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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Trader Joe's Seedy Almond Salad Topper

What's the best part of pizza?

That's easy. It's the little wedgie of cheese that gets stuck on the pan or box after slicing it. With a little luck, there's a good tidbit of topping left on it, too.

Likewise, the best bite of cake? For me at least, it's little scrapey parts, mostly frosting, left over. Clean that up right, that's what I always say.

Or the best chip chomp? When there's just a few little shards left, down in the bottom, which makes them perfect from sliding right from the bag into your mouth. Yum.

So...salad. What's the tastiest part of salad?

Also easy. Gotta be the goodies you put on top.

Nothing against spinach or lettuce or shredded carrots or grape tomatoes or pepper slices or any other veggie part of salad. That's some wholesome goodness. They're what makes a salad good. But what dermines if a salad is goood is the toppings and munchies, especially if you're not one for salad dressing (like me).

So does Trader Joe's Seedy Almond Salad Topper make a salad good or not?

Couldn't tell ya. I ate it on eggs instead.

 To be fair, that's one of the recommended uses printed right on the front of the bag, along with "vegetables" (presumed of the non-salad-esque variety) and cream cheese bagels. We were having eggs for dinner. Had to write a review. Gotta do what you gotta do. And as much as the bag also suggested it was a great idea, I didn't want to eat a little baggie of seeds all by itself.

And yup, baggie. Inside the main bag there's eight seperate single serving size sacks o' seeds. Each contain about the same amount of almond slivers, pepitas, sesame seeds (white and black), and nigella seeds with a slight little spicy kick from crushed red pepper.  As you could imagine, there's nuttiness and a little earthiness, a good bit of sesame, and even almost a little bit of a onion-y to not quite garlic-y essence to the mix, backed by some heat. In some ways, it kinda seemed like the everything but the bagel spice blend, minus the salt but plus the nuts and pepitas. The whole mix is appropriately crunchy and munchy, with a varying texture that did seem a little odd perhaps on eggs - almonds on eggs? seriously? - but I could tell it'd work well in a hearty salad, or on some roasted chicken or grilled veggies, or in several kinds of ways I haven't quite come up with yet but perhaps you have.

It's $3.99 for the big bag, eight servings in there, so basically 50 cents a pop for a small handful of stuff. It'd probably be more economical to make your own if this blend is one you particularly enjoyed, so there's a slight knock. As always, there's a premium for convenience.

Not much else to really say. So, for some, here's the best part of the review: the end.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Seedy Almond Salad Topper: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons

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.

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