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Friday, May 23, 2014

Trader Joe's Coconut Cranberry Granola

Today's gonna be a good day.

It's Thursday morning when I'm writing this. I have this theory about Thursdays: they're the worst day of the week. Monday gets a lot of flak, yeah, but for me, it's the start of the work week, and I got a decent job which I'm thankful for and enjoy enough, so the start of the work week, although daunting, isn't that bad. Tuesday, Wednesday, eh whatever. But Thursday? Blah. By Thursday, I'm beginning to feel a little worn from the week, I'm ready for the weekend...but I still have Thursday and Friday to go. Friday? I'm in love.

But yes, today is going to be a good day. Doesn't matter I'm one week out from an emergency root canal (done on a Thursday, naturally) - Hey I can close my mouth and chew again. It doesn't matter that last night I got ripped off $10 at a local bar on a wings and beer night when someone (probably barstaff) pocketed the tenspot I paid for my first beer with - wings were good, had a good time with coworkers, I supported the local economy, and I'll consider it an extra generous tip, although I probably won't go back, Mike's Wife's Bar in Oakmont, PA (if you go there, pay with card, apparently). And, well, anything that can happen today shouldn't really matter or be all that bad, cuz I have me a good belly full of Trader Joe's Coconut Cranberry Granola.

I've been a big fan of TJ's granola in the past - maybe too earnest a fan, according to some of you. No matter. I hate too dry, too hard granola which I've gotten too often in the bulk bins at places like Whole Foods. This coco-cran-concoction is perfect bitewise - a little crunchy, a little crispy, even a little chewy, but remains crunchy from first spoonful to last gulp from the bowl. There's bigger and smaller clusters all over the place, interspersed with light, crispy coconut flakes and chewy, tart cranberries. It's a joy to eat. The granola itself has a light cinnamon flavor that jives with everything else perfectly in a tasty little balance - yum yum extra yum.

And like a good granola should, this gets me going for the day. Way back in the day I alluded to a "10 a.m. test" for cereals - namely, if I'm still reasonably full from a bowl at 10 a.m. Too often regular cereals just seem to make me even hungrier somehow, like they're made out of Chinese food or something. But oh no, not this granola. I ate a bowl a day or two ago at about 8:30, and it held me clear over til my lunch break at about 2 or 3. That's impressive. Well done.

Sandy also likes it, maybe not as much as I do, but still a pretty decent amount. "It's great for a little snack on the go, or if I save some for my afternoon yogurt, for a little crunch," she said. I've never been a huge fan of the yogurt and granola combo, but if you are, I'd imagine this would be a perfect mix-in. Speaking of perfection, I'm going with a full-out five, while Sandy is going a little lower but not by much. If Thursdays and the TJ's coconut cranberry granola could collaborate on a theme song, it'd probably sound a lot like this. It's gonna be a good day.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Coconut Cranberry Granola: 9 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Trader Joe's Matcha Green Tea Latte Mix

Last year, we reviewed TJ's Tropical Sweetened Matcha Mix. That product left more than a little to be desired. Neither a tropical fruit drink nor a true matcha green tea drink, Sonia and I felt that it missed its mark—regardless of the fact we couldn't tell which mark it was aiming for. It was 

And while I've never been thoroughly impressed with the taste and texture of matcha green tea to begin with, true matcha fans like Sonia might get really excited over this Matcha Green Tea Latte Mix. It's thick and creamy, and it actually tastes like matcha. It mixes very smoothly and leaves virtually no powdery grit after stirring—IF you follow the instructions and mix it with hot water. If you want it cold, just chill it after you mix it. Mixing it with cold water requires several years worth of stirring.

For extra creaminess, you can make it with milk or soymilk. I found that if you mix it with water and also serve it on ice, as per the instructions, that it gets a little too watery and thin. If you're going to chill it with a glassful of ice cubes, we found it's best to use some kind of milk. It's still sweet enough, but it loses almost all of its creaminess.

I'm not sure what it is that turns me off about matcha. I feel like it looks and tastes just a little too much like a plant...or algae...granted, sweetened algae, but I'm just not into drinking algae at all. I like tea. I like chai. But I didn't even like that matcha flavored mochi that much—and Mikawaya mochi is wonderful. Mushroom Mochi? Glad Russ reviewed that stuff. You couldn't pay Sonia and I to try it—we're both pseudo-allergic to mushrooms.

How did we get to talking about mochi? Back to matcha. Anyway, I couldn't even stomach the Matcha Green Tea Smoothie from Jamba Juice—and I love me some Jamba Juice. I'm just not a matcha guy. But if I were, I have determined that I might have liked this particular product.

Sonia loves it. She says it reminds her of the matcha latte from Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. She gives it 4 stars. I don't think I'll be drinking it on a regular basis, but since I can tell that it's a quality product, I think I'll go with 3 stars. If you're into green tea, but not necessarily matcha, check out Green Tea and Lemonade or Pomegranate Green Tea.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

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