Friday, May 31, 2019

Trader Joe's Egg Frittata With Swiss Cheese & Cauliflower

From the font of all knowledge: "Frittata is an egg-based Italian dish similar to an omelette or crustless quiche or scrambled eggs, enriched with additional ingredients such as meats, cheeses or vegetables. The word frittata is Italian and roughly translates to 'fried.'"

Last night while eating these, I commented to Nina, "It's like a little quiche with no crust." So I guess I had it about right.

The package suggests heating by either microwave or oven. I used a toaster oven, which worked great. They ended up having a nice texture, which I fear might be compromised with the microwave. The box says 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Based on long experience with TJ's frozen foods, I gave them 20 minutes, and they turned out perfect.

After egg, the dominant flavor is the onions and chives. You know how I feel about that. I had to mentally search to detect Swiss cheesiness. The cauliflower seems to contribute mostly some textural firmness, with the flavor totally MIA.

Will I buy it again? 

No. I ate my two, and didn't much object to them, but I couldn't find any love. Nina admired the nice texture, but said she wasn't wowed by the taste.

Saturday, May 25, 2019


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

22 underrated Trader Joe's items to put in your cart

The best Trader Joe's products for Memorial Day

5 healthy products Trader Joe's employees love

The 6 best frozen vegetables from Trader Joe's

25 Trader Joe's products for summer entertaining

The best vegan foods at Trader Joe's

Don't make these 5 costly mistakes at Trader Joe's

14 Trader Joe's breakfast options

Best affordable wine and liquor at Trader Joe's

Ranking of Trader Joe's cookies  [Note that this article is actually funny.]

Best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, May 24, 2019

Trader Joe's Liquid Dish Soap--Citrus Scent

I've been using this for several months now, alternating it with good ol' Ajax, which has been my usual choice for 30 years or more.

I can't tell any difference between the two products in terms of cleaning. The Ajax seems to produce suds somewhat better. I'm not keen on the scent of the TJ's (and it strikes me as floral, not citrus at all), but at least it's faint enough that I don't notice it unless I go out of my way to stick my nose down near it.

Will I buy it again? 

No. It's more expensive than Ajax and doesn't perform any better.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Trader Joe's Spray Sunscreen

I bought this last year, then never used it until this past weekend. Nina uses it a lot for doing yard work, and likes it. I found it easy to apply, lightly and inoffensively scented.

Of course, I don't have means for objectively testing its effectiveness. But Consumer Reports gave it a perfect 100/100 score, the best of the spray-on sunscreens.

Will I buy it again? 

I use very little sunscreen, because I don't spend a lot of time outside, and when I do, I tend to use clothes and hats to prevent sunburn. But on the rare occasions that a sunscreen is called for, yes, this would be my first choice.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Trader Joe's Sparkling Watermelon Juice

I forgot to take a picture of the box before folding it up for the recycling bin, so I'm stealing this one from Trader Joe's introduction to the product, here.

The juice lives up to TJ's copy. It's delicious and refreshing. It tastes exactly how you would imagine carbonated watermelon juice to taste. You can sense that it has little added other than the bubbles--certainly no extra sugar.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. This is a clear winner.

Saturday, May 18, 2019


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

24 products to buy at Trader Joe's, and 7 to avoid

Unexpected snake in a Trader Joe's shopping cart

All the Thai food at Trader Joe's reviewed

Vegan guide to Trader Joe's

Best tweets of the week:

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

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Trader Joe's Organic Dressing--Toasted Sesame

This isn't bad. I've gotten through more than half of the bottle, and there's no reason I won't eventually finish it. But it's not a favorite. It's just enough with the sesame already.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, May 13, 2019

Swell Mint Chip Ice Cream

I found this at Trader Joe's just a day or two after having read this Consumer Reports article on the recent proliferation of allegedly more healthful ice creams, with lower fat, lower sugar, and/or higher protein. Swell's offerings were not among the 13 they rated, however.

I didn't much care for this. It had a pervasive off-note that I think must have been from the added whey protein. Why would you ruin perfectly good ice cream that way? The whole concept of eating ice cream for protein content is just dopey--especially if it compromises the primary purpose of eating ice cream, which is for sheer enjoyment.

Will I buy it again? 


Saturday, May 11, 2019


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

5 new Trader Joe's products that aren't food

5 frozen foods from Trader Joe's to up your brunch game

11 healthy finds at Trader Joe's

The definitive ranking of every Trader Joe's alt-pasta

10 Trader Joe's ice cream flavors you need in your freezer

Trader Joe's now has its own YouTube channel

12 best keto foods to buy at Trader Joe's

The 15 best Trader Joe's finds under $5

Incredible deals in the Trader Joe's booze aisle

Best tweets of the week:

And finally, here's this week's cute cat dog in a Trader Joe's grocery bag with his Trader Joe's vegan mayonnaise.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Trader Joe's Angel Food Cake

This is pretty ordinary store-bought angel food cake. It's not noticeably better or worse than others I've had. It is smaller, though, which for me is actually an advantage, because I struggle to finish larger ones before they either go bad or I tire of them.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. It's a rare purchase for me, maybe twice a year or so, but I'm happy to have the smaller size (with accompanying smaller price), and at the place where I'm already doing most of my grocery shopping, so no stop at a second store required.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Trader Joe's Rolled Corn Tortilla Chips--Chili & Lime Flavored, revisited

When this Top-Ten-list product first came out last December, I had never even heard of the Takis that people immediately said it was ripping off. Yesterday I was at WalMart and happened to see a display of Takis. I knew that I already had a bag of the TJ's in my cupboard, so I could finally do a direct comparison taste test. And by happy coincidence, it was the day Nina was coming over for dinner, so she could join me in this important quest.

As you can see from the picture above, the Takis are much more brightly colored. This is probably due to their willingness to use artificial coloring, which Trader Joe's eschews as a blanket corporate policy. The TJ's version uses vegetable juice, paprika extract, turmeric extract, and beta carotene for color.

While I'm looking at the list of ingredients, I notice that Takis use palm oil, which you may wish to avoid in things you buy. (Says Scientific American, "Today palm oil production is the largest cause of deforestation in Indonesia and other equatorial countries with dwindling expanses of tropical rainforest. Indonesia’s endangered orangutan population, which depends upon the rainforest, has dwindled by as much as 50 percent in recent years.") Trader Joe's uses sunflower, safflower, and/or canola oil.

I paid $2.68 for the 9.9-ounce bag of Takis. Trader Joe's charges $2.49 for 9 ounces. That's a very slight edge to the former on cost.

My first impression after sampling a few of each was that they're very similar. Nina's was that they're quite different. We agreed that the Takis are hotter, but we both preferred the slightly toned-down TJ's. Nina thought the corn flavor of the TJ's was more natural and more prominent; I didn't pick up on that. I had to strain to detect lime in both products. The textures are virtually identical; I can't tell any difference in the crunch factor.


Nina and I both preferred the Trader Joe's overall. TJ's has made better choices on ingredients, and turning down the heat by a degree or two was an improvement on the original. But I'd be happy munching on either one. If you blindfolded me and fed me one when I didn't also have access to the other for an immediate comparison, I couldn't confidently tell you which I was eating.

When Trader Joe's comes out with a knockoff of a well-known name-brand product, it's hit-or-miss if they'll make it better. Sometimes they clearly do--e.g., the frosted toaster pastries are superior to Kellogg's Pop Tarts in every way. But TJ's Triscuit imitations are just as clearly inferior, whether comparing the original or the reduced-fat versions. I'm happy that these rolled-corn tortilla chips are in the former category.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Trader Joe's Organic Italian Artisan Pasta--Striped Garganelli

Look! They're cute little barber-pole pastas! But this site says that "garganelli" means "small esophagus." I can't imagine why Trader Joe's doesn't slap that right on the label.

Wikipedia says that garganelli are "a type of egg-based pasta formed by rolling a flat, square noodle into a cylindrical shape." If that's so, then these don't qualify, as they are not egg noodles, but just ordinary wheat-based pasta. (See Trader Joe's introduction to the product, including list of ingredients, here.) I checked a few other sites, and they all agreed that garganelli are supposed to be egg pasta.

The red striping is made from beet powder and beet juice. It's very attractive and eye-catching in the package, but it quickly disappears into the water upon cooking. Here's what you're left with when the cooked pasta is served:

So if you are thinking of buying this because it would be extra-pretty on your dinner table--don't. You're in for a disappointment. It seems pretty pointless to me to add to a food product a coloring that leaches out the minute you start cooking it.

You're also in for a long cooking time. The first reason is that these little cylinders are actually quite thick-walled. The second reason is that overlap where a corner is folded over, which creates an area of two layers of pasta. I found that when the main part of the garganelli were cooked, that area wasn't nearly done, so I had to leave them in the boiling water longer. When the double-thick section was finally done, the rest was over-cooked.

Just now I discovered that TJ's acknowledges this, but tries (deceptively, IMHO) to spin it as a virtue rather than a vice: "Part of what makes Garganelli such an appreciated pasta is the way the shape affects the cooking. When boiled for 14-15 minutes, the ends of the pasta will be soft, while the folded-over center will be perfectly al dente." I'm calling BS on that account of things, TJ's. Replace "soft" with "mushy and overdone," and you're closer to the truth. 

And the taste? Just like any other pasta, neither better nor worse. 

Will I buy it again? 


Saturday, May 4, 2019


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

Trader Joe's disavows online resellers of its products

Consumer Reports rates Trader Joe's as best national grocery chain

Turning trash from Trader Joe's into jewelry

15 kid snacks from Trader Joe's

10 Trader Joe's cleaning products

15 ways to make Trader Joe's cauliflower gnocchi even more amazing

Best tweets of the week:

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

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Trader Joe's Oatmeal Exfoliant Bar--Almond Ginger Scent

This bar of soap has two distinctive characteristics:

1. It's enormous--literally the largest bar I've ever tried to wash myself with. Particularly because of its thickness, it's actually challenging to get a hand around it.

2. It has an exceptionally pleasant scent, though I wouldn't have pegged it as either almond or ginger. It wafts through my bathroom and makes the whole place smell nice. And this is coming from a guy who generally eschews any scent in his cleaning and personal hygiene products.

I also like its texture, with little bits of oatmeal roughing it up a little, reminiscent of the other bar soap I buy occasionally from TJ's (which also violates my no-scent rule, but in a way that I enjoy).

On the down side, it seems sticky and slimy on my skin, and is very difficult to rinse off.

Will I buy it again? 

No. I have for decades been using and happy with the unscented, "sensitive skin" Dove bar. I think it's basically perfect, and is dirt cheap. I will continue to change that up once in a while with the lavender bar from TJ's. I would be tempted to do the same with this one because of how nice it smells, if not for the physical awkwardness of using it and the fact that I practically need a squeegee to get it off of my skin.