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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Trader Joe's Breaded Chicken Breast Nuggets

It's been an even more interesting than usual past couple of weeks come dinner time in here, at the Western PA homefront of the WGaTJ's crew. In one corner, there's me, trying to stick true as best as possible to that pesky Paleo diet, making only occasional concessions for you, our readers. Great results so far - haven't weighed as little as I do now since the Bush administration, and by that I probably mean not the W one. Still got some work to do, though. In the other is my wife Sandy, nearing 8 months pregnant, after a long day of wrangling other people's kids at her preschool before tackling our own sweet little toddler for a couple hours while trying to make dinner while waiting for me to get home from work. Is she entitled to be hungry for whatever and that just has to be okay with me? No question, absolutely. But do I want to keep watching what I eat to keep on track? No doubt. Add in tiredness from work, lack of willingness from either of us to make two separate dinners, and pressure to maintain the appearance that we know what we're doing and not psychos less we equally confuse and confound our aforementioned two year old and  teenaged foreign exchange student we're hosting, and, well, it's been a delicate dance at times. At least neither of us is losing.

How do Trader Joe's Breaded Chicken Breast Nuggets fit in? Not in my caveman diet - oh, that pesky breadedness with all those yummy, crunchy, metabolism-killin' carbs. But, they're a good example of the compromise we've brokered - I eat Paleo for breakfast and lunch (not too hard during the week) and at dinner, we make reasonably healthy choices (these were a "one of those nights" bagged dinner nights) and I watch my portion sizes. Dropped a couple more pounds this week, so it doesn't seem to hurt too bad.

Besides being a symbol of peace thankfully made of chicken, not doves, these nuggets are pretty darned tasty too. That is, if you can call them nuggets - they're more like huge chunks of white chicken. Seriously, I'd say almost half the mega-nuggies we got were several bites each, and huge. Even better, it was actual chicken too, not the stuff that Snopes swears doesn't compose your McNuggets (jury's out if you ask me). I kinda liked how the bag proudly proclaims that the chicken contains up to 15% of a solution, implying that being 85% problematic is fine. Sorry, lame joke. As a small nod towards my 'lithic-classed leanings, the breading is also gluten free, relying instead on cornmeal and the like. While that still DQs this from any stone-aged supper, the cornmeal does add a pretty nice crunch, and a certain almost homemade flair. None of the seasonings particularly stand out, but instead keep themselves balanced nicely that make this chicken ideal for chunky-dunking into a dip of your choice, such as some barbeque sauce.

Overal, I gotta say, both the wife and I are fairly pleased. There's something a little fishy about them, though, which I can't quite figure out. Somehow, when eating these, I thought I was tasting something a little seafood-y. It's nothing unpleasant - I won't call fowl play on it - but I still couldn't quite shake that thought. Maybe it was the salt (trying to cut down that, too), I don't know.

Regardless, we liked 'em.  The birdy bits were a reasonable price ($5 for the sack) and will probably be a repeat purchase soon. Matching fours.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Breaded Chicken Breast Nuggets: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Trader Joe's Rio Red Grapefruit Juice

Ah, the amazing grapefruit. It's not exactly season-appropriate, but there weren't any new pumpkin products on the shelves during our last TJ's run. Just as well. October is definitely the best month for a pumpkin blitz. That is, if we can find something pumpkin-flavored that we haven't reviewed yet.

At any rate, it's still fairly warm here in South Jersey these first few days of fall. So a spring/summer beverage isn't too far off the mark. Some might say grapefruit and its derivative juices are year-round treats. I certainly wouldn't argue with that, either. 

I grew up eating grapefruit halves at breakfast time. I'd put Sweet'n Low or Equal on it and spoon out the sections one by one. **Please note: I am not advocating the use of artificial sweeteners. My parents had them on hand and told me to use them. I was a just little kid and didn't have a say in the matter.** Then at the end, I'd pick up the grapefruit, hold it over a glass, and squeeze it as hard as I could. Actually up until the age of seven or eight, I'd have my dad do it for me. It was a kind of coming-of-age when I finally developed the upper body strength to match my father's grapefruit-squeezing skills. And man, there was only about a quarter cup of liquid that came out of the mostly-consumed grapefruit, but that juice was always amazing, despite a trace amount of artificial sweetener. Now, as an adult, I don't eat fresh grapefruit as often as I used to, but I still do the same thing when I finish half a grapefruit—and the juice is just as amazing as I remember it. Fresh-squeezed is always the best. Since then, every glass of bottled grapefruit juice I've ever consumed has had to stand up next to that pristine quarter cup of heaven that I'd produce myself at the end of my breakfast—and pretty much every glass of bottled grapefruit juice has been found wanting.

And while I want to say that's the case with this beverage, it's really like comparing apples and oranges. Or grapes and grapefruits, if you will, because the number one juice ingredient here is white grape juice. This is a grapefruit-flavored juice blend, not unlike Ocean Spray's famous Ruby Red. In fact, Ruby Red uses white grape juice to sweeten their cocktail as well, but it plays second fiddle to the red grapefruit. In TJ's mix, there is apparently more white grape juice. If you try really, really hard you can taste the white grape, but by and large, all the extra white grape juice does is make the blend slightly sweeter, and in my opinion, perhaps a tad less tart. That's the best way to describe this juice: like Ocean Spray's Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice, but leaning toward sweet rather than tart. And that, in my book, makes a pretty decent, refreshing juice drink. I give this beverage 4 stars. Sonia gives it 3.5.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

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