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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Trader Joe's Crunchy Black & White Rice Rolls

I can already see all of the log-term readers of this blog rolling your eyes as I type this, but I'm going to try and eat healthier, and this time, I really, truly, honestly mean it. Scout's honor. Cross my heart and hope to (not) die. And I hear you thinking inside your head, "Oh, that's some New Year's Resolution that he'll give up on any day now, and before we know it, Ol' Chubbo will be back to doing stuff like writing a double review of chocolate potato chips AND pumpkin cheesecake in no time flat." Welllll....normally you'd probably be right. This time is different, though, I swear. I've decided to be a lot more intentional about food, in a lot of different ways, and if you're interested in such endeavors, scope out my new side-blog, Gruel Intentions. That'll keep me accountable, you'll see!

It's these new habits that both Sandy and I are trying to form that led us to our purchase of Trader Joe's Crunchy Black & White Rice Rolls. We saw them at the checkout lane, which was been the previous snagging hotspot for many fine grabs all chocolatey and sweet. Not this time.

And they're not bad. They're less like rice cakes but more like puffed rice. That's maybe a fine distinction to draw, but, well, there it is. I associate rice cakes with being more Styrofoam-y than puffed rice. Unlike rice cakes, these taste and feel 100% biodegradable. Other than that, there's not too much that's exactly special about them. I'm kind of skeptical of the claim of black rice because 1) I've never heard of black rice before 2) all of the roll is the same rice-y white and 3) black rice is one extra consonant away from being one of things I hate the most in the entire world and make a habit of trying to avoid, however impossible at times. It's a pretty uniform stick that's crunchy and munchy and a little sweet, and good enough plain, although some of my favorite TJ's peanut butter would be absolutely killer on it (killer, as in tasty, not in killer, as in still recalled because of salmonella. Sad panda).

Sandy's enamored with them. "They're crunchy and sweet, and not that bad for you at all!" she says. Our Weight Watcher app informs us that one of these is only one WW point. That's not bad for a light snack on the go. She's going almost all out with a 4.5. Me? I kinda wish they had some more flavor, or perhaps some variety - like, say, have a wasabi seaweed variety? Why not? Also, I kinda wish the dimensions of these were a little smaller, as they're way too big to take a full bite of, at least for me. No matter. I like them just enough to say a 3.5.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Crunchy Black & White Rice Rolls: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Trader Joe's 10 Minute Bulgur

It's very easy to get all caught up in all the unusual goodies that Trader Joe's offers that it's pretty easy, at least for me, to overlook some of the wholesome, down to earth, deliciously good stuff they carry without all the fanfare. I'm talking about things like an inexpensive alternative to a cereal classic, or a versatile bread that has 513 different uses, and things of the like. I mean, sure, it's easy to get all excited about this or that or these, but you can't (at least you shouldn't) compose your diet of just those. Trader Joe's, despite not quite being a complete grocery store, does a pretty adequate job of filling in the margins, and more times than not, in unexpectedly surprisingly good ways. It's nice to know that for as many of the "big things" they do right that get all the attention, all the small stuff doesn't get overlooked.

I kinda thought about that when Sandy snatched some Trader Joe's 10 Minute Bulgur on a recent trip. Honestly, I've probably always been too mesmerized by everything else to ever notice the bulgur there before, so it's probably been around forever. But, really, this is a pretty good find, even before trying it. Around our area, bulgur's usually only available in ethnic Turkish groceries, which while fun to go to, aren't always necessarily convenient.

If you're not familiar with bulgur, think of quinoa, only a little denser and a wee bit chewier. A great way to try it out is to make some bulgar pilavi, which is exactly what Sandy did. She's made it before, but not in years, so it's hard to make a direct comparison using TJ's bulgar as the key difference. No matter, the end result was pretty tasty. The bulgar did seem perhaps a little drier then we've recalled, but for all we know that could've been more Sandy being a little out of practice than on the bulgur. Prep-wise, Sandy had no complaints, as it certainly cooked up a little quicker than regular bulgur. Overall, it made a delicious little dinner along with our salad and turkey meatballs - no complaints here whatsoever from me.

Sandy wasn't quite as happy as I was. I'm guessing something in the texture was a little off for her (it takes a little getting used to), but she'll be ready enough to give it another try the next time the hankerin' for some bulgur pilavi hits. As an alternative to rice or pasta or potatoes, I'm hoping that'll be soon. She gives it a three. I'm willing to give the bulgur a little more of the benefit of the doubt and say a four.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's 10 Minute Bulgar: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons.

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