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Monday, January 11, 2021

Trader Joe's Sparkling Cranberry & Ginger Beverage


Since I called attention to the fact I reviewed a non-holiday item back in early December, I suppose calling myself out for reviewing this overtly Christmassy beverage more than two weeks after Christmas Day is unavoidable. I wish I had a clever reason for doing things this way, but the truth of the matter is that I forgot we even had this product stashed away in the back of a cupboard. If I had to do it over, I'd have reviewed this one back then and saved those crackers for now, although I'm not sure either one is currently available at Trader Joe's. Hopefully they'll bring them both back next year.

On its own, this beverage is refreshing and tasty. There's a moderate tart cranberry taste and a little throat-tickling ginger flavor. It's actually a bit sweeter than either of us expected it to be—not obnoxiously so, but enough to be just a tad syrupy and to balance out the tang of the cran and the bite of the spice.


The carbonation level is just about perfect, comparable to the many other fancy sparkling four-packs we've seen from Trader Joe's in the past. It stays fizzy even after a spell in a cocktail glass with ice cubes. I guess this is the biggest advantage of the four tiny cans: a larger container would yield flat soda by the end of its tenure.

Another great strength of this drink is its mixability. There's a recipe for a mocktail on the side of the box—or you may add vodka for a true cocktail. It involves orange and lime juices, slices of citrus fruits and cranberries. We substituted fresh-squeezed with store-bought orange juice, and we didn't have any actual cranberries on hand, so we just plopped some lime wedges in ours. It was even more delicious with the addition of extra citrus flavors.

Finally, we did verify that it mixes well with vodka. Pro tip: everything mixes well with vodka. Alongside the ginger, something akin to a fruity Moscow Mule results.

$3.99 for four small cans. Four stars from Sonia and three and a half from me for Trader Joe's Sparkling Cranberry & Ginger Beverage.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Trader Joe's Grainless Granola

Years ago, when pretty gungho into the paleo diet, on a random Target trip I hit a major score: clearance sale on Renola, a grainfree granola, for like less than $3 a sack. Usually that was like $6 or $7! Needless to say, I cleaned them out, and had nothing but Renola to snack on for about six months. 

Somehow that's not as quite a find a memory as I thought it'd be, and kinda forgot about it 'til Trader Joe's Grainfree Granola came around. 

I haven't had Renola in ages (probable coping mechanism from overdose, much like since graduating college in 2003 I've eaten instant ramen noodles maybe 5 times), so a direct comparison is tough to do on my end, but there's much the same vibe.

The main base is comprised of three components: almonds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. In an act of what I presume to be black magic, all these get transformed into a a state of pretty close to real actual granola. There's got to be something more than just roasting them - the whole feel and experience is lighter and crispier than one would expect, almost as if it were more munchy than crunchy if that sounds right. It's phenomenal, and is imminently snackable right out of the bag and would work on yogurt. Big pieces, little dusties, in between pebbles, didn't matter. All the same bite, and all delicious. 

That's not it, though. Something has to hold all that together and give it a little oomph. And between some combination of cocnut, salt and chicory, hold together it does. That also provides the over-arching flavor - it's not quite sweet, not quite salty, and while "savory" seems to be much the wrong word, it still seems right in a way. There's just something to it, a certain I don't know what, that really provides the perfect flavor to a near perfect bite. 

All that being said, I can see myself getting quite tired of the grainless granola quickly. Just a little extra flavor component would be wondrous, or even just a different variety to go back and forth between. 

But then again, at $3.99, it's a heck of a value for what it is. Vegan, gluten free, all that...yup. 

Good stuff, check it out for sure. A few handfuls will hold you over for quite a bit, that's for sure. My lovely bride isn't a big a fan as I am, as the nutritional info kinda seems to be a bit much for such a compact product, if that makes sense. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Grainless Granola: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons



 

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