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Friday, November 3, 2017

Trader Joe's Organic Hot Cocoa Mix

Aside from a few 70 degree days here and there, it's finally starting to feel like fall and cooling down here in the northeast. When it first happened a week or two ago, it was such a shock to our systems after so many weeks and months of heat, that we kind of forgot what wearing long pants and long sleeves was like...

So I'm doing an experiment: I'm going to see how late into the fall/winter I can go while only wearing shorts and t-shirts, while still only turning the heat on sporadically. I'm thinking hot beverages are going to play heavily into my strategy of staying warm without extra layers.

Also hats. It's amazing how much difference a good hat can make—especially for follicly-challenged folks like me.

Ahem, but, back to the hot beverages... This stuff's nice and sweet, and it tastes quite a bit like other leading brands of hot chocolate mix, although I'd swear it tastes better when made with nothing but water—and it flaunts USDA certified organic ingredients. We like it. Sonia will elaborate a bit more in this short video review:

Four stars a piece.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Trader Joe's Riced Cauliflower Stuffing

As any TJ's fan worth their Hawaiian shirt knows by now, cauliflower can do a lot of stuff. The real question is, can cauliflower do stuffing?

Well, guess we're gonna find out with Trader Joe's Riced Cauliflower Stuffing.

There's a lot to like about the concept here. Gluten free, vegan, no carbs for all you cave people out there. That's not an insult, I dabble with the Paleo diet here and there. But, when November rolls around, with Thanksgiving on the horizon, there's something to be said for good ol' traditional stuffing, whatever that means to you and your memories.

And there's something just a little amiss here with the TJ's cauli-stuffin'. It's hard to pin down completely what it is, but both Sandy and I noticed it.

Our best guess is, the stuff doesn't taste or feel like stuffing. It's...almost more like a pilaf. The cauliflower rice never loses its inherent ricey-ness and feels grainy, not soft and warm and inviting like stuffing. That being said, there's a lot to like. The product really tries hard to replicate traditional stuffing tastewise, and it almost pulls it off. The carrots, celery, and onion are on point, and there's copious handfuls of tart dried cranberries that make an excellent little touch - better than raisins or apples.

Still, it's off...and again I point to the cauliflower. Perhaps cauliflower has a "cleaner" taste than most bread, so all the flavors that are normally somewhat tempered poke through just a wee bit more. That seemed most noticeable with the onions. Also, look at the ingredient list and some unusual suspects. Tomato paste? Maple syrup? Never seen those in a stuffing recipe before. And they're not particularly noticeable, per se, but maybe they knock the flavor just off kilter enough.

This stuffing's decent enough, though. If you want an alternative to the usual salty carb bomb that is traditional stuffing, by all means, go for it. No denying it's healthier and more nutritious and all that - I mean, it's all veggies - and it's almost as good as the "real deal." But there's too much comfort vibe missing here. I think that's what it comes down to. It's only a few bucks in the freezer section, if you're lucky enough to find it - been a hot seller from what I hear - so I'd love to hear some more takes if you've tried it. But for me and Sandy, we just can't muster much enthusiasm.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Riced Cauliflower Stuffing: 5.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

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