The Trader Rater http://www.thetraderrater.com Reviews, Ingredients, Cooking Instructions & Nutritional Information for Trader Joe's Products Thu, 01 Jun 2017 14:56:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://www.thetraderrater.com/wp-content/uploads/cropped-The-Trader-Rater-Site-Icon-32x32.jpg The Trader Rater http://www.thetraderrater.com 32 32 Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice http://www.thetraderrater.com/butter-chicken-basmati-rice/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/butter-chicken-basmati-rice/#respond Fri, 31 Mar 2017 14:25:23 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2882

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.02

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.02

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

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Breakfast Burritos with Eggs, Potatoes, Cheese, Turkey Bacon http://www.thetraderrater.com/breakfast-burritos-eggs-potatoes-cheese-turkey-bacon/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/breakfast-burritos-eggs-potatoes-cheese-turkey-bacon/#respond Fri, 31 Mar 2017 13:05:07 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2883

The Trader Rater Rating: 6.58

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

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The Trader Rater Rating: 6.58

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

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Mixed Mushroom & Spinach Quiche http://www.thetraderrater.com/mixed-mushroom-spinach-quiche/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/mixed-mushroom-spinach-quiche/#respond Fri, 31 Mar 2017 13:04:37 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2884

The Trader Rater Rating: 7.9

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

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The Trader Rater Rating: 7.9

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Quiche Lorraine http://www.thetraderrater.com/quiche-lorraine/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/quiche-lorraine/#respond Fri, 31 Mar 2017 13:04:22 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2885

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.66

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.66

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Tarte a l’Oignon – Alsatian Style Onion Tart http://www.thetraderrater.com/tarte-loignon-alsatian-style-onion-tart/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/tarte-loignon-alsatian-style-onion-tart/#respond Fri, 31 Mar 2017 13:04:10 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2886

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.06

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.06

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

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Harvest Gorgonzola Tarte http://www.thetraderrater.com/harvest-gorgonzola-tarte/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/harvest-gorgonzola-tarte/#respond Fri, 31 Mar 2017 13:02:51 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2887

The Trader Rater Rating: 7.58

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

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The Trader Rater Rating: 7.58

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

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Eggplant Parmigiana with Grilled Eggplant http://www.thetraderrater.com/eggplant-parmigiana-grilled-eggplant/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/eggplant-parmigiana-grilled-eggplant/#respond Sun, 19 Feb 2017 21:01:37 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2854

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.54

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.54

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

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Korean-Inspired Pork Shoulder http://www.thetraderrater.com/korean-inspired-pork-shoulder/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/korean-inspired-pork-shoulder/#respond Sun, 19 Feb 2017 21:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2853

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.06

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.06

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

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Uncured Corned Beef Round Flat http://www.thetraderrater.com/uncured-corned-beef-round-flat/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/uncured-corned-beef-round-flat/#respond Sun, 19 Feb 2017 20:56:43 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2845

The Trader Rater Rating: 7.58

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

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The Trader Rater Rating: 7.58

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

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Marinara Sauce http://www.thetraderrater.com/marinara-sauce/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/marinara-sauce/#respond Sun, 19 Feb 2017 20:56:37 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2849

The Trader Rater Rating: 9.36

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

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The Trader Rater Rating: 9.36

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

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Frosted Flakes http://www.thetraderrater.com/frosted-flakes/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/frosted-flakes/#respond Sun, 19 Feb 2017 20:56:36 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2852

The Trader Rater Rating: 9.1

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

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The Trader Rater Rating: 9.1

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

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Light Whipped Cream Cheese http://www.thetraderrater.com/light-whipped-cream-cheese/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/light-whipped-cream-cheese/#respond Thu, 08 Dec 2016 22:59:27 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2585

The Trader Rater Rating: 6.125

Review Summary: Confusing label aside, we didn't enjoy the subtle sour flavor of this cream cheese.

Full Review:

While we can appreciate counting calories and watching our weight, we’ve never been fans of “light”. In our opinion, we’d rather skip or cut back vs. sacrifice flavor and richness. So no surprise, we generally don’t buy light or skim dairy products. This one snuck past our radar.

We’ve been looking to sample TJ’s Whipped Cream Cheese, and when we saw this product we interpreted “Light Whipped Cream Cheese” as “Lightly Whipped Cream Cheese”. But this product is actually mislabeled in our opinion. It shouldn’t be called “Light Whipped Cream Cheese” it should be called “Whipped Light Cream Cheese”. Semantics? We don’t think so.

Regardless, we gave it a try.

Sadly this cream cheese missed even our low expectations. In addition to it’s lack of fullness in it’s flavor, it had an subtle tang or sourness to it. It tasted more like sour cream or sharp cottage cheese than cream cheese.

Next time we’ll stick with the whole milk version.

Have you tried this cream cheese from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 6.125

Review Summary: Confusing label aside, we didn't enjoy the subtle sour flavor of this cream cheese.

Full Review:

While we can appreciate counting calories and watching our weight, we’ve never been fans of “light”. In our opinion, we’d rather skip or cut back vs. sacrifice flavor and richness. So no surprise, we generally don’t buy light or skim dairy products. This one snuck past our radar.

We’ve been looking to sample TJ’s Whipped Cream Cheese, and when we saw this product we interpreted “Light Whipped Cream Cheese” as “Lightly Whipped Cream Cheese”. But this product is actually mislabeled in our opinion. It shouldn’t be called “Light Whipped Cream Cheese” it should be called “Whipped Light Cream Cheese”. Semantics? We don’t think so.

Regardless, we gave it a try.

Sadly this cream cheese missed even our low expectations. In addition to it’s lack of fullness in it’s flavor, it had an subtle tang or sourness to it. It tasted more like sour cream or sharp cottage cheese than cream cheese.

Next time we’ll stick with the whole milk version.

Have you tried this cream cheese from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

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Rosemary & Cheese Biscuits http://www.thetraderrater.com/rosemary-cheese-biscuits/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/rosemary-cheese-biscuits/#comments Thu, 08 Dec 2016 22:59:07 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2586

The Trader Rater Rating: 4.375

Review Summary: We didn't like these biscuits. The rosemary was far too aggressive and overwhelming for our tastes.

Full Review:

We love meat and cheese plates (even though we can never pronounce charcuterie), so we’re always on the hunt for new additions to add to our cutting board.

These Rosemary & Cheese Biscuits sounded delightfully tasty, but we ended up being thoroughly disappointed – in fact we returned them.

First off, the texture on these biscuits is far too crumbly and light – they are so delicate they barely hold together. But truthfully, texture is the least of their problems.

The rosemary is far too powerful, and it does not complement the sharpness of the cheeses – it just kind of sits on top. Rosemary is meant to be applied as a “hint” – this is more of a punch in the mouth.

Also, if we’re being picky, the cheddar/parmesan flavor was a bit unrefined as well – not unlike a Pepperidge Farm Goldfish.

All told, we don’t recommend these biscuits. Unless you want to bring them to a dinner party so you can sit back and snicker at your friends’ reactions to the surprisingly pungent, disjointed flavor.

Have you tried these biscuits from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 4.375

Review Summary: We didn't like these biscuits. The rosemary was far too aggressive and overwhelming for our tastes.

Full Review:

We love meat and cheese plates (even though we can never pronounce charcuterie), so we’re always on the hunt for new additions to add to our cutting board.

These Rosemary & Cheese Biscuits sounded delightfully tasty, but we ended up being thoroughly disappointed – in fact we returned them.

First off, the texture on these biscuits is far too crumbly and light – they are so delicate they barely hold together. But truthfully, texture is the least of their problems.

The rosemary is far too powerful, and it does not complement the sharpness of the cheeses – it just kind of sits on top. Rosemary is meant to be applied as a “hint” – this is more of a punch in the mouth.

Also, if we’re being picky, the cheddar/parmesan flavor was a bit unrefined as well – not unlike a Pepperidge Farm Goldfish.

All told, we don’t recommend these biscuits. Unless you want to bring them to a dinner party so you can sit back and snicker at your friends’ reactions to the surprisingly pungent, disjointed flavor.

Have you tried these biscuits from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

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Kettle Cooked Turkey Gravy http://www.thetraderrater.com/kettle-cooked-turkey-gravy/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/kettle-cooked-turkey-gravy/#respond Tue, 22 Nov 2016 18:20:50 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2525

The Trader Rater Rating: 7.34

Review Summary: We had high hopes, but sadly we were disappointed with this gravy. The thyme and tarragon were far too overpowering for it to be enjoyable.

Full Review:

While we love the taste of homemade gravy, sometimes time isn’t on our side. Last year, we opted for TJ’s boxed gravy and it left us satisfied, but craving a bit more of a home-cooked flavor. This year, when we saw this “Kettle Cooked” option, we were definitely intrigued.

Unfortunately though, we were disappointed with this gravy. Overall it was too herbaceous – the thyme and tarragon were far too overpowering. It resulted in a one-dimensional flavor that actually seemed to mask the taste of the turkey – as opposed to complementing it.

We tested this gravy along with several side dishes for our Test Thanksgiving dinner: Corn Pudding, Scalloped Potatoes with Quattro FormaggioCauliflower Gratin, Carrot Souffle, and Cornbread Stuffing Mix. The result was a delicious meal, but sadly the gravy was a weak point.

Have you tried this gravy from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 7.34

Review Summary: We had high hopes, but sadly we were disappointed with this gravy. The thyme and tarragon were far too overpowering for it to be enjoyable.

Full Review:

While we love the taste of homemade gravy, sometimes time isn’t on our side. Last year, we opted for TJ’s boxed gravy and it left us satisfied, but craving a bit more of a home-cooked flavor. This year, when we saw this “Kettle Cooked” option, we were definitely intrigued.

Unfortunately though, we were disappointed with this gravy. Overall it was too herbaceous – the thyme and tarragon were far too overpowering. It resulted in a one-dimensional flavor that actually seemed to mask the taste of the turkey – as opposed to complementing it.

We tested this gravy along with several side dishes for our Test Thanksgiving dinner: Corn Pudding, Scalloped Potatoes with Quattro FormaggioCauliflower Gratin, Carrot Souffle, and Cornbread Stuffing Mix. The result was a delicious meal, but sadly the gravy was a weak point.

Have you tried this gravy from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

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Scalloped Potatoes with Quattro Formaggio http://www.thetraderrater.com/scalloped-potatoes-with-quattro-formaggio/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/scalloped-potatoes-with-quattro-formaggio/#respond Tue, 22 Nov 2016 16:15:59 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2530

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.82

Review Summary: Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed this side dish. If we didn't know any better, we would have thought these potatoes were homemade.

Full Review:

When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, we prefer eating more than we prefer cooking (and obviously cleaning up comes in dead last). So when we saw a new batch of ready-made side dish options at our local TJ’s, we jumped on the opportunity to shave some time off our Turkey Day prep.

The result? Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed this side dish. It was cheesy, creamy, and flavorful – and the potatoes were well cooked and evenly sliced.

This dish cooked up easily and had a slight crust – if we didn’t know any better, we would have thought these potatoes were homemade.

We partnered this potato dish with Corn PuddingCarrot SouffleCauliflower GratinCornbread Stuffing Mix, and Kettle Cooked Turkey Gravy. Definitely a Thanksgiving spread to remember!

Have you tried this side dish from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.82

Review Summary: Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed this side dish. If we didn't know any better, we would have thought these potatoes were homemade.

Full Review:

When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, we prefer eating more than we prefer cooking (and obviously cleaning up comes in dead last). So when we saw a new batch of ready-made side dish options at our local TJ’s, we jumped on the opportunity to shave some time off our Turkey Day prep.

The result? Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed this side dish. It was cheesy, creamy, and flavorful – and the potatoes were well cooked and evenly sliced.

This dish cooked up easily and had a slight crust – if we didn’t know any better, we would have thought these potatoes were homemade.

We partnered this potato dish with Corn PuddingCarrot SouffleCauliflower GratinCornbread Stuffing Mix, and Kettle Cooked Turkey Gravy. Definitely a Thanksgiving spread to remember!

Have you tried this side dish from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

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Cauliflower Gratin http://www.thetraderrater.com/cauliflower-gratin/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/cauliflower-gratin/#respond Tue, 22 Nov 2016 16:05:35 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2529

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.88

Review Summary: We were pleasantly surprised with this side dish. It was crunchy, cheesy, flavorful and decadent.

Full Review:

Sometimes side dishes really make the meal, and this Thanksgiving season, we found some new and exciting side dish options at our local Trader Joe’s. With options like Cauliflower Gratin, we think it’s ok to cut a few corners on our Turkey Day prep.

So what did we think of this side dish? Overall, we were pleasantly surprised. It was crunchy, cheesy, flavorful and decadent. In short, we really enjoyed it. And it definitely turned out to be a crowd-pleaser. Truthfully, it almost tasted homemade.

Also on the table for our Test Thanksgiving dinner was Corn PuddingScalloped Potatoes with Quattro FormaggioCarrot SouffleCornbread Stuffing Mix, and Kettle Cooked Turkey Gravy. The result? Our best test Thanksgiving yet!

Have you tried this side dish from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.88

Review Summary: We were pleasantly surprised with this side dish. It was crunchy, cheesy, flavorful and decadent.

Full Review:

Sometimes side dishes really make the meal, and this Thanksgiving season, we found some new and exciting side dish options at our local Trader Joe’s. With options like Cauliflower Gratin, we think it’s ok to cut a few corners on our Turkey Day prep.

So what did we think of this side dish? Overall, we were pleasantly surprised. It was crunchy, cheesy, flavorful and decadent. In short, we really enjoyed it. And it definitely turned out to be a crowd-pleaser. Truthfully, it almost tasted homemade.

Also on the table for our Test Thanksgiving dinner was Corn PuddingScalloped Potatoes with Quattro FormaggioCarrot SouffleCornbread Stuffing Mix, and Kettle Cooked Turkey Gravy. The result? Our best test Thanksgiving yet!

Have you tried this side dish from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

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Carrot Souffle http://www.thetraderrater.com/carrot-souffle/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/carrot-souffle/#respond Tue, 22 Nov 2016 15:47:01 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2528

The Trader Rater Rating: 7.4

Review Summary: This side dish was a bit of a let down. It was too sweet for our tastes, and overall a little watery.

Full Review:

Maybe we’re getting progressively time-starved, or maybe the new side dish options at TJ’s sounded irresistible, but this Thanksgiving we opted for a table full of ready-made sides. TJ’s had a huge supply, and we love experimenting. Besides, are we expected to pass up Carrot Souffle?

Well, despite our initial excitement, this side dish was a bit of a let down.

First off it was very sweet – too sweet for our tastes. It was also a little watery. Likely because it was prepared with water vs. chicken broth. In our view, this left us wishing for a bit more body and flavor complexity. There was a hint of cinnamon, but overall this dish tasted like sweetened shredded carrots – nothing more.

Yes, it was a time saver, but it’s not a dish we’ll be craving next time. Thankfully the other side dishes we prepared for our Test Thanksgiving dinner (Scalloped Potatoes with Quattro FormaggioCorn Pudding, Cauliflower GratinKettle Cooked Turkey Gravy, and Cornbread Stuffing Mix) made up for this minor miss.

Have you tried this side dish from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 7.4

Review Summary: This side dish was a bit of a let down. It was too sweet for our tastes, and overall a little watery.

Full Review:

Maybe we’re getting progressively time-starved, or maybe the new side dish options at TJ’s sounded irresistible, but this Thanksgiving we opted for a table full of ready-made sides. TJ’s had a huge supply, and we love experimenting. Besides, are we expected to pass up Carrot Souffle?

Well, despite our initial excitement, this side dish was a bit of a let down.

First off it was very sweet – too sweet for our tastes. It was also a little watery. Likely because it was prepared with water vs. chicken broth. In our view, this left us wishing for a bit more body and flavor complexity. There was a hint of cinnamon, but overall this dish tasted like sweetened shredded carrots – nothing more.

Yes, it was a time saver, but it’s not a dish we’ll be craving next time. Thankfully the other side dishes we prepared for our Test Thanksgiving dinner (Scalloped Potatoes with Quattro FormaggioCorn Pudding, Cauliflower GratinKettle Cooked Turkey Gravy, and Cornbread Stuffing Mix) made up for this minor miss.

Have you tried this side dish from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

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Corn Pudding http://www.thetraderrater.com/corn-pudding/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/corn-pudding/#respond Tue, 22 Nov 2016 15:35:03 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2527

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.62

Review Summary: This side dish was tasty, packed with corn, and we appreciated a little time savings in our Thanksgiving prep.

Full Review:

When we saw this Corn Pudding at our local TJ’s Thanksgiving section, we had to jump on it. It sounded like it was going to be delicious, and we were excited to streamline the Turkey Day prep (there’s no shame in pre-made side dishes – especially when they look this tempting).

The verdict? We’re happy to report that this side dish is as delicious as it sounds. It was really tasty. It’s packed with corn, and the cheese is flavorful. It had a nice, subtle crust and it wasn’t too cheesy or creamy. It’s arguably more of a “casserole” than a “pudding”, but we’ll let that slide 🙂

To round out our Test Thanksgiving dinner, we paired this Corn Pudding with Scalloped Potatoes with Quattro FormaggioCauliflower GratinCarrot Souffle, Cornbread Stuffing Mix, and Kettle Cooked Turkey Gravy. Definitely a hearty spread!

Have you tried this side dish from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.62

Review Summary: This side dish was tasty, packed with corn, and we appreciated a little time savings in our Thanksgiving prep.

Full Review:

When we saw this Corn Pudding at our local TJ’s Thanksgiving section, we had to jump on it. It sounded like it was going to be delicious, and we were excited to streamline the Turkey Day prep (there’s no shame in pre-made side dishes – especially when they look this tempting).

The verdict? We’re happy to report that this side dish is as delicious as it sounds. It was really tasty. It’s packed with corn, and the cheese is flavorful. It had a nice, subtle crust and it wasn’t too cheesy or creamy. It’s arguably more of a “casserole” than a “pudding”, but we’ll let that slide 🙂

To round out our Test Thanksgiving dinner, we paired this Corn Pudding with Scalloped Potatoes with Quattro FormaggioCauliflower GratinCarrot Souffle, Cornbread Stuffing Mix, and Kettle Cooked Turkey Gravy. Definitely a hearty spread!

Have you tried this side dish from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

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Korean Style Beef Short Ribs http://www.thetraderrater.com/korean-style-beef-short-ribs/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/korean-style-beef-short-ribs/#respond Mon, 21 Nov 2016 16:56:28 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2833

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.5

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

Full Review:

We’re still cookin’ up a review.

 

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.5

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French Vanilla Cold Brew Coffee http://www.thetraderrater.com/french-vanilla-cold-brew-coffee/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/french-vanilla-cold-brew-coffee/#respond Mon, 21 Nov 2016 14:56:15 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2797

The Trader Rater Rating: 9.3

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The Trader Rater Rating: 9.3

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Organic Pumpkin http://www.thetraderrater.com/organic-pumpkin/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/organic-pumpkin/#respond Mon, 21 Nov 2016 14:49:49 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2804

The Trader Rater Rating: 9.26

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The Trader Rater Rating: 9.26

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Cheese Tortellini http://www.thetraderrater.com/cheese-tortellini/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/cheese-tortellini/#respond Mon, 21 Nov 2016 14:49:28 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2802

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.06

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.06

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Camembert Cheese and Cranberry Sauce Fillo Bites http://www.thetraderrater.com/camembert-cheese-and-cranberry-sauce-fillo-bites/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/camembert-cheese-and-cranberry-sauce-fillo-bites/#respond Mon, 21 Nov 2016 14:38:02 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2801

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.64

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.64

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Honey Walnut Shrimp http://www.thetraderrater.com/honey-walnut-shrimp/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/honey-walnut-shrimp/#respond Mon, 21 Nov 2016 14:37:16 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2800

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.04

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.04

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Tarte d’Alsace French Style Flat Bread with Ham Caramelized Onions and Gruyere Cheese http://www.thetraderrater.com/tarte-dalsace-french-style-flat-bread-ham-caramelized-onions-gruyere-cheese/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/tarte-dalsace-french-style-flat-bread-ham-caramelized-onions-gruyere-cheese/#respond Mon, 21 Nov 2016 14:37:05 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2799

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.32

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.32

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Black Cold Brew Coffee http://www.thetraderrater.com/black-cold-brew-coffee/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/black-cold-brew-coffee/#respond Mon, 21 Nov 2016 14:36:29 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2798

The Trader Rater Rating: 9.48

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The Trader Rater Rating: 9.48

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Eggplant Cutlets http://www.thetraderrater.com/eggplant-cutlets/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/eggplant-cutlets/#respond Sun, 13 Nov 2016 23:45:11 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2611

The Trader Rater Rating: 9.22

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The Trader Rater Rating: 9.22

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Arugula Pizza http://www.thetraderrater.com/arugula-pizza/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/arugula-pizza/#respond Sun, 13 Nov 2016 23:32:59 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2612

The Trader Rater Rating: 7.82

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The Trader Rater Rating: 7.82

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Josephsbrau Winter Brew http://www.thetraderrater.com/josephsbrau-winter-brew/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/josephsbrau-winter-brew/#respond Sun, 13 Nov 2016 23:26:48 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2613

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.4333333333333

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.4333333333333

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Mini Beef Tacos http://www.thetraderrater.com/mini-beef-tacos/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/mini-beef-tacos/#respond Sun, 13 Nov 2016 23:20:00 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2614

The Trader Rater Rating: 9.06

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The Trader Rater Rating: 9.06

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Potato Pancakes http://www.thetraderrater.com/potato-pancakes/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/potato-pancakes/#comments Sun, 13 Nov 2016 22:56:06 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2615

The Trader Rater Rating: 7.84

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The Trader Rater Rating: 7.84

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Coconut Shrimp http://www.thetraderrater.com/coconut-shrimp/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/coconut-shrimp/#respond Wed, 02 Nov 2016 17:04:27 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2759

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.32

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.32

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Bibimbap Bowl with Beef, Vegetables and a Spicy Chili Sauce http://www.thetraderrater.com/bibimbap-bowl-beef-vegetables-spicy-chili-sauce/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/bibimbap-bowl-beef-vegetables-spicy-chili-sauce/#respond Wed, 02 Nov 2016 17:03:09 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2758

The Trader Rater Rating: 7.5

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The Trader Rater Rating: 7.5

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Tarte aux Champignons http://www.thetraderrater.com/tarte-aux-champignons/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/tarte-aux-champignons/#respond Wed, 02 Nov 2016 16:58:31 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2757

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.98

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.98

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Pie Crusts http://www.thetraderrater.com/pie-crusts/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/pie-crusts/#respond Wed, 02 Nov 2016 16:56:25 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2756

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.42

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.42

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4 Almond Croissants http://www.thetraderrater.com/4-almond-croissants/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/4-almond-croissants/#respond Wed, 02 Nov 2016 16:55:18 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2755

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.02

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.02

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Mashed Sweet Potatoes http://www.thetraderrater.com/mashed-sweet-potatoes/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/mashed-sweet-potatoes/#respond Wed, 02 Nov 2016 16:50:04 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2760

The Trader Rater Rating: 7.6

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The Trader Rater Rating: 7.6

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Pumpkin Panettone http://www.thetraderrater.com/pumpkin-panettone/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/pumpkin-panettone/#respond Sat, 29 Oct 2016 14:44:14 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2681

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.925

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.925

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Steamed Mussels in a White Wine Sauce http://www.thetraderrater.com/steamed-mussels-white-wine-sauce/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/steamed-mussels-white-wine-sauce/#respond Fri, 28 Oct 2016 19:34:14 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2683

The Trader Rater Rating: 7.7

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The Trader Rater Rating: 7.7

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Panko Breaded Calamari http://www.thetraderrater.com/panko-breaded-calamari/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/panko-breaded-calamari/#comments Fri, 28 Oct 2016 19:34:12 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2682

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.22

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.22

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Organic Woodfired Sicilian Style Pizza http://www.thetraderrater.com/organic-woodfired-sicilian-style-pizza/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/organic-woodfired-sicilian-style-pizza/#respond Fri, 28 Oct 2016 19:34:10 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2680

The Trader Rater Rating: 9.22

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The Trader Rater Rating: 9.22

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Feta Cheese & Olive Tapenade Tarte http://www.thetraderrater.com/feta-cheese-olive-tapenade-tarte/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/feta-cheese-olive-tapenade-tarte/#respond Fri, 28 Oct 2016 19:34:08 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2642

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.38

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.38

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Shrimp Soft Tacos with Tomatillo Sauce & Cotija Cheese http://www.thetraderrater.com/shrimp-soft-tacos-tomatillo-sauce-cotija-cheese/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/shrimp-soft-tacos-tomatillo-sauce-cotija-cheese/#respond Fri, 28 Oct 2016 19:33:51 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2684

The Trader Rater Rating: 7.18

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The Trader Rater Rating: 7.18

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Dark Chocolate Covered Pretzel Slims http://www.thetraderrater.com/dark-chocolate-covered-pretzel-slims/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/dark-chocolate-covered-pretzel-slims/#respond Fri, 28 Oct 2016 19:11:53 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2686

The Trader Rater Rating: 9.15

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The Trader Rater Rating: 9.15

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Pumpkin Waffles http://www.thetraderrater.com/pumpkin-waffles/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/pumpkin-waffles/#respond Fri, 28 Oct 2016 19:11:52 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2685

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.9

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.9

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Mini Chicken Tacos http://www.thetraderrater.com/mini-chicken-tacos/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/mini-chicken-tacos/#respond Fri, 28 Oct 2016 14:21:56 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2648

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.98

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.98

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Fully Cooked Pork Belly http://www.thetraderrater.com/fully-cooked-pork-belly/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/fully-cooked-pork-belly/#respond Fri, 28 Oct 2016 14:17:37 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2643

The Trader Rater Rating: 7.8

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The Trader Rater Rating: 7.8

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Deep, Dark Gingerbread Cake and Baking Mix http://www.thetraderrater.com/deep-dark-gingerbread-cake-baking-mix/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/deep-dark-gingerbread-cake-baking-mix/#respond Fri, 28 Oct 2016 14:17:33 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2644

The Trader Rater Rating: 7.44

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The Trader Rater Rating: 7.44

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4 Chocolate Croissants http://www.thetraderrater.com/4-chocolate-croissants/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/4-chocolate-croissants/#respond Fri, 28 Oct 2016 14:17:31 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2645

The Trader Rater Rating: 9.14

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

Full Review:

We’re still cookin’ up a review.

 

In the meantime…

 

Have you tried this item from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

 

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The Trader Rater Rating: 9.14

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

Full Review:

We’re still cookin’ up a review.

 

In the meantime…

 

Have you tried this item from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

 

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Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix http://www.thetraderrater.com/pumpkin-pancake-waffle-mix/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/pumpkin-pancake-waffle-mix/#respond Fri, 28 Oct 2016 14:17:28 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2647

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.06

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

Full Review:

We’re still cookin’ up a review.

 

In the meantime…

 

Have you tried this item from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

 

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.06

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

Full Review:

We’re still cookin’ up a review.

 

In the meantime…

 

Have you tried this item from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

 

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BBQ Chicken Pizza http://www.thetraderrater.com/bbq-chicken-pizza/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/bbq-chicken-pizza/#respond Fri, 28 Oct 2016 14:17:28 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2646

The Trader Rater Rating: 9.04

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

Full Review:

We’re still cookin’ up a review.

 

In the meantime…

 

Have you tried this item from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

 

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The Trader Rater Rating: 9.04

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

Full Review:

We’re still cookin’ up a review.

 

In the meantime…

 

Have you tried this item from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

 

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Pumpkin Cranberry Crisps http://www.thetraderrater.com/pumpkin-cranberry-crisps/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/pumpkin-cranberry-crisps/#respond Mon, 24 Oct 2016 20:13:14 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2427

The Trader Rater Rating: 7.525

Review Summary: With the right pairing, these Crisps were a tasty and festive treat to celebrate Fall.

Full Review:

It’s fall, so you know you’re going to see Pumpkin and Pumpkin Spice creep it’s way into as many Trader Joe’s items as possible. Seems every year, we’re seeing bold new intrusions (Pumpkin Bagels?) – some are hits, and some are misses.

We’re happy to say that these Pumpkin Cranberry Crisps were a nice treat – so long as you pair them right.

We initially tried them for dipping hummus, and we adorned them with sliced cheddar cheese – and we weren’t impressed. The cinnamon-nutmeg-pumpkin flavor combo seemed overpowering, and didn’t compliment well.

Then we tried them with soft brie, and had a better experience – the subtle flavors of the cheese seemed to mix well with the Crisps. Of course, these crackers are also good on their own (close your eyes, and you might think you’re eating a cookie).

Texture-wise, these Crisps are a bit softer, and more crumbly than some of the other Crisp varieties we’ve tried from TJ’s. We ultimately saw that as a positive – they have a nice crunch, but also a slight chewiness.

Overall, we liked these Crisps. They are not our favorite Crisp variety, but they were certainly a tasty and festive treat to celebrate the season.

Have you tried these crisps from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 7.525

Review Summary: With the right pairing, these Crisps were a tasty and festive treat to celebrate Fall.

Full Review:

It’s fall, so you know you’re going to see Pumpkin and Pumpkin Spice creep it’s way into as many Trader Joe’s items as possible. Seems every year, we’re seeing bold new intrusions (Pumpkin Bagels?) – some are hits, and some are misses.

We’re happy to say that these Pumpkin Cranberry Crisps were a nice treat – so long as you pair them right.

We initially tried them for dipping hummus, and we adorned them with sliced cheddar cheese – and we weren’t impressed. The cinnamon-nutmeg-pumpkin flavor combo seemed overpowering, and didn’t compliment well.

Then we tried them with soft brie, and had a better experience – the subtle flavors of the cheese seemed to mix well with the Crisps. Of course, these crackers are also good on their own (close your eyes, and you might think you’re eating a cookie).

Texture-wise, these Crisps are a bit softer, and more crumbly than some of the other Crisp varieties we’ve tried from TJ’s. We ultimately saw that as a positive – they have a nice crunch, but also a slight chewiness.

Overall, we liked these Crisps. They are not our favorite Crisp variety, but they were certainly a tasty and festive treat to celebrate the season.

Have you tried these crisps from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

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Peanut Butter Chewy Coated & Drizzled Granola Bars http://www.thetraderrater.com/peanut-butter-chewy-coated-drizzled-granola-bars/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/peanut-butter-chewy-coated-drizzled-granola-bars/#respond Fri, 21 Oct 2016 19:50:36 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2426

The Trader Rater Rating: 6.95

Review Summary: We liked these granola bars, but would have liked a bit less sweet and a bit more nutrition. Overall a nice alternative to a candy bar.

Full Review:

Even though the bars itself were a bit small (or maybe our stomachs are a bit too big these days?), we thought these Peanut Butter Chewy Coated & Drizzled Granola Bars were tasty.

They weren’t overly sweet, though the peanut butter used is definitely sweetened peanut butter (it’s much sweeter than typical PB). They also packed a good crunch and an even texture – thanks to the puffed rice. Plus, the granola/oatmeal made us feel like we were getting some added fiber.

But let’s be real, calling them “granola bars” seems like a bit of a misnomer. They are more of a healthy-ish treat. If you’re looking for a truly nutritious in-between-snack, these bars may not be for you. If you want an alternative to a candy bar – maybe.

Have you tried these granola bars from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 6.95

Review Summary: We liked these granola bars, but would have liked a bit less sweet and a bit more nutrition. Overall a nice alternative to a candy bar.

Full Review:

Even though the bars itself were a bit small (or maybe our stomachs are a bit too big these days?), we thought these Peanut Butter Chewy Coated & Drizzled Granola Bars were tasty.

They weren’t overly sweet, though the peanut butter used is definitely sweetened peanut butter (it’s much sweeter than typical PB). They also packed a good crunch and an even texture – thanks to the puffed rice. Plus, the granola/oatmeal made us feel like we were getting some added fiber.

But let’s be real, calling them “granola bars” seems like a bit of a misnomer. They are more of a healthy-ish treat. If you’re looking for a truly nutritious in-between-snack, these bars may not be for you. If you want an alternative to a candy bar – maybe.

Have you tried these granola bars from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

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Wood Fired Naples Style Uncured Pepperoni Pizza http://www.thetraderrater.com/wood-fired-naples-style-uncured-pepperoni-pizza/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/wood-fired-naples-style-uncured-pepperoni-pizza/#respond Fri, 21 Oct 2016 18:13:51 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2425

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.9

Review Summary: This Wood Fired Naples Style Uncured Pepperoni Pizza was surprisingly damn good - one of the best varieties we've tried from TJ's.

Full Review:

We’ve made no secret about being pizza lovers. We’ll eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner and not get tired of it. But will factory frozen pizza ever beat a fresh-from-the-oven, hand-pulled pie? In short, no.

But this Wood Fired Naples Style Uncured Pepperoni Pizza from TJ’s comes pretty close. It was surprisingly damn good.

The pepperoni tasted premium and added a welcomed savory flavor, the cheese was flavorful and multidimensional (there’s 4 kinds of cheeses packed in there!), and the tomato sauce had a subtly sweet flavor that balanced the entire dish nicely.

The crust was thin, light and crispy, and the “wood fired” aspect added a nice hint of char into the equation. On the down side, the crust could have been more flavorful – it seemed like your basic bland crust. It was a bit of a letdown considering the rest of the pizza was mostly stellar.

Overall, we were impressed with this frozen pizza from Trader Joe’s. It was one of the best varieties we’ve had from TJ’s, and it’s definitely part of our pizza night collection.

Have you tried this pizza from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.9

Review Summary: This Wood Fired Naples Style Uncured Pepperoni Pizza was surprisingly damn good - one of the best varieties we've tried from TJ's.

Full Review:

We’ve made no secret about being pizza lovers. We’ll eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner and not get tired of it. But will factory frozen pizza ever beat a fresh-from-the-oven, hand-pulled pie? In short, no.

But this Wood Fired Naples Style Uncured Pepperoni Pizza from TJ’s comes pretty close. It was surprisingly damn good.

The pepperoni tasted premium and added a welcomed savory flavor, the cheese was flavorful and multidimensional (there’s 4 kinds of cheeses packed in there!), and the tomato sauce had a subtly sweet flavor that balanced the entire dish nicely.

The crust was thin, light and crispy, and the “wood fired” aspect added a nice hint of char into the equation. On the down side, the crust could have been more flavorful – it seemed like your basic bland crust. It was a bit of a letdown considering the rest of the pizza was mostly stellar.

Overall, we were impressed with this frozen pizza from Trader Joe’s. It was one of the best varieties we’ve had from TJ’s, and it’s definitely part of our pizza night collection.

Have you tried this pizza from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

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Chile Relleno http://www.thetraderrater.com/chile-relleno/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/chile-relleno/#respond Thu, 13 Oct 2016 21:35:02 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2599

The Trader Rater Rating: 7.84

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

Full Review:

We’re still cookin’ up a review.

 

In the meantime…

 

Have you tried this item from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

 

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The Trader Rater Rating: 7.84

Review Summary: Still Cooking...

Full Review:

We’re still cookin’ up a review.

 

In the meantime…

 

Have you tried this item from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

 

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Mango & Strawberry Flatbread http://www.thetraderrater.com/mango-strawberry-flatbread/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/mango-strawberry-flatbread/#respond Thu, 18 Aug 2016 18:57:45 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2428

The Trader Rater Rating: 6.85

Review Summary: We were confused by this flatbread, and so was our palate. Dessert? Lunch? Dinner? After trying it, we're still not sure!

Full Review:

When we saw this Flatbread in the freezer section of our local Trader Joe’s, we weren’t quite sure what to make of it. Is it a dessert? Is it a lunch? Is it a dinner? After trying it, we’re still not sure 🙂

First off, this dish is very sweet. Not a huge surprise given the Mango and Strawberry topping, but it does kind of taste like jelly or preserves vs. fresh fruit. So, yes, it’s kind of a dessert…

But then came the savory cheese and the flavorful crust. We’re not talking about a pie crust, this was straight up pizza crust. Both were good, and very savory. So, yes, it’s kind of a dinner…

Confused? So were we. And so was our palate.

The flavors didn’t seem to blend well. They weren’t complimentary. It felt like we were eating two distinct things, together as one.

If you like Hawaiian Pizza, maybe this dish is worth a try. But if you think it’s down right strange to put sweets on a perfectly good pizza, we recommend you pass on this one. It was a fun attempt, but we won’t be back. There are plenty of better frozen pizza and flatbread options as TJ’s (like this one).

Side note, we don’t want to call it blatant misrepresentation, but our flatbread came out of the oven with mostly mushy fruit. It was a hot mess that looked nothing like the fun and festive product on the box.

Have you tried this flatbread from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 6.85

Review Summary: We were confused by this flatbread, and so was our palate. Dessert? Lunch? Dinner? After trying it, we're still not sure!

Full Review:

When we saw this Flatbread in the freezer section of our local Trader Joe’s, we weren’t quite sure what to make of it. Is it a dessert? Is it a lunch? Is it a dinner? After trying it, we’re still not sure 🙂

First off, this dish is very sweet. Not a huge surprise given the Mango and Strawberry topping, but it does kind of taste like jelly or preserves vs. fresh fruit. So, yes, it’s kind of a dessert…

But then came the savory cheese and the flavorful crust. We’re not talking about a pie crust, this was straight up pizza crust. Both were good, and very savory. So, yes, it’s kind of a dinner…

Confused? So were we. And so was our palate.

The flavors didn’t seem to blend well. They weren’t complimentary. It felt like we were eating two distinct things, together as one.

If you like Hawaiian Pizza, maybe this dish is worth a try. But if you think it’s down right strange to put sweets on a perfectly good pizza, we recommend you pass on this one. It was a fun attempt, but we won’t be back. There are plenty of better frozen pizza and flatbread options as TJ’s (like this one).

Side note, we don’t want to call it blatant misrepresentation, but our flatbread came out of the oven with mostly mushy fruit. It was a hot mess that looked nothing like the fun and festive product on the box.

Have you tried this flatbread from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

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Simply Nutty Bar: Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt Bar http://www.thetraderrater.com/simply-nutty-bar-dark-chocolate-nuts-sea-salt-bar/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/simply-nutty-bar-dark-chocolate-nuts-sea-salt-bar/#respond Tue, 17 May 2016 17:56:45 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2429

The Trader Rater Rating: 7.575

Review Summary: This Simply Nutty Bar was sweet and savory, and a nice treat. It's packed with nuts, but the texture was a bit inconsistent (and maybe a bit odd). Overall, we liked it!

Full Review:

This Simply Nutty Bar from Trader Joe’s was a tasty treat. It’s packed with nuts, as you can plainly see. That’s mostly a good thing, though we did think the texture of the different kinds of nuts was a bit inconsistent, and maybe a bit odd. Walnuts and almonds have distinctly different texture profiles, and when mixed together in one bite, the experience is a bit uneven. Yes, it was crispy and crunchy, but not ideal.

As for the flavor, it was sweet, but not overly so – thanks to the slightly savory dark chocolate, and the addition of sea salt to even it out.

Overall, this bar was good and tasty, but you’ve (obviously) gotta like the kinds of nuts that are in there. Also worth noting, it’s definitely more of a “treat” vs. an energy bar or something nutritious. Yes, it’s definitely better than eating a candy bar, but if you’re looking for an on-the-go, in-between meal snack, there are certainly more nutritious ways to get a pick-me-up.

Have you tried this bar from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 7.575

Review Summary: This Simply Nutty Bar was sweet and savory, and a nice treat. It's packed with nuts, but the texture was a bit inconsistent (and maybe a bit odd). Overall, we liked it!

Full Review:

This Simply Nutty Bar from Trader Joe’s was a tasty treat. It’s packed with nuts, as you can plainly see. That’s mostly a good thing, though we did think the texture of the different kinds of nuts was a bit inconsistent, and maybe a bit odd. Walnuts and almonds have distinctly different texture profiles, and when mixed together in one bite, the experience is a bit uneven. Yes, it was crispy and crunchy, but not ideal.

As for the flavor, it was sweet, but not overly so – thanks to the slightly savory dark chocolate, and the addition of sea salt to even it out.

Overall, this bar was good and tasty, but you’ve (obviously) gotta like the kinds of nuts that are in there. Also worth noting, it’s definitely more of a “treat” vs. an energy bar or something nutritious. Yes, it’s definitely better than eating a candy bar, but if you’re looking for an on-the-go, in-between meal snack, there are certainly more nutritious ways to get a pick-me-up.

Have you tried this bar from Trader Joe’s? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

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Shrimp Toast http://www.thetraderrater.com/shrimp-toast/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/shrimp-toast/#respond Thu, 07 Apr 2016 16:07:42 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2405

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.075

Review Summary: No surprise here - these Shrimp Toasts are delicious. They lost a few points for coming out of the oven a bit greasy, but they still make for a delicious snack or appetizer.

Full Review:

When we saw these in the freezer section of our local TJ’s, we knew we had to try them. We had a feeling we’d love them, and we were right.

What’s not to love about these little treats?

The shrimp is plentiful, the bread is made with just a kiss of sweetness, and the sesame seeds add a subtle, but nice little pop of flavor.

They cook up fast, and will disappear from your plate just as fast.

They make for an impressive appetizer at dinner parties, and they work equally well as a pre-dinner treat any day of the week. Enjoy!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.075

Review Summary: No surprise here - these Shrimp Toasts are delicious. They lost a few points for coming out of the oven a bit greasy, but they still make for a delicious snack or appetizer.

Full Review:

When we saw these in the freezer section of our local TJ’s, we knew we had to try them. We had a feeling we’d love them, and we were right.

What’s not to love about these little treats?

The shrimp is plentiful, the bread is made with just a kiss of sweetness, and the sesame seeds add a subtle, but nice little pop of flavor.

They cook up fast, and will disappear from your plate just as fast.

They make for an impressive appetizer at dinner parties, and they work equally well as a pre-dinner treat any day of the week. Enjoy!

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Chicken Parmesan Lollipops http://www.thetraderrater.com/chicken-parmesan-lollipops/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/chicken-parmesan-lollipops/#respond Tue, 15 Mar 2016 16:46:45 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2400

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.85

Review Summary: We thoroughly enjoyed these Chicken Parm Lollipops. They were a surprisingly delicious treat, and we're definitely coming back for more. Well played TJ's!

Full Review:

We weren’t sure what we were going to be in for with these Chicken Parm Pops, but simply put, they were amazing. Just absolutely delicious.

The sauce is really flavorful and tasty, the panko flakes make for a welcome texture and crunch. Plus, the chicken is surprisingly plentiful and well cooked.

The lollipop added a fun novelty too – it gave this dish a little something special.

We found that these treats they play equally well at a dinner party as they do as a pre-dinner or afternoon snack. We’ll definitely be back for more.

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.85

Review Summary: We thoroughly enjoyed these Chicken Parm Lollipops. They were a surprisingly delicious treat, and we're definitely coming back for more. Well played TJ's!

Full Review:

We weren’t sure what we were going to be in for with these Chicken Parm Pops, but simply put, they were amazing. Just absolutely delicious.

The sauce is really flavorful and tasty, the panko flakes make for a welcome texture and crunch. Plus, the chicken is surprisingly plentiful and well cooked.

The lollipop added a fun novelty too – it gave this dish a little something special.

We found that these treats they play equally well at a dinner party as they do as a pre-dinner or afternoon snack. We’ll definitely be back for more.

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Mini Pumpkin Pies http://www.thetraderrater.com/mini-pumpkin-pies/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/mini-pumpkin-pies/#respond Mon, 08 Feb 2016 19:44:31 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2198

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.425

Review Summary: These Mini Pumpkin Pies from TJ's are tasty AND adorable. They are a perfectly sized treat you're sure to enjoy!

Full Review:

These Mini Pumpkin Pies from TJ’s are as tasty as they are adorable. First off, they are perfectly sized to give you a satisfyingly sweet (and reasonably sized) treat – though they are arguably (and dangerously) just poppable enough to be binge-worthy.

We found the crust to be tasty, flaky and well seasoned – and the crunchy sugar dusting on top gave this dessert a welcomed texture. The creamy center is just delicious. It has the perfect pumpkin flavoring.

One slight nuisance: we found it tough to cook these little guys just right so that they don’t come out of the oven a bit soggy. Baking them on a wire mesh sheet might help. Even still, they tasted good just the same.

We think you’ll enjoy these tiny pies – they’re great to have on hand for impromptu entertaining (they pair perfectly with espresso), or for when you want a small, satisfying treat. Enjoy!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.425

Review Summary: These Mini Pumpkin Pies from TJ's are tasty AND adorable. They are a perfectly sized treat you're sure to enjoy!

Full Review:

These Mini Pumpkin Pies from TJ’s are as tasty as they are adorable. First off, they are perfectly sized to give you a satisfyingly sweet (and reasonably sized) treat – though they are arguably (and dangerously) just poppable enough to be binge-worthy.

We found the crust to be tasty, flaky and well seasoned – and the crunchy sugar dusting on top gave this dessert a welcomed texture. The creamy center is just delicious. It has the perfect pumpkin flavoring.

One slight nuisance: we found it tough to cook these little guys just right so that they don’t come out of the oven a bit soggy. Baking them on a wire mesh sheet might help. Even still, they tasted good just the same.

We think you’ll enjoy these tiny pies – they’re great to have on hand for impromptu entertaining (they pair perfectly with espresso), or for when you want a small, satisfying treat. Enjoy!

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Pretzel Bagels http://www.thetraderrater.com/pretzel-bagels/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/pretzel-bagels/#respond Sun, 10 Jan 2016 20:43:43 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2205

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.8

Review Summary: These Pretzel Bagels were a real treat. They are delicious and can be enjoyed for so many tasty meals.

Full Review:

It’s easy to roll your eyes at the pretzelfication of everything these days, but we urge you not to. These Pretzel Bagels from TJ’s are a real treat.

They have a deliciously chewy texture, and have the right amount of subtle pretzel flavor (including that classic baking soda tinge from the bath they were boiled in). Don’t worry, they are not at all salty (think pretzels before salt chunks were applied).

Another benefit: they are surprisingly versatile, and will step up your game for a ton of other tasty meals. Try them as the base for an egg sandwich for breakfast, pile them up with cold cuts for lunch, cut them up for a hummus dip snack – we even used them as buns for burgers and they were amazing.

These Pretzel Bagels have a permanent spot on our grocery list, and we’re very happy to have discovered them. Hope you all are as well. Enjoy!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.8

Review Summary: These Pretzel Bagels were a real treat. They are delicious and can be enjoyed for so many tasty meals.

Full Review:

It’s easy to roll your eyes at the pretzelfication of everything these days, but we urge you not to. These Pretzel Bagels from TJ’s are a real treat.

They have a deliciously chewy texture, and have the right amount of subtle pretzel flavor (including that classic baking soda tinge from the bath they were boiled in). Don’t worry, they are not at all salty (think pretzels before salt chunks were applied).

Another benefit: they are surprisingly versatile, and will step up your game for a ton of other tasty meals. Try them as the base for an egg sandwich for breakfast, pile them up with cold cuts for lunch, cut them up for a hummus dip snack – we even used them as buns for burgers and they were amazing.

These Pretzel Bagels have a permanent spot on our grocery list, and we’re very happy to have discovered them. Hope you all are as well. Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Bread and Muffin Mix http://www.thetraderrater.com/pumpkin-bread-muffin-mix/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/pumpkin-bread-muffin-mix/#respond Wed, 30 Dec 2015 23:46:37 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2130

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.325

Review Summary: This mix should have been called "Pumpkin Spice" instead of "Pumpkin", but we still enjoyed this moist, flavorful bread.

Full Review:

We have a tendency to hoard bread and cake mixes – saving them for a rainy day that never seems to come. To remedy the situation, we’ve been on a bit of a baking kick, burning through our stock and warming our test kitchen with the dreamy fragrance of fresh baked goodies.

What’s nice about these mixes is they’re no-nonsense, quick and easy – just throw in 2 or 3 ingredients, mix and bake.

What’s not so nice is that they take some of the fun away from baking, and we all know that nothing ever tastes as good as when it’s made from scratch.

All that said, we were mostly pleased with this Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix from Trader Joe’s.

For starters, ours cooked up with a light, airy texture, and the golden-brown crust was moist and flavorful.

One negative to report: there seems to be a growing food flavor trend where things that are called “pumpkin” should more appropriately be called “pumpkin spice”. This mix is a little guilty here, as it’s harder to identify the very subtle pumpkin flavor when it’s overpowered by the nutmeg and ginger flavor. Further, the latter really lingers and seems to coat your tongue a bit unnaturally.

Overall, we enjoyed this mix. We would have preferred more of a true pumpkin flavor (like TJ’s Pumpkin Bread Pudding – which was amazing), but it was a nice compliment to an afternoon coffee, and we enjoyed the seasonal flavors.

Have you cooked up this bread and muffin mix? If so, we’d love to hear what you thought…

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.325

Review Summary: This mix should have been called "Pumpkin Spice" instead of "Pumpkin", but we still enjoyed this moist, flavorful bread.

Full Review:

We have a tendency to hoard bread and cake mixes – saving them for a rainy day that never seems to come. To remedy the situation, we’ve been on a bit of a baking kick, burning through our stock and warming our test kitchen with the dreamy fragrance of fresh baked goodies.

What’s nice about these mixes is they’re no-nonsense, quick and easy – just throw in 2 or 3 ingredients, mix and bake.

What’s not so nice is that they take some of the fun away from baking, and we all know that nothing ever tastes as good as when it’s made from scratch.

All that said, we were mostly pleased with this Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix from Trader Joe’s.

For starters, ours cooked up with a light, airy texture, and the golden-brown crust was moist and flavorful.

One negative to report: there seems to be a growing food flavor trend where things that are called “pumpkin” should more appropriately be called “pumpkin spice”. This mix is a little guilty here, as it’s harder to identify the very subtle pumpkin flavor when it’s overpowered by the nutmeg and ginger flavor. Further, the latter really lingers and seems to coat your tongue a bit unnaturally.

Overall, we enjoyed this mix. We would have preferred more of a true pumpkin flavor (like TJ’s Pumpkin Bread Pudding – which was amazing), but it was a nice compliment to an afternoon coffee, and we enjoyed the seasonal flavors.

Have you cooked up this bread and muffin mix? If so, we’d love to hear what you thought…

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Egg Nog http://www.thetraderrater.com/egg-nog/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/egg-nog/#respond Wed, 30 Dec 2015 21:49:51 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2135

The Trader Rater Rating: 9.1

Review Summary: We thoroughly enjoyed this seasonal drink! It was velvety smooth, subtly sweet with just a hint of nutmeg. Perfection!

Full Review:

In our opinion, the holidays are not complete without at least one glass of Egg Nog. Something about the milky, thick, creamy, nutmeg concoction really evokes warm memories of holidays past.

Egg Nog is surprisingly easy to make, but given that you’re dealing with uncooked egg whites, it’s not without its risks. Yes, we’ve cooked up a batch or two in our day with sensational results, but truthfully we’ll happily leave it to the professionals.

So how does this TJ’s version measure up? In short, it’s delicious. Egg Nog has a tendency to be too sweet, too spiced, or too thick, but this drink didn’t have those pitfalls. Instead, it is velvety smooth, subtly sweet with just a hint of nutmeg. It’s really well balanced and makes for a treat.

As a bonus, Trader Joe’s Egg Nog has no artificial flavors and the milk is from cows not treated with rBST – that’s very important in our view.

All told, we really enjoyed this seasonal drink, and we’re always sure to stock up on a few cartons when the winter holidays come around.

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The Trader Rater Rating: 9.1

Review Summary: We thoroughly enjoyed this seasonal drink! It was velvety smooth, subtly sweet with just a hint of nutmeg. Perfection!

Full Review:

In our opinion, the holidays are not complete without at least one glass of Egg Nog. Something about the milky, thick, creamy, nutmeg concoction really evokes warm memories of holidays past.

Egg Nog is surprisingly easy to make, but given that you’re dealing with uncooked egg whites, it’s not without its risks. Yes, we’ve cooked up a batch or two in our day with sensational results, but truthfully we’ll happily leave it to the professionals.

So how does this TJ’s version measure up? In short, it’s delicious. Egg Nog has a tendency to be too sweet, too spiced, or too thick, but this drink didn’t have those pitfalls. Instead, it is velvety smooth, subtly sweet with just a hint of nutmeg. It’s really well balanced and makes for a treat.

As a bonus, Trader Joe’s Egg Nog has no artificial flavors and the milk is from cows not treated with rBST – that’s very important in our view.

All told, we really enjoyed this seasonal drink, and we’re always sure to stock up on a few cartons when the winter holidays come around.

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Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake Mix http://www.thetraderrater.com/cinnamon-crumb-coffee-cake-mix/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/cinnamon-crumb-coffee-cake-mix/#respond Sun, 27 Dec 2015 15:24:01 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2087

The Trader Rater Rating: 7.55

Review Summary: Even though we liked the texture of this Coffee Cake, we didn't love the flavor balance - it was too sweet in our opinion. The result was an "average", but not "amazing" cake.

Full Review:

We have a soft spot when it comes to Coffee Cake, but it’s been years since we’ve come across a truly delicious specimen. Something about hitting the right balance of texture and moistness seems elusive in the ones we’ve had recently.

Sure, a good solution is to bake our own, but if we’re being honest, baking hasn’t been our strong suit lately. Thankfully we stumbled upon this easy-to-make Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake Mix in our local TJ’s, and we just we had to give it a shot.

The verdict? We’re a bit mixed on this, err, mix.

Even though it wasn’t “the best we’ve tasted” as the box boasts, we were able to bake up a solid Coffee Cake. We liked it, but we didn’t love it – it was comfortably average.

The texture of the cake was good – the crumbly crust played well with the mostly moist center, but we noted that the inside was a bit spongy. As for flavor, the subtleness of the cake’s center was nice, but it was a bit overpowered by the cinnamon sugar topping – which was too sweet in our opinion.

All told, while we enjoyed an afternoon coffee paired with this cinnamon cake, we’re not sure we’re going to rush back to buy it again.

Granted, there’s nothing like the smell of cinnamon and warm sugar lingering in your kitchen to lift your spirits, but we’ll continue to keep our eyes out for a better dessert option.

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The Trader Rater Rating: 7.55

Review Summary: Even though we liked the texture of this Coffee Cake, we didn't love the flavor balance - it was too sweet in our opinion. The result was an "average", but not "amazing" cake.

Full Review:

We have a soft spot when it comes to Coffee Cake, but it’s been years since we’ve come across a truly delicious specimen. Something about hitting the right balance of texture and moistness seems elusive in the ones we’ve had recently.

Sure, a good solution is to bake our own, but if we’re being honest, baking hasn’t been our strong suit lately. Thankfully we stumbled upon this easy-to-make Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake Mix in our local TJ’s, and we just we had to give it a shot.

The verdict? We’re a bit mixed on this, err, mix.

Even though it wasn’t “the best we’ve tasted” as the box boasts, we were able to bake up a solid Coffee Cake. We liked it, but we didn’t love it – it was comfortably average.

The texture of the cake was good – the crumbly crust played well with the mostly moist center, but we noted that the inside was a bit spongy. As for flavor, the subtleness of the cake’s center was nice, but it was a bit overpowered by the cinnamon sugar topping – which was too sweet in our opinion.

All told, while we enjoyed an afternoon coffee paired with this cinnamon cake, we’re not sure we’re going to rush back to buy it again.

Granted, there’s nothing like the smell of cinnamon and warm sugar lingering in your kitchen to lift your spirits, but we’ll continue to keep our eyes out for a better dessert option.

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Pizza 4 Formaggi (Handmade Four Cheese Pizza) http://www.thetraderrater.com/pizza-4-formaggi-handmade-four-cheese-pizza/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/pizza-4-formaggi-handmade-four-cheese-pizza/#respond Sun, 06 Dec 2015 18:03:43 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2104

The Trader Rater Rating: 6.6

Review Summary: While this pizza was not necessarily disappointing, it was nothing special either. A more balanced introduction of salt into the recipe might have helped, but as is, this Pizza 4 Formaggi edged in just over the bar.

Full Review:

We love pizza. We make it at home, order it in, eat it at restaurants, on the go, for dinner, lunch or breakfast. Seriously, we’re never not in the mood for pizza.

To our delight, Trader Joe’s has an entire section dedicated to frozen pizza, and we can’t wait to work our way through every option.

First up is Pizza 4 Formaggi – a handmade pie made with four cheeses (two of which we’ve never heard of – Edam Cheese? Grana Padano DOP Cheese?). Sadly, the results were a bit mixed.

On the one hand, the blend of cheeses added some good complexity and taste, but on the other hand, the crust was very bland, and left us wishing for more flavor.

A quick check of the ingredients, and it’s easy to see why – there’s no salt added into the crust.

In our opinion, there should have been a little less salt added to the cheeses (we found the topping to be a bit too salty), and a little more salt added to the crust. That might have resulted in a more balanced pizza with a more flavorful, enjoyable crust.

All told, this was a very standard pizza. Not necessarily disappointing, but nothing special either.

In truth, a pizza would have to be pretty terrible for us to rate it as “Can It”, but that doesn’t mean they’re all winners. While this one slipped just over the bar, we likely won’t be buying this frozen pizza again.

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The Trader Rater Rating: 6.6

Review Summary: While this pizza was not necessarily disappointing, it was nothing special either. A more balanced introduction of salt into the recipe might have helped, but as is, this Pizza 4 Formaggi edged in just over the bar.

Full Review:

We love pizza. We make it at home, order it in, eat it at restaurants, on the go, for dinner, lunch or breakfast. Seriously, we’re never not in the mood for pizza.

To our delight, Trader Joe’s has an entire section dedicated to frozen pizza, and we can’t wait to work our way through every option.

First up is Pizza 4 Formaggi – a handmade pie made with four cheeses (two of which we’ve never heard of – Edam Cheese? Grana Padano DOP Cheese?). Sadly, the results were a bit mixed.

On the one hand, the blend of cheeses added some good complexity and taste, but on the other hand, the crust was very bland, and left us wishing for more flavor.

A quick check of the ingredients, and it’s easy to see why – there’s no salt added into the crust.

In our opinion, there should have been a little less salt added to the cheeses (we found the topping to be a bit too salty), and a little more salt added to the crust. That might have resulted in a more balanced pizza with a more flavorful, enjoyable crust.

All told, this was a very standard pizza. Not necessarily disappointing, but nothing special either.

In truth, a pizza would have to be pretty terrible for us to rate it as “Can It”, but that doesn’t mean they’re all winners. While this one slipped just over the bar, we likely won’t be buying this frozen pizza again.

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Hashbrowns http://www.thetraderrater.com/hashbrowns/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/hashbrowns/#comments Sun, 29 Nov 2015 19:11:56 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2090

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.675

Review Summary: These hashbrowns were quick to prepare and were a great addition to our breakfast feast. Despite a few small drawbacks, we think they're a hit!

Full Review:

Sunday brunch is the perfect opportunity to pull out all the stops, and fill your belly with the soul satisfying (though questionably nutritious) breakfast array of hashbrowns, bacon, eggs, toast and more.

We love a robust breakfast spread (spoiler alert: it’s the most important meal of the day!), so when we saw these potato patties with the familiar shape at our local TJ’s, we couldn’t wait to give them a try.

The verdict? We’re happy to report that these frozen Hashbrowns from Trader Joe’s were a crowd pleaser, and we had only a few minor dings.

First off, they’re very easy to prepare, which makes cooking them up in the morning an easy task.

On the flavor front, they are well-salted (but not overly so), and crispy – and the fresh potato flavor is front and center.

One minor negative: even with extended cooking, we couldn’t get the inside of the hashbrowns to firm up, so the center was a bit gummy and soft. This was a minor note, and it didn’t detract from the overall enjoyment.

All told, we thoroughly enjoyed these morning treats. They were delicious when served next to a perfectly fried egg, pressed into an egg sandwich, or rolled up inside a breakfast burrito. We’re definitely sold!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.675

Review Summary: These hashbrowns were quick to prepare and were a great addition to our breakfast feast. Despite a few small drawbacks, we think they're a hit!

Full Review:

Sunday brunch is the perfect opportunity to pull out all the stops, and fill your belly with the soul satisfying (though questionably nutritious) breakfast array of hashbrowns, bacon, eggs, toast and more.

We love a robust breakfast spread (spoiler alert: it’s the most important meal of the day!), so when we saw these potato patties with the familiar shape at our local TJ’s, we couldn’t wait to give them a try.

The verdict? We’re happy to report that these frozen Hashbrowns from Trader Joe’s were a crowd pleaser, and we had only a few minor dings.

First off, they’re very easy to prepare, which makes cooking them up in the morning an easy task.

On the flavor front, they are well-salted (but not overly so), and crispy – and the fresh potato flavor is front and center.

One minor negative: even with extended cooking, we couldn’t get the inside of the hashbrowns to firm up, so the center was a bit gummy and soft. This was a minor note, and it didn’t detract from the overall enjoyment.

All told, we thoroughly enjoyed these morning treats. They were delicious when served next to a perfectly fried egg, pressed into an egg sandwich, or rolled up inside a breakfast burrito. We’re definitely sold!

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All Natural Young Brined Turkey http://www.thetraderrater.com/all-natural-young-brined-turkey-2015/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/all-natural-young-brined-turkey-2015/#respond Fri, 27 Nov 2015 19:51:43 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2063

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.42

Review Summary: These plump turkeys come pre-brined, resulting in a very juicy and flavorful bird. No matter how you prefer to cook them, they're sure to be a delicious Thanksgiving treat!

Full Review:

Thanksgiving continues to be our favorite holiday – largely because it so often involves tables of food, and friends and family celebrating together.

And who doesn’t love a seemingly endless supply of turkey-based leftovers? (Soup, anyone?)

This year, our local Trader Joe’s was fully stocked with plenty of turkeys, and we were happy to see some smaller sized options compared to last year (pro tip: red wrapper = smaller bird, orange wrapper = larger bird).

Aside from the good value, there are a lot of things to like about TJ’s Turkeys:

2) They’re free range and handled humanely! That’s extremely important to us, and we avoid buying eggs or poultry that isn’t.

3) We like to brine our turkey for maximum flavor and juiciness, and these babies come pre-brined. It’s such a convenience and time saver.

The verdict? This year we tried a new cooking approach – we separated the dark and white meat before cooking (Julia Child’s method). The initial prep was a bit extended, but it made for easier carving post-cooking. In the end, we had a juicy and flavorful turkey (though we still prefer the rotisserie approach from last year).

To round out our “test” Thanksgiving, we paired our turkey with Trader Joe’s Turkey Gravy (excellent!) and Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Stuffing Mix (not excellent!), and even with a “smaller” bird (~14 pounds), we had plenty of leftovers. We’re definitely looking forward to sandwiches, soups, salads, etc. for the next few weeks!

1) They are all natural, and never fed animal by-products or treated with antibiotics or hormones.

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.42

Review Summary: These plump turkeys come pre-brined, resulting in a very juicy and flavorful bird. No matter how you prefer to cook them, they're sure to be a delicious Thanksgiving treat!

Full Review:

Thanksgiving continues to be our favorite holiday – largely because it so often involves tables of food, and friends and family celebrating together.

And who doesn’t love a seemingly endless supply of turkey-based leftovers? (Soup, anyone?)

This year, our local Trader Joe’s was fully stocked with plenty of turkeys, and we were happy to see some smaller sized options compared to last year (pro tip: red wrapper = smaller bird, orange wrapper = larger bird).

Aside from the good value, there are a lot of things to like about TJ’s Turkeys:

2) They’re free range and handled humanely! That’s extremely important to us, and we avoid buying eggs or poultry that isn’t.

3) We like to brine our turkey for maximum flavor and juiciness, and these babies come pre-brined. It’s such a convenience and time saver.

The verdict? This year we tried a new cooking approach – we separated the dark and white meat before cooking (Julia Child’s method). The initial prep was a bit extended, but it made for easier carving post-cooking. In the end, we had a juicy and flavorful turkey (though we still prefer the rotisserie approach from last year).

To round out our “test” Thanksgiving, we paired our turkey with Trader Joe’s Turkey Gravy (excellent!) and Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Stuffing Mix (not excellent!), and even with a “smaller” bird (~14 pounds), we had plenty of leftovers. We’re definitely looking forward to sandwiches, soups, salads, etc. for the next few weeks!

1) They are all natural, and never fed animal by-products or treated with antibiotics or hormones.

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Gluten Free Stuffing Mix http://www.thetraderrater.com/gluten-free-stuffing-mix/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/gluten-free-stuffing-mix/#respond Wed, 25 Nov 2015 01:23:11 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2064

The Trader Rater Rating: 7.4

Review Summary: This stuffing mix was easy to make, but we noted too many shortcomings in this Gluten Free variation of a Thanksgiving classic.

Full Review:

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Thanksgiving. Something about the mix of friends, family, cool weather and great food really lights up our spirits.

We always like to do a pre-Thanksgiving test run to try out some new cooking methods and products, and this year our test kitchen was running on all cylinders, cooking up turkey, gravy, mashed sweet potatoes and (of course) stuffing.

We’ll admit, this year we were a little disheartened to see that our local Brooklyn TJ’s was fully stocked with Gluten Free Stuffing Mix, with not even a box of the traditional stuff in sight. Sure, dietary restrictions are important, but we couldn’t help but think we were making an unnecessary sacrifice by opting for GF.

Unfortunately, our concerns played out as we expected, and this Stuffing Mix turned out to be a let down.

Sure it was easy to prepare, but the rice/tapioca flour croutons didn’t hold up at all when cooked via the casserole method, and the result was a fine couscous-like texture. Not a great consistency for stuffing.

The flavor was decent, though it tasted a bit flat – it reminded us too much like the one-dimensional flavor of a bouillon cube. We also noticed an odd powdery aftertaste, that we didn’t care for.

All told, we much prefer the traditional, packed-with-gluten Stuffing Mix, and will steer clear of this GF option in the future. Unless your diet requires otherwise, we recommend you do the same.

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The Trader Rater Rating: 7.4

Review Summary: This stuffing mix was easy to make, but we noted too many shortcomings in this Gluten Free variation of a Thanksgiving classic.

Full Review:

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Thanksgiving. Something about the mix of friends, family, cool weather and great food really lights up our spirits.

We always like to do a pre-Thanksgiving test run to try out some new cooking methods and products, and this year our test kitchen was running on all cylinders, cooking up turkey, gravy, mashed sweet potatoes and (of course) stuffing.

We’ll admit, this year we were a little disheartened to see that our local Brooklyn TJ’s was fully stocked with Gluten Free Stuffing Mix, with not even a box of the traditional stuff in sight. Sure, dietary restrictions are important, but we couldn’t help but think we were making an unnecessary sacrifice by opting for GF.

Unfortunately, our concerns played out as we expected, and this Stuffing Mix turned out to be a let down.

Sure it was easy to prepare, but the rice/tapioca flour croutons didn’t hold up at all when cooked via the casserole method, and the result was a fine couscous-like texture. Not a great consistency for stuffing.

The flavor was decent, though it tasted a bit flat – it reminded us too much like the one-dimensional flavor of a bouillon cube. We also noticed an odd powdery aftertaste, that we didn’t care for.

All told, we much prefer the traditional, packed-with-gluten Stuffing Mix, and will steer clear of this GF option in the future. Unless your diet requires otherwise, we recommend you do the same.

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Chicken Balti Pies http://www.thetraderrater.com/chicken-balti-pies/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/chicken-balti-pies/#respond Mon, 02 Nov 2015 20:15:08 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2030

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.425

Review Summary: We liked the spicy and flavorful filling of these Chicken Balti Pies. They're a fun way to broaden your horizons and sample some of the flavors of India.

Full Review:

We’ve been broadening our horizons at Trader Joe’s lately – heading further East and trying some of the treats that India has to offer.

We’ve tried a few meat pie offerings at TJ’s (with mixed results), but we were definitely intrigued to try what’s essentially an Indian version of a Chicken Pot Pie.

The good news? It was surprisingly delicious!

We found the outer crust to be very tasty. It was nice and buttery – similar to other pie crusts we’ve tasted at TJ’s.

But the real treat was inside. The filling had a good kick of spice and was very flavorful. Even the chicken was moist, seasoned and well cooked.

One negative: the potatoes seemed a bit waterlogged, so it made the sauce a bit thinner than it should have been. Stirring the pie filling thoroughly helped considerably.

All told, we very much enjoyed these Chicken Balti Pies from Trader Joe’s. They were a fun way to add some variety and spice to our dinner arsenal.

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.425

Review Summary: We liked the spicy and flavorful filling of these Chicken Balti Pies. They're a fun way to broaden your horizons and sample some of the flavors of India.

Full Review:

We’ve been broadening our horizons at Trader Joe’s lately – heading further East and trying some of the treats that India has to offer.

We’ve tried a few meat pie offerings at TJ’s (with mixed results), but we were definitely intrigued to try what’s essentially an Indian version of a Chicken Pot Pie.

The good news? It was surprisingly delicious!

We found the outer crust to be very tasty. It was nice and buttery – similar to other pie crusts we’ve tasted at TJ’s.

But the real treat was inside. The filling had a good kick of spice and was very flavorful. Even the chicken was moist, seasoned and well cooked.

One negative: the potatoes seemed a bit waterlogged, so it made the sauce a bit thinner than it should have been. Stirring the pie filling thoroughly helped considerably.

All told, we very much enjoyed these Chicken Balti Pies from Trader Joe’s. They were a fun way to add some variety and spice to our dinner arsenal.

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Hand Braided Challah Bread http://www.thetraderrater.com/hand-braided-challah-bread/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/hand-braided-challah-bread/#respond Mon, 02 Nov 2015 19:12:47 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2029

The Trader Rater Rating: 9.05

Review Summary: This Trader Joe's Challah bread was meaty, dense, chewy and moist in all the right ways. It's a versatile (and damn pretty) loaf that makes great sandwiches, French Toast and more!

Full Review:

Challah bread is arguably the king of breads.

It’s delicious, it’s versatile, and – let’s face it – it’s a damn fine looking loaf of bread. Break out the Challah at any family gathering or holiday party and you’ve immediately up’d your game.

But Challah shouldn’t be reserved just for special occasions. It makes for a damn tasty everyday bread. For the past few weeks, we’ve been putting this theory to the test with this TJ’s version offering. The results were delicious.

On its own, this Trader Joe’s bread is meaty, dense, chewy and moist – in all the right ways. The golden brown, delicate crust has a kiss of sweetness, and it’s soft and flavorful like it’s supposed to be.

We usually like to toast our bread, but Challah is one of the few breads we prefer right out of the bag. Maybe it’s because the soft denseness and fresh baked texture miraculously lasts for days – long after lesser breads would start to firm up and grow stale.

We loved this bread thick-cut and paired with our favorite sliced meats, or open-faced with leftover chicken salad. And, or course, you’d be remiss not to try this bread as the base for French Toast (recommended recipe here). Simply divine!

This Challah bread from Trader Joe’s is definitely a keeper, and it’s earned a spot on our grocery list. What’s your favorite Challah pairing? Let us know in the comments below!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 9.05

Review Summary: This Trader Joe's Challah bread was meaty, dense, chewy and moist in all the right ways. It's a versatile (and damn pretty) loaf that makes great sandwiches, French Toast and more!

Full Review:

Challah bread is arguably the king of breads.

It’s delicious, it’s versatile, and – let’s face it – it’s a damn fine looking loaf of bread. Break out the Challah at any family gathering or holiday party and you’ve immediately up’d your game.

But Challah shouldn’t be reserved just for special occasions. It makes for a damn tasty everyday bread. For the past few weeks, we’ve been putting this theory to the test with this TJ’s version offering. The results were delicious.

On its own, this Trader Joe’s bread is meaty, dense, chewy and moist – in all the right ways. The golden brown, delicate crust has a kiss of sweetness, and it’s soft and flavorful like it’s supposed to be.

We usually like to toast our bread, but Challah is one of the few breads we prefer right out of the bag. Maybe it’s because the soft denseness and fresh baked texture miraculously lasts for days – long after lesser breads would start to firm up and grow stale.

We loved this bread thick-cut and paired with our favorite sliced meats, or open-faced with leftover chicken salad. And, or course, you’d be remiss not to try this bread as the base for French Toast (recommended recipe here). Simply divine!

This Challah bread from Trader Joe’s is definitely a keeper, and it’s earned a spot on our grocery list. What’s your favorite Challah pairing? Let us know in the comments below!

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Oderless Omega-3 Fatty Acids Dietary Supplement http://www.thetraderrater.com/oderless-omega-3-fatty-acids-dietary-supplement/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/oderless-omega-3-fatty-acids-dietary-supplement/#respond Tue, 20 Oct 2015 13:29:31 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=2011

The Trader Rater Rating: 9.25

Review Summary: We found these Fish Oil pills to be priced right and packed with Omega-3 for heart and joint health. We didn't notice any fishy taste, bloating, or other negative side effects either. A bonus in our book!

Full Review:

Oderless Omega-3 Fatty Acids Dietary Supplement from Trader Joe'sDietary supplements are sometimes a necessary addition these days, as it’s become increasingly more difficult to get all the required and beneficial nutrients into our diet. In a perfect world, we’d all eat well-rounded and nutritiously optimal foods every day, rendering supplements unnecessary – but that’s just not a reality (for us at least).

Thankfully, there are tons of options out there, and your local Trader Joe’s has a well stocked aisle of reasonably priced supplements, vitamins and other helpful pills and powders.

A great example is this Molecularly Distilled, Odorless Omega-3 Fatty Acid Fish Oil supplement.

First, as we’ve mentioned before, dietary supplements are tricky to compare and review – they offer different benefits for different people, and they’re just one part of a nutritious diet.

That said, we liked these Odorless Omega-3 pills – with a few caveats and considerations. These 1,200 mg fish oil softgels are sold at a premium compared to the 1,100 mg version because the capsules are slightly larger in size, and therefore contain slightly more fish oil and EPA (DHA benefit remains unchanged for some reason). They also have an “antioxidant blend” added in the ingredient list (but not mentioned on the label otherwise), and claim to be odorless due to a “steam deodorization” process mentioned on the bottle.

That all sounds good, and on the surface these seem like a better option, BUT when we tested the alternate 1,100 mg version for a 3-month period we didn’t notice any fishy aftertaste or bloating, etc either. So while those other softgels don’t claim to be odorless, we found them to be odorless.

Point is, in our experience there might not be that much of a difference between the two TJ fish oil options, so it might be worth evaluating on price and going for the less expensive 1,100 mg option. Your call though.

We could all (most likely) use more omega-3 fatty acids into our diets, so either option should offer a potential improvement in your heart and joint health. At these prices, you can hardly go wrong!

Cheers to your health!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 9.25

Review Summary: We found these Fish Oil pills to be priced right and packed with Omega-3 for heart and joint health. We didn't notice any fishy taste, bloating, or other negative side effects either. A bonus in our book!

Full Review:

Oderless Omega-3 Fatty Acids Dietary Supplement from Trader Joe'sDietary supplements are sometimes a necessary addition these days, as it’s become increasingly more difficult to get all the required and beneficial nutrients into our diet. In a perfect world, we’d all eat well-rounded and nutritiously optimal foods every day, rendering supplements unnecessary – but that’s just not a reality (for us at least).

Thankfully, there are tons of options out there, and your local Trader Joe’s has a well stocked aisle of reasonably priced supplements, vitamins and other helpful pills and powders.

A great example is this Molecularly Distilled, Odorless Omega-3 Fatty Acid Fish Oil supplement.

First, as we’ve mentioned before, dietary supplements are tricky to compare and review – they offer different benefits for different people, and they’re just one part of a nutritious diet.

That said, we liked these Odorless Omega-3 pills – with a few caveats and considerations. These 1,200 mg fish oil softgels are sold at a premium compared to the 1,100 mg version because the capsules are slightly larger in size, and therefore contain slightly more fish oil and EPA (DHA benefit remains unchanged for some reason). They also have an “antioxidant blend” added in the ingredient list (but not mentioned on the label otherwise), and claim to be odorless due to a “steam deodorization” process mentioned on the bottle.

That all sounds good, and on the surface these seem like a better option, BUT when we tested the alternate 1,100 mg version for a 3-month period we didn’t notice any fishy aftertaste or bloating, etc either. So while those other softgels don’t claim to be odorless, we found them to be odorless.

Point is, in our experience there might not be that much of a difference between the two TJ fish oil options, so it might be worth evaluating on price and going for the less expensive 1,100 mg option. Your call though.

We could all (most likely) use more omega-3 fatty acids into our diets, so either option should offer a potential improvement in your heart and joint health. At these prices, you can hardly go wrong!

Cheers to your health!

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Omega-3 Fatty Acids Dietary Supplement http://www.thetraderrater.com/omega-3-fatty-acids-dietary-supplement/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/omega-3-fatty-acids-dietary-supplement/#respond Tue, 20 Oct 2015 13:25:43 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1993

The Trader Rater Rating: 9.375

Review Summary: We found these Fish Oil pills to be well-priced and packed with Omega-3 goodness. We didn't experience any fishy taste, bloating, or other negative side effects. A win in our book!

Full Review:

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Dietary Supplement from Trader Joe'sTrader Joe’s has an impressive array of dietary supplements that are easy to miss, but surprisingly well-priced (or not surprisingly, if you’re familiar with TJ’s value). This section is really worth a browse – you’ll find a lot of great stuff here (though we’re still looking for Fiber and Activated Charcoal to make an appearance).

It’s worth stating that dietary supplements are always tough to compare and review, as they have different benefits for different people – plus, they’re just one part of a nutritious diet, and should only be added into the mix after careful research.

That said, we liked these Omega-3 pills because of their value and their lack of fishy aftertaste or smell. We took them at night, and didn’t notice any bloating or any unsavory flavors, etc. On the flip side, we’re not sure we noticed any physical benefits after a 3-month trial, but Omega-3 Fish Oil is more of an internal thing, and we felt good knowing we were adding valuable fatty acids into our diet.

Currently TJ’s has 2 fish oil options – this 1,100 mg option and another 1,200 mg option that claims to be odorless (priced $1 more). While we found this 1,100 mg version to be odorless as well, you might find the additional bump in fish oil (and therefore slight bump in EPA and DHA) compelling for the extra price (Note: we didn’t).

We could all (probably) use more omega-3 fatty acids into our diets – it’s great for heart health, joints and more (when used as directed). We’re happy with this dietary supplement from Trader Joe’s, and we’ll be keeping it on our shopping list.

Cheers to your health!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 9.375

Review Summary: We found these Fish Oil pills to be well-priced and packed with Omega-3 goodness. We didn't experience any fishy taste, bloating, or other negative side effects. A win in our book!

Full Review:

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Dietary Supplement from Trader Joe'sTrader Joe’s has an impressive array of dietary supplements that are easy to miss, but surprisingly well-priced (or not surprisingly, if you’re familiar with TJ’s value). This section is really worth a browse – you’ll find a lot of great stuff here (though we’re still looking for Fiber and Activated Charcoal to make an appearance).

It’s worth stating that dietary supplements are always tough to compare and review, as they have different benefits for different people – plus, they’re just one part of a nutritious diet, and should only be added into the mix after careful research.

That said, we liked these Omega-3 pills because of their value and their lack of fishy aftertaste or smell. We took them at night, and didn’t notice any bloating or any unsavory flavors, etc. On the flip side, we’re not sure we noticed any physical benefits after a 3-month trial, but Omega-3 Fish Oil is more of an internal thing, and we felt good knowing we were adding valuable fatty acids into our diet.

Currently TJ’s has 2 fish oil options – this 1,100 mg option and another 1,200 mg option that claims to be odorless (priced $1 more). While we found this 1,100 mg version to be odorless as well, you might find the additional bump in fish oil (and therefore slight bump in EPA and DHA) compelling for the extra price (Note: we didn’t).

We could all (probably) use more omega-3 fatty acids into our diets – it’s great for heart health, joints and more (when used as directed). We’re happy with this dietary supplement from Trader Joe’s, and we’ll be keeping it on our shopping list.

Cheers to your health!

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Spinach Tortellini http://www.thetraderrater.com/spinach-tortellini/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/spinach-tortellini/#respond Tue, 15 Sep 2015 23:57:39 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1978

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.7

Review Summary: These Spinach Tortellinis are tightly wrapped bundles of flavor, and we found them to be the perfect answer to livening up pasta night.

Full Review:

It’s no secret that we love pasta, and with so many shapes, sizes and varieties we never get bored. But every so often, we like to shake things up a bit and head over to the cheese and hummus section of our local TJ’s and pick up a new flavor of tortellini to try. There’s always something fun to discover!

This time we tried the Spinach Tortellini, and there’s a lot to love about these guys.

First off, they cook up super quickly, and they’re tightly made – they don’t fall apart easily while they boil. They’re also well portioned with a good ratio of wrapper to filling.

As for the flavor, they were well rated and we appreciated the smooth spinach flavor paired with the subtle mix of cheeses.

As for dressing, they held up very well with a simple butter sauce, but were even more delicious when tossed in heavy red sauce for more body, texture and flavor complexity.

These Spinach Tortellinis from Trader Joe’s have earned a spot on our shopping list, and we look forward to sampling and reviewing more varieties soon. Enjoy!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.7

Review Summary: These Spinach Tortellinis are tightly wrapped bundles of flavor, and we found them to be the perfect answer to livening up pasta night.

Full Review:

It’s no secret that we love pasta, and with so many shapes, sizes and varieties we never get bored. But every so often, we like to shake things up a bit and head over to the cheese and hummus section of our local TJ’s and pick up a new flavor of tortellini to try. There’s always something fun to discover!

This time we tried the Spinach Tortellini, and there’s a lot to love about these guys.

First off, they cook up super quickly, and they’re tightly made – they don’t fall apart easily while they boil. They’re also well portioned with a good ratio of wrapper to filling.

As for the flavor, they were well rated and we appreciated the smooth spinach flavor paired with the subtle mix of cheeses.

As for dressing, they held up very well with a simple butter sauce, but were even more delicious when tossed in heavy red sauce for more body, texture and flavor complexity.

These Spinach Tortellinis from Trader Joe’s have earned a spot on our shopping list, and we look forward to sampling and reviewing more varieties soon. Enjoy!

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Shredded Hash Browns http://www.thetraderrater.com/shredded-hash-browns/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/shredded-hash-browns/#respond Tue, 08 Sep 2015 16:06:00 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1954

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.44

Review Summary: We were very pleased with these Shredded Hash Browns - they were easy to cook and they added welcome texture & flavor to our morning routine.

Full Review:

We were excited to give these Hash Browns from TJ’s a try, as we’re always looking for ways to liven up our breakfast. Plus, we wanted to see if they would make for a good breakfast burrito add-in.

We’re happy to report that they excelled on both fronts! These Browns cooked up quick and easy, and the result was crispy and tasty.

There are a ton of uses for these Shredded Hash Browns, and we definitely recommend you experiment with their versatility.

For example, they’re delicious as a bed for a poached egg drizzled with hollandaise sauce, and they add some toss welcome texture and zing when tossed into an egg sandwich or burrito.

Note: we recommend you take a look at our “Cooking Notes” in the tabs above though – you’re going to want to bring your own spices into the equation, or you might find the flavor lacking a bit.

All told, we were very pleased with these Shredded Hash Browns from Trader Joe’s, and we’ll be sure to keep them on hand in our freezer for when we want to get a little adventurous with our breakfast.

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.44

Review Summary: We were very pleased with these Shredded Hash Browns - they were easy to cook and they added welcome texture & flavor to our morning routine.

Full Review:

We were excited to give these Hash Browns from TJ’s a try, as we’re always looking for ways to liven up our breakfast. Plus, we wanted to see if they would make for a good breakfast burrito add-in.

We’re happy to report that they excelled on both fronts! These Browns cooked up quick and easy, and the result was crispy and tasty.

There are a ton of uses for these Shredded Hash Browns, and we definitely recommend you experiment with their versatility.

For example, they’re delicious as a bed for a poached egg drizzled with hollandaise sauce, and they add some toss welcome texture and zing when tossed into an egg sandwich or burrito.

Note: we recommend you take a look at our “Cooking Notes” in the tabs above though – you’re going to want to bring your own spices into the equation, or you might find the flavor lacking a bit.

All told, we were very pleased with these Shredded Hash Browns from Trader Joe’s, and we’ll be sure to keep them on hand in our freezer for when we want to get a little adventurous with our breakfast.

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Ancient Grain and Super Seed Oatmeal http://www.thetraderrater.com/ancient-grain-and-super-seed-oatmeal/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/ancient-grain-and-super-seed-oatmeal/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 23:17:27 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1942

The Trader Rater Rating: 7.26

Review Summary: Despite its obvious nutritional and health benefits, we couldn't get past the competing flavors and textures in this oatmeal dish.

Full Review:

We’re big fans of oatmeal for a quick and nutritious breakfast treat. There’s something about the warmth and density that really kicks our day into motion.

So we were definitely intrigued when we saw this new item at our local TJ’s. Ancient Grains? Super Seeds? Sounds like a treat!

Sadly, we found a number of things wrong with this dish, and can’t say that we enjoyed it.

First, the positives – there is no question this oatmeal is good for you. It’s got a ton of super-food ingredients under one roof (whole grain rolled oats, quinoa, amaranth flakes, almond slivers, plus sunflower, pumpkin, hemp, flax and chia seeds). But therein lies one of our key issues.

Because of the hodgepodge of ingredients, there’s a lot of subtle – yet competing – flavors in there. The most obvious of which is quinoa, which we found to be rather overpowering.

Another issue: there’s more texture than you’re probably used to in your oatmeal – up to you if that’s a good thing. In our opinion, the combination of mushy and gritty and crunchy was a bit off-putting.

All told, this dish certainly didn’t live up to our expectations. It is no doubt healthy, and there’s no doubt an audience for it, but we won’t be back for more.

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The Trader Rater Rating: 7.26

Review Summary: Despite its obvious nutritional and health benefits, we couldn't get past the competing flavors and textures in this oatmeal dish.

Full Review:

We’re big fans of oatmeal for a quick and nutritious breakfast treat. There’s something about the warmth and density that really kicks our day into motion.

So we were definitely intrigued when we saw this new item at our local TJ’s. Ancient Grains? Super Seeds? Sounds like a treat!

Sadly, we found a number of things wrong with this dish, and can’t say that we enjoyed it.

First, the positives – there is no question this oatmeal is good for you. It’s got a ton of super-food ingredients under one roof (whole grain rolled oats, quinoa, amaranth flakes, almond slivers, plus sunflower, pumpkin, hemp, flax and chia seeds). But therein lies one of our key issues.

Because of the hodgepodge of ingredients, there’s a lot of subtle – yet competing – flavors in there. The most obvious of which is quinoa, which we found to be rather overpowering.

Another issue: there’s more texture than you’re probably used to in your oatmeal – up to you if that’s a good thing. In our opinion, the combination of mushy and gritty and crunchy was a bit off-putting.

All told, this dish certainly didn’t live up to our expectations. It is no doubt healthy, and there’s no doubt an audience for it, but we won’t be back for more.

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Fig Bites Made With Turkish Figs http://www.thetraderrater.com/fig-bites-made-with-turkish-figs/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/fig-bites-made-with-turkish-figs/#respond Tue, 04 Aug 2015 23:01:21 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1927

The Trader Rater Rating: 7.7

Review Summary: We enjoyed this "new" treat from Trader Joe's. The dense and tasty outer pastry paired perfectly with the subtly sweet and crunchy fig center. A rewarding treat for sure!

Full Review:

It seems quite often these days that a new product pops up at our local Trader Joe’s, and we’re always happy to give it a try. But this “new” product is a bit of a paradox – it’s new, yet so very not new.

But that’s not always a bad thing – sometimes improvement is the best form of flattery.

Point is, these Fig Bites are no doubt familiar looking – they are almost identical to the ones you likely grew up with. The taste is fairly close as well, though we noted that the TJ’s version tasted a bit more premium all around.

For example, the outer pastry seemed more dense and flavorful to us, and the fig center had a more balanced sweetness with a subtle crunch – largely due to the fig seeds within.

Yes, some bites were grittier than others, but that’s to be expected.

We enjoyed pairing our Fig Bites with a spot of bold espresso for a lazy afternoon treat. It was the perfect chance to wind down, reminisce and ponder how these little guys are made (it’s actually quite a fascinating process – see below).

Even though these new Fig Bites are not all that new, they’re still well rated in our book, and we plan to keep them on hand to add some subtle sweetness to our day.

 

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The Trader Rater Rating: 7.7

Review Summary: We enjoyed this "new" treat from Trader Joe's. The dense and tasty outer pastry paired perfectly with the subtly sweet and crunchy fig center. A rewarding treat for sure!

Full Review:

It seems quite often these days that a new product pops up at our local Trader Joe’s, and we’re always happy to give it a try. But this “new” product is a bit of a paradox – it’s new, yet so very not new.

But that’s not always a bad thing – sometimes improvement is the best form of flattery.

Point is, these Fig Bites are no doubt familiar looking – they are almost identical to the ones you likely grew up with. The taste is fairly close as well, though we noted that the TJ’s version tasted a bit more premium all around.

For example, the outer pastry seemed more dense and flavorful to us, and the fig center had a more balanced sweetness with a subtle crunch – largely due to the fig seeds within.

Yes, some bites were grittier than others, but that’s to be expected.

We enjoyed pairing our Fig Bites with a spot of bold espresso for a lazy afternoon treat. It was the perfect chance to wind down, reminisce and ponder how these little guys are made (it’s actually quite a fascinating process – see below).

Even though these new Fig Bites are not all that new, they’re still well rated in our book, and we plan to keep them on hand to add some subtle sweetness to our day.

 

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Uncured Bacon Ganache Chocolate Bar http://www.thetraderrater.com/uncured-bacon-ganache-chocolate-bar/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/uncured-bacon-ganache-chocolate-bar/#respond Fri, 31 Jul 2015 20:05:06 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1912

The Trader Rater Rating: 7.2

Review Summary: Our results were mixed. Sure, it's a fun treat to sample, but unwelcome texture and questionable finish left us underwhelmed.

Full Review:

We’re not immune to the food trends of the minute, and it’s always fun to see where today’s “hot, new” additives and ingredients will pop up next.

So when we saw this new bacon-infused chocolate bar at our local TJ’s, we had to bite (pun intended).

Truthfully though – while we understand it’s probably blasphemy to not fawn over anything bacon-related – our results were a bit mixed.

On one hand, we enjoyed the same consistently stellar chocolate we’ve come to expect from Trader Joe’s. On the other hand, we found that the tiny bits of bacon mixed into the ganache provided an unwelcome texture – almost gritty – that didn’t play well with the creaminess of the filling.

Additionally, the flavor didn’t necessarily add to the equation, and instead left an odd finish.

Back on the positive side, the hint of smoked salt was a welcome tang on the tongue, and it served as a nice contrast to the sweetness of the chocolate.

All in all, this is a fun treat to sample that will certainly turn a few heads when served at a party or given as a gift, but we didn’t enjoy it enough to buy it again.

Side note: we were surprised that this chocolate bar had a creamy filling in general. Completely unaware that “ganache” is code for “a whipped filling of chocolate and cream”, we assumed a solid bar.

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The Trader Rater Rating: 7.2

Review Summary: Our results were mixed. Sure, it's a fun treat to sample, but unwelcome texture and questionable finish left us underwhelmed.

Full Review:

We’re not immune to the food trends of the minute, and it’s always fun to see where today’s “hot, new” additives and ingredients will pop up next.

So when we saw this new bacon-infused chocolate bar at our local TJ’s, we had to bite (pun intended).

Truthfully though – while we understand it’s probably blasphemy to not fawn over anything bacon-related – our results were a bit mixed.

On one hand, we enjoyed the same consistently stellar chocolate we’ve come to expect from Trader Joe’s. On the other hand, we found that the tiny bits of bacon mixed into the ganache provided an unwelcome texture – almost gritty – that didn’t play well with the creaminess of the filling.

Additionally, the flavor didn’t necessarily add to the equation, and instead left an odd finish.

Back on the positive side, the hint of smoked salt was a welcome tang on the tongue, and it served as a nice contrast to the sweetness of the chocolate.

All in all, this is a fun treat to sample that will certainly turn a few heads when served at a party or given as a gift, but we didn’t enjoy it enough to buy it again.

Side note: we were surprised that this chocolate bar had a creamy filling in general. Completely unaware that “ganache” is code for “a whipped filling of chocolate and cream”, we assumed a solid bar.

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Pumpkin Bread Pudding http://www.thetraderrater.com/pumpkin-bread-pudding/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/pumpkin-bread-pudding/#respond Sat, 25 Jul 2015 18:47:03 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1895

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.76

Review Summary: This bread pudding is the real deal, and it's packed with true pumpkin flavor and just a hint of sweetness. We thoroughly enjoyed it!

Full Review:

While it’s no secret that we generally don’t crave dessert (room for dessert = precious room for more meal), we’re not immune to it’s attraction.

So when we saw this unique blend of pumpkin ingredients in a familiar form factor, we just had to cave. Um… for the sake of our reviews, of course.

First, an important note about pumpkin flavored things in general: too often we find that what is mislabeled as “pumpkin” flavor is more accurately “pumpkin spice” flavor – which turns out to be an overload of nutmeg and cinnamon with just a hint of real pumpkin flavor.

Not so with this treat. This bread pudding is the real deal, and it’s packed with true pumpkin flavor.

We’re talking pumpkin custard AND pumpkin bread mixed into one treat. The results are obviously delicious, and the consistency is just right – soft and creamy in the center, and dry and chewy everywhere else.

Also worth noting, the sweetness is tempered well – and you could even accidentally mistake it for a decadent breakfast treat. At least that was our excuse for the 3 days after our initial trial (this dense little loaf has a surprising number of portions).

All told, we thoroughly enjoyed this Pumpkin Bread Pudding, and we’ll definitely be picking up a new supply next time pumpkin season rolls around!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.76

Review Summary: This bread pudding is the real deal, and it's packed with true pumpkin flavor and just a hint of sweetness. We thoroughly enjoyed it!

Full Review:

While it’s no secret that we generally don’t crave dessert (room for dessert = precious room for more meal), we’re not immune to it’s attraction.

So when we saw this unique blend of pumpkin ingredients in a familiar form factor, we just had to cave. Um… for the sake of our reviews, of course.

First, an important note about pumpkin flavored things in general: too often we find that what is mislabeled as “pumpkin” flavor is more accurately “pumpkin spice” flavor – which turns out to be an overload of nutmeg and cinnamon with just a hint of real pumpkin flavor.

Not so with this treat. This bread pudding is the real deal, and it’s packed with true pumpkin flavor.

We’re talking pumpkin custard AND pumpkin bread mixed into one treat. The results are obviously delicious, and the consistency is just right – soft and creamy in the center, and dry and chewy everywhere else.

Also worth noting, the sweetness is tempered well – and you could even accidentally mistake it for a decadent breakfast treat. At least that was our excuse for the 3 days after our initial trial (this dense little loaf has a surprising number of portions).

All told, we thoroughly enjoyed this Pumpkin Bread Pudding, and we’ll definitely be picking up a new supply next time pumpkin season rolls around!

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Mini Chicken Tamalitos (Handmade Mini White Meat Chicken Tamales in Red Sauce) http://www.thetraderrater.com/mini-chicken-tamalitos-handmade-mini-white-meat-chicken-tamales-in-red-sauce/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/mini-chicken-tamalitos-handmade-mini-white-meat-chicken-tamales-in-red-sauce/#respond Wed, 15 Jul 2015 00:35:09 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1851

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.86

Review Summary: They may be mini, but these Chicken Tamalitos are packed with flavor and goodness. Pair them with your favorite hot sauce and you're in for a real treat!

Full Review:

Trader Joe’s has no shortage of fun and tasty frozen appetizers, and we are constantly discovering new and exciting treats to sample.

Of course, we constantly make the mistake of perusing on an empty stomach, and we often let the pictures on the package tempt our tastebuds.

But the important question is – does the flavor measure up? Well, we’re happy to report that when it comes to these Mini Chicken Tamalitos, the answer is a big yes! (See what we did there?)

There’s no question that these tiny tamales (aka Tamalitos) are small (dare we say “cute”?), but make no mistake, they are masterfully prepared, delicious, and packed with flavor.

The corn wrapping is well-textured and the flavor stands on it’s own, plus the meat mixture in the center is tender with well-balanced hints of spice and sweetness. Pair them with your favorite hot sauce and you’re in for a real treat. Pro-Tip: we recently discovered a Belizean hot sauce made from habanero pepper with a carrot base that is delish! We stocked up on a trip to Belize, but now learned that Amazon sells it! It’s made by a woman named Marie Sharp, and its not to be missed.

One note about the cooking preparations, the instructions say to remove these guys from their packaging, but obviously don’t remove the parchment paper. It’ll help retain moisture while cooking.

And whatever you do, don’t eat the parchment paper thinking it’s part of the Tamalitos. It’s textured, so we could understand the mistake. Ok, full disclosure, the first time we tried these, one of us tried to nibble on the parchment paper to see if it was edible. Oops!

All told, these Trader Joe’s Mini Chicken Tamalitos are a great appetizer, snack or mini lunch, and they’ve definitely secured a spot on our shopping list!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.86

Review Summary: They may be mini, but these Chicken Tamalitos are packed with flavor and goodness. Pair them with your favorite hot sauce and you're in for a real treat!

Full Review:

Trader Joe’s has no shortage of fun and tasty frozen appetizers, and we are constantly discovering new and exciting treats to sample.

Of course, we constantly make the mistake of perusing on an empty stomach, and we often let the pictures on the package tempt our tastebuds.

But the important question is – does the flavor measure up? Well, we’re happy to report that when it comes to these Mini Chicken Tamalitos, the answer is a big yes! (See what we did there?)

There’s no question that these tiny tamales (aka Tamalitos) are small (dare we say “cute”?), but make no mistake, they are masterfully prepared, delicious, and packed with flavor.

The corn wrapping is well-textured and the flavor stands on it’s own, plus the meat mixture in the center is tender with well-balanced hints of spice and sweetness. Pair them with your favorite hot sauce and you’re in for a real treat. Pro-Tip: we recently discovered a Belizean hot sauce made from habanero pepper with a carrot base that is delish! We stocked up on a trip to Belize, but now learned that Amazon sells it! It’s made by a woman named Marie Sharp, and its not to be missed.

One note about the cooking preparations, the instructions say to remove these guys from their packaging, but obviously don’t remove the parchment paper. It’ll help retain moisture while cooking.

And whatever you do, don’t eat the parchment paper thinking it’s part of the Tamalitos. It’s textured, so we could understand the mistake. Ok, full disclosure, the first time we tried these, one of us tried to nibble on the parchment paper to see if it was edible. Oops!

All told, these Trader Joe’s Mini Chicken Tamalitos are a great appetizer, snack or mini lunch, and they’ve definitely secured a spot on our shopping list!

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Japanese-Style Beef and Vegetable Sukiyaki http://www.thetraderrater.com/japanese-style-beef-and-vegetable-sukiyaki/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/japanese-style-beef-and-vegetable-sukiyaki/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 22:51:59 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1855

The Trader Rater Rating: 5.78

Review Summary: Skimpy portions and preparation time aside, we were disappointed by this frozen dinner's fatty, stringy beef and oddly chewy veggies.

Full Review:

We love Japanese food. The careful preparation and simple, yet flavorful sauces always please our palate, and the meal is always a fun experience.

So when we saw this Japanese-style frozen dish from TJ’s, we had to give it a try. Unfortunately, we ran into a few critical issues.

First off, the instructions call for defrosting the ingredients for 2 hours. No typo – 2 hours. Seems a bit flawed from the start – if we had time and foresight to prepare 2 hours ahead, we probably wouldn’t be eating a frozen dinner.

Next up, we noted that the dish looked pretty unappetizing when cooking. Something about the fatty, stringy meat gave a hint that we might not like the final result.

As for the portion size, we’re not sure how this dish is classified as 4 servings. Perhaps if it’s a hint of an appetizer, it could work for 4 people, but we barely portioned out 2 servings (and, truthfully, only one of us ended up eating it – after the other didn’t want to finish – and it still wasn’t enough food).

Further, the vegetables were oddly chewy, and the meat was overly fatty and at the same time too thin to be enjoyable. As noted above, it was a little stringy too.

On the plus side, the sauce was sweet tasting and pleasant, and the noodles were surprisingly tasty. Sadly, that wasn’t enough to save this dish, and we’re going to steer clear on our future shopping trips.

Have you tried this Trader Joe’s Sukiyaki dish? If so, what did you think?

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The Trader Rater Rating: 5.78

Review Summary: Skimpy portions and preparation time aside, we were disappointed by this frozen dinner's fatty, stringy beef and oddly chewy veggies.

Full Review:

We love Japanese food. The careful preparation and simple, yet flavorful sauces always please our palate, and the meal is always a fun experience.

So when we saw this Japanese-style frozen dish from TJ’s, we had to give it a try. Unfortunately, we ran into a few critical issues.

First off, the instructions call for defrosting the ingredients for 2 hours. No typo – 2 hours. Seems a bit flawed from the start – if we had time and foresight to prepare 2 hours ahead, we probably wouldn’t be eating a frozen dinner.

Next up, we noted that the dish looked pretty unappetizing when cooking. Something about the fatty, stringy meat gave a hint that we might not like the final result.

As for the portion size, we’re not sure how this dish is classified as 4 servings. Perhaps if it’s a hint of an appetizer, it could work for 4 people, but we barely portioned out 2 servings (and, truthfully, only one of us ended up eating it – after the other didn’t want to finish – and it still wasn’t enough food).

Further, the vegetables were oddly chewy, and the meat was overly fatty and at the same time too thin to be enjoyable. As noted above, it was a little stringy too.

On the plus side, the sauce was sweet tasting and pleasant, and the noodles were surprisingly tasty. Sadly, that wasn’t enough to save this dish, and we’re going to steer clear on our future shopping trips.

Have you tried this Trader Joe’s Sukiyaki dish? If so, what did you think?

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Kung Pao Chicken http://www.thetraderrater.com/kung-pao-chicken/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/kung-pao-chicken/#respond Mon, 13 Jul 2015 19:32:46 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1822

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.46

Review Summary: With a flavorful sauce that's just the right amount of spicy and sweet, this Kung Pao frozen dinner has earned a spot on our Trader Joe's grocery list!

Full Review:

When we just can’t muster the courage to cook dinner, takeout has long been our go-to savior.

But too often, the resulting dinner has been uninspired with questionable nutritional value and food quality.

These days, we try our best to have a few TJ’s frozen dinner options on standby in our freezer. They’re reasonably priced, relatively easy to make and you know exactly what’s inside.

Plus, if you choose wisely, you’ll be cooking up a knockout dinner packed with flavor.

This Kung Pao Chicken is a great example. The sauce is flavorful, with a solid (but not intense) spice and the right amount of sweet.

The chicken was plentiful and mostly plump, though there were some tiny scraps of chicken mixed in there too. Thankfully, it cooks up very tender and soaks up the flavor of the sauce nicely.

From a texture perspective, the veggies keep their crisp for the most part, and the peanuts add a complex crunch to the dish.

If you’d like, you can add some white or brown rice to this dish to really round out the meal.

All told, we were very impressed with this dish, and it’s definitely earned a spot on our Trader Joe’s grocery list!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.46

Review Summary: With a flavorful sauce that's just the right amount of spicy and sweet, this Kung Pao frozen dinner has earned a spot on our Trader Joe's grocery list!

Full Review:

When we just can’t muster the courage to cook dinner, takeout has long been our go-to savior.

But too often, the resulting dinner has been uninspired with questionable nutritional value and food quality.

These days, we try our best to have a few TJ’s frozen dinner options on standby in our freezer. They’re reasonably priced, relatively easy to make and you know exactly what’s inside.

Plus, if you choose wisely, you’ll be cooking up a knockout dinner packed with flavor.

This Kung Pao Chicken is a great example. The sauce is flavorful, with a solid (but not intense) spice and the right amount of sweet.

The chicken was plentiful and mostly plump, though there were some tiny scraps of chicken mixed in there too. Thankfully, it cooks up very tender and soaks up the flavor of the sauce nicely.

From a texture perspective, the veggies keep their crisp for the most part, and the peanuts add a complex crunch to the dish.

If you’d like, you can add some white or brown rice to this dish to really round out the meal.

All told, we were very impressed with this dish, and it’s definitely earned a spot on our Trader Joe’s grocery list!

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Fruity O’s Cereal http://www.thetraderrater.com/fruity-os-cereal/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/fruity-os-cereal/#respond Fri, 26 Jun 2015 00:41:48 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1792

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.04

Review Summary: In our view, there are a few things wrong with this cereal. Slimy texture aside, the unsettling citrus flavor and overwhelming sweetness made these Fruity O's a rare disappointment.

Full Review:

We’ve been on a bit of a cereal kick, as we try to tackle the many many many breakfast options at our local Trader Joe’s.

So far it’s been a lot of good eats, with a few bumps in the road.

Unfortunately, these Fruity O’s are one of those rare misses – sadly we found them to a disappointment.

There’s a couple of things wrong with this cereal, most importantly, they’re not your typical “O’s”. That’s because this variety is mostly corn flower whereas traditional “O’s” are whole grain oats.

The result is that they get a bit slimy in milk, and don’t have that familiar crunch of oats.

Oddly enough, the O’s in the box don’t really look like the O’s on the box. The picture looks more like grain oats (varying and uneven in shape), but in actuality these O’s are puffed bigger and they look more stamped and uniform. You’ll see what we mean if you try them…

As for the flavor, we found this cereal to be sweeter than expected, and even though the color and flavoring is not artificial, it tasted a bit synthetic. Kind of like a lollypop.

We suspect that’s due to the citrus flavoring that gives the cereal (in our opinion) an unwelcome tang that lingers too long.

All told, we didn’t care for this cereal. Sure, it’s an improvement from traditional “fruit” “flavored” cereal that’s loaded with sugar, artificial ingredients and preservatives, but we can’t recommend it overall. In fact, it was a rare TJ’s purchase that we felt compelled to exchange (for a box of our “go-to” Triple Berry O’s, of course!).

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.04

Review Summary: In our view, there are a few things wrong with this cereal. Slimy texture aside, the unsettling citrus flavor and overwhelming sweetness made these Fruity O's a rare disappointment.

Full Review:

We’ve been on a bit of a cereal kick, as we try to tackle the many many many breakfast options at our local Trader Joe’s.

So far it’s been a lot of good eats, with a few bumps in the road.

Unfortunately, these Fruity O’s are one of those rare misses – sadly we found them to a disappointment.

There’s a couple of things wrong with this cereal, most importantly, they’re not your typical “O’s”. That’s because this variety is mostly corn flower whereas traditional “O’s” are whole grain oats.

The result is that they get a bit slimy in milk, and don’t have that familiar crunch of oats.

Oddly enough, the O’s in the box don’t really look like the O’s on the box. The picture looks more like grain oats (varying and uneven in shape), but in actuality these O’s are puffed bigger and they look more stamped and uniform. You’ll see what we mean if you try them…

As for the flavor, we found this cereal to be sweeter than expected, and even though the color and flavoring is not artificial, it tasted a bit synthetic. Kind of like a lollypop.

We suspect that’s due to the citrus flavoring that gives the cereal (in our opinion) an unwelcome tang that lingers too long.

All told, we didn’t care for this cereal. Sure, it’s an improvement from traditional “fruit” “flavored” cereal that’s loaded with sugar, artificial ingredients and preservatives, but we can’t recommend it overall. In fact, it was a rare TJ’s purchase that we felt compelled to exchange (for a box of our “go-to” Triple Berry O’s, of course!).

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Triple Berry-O’s Cereal http://www.thetraderrater.com/triple-berry-os-cereal/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/triple-berry-os-cereal/#respond Fri, 26 Jun 2015 00:05:53 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1789

The Trader Rater Rating: 9.62

Review Summary: These well-flavored and subtly sweet toasted O's are complimented by the tart freeze-dried berries to make this cereal a must have in our kitchen!

Full Review:

We’ve long believed that a nutritious, well rounded breakfast can make your day, and nothing gets us ready to tackle the to-do list like warm pancakes, a perfectly fried egg, or slow-cooked steel-cut oatmeal.

But some mornings, reality gets the best of us, and cereal is our best friend.

Thankfully, breakfast cereal doesn’t have to be boring to be healthy, and if you know where to look, you can hit that sweet spot between fun, flavor and nutrition.

Case in point: Triple Berry-O’s cereal from TJ’s. We always try to keep a box of these tasty honey oats on hand, and so far, they have yet to disappoint.

The toasted, puffed oats are honey-kissed for a hint of sweetness, and they stay crunchy in milk. The freeze dried berries are an added treat, and if you give them a few minutes to soak up the milk and reconstitute, they taste fresh and tart.

You can’t beat the convenience of cereal, and thanks to this O’s variety, you’ll have a hard time beating the nutritional value (and taste!) as well.

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The Trader Rater Rating: 9.62

Review Summary: These well-flavored and subtly sweet toasted O's are complimented by the tart freeze-dried berries to make this cereal a must have in our kitchen!

Full Review:

We’ve long believed that a nutritious, well rounded breakfast can make your day, and nothing gets us ready to tackle the to-do list like warm pancakes, a perfectly fried egg, or slow-cooked steel-cut oatmeal.

But some mornings, reality gets the best of us, and cereal is our best friend.

Thankfully, breakfast cereal doesn’t have to be boring to be healthy, and if you know where to look, you can hit that sweet spot between fun, flavor and nutrition.

Case in point: Triple Berry-O’s cereal from TJ’s. We always try to keep a box of these tasty honey oats on hand, and so far, they have yet to disappoint.

The toasted, puffed oats are honey-kissed for a hint of sweetness, and they stay crunchy in milk. The freeze dried berries are an added treat, and if you give them a few minutes to soak up the milk and reconstitute, they taste fresh and tart.

You can’t beat the convenience of cereal, and thanks to this O’s variety, you’ll have a hard time beating the nutritional value (and taste!) as well.

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Mexicaine Quiche http://www.thetraderrater.com/mexicaine-quiche/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/mexicaine-quiche/#respond Fri, 12 Jun 2015 22:00:18 +0000 https://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1760

The Trader Rater Rating: 9.26

Review Summary: With a hint of spiciness, and a near-perfect texture inside and out, this Mexican style quiche was a hit. Definitely a welcome addition to our Trader Joe's shopping list!

Full Review:

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and we’re always looking for fun ways to spice it up. We’ve been meaning to try our hand at baking a breakfast quiche, but the crust always holds us back. Even though it’s relatively easy to make pie crust, it seems like a stretch for an AM treat.

That said, we were exited when we stumbled upon these perfect-for-two Mexicaine Quiches in the freezer section of our local Trader Joe’s.

Obviously we had to try them.

The verdict? We’re happy to report these little egg pies were a hit, and they made for a tasty and festive breakfast. The crust was buttery and flaky in all the right ways, and the inside was fluffy, soft and well-textured.

As a note, we baked ours (we’re personally not fond of microwave cooking), and although it took close to 30 mins, the quiche came out smelling and tasting fresh made.

Another note, TJ’s has a few flavor options for these quiches, and while this one doesn’t call out “cheese” in the name, there is in fact Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese within. It was a bit of a surprise for us (that’ll teach us to read the ingredients first!).

We weren’t initially sure what to make of this particular flavor based on the name. What exactly is “Mexicaine”? Apparently, it is the feminine form of the word “Mexicain” which is the French word for “Mexican”. Get it? Quiche is French!

Anyway, the flavor has a hint of spiciness, which was a welcome – but certainly not overwhelming – kick of flavor. We thought there might just have been jalapeño flavor added, but upon closer inspection, we found small shreds of the pepper mixed in the egg mixture.

All told, we were very impressed with this eggy treat, and it’s a welcome addition to our freezer for those mornings when we’re looking for a fun way to kick start the day!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 9.26

Review Summary: With a hint of spiciness, and a near-perfect texture inside and out, this Mexican style quiche was a hit. Definitely a welcome addition to our Trader Joe's shopping list!

Full Review:

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and we’re always looking for fun ways to spice it up. We’ve been meaning to try our hand at baking a breakfast quiche, but the crust always holds us back. Even though it’s relatively easy to make pie crust, it seems like a stretch for an AM treat.

That said, we were exited when we stumbled upon these perfect-for-two Mexicaine Quiches in the freezer section of our local Trader Joe’s.

Obviously we had to try them.

The verdict? We’re happy to report these little egg pies were a hit, and they made for a tasty and festive breakfast. The crust was buttery and flaky in all the right ways, and the inside was fluffy, soft and well-textured.

As a note, we baked ours (we’re personally not fond of microwave cooking), and although it took close to 30 mins, the quiche came out smelling and tasting fresh made.

Another note, TJ’s has a few flavor options for these quiches, and while this one doesn’t call out “cheese” in the name, there is in fact Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese within. It was a bit of a surprise for us (that’ll teach us to read the ingredients first!).

We weren’t initially sure what to make of this particular flavor based on the name. What exactly is “Mexicaine”? Apparently, it is the feminine form of the word “Mexicain” which is the French word for “Mexican”. Get it? Quiche is French!

Anyway, the flavor has a hint of spiciness, which was a welcome – but certainly not overwhelming – kick of flavor. We thought there might just have been jalapeño flavor added, but upon closer inspection, we found small shreds of the pepper mixed in the egg mixture.

All told, we were very impressed with this eggy treat, and it’s a welcome addition to our freezer for those mornings when we’re looking for a fun way to kick start the day!

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Mozzarella & Tomato Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette http://www.thetraderrater.com/mozzarella-tomato-salad-balsamic-vinaigrette/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/mozzarella-tomato-salad-balsamic-vinaigrette/#respond Mon, 26 Jan 2015 23:12:24 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1516

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.82

Review Summary: This salad scored high marks for it's plentiful variety of greens, but lost points because of the odd addition of pungent green onions.

Full Review:

We’ve said it before that salad is an important part of our day. And thanks to the robust selection of pre-made salads at Trader Joe’s, you don’t need to shortchange your health or taste buds just because you’re short on time.

That said, while there are plenty of hits, there are also a few misses. This Mozzarella & Tomato Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing sits somewhere in between.

On the plus side, there’s a wide variety of leafy greens, and the spinach is a good addition in terms of flavor and nutrition.

The dressing is also sharp and flavorful, and it serves as a good compliment to the mozzarella and tomato.

On the negative side, the addition of green onions is a bit of a mystery – they really put a strong punctuation on the salad (not in a good way). While they are arguably tasty, the flavor really lingers longer than it should, making this salad a poor choice for school, work or any social gathering really. Also, if we’re being picky, the mozz could have used a touch more salt to dial up the flavor.

All in all, we enjoyed this salad, but we don’t rate it as highly as some of the other options we’ve tried.

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.82

Review Summary: This salad scored high marks for it's plentiful variety of greens, but lost points because of the odd addition of pungent green onions.

Full Review:

We’ve said it before that salad is an important part of our day. And thanks to the robust selection of pre-made salads at Trader Joe’s, you don’t need to shortchange your health or taste buds just because you’re short on time.

That said, while there are plenty of hits, there are also a few misses. This Mozzarella & Tomato Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing sits somewhere in between.

On the plus side, there’s a wide variety of leafy greens, and the spinach is a good addition in terms of flavor and nutrition.

The dressing is also sharp and flavorful, and it serves as a good compliment to the mozzarella and tomato.

On the negative side, the addition of green onions is a bit of a mystery – they really put a strong punctuation on the salad (not in a good way). While they are arguably tasty, the flavor really lingers longer than it should, making this salad a poor choice for school, work or any social gathering really. Also, if we’re being picky, the mozz could have used a touch more salt to dial up the flavor.

All in all, we enjoyed this salad, but we don’t rate it as highly as some of the other options we’ve tried.

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Bacon & Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing http://www.thetraderrater.com/bacon-spinach-salad-poppy-seed-dressing/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/bacon-spinach-salad-poppy-seed-dressing/#respond Mon, 26 Jan 2015 22:43:46 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1510

The Trader Rater Rating: 9.54

Review Summary: While it isn't the most nutritious salad option, we thoroughly enjoyed this salad. It was tasty, filling, and well-priced!

Full Review:

We’ve been working our way through the pre-made salad offering at our local Trader Joe’s, and while not every one has been a winner, we’re growing more and more impressed with their repertoire.

Mind you, these salads aren’t just a few greens thrown lazily together – we’re talking about a carefully curated collection of ingredients that would put some dine in restaurants to shame.

And you can’t beat the price! $4 to $5 for a salad that could easily feed 2 people? Don’t tell TJ’s, but we’ve seen people pay triple that for an equivalent salad.

This particular Bacon & Spinach Salad was by far our favorite so far – it really was delicious from start to finish.

The poppy seed dressing was sweet and creamy, and the addition of bacon to liven up the spinach was a true treat. Even the hard boiled egg was a welcome surprise, and it made the salad legitimately filling and well balanced.

As for nutrition stats, this salad did tip the scales a bit, but there are tradeoffs for prime deliciousness.

Worth noting, we were pleased that TJ’s didn’t sneak in any onions, scallions or similarly pungent flavors like we’ve seen in some other salads. Thankfully, this salad won’t linger for the rest of the day, which makes it the perfect tag along for school or the office.

We’re definitely impressed with this salad, and it’s definitely on our “Scan It” list!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 9.54

Review Summary: While it isn't the most nutritious salad option, we thoroughly enjoyed this salad. It was tasty, filling, and well-priced!

Full Review:

We’ve been working our way through the pre-made salad offering at our local Trader Joe’s, and while not every one has been a winner, we’re growing more and more impressed with their repertoire.

Mind you, these salads aren’t just a few greens thrown lazily together – we’re talking about a carefully curated collection of ingredients that would put some dine in restaurants to shame.

And you can’t beat the price! $4 to $5 for a salad that could easily feed 2 people? Don’t tell TJ’s, but we’ve seen people pay triple that for an equivalent salad.

This particular Bacon & Spinach Salad was by far our favorite so far – it really was delicious from start to finish.

The poppy seed dressing was sweet and creamy, and the addition of bacon to liven up the spinach was a true treat. Even the hard boiled egg was a welcome surprise, and it made the salad legitimately filling and well balanced.

As for nutrition stats, this salad did tip the scales a bit, but there are tradeoffs for prime deliciousness.

Worth noting, we were pleased that TJ’s didn’t sneak in any onions, scallions or similarly pungent flavors like we’ve seen in some other salads. Thankfully, this salad won’t linger for the rest of the day, which makes it the perfect tag along for school or the office.

We’re definitely impressed with this salad, and it’s definitely on our “Scan It” list!

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Trader Joe’s Parsnips http://www.thetraderrater.com/trader-joes-parsnips/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/trader-joes-parsnips/#respond Tue, 20 Jan 2015 22:12:47 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1494

The Trader Rater Rating: 9.42

Review Summary: These parsnips were sweet, nutty, and the perfect addition to our Winter Vegetable Soup. We dig 'em! (Get it??)

Full Review:

We’ll be honest, parsnips are the kind of veggies we don’t often buy. There’s really only one or two times a year that you’ll find them in our shopping cart, and it’s probably because a soup or stew recipe calls for it. Maybe they just need a better marketing campaign. Or a good scandal (#Parsnipocalypse??). We digress…

Point is, the parsnip is an oft underutilized root vegetable, but it has a surprising sweetness and snap to it, and it compliments carrots and other roasted vegetables nicely. We used ours in a Winter Vegetable Soup with delicious results (recipe from Cooks.com here).

They soaked up the flavoring of the beef broth and spices, and gave the soup a nutty, sweet taste that tied the dish together perfectly.

Worth noting, these parsnips weren’t organic – we couldn’t find the organic equivalent at our local TJ’s. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as parsnips aren’t on EWG’s Dirty Dozen or Clean Fifteen (a handy resource to keep on hand while shopping).

All told, we liked these Trader Joe’s Parsnips. They were clean, well sized, firm, ripe, and at $1.79, a good deal. Maybe this is the year of the Parsnip afterall.

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The Trader Rater Rating: 9.42

Review Summary: These parsnips were sweet, nutty, and the perfect addition to our Winter Vegetable Soup. We dig 'em! (Get it??)

Full Review:

We’ll be honest, parsnips are the kind of veggies we don’t often buy. There’s really only one or two times a year that you’ll find them in our shopping cart, and it’s probably because a soup or stew recipe calls for it. Maybe they just need a better marketing campaign. Or a good scandal (#Parsnipocalypse??). We digress…

Point is, the parsnip is an oft underutilized root vegetable, but it has a surprising sweetness and snap to it, and it compliments carrots and other roasted vegetables nicely. We used ours in a Winter Vegetable Soup with delicious results (recipe from Cooks.com here).

They soaked up the flavoring of the beef broth and spices, and gave the soup a nutty, sweet taste that tied the dish together perfectly.

Worth noting, these parsnips weren’t organic – we couldn’t find the organic equivalent at our local TJ’s. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as parsnips aren’t on EWG’s Dirty Dozen or Clean Fifteen (a handy resource to keep on hand while shopping).

All told, we liked these Trader Joe’s Parsnips. They were clean, well sized, firm, ripe, and at $1.79, a good deal. Maybe this is the year of the Parsnip afterall.

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Trader Giotto’s Panettone Classico http://www.thetraderrater.com/trader-giottos-panettone-classico/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/trader-giottos-panettone-classico/#respond Wed, 31 Dec 2014 19:07:31 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1449

The Trader Rater Rating: 9.88

Review Summary: This adorable Panettone is the perfect little Christmas treat. With a well-balanced flavor and texture, this sweet bread scored high marks in our review.

Full Review:

Stories of the origin of Panettone are as plentiful as the pieces of dried and candied fruit inside of this Holiday treat. This much is certain: the rich bread dates back to the Middle Ages as a Christmas staple, and it originated in Italy.

You know Christmas season is in full swing when bakeries and grocery stores are stacked with basketball-sized boxes of this tasty treat, but we were excited to find a diminutive version at our local TJ’s. Frankly, we’ve never seen one so small, so obviously we had to give it a try!

So what was our take? The first thing we noted is that this little bread is adorable – it really is the perfect size to enjoy on your own, or with a friend. Secondly, it smells delicious – sweet and doughy in all the right ways.

As for the taste, it has a really well-balanced flavor – it’s not too sweet, and it’s very light, moist and fluffy. Bonus points for good raisin and dried fruit distribution, with just the right amount so as not to overwhelm the bread.

All told, we thoroughly enjoyed this “Panettoncino” and will definitely be adding it to our Christmas tradition moving forward!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 9.88

Review Summary: This adorable Panettone is the perfect little Christmas treat. With a well-balanced flavor and texture, this sweet bread scored high marks in our review.

Full Review:

Stories of the origin of Panettone are as plentiful as the pieces of dried and candied fruit inside of this Holiday treat. This much is certain: the rich bread dates back to the Middle Ages as a Christmas staple, and it originated in Italy.

You know Christmas season is in full swing when bakeries and grocery stores are stacked with basketball-sized boxes of this tasty treat, but we were excited to find a diminutive version at our local TJ’s. Frankly, we’ve never seen one so small, so obviously we had to give it a try!

So what was our take? The first thing we noted is that this little bread is adorable – it really is the perfect size to enjoy on your own, or with a friend. Secondly, it smells delicious – sweet and doughy in all the right ways.

As for the taste, it has a really well-balanced flavor – it’s not too sweet, and it’s very light, moist and fluffy. Bonus points for good raisin and dried fruit distribution, with just the right amount so as not to overwhelm the bread.

All told, we thoroughly enjoyed this “Panettoncino” and will definitely be adding it to our Christmas tradition moving forward!

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Fully Cooked Spiral Sliced Uncured Ham http://www.thetraderrater.com/fully-cooked-spiral-sliced-uncured-ham/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/fully-cooked-spiral-sliced-uncured-ham/#comments Wed, 24 Dec 2014 20:38:45 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1427

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.9

Review Summary: This Uncured Ham was a pleasant surprise. It was tender, not overly salty, and very flavorful - with a touch of sweetness. The perfect Christmas treat!

Full Review:

We love the Christmas holiday season. It’s the perfect time to reconnect with friends and family, and, of course, there’s so much festive food to enjoy.

In our opinion, when the nights grow long and the air gets chilly, nothing brings out the holiday spirit like a roasted ham for dinner.

This year was the first time we tested a ham roast from TJ’s – usually we opt for one of our tried-and-true online purveyors. But you can’t beat the in-store convenience, and this ham has all the right attributes: uncured (i.e. no nitrates), no antibiotics, no hormones and never fed animal by-products.

It’s also priced right – at $4.99 per pound. (Even though there’s a sizable bone included, it’s a deal)

We ended up snagging the last Spiral Sliced Ham from our local Trader Joe’s, and it was a beast – weighing in at 10.57 lbs. Much more than we needed, but who doesn’t love leftovers?!

So, what did we think? For some reason, we had low expectations, but we dead wrong – this ham was delicious! It may very well have been the best Spiral Sliced Ham we’ve ever cooked! It was tender, not overly salty, and very flavorful – with a touch of sweetness.

One criticism: the spiral cuts only went down about 1″ into the ham, so it was more “spiral scored” than it was “spiral sliced”. It actually made it harder to cut. But we’re thinking this was actually a mistake, and that other TJ hams had their slices all the way to the bone (feel free to weigh in if you’ve experienced the same).

All told, we’re definitely fans of this Uncured Ham, and we’ll be back next year for our holiday feast. As for now, we’re looking forward to a few weeks worth of ham and eggs, ham sandwiches, and whatever else we can think to cook up with the leftovers (recipes welcome!).

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.9

Review Summary: This Uncured Ham was a pleasant surprise. It was tender, not overly salty, and very flavorful - with a touch of sweetness. The perfect Christmas treat!

Full Review:

We love the Christmas holiday season. It’s the perfect time to reconnect with friends and family, and, of course, there’s so much festive food to enjoy.

In our opinion, when the nights grow long and the air gets chilly, nothing brings out the holiday spirit like a roasted ham for dinner.

This year was the first time we tested a ham roast from TJ’s – usually we opt for one of our tried-and-true online purveyors. But you can’t beat the in-store convenience, and this ham has all the right attributes: uncured (i.e. no nitrates), no antibiotics, no hormones and never fed animal by-products.

It’s also priced right – at $4.99 per pound. (Even though there’s a sizable bone included, it’s a deal)

We ended up snagging the last Spiral Sliced Ham from our local Trader Joe’s, and it was a beast – weighing in at 10.57 lbs. Much more than we needed, but who doesn’t love leftovers?!

So, what did we think? For some reason, we had low expectations, but we dead wrong – this ham was delicious! It may very well have been the best Spiral Sliced Ham we’ve ever cooked! It was tender, not overly salty, and very flavorful – with a touch of sweetness.

One criticism: the spiral cuts only went down about 1″ into the ham, so it was more “spiral scored” than it was “spiral sliced”. It actually made it harder to cut. But we’re thinking this was actually a mistake, and that other TJ hams had their slices all the way to the bone (feel free to weigh in if you’ve experienced the same).

All told, we’re definitely fans of this Uncured Ham, and we’ll be back next year for our holiday feast. As for now, we’re looking forward to a few weeks worth of ham and eggs, ham sandwiches, and whatever else we can think to cook up with the leftovers (recipes welcome!).

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Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Minty Mallows http://www.thetraderrater.com/trader-joes-dark-chocolate-minty-mallows/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/trader-joes-dark-chocolate-minty-mallows/#respond Fri, 19 Dec 2014 00:21:39 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1463

The Trader Rater Rating: 9.56

Review Summary: If you're a fan of peppermint and chocolate, these tasty morsels are not to be missed. The cool minty flavor makes for a delightful winter treat.

Full Review:

Holiday grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s is a special joy for us – so many new treats to try! It seems every year the TJ’s team cooks up more and more unique and festive items that we can’t resist.

One perfect example: these Dark Chocolate Minty Mallows. Peppermint flavored marshmallows coated in dark chocolate?

Ummm, yes please!

If you like peppermint and chocolate, these tasty morsels are not to be missed. The chocolate shell is light and delicate, and the marshmallow within is dense and gummy in all the right ways. And these babies are really packed with peppermint flavor – like chewy Peppermint Patties.

Opting for dark chocolate was a great choice – it makes for a noticeable compliment to the cool minty punch. The result is a really sophisticated treat.

We’re clearly sold on these treats, and at $2.99, we stocked up on a few boxes. Aside from a decadent snack for yourself, they make for great little gifts and party treats.

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The Trader Rater Rating: 9.56

Review Summary: If you're a fan of peppermint and chocolate, these tasty morsels are not to be missed. The cool minty flavor makes for a delightful winter treat.

Full Review:

Holiday grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s is a special joy for us – so many new treats to try! It seems every year the TJ’s team cooks up more and more unique and festive items that we can’t resist.

One perfect example: these Dark Chocolate Minty Mallows. Peppermint flavored marshmallows coated in dark chocolate?

Ummm, yes please!

If you like peppermint and chocolate, these tasty morsels are not to be missed. The chocolate shell is light and delicate, and the marshmallow within is dense and gummy in all the right ways. And these babies are really packed with peppermint flavor – like chewy Peppermint Patties.

Opting for dark chocolate was a great choice – it makes for a noticeable compliment to the cool minty punch. The result is a really sophisticated treat.

We’re clearly sold on these treats, and at $2.99, we stocked up on a few boxes. Aside from a decadent snack for yourself, they make for great little gifts and party treats.

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Fruit Bar with Flax and Chia Seeds http://www.thetraderrater.com/fruit-bar-flax-chia-seeds/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/fruit-bar-flax-chia-seeds/#comments Sat, 13 Dec 2014 22:10:54 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1407

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.72

Review Summary: Packed with fiber and Omega 3 Fatty Acids, these little Fruit Bars are a satisfying treat to help get you to your next meal.

Full Review:

We often find ourselves looking for a snack during the day, and it’s far too easy to go hungry or fill our void with a bag of chips, a cookie or something equally dreadful. But we’re happy to report that we’re making a commitment to be more responsible – by stocking up on dried fruits, nuts and other reasonably healthy items to keep on hand to quell the beast that is our appetites.

Thankfully, TJ’s has a ton of fun snack items to explore, and we’re discovering new treats with each visit. Case in point, this Fruit Bar with Flax and Chia Seeds. Think fruit bars are just for kids? Think again. This item is packed with fiber (and flavor), and despite its diminutive size, it’s rather filling – thanks to the expansion and appetite suppression qualities you get from Chia seeds.

We weren’t sure what to expect from the texture (there’s a lot of seeds in there!), but we were pleasantly surprised. It’s a little bit crunchy, a little bit gummy, and very satisfying. Also, it’s sweet but not too much so – it’s flavored with a bunch of different fruits but has no added sugar.

This snack is a real powerhouse – in addition to being a good source of fiber, it has 1,000mg of Omega 3 Fatty Acids per bar – and let’s face it, we could all probably use more of that in our diet.

All in all, we really enjoyed these Fruit Bars!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.72

Review Summary: Packed with fiber and Omega 3 Fatty Acids, these little Fruit Bars are a satisfying treat to help get you to your next meal.

Full Review:

We often find ourselves looking for a snack during the day, and it’s far too easy to go hungry or fill our void with a bag of chips, a cookie or something equally dreadful. But we’re happy to report that we’re making a commitment to be more responsible – by stocking up on dried fruits, nuts and other reasonably healthy items to keep on hand to quell the beast that is our appetites.

Thankfully, TJ’s has a ton of fun snack items to explore, and we’re discovering new treats with each visit. Case in point, this Fruit Bar with Flax and Chia Seeds. Think fruit bars are just for kids? Think again. This item is packed with fiber (and flavor), and despite its diminutive size, it’s rather filling – thanks to the expansion and appetite suppression qualities you get from Chia seeds.

We weren’t sure what to expect from the texture (there’s a lot of seeds in there!), but we were pleasantly surprised. It’s a little bit crunchy, a little bit gummy, and very satisfying. Also, it’s sweet but not too much so – it’s flavored with a bunch of different fruits but has no added sugar.

This snack is a real powerhouse – in addition to being a good source of fiber, it has 1,000mg of Omega 3 Fatty Acids per bar – and let’s face it, we could all probably use more of that in our diet.

All in all, we really enjoyed these Fruit Bars!

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Oatmeal & Honey Pure Vegetable Soap http://www.thetraderrater.com/oatmeal-honey-pure-vegetable-soap/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/oatmeal-honey-pure-vegetable-soap/#respond Sat, 13 Dec 2014 20:27:30 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1390

The Trader Rater Rating: 9.4166666666667

Review Summary: We simply loved the fragrance of this soap. The worry-free ingredients and undeniable value didn't hurt either!

Full Review:

Oatmeal & Honey Pure Vegetable Soap from Trader Joe'sWe’ve been on a bit of a soap kick lately, as we’re on the lookout for more healthy bath and body products to replace some of the more questionable products we’ve been buying for far too long. Thankfully the options at TJ’s are a bit of a no-brainer, as many of their their soap options hit the right balance between price and non-frightening ingredients. This product is no exception.

We particularly liked this soap because the fragrance is downright delicious. It has a faint, sweet honey and beeswax smell mixed with a tinge of oatmeal. It’s really quite enjoyable, and importantly, it doesn’t smell synthetic and it doesn’t overpower.

We also like that the ingredients list is short and mostly understandable. We’re not scientists, so we did have to look up some of the more foreign sounding ingredients, but thankfully what we found was understandable and mostly innocuous.

Here’s a summary of our findings:

Sodium Palmate: a surfactant and emulsifying agent (i.e. key soap ingredient). Sodium Palmate is the end product of Saponification – the process whereby palm oil is treated with sodium hydroxide.

Sodium Palm Kernelate: also derived from the process of Saponification. Sodium Palm Kernelate is a sodium salt of the acids derived from Palm Oil (AKA palm kernel oil).

Sodium Chloride: salt.

Pentasodium Pentetate: an inorganic salt that binds metal, and inactivates metallic ions in order to enhance foaming and cleaning, and to prevent soap ingredients from remaining on your skin after use.

In addition to the mostly worry-free ingredients list, we appreciated that this soap was made without animal by-products or animal testing. We also liked how it didn’t dry out our skin and washed away cleanly without residue. Plus, you simply cannot beat the price – we picked up a 2-bar pack and it cost roughly $1 a bar.

All told, we’re fans of this soap. It’s fragrance gives it a slight edge over Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Oil Soap, and it’s value is undeniable. We’ll be back!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 9.4166666666667

Review Summary: We simply loved the fragrance of this soap. The worry-free ingredients and undeniable value didn't hurt either!

Full Review:

Oatmeal & Honey Pure Vegetable Soap from Trader Joe'sWe’ve been on a bit of a soap kick lately, as we’re on the lookout for more healthy bath and body products to replace some of the more questionable products we’ve been buying for far too long. Thankfully the options at TJ’s are a bit of a no-brainer, as many of their their soap options hit the right balance between price and non-frightening ingredients. This product is no exception.

We particularly liked this soap because the fragrance is downright delicious. It has a faint, sweet honey and beeswax smell mixed with a tinge of oatmeal. It’s really quite enjoyable, and importantly, it doesn’t smell synthetic and it doesn’t overpower.

We also like that the ingredients list is short and mostly understandable. We’re not scientists, so we did have to look up some of the more foreign sounding ingredients, but thankfully what we found was understandable and mostly innocuous.

Here’s a summary of our findings:

Sodium Palmate: a surfactant and emulsifying agent (i.e. key soap ingredient). Sodium Palmate is the end product of Saponification – the process whereby palm oil is treated with sodium hydroxide.

Sodium Palm Kernelate: also derived from the process of Saponification. Sodium Palm Kernelate is a sodium salt of the acids derived from Palm Oil (AKA palm kernel oil).

Sodium Chloride: salt.

Pentasodium Pentetate: an inorganic salt that binds metal, and inactivates metallic ions in order to enhance foaming and cleaning, and to prevent soap ingredients from remaining on your skin after use.

In addition to the mostly worry-free ingredients list, we appreciated that this soap was made without animal by-products or animal testing. We also liked how it didn’t dry out our skin and washed away cleanly without residue. Plus, you simply cannot beat the price – we picked up a 2-bar pack and it cost roughly $1 a bar.

All told, we’re fans of this soap. It’s fragrance gives it a slight edge over Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Oil Soap, and it’s value is undeniable. We’ll be back!

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Tea Tree Oil Pure Vegetable Soap http://www.thetraderrater.com/tea-tree-oil-pure-vegetable-soap/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/tea-tree-oil-pure-vegetable-soap/#respond Sat, 13 Dec 2014 19:48:16 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1374

The Trader Rater Rating: 9.2166666666667

Review Summary: Though we had to look up some of the ingredients from this soap (don't worry, they're mostly harmless!), we liked the fragrance and performance of this soap. And at $1 per bar, it's a steal!

Full Review:

Tea Tree Oil Pure Vegetable Soap from Trader Joe'sAs we’ve previously mentioned, we’ve firmly decided to be more conscious of the bath and body products we use – in an effort to reduce our chemical intake and live a little cleaner (no pun intended. Ok, maybe a little). Truthfully, there are enough easy options out there if you’re looking for healthier products and don’t break the bank. This soap hits that category squarely.

First off, the soap comes in a 2 bar pack – and it’s priced at about $1 per bar. Right there that’s a steal. Secondly, it’s produced without animal by-products and it’s not tested on animals. That’s a plus in our book.

Next up, the ingredients list. Thankfully, it’s short (only 7 ingredients) and mostly understandable. Truthfully, it’s not as short as the 5 ingredients in our go-to Trader Joe’s soap, but still, short is good. We admittedly did have to look up a few ingredients to confirm their origin and toxicity, but we were mostly pleased with our findings.

Here’s the short list:

Sodium Palmate: a surfactant and emulsifying agent (i.e. key soap ingredient). Sodium Palmate is the end product of Saponification – the process whereby palm oil is treated with sodium hydroxide.

Sodium Palm Kernelate: also derived from the process of Saponification. Sodium Palm Kernelate is a sodium salt of the acids derived from Palm Oil (AKA palm kernel oil).

Sodium Chloride: salt.

Pentasodium Pentetate: an inorganic salt that binds metal, and inactivates metallic ions in order to enhance foaming and cleaning, and to prevent soap ingredients from remaining on your skin after use.

All told, the list of ingredients sound rather innocuous, but that’s for you to judge for yourself. As for the performance of the soap overall, we really liked the light, tea tree oil fragrance – it wasn’t overpowering and didn’t linger unnaturally. We also found that the soap provided adequate moisture and left our skin feeling soft and clean with no residue (thanks, Pentasodium Pentetate!).

Point is, we’ll be stocking up on this soap again!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 9.2166666666667

Review Summary: Though we had to look up some of the ingredients from this soap (don't worry, they're mostly harmless!), we liked the fragrance and performance of this soap. And at $1 per bar, it's a steal!

Full Review:

Tea Tree Oil Pure Vegetable Soap from Trader Joe'sAs we’ve previously mentioned, we’ve firmly decided to be more conscious of the bath and body products we use – in an effort to reduce our chemical intake and live a little cleaner (no pun intended. Ok, maybe a little). Truthfully, there are enough easy options out there if you’re looking for healthier products and don’t break the bank. This soap hits that category squarely.

First off, the soap comes in a 2 bar pack – and it’s priced at about $1 per bar. Right there that’s a steal. Secondly, it’s produced without animal by-products and it’s not tested on animals. That’s a plus in our book.

Next up, the ingredients list. Thankfully, it’s short (only 7 ingredients) and mostly understandable. Truthfully, it’s not as short as the 5 ingredients in our go-to Trader Joe’s soap, but still, short is good. We admittedly did have to look up a few ingredients to confirm their origin and toxicity, but we were mostly pleased with our findings.

Here’s the short list:

Sodium Palmate: a surfactant and emulsifying agent (i.e. key soap ingredient). Sodium Palmate is the end product of Saponification – the process whereby palm oil is treated with sodium hydroxide.

Sodium Palm Kernelate: also derived from the process of Saponification. Sodium Palm Kernelate is a sodium salt of the acids derived from Palm Oil (AKA palm kernel oil).

Sodium Chloride: salt.

Pentasodium Pentetate: an inorganic salt that binds metal, and inactivates metallic ions in order to enhance foaming and cleaning, and to prevent soap ingredients from remaining on your skin after use.

All told, the list of ingredients sound rather innocuous, but that’s for you to judge for yourself. As for the performance of the soap overall, we really liked the light, tea tree oil fragrance – it wasn’t overpowering and didn’t linger unnaturally. We also found that the soap provided adequate moisture and left our skin feeling soft and clean with no residue (thanks, Pentasodium Pentetate!).

Point is, we’ll be stocking up on this soap again!

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Trader Joe’s Real Mistletoe http://www.thetraderrater.com/trader-joes-real-mistletoe/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/trader-joes-real-mistletoe/#respond Mon, 08 Dec 2014 23:01:12 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1461

The Trader Rater Rating: 9.85

Review Summary: This real mistletoe was a novelty for us, and it definitely didn't disappoint. Plus, at $1.99 it's a steal!

Full Review:

Real Mistletoe from Trader Joe'sFull disclosure, we’ve never seen real mistletoe before. Truthfully, we didn’t actually know it was something you could easily buy. Sure, we already have a cheap plastic representation of mistletoe, but it was a nice surprise to stumble upon this item at our local TJ’s so we could check out the real deal.

As with most holiday traditions, there’s plenty of stories about the origin of this holiday adornment, but one thing’s for sure – if you find yourself underneath a sprig of mistletoe, somebody owes you a kiss.

So what did we think of this Trader Joe’s product? In short, what’s not to love?! The little bundle is the perfect size for hanging, and it even comes attached to some bendable wire for easy installation. Also worth noting, it has a faint, herb-like aroma (it’s really only noticeable when you’re up close), and it is very very green – so much so that we wonder if it’s been dipped, sprayed or painted to augment the color.

All told, we had a lot of fun with our mistletoe, and we’ll be sure to grab a fresh batch next time Christmas rolls around. Plus, at $1.99, you can afford to get one for every doorway in your house! That’ll sure brighten up your spirits!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 9.85

Review Summary: This real mistletoe was a novelty for us, and it definitely didn't disappoint. Plus, at $1.99 it's a steal!

Full Review:

Real Mistletoe from Trader Joe'sFull disclosure, we’ve never seen real mistletoe before. Truthfully, we didn’t actually know it was something you could easily buy. Sure, we already have a cheap plastic representation of mistletoe, but it was a nice surprise to stumble upon this item at our local TJ’s so we could check out the real deal.

As with most holiday traditions, there’s plenty of stories about the origin of this holiday adornment, but one thing’s for sure – if you find yourself underneath a sprig of mistletoe, somebody owes you a kiss.

So what did we think of this Trader Joe’s product? In short, what’s not to love?! The little bundle is the perfect size for hanging, and it even comes attached to some bendable wire for easy installation. Also worth noting, it has a faint, herb-like aroma (it’s really only noticeable when you’re up close), and it is very very green – so much so that we wonder if it’s been dipped, sprayed or painted to augment the color.

All told, we had a lot of fun with our mistletoe, and we’ll be sure to grab a fresh batch next time Christmas rolls around. Plus, at $1.99, you can afford to get one for every doorway in your house! That’ll sure brighten up your spirits!

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Dried Flattened Banana http://www.thetraderrater.com/dried-flattened-banana/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/dried-flattened-banana/#respond Wed, 03 Dec 2014 02:24:38 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1321

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.58

Review Summary: Though we weren't initially sure what to make of these dried flattened bananas, we found them to be tasty and fun to eat. We'll definitely be back!

Full Review:

Trader Joe’s has an amazing dried fruit and nut section. The options are endless, and if we’re being honest, there’s plenty of stuff we’ve never heard of (Jackfruit??) – but are still dying to try.

Case in point, amongst the staples like dried pineapples, raisins, prunes, and pumpkin seeds, we found a package of Dried Flattened Banana. We weren’t quite sure what to make of this product – it looks kind of like melted bananas that have been left out for too long.

Sure, we’ve had dried banana pieces before, but we’ve never seen them packaged like this before – cut lengthwise and mushed up together. But, heck, we’ll try anything once!

Presentation aside, these were a treat – and definitely a worthwhile purchase.

Turns out the long banana slices (mostly) peel apart cleanly, so you’ve got a bunch of flat, thin banana fruit roll ups. In terms of their taste, they are a bit overripe, but you probably can’t dry bananas and maintain that perfectly ripe banana taste.

As with most dried fruits and nuts, these make for a great, healthy snack, and would be perfect in the classroom, on the trail, or on the road (as long as the driver has someone to pull the slices apart – safety first!). We rate this item a solid buy – we’ll definitely be back!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.58

Review Summary: Though we weren't initially sure what to make of these dried flattened bananas, we found them to be tasty and fun to eat. We'll definitely be back!

Full Review:

Trader Joe’s has an amazing dried fruit and nut section. The options are endless, and if we’re being honest, there’s plenty of stuff we’ve never heard of (Jackfruit??) – but are still dying to try.

Case in point, amongst the staples like dried pineapples, raisins, prunes, and pumpkin seeds, we found a package of Dried Flattened Banana. We weren’t quite sure what to make of this product – it looks kind of like melted bananas that have been left out for too long.

Sure, we’ve had dried banana pieces before, but we’ve never seen them packaged like this before – cut lengthwise and mushed up together. But, heck, we’ll try anything once!

Presentation aside, these were a treat – and definitely a worthwhile purchase.

Turns out the long banana slices (mostly) peel apart cleanly, so you’ve got a bunch of flat, thin banana fruit roll ups. In terms of their taste, they are a bit overripe, but you probably can’t dry bananas and maintain that perfectly ripe banana taste.

As with most dried fruits and nuts, these make for a great, healthy snack, and would be perfect in the classroom, on the trail, or on the road (as long as the driver has someone to pull the slices apart – safety first!). We rate this item a solid buy – we’ll definitely be back!

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Spicy California Rolls http://www.thetraderrater.com/spicy-california-rolls/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/spicy-california-rolls/#respond Wed, 03 Dec 2014 02:16:59 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1315

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.58

Review Summary: With a tasty and well-portioned filling and flavorful rice, these Trader Joe's Spicy California Rolls were a pleasant surprise.

Full Review:

We’re huge fans of sushi. It makes for a great lunch, dinner, snack or appetizer. And it’s the perfect take-out to eat on the go – great for road trips, picnics, eating on the subway, or sneaking into movie theaters (for shame!).

Problem is, as easy as it seems to make sushi, there’s a plenty of room for error, and a lot of factors for goodness: fish freshness, rice doneness and seasoning, and rice-to-filling ratio to name a few. Point is, buying sushi can be a minefield – especially when it is pre-packaged.

That said, we are happy to report that we were pleasantly surprised with these Trader Joe’s Spicy California Rolls. Of course, we weren’t necessarily expecting gourmet sushi, but it was better than we anticipated for sure.

Though it was a bit light on “spicy”, the filling was well-flavored and well-portioned. You could tell the rice was properly prepared with rice vinegar, and the 2 kinds of sesame seeds sprinkled on the outside added a nice pop of flavor. Sure, the rice was a tiny bit gummy, but you have to expect that from anything but fresh rolled sushi.

Worth noting, even the included packets of pickled ginger and organic wasabi were better than we’ve had some legit sushi restaurants. All told, we’re quite pleased with this TJ product and we’ll definitely buy them again – next time we might even wait until we get home to polish them off!

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.58

Review Summary: With a tasty and well-portioned filling and flavorful rice, these Trader Joe's Spicy California Rolls were a pleasant surprise.

Full Review:

We’re huge fans of sushi. It makes for a great lunch, dinner, snack or appetizer. And it’s the perfect take-out to eat on the go – great for road trips, picnics, eating on the subway, or sneaking into movie theaters (for shame!).

Problem is, as easy as it seems to make sushi, there’s a plenty of room for error, and a lot of factors for goodness: fish freshness, rice doneness and seasoning, and rice-to-filling ratio to name a few. Point is, buying sushi can be a minefield – especially when it is pre-packaged.

That said, we are happy to report that we were pleasantly surprised with these Trader Joe’s Spicy California Rolls. Of course, we weren’t necessarily expecting gourmet sushi, but it was better than we anticipated for sure.

Though it was a bit light on “spicy”, the filling was well-flavored and well-portioned. You could tell the rice was properly prepared with rice vinegar, and the 2 kinds of sesame seeds sprinkled on the outside added a nice pop of flavor. Sure, the rice was a tiny bit gummy, but you have to expect that from anything but fresh rolled sushi.

Worth noting, even the included packets of pickled ginger and organic wasabi were better than we’ve had some legit sushi restaurants. All told, we’re quite pleased with this TJ product and we’ll definitely buy them again – next time we might even wait until we get home to polish them off!

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Shrimp Stir-Fry with Gourmet Pepper Seasoning http://www.thetraderrater.com/shrimp-stir-fry-gourmet-pepper-seasoning/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/shrimp-stir-fry-gourmet-pepper-seasoning/#respond Sun, 30 Nov 2014 20:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1301

The Trader Rater Rating: 5.2

Review Summary: Though it was easy to prepare, we found this stir-fry to be light on shrimp and heavy on limp, filler veggies. The "gourmet pepper seasoning" was also a bit of a let down. You're better off making your own stir-fry.

Full Review:

Who doesn’t like a good stir-fry dinner? It’s one of the easiest dishes to make – just chop up a bunch of veggies, throw them in a pan with some seasoning and toss!

It’s also one of those recipes that doesn’t require you to go by the book – a little of this, a bit of that and you’re done. You like it savory? Add some soy sauce. You like it sweet? Add some teriyaki.

Or get fancy with some sriracha sauce, peanut sauce, hoisin sauce or oyster sauce – the options are endless!

Consequently, because it’s such a quick dish, we were skeptical buying this frozen Shrimp Stir-Fry dish from TJ’s – though the “gourmet pepper seasoning” did pique our interest.

Sadly, this was a mostly disappointing purchase. Aside from the fact what we almost set our kitchen on fire preparing the dish (see Cooking Notes above), we found the stir-fry to be light on shrimp and heavy on filler veggies like the stalk part of the broccoli and water chestnuts. The veggies also were limp and a bit waterlogged. On the plus side, the shrimps were tasty (though a bit salty).

As for the gourmet seasoning? It’s basically a black pepper blend, and it’s kind of one dimensional. We would have preferred a sauce – even if it were a butter or soy sauce. Also, if you plan to make this into a main dish, you’ll need to add in some rice or pasta – the stir-fry can’t really stand on it’s own.

All told, we won’t be buying this item again. You’re better buying a bag of frozen uncooked shrimp (which we find to be a great time- and money-saver compared to fresh shrimp) and making your own stir-fry from scratch. Point is, you’re not saving much time with this frozen stir-fry, and the sacrifice in flavor and quality isn’t worth the time saved.

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The Trader Rater Rating: 5.2

Review Summary: Though it was easy to prepare, we found this stir-fry to be light on shrimp and heavy on limp, filler veggies. The "gourmet pepper seasoning" was also a bit of a let down. You're better off making your own stir-fry.

Full Review:

Who doesn’t like a good stir-fry dinner? It’s one of the easiest dishes to make – just chop up a bunch of veggies, throw them in a pan with some seasoning and toss!

It’s also one of those recipes that doesn’t require you to go by the book – a little of this, a bit of that and you’re done. You like it savory? Add some soy sauce. You like it sweet? Add some teriyaki.

Or get fancy with some sriracha sauce, peanut sauce, hoisin sauce or oyster sauce – the options are endless!

Consequently, because it’s such a quick dish, we were skeptical buying this frozen Shrimp Stir-Fry dish from TJ’s – though the “gourmet pepper seasoning” did pique our interest.

Sadly, this was a mostly disappointing purchase. Aside from the fact what we almost set our kitchen on fire preparing the dish (see Cooking Notes above), we found the stir-fry to be light on shrimp and heavy on filler veggies like the stalk part of the broccoli and water chestnuts. The veggies also were limp and a bit waterlogged. On the plus side, the shrimps were tasty (though a bit salty).

As for the gourmet seasoning? It’s basically a black pepper blend, and it’s kind of one dimensional. We would have preferred a sauce – even if it were a butter or soy sauce. Also, if you plan to make this into a main dish, you’ll need to add in some rice or pasta – the stir-fry can’t really stand on it’s own.

All told, we won’t be buying this item again. You’re better buying a bag of frozen uncooked shrimp (which we find to be a great time- and money-saver compared to fresh shrimp) and making your own stir-fry from scratch. Point is, you’re not saving much time with this frozen stir-fry, and the sacrifice in flavor and quality isn’t worth the time saved.

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Lemongrass Chicken Stix http://www.thetraderrater.com/lemongrass-chicken-stix/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/lemongrass-chicken-stix/#respond Sat, 29 Nov 2014 21:43:09 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1290

The Trader Rater Rating: 7.84

Review Summary: Even though they come out a bit oily, and the chunks of ginger in the filling can be a little overpowering, we really like these Lemongrass Chicken Stix for a quick and easy Thai treat.

Full Review:

We love Thai food, but sadly we’re not adventurous enough to try cooking it from scratch, and takeout is a luxury we can’t always afford. So, lately we’ve taken the middle ground –  we’ve pillaged the frozen food section of our local Trader Joe’s for some Thai treats that we keep on hand for our snack and dinner cravings.

You can’t beat the value, and it’s nice to be able to look at the ingredients and nutrition facts to keep track of what you’re eating (try that at your local Thai restaurant!).

How do these Chicken Stix rate? The good news is they’re quick to make, they have a good chicken flavor and the wrapper is crunchy and flaky. Also, there isn’t much filler (i.e. it’s not stuffed with cabbage) – it’s all goodness.

We do have a few small gripes as well – most notably that the chunks of ginger in the filling can be a bit overpowering. We’d prefer finer pieces, resulting in a more subtle ginger flavor. Thankfully some dipping sauce (e.g. Trader Joe’s Duck Sauce) helps to mellow it out bit.

As with most spring rolls, these tend to get a bit oily, so you’ll probably want to roll them around on a paper towel before serving. Also, they are quite tiny – a little over 3″ long and the thickness of a nickel. Not necessarily a bad thing, but worth noting (in other words, good luck sticking to the “2 stix” serving size!).

Overall, we like these Lemongrass Chicken Stix – they’re quick and easy and make for a good appetizer or side dish. We’ll definitely buy them again.

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The Trader Rater Rating: 7.84

Review Summary: Even though they come out a bit oily, and the chunks of ginger in the filling can be a little overpowering, we really like these Lemongrass Chicken Stix for a quick and easy Thai treat.

Full Review:

We love Thai food, but sadly we’re not adventurous enough to try cooking it from scratch, and takeout is a luxury we can’t always afford. So, lately we’ve taken the middle ground –  we’ve pillaged the frozen food section of our local Trader Joe’s for some Thai treats that we keep on hand for our snack and dinner cravings.

You can’t beat the value, and it’s nice to be able to look at the ingredients and nutrition facts to keep track of what you’re eating (try that at your local Thai restaurant!).

How do these Chicken Stix rate? The good news is they’re quick to make, they have a good chicken flavor and the wrapper is crunchy and flaky. Also, there isn’t much filler (i.e. it’s not stuffed with cabbage) – it’s all goodness.

We do have a few small gripes as well – most notably that the chunks of ginger in the filling can be a bit overpowering. We’d prefer finer pieces, resulting in a more subtle ginger flavor. Thankfully some dipping sauce (e.g. Trader Joe’s Duck Sauce) helps to mellow it out bit.

As with most spring rolls, these tend to get a bit oily, so you’ll probably want to roll them around on a paper towel before serving. Also, they are quite tiny – a little over 3″ long and the thickness of a nickel. Not necessarily a bad thing, but worth noting (in other words, good luck sticking to the “2 stix” serving size!).

Overall, we like these Lemongrass Chicken Stix – they’re quick and easy and make for a good appetizer or side dish. We’ll definitely buy them again.

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Low Fat Chinese Style Salad with Chicken http://www.thetraderrater.com/low-fat-chinese-style-salad-chicken/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/low-fat-chinese-style-salad-chicken/#respond Sat, 29 Nov 2014 20:15:41 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1274

The Trader Rater Rating: 8.72

Review Summary: Although it lost a few points due to it's watery dressing, we're fans of this hearty, good tasting, and well-priced salad.

Full Review:

Salad is a crucial part of our day, as it’s a great way to pack in much needed veggies, vitamins and nutrients. But as much as we love salads, we’ll admit that on some particularly stressful days, the last thing we want to do is carefully prepare a complete meal.

We’ve seen pre-made salads before, but it’s easy to scoff at the idea of paying a premium for something that arguably takes so little effort. Frankly, it seemed like phoning it in to us. Still, phoning it in is better than missing out on a salad altogether, right?

All that said, we’ve been integrating some pre-made salads into our weekly meals, and the results have been both delicious and convenient. Case in point, this Low Fat Chinese Chicken Salad.

We’re quite pleased with this salad, and even though we don’t traditionally favor low fat options, we found it to be very tasty and satisfying. It’s worth noting, Trader Joe’s salads are not your typical throw-some-greens-in-a-bag pre-packaged salad. This item comes complete with salad dressing and features a wide variety of goodies, like snow peas, crispy noodles (separately packaged so as not to get soggy), carrots, lettuce, grilled chicken, and red and white cabbage.

On the down side, as expected, we experienced a few flavor sacrifices due to this salad being low fat. Specifically, the dressing, while tasty, felt a bit watered down and lacked some body, and the chicken, while tender and grilled, could have benefited from some more flavor.

All told, this was a hearty, good tasting salad at a great value (serves 2 people for less than four bucks!). We’ll definitely buy it again, though we might prioritize some of TJ’s other pre-made salad options like their Super Spinach Salad.

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The Trader Rater Rating: 8.72

Review Summary: Although it lost a few points due to it's watery dressing, we're fans of this hearty, good tasting, and well-priced salad.

Full Review:

Salad is a crucial part of our day, as it’s a great way to pack in much needed veggies, vitamins and nutrients. But as much as we love salads, we’ll admit that on some particularly stressful days, the last thing we want to do is carefully prepare a complete meal.

We’ve seen pre-made salads before, but it’s easy to scoff at the idea of paying a premium for something that arguably takes so little effort. Frankly, it seemed like phoning it in to us. Still, phoning it in is better than missing out on a salad altogether, right?

All that said, we’ve been integrating some pre-made salads into our weekly meals, and the results have been both delicious and convenient. Case in point, this Low Fat Chinese Chicken Salad.

We’re quite pleased with this salad, and even though we don’t traditionally favor low fat options, we found it to be very tasty and satisfying. It’s worth noting, Trader Joe’s salads are not your typical throw-some-greens-in-a-bag pre-packaged salad. This item comes complete with salad dressing and features a wide variety of goodies, like snow peas, crispy noodles (separately packaged so as not to get soggy), carrots, lettuce, grilled chicken, and red and white cabbage.

On the down side, as expected, we experienced a few flavor sacrifices due to this salad being low fat. Specifically, the dressing, while tasty, felt a bit watered down and lacked some body, and the chicken, while tender and grilled, could have benefited from some more flavor.

All told, this was a hearty, good tasting salad at a great value (serves 2 people for less than four bucks!). We’ll definitely buy it again, though we might prioritize some of TJ’s other pre-made salad options like their Super Spinach Salad.

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All Natural Young Brined Turkey http://www.thetraderrater.com/natural-young-brined-turkey/ http://www.thetraderrater.com/natural-young-brined-turkey/#respond Thu, 27 Nov 2014 05:26:05 +0000 http://www.thetraderrater.com/?p=1257

The Trader Rater Rating: 7.92

Review Summary: This turkey comes pre-brined, resulting in a very juicy and flavorful bird. It's sure to make your Thanksgiving meal a memorable one.

Full Review:

Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday. Maybe it’s the friends, or the family, or the chilly fall weather, or the food, or the time off from work – maybe it’s the combination of all 5 (ok, fine, it’s the food). Point is, we love turkey, and Thanksgiving is the one time of year when you’re almost obligated to eat it.

Generally, Trader Joe’s only offers a few kinds of birds, and this year we opted for the All Natural Young Turkey that is conveniently pre-brined in an 8% salt solution, and there were a few things we really liked about this turkey:

1) The bird is all natural, and it’s never fed animal by-products or treated with antibiotics or hormones. Most importantly, it’s free range and handled humanely. That’s extremely important to us, and we’re loath to buy eggs or poultry that isn’t.

2) We like to brine our birds for maximum flavor and juiciness, and this turkey comes pre-brined! It’s such a convenience, and while it does mean we’re paying for a little extra liquid in the package, we measured less than one pound of excess solution – a small price to pay in our opinion.

3) These babies come large. We nabbed a beast of a bird weighing in at close to 20 lbs, and this was on the smaller range of the selection. Even if you have a small group, remember the leftovers – you’re going to want leftovers.

The result? This year we took a gamble and cooked the turkey on a rotisserie – the results were tremendous. Thanks to the brining, and the nature of rotisserie, this was our juiciest turkey in years. Also, contrary to what you might think about brining, the turkey was not at all salty – it had the perfect balance of flavor. Dark meat was succulent and white meat was firm but moist.

We paired our turkey with Trader Joe’s Cornbread Stuffing and Turkey Gravy and the results were excellent.

As expected, we had plenty of leftovers – thankfully. We froze most of it (vacuum sealing will help add longevity), but kept enough to last us for about a week. We’ve already had a few sandwiches for lunch, and have been particularly fond of eating the turkey taco style with Trader Joe’s Middle Eastern Flatbread topped with a healthy serving of gravy.

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The Trader Rater Rating: 7.92

Review Summary: This turkey comes pre-brined, resulting in a very juicy and flavorful bird. It's sure to make your Thanksgiving meal a memorable one.

Full Review:

Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday. Maybe it’s the friends, or the family, or the chilly fall weather, or the food, or the time off from work – maybe it’s the combination of all 5 (ok, fine, it’s the food). Point is, we love turkey, and Thanksgiving is the one time of year when you’re almost obligated to eat it.

Generally, Trader Joe’s only offers a few kinds of birds, and this year we opted for the All Natural Young Turkey that is conveniently pre-brined in an 8% salt solution, and there were a few things we really liked about this turkey:

1) The bird is all natural, and it’s never fed animal by-products or treated with antibiotics or hormones. Most importantly, it’s free range and handled humanely. That’s extremely important to us, and we’re loath to buy eggs or poultry that isn’t.

2) We like to brine our birds for maximum flavor and juiciness, and this turkey comes pre-brined! It’s such a convenience, and while it does mean we’re paying for a little extra liquid in the package, we measured less than one pound of excess solution – a small price to pay in our opinion.

3) These babies come large. We nabbed a beast of a bird weighing in at close to 20 lbs, and this was on the smaller range of the selection. Even if you have a small group, remember the leftovers – you’re going to want leftovers.

The result? This year we took a gamble and cooked the turkey on a rotisserie – the results were tremendous. Thanks to the brining, and the nature of rotisserie, this was our juiciest turkey in years. Also, contrary to what you might think about brining, the turkey was not at all salty – it had the perfect balance of flavor. Dark meat was succulent and white meat was firm but moist.

We paired our turkey with Trader Joe’s Cornbread Stuffing and Turkey Gravy and the results were excellent.

As expected, we had plenty of leftovers – thankfully. We froze most of it (vacuum sealing will help add longevity), but kept enough to last us for about a week. We’ve already had a few sandwiches for lunch, and have been particularly fond of eating the turkey taco style with Trader Joe’s Middle Eastern Flatbread topped with a healthy serving of gravy.

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