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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Podcast Episode 26: Our Favorite Chips

Trader Joe’s vast chip aisle has the usual potato and tortilla chips, but also goes beyond those. In this episode we share our favorite crunchy chips.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Almondina Original Almond Biscuits

The good people at Almondina sent me a birthday present. It might have something to do with this fine blog we run here, but two packages of the low-fat cookies arrived in the mail about two weeks ago, and Sonia and I enjoyed them enough to allow them to join an extremely exclusive, elite group of non-Trader Joe's brand foods that have been reviewed here on our blog, including Espiral Vinho Verde WineGum's the Word Sugar Free Gum, and Mikawaya Mochi Ice Cream

As was the case with the products in those previous posts, Almondina is widely available at Trader Joe's stores, although it's not sold exclusively there.

These thin, crunchy biscuits are clearly optimized for dunking in coffee, tea, milk, or what-have-you, but they also make a nice stand-alone snack. The texture is great. It's not unlike types of biscotti I've tried, but perhaps a little thinner and less rigid.

I'll be honest, the cookie part alone is decent, especially considering it's so low in fat, salt, and cholesterol, but it probably wouldn't have done it for me by itself. The true genius of these cookies is the way almonds and raisins are seamlessly woven into the fabric of the confection—in fact, almonds constitute a full 24% of the product, a fact that's easily believed just by visually inspecting the biscuits. The fruit, nut, and cookie elements blend together well and make for a highly versatile breakfast/snack/dunkable/dessert.

Sonia and I will both throw out solid fours for these tasty, low-guilt treats. "Really darn good" all the way.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Trader Joe's Tropical Mango Complete Salad Kit

No spouting some good solid theology or practical wisdom gleaned from a freezer waffle today. No cow-on-highway video either. Simple, straight up review today. We can't always be that impressive.

It's tough to beat a fresh, cool, crisp salad for a good summertime dinner. And this being the Summer of All That is Mango at your local TJ's, it'd stand to reason that some sort of fruit/veggie mash-up just might be in the offering. And so it came to pass with Trader Joe's Tropical Mango Complete Salad Kit.

Like others in the bagged salad lineup, for $4.99, you get a huge bag full of the usual leafy greens  (mainly arugula, spinach and baby lettuce) with some thin straw-slips of broccoli and carrots mixed in. Some other stuff like red cabbage tossed in too. All of that is the usual TJ's salad base, and as one would expect, fresh, crisp, and provides ample body while not being too other-worldly. No complaints.

But that's not why we're here, is it? Oh no, not at all....what are the mix-ins!?!?!? And the dressing!!! That's what makes a salad fun, otherwise it's sad rabbit food. The mix-ins here include: cashew bits, toasted coconut chips, and, of course, dried mango chunks. The mango tasted of the slightly sweetened/candified lot, which added a slight air of artificiality, though not offensively. The real stand-out was the coconut (you can't label anything as "tropical" unless there's coconut involved, it's one the amendments, I think), though...for any and all of those crunchy bits, the salad rocked when there was some in  my bite, but there wasn't enough. Get to work, Big Joe.

 Oh but the dressing...I'm not a salad dressing guy, usually. But the mango tamarind on here? AMAZING. Seriously. As the name implies, it's tangy, sweet, spicy, and vibrant...just try it. It needs to be sold by the bottle, and I mean like right now. It's almost certainly the best salad dressing I've ever had, in recent memory at least, and any attempt to further describe it would be doing it a disservice.

It's a huge salad, easily enough to for a couple adults to share for dinner, especially if some grilled chicken got tossed in. I'm not sure, but maybe some sort of mild goat cheese would probably pair well with it, if only an excuse to find a good bottle of wine as well. Look at me sounding so pseudo-fancy about bagged salad. Go me! Anyways, no hiuge complaints from either Sandy or I except: more mix-ins! And more dressing!!! Double fours.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Tropical Mango Complete Salad Kit: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

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