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Friday, September 7, 2018

Trader Joe's Riced Cauliflower Bowl

I move that the standard bean ingredient serving as the cornerstone of all vegan/vegetarian meals be changed from soybean to garbanzo bean. Do I hear a second? Anybody?

Not that I hate soy or tofu or other soy derivatives. I just like chickpeas better. And then when rednecks are trying to insult vegan/vegetarian men, they'll call them "garbanzo guys" instead of "soyboys." Doesn't sound quite as demeaning. Confession time: I'm originally from Pennsyltucky, so I'm still part redneck. Also, I'm not even full vegetarian. I might be more inclined if we can make that chickpea initiative happen.

Fortunately, there are delicious marinated chickpeas in this dish. There's also a good bit of soy-based tofu. Sonia thinks there's not enough of it. I disagree. Sweet potato, kale, and onions round out the veggie combo for a unique mixture of flavors. I find the tahini sauce to be somewhat acrid and acidic for my taste, while the wife is more than fine with it. 

Sonia thinks some of the vegetables are a bit too tough. I can see where she's coming from, although, overall, I think the texture is nice—particularly the chickpeas. Plenty of riced cauliflower here, too. Serves as a nice low-carb base for the dish.

For a quick, zappable, vegan lunch, $3 isn't a bad deal. The taste and texture are good, but not outstanding, in my opinion. Sonia is a little more enthusiastic overall. Says she'd definitely purchase it again. I think I'll go with three and a half stars here. Sonia will dole out four.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Gastronomiche Casa Milo Squid Ink Spaghetti

It doesn't happen often...but it does. I'm actually talking about two different things here.

First, a review of a non-TJ's branded product on our blog. Over 90% of a TJ's is their own house brand so there's plenty to choose from...but there are exceptions.

And kids begging for something for dinner that doesn't involve the words "mac 'n cheese."

By some wizardry and magic, those two worlds coverged upon a single product: Gastronomiche Casa Milo Squid Ink Spaghetti. Available at your local Trader Joe's...maybe. Sandy follows a bunch of TJ's Instragram and Facebook pages and has seen a lot of buzz about this particular black pasta, as well as scores of pictures of empty shelves with the product tag and a sad face.

So apparently it's a big deal, so good enough for a review for me.

I think I get the appeal from my kids' standpoint: It's black! Spaghetti usually isn't! This is new and exciting and kinda spooky! I'm sure there's all sorts of creative Halloween-themed dishes you could make with this to have it be even more fun. Although both kids kinda forgot about it in the couple days between purchase and preparation as they both asked why their noodles were black. I just told them that I burned them.

What about us adults? I tried figuring out the benefits or plusses or anything that made squid ink pasta stand apart from the regular ol' semolina fare (aside from appearance of course) and came up with two things: it has more antioxidants and it tastes a little different. I'm not gonna argue about anything with antioxidants - the less oxidants I have to fight on my own, the better - but different taste? Really?

If anything I was surprised by how similar the squidghetti tasted to the usual. It took a few slow, careful, plain bites to discern a small difference, and even then I'm not sure it wasn't a case of me trying too hard. Really, for all intents and purposes, at least to me, it tastes the same, especially when adding garlic and EVOO and shrimp like we did.

Worth a try? Sure. Will it change your pasta-pounding world? Probably not. If you want a dark colored pasta that's truly different, here's another option. But I'm not intimidated by squid ink spaghetti anymore, at the very least, so perhaps I can be a little fancier if I ever see it on a menu somewhere. 'Til then, this will be in our occasional rotation I'm sure for the two or three bucks a package.

Bottom line: Gastronomiche Casa Milo Squid Ink Spaghetti: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Trader Joe's ABC Bars

I'm Always Buying Crack at Trader Joe's—not literal crack, just highly-addictive substances that happen to be nice and legal. ABC could stand for so many things here. I might refer to them as they're meant to be called: Almond Butter Cocoa. Or I could ask Sonia to Absolutely Bring the Chewies on our next hike. They're definitely Addictive Bars, Creamy. They're vegan, so they're free of Animal Byproducts, Completely.

Flavor-wise, I might call these Amaretto Blast Cookies. The flavor is almondy—but it's such a sweet almond flavor, I think it tastes a bit like amaretto—though not alcoholic in the least. I think they taste more like amaretto than either almond butter or cocoa, quite honestly. Sonia thinks the cocoa dominates the almond butter slightly. I'm not sure if I agree or not. They're just sweet—but not overly so, nutty, buttery, and not unlike confectionalized amaretto. Scrump-dilly.

Texture-wise, they're surprisingly soft. I might describe the mouthfeel as A Bed of Comfort. They're definitely chewy rather than crunchy, but there's a much greater "melt-in-your-mouth" factor than, say, most "chewy" granola bars or cookies. 

They're gluten-free, so...Absolutely Buy'em Celiac-sufferers. Price-wise, ABC is easy as 1, 2, 3 dollars, with a total of six in the box. That makes them about 50 cents a piece. They are kinda small, but they're rich, dense, and more filling than you might expect. Sonia and I would put them on par with the average Clif, Luna, or Balance bar in terms of hunger-curbing capacity, with a slightly better overall value.

This is another thumbs up from both of us. Sonia will dish out her second four and a half stars in a row. Put me down for four again.

Awesome Bars, Conclusively.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

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