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Friday, March 21, 2014

Trader Joe's Thai Style Citrus Chicken Salad

Another month, another dietary page being turned here at the Western PA bookend of the WGATJ team. I'm not gonna really bother rehashing most of the past because, well, it's kinda boring and ultimately fairly mixed results at best. Our newest thing: the 21 day fix. I'll admit, as is our custom, I was pretty skeptical while Sandy very gung-ho about it. She did the first go around and lost about 10 pounds in three weeks, and I'll you what: there was nothing wrong with how she looked before, but now, let's just say, extra fine. Meanwhile, my weight loss/get in shape DIY plan has kinda plateaued after some decent results (lost about 35-40 pounds since my pregnancy-sympathy-cheeseburger-fueled peak), so I'm now giving it a try. Not the hugest fan so far. If you're not familiar, it's basically a repackaging of portion-control ideals mixed with exercise videos led by over-ecstatic half-naked people with a side of near-contempt for carbs (understandable) and dairy (whiskey tango foxtrot?). There's also an overpriced shake you can drink every night that if you try hard enough you can forget it has a very distinctive Alka-Seltzer aftertaste.

Anyways, we were both in need to find a lunch that easily fit into our diet, and would be hopefully tasty to boot. Our local Trader Joe's used to have only a small handful of salads to choose from; now, there's close to twenty, and so an early A.M. trip to scope them out seemed like a worthwhile endeavor. That's how we both came away with our own Thai Style Citrus Chicken Salad to give a whirl.

I'll give it this: it's a pretty flavorful little package that's pretty fun to crunch through. Almost everything is literally crunchy: the cabbage (there's a few types), the carrots - with lots of flavor assist by cilantro and scallions and the like. It all seemed pretty fresh, especially by prepackaged salad standards. Big plus: the little lime wedge that comes with to squeeze out for a little extra flavor. And the dressing kinda helped tie everything together with a gentle yet potent citrus flavor, and a little goes a long way, especially with adequate lime implementation. That's a bonus as most of the fat, calories, and assorted bad stuff are all in the dressing. I used maybe half the packet and that was more than enough. If you're looking at the word "Thai" and concerned about spiciness, don't be; there's next to none to be found here. It's much more flavor than heat.

The problem is, there's not a whole lot of it, even by fairly restrictive portion control standards. There were five miniscule nibbles of chicken in it - I'd estimate at best it'd be an actual quarter serving. Okay, I'll be generous: a third. The rest of the salad amounted to large handful of assorted veggies. Even Sandy, Ms. Portion Control Squadron Commander herself, said it seemed a lot more like a side salad than a main entree. Even after eating an apple and a couple handfuls of baby carrots, and drinking lots of water, I was downright hangry by dinnertime. For $3.99 a pop, I'd hope for more.

It's worth trying, but come prepared. There's some other fresh salads with some cous-cous and other tasty looking mix-ins that I'll probably try out before getting this particular salad again. Get a respectable amount of bird and some more veggies in there, and then we're talking. It's not like there isn't room in the container. Halve the dressing packet if you really need to. Eh. Good thing that what's in there is pretty tasty and flavorful. Though, upon inspecting the ingredients, I don't really recall tasting any papaya in there, but I could be wrong. Sandy gives it about 3.5, while I go a little lower.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Thai Style Citrus Chicken Salad: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Trader Joe's French Toast

Dear Trader Joe's,
Really? Just French Toast? Meh. You guys do strange stuff way better than normal stuff. Since you seem to be having a difficult time coming up with unusual things to do with your French Toast, here are some ideas: Gluten Free French Toast. Dark Chocolate Covered French Toast. French Toast on a Stick. Pumpkin French Toast (seasonal). French Toast Joe-Joe's. (Bite sized French toast flavored cookie sandwiches with maple syrup flavored filling). French Toast Ice Cream (Mini French toast bites suspended in French vanilla ice cream with ribbons of maple goo swirled throughout). I apologize if any of these products already exist or are in the works. In that case, I guess you can just
chalk it up to "great minds thinking alike." I realize most of your products originate from third parties, but it's really tempting for me to imagine this carnival-like think tank full of foodies and food scientists at Trader Joe's HQ—like a cross between Willy Wonka's chocolate factory and that time Bart visited MAD the culinary equivalent of Google. If that is, in fact, what your corporate offices are like, you must hire me immediately. I would prefer your East Coast Headquarters in Boston. Consider this my cover letter.
Nathan M. Rodgers

But seriously though, plainness aside, Trader Joe's French Toast might be a viable option for French toast lovers that don't have time to whip up a batch on their own. This product was definitely one instance when the microwave worked better than other cooking options. The toaster, though simple and convenient, made the French toast too hard and kinda dry. French toast is better when it's on the soft side and almost mushy. There weren't many weird artificial ingredients, which is always nice, but the product wasn't exactly bursting with flavor in my opinion. Butter and syrup definitely helped, although it's still not the best French toast I've had. But we can't be too hard on it since it's pre-packaged and can be ready in a few short minutes. I think in this case, we're looking at 3.5 stars from Sonia and 3 stars from me.

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.
6.5 isn't a terrible score. Don't be too hard on yourself, Big Joe. We still love you. How much do we love you? We love you 500 posts worth. That's right, the team here has collectively posted 500 different reviews, often reviewing two or more products in one article. Don't believe us? Go ahead and count 'em. We probably would have given up long ago if it weren't for you, our faithful readers. Thank you so much for your input, comments, shares, likes, pageviews, and follows.

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