Monday, October 31, 2016

Trader Joe's California Style Sprouted Wheat Bread

I didn't take a picture of this until I was halfway through the loaf, sat down to write this post, and discovered that I hadn't photographed it when I brought it home. Oh well. With this blog, you get the quality you pay for!

I mostly liked this bread. I liked the flavor and density. Toasted, it held up well to slathers of butter without becoming soggy. It tasted good with jam and with sandwich fixings. It's hearty without being heavy.

But it had one fatal flaw: crunchy stuff. I'm not really sure what the culprit is, but there's some sort of hard grain left in large enough chunks that it makes me feel like maybe one of my teeth has broken apart into small pieces and gotten mixed in with what I'm eating. Perhaps it's wheat berries, or bits of corn kernel, or millet, or god knows what else. But I found it distinctly unpleasant, even a little unnerving.

Will I buy it again? 

No. If you want to try a sprouted-wheat bread, I recommend this excellent one from Trader Joe's instead.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Bar--Caramel With Black Sea Salt

A similar product, Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Bar--Coconut Caramel, was so good it made my Top Ten list.  So I had high hopes for this variant.

It's good, but not nearly as good as the other. I've said several times that I'm not a fan of adding salt to chocolate, but it may be growing on me. It did add considerable flavor interest here over what the chocolate and caramel would have had by themselves.

Like the others in this line, however, it suffers from being messy. The bar simply won't break cleanly along the pre-cut lines designated for that purpose. Because of that, breaking off a piece inevitably breaks open one of the chambers containing the caramel, which then oozes out. This should be a simple engineering fix.

Will I buy it again? 

No. Not because it's bad, but because if it's sitting next to the version with coconut, I would always pick that one.

Saturday, October 29, 2016


This is my weekly compilation of news and other links related to Trader Joe's.

8 healthy food finds at Trader Joe's

Favorite healthy finds from Trader Joe's

An 8-hour shift at the busiest Trader Joe's in the country

The worst things you can do at Trader Joe's

Best tweets of the week:


And finally, here's this week's cute cat in a Trader Joe's grocery bag:

Trader Joe's Carrot Juice and Organic Carrot Juice

Depicted are the 16-ounce bottles. The same products also come in 32-ounce bottles.

Nina and I tried these side by side. I could taste no meaningful difference between them. Both were perfectly fine examples of carrot juice, but nothing that got me excited. Carrot juice seems to me better suited to blending than drinking on its own.

When we have tried both regular and organic versions of TJ's products, including things like orange juice, we have noticed a trend toward the organic versions tasting better, though not always. I swear that this is not because of a bias in favor of organics generally. It's a finding that has surprised me every time, because I don't expect organic products to taste any better than non-organic ones.

This was an example of my expectation being fulfilled. The organic version costs a dollar more ($2.99 versus $1.99), but has no corresponding advantage in the product itself. If you like your extra dollar going to support organic farmers, knock yourself out--but don't expect better-tasting juice for it, in this case. The organic version was a little bit brighter orange, but that's more likely to be batch-to-batch variation than a consistent product difference.

Will I buy it again? 


Nina’s View

It’s odd what people focus on. I didn’t see any difference at all in color, but I did notice a meaningful difference in taste. The organic was a more complicated flavor, with a significant bitter-carrot note. The non-organic was just a mono-flavor, bland and relatively sweet. I found it more drinkable but less interesting.

I’m pretty persuaded as well that the results might be completely different from batch to batch of carrots.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Trader Joe's Sparkling Clementine Flavored Juice Beverage

As far as I can tell. Trader Joe's has five different flavors in this product line: applepomegranate, blueberry, clementine, and cranberry. The last of those is the only one we haven't tried yet.

This was an interesting one, because I've never even heard of a clementine-flavored drink before. I hid the label from Nina and had her try to guess what the featured fruit was, accounting for the fact that there is more grape juice than the mystery juice. She started with pineapple, and cycled through more than a dozen other fruit names, suggesting some as possible, confidently rejecting others as impossible. But even when I narrowed down the range of options to citrus fruits, she couldn't come up with clementine. I wouldn't have been able to, either.

All of which is to say that this concoction would be well served to have more clementine, less grape. The grape juice makes it too sweet, and overly disguises the clementine flavor. I didn't dislike it, but I was disappointed in it. If you're going to manufacture a fruity beverage based on a fruit as uncommon as clementine, well then by gum you ought to make it distinctly clementine, whereas this is just sweet and vaguely, generically fruity.

Blueberry remains the best of the bunch, and the one you should seek out to try.

In praise of this entire line of products, however, I must compliment the degree of bubbliness. I think they have that just right. It's a little more than typical seltzer-water kinds of drinks, but less than sodas.

Will I buy it again? 


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Pomegranate Seeds

Love these. They're little bursts of goodness, with a perfect ratio of chocolate to pomegranate. They're so tiny that you can eat a bunch, and you've only made a small dent in the package.


It appears that I bought one of the very last tubs. Soon after my purchase, I learned that they had been discontinued. So if you haven't tried them already, I'm afraid you're out of luck.

On the other hand, sometimes Trader Joe's brings products back from the dead, so ya never can tell for sure.

Will I buy it again? 

It's not up to me. Your move, Trader Joe's.

Nina's View

Discontinued for a very good reason: annoying seeds and not enough pomegranate flavor. Good riddance.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Trader Joe's Mango 100% Juice Smoothie

This is excellent. Strong mango base, but with a blend of other fruits (apple, orange, banana, lemon) supporting and complementing it. No off-flavors. Maybe a little too sweet, but not to the point of distraction.

Will I buy it again? 

Enthusiastically. (I will not, however, be sharing with Nina, who does not like mangoes.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Trader Joe's Mango Sorbet

Excellent stuff. Rich flavor, but not too sweet. Smooth texture, not lumpy or crystallized. Really one of the best fruit sorbets I've had from a grocery store.

Will I buy it again? 

Not often, because I'm too fat as it is, but yes, as a rare treat. I wish they offered it in pint-sized containers.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Trader Joe's Big & Chunky Applesauce

I think, but can't be completely sure, that this is the last variety of Trader Joe's applesauce that we have not yet reviewed in these pages.

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to say that we had saved the best for last? Alas, it is not to be. For this stuff is--well, vile is probably too strong. But unpleasant is not.

That it contains large apple chunks is not a detriment. That the non-chunky part is actually slimy is a detriment. So is the fact that the product tastes only mildly of apples. These two conditions likely result from the manufacturer (1) adding water, and (2) artificially sweetening it with apple juice concentrate and white grape concentrate.

There is no excuse for this. Trader Joe's certainly knows how to make (or buy) good applesauce; it is the purveyor of two of the finest examples of the genre to be found on American store shelves. Why they thought this sweetened, watered-down bilge would be a hit with the same customers that like the good, pure stuff is a mystery to me.

The only compliment I can pay it is that it's not as bad as the Apple Banana Fruit Sauce Crushers. But that is the very definition of damning with faint praise.

Will I buy it again? 

Begone with your silly questions.

Nina's View

No. No no no no. Just NO.

Vile is not too strong. Worst. Texture. Ever. in an applesauce.

Banished to my Bottom Ten.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Trader Joe's Sparkling Blueberry Flavored Juice Blend

Despite the suspicious weasel words in the product name ("flavored" and "blend" raise my eyebrows in deep skepticism), this is actually delicious. It's easily the most successful of this line that we've tried--better than the apple, better than the pomegranate. The blueberry is front and center, as it should be, though one can definitely notice the supporting roles of the grape and apple juices. Nina and I usually have just a few ounces of juice each during our weekly dinners here, but we polished off this bottle before we were even halfway through the meal.

Will I buy it again? 


Nina's View

Yeah, it's a teensy-eensy bit too sweet. Sue me.

But it actually tastes of blueberry. It is guzzleable. (What? That's a word. Now, anyway.)

I didn't expect to like it and did. Go drink some, it is Nina Approved.

Saturday, October 22, 2016


This is my weekly compilation of news and other links related to Trader Joe's.

10 pumpkin-flavored things at Trader Joe's every vegan needs to try

Eating through Trader Joe's annual pumpkin orgy

Pumpkin mania at Trader Joe's

No tweets to memorialize this week.

And finally, here's this week's cute cat in a Trader Joe's grocery bag:

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Vinaigrette

This finishes up two solid weeks of new products. Back to the regular randomness of daily reviews tomorrow. 

There exist certain categories of food products that you can feel deep in your bones should not contain a large portion of pumpkin. You would naturally--and correctly--include in that list juice, tortilla chipssoup, sweet rolls, and chocolates. However, you might also naturally--and incorrectly, as it turns out--include ice cream, pasta sauce, salsa, cornbread, and toaster pastries. So your instincts about what should and should not be pumpkin-based will sometimes be right, sometimes wrong.

Salad dressing is definitely in the list of things that I immediately think should not be pumpkin-based. My one prior experience with a TJ's pumpkin vinaigrette, as part of a specialty bagged salad, confirmed this. So I was braced for this new product to be equally terrible--especially when Nina tasted it first and said, "You won't like it."

But for once she was wrong. I do like it. To be sure, it's never going to be a favorite, not even preferred enough for a second purchase. It's too sweet and too thick, primarily. But it's edible--even modestly enjoyable, rather than awful. I've had it on salads five times already, and I'll be able to finish off the bottle without feeling oppressed.

If nothing else, I think it's worth a try just so that you can cross off of your bucket list, "Try a pumpkin-based salad dressing." After all, if you hate it, you can return it to the store for a full refund.

Will I buy it again? 


Friday, October 21, 2016

Trader Joe's Smoked Salmon Bacon

The new products just keep coming. 

I expected that I would either seriously dislike this or, at best, decide that it was OK but not good enough for a repeat performance.

I was surprised to find that I actually liked it. The salt and smoke make it taste less like salmon and more like regular bacon than I would have thought possible. Now, this isn't to say that it's my new all-time favorite thing, but it's a lot more pleasant than I had imagined. (Is this the soft bigotry of low expectations?)

Downside: Like frying any fish, cooking this up will leave your kitchen smelling of it for days afterward.

Bonus: Cats love it (based on my scientific survey of 0.0000002% of the world's cats).

Will I buy it again? 

Once in a while, yes.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Trader Joe's Cold Pressed Juice--Cranberry Fest

And yet MORE new products! 

I'm filing an angry complaint with Trader Joe's: They sold me this empty bottle for $4.99! I thought the juice was just perfectly clear, like water, and super-lightweight. But no--there's nothing in it!

OK, that's not really true. I just forgot to take a photo before drinking it. When I sat down to write this review and found no picture, I fished the empty bottle from the recycling bin to take the only picture I then could. So just imagine that bottle filled with a pleasing, vibrant red liquid.

This is among the best of TJ's "cold-pressed juice" line, along with the Yellow and the Cantaloupe. It might be the best cranberry juice blend I've ever had. I liked it so much that it's even under consideration for Top Ten status, but I'm holding off for now, as I've had just half of this one small bottle. (Nina had the other half.) I'll want to wait a bit, then try it a second time before I decide that.

Ingredients: Cranberry juice, apple juice, orange juice, beet juice, ginger juice. It's kind of an unusual combination, but it works. It has enough tartness that the main-feature cranberry tastes real and natural, but not so much as to make it difficult to drink, as in straight cranberry juice. But at the same time, it's not overly sweetened, the way most cranberry blends tend to be. It's the rare Goldilocksian "just right." Truly excellent.

I'm guessing from the "fest" part of the name that this is destined to be a seasonal item, but TJ's would be fully justified in making it a regular, non-seasonal, permanent part of its juice line-up. I hope they do.

Will I buy it again? 

Definitely. However, the exorbitant cost for all the items in this product line is always going to be a limiting factor, putting them into the "rare treat" category rather than "buy frequently" category.


I've had a second bottle now, and loved it just as much. Welcome to my Top Ten list, o wonderful cranberry juice!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Trader Joe's 3 Cheese Wafers

We're continuing on with still more new products. 

I have mixed feelings about these "wafers." I like the crunchy texture, and I like the delicate cheese flavor. But I can't figure out any real use for them. After eating just a few on their own, it's like my mouth is bored and I don't want any more. But they're too small and flat to make for good dippers, and so thin and delicate that they break if you try to scoop up a good, stiff hummus, for example.

Will I buy it again? 

No. Though I kind of like them, I don't see what role they might play in my snacking life.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Trader Joe's Harissa Salsa

We're forging ahead here, well into a second consecutive New Products Week. 

From Wikipedia:
Harissa is a Maghrebi hot chili pepper paste, the main ingredients of which are roasted red peppers, Baklouti pepper, serrano peppers and other hot chili peppers and spices and herbs such as garlic paste, coriander seed, saffron, rose or caraway as well as some vegetable or olive oil for preservation. It is most closely associated with Tunisia, Libya, Algeria and Morocco.
 So now you know, in case you didn't before (as I most assuredly did not). 

I can't imagine what made Trader Joe's think that they had any right to mash-up Middle Eastern and Mexican cuisines in such a barbaric, insensitive act of cultural appropriation--but I'm glad they did. I actually like it a lot, even though it's a couple of notches hotter than I would prefer, sitting just a little below the top of the thermometer graphic that TJ's puts on most of its salsa jars. 

In fact, I liked it far more than the also-new Roasted Tomatillo & Mango Salsa, even though they are approximately the same level of excessive heat, and even though if you had shown me a list of the ingredients, I would have guessed that my preference would run the other way. Nina said that I like this one more because it's sweeter, and that may well be true. 

Will I buy it again? 

If they made a version of this at about 3/4 of the level of heat, it would instantly become one of my favorites. As is, I think it will be a rare purchase, allowing enough time between jars for my esophagus to heal. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Trader Joe's Ghosts & Bats Crispy Potato Snacks

We're into a second New Products Week here. 

I'm sure these would be cute for small children or for Halloween parties. But they are not a serious snack for grown-ups.

These are, in essence, Pringles, except cut into the shape of ghosts and bats, and with a lot less salt. Pringles have the correct amount of salt; these have way too little, sometimes tasting like almost none.

I used them for scooping up some very hot salsa. In that role, they functioned adequately; since any chip or cracker was going to be overwhelmed by the salsa, it might as well be something with almost no flavor to begin with. But to enjoy on their own? No way.

Will I buy it again? 


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Trader Joe's Cold Pressed Juice--Pumpkin Harvest

We continue with New Products Week, even though the week is over, because there are more new things to report on. 

Pumpkin juice? PUMPKIN JUICE? Are you freaking kidding me? That doesn't sound good. But I've been pleasantly surprised by some of Trader Joe's offbeat product ideas in the past, so I picked it up.

I wish I hadn't. It's vile. It tastes almost medicinal. Or maybe that's just some rationalizing part of my brain at work, with the message that if it tastes this bad, it must be good for you. It's got pumpkin juice, carrot juice, celery juice, sweet potato juice, orange juice, ginger juice, and turmeric, so it certainly seems like it ought to cure whatever ails you. But it brings to my mind Jim Gaffigan's comment about kale: "They could find out kale cures cancer, and I would still be like, 'I'll just do the chemo.'"

Will I buy it again? 


Saturday, October 15, 2016


This is my weekly compilation of news and other links related to Trader Joe's.

Elderly man crashes car into Trader Joe's, seriously injuring 1

Best cheeses at Trader Joe's (this article makes me want to try several of them)

Nine things you should add to your Trader Joe's grocery list

Trader Joe's, you need to calm down with the pumpkin

New Trader Joe's products for October

The 16 cheeses you have to get from Trader Joe's

Best tweets of the week:



And finally, here's this week's cute cat in (or, today, on) a Trader Joe's grocery bag:

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn

This is Day Seven of New Products Week. 

I didn't buy this, because I thought I wouldn't like it. Nina was convinced that I would like it, so after eating a whole bag on her own, she bought a second one to share with me. Her radar about what I'll like or dislike is pretty accurate, so I gave it a try.

It wasn't as bad as I had imagined. I guess I'd call it modestly pleasant. I don't like walnuts (which is one of the main reasons I didn't buy this myself), but I just left those for Nina. The pumpkin seeds are basically ignorable; they seem neither to add nor detract. The pumpkin-spice flavoring to the caramel coating was OK, but I still prefer TJ's regular caramel corn, one of the original members of my Top Ten list.

Will I buy it again? 


Friday, October 14, 2016

Trader Joe's Apple Pie Cheddar Cheese

This is Day Six of New Products Week. 

One of the first of Isaac Asimov's stories in the "I, Robot" collection is about a robot on Mercury (if I recall correctly) which ends up torn between obeying the second law of robotics and the third law. As a result, it ends up venturing toward a danger zone as it has been ordered to do, but then backing away again for self-protection, in an endlessly repeating cycle.

The mental image I formed when first reading that story something like 40 years ago came back into my mind as I felt torn while standing in front of this product at the store. I reached for it, then pulled my hand back. Reached again, stopped again.

I love apple pie, and I love cheddar cheese, so I was intrigued to try this mashup. Hence the reaching. But the second-guessing happened because when I tried to imagine what cheese with apple pie ingredients in it would actually taste like, well, it seemed kind of repulsive. Hence the pulling back.

I finally did buy it, obviously.

Which of my impulses was correct? The one about it being repulsive.

I ate several slices of it on each of three different kinds of crackers, and I didn't think any of them worked right. The problem, I think, lies somewhere in the cinnamon/cloves/nutmeg portion of the program. It just doesn't sit right with the cheddar cheese.

I ate about 1/4 of the block, trying to learn to appreciate it, and just couldn't. The rest is going back for a refund.

Will I buy it again? 


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Trader Joe's Somewhat Spicy Dill Flavored Kettle Cooked Potato Chips

This is Day Five of New Products Week. 

I liked these a lot. The product name gets everything exactly right--they're kettle chips that taste strongly of dill pickles. If you like dill pickles and potato chips, I don't see how you could not like their love-child.

This is one of the most successful of the many oddball flavored-potato-chip products TJ's has put out, along with Ghost Pepper and Salt & Vinegar.

Will I buy it again? 

I have already eaten my way through a second bag.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Trader Joe's Roasted Tomatillo & Mango Salsa

This is Day Four of New Products Week. 

This had generally very nice flavors, though surprisingly little mango, given the product name.

However, it's one of the hottest salsas I've had from Trader Joe's. It's lacking the little thermometer heat indicator on the label that most of the others have, but it would clearly be near the top. Too much for me.

It's also a lot runnier than I like--too hard to keep on chips.

Will I buy it again? 


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

ZPasta Fall Zucchette Pasta

This is Day Three of New Products Week. 

I didn't even notice that this wasn't a Trader Joe's-branded item until we were nearly done with dinner. Everything about it looks like it could and should be, except for "ZPasta" where it would say "Trader Joe's." If it sells well, maybe that's what will happen next year.

This is a novelty item only. I mean, it's perfectly edible as pasta, but don't expect anything different about it in terms of taste. It tastes like any other pasta. The fact that it's orange-ish and shaped like little pumpkins is cute, but immaterial to anything except a bit of whimsy in your meal. Yes, there's a touch of butternut squash in it, but you'd never know it from the eating.

Because the little pumpkins are thick-walled, this stuff takes forever to cook. Be warned, and plan accordingly.

Will I buy it again? 


Addendum, October 26, 2018 

I see now that this has been rebranded as an official Trader Joe's item. See photos and review of this year's version--obviously the same thing with a slightly altered label:

Monday, October 10, 2016

Trader Joe's Organic Tahini

This is Day Two of New Products Week. 

I screwed up. I bought this on impulse when I saw it on the new-items shelf at my local TJ's. I did not understand that there's a big difference between tahini (which this is) and tahini sauce (which is what I wrongly thought this was).

So this doesn't have the extra ingredients that turn tahini into tahini sauce and make it edible as, say, a chip dip--the spices, lemon juice, etc. I suppose this is technically edible on its own, but it's really meant to be an ingredient in other dishes. I have no use for it in how and what I cook.

It tastes surprisingly like peanut butter, by the way.

I took it back to the store, confessed that the error was mine, but got a refund anyway.

Will I buy it again? 


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Trader Joe's Black & White Diamond Cocktail Cookies

It's time for another New Products Week. 

Pretty good, not great. This is one of the rare times that I can actually distinguish a separate flavor being contributed by sesame seeds added to something, because they're densely packed onto a basically one-note base of the shortbread.

I finished the package, but very slowly. In fact, I purchased and ate three other boxes of cookies along the way before I finally got back to these. They just weren't appealing enough to be my first choice.

Will I buy it again? 

No. There are just too many others that I like better.

Saturday, October 8, 2016


This is my weekly compilation of news and other links related to Trader Joe's.

Top pumpkin picks at Trader Joe's

Vegan products for fall at Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's fall favorites

Pumpkin Trader Joe's products we love

Father-son negotiation at Trader Joe's

11 pumpkin snacks Trader Joe's should sell year round

15 Trader Joe's breakfast staples for busy people

15 pumpkin products to try at Trader Joe's

Best tweets of the week:






And finally, here's this week's cute cat in a Trader Joe's grocery bag:

Trader Joe's Organic Reduced Sugar Raspberry Preserves

I was wary of this stuff, because sugar is the essence of jam/preserves, so 40% less of it seems like enough of a reduction to render the result, well, icky.

I was wrong. It's almost as good as regular raspberry preserves. If you fed it to me without telling me what was different about it, I think I would notice that it was a little less sweet than I was used to, but I would never guess that the sugar reduction was as high as 40%. It's actually kind of amazing that they can get that much sugar out and still have the product be this good.

Will I buy it again? 

It's not going to become my go-to spread for toast in the morning. But if I really needed to cut calories and/or sugar from my diet, then yeah, this would definitely become my first choice. I hope that day never comes, but if it does, I'll be happy to have this product around.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Trader Joe's Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges

Ugh. At least by the microwave method of heating, these came out with an unpleasant texture--tough on the outside and chewy inside. The taste was of mediocre sweet potatoes, but nothing "roasted" about them (except for the conspicuous char marks).

I ate a few and tossed the rest of the package. It would have gone back to the store for a refund, but I had gotten the outside of the bag kind of slimy in the process of opening and pouring, and I just didn't want to mess with it anymore.

Will I buy it again? 


Nina's View

C'mon people. You can get perfectly delicious sweet potatoes by throwing whole ones in the microwave (after poking a few holes in them with a fork). If you buy pre-cooked sweet potatoes, the karmic price you pay is these unpleasant nuggets.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Trader Joe's Beef Steak Burritos With Seasoned Beans

Terribly bland. Pieces of beef were tough. Even following the heating instructions carefully, the burrito shell comes out soggy in some places, dried out and hard in others.

Will I buy it again? 


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Trader Joe's Pitted Dark Sweet Cherries

What you've got here is the cherries from Trader Joe's Very Cherry Berry Blend, but without the blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries.

Another way to think of it is that it's the same kind of pitted dark sweet cherries that you usually find in a can with heavy syrup, but without the syrup. In fact, I think that's what I like most about it: the list of ingredients starts and ends with "dark sweet cherries." I always liked the canned cherries, but wasn't thrilled about the sugary syrup with which they were packed. Now I can do without it.

As with the various TJ's berry blends, these are frozen in such a way that they're not in one solid icy chunk. You can pour out what you want, let them thaw for 45 minutes or so, and eat. They're delicious. I encountered just one sour, off-tasting cherry in the whole bag. I found no pits and no stems.

Speaking of the stems, can we talk about that "serving suggestion" photograph on the package? It shows cherries with stems in them. How is that supposed to happen, when the package contains cherries from which the stems have been carefully removed? They're suggesting, apparently, that we buy cherry stems somewhere and insert them into the cherries before serving. Seriously weird.

But I'll forgive that weirdness on the bag because I like what's in it mucho mucho.

Will I buy it again? 

Many, many times, I expect.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Trader Joe's Kale & Cauliflower Curry Salad

For once, I forgot to take a photo of this product when I brought it home, so I swiped the above from Trader Joe's web site, here.

This stuff is not good. The cauliflower is OK, but the kale is tough and bitter. (I think I'm just going to have to accept that any kale in my life will have to be the "baby" variety; I have not been able to get into the regular variety, despite many attempts.) There are way too many wheat berries, which don't add much except for a little chewiness. There are a few golden raisins, for a nice touch of sweetness. The "curry" is pretty un-curry-like. I don't know what's going on with it, but it didn't taste like real curry to me. I couldn't work up the interest to explore the ingredients list to figure out what it was.

The whole thing just didn't work. I suppose I ate about 3/4 of my half of it; Nina ate less than 1/4 of hers.

For an opposing point of view, see this review from the "Eat at Joe's" blog, the author of which absolutely loved it.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, October 3, 2016

Trader Joe's Lite Sharp Celtic Cheddar

I picked this up around St. Patrick's Day, and thought maybe it was a new product introduced for the occasion. A little research after I got home showed that it was not new. I still don't know if it's brought out only in March each year, or if it's available year-round.

This is, incidentally, the first item I've ever noticed at TJ's labeled as "Trader O'Joe's."

Let's cut to the chase: This is the best low-fat cheese I've ever tasted--and it's not even close. In fact, I would never have guessed that it's a reduced-fat product if the label had not so informed me. What's more, it's among the best white cheddars I've had, even competing against full-fat versions.

I happened to have a block of Cracker Barrel's Vermont Sharp White Cheddar at home when I bought this, so I compared them side by side. They definitely tasted different, but I could not say that one was clearly better than the other. The Cracker Barrel is more of what I've come to expect from years of eating such things, but it isn't superior. The TJ's is a little off the beaten path, but in pleasant, interesting ways.

The difference in fat is not trivial. Comparing one-ounce servings of the Cracker Barrel and TJ's:

Total calories: 110/70
Fat calories: 90/35
Fat grams: 10/4
Saturated fat grams: 6/2.5
Cholesterol mg: 30/10

I like this stuff a lot, and the fact that I can enjoy my cheese and crackers with that kind of reduction in fat and calories makes this one that I'm going to choose repeatedly, and perhaps even as a default first choice.

I'm also naming it to my Top Ten list. It really is something unexpected and special.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes, yes, yes.


Since writing the above, I've bought this four more times, and I just continue to love it more. It has become my default choice for snacking cheese. Except to experiment with new varieties, I simply see no reason ever to buy any other white cheddar. And, by the way, it's obviously not just a special springtime item as at first I thought it might be.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Trader Joe's Lite Shredded 3 Cheese Blend

This product starts off with one demerit just for spelling "light" as "lite." Disgraceful. Cn I pik u up sum lite cheez at the drive-thru?

I might forgive such editorial wretchedness if the contents were good, but they're not. Cardboard taste, rubber texture. Not quite inedibly bad--I did slowly work my way through the entire bag--but it was borderline.

If you need 50% less fat, I suggest buying some really good shredded cheese--like this one--and using only half as much.

Will I buy it again? 


Saturday, October 1, 2016


This is my weekly compilation of news and other links about Trader Joe's. (Well, almost weekly. Did anybody notice that I missed last week?)

12 Trader Joe's items that are labeled vegetarian but are actually vegan

5 freezer shortcuts Trader Joe's makes possible

Top 12 frozen desserts at Trader Joe's

Pre-cut squash from Trader Joe's saves the day

Trader Joe's 2016 vegan pumpkin products

Try Tunisian olive oil from Trader Joe's

A family divided over pumpkin-spice season

Trader Joe's pumpkin-spice products, ranked

10 reasons to love Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's new foods for September

Why Trader Joe's is the best grocery store of all time

Best tweets of the week:







Here's a new video from "Trader Joe":

And finally, because I missed last week, here's TWO cute cats in Trader Joe's grocery bags:

Trader Joe's Salted Caramel Coconut Cookies

This is Day Seven of Cookie Week. 

These ought to be a slam-dunk winner. Put coconut and caramel together, and I'm in.

But somehow Trader Joe's managed to screw up an unscrewuppable combination. There's a huge amount of packaging material for just a few cookies (eight, if memory serves). The cookies are sticky and floppy. Both the caramel and salt are barely noticeable.

Will I buy it again? 

No. They're not awful, but they're a big letdown from what you'd expect from the picture on the box.