Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Oat Cranberry Flax Seed Cookies

This is a new product; see the company's own description of it here.

I didn't hold out much hope for this. Trader Joe's gluten-free cookies have been an ongoing source of disappointment. (See here for all of them.) And "flax seed" doesn't exactly make my mouth water with memories of Mom's homemade.

But the first one was not as bad as I had anticipated. The second seemed even better. Mind you, I don't love them the crazy way that the good folks at the What's Good at Trader Joe's blog do, with their perfect 10 score. But after Nina had two, and decided that that was enough, I happily finished off the rest.

The cranberries are heavily sweetened, to the point that it's hard to recognize them as such. I think the cookies would be better if the berries were left with more tartness, as a point of contrast.

Strangely, the saving grace is one of the last ingredients listed, and one that didn't make it into the product title: cinnamon. I think that without that, these would be pretty lifeless.

Really, TJ's--we need to have a talk about packaging. A plastic box to throw on the landfill, just to hold six cookies? Seriously?

Will I buy it again? 

No. They're OK, but with so many truly great cookies in the world, I won't settle for just "OK."

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Trader Joe's Italian Marinara Sauce With Barolo Wine

As far as I can remember, I've never before bought pasta sauce with wine. But it was on the new-products shelf at Trader Joe's, so of course I had to try it.

The wine flavor is strong--far more than I expected. And I don't like wine.

But surprise! I like this. I like it a lot. It has a nice acidic bite, and the heavy grapeyness (but not really grape, if you know what I mean) adds an unexpectedly delightful and harmonious overtone.

It has quickly joined my list of favorite TJ's pasta sauces, along with this one, this one, this one, this one, and this one--and it's completely unlike any of them.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, January 29, 2018

Trader Joe's Organic Italian Artisan Pasta--Orecchiette

In flavor, this is like any other semolina pasta. What makes it unusual is the shape: "little ears."

I thought I would like this, first, because I like chunky, forkable pastas more than spaghetti, and, second, because it looked like it would hold a lot of sauce easily. I was right on both counts.

However, it had two drawbacks that I had not anticipated. First, it's unusually slow to cook. I guess it takes a while for the water to penetrate the thickish pasta nuggets. Second, once cooked, they tend to nestle inside each other and form clumps. This is unlike my current favorite snowflake pasta (I've stocked up on it for the long year ahead), which does not clump.

Will I buy it again? 


Saturday, January 27, 2018


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

Trader Joe's tops comparison test of canned chili

Whole30 Trader Joe's shopping list

Trader Joe's is the secret to my healthy diet

5 best beauty products from Trader Joe's

Best tweets of the week:

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

Hey, look! It's Nina's cat, Loki!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Trader Joe's Organic Popping Corn

I haven't made popcorn as a snack in a couple of years. I had pretty much given up on it. I'm too lazy to make it the old-fashioned way, with oil in a big pan on the stove. I don't have an air popper. And I've never found a microwave-specific version that really worked consistently well.

But a couple of weeks ago, Nina started raving about this new popper she had bought from Amazon--just a simple, cheap silicone bowl, but she said it worked "perfectly." This is not something she would ever say lightly. She has gone a little gaga trying new and different toppings for her now easy-to-make perfect popcorn. So I bought one of these implements for myself. Nina was not wrong in her assessment. This thing really does almost magically pop all the kernels without burning any. And, of course, a bag of plain kernels is a lot cheaper than the microwave products that come in individual bags.

Seeing as how I would be needing some popcorn to pop, and seeing as I was in Trader Joe's when I remembered this, I looked over the snack aisle to see what they had. And there was this--just the sort of thing you'd expect from Trader Joe's. I mean, alongside the crazy stuff like potato chips flavored like turkey and dressing, TJ's has a whole bunch of simple, quiet products, and they're often excellent.

This turns out to be another such item. At least in this new popper in my microwave oven, it turns out perfectly. Big, fluffy kernels, virtually no old maids.

Nina has been using Orville Redenbacher. I brought her some of TJ's to try instead. She judged it to pop bigger, but thought it had a little less distinct corn flavor. I haven't done the comparison with any other brands myself.

Will I buy it again? 

Absolutely. I like it so much that I'm not even really interested in trying others to see if it's actually the best; I'm afraid I'll be disappointed in anything else.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Trader Joe's Goat's Milk Gouda Cheese

After two recent bad experiences with goat cheese (see here and here), I had sworn off of the stuff entirely. But then two commenters piped up with glowing things to say about Trader Joe's goat milk Gouda. OK, OK--I'll try one more.

I'm glad I did. It's good.

I had it at the same time as the TJ's Double Cream Gouda, so I could compare them side by side. I had a hard time deciding which I liked better. (Nina did not. She thought this one was far superior.) They are so different, though, that it's kind of hard to believe that they can both be called Goudas.

As promised by my commenters, it lacks the icky goat funk that ruined the others for me. Even TT Rockwood might like it!

Will I buy it again? 

Yes, in spite of my previous no-goat pledge. Now there is at least one goat cheese that I actually like.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Trader Joe's Double Cream Gouda

I liked this. It is, as the name implies, extremely creamy, buttery. Mild flavor--to the point that Nina found it boring. I wouldn't go that far, but I did find that it took quite a thick slice on a cracker before it made much of a flavor impression.

Will I buy it again? 

It's not going to replace good ol' cheddar as my mainstay, but as a break from the routine once in a while, yes.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Trader Joe's Sweet Potato Frites

I liked these more than I thought I would. However, I prepared them in a toaster oven, which was probably not ideal, because I had to crowd them together to fit on the baking tray. Nina pointed out--and I agree--that they would probably have an even nicer, crisper texture if spread out more on a cookie sheet in a regular oven. (I was trying to save time, on the basis that the toaster oven would get up to temperature faster. I was hungry.)

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, January 22, 2018

Trader Joe's Vanilla Cake & Baking Mix

I deem this a complete failure of a product.

First, it's harder to make than most modern cake mixes, requiring milk, eggs, and butter. Second, it ended up with some grittiness--maybe clusters of sugar granules? I'm not sure what they were, but they were unpleasant. Third, it just wasn't especially vanilla-y, and if there's anything special about the "Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla," I couldn't detect it.

I ate about a third of the resulting cake, and threw the rest away. It just wasn't good enough to use my dietary sweets allotment on.

Will I buy it again? 


Saturday, January 20, 2018


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

Trader Joe's tops retailer preference rating

Shopping gluten-free at Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's most popular products of 2017

5 best frozen veggies from Trader Joe's

Best tweets of the week:

And finally, here's this week's cute cat in a Trader Joe's grocery bag. (You have to look closely.)

A post shared by Chris & Jess ( on

Friday, January 19, 2018

Trader Joe's Roasted Rainbow Potatoes

These are quite good. They're nicely, lightly seasoned. They're dead-simple to prepare (though they take a long time in the oven). They're not as pretty as "rainbow" potatoes should be, though; it seemed like the only color other than plain old white potatoes was nearly black, with no nice reds, yellows, or purples. Maybe I got an atypical batch.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. I'm much more likely to use this than to buy, cut, and season my own potatoes.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Trader Joe's Organic Pomegranate Hibiscus Kombucha

Trader Joe's seems to be making a big (or at least biggish) push for kombucha. They are suddenly carrying several different varieties--not all TJ's-branded--when a year ago I don't remember them having any. This is the second of TJ's own line that I've tried, the first being here.

I liked this one better, though Nina tasted it first and predicted that I wouldn't like it at all. I guess you can put pomegranate in just about anything and I'll like it. But I still prefer the heavily spiced versions from a local company, Buchi.

Will I buy it again? 

I doubt it.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Trader Joe's 3 Seed Sweet Potato Crackers

I thought I would like these better than I did the similar 3-Seed Beet Crackers, reviewed yesterday, on the simple grounds that I generally like sweet potatoes more than beets.

I was wrong.

These lack the nice crisp texture of their shelfmates. They're kind of mealy, soft, and crumbly. They taste so much more like corn cereal (and stale corn cereal at that) than sweet potatoes that I had to check the ingredients list. Sure enough, they contain more corn than sweet potato. What sweet-potato flavor there is completely lacks the "sweet" part.

Will I buy it again? 

No. This is a serious failure of a product. The beet version is better in appearance, taste, and texture.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Trader Joe's 3 Seed Beet Crackers

When I think of crackers, I don't think of beets. Then again, I am not Trader Joe's.

I don't mind beets, but I don't seek them out, so this is a product I never would have bought if not for this blog. Fortunately, they're not as beety in flavor as they appear. They worked fine for scooping up hummus--crunchy, but not too delicate or brittle. They're really too thin to make a good base for cheese slices.

Will I buy it again? 

Probably not. Nina might, though; she liked them better than I did. And they would make an attractive addition to a cheese-and-cracker platter.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Trader Joe's Latin Style Black Bean Soup

After eating this with dinner again last week, I turned to the blog archives to see what I had written about it. I was surprised to discover that I had never reviewed it. I mentioned it once back in December 2014, and surely intended to write a review then, but I guess it never happened. And then every time I've had it since then, I've assumed that it was done. I didn't take a picture of the box for the same reason, so I had to swipe the one above from Trader Joe's own site.

Anyway, I like this soup. It's just spicy enough to be pleasing and interesting, without being overwhelming. The flavor of the black beans still predominates over the spices. And despite "garlic" being the first thing mentioned after the beans, I don't notice it. (This is a good thing, because I'm not much of a garlic fan.)

I tried thinking of appropriate Latin phrases I could use to make a joke about "Latin style" soup, but failed. I'm sorry.

Will I buy it again? 

In case you hadn't noticed, I have done so several times already.

Saturday, January 13, 2018


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

Trader Joe's product names and "Eleanor Rigby"

My favorite things, Trader Joe's edition

5 new Trader Joe's products

Best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, January 12, 2018

Kerrygold Dubliner 100% Natural Cheese

Sold at Trader Joe's, though not a TJ's-branded product.

This doesn't say "cheddar" anywhere on it. But if it's not, it's a close imitation. (The manufacturer's web site says, "Dubliner is a robust aged cow’s milk cheese with a bit of a hard texture similar to a Cheddar.") Sharper than most cheddars, in a kind of harsh, unpleasant way.

It's possible that I was primed to be disappointed in this because I'm still mourning the loss of the wonderful Lite Sharp Celtic. This is Irish, so I wanted it to be that in a different wrapper, and it isn't. Which isn't exactly a fair way to evaluate it, but that's life.

Will I buy it again? 

No. My go-to cheddars will remain the Extra Sharp Canadian and New Zealand Grass Fed Sharp.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Trader Joe's Tandoori Naan

I had never had naan at home before Nina served this at dinner; my only experience of it was in restaurants. I liked it enough that I bought a package myself on my next TJ's run. I think it's much better than you might expect a frozen bread product to be.

Will I buy it again? 


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Trader Joe's Yellow Jackfruit Curry With Jasmine Rice

I have tried jackfruit in a few different ways, both in grocery products and in restaurants. With one exception (as part of a dried-fruit medley), it has been a disappointment. There's a lot of hype about how perfectly it can replace meat, but I have not yet found a usage in which that has been true.

This new product from Trader Joe's is no exception. It's bland, uninteresting, and kind of weird. In its favor (?), the serving size is large for the specified one person. But it's hard to say whether my difficulty finishing it is because there was too much food or because it wasn't very pleasant to eat. Probably a combination of both.

Will I buy it again? 


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Trader Joe's Pistachio Pomegranate Crisps

These are superb. They're the best of their product line. (For the other flavor combinations, see here, here, and here.) They combine a nice blend of savory and sweet with an equally nice blend of crunchy and chewy. They're so good that they even made the somewhat unpleasant goat milk cheddar cheese seem great when it was put on them.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. I like very much.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Trader Joe's Goat Milk Cheddar Cheese

I don't remember seeing this before last week, when I bought it. I think the whole idea of a goat mild cheddar would have caught my attention if I had spotted it before. I didn't know there was such a thing.

After trying it, I would be OK if there weren't such a thing.

It does not remind me of standard cow's milk cheddar. It reminds me only of goat.

From now on, I'm going to join frequent commenter T.T. Rockwood and just say no to goat's milk products. As she puts it, "They ALL have that goat-y funk and taste vaguely like wet barn."

Will I buy it again? 


Addendum, January 21, 2018: 

Well. Looking back through my archives for something else, I found this review of TJ's English Goat Milk Cheddar Cheese. So despite my statement above, I did, in fact, at one time know that goat-milk cheddar cheese existed. But I had completely forgotten about it. (I don't think this is the same product as that one.)

Saturday, January 6, 2018


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

Video of the Trader Joe's Rose Parade float

7 healthy items to buy at Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's releases their 15 favorite recipes

10 Trader Joe's party foods to celebrate the new year

Best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, January 5, 2018

Trader Joe's Cold Pressed Juice--Pomegranate

This is now the third product from Trader Joe's that is pure pomegranate juice, with nothing else added. See here and here for the others. My sense memory isn't keen enough to discern any difference between then when the sampling has been spread across time. They're all superb--exactly what one would want from pomegranate juice. Maybe I'll have to buy a bottle of all three at once and try them simultaneously to discover any differences between them.

Will I buy it again? 

I probably will once, just to make a comparison. But this one is much more expensive per ounce than the others, so other than that it's not likely to be a repeater.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Trader Joe's Sparkling Pressed Apple Juice Beverage

There's nothing special about this. I would much rather pick up a bottle of Welch's or Martinelli's, so that I get the festive satisfaction of uncorking a bottle. These tiny little cans are just kind of sad.

Will I buy it again? 


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Trader Joe's 12 Classic Lemon Bars

In the realm of store-bought desserts, you've got two broad categories: things that virtually nobody makes at home--ice cream, for example--and things that lots of people make at home--like cookies and pies. In the former category, manufacturers have the considerable advantage that they must compete only with other manufacturers, and not with the public's memory of homemade. Items in the latter category, by contrast, labor under the burden of our collective experience of superb, fresh, homemade versions. It's a true rarity that mass-produced, commercial items will be as good.

Well, lemme tell you: Here is one of those rarities. These are as good as any homemade lemon bars I've ever had, and I would pick them in a heartbeat over an unknown, randomly selected homemade version, even if the latter were all from highly competent cooks.

They've got a wonderful mix of sweetness and sourness, with real-tasting lemon flavor. The texture is pleasing. They're easy to eat and not messy. I also like the light dusting of powdered sugar on top.

Will I buy them again? 

Oh, yes. They're a new favorite. I don't think they're quite Top-Ten level, but the fact that I had to stop and think about that possibility should tell you that they're well worth a try.

P.S.: Nina loved them, too.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Trader Joe's Pink Pomelo Grapefruit Hand Soap

It's not clear to me why one would want hand soap to smell like grapefruit and/or pomelos. And I'm not sure this does. It's generically citrusy, but I don't think it really evokes grapefruit. Maybe it smells exactly like a pomelo; I wouldn't know.

It does the expected job adequately. It's a little harder to rinse off than I think ideal, but that's the only fault I noticed.

Will I buy it again? 

No. Back to SoftSoap for me.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Trader Joe's Turkey Pot Pie Bites

First, let's address the serving size of these little morsels. The box identifies the serving size as three, meaning that the box contains four servings. This is a lying lie told by lying liars who lie. I ate all 12 for lunch, and still had room for a large salad and some baked beans on the side. I am not a large person. If you believe the box and bring this home expecting to feed your family of four, people are going to be hungry.

So how are they? Not bad--after all, I did eat 12 at once. But they're bland and uninteresting. The pastry shell is the best part, which shouldn't be true.

Will I buy it again? 

No. If I'm going to expend my small poultry-eating allowance on a pot pie, I'd much rather have this one.