Google Tag

Search This Blog

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Trader Joe's Contemplates...Inner Peas

I'll admit it, I wasn't eager to try out Trader Joe's Contemplates...Inner Peas. It has nothing to do with the terrible reach for a pun for the name, either. It's just that, normally speaking, if I were to be in the mood for something crispy and vegetably-inspired, why not eat, I don't know, any actual vegetable?  I mean, that's an ideal to strive for, to hunger for fresh produce instead of some pseudo-wanna be-potato chip-type thing, and one I'll freely admit to falling short of quite often. That doesn't change my position, though. Not only that, but with just an exception or two, I have not been a fan of most of TJ's crunchy vegetable snackies - I mean, one of them tastes like a stale McDonald's fry, for goodness' sake. Semirelatedly, I flat out refuse to try their seaweed snacks (wasabified or not) because just the name brings back some bad memories of Japanese rice cracker/seaweed snack my dad liked when I was growing up. Nearly made me upchuck every time.

Sandy, though? I'm not sure how artfully my photo hides the large gaping gash at the top of the package where she eagerly and ravenously ripped it open in anticipation of all the little munchy green pea sticks inside. I mean, girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, I guess, but let me take a proper picture first. I guess by that, she's just demonstrating how far up her alley a snack like this is. Maybe she just couldn't have her inner peace until she had her Inner Peas. Great, now I'm making bad puns, too.

As far as the snackety snack goes, I am neither appalled by them, nor am I overly enamored, either. To me, an Inner Pea just tastes like a crunchy, semi-Styrofoamy stick that tastes a little salty, slightly oily, and however slightly reminiscent of a pea. And believe me, I can definitely tell when something's made from rice flour, as it usually tastes a little off to me. There's no mistake here - they're ricey, and for all that, gluten still sneaks in somewhere. Aside from that, if you told me these were mummified green beans, I'd probably believe it. Maybe that's your kinda thing. Maybe you use them as a dipstick for some good hummus, and that's probably a half-decent idea I wish I would have considered before these al disappeared. By themselves, though, they're kinda nondescript and while "bland" is not the right word, "flavorful" certainly isn't, either. They're just kinda...there. Maybe, for my palate they're just too contemplative and peasfull...dang, another one...sorry!

Sandy might like them a little more, but she's not exactly bowled over, either. "They're not great, but they're not bad either," she said. Based on her aforementioned eagerness, that almost sounded like a slight indictment to me, so I was a little surprised when she gave them a 3.5 rating. Sandy did, however, add that she'd probably like them more if they were in a salad or something of the sort. Me? I'm willing to allow for the fact that the pea sticks just aren't my kinda thing, so I'd be willing to be slightly more generous if not for my wife's rather muted reaction. I don't know, I'll say a 2.5 from me. I'm at peas with that.

Okay, I'm just gonna leave now.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Contemplates...Inner Peas: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Filled with Speculoos Cookie Spread

In a recent post, I mentioned that Sonia and I aren't in the habit of purchasing random chocolate bars from the checkout at TJ's. That was a big lie. On our last Trader Joe's run, we did just that. After the success of such items as the Speculoos Cookie Butter and other dark chocolate candy bars like this one, we decided this little snack might be worth a purchase.

This chocolate bar was tasty. But the two main ingredients didn't blend together quite like I had hoped they would. For those of you who've tried the Cookie Butter, you know that it's pretty sweet and has a good bit of taste, but the rich, bitter tang of the dark chocolate was enough to virtually drown out the speculoos' flavor. It's not that they skimped on the Cookie Butter here. Just looking at each chocolate square, you'd think the gingerbread sweetness of the speculoos would be the dominant flavor...but sadly, it isn't. There was a hint of creaminess in each little chocolate square, but it still felt and tasted basically like a regular dark chocolate bar—not unlike this one

So really, it's a pretty safe purchase as long as you're a fan of dark chocolate. Even if you don't like gingersnap type flavors, I don't think there's enough in there to ruin the chocolatiness. But if you're hoping for big bursts of that TJ's Speculoos Cookie Butter that you've come to know and love, you might find this chocolate bar falls short of its potential. I'd really like to try the same thing with white chocolate or milk chocolate instead of dark. I think the flavors might blend a little better. And a bit more cookie butter couldn't hurt, either.

Sonia gives this little treat a 3.5. Me too.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Trader Joe's Organic Frosted Toaster Pastries

Mornings sure have been a lot different over the past week or so here at the Pittsburgh WGaTJ homestead. Sandy's back to work with Baby M tagging along, which is a nice perk of working at a daycare, ahem, early childhood education center.* Since we try to carpool as much as possible, that makes for one busy busy morning of waking up, getting myself ready, getting a baby who doesn't want to be awake yet ready, while gently nagging/slightly hollering at the wife who REALLY doesn't want to be awake yet to get moving as well. We're both far from morning people, so add in the extra tiredness of waking up at 4 a.m. to change the diaper (my job) and feed the baby (Sandy's) and falling asleep for whatever winks we can get after that to get up and running, well, it barely leaves time to do much else besides the bare minimum. Not that I'm complaining. Wouldn't change daddyhood for the world, and I certainly wouldn't change diapers for anyone else, either.

Naturally, a good, quick munchie on the go is in order to help get the engines fired. While I can wait for my French press at work for coffee (why did you discontinue my favorite, TJ's?), I need something to head off the rumbly in my tumbly right away. For a long while, my fuel of choice has been a quick pb sandwich but my favorite one is recalled right now, leaving me in search of other options. I guess being my favorite comes with a heavy, heavy price.

Well, nothing bad ought to ever, ever happen to Trader Joe's Organic Frosted Toaster Pastries. At least,  sure as all heck hope not. The obvious comparison is, well, pretty obvious. Listen, this ain't no Pop Tart. TJ's got themselves a product markedly better. Let me count the ways. First, the pastry shell is made with whole wheat. Sorry for the gluten-free crowd, but that's a win over whatever overly refined stuff the competition uses. It tastes wheatier and better and healthier, plus I think that's why these seem a little more filling/satisfying than the regular fare. Of course, I have no idea if they're actually really any healthier, but I'm just assuming so, because that's what the word "organic" means to me. Second, the filling itself - we've tried just the cherry pomegranate variety, and the filling tastes like real, actual fruit instead of glucosey/corn syrupy colored sugary gunk. Okay, hmm, on that point, they probably are healthier. Works for me. Add on enough purplish frosting and sparkly sugar on top that it'd make Prince blush for a little added taste, and these will more than hold me over for the 10 a.m test.

 We both like them quite a bit and I know we'll be buying them again our next go-around. I had to talk Sandy out of eating a pack on a Sunday morning when we had a lot more time AND leftover carrot cake for a sweet breakfast treat. She said something silly about really really really really liking them, but I fail to remember what that was. We also failed to try them out after toasting them, because, well, who has time for that when there's a screaming hungry baby to drive across town during rush hour before feeding her? Not us. No matter. Sandy gives them a solid four, while I'll up that a notch. They're not our favorite breakfast pastry from TJ's, but on a busy morning, they'll more than suffice.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Organic Frosted Toaster Pastries: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons
*That's not to disparage my wife's workplace one bit. In all honesty, it's a pretty topnotch place, and even that's a bit of an understatement. I just like to see her reaction when I slip up and call it daycare. 

You Might Like: