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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Trader Joe's Corn, Pea, Bean & Quinoa Crisps

Alright, let's get real for a minute. Reality check.

I strongly dislike reviewing items like Trader Joe's Corn, Pea, Bean & Quinoa Crisps. For real, I do. Won't say "hate" but it borders on it for sure.

Why in the world would that be?

It's not that these crisps taste bad. No, not at all. I swear each main component - green peas, yellow peas, corn, black beans, quinoa - can be tasted individually and yet as part of a bigger whole, like some conglomerated leguminous amalgam in bite-sized six-sided form. Some crisps seem to feature some ingredients more than others, as some have scarcely any peas, others are pocketed with them everywhere like teenaged acne. There's definitely a heavy earthy vibe too, and these buggers are oddly filling. I mean, think of all the fiber.

Texturewise, they work too. If you're familiar with PopChips, these are along the same lines as there's an airy, munchy, popcorn chip feel to them. These TJ crisps do seem a little denser - again, consider the fiber - but there's that sensation of light snacking that suddenly gets kinda heavy pretty quick. Of note, the quinoa doesn't stand out much as agrain, in case you were thinking it might be crispy toasted quinoa on here - there's not. And overall it's more of a baked/airpooped feel than fried, as there's not too much grease while having a certain dryness to them.

So why the dislike of reviewing such an item? It's hard to make everyone happy. Products like these toe a certain line. It's almost like a John Travolta/Nick Cage-esque "Faceoff" scenario - is it healthy masquerading as junky, or junky actually being healthy? Do they switch back and forth? In truth, as usual, it's probably somewhere in the middle - but some of y'all have pretty strong opinions and if I dare not agree with you - ooooh boy.

And then there's the salt.

Listen, I love all of you. I do, really. Well, okay, that's mostly true. But love requires honesty, right? Honestly I can't get people who complain about things being too salty when they're not really all that salty. That's just people being salty, not a product. For my day job, I read cardiac patient's medical notes all day, and I can't tell youm how many times a day I read "patient urged to reduce salt intake." I know salt is bad, you don't need to me. I try to limit myself.

But I know some of y'all will claim these are too salty. I know you will. Yet...they aren't salty. At all. Sure, there's salt in them, but an identical sized serving of Cheerios or Joe's O's has just as much if not more sodium. No one ever complains about salty breakfast cereal. but review chips, even those fairly low in sodium by chip standard? Salt, salt, salt. Hissss.

All that being said, good chips, and good for a change up from normal tortilla chips. They'd be awesome with salsa and even better with a little guac - wish I had some here to pair up. Good chips at only like $3 for the bag, and good enough for some double 4's.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Corn, Pea, Bean & Quinoa Crisps: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Trader Joe's Vegan Jackfruit Cakes

Jackfruit. Where do I start? 

My history with jackfruit involves reading about it a couple times on the interwebs—including this insightful piece from a Trader Joe's review blog you might have heard of. I considered buying that curry dish myself after reading Mr. Shelly's post, but wound up going with something else that wanted reviewing. 

In the same way it resembles pulled pork in the last offering, visually, it greatly resembles the crab in a classic crab cake. Even the cutting open of these cakes approximates that of a crab cake. However, flavor-wise, it's much more "planty" than crabby. And the texture is a bit stringier and stiffer than crab meat. It's not unpleasant. It's just not a crab cake. Not by a long shot. No amount of crab seasonings would make me mistake this dish for an actual crab cake.

There's a moderate paprika-driven warming sensation at the back of the throat after consuming a few bites of these plant pucks, but honestly, even the spices here don't approximate the spice mix of true crab cakes. I've had potato chips that taste more like crab cakes than these things.

My initial instinct was to slap these puppies in between a couple slices of bread, top them with cheese, ketchup, and mustard, and treat them as jackfruit veggie burger patties. We were lacking pretty much all of those other elements at the time I prepared these, so I simply finished my serving in the manner of a vegan crab cake, but I still think the veggie burger route would work way better than pretending they're a substitute for crab cakes in this or any other parallel reality.

By themselves, they're not particularly flavorful, but they're not an abomination, either. There's a unique subtleness to the taste. For a vegan, these might be a viable choice to add to your regular meal rotation. I might still be an omnivore technically, but I'm always happy to find meatless products that are also free of soy.

I tried the cakes both oven-baked (preferred method) and in the skillet. I liked the skillet better because olive oil helps the taste a bit, but the oven method might yield a slightly more authentic texture.

Sonia and I are on the same page here. They're not bad, but they're no substitute for a good crab cake. As a pescatarian, even Sonia will enjoy one of those every so often. 3.5 stars x 2.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

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