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Friday, September 8, 2017

Trader Joe's Curry Cauliflower Quinoa Salad

It's official. Cauliflower can join coffee, mango, pumpkin, and cookie butter as the fifth great love of Trader Joe. He's clearly got an obsession.

Cauliflower is a product that has proven its extreme versatility repeatedly, particularly in the past year—plus it's arguably the healthiest of "The Big Five." 

Quinoa is still working on its star status, but it has played some interesting roles in the past, too, generally as a supporting ingredient, but rarely a main attraction.

Curry is...well, curry is usually awesome...and this product is just another great example of its awesomeness.

Throw cauliflower, quinoa, and curry together, and you have this unique creation. I'm not sure why it works...or even if most of you will agree with me that it does. But I devoured this tub like it was going out of style.  Sorry. That's a really weak mixed metaphor. But yeah. I devoured the tub like it was...expiring soon...even though it wasn't. That's a better metaphor. But it sounds even dumber for some reason. You feel me, though? I loved this stuff.

There are a lot of calories in there, for what is essentially Indian-spiced rabbit food. But curry always packs a high calorie count. I guess I'd rather be eating curry powder and canola oil than some goofy trans fats, though. The quinoa and cauliflower were just so fresh and hearty that I just kept craving this salad over and over. It was very filling, and I think you could space this small tub out to even more than three servings, as suggested on the packaging, particularly if you're just having it as a side dish or a between-meal bite. It makes a great tide-me-over, pick-me-up type snack. If you're having it as a stand-alone meal, like for lunch or whatever, then three servings is probably too many to expect from the tub, however.

The curry isn't overpowering. It's there, but there's still plenty of room for the nuttiness of the quinoa and the caulifloweriness of the cauliflower to come through. What is that actually called—caulifloweriness? Gardeniness? Plantacularity? I don't know. But it tastes more like actual cauliflower than many of TJ's experimental cauliflower derivatives, and that's not a bad thing if you're okay with the taste of cauliflower.

Sonia thoroughly enjoyed it as well—like four and a half stars kind of enjoyment, her highest score in quite a while. Her only complaint is the price. $3.99 for the tub. It's not outrageous, but she thinks she can somehow approximate the mixture herself by purchasing quinoa, cauliflower, and curry individually. Seems like a lot of work to save a buck or so. But if you're so inclined, go for it, wifey.

I give it four stars. Again, I don't know if this will have the universal appeal that some other Trader Joe's cauliflower offerings have had—I'm guessing there will be a significant faction of haters on this one, but I'll go out on a limb and tell you that if you think it sounds good at all, you should probably give it a try.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Trader Joe's Sunflower Seed Spread

September! Back to school time...or for Sandy and me, time to get our firstborn daughter, M, off to kindergarten. Time flies...seems like just yesterday I wrote this.

M impresses me. She does, for real. Like when we took her grocery shopping for lunch supplies for school. We got a big packet of info for the upcoming school year, discussing all the different school rules and policies. Understandably, there was some space spent on peanuts and nuts, etc. The school rule is, for lunch, things like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are allowed to be brought in...but those who are allergic to peanut butter and can't be near it have to sit at a different table than everyone else. It's probably not a perfect solution, but it's what the school can do to keep everyone appeased.

Anyways, we kind of explained of this to M as best we could. Now this girl has no food allergies and loves peanut butter and jelly. Loves it enough to rival mac 'n cheese. So there we were, at Trader Joe's, near the PB shelf and presented M with a choice: Get peanut butter like she'd be allowed to get, and only sit with some certain kids...or try Trader Joe's Sunflower Seed Spread and be able to sit and make friends with anyone at lunch time.

She chose the sunflower seed spread.

Granted, it's not awful. But I'm a PB guy, through and through. This particular seed butter is medium-thick, oily, kinda goopy, decidedly salty, and unmistakenably made from sunflower seeds which I like, but not nearly as much as the earthy goodness of a good ol' peanut. If it seems similar to other TJ's products, you'd be mostly right. Big difference is lack of added sugar as this spread is composed of just seeds and salt. It's more functional than snackable, I guess.

M feels the same. Those eyerolls she tosses out right now when we ask what she considers a dumb question - man, those upcoming teenage years oughtta be a hoot. I got one for the ages when I asked her if she likes peanut butter or sunflower seed butter better. "Peanut butter" she muttered with as much implied "Duhhhh" in her tone as she could muster.

Still, M chooses it every time for her sandwich, simply because this little girl wants to be friends with everyone. She wants to be able to sit down and happily chomp away at her lunch with any set of kids and be able to talk about what happened on the playground or favorite colors or bugs or farts or whatever kids talk about at cafeteria tables. She's willing to meet other kids where they are, and sacrifice some of her preferences and entitlement to do so. She's willing to see that even though some other kids are different than her, they're not wrong or bad or to be avoided. They're all just some kindergartners wanting to enjoy lunch together.

Maybe I'm being particularly sappy and sentimental with her going off to school...but dammit, that's kinda beautiful to me. Maybe we'd all be better off if we could all see the world the way she does when choosing her lunch. I know I'd be. 

When I asked for her opinion of the seed spread, M just gave me a sideways thumb and a scrunchy faced grimace. I think that's actually a slight there's that. I feel strangely the same, actually. But I'm glad to slap some on bread with some blueberry jam for her any time she wants for lunch, so she can enjoy with anyone she wants.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Sunflower Seed Spread: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons

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