Almondina Cookies


alm-originalBesides the products sold by Trader Joe’s under the “Trader Joe’s” brandname, TJ’s also sells some carefully selected products which which are sold under their own original brand.

Trader Joe’s team of product selectors are know to be pretty picky about what they select to sell in their stores. In fact, TJ has a fairly well known reputation as a retail outlet where its not only hard to get them to sell your product, but also many times if they sell it they may want to put their own TJ brand on it, as they frequently rebrand and repackage products. So one can assume existing brands and products they sell under their original name probably are established brands with a long history and their own reputation for quality. As an example of one such product sold at Trader Joes are “ALMONDINA” original cookies which TJ carries in its stores. A review of them follows (Full disclosure: I was sent some cookies by Almondina’s for review. Rare? Beyond rare, its a first! (Product managers –hint, hint — please feel free to send me stuff for review!) Naturally rest assured this will not sway me in any way from giving a totally unbiased review.

In short, these are really good! ALMONDINA original cookies are essentially a biscotti type of cookie. Their tagline is “The Delicious Cookie Without The Guilt”. What makes these rather unique compared to normal biscotti cookies is how thin they are. They are very thin, maybe a 1/4″ wide, which is way thinner than any biscotti type cookie I have ever had.  A regular biscotti is about 4 or 5 times that width and as you know are typically quite “hard” and crunchy and very typically you eat the regular biscotti’s by dunking them in some coffee or tea. With the Almondina cookies theres No Dunking Required — though I tried them that way too — and they are excellent dunked in tea or coffee or milk.

Being so thin makes it more “guilt free” as you will consume less calories per cookie, hence the “without the guilt” tagline on their package.  The best thing about these aside from being delicious is they are made from a short list of real and simple ingredients from a 100-year old recipe that was invented by the owner’s grandmother Dina. They are made with only “all natural” simple ingredients and there are no added fats or oil. They are loaded with Almonds – hence the name. In fact the first ingredient listed : “Almonds”. It says they are 24% almonds! So if you like almonds you will love these as they are so almond-y. They are absolutely delicious on their own or paired with cheese of almost any kind. Brie for one is excellent with them. They would be good to have on hand when guests come over .  I even found a little recipe using the cookies at Trader Joe’s website using Almondina cookies to make some nice little dessert sandwiches with cream cheese. Looks yummy!  High tea, anyone?http://www.traderjoes.com/recipes/recipe/5151mainimage

 

So I really liked ALMONDINA’S and you will too no doubt. Try them, you will not be disappointed.

RAVE

Have you tried this product?  Let me know what you think in the comments section!

Trader Joe’s New Zealand Sweet Apple Rings


apple rings

New Zealand Sweet Apple Rings

“Unsulphered and unsweetened”

These may be a new product, or at least I’ve never noticed them till recently. Anyway I bought them to try and really liked these. Its really good new Trader Joe’s product.

My first impression upon opening the package was my nose immediately caught a very nice “apple-ly” scent coming from the bag, and them upon popping one of these dried apple rings in my mouth… next was that “oh yeah so yummy” reaction to something new you’re trying.  This has a really natural taste and delicious flavor, this is neither too sweet, nor too tart. You are thinking yeah “These are what dried apples should taste like” as you chew and chew a few more. In fact you may find as I did, its really hard to stop eating them!. I could probably devour the bag munching on them. Not that I should do that! But I can see a bag will go fast in my house.

The apples have been dehydrated to just the right point, where they are not too hard or rubbery like some dried apple rings can be, but are wonderfully softish, and chewy and kind of taste what I imagine, if I made my own dehydrated apples, what they would taste like. The ingredients are one thing, and one thing only: Apples! “SELECTED FROM BRAEBURN, ROYAL,GALA, FUJI AND PINK LADY APPLES” Unsulphered and unsweetened. I really like ingredients where one thing and one thing only is listed. You know what you bought come with no hidden agendas.

In sum, try these, you are sure to like them. These could be a healthy snack and treat for you or your kids to have around. Try with some peanut butter and you have something heavenly (could even be put into a sandwich?)
An 8 oz. package sells for $3.49. The package I bought got eaten fast. They are slightly addictive. Be forewarned.

So these get a

RAVE

 

Have you tried this product?  Let me know what you think in the comments section!

 

Trader Joe’s Pita Chips; Parmesan, Garlic, Herb


tj_pitachips_1Trader Joe’s Pita Chips

(Parmesan, Garlic, and Herb flavor)

RAVE

To me these are one of those “wow these are amazing!” TJ’s products you buy once and instantly fall in love with. The kind you put into the,“I want to have these on hand at all times” category and buy every time you go to the store.

Cut quite thick, and baked – these chips are SERIOUSLY, majorly crunchy!. They’re so savory and full of massive amounts of flavor that you might devour the whole bag in a sitting.

The buzz word these days in the food world? Umami… Parmesan cheese is known to have lots of umami. That must be a) why they are so tasty and b) why when I eat these even my cat instantly comes running over, starts to cry, and tries to grab them out of my hand (really, if I just open the bag she goes nuts)! Its a hoot.

These Pita Chips have a bold texture and taste… very tasty combination of the parmesan, garlic and herbs. I can not begin to tell you how crunchy these are, you must try for yourself but when I say “crunchy” I mean so crunchy if you were watching TV and eating these you would have to turn the sound way up just to hear it over all the major noise going on in your head.

They are thick enough so could they be wonderful with salsa, guacamole, or any dip and are guaranteed not to break like normal chips might. But the truth is they are so good by themselves, they don’t even need dip; you can easily enjoy these plain (they are anything but plain) right out of the bag . The hard thing is to stop eating them, period. You say just one more and realize the bag’s almost empty. I’m pretty sure these would even work to as croutons on a salad I  read somewhere on the web that they are possibly actually “Stacey’s Chips”. I’ve never tasted those so can’t judge but these are $1.99 and I read that Stacey’s brand just under $4. TJ_pitachips_2I (try) to put a bag of these away in the back of the cupboard to keep and save so we have always have something special on hand for guests who might drop in — but the reality is more than once we just went to the cupboard and grabbed a bag and said, “Come on lets open these; we’ll get some more next time we’re at Trader Joe’s”. So much for will power. We might have to buy 2 or 3 bags at a time… And even then, they might not be safe. So these get a RAVE and are definitely worth a try. They’re dangerously good!

 

Have you tried this product?  Let me know what you think in the comments section!

Simply the #1 Soap for Summertime: Trader Joe’s TEA TREE OIL SOAP


Yes I’ve praised this soap before in an earlier post.teatreesoap1  But I did not mention this.

While the rest of the year I keep a bar of  TJ’s HONEY OATMEAL SOAP in the shower, but come  summertime,  I swap that out for TJ’s TEA TREE OIL SOAP.

Trader Joe’s TEA TREE OIL SOAP  is absolutely the #1 Summertime soap. On a hot day there is nothing that cools me off and refreshes me like washing in cold water with this stuff.  It has a slightly astringent quality of course due to the tea tree oil. That’s what must make it feel so refreshing.

Now, the only  soap that feels even more refreshing than this stuff would be DR. BRONNER’S PEPPERMINT OIL SOAP, which Trader Joe’s does sell as well. But lets face it, that cost’s $10/bottle (Will make another post about this famous stuff, with all the crazy writing all over it)

From a listing on Amazon of ingredients for a bar of the Tree Tree Oil Soap ;

Very Basic, Natural Ingredients
Contains No Laurel / Laureth Sulfates
Cruelty Free – Never Tested on Animals; No Animal Products in Ingredients
Made In Connection With An Upscale Boutique
Comes in Double-Pack (Two 4 oz Bars Per Pack)
Ingredients
Sodium Palmate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Water, Glycerin, Tea Tree Oil, Sodium Chloride, Pentasodium Pentetate.

also saw this about tea tree oil soap in general:

Tea Tree Oil Soap Soothes the skin with its natural healing properties…

reduces bacteria and inflammation

acts as an antiseptic, antimicrobial, and antifungal.

This would mean you won’t smell as much too!

Two Large Bars of this soap to a pack mean its $1 a bar; WOW! Thats a really good deal for this level of quality health and beauty product. Did you catch that “made in connection with an upscale boutique? in the text above” I bet whoever the original manufacturer really is (any ideas peeps?) they probably sell a bar for $3-4 each when it has their own fancy name on it. But when Trader Joe’s re-brands it under their own label, they can sell for much less (probably the fancy packaging makes it seem worth another $4?! )

Many women use TJ’ TEA TREAL OIL soap in the bathroom basically for the face but trust me, try it in summer in the shower if you haven’t already on the rest of you, too. Its refreshing and feels great and so clean. BUT NOTE: avoid getting it in your eyes (It can sting a bit)

Let me here what you think about this soap for Summer!

TJ’s “South African Smoke” Seasoning Spice Blend


Spices – Not something that may first come to mind when you think “Trader Joe’s” stuff but actually they have shelves and shelves of spices. They are well priced, if you compare them to a regular supermarket, and always seem fresh to me.

I seem to especially like some of their spice “seasoning blends’  that are pre-mixed blends of whole spices. They are sold right in their own cleverly made grinder, which by the way are very practical and easy to use (even easy to re-use, they have screw tops). As you may know, grinding a spice just prior to using it is the way to get a spice’s optimal flavor.

I am now particularly fond of this Spice Blend called “South African Smoke” seasoning blend:

20130619-230820.jpg

The ingredients are listed as “smoked paprika (which are large flakes), sea salt, garlic, basil” Well though it doesn’t sound so exotic on paper, when you grind this onto almost any food, you get a heavenly smoky aroma. I couldn’t even begin to list all the foods this is good on, because it is so tasty it might make even a slice of wet cardboard taste good! But if you try it on almost any food (meat, chicken, tofu, veggies, rice, potatoes, pasta…. you name it)… then you will agree with me — This stuff is the bomb.

A jar costs about $2.29. I even added some coriander and fennel seeds into the jar, which I thought made it even better. So you could experiment a little too with these jars of spices, added some of your own spices too.

Here’s what “Trader Joe’s themselves had to say about this on their site:

Our travels take us to some of the world’s most interesting regions, where we have the opportunity to taste foods we may never have encountered on our home turf. (Full disclosure: this is the royal we, as it refers to our buyers and not, alas, to certain writers of food-related information.) Among our recent “discoveries” is Trader Joe’s South African Smoke seasoning blend, one of the more unique items we’ve come across.

South African Smoke begins with African-grown paprika that is slow-smoked for 48 hours over a sustainable African hardwood called Acacia Saligna, commonly used as barbecue coals. This process enriches the paprika with a smoky, roasted flavor that evokes the South African braai, or barbecue. The smoked paprika is blended with sea salt, garlic and basil and packaged in a grinder, giving you fresh-ground flavor in every twist. Use it as a rub for meats or veggies prior to cooking, or keep it on the table in place of everyday salt & pepper. You’ll find this spice blend only at your neighborhood Trader Joe’s, where we’re selling each 1.76 ounce grinder for $2.29.

My only complaint about this stuff is it goes too fast in my house!

THIS PRODUCT GETS A RAVE!

 

UPDATE SUMMER 2014 –

NO NO NO !!! NOT ON SHELF. DID TRADER JOE’S DISCONTINUE!?!

ANOTHER GREAT PRODUCT,  GONE !? RANT!

 

ANOTHER UPDATE : SUMMER 2015 …ITS BACK ON THE SHELF AT MY TJ’S !!! GRAB IT WHILE YOU CAN ?! ONE READER REPORTS ITS SEASONAL FOR SUMMER ONLY (grilling)

SO STOCK UP IF YOU SEE IT.

Trader Joe’s FIG BUTTER


RAVE

OK so this was featured in the current Fearless Flyer, and I saw it yesterday and thought I should buy it and report.  Got home and almost instantly opened it and dug a spoon in to taste. First reaction: OMG, this is some fantastically good stuff, Trader Joe! It is extremely tasty.

It’s a true fruit butter, meaning fruit that has been cooked down till its super concentrated. No, there’s no “butter” in it all all, as the flyer points out. TJ Fig Butter has only a few pure ingredients: figs, water, sugar, lemon juice, pectin; so it is “all natural”. It tastes like very yummy, very ripe figs. After reading the Fig Butter post in the Fearless Flyer, I learned there are three different kinds of figs used to make it and surely this is one of the reasons the flavor profile is so complex. TJ FIG BUTTER

For breakfast the next morning, I made a piece of TJ Tuscan Pane toast with some TJ Peanut Butter and Fig Butter. People, this is a heavenly combination,  you’ve got to try.

In fact the main problem with this fig butter is desire. I just bought it yesterday, and between my wife and myself, the jar seems to be half gone already. Next, I will have to sample the other fruit butters TJ sells – for the sake of this blog of course. Mango, Pumpkin, Lemon, etc…

A 11 oz jar of TJ’s fruit butters costs $2.29*

*I have a feeling it was cheaper last month. Everything at TJ’s seems to be going up in price of late

Stay tuned!

…Working with Maine-based culinary craftsmen, focused on old-fashioned, farmstand goodness and flavor, we created Trader Joe’s Fig Butter. It starts with a medley of fresh, ripe figs: Mission figs for their extreme sweetness, Calimyrna figs for their distinctive nutty flavor and Conadria figs for their nutty-sweet balance. The whole figs are dried, ground and then crushed before being slow-cooked, in small batches, with sugar, lemon and pectin. It’s a simple recipe using only the finest, freshest ingredients, and no preservatives or artificial colors. The result is full fig flavor concentrated in a smooth, spreadable butter.

In some markets a great deal of butter is reta...

In some markets a great deal of butter is retailed from tubs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Uncrystallized CANDIED GINGER – Its Baa-aack!!


STOP THE PRESSES!

 

This is a package of Trader Joe’s ‘Uncrystallized CANDIED GINGER’.

Its back!

Yes, its true. This now almost mythical TJ product is finally back in stock after being MIA and off the shelf at Trader Joe’s for more than one year! 

Possibly due to some labeling issue (I heard some manager mention sulfites), possible due to supply issues, this was off the shelves at Trader Joe’s for a long long time. I mean over a year!  Seems they’ve solved whatever the issue was because its back on the shelf. And the label on the back has only two things on it, ginger and sugar. Pretty natural product.

So I can finally get my fix for this (very) spicy adult candy. (Now should I buy a case?)

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Thanks to one of my readers, Nancy who first sent the alert about this!

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