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Friday, May 4, 2018

Trader Joe's Hi-Protein Veggie Burger

Maybe it's because of my 9th grade biology teacher, but whenever I hear the word "protein," I can't help but think of science. "Protein" was so frequently the answer to her on-the-spot quiz questions, that if you'd answer one incorrectly with "protein," she'd politely say, "No, but thanks for playing." And just about 50% of the time, "protein" was indeed the correct answer. Any other incorrect answer would be met with a gruff "NO!" along with a personalized insult of some sort, generally along the lines of, "You're out to lunch, Mr. Rodgers!" 

And heaven help those poor students who answered something other than "protein" when it was the correct response. Louise Grove's biology class was more than 20 years ago, but I'm still traumatized. To this day, "protein" just doesn't sound appetizing to me in any context.

But hey, at least the packaging doesn't read "Now infused with delicious structural components of body tissues!" I'm not sure if it would be accurate at all, but you'll never see them even attempt to advertise the presence of any other macromolecules. "Trader Joe's Hi-Lipid Veggie Burgers!" "Trader Joe's Hi-Carbohydrate Veggie Burgers!" "Trader Joe's Hi-Nucleic Acid Veggie Burgers!" None of those work even a little.

So protein it is.

I've gotten pretty good at putting personal bias on the shelf when trying new things from Trader Joe's over the years. I'm not 100% sure my aversion to the word "protein" isn't affecting me here, but there's a good chance it's minimal, at least. These just aren't the best veggie burgers we've seen from TJ's. The Vegetable Masala Burgers and Quinoa Cowboy Burgers would be at the top of my recommendations list.

There are two big, heavy veggie patties, individually wrapped in cellophane. They only give you microwave and conventional oven heating instructions. No stove-top method is listed. We heated ours in the oven. After baking, the exterior of the burgers was slightly crisp and dry, while the inside was a bit soft and mushy.

The main ingredient here is peas—or rather "pea protein blend," (YUM!) but the flavor isn't entirely pea-esque. There's something nutty about the taste, but you can also taste the black beans and a hint of garlic. The overall effect isn't particularly taste-tacular. It's a subtle flavor—some might even say "bland."

On the other hand, it's versatile enough, going well with cheese, lettuce, ketchup, and mustard—pretty much all the usual burger condiments and toppings, but in the end, I think this tastes too much like the veggie burger that red meat eaters are desperately trying to avoid. It tastes a bit like "health food" to me, and for that reason, I'll never buy it again. I do want to reiterate, though, that there are countless meatless options at TJ's that I'd happily consume on a regular basis.

Although she agrees this isn't the best veggie burger option at Trader Joe's, Sonia liked this product significantly more than I did. She liked that they were very filling and easy to prepare. Three and a half stars from her. Two and a half from me.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Toasted Sesame Caramels

"I like them."

"They're a little different, but good."

"I mean, they aren't like my new favorite thing, so I'm not like going to go out and buy all of them and them be my new go to staple item, but you know, they were all right, I guess."

After something like eight years and somewhere around five or six hundred reviews by your truly on here, whenever I ask my lovely bride Sandy about what she thinks about some sort of TJ's product, that's her response at least 90% of the time.

Please note: this doesn't include all the other TJ's things we've consumed but have not reviewed, so it's a lot. Imagine being asked for your opinion on almost everything you eat for years and years, full well knowing anything you say can and probably will be held against you on a blog accessible to everyone in the world. You'd kind of want to plead the 5th after a while, don't ya think? I'm grateful she'll still talk with me about it.

I bring this up about Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Toasted Sesame Caramels because, well, that about sums 'em up perfectly, and I have scant more to really say about them myself.

I like them. I mean, it's dark chocolate and caramel, primarily, which is a pretty solid base. Unless something really goes awry from here, it's a near given for at least a slightly positive review.

They're a little different, but good. It's the sesame, of course. The package shows these caramels as having a sesame-seed tcrunchy toffee base with a little dollop of caramel atop. I'm not saying it's inaccurate...but the amount of toffee itself seems overstated. There's a lot of caramel, and just enough sesame seeds to add a little crispy crunch and some subtle sesame flavor. It's not unpleasant at all, but really, one or two or enough. Theese TJ caramels are decidedly not bingeworthy, at least for me.

I mean, they aren't like my new favorite thing, so I'm not like going to go out and buy all of them and them be my new go to staple item, but you know, they were all right, I guess. Couldn't have said it better myself, love.

As a plus kids probably won't like them too much, and there's a kinda decadent element to them, so it's one treat us adults can savor and keep for ourselves. And at $3 or $4 for the bag, it's not a horrible value either. So when Sandy does her usual eye -scrunched "Hmmmm...three and a half, I guess" when I ask her how many Golden Spoons, that seems about right to me as well.

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Toasted Sesame Caramels: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Trader Joe's Original Savory Thin Crackers

Sonia let me eat these crackers in our bed. She didn't really have a choice. It's not like I asked permission. She was still asleep.

In my defense, I did use a plate and napkin, and I don't think I allowed any crumbs to spill onto the sheets. If I had, our dogs would likely have gobbled them up anyway.

Often, before I begin my usual work for the day, I'll try to get a head start on the following day's post for this blog very early on. I mean, writing posts for this blog is usually—not always, but usually—the most fun project of the day. But still, I like knocking out as many tasks as possible early on. Lately, I've found myself waking up at dawn without the assistance of an alarm clock. I'm generally showered, dressed, and have completed a number of domestic tasks like yesterday's dishes or taking out the trash, along with a few tweets and pins by 7am or shortly thereafter. So if there's any way to justify my product for review as a breakfast option, it often becomes just that.

Crackers for breakfast isn't that weird I guess. I had these crispy crunchables with hummus, cheese, and the very last scrapings of our garlic spread dip. All of those toppings worked brilliantly with these gluten-free crackers, not that I was expecting anything less.

They're rice-based, and they taste that way. I've had plenty of other rice crackers throughout the years, and the flavor here is pretty similar. There's a significant sesame taste, too, by virtue of not only sesame seeds, but also sesame flour. Sesame seeds don't really thrill or astound me much these days, but likewise, I won't complain about their presence, either. In a cracker like this, the flavor is deliberately muted, so as to showcase the flavor of whatever cheese or topping they're paired with.

Texture-wise, they're nice and thin, slightly brittle, rigid, and very crunchy. They're stable enough for a chip-full of any kind of topping, but they break apart effortlessly when bitten into.

There's apparently a "mini" version of this cracker that's oddly available for purchase on just about every online retailer one can think of. I guess because they're so shelf-stable...? Anyway, this version is $1.69 a pack. Good price. Decent product. I'd buy 'em again. Three and a half stars from me.

Sonia says they remind her of Japanese rice crackers. She's certainly not wrong. She's eager to try them with some different toppings. Four stars from her.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

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