a re-purchase is inevitable. That's fine, dear. That's fine. Four and a half stars from her. Like I said, I like it and will eat some here and there, but I can't muster quite the same enthusiasm as the beautiful wifey. Three and a half stars from me for Trader Joe's Organic Super Bread.



Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Trader Joe's Calamansi & Mango Sorbet


I’m on the record more than once stating that I like stuff in my frozen desserts—you know, mix-ins and chunks of cookie dough or something to bite down on. If I were to make a complaint about this sorbet, it would have to be that: the absence of fruit pieces…because there’s absolutely nothing else to complain about.

This might be the best sorbet I’ve ever tasted. The front of the pint describes the product as “tropical, citrusy, sweet, & refreshing” and I wouldn’t add or subtract anything from those adjectives. It’s just such a bright, clean flavor, I can’t imagine a citrus dessert tasting any better.


Texture-wise, the word “velvet” comes to mind. It’s a cold velvet, for sure, but very velvety nevertheless. It’s superbly smooth and light. I can’t get over how big the taste is without any kind of cloying syrupy feel. It literally and figuratively melts in your mouth.

This is only the second calamansi product I’ve ever had. The first was a citrus beverage from Trader Joe’s called Calamansi Cooler. It just works better with mango. I don’t know why. I guess I like the taste of mango. But this is somehow so much better than just mango.


$3.79 well spent. Sonia loves the product, too, but maybe not quite as much as I do. Will repurchase in the summertime for the refreshment factor. I could probably eat the whole pint in one sitting after mowing the lawn on a hot day. Vegan. Kosher. Five stars from me, four and a half from the beautiful wifey for Trader Joe’s Calamansi & Mango Sorbet.



Bottom line: 9.5 out of 10.

Monday, January 15, 2024

Trader Joe's Almond Chipotle Dip


I thought there was about a zero percent chance this stuff would even be edible. I've tried enough vegan dips, cheeses, condiments, and sauces in my day to know it's rare if those types of products are worth a single provisional purchase, let alone the times when they're actually good and could potentially become a household staple or replace something made with dairy. Here's the one exception I can think of off the top of my head: Trader Joe's Vegan Tzatziki Dip.

I'm equally impressed with this product. I thought it would taste like rancid almond butter with a few spices tossed into the mix. Nope. In fact, the almond butter base doesn't really interfere with the chipotle flavor at all somehow. It's only faintly nutty. The main essence of the dip is a spicy, tangy, zippy chipotle. It's slightly garlicky and smoky, but not over the top on either count. There's a hint of onions and black pepper, but it's mostly just chipotle flavor—in this case coming from a chipotle pepper powder.


Oddly, it's a bit thinner than almond butter. I'd say it's even thinner than most dairy-based chipotle dips I've had, but it still coats quite well. It also works fine that way because it packs quite a punch even if you use very little—it's only moderately spicy yet very flavorful.

We used it in place of cheese with nachos, as a taco sauce, a dip for chips, and a glaze for chicken. It even worked with veggies like carrots and broccoli. I'm surprised how versatile it proved to be.

$3.49 for the tub. Vegan. Would buy again. Four stars from me. Three and a half from Sonia for Trader Joe's Almond Chipotle Dip.



Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, November 3, 2023

Trader Joe's Non-Dairy Pumpkin Oat Beverage


You all know me. I'm a trooper. I'll try just about anything once. There are pumpkin products I love and pumpkin products I dislike, and everything in between. But this right here is pretty gross. I imagine it's about as close as I'll ever get to drinking a pumpkin spice candle.

I mean, we don't even have pumpkin spice cow's milk. Sure, I've had some killer pumpkin pie milkshakes in my day. And there are pumpkin coffee beverages galore, some of which are okay and some of which are not. But there's not really just plain pumpkin milk. So...just maybe the world doesn't need a dairy-free version of pumpkin milk..?


We tried the pumpkin almond beverage a few years back, and it wasn't good. It might have passed as a coffee creamer, but even that was pushing it. This stuff is an even paler shade of unnatural orange—not unlike orange cream milk or an orange creamsicle milkshake. Oh how I wish to God it tasted like an orange creamsicle.

It tastes like the dirty dishwater used to clean out several bowls of plain oatmeal...mixed with potpourri and a dash of pureed squash. The aftertaste is appalling. I just barely managed to down a couple swigs of it for this review. Never again.

Sonia, predictably, isn't nearly as disgusted as I am, although even she says she can't really taste pumpkin spices exactly. She thinks it needs more cinnamon. Yes. Okay. I'll agree with that. It definitely doesn't taste like cinnamon, and the taste of cinnamon is much less vile than the taste of this beverage, ergo, it could use some cinnamon I guess.

Sonia will finish the carton using it as a coffee creamer or to make her own potpourri lattes. $2.99 for the candle. Three out of five stars from the beautiful wifey. One star from me for Trader Joe's Non-Dairy Pumpkin Oat Beverage.



Bottom line: 4 out of 10.

Friday, October 13, 2023

Trader Joe's Mini Maple Marshmallows


After 14 years of marriage, I thought I knew all the culinary tricks my wife had up her sleeve. As I popped a couple of these maple-flavored marshmallows into my mouth, Sonia scolded, "Don't eat too many or I won't have enough to make rice crispy treats."

"You know how to make rice crispy treats?" I asked, dumbfounded.

"Literally everybody knows how to make rice crispy treats. It's SO easy," she replied.


I've mentioned it on this blog before, but I got a bad grade in home ec class. My little group couldn't even get rice crispy treats right. I mean, we had to repeat the assignment multiple times and we still couldn't produce edible food. We actually had to stay after school to chisel the charred remains of our project out of the pan. Basically, that whole episode scarred me for life and I haven't even attempted to make them since.

But Sonia whipped up a batch in like 10 minutes. She made it look so simple. I mean, neither of my parents ever made rice crispy treats, so I figured it must take some kind of wizard-level kitchen skills. Most of the ones I've had were the store-bought, pre-made kind. I've had homemade ones at potlucks and group picnics and such, and I always marveled that anyone had the talent to turn simple marshmallows and puffed rice into such a spectacular dessert treat.

But one thing I've never had: MAPLE rice crispy treats. So good! On their own, these marshmallows are super mapley and sweet. They're pretty much what you'd expect maple marshmallows to taste like, except maybe even better. They don't taste fake at all and there's no weird aftertaste.

When they're used in rice crispy bars, the maple flavor gets diluted just a tad, but there's still that sweet, nutty, caramel-esque maple goodness in the background. Combined with crisp rice, butter, and whatever else you baking geniuses put in those things, it's a delicacy you're sure to want next fall and every fall after that.

So, yes, we'd buy these again next year. Sonia wishes they sold them in a much larger bag. $2.99 for this 6 oz package. Four and a half stars from me. Four from Sonia for Trader Joe's Mini Maple Marshmallows.



Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Trader Joe's Vegan Italian Bolognese Ravioli


For those of you unfamiliar, bolognese sauce originates from Bologna, Italy and is traditionally made with beef or sometimes pork, and it's rich and hearty and commonly served on pasta. Some versions contain red wine, while most contain herbs and spices like rosemary, fennel, and/or oregano.

Here we have Trader Joe's Vegan Italian Bolognese Ravioli. Seems pretty straightforward: little round ravioli pasta pieces filled with that vegan bolognese sauce that we reviewed a few years ago? We liked that sauce okay, so filling ravioli with it will probably make a passable meal. Let's just dive right in.


The ravioli is very dainty here. Like each piece is simply two paper thin layers of pasta with a spoonful of a relatively thin tomato and lentil-based sauce inside. It has a pleasant, though not particularly pungent, array of spices. Tomato is far and away the dominant flavor.

Sonia wishes there were more of the sauce within each pasta round. I don't disagree, but I'd rather have a thicker, more robust sauce. It doesn't need to have meat, but even the lentils and tomatoes are crushed into oblivion and feel nearly liquefied. There's very little to chew on in this dish.


We actually wound up finishing the package by dumping Trader Joe's Calabrian Chili Spicy Pasta Sauce on the remainder. That stuff completely drown out the comparatively subtle flavors of the bolognese sauce and made the pasta much more flavorful. Everything's more exciting with that sauce on it.

There's nothing unpleasant about this pasta product, but it could be improved with greater quantities of the bolognese sauce and/or making it thicker, and even bulkier pasta on the ravioli would help.

$3.99 for the package, which Sonia and I easily finished in a single sitting. Three out of five stars from yours truly. Three and a half stars from the beautiful wifey for Trader Joe's Vegan Italian Bolognese Ravioli.



Bottom line: 6.5 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.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Trader Joe's Chai Tea Mints


Kind of a random little last-minute checkout stand kind of purchase here. I like mints. I like the flavor of chai tea. But I've never really craved a mint that tasted like chai.

But if Trader Joe's says I need chai tea mints, then maybe I need chai tea mints. Why not?

They're about the size of your average Altoid or other brand name mint. They are leaf-shaped and have leaf veins on one side and "TJ" on the other.


The taste? Hmmm. Kinda odd. I see where they get "chai" from, for sure. I guess it's the cardamom and black tea. You can taste it immediately. Later, you can taste the hint of peppermint oil mentioned on the ingredients list. There's something chalky both in taste and texture throughout the whole experience, though. I find it rather unpalatable. Is it the calcium stearate?

Do they even freshen your breath? Well, kinda. I guess it's better to smell like a chai tea latte than garlic, onions, and tuna fish...I mean, if that's, in fact, what you had for lunch...


About two bucks for a tiny tin of chai flavored mints. There are supposedly 57 pieces in there. Vegan. Would not buy again. Two and a half stars from me.

Sonia likes them enough. In regards to the discrepancy, she states, "Well, I like chai." I do too, wifey. However, I don't like chalk. She claims she doesn't detect the chalkiness. Four stars from her.

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.

Friday, March 3, 2023

Trader Joe's Meatless Ground


I wasn't particularly excited to try this product. I felt like it had a higher-than-average potential to be weird or gross. I have mixed feelings about all these newfangled fake meat products like Beyond and Impossible, etc. My experiences have ranged from being delighted by Del Taco's Beyond Tacos to spewing from both ends for about 18 hours straight after consuming an undercooked Booger King Impossible Whopper. Trader Joe's even offered their own Protein Patties a few years back. Not sure if they're around anymore.

What do all those bogus burger brands have in common? They're all refrigerated...like real meat. This stuff is dry and shelf stable at room temperature with a best by date about a year in the future. You reconstitute it yourself with hot water and oil. So...that just ups the potential nasty-factor exponentially if you ask me.


And yeah. It's weird. It's kinda gross. I suppose if you love the flavor of pea protein, you might like this. That's key for me: meatless meat can have pea protein in the ingredients all day long, but it can't actually taste like pea protein. 
In my humble opinion, this stuff tastes quite a bit like good, old fashioned pea protein and doesn't even come close to any meats I've ever had. They say it's like ground turkey or chicken. And while I'll admit it smelled and looked a bit like chicken while cooking, it definitely doesn't taste that way.

The texture is like wads of soggy paper. Not a fan. I tried cooking it and browning it a bit longer, but to no avail. Charred wads of soggy paper don't taste much better than undercooked wads of soggy paper.


There's a recipe for Meatless Macaroni on TJ's website. Lacking a few of the key ingredients, we whipped up a makeshift version of it, and it was...edible, thanks to the generous amounts of cheese and pasta we used.

$3.99 for the four serving resealable bag. I like the idea of having shelf stable "meat" ready in the back of the pantry for the day when real meat is unavailable for whatever reason, but this just isn't good enough for a repurchase. I've enjoyed fake meat and vegan burgers many, many times, but I can't say I'm an admirer of this product. Definitely wouldn't buy again. Two stars from me. Sonia will be even less lenient and throw out only one star for Trader Joe's Meatless Ground Plant-Based Crumbles.

Bottom line: 3 out of 10.

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