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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Trader Joe's Strawberry Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert

I hate to start things off with a semi-non-related gripe, but, well, it's my blog post and you can't stop me. Last week the night before my birthday, all I wanted to do was go out to Rita's with Sandy, Baby M, and our trusty mutt (he usually gets a dish of vanilla ice cream on the house there!). Anyways, I had to work a little late, come home home, make dinner, eat dinner, and deal with the usual little delays that come with having a not-quite two month old baby. Despite all that, we got to Rita's at 9:55pm. That shouldn't have been a problem, as that location closes at 10, we parked right in front, maybe three spaces aways, within easy eye shot, the lil snot-faced teenie bopper running the joint snapped the window closed and closed the blinders and turned off the light. Granted, we were the jerks showing up 5 minutes before closing time...but it was 5 minutes before closing time. Take the 30 seconds to scoop me and my wife some Italian ice, and my dog a dish of ice cream, and make us happy. Heck, I'd even be inclined at that point to not use the BOGO coupon I had in my wallet. Jerks.

Anyways, we had to settle for a not-nearly-as-good Squishee from the gas station next door. And I'm not saying that I'll never go to Rita's again, because that's just a bold-faced lie. But between that experience, and Sandy apparently having to be mindful of dairy intake because Baby M seems to be a lil' sensitive about it, we're going to try and see what other frozen non-dairy delights we can find.

That search brought us to Trader Joe's, more specifically to Trader Joe's Strawberry Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert. It's just like ice cream, minus the whole "cream" part, at least as it pertains to moo cows. Instead, it's made from coconut milk, and in fact is completely vegan. For the record, it's also gluten-free. And you know what? It's absolutely delicious, to the point that I can't believe we didn't finish the pint in one sitting. The strawberry flavor is so full and rich that it tasted like a bowl of frozen mashed strawberries, except smooth and creamy and without all the little seeds. Loved it, and I swear that, unlike most things, it tasted better with each bite. There's no such thing as the law of diminishing returns here. Initially surprisingly to me, it doesn't taste much like coconut, until I remembered that coconut milk doesn't necessarily taste a lot like coconut, and indeed there's no little flakes of it about. It's soft, sweet, and addicting. For a self proclaimed ice cream expert, I don't think there's a higher compliment.

Sandy and I plopped down on the couch the other night with the pint-sized carton and two spoons and went to town. As she was scooping up her first bite, Sandy exclaimed, "Oooooh, it's soft!...That means it's good!" And she was not lying at all. There's also a chocolate version of this dessert, which we haven't tried yet, but will be probably as soon as our next TJ's stop. In Sandy's mind, there's nothing that could possibly be any better about our strawberry ice non-cream, so she's going with a full-handed five. Me? I could choose to quibble some over the price (it was somewhere between four and five bucks, closer to five, I think) but, I figure, with a little self-control we can each get two desserts out of it, making it about half the price of going out somewhere (you listening to me, Rita's???...of course, if I find more coupons...). what I'd say, although, is some actual little strawberry bits would be welcome, but not absolutely necessary. It's not too often we have two pantheon entries in one week, but when we pick 'em, we pick 'em good.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Strawberry Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert: 9.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons
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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Trader Joe's Soft-Baked Snickerdoodles

Back before I discovered Trader Joe's about 8 years ago, if someone would have tried to sell me on gluten-free, vegan snickerdoodles, I wouldn't have been even a little bit interested.

Even as it stands, I have mad respect for Trader Joe's, but stuff that says "Free of the 8 common allergens" is still a gamble, regardless of where it's from, in my opinion. I thoroughly disagree with the people who answer the question "What's Good at Trader Joe's?" with "everything." If that were true, this blog would be entirely unnecessary.

Be that as it may, if I had to put money on some brand—any brand—being capable of making something hypo-allergenic, relatively healthy, and really tasty, it would be on the Trader Joe's store brand. And whaddaya know? They did it again.

These things are amazing. They are truly soft, reminiscent of something freshly-baked, especially if you microwave them for a few seconds. Bursting with near-homemade pastry tastes and textures, the ingredients of these cookies seem almost unbelievable: sorghum flour, dates, grapes, and apple and pear juices are at the top of the list.

The cookies taste like cinnamon and brown sugar, with undertones of the aforementioned fruit juices. There's the tiniest bit of grittiness, but no more than a traditional snickerdoodle. These are an unbelievable find for anyone, especially those with food allergies. If you're gluten-intolerant, these could very well be the best thing in your cupboard since gluten-free sliced bread.

Sonia's even more enthused about them than I am. Another triumph for Trader Joe's and a must-try for people with sensitivities to wheat, milk, eggs, soy, or peanuts. Four and a half stars from me. Five stars from Sonia.

Bottom line 9.5 out of 10

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