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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Trader Joe's Coconut Strips

In their tradition of excellent coconut products like PancakesCreamer, and Cooking Spray, Trader Joe's has offered us an inexpensive bag of snackable little, strips. They're very similar to the "Coconut Chips" we checked out long ago, and they taste about the same too, except these puppies are thicker, firmer, and a tad more chewy. In fact, they're surprisingly tough in my opinion, and for that reason, I think the chips were a superior product. 

Sonia disagrees, stating that these slivers remind her a lot of sugar candy, but slightly more healthy. There are only three ingredients, the first two being coconut and cane sugar. So far, so good. But that third and final ingredient, sulfur dioxide, prompted a little Google research. I found statements ranging from "It's harmless" to "It will kill you" and everything in between. The general consensus, though, seemed to be "It depends on the dosage," which isn't particularly comforting, considering we don't really know the exact dosage we're getting in a small bag of coconut strips. I'm going to go ahead and assume there are only trace amounts of it present, because (A) I'm an optimist and (B) I'm still alive. Apparently, they need this delicious-sounding sulfur dioxide to keep the product fresh, as it is shipped all the way from Thailand. Not exactly "going local," but that's a whole 'nother can of worms... Just think of it like this: you're getting a sweet, exotic snack from half way around the world for less than $2. There's that characteristic optimism of mine again.

In summary, if sweet, firm, French fry-shaped coconut meat sounds tasty to you, check these out. Here's a little run-and-gun video review so you can see the product up close. Not sure why we even did one for this, other than it was an excuse to capture the beautiful snow, or maybe that "video whiz" comment from Russ went straight to my head—although I'm pretty sure the Shelly fam would do at least as well on camera as we do.

4.5 stars from Sonia. 3.5 stars from me.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Trader Joe's Super Burrito!

Look, up on your lunch plate! It's a's a's...Trader Joe's Super Burrito!!

Much to my dismay, I've found that consumption of said Super Burrito! results in no extra super powers. No leaping tall buildings. No flight or X-ray vision. Heck, for some reason I even ate one of these for a late breakfast, and still fumbled around with basic word pronunciation, sentence structure and pronoun usage until the caffeine from my coffee finally decided to kick in. That's what I'm like when tired, even more than I usually am, which is saying something. There's a reason that Nathan's the video whiz and not me.

Kicking it back to the burrito, or as I like to say, "little donkey." Sounds funnier. Anyways, this particular wrap is "Super" with an exclamation point probably because of three of the key ingredients: quinoa, sweet potato, and kale. Pretty much any respectable short list of so-called "superfoods" would have at least two if not all three of these listed - all those nutrients and vitamins and other stuff I should probably care more about one of these days.

Is the taste "super" though? Eh. It's not bad, but the highlight for me at least is absolutely the chile-onion tortilla. It's just like those ones I can always find at the Ohio stores but never here in Pittsburgh - seriously, PA, let's get better tortillas, beer and booze here, please! The bulk of the innards is composed mainly of the quinoa and micro-chopped kale kinda bathing in this "Peruvian style aji amarillo" sauce, with a couple bitty chunks of firm sweet potato here and there. There's not nearly enough sweet potato for my taste here. The quinoa tastes like, well, quinoa and the kale tastes like it's green.

 This Peruvian-style sauce, though? Hate to say it, but kinda disappointing. There's literally nothing memorable or distinguishing about it. From what I hear, it's supposed to be "spicy" and versatile", and there's a pretty significant chance I had some when I went to Peru twelve years ago - most of the sauces I can recall were spicy and flavorful and just absolutely amazing. This glop...well, it kinda tastes slightly like mayonnaise, and not much else. There's a bit of lingering heat, but its source is debatable - the sauce or the tortilla? Also, the sauce tends to get a little leaky giving the tortilla and packaging a greasy sheen. Meh.

Also...I scanned the ingredients multiple times, and maybe I'm completely missing something obvious here, but I cannot figure out why this isn't considered vegan or at least vegetarian. There's mayo, but it states it is vegan. No cholesterol, suggesting lack of animal products...can someone help me out here? 

I'm pretty sure this cost right around $3.29, and is in the fresh section - not frozen. Can be heated up in the oven or microwave if so inclined. I did neither and just ate them cold at work - no oven (no time for one anyways) and our microwaves there tend to ruin stuff more than enhance them. It may be a little on the small side at first glance, but one of these fueled me for several hours without too much tummy rumbles, so it's fairly filling. "Super" is an overstatement, but a lot catchier than "adequate", I suppose.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Super Burrito!: 6.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

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