Trader Joe’s Caramelized Onion Dip

After trying the Trader Joe’s Bacon Cheddar Ranch DipI decided to pick up the Trader Joe’s Caramelized Onion Dip to give a whirl. Just by looks it looked like one of my favorite dips that can be made with Lipton onion soup mix … but the caramelized onion made it seem that more enticing.
One day I decided to pull this out of the fridge because I was in the mood for a snack. Opening the container it definitely resembles my beloved favorite ‘homemade’ dip although I could see small pieces of caramelized onion throughout it.  I took out two tablespoons and took a bite with one of my chips … and my face puckered. I was overwhelmed with an overpowering salt flavor. At first I thought perhaps it could’ve been the chips … so I ended up dipping a raw carrot into it and found that overwhelming salty flavor was still there.  I’m not a big salt fan, I only use it very sparingly in cooking to boost flavoring in cooking.  This was just so jam packed with salt that I couldn’t even offer it to guests because I would have felt bad.  Needless to say the container ended up finding a permanent home in the circular file (i.e. the trash). I’ll definitely stick to the bacon cheddar ranch dip because that is flavorful and not salty.
A serving is 2 tablespoons which is 70 calories or 2 points plus values.
Have you tried any of the dip selections available at Trader Joe’s?

Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies

I had seen the limited edition fall Pepperidge Farm cookies at Target since mid-September but I refrained from picking them up because I was a little apprehensive. I’m a Pepperidge Farm cookie fan, but typically I enjoy the crunchy cookies like Sausalito, etc.
While in Target truthfully looking for a sweet treat, I decided to pick up a pack of Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies.  Bringing the bag home, I tucked them away in the closet and forgot about them for 2-weeks. Then one night, I wanted something sweet so I decided to have one.  The cookies themselves are soft, so soft that they stick together.  Taste wise they have a very mild pumpkin flavor, but it’s more spice than pumpkin.  The cheesecake candy chunks are rather large and just too sweet – the cookie has a reminiscent cheesecake flavoring, but it’s all together too sweet. Yes, sweeter than a regular slice of cheesecake.  I was quite grossed out by the sweetness that I ended up giving them away because I couldn’t handle more than the cookie I ate.  If I’m in the mood for a Pepperidge Farm cookie, I think I’ll stick to Sausalito or even their oatmeal cookie.
A cookie is 130 calories or 3 points plus each. I’d say worth it if you’re a cookie fan and enjoy a sweet cheesecake, mildly pumpkin spiced flavored treat. But otherwise, I’d say not so much.
What is your favorite cookie?

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Starbucks Via Pumpkin Spice

The moment fall is close to coming into the picture, fall items start arriving. One of the drinks I absolutely love, but don’t order very often is the Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks.  It’s pumpkin, its latte, and it’s pure magic. So when I spotted the Starbucks Via Pumpkin Spice packets on the shelf at Target, I quickly scooped up a box.
I heated up 1 cup of milk, added in the Via packet and stirred it up … and it was HORRIBLE!  Now, I love coffee, but this has a very, very bold coffee flavor to it. I actually picked up more of the coffee flavor than I did any pumpkin.  The packet of mix smelled more of pumpkin in powder form than it did when it was mixed in with my milk.  Once I mixed it with the milk it just smelled of very, very bold coffee.  Now, I admit, I love coffee BUT I’m more of a light and occasional medium roast coffee fan. This was so bold I’d have to water it down to make it palatable, but by then I’d probably end up just drinking 1-2 cups of milk with a mild flavor in the background. I’d have to give it a nice dosing of sugar free pumpkin syrup and a few Equal packets, plus some additional milk to maybe even get a pumpkin flavor.  Needless to say … I was quite bummed, especially since the Via packets are not cheap.
Each pack has 60 calories to it, which is 2 points plus values. You then need to add in your points/calories associated with the type of milk you use.
Do you like any of the Starbucks Via packets?

Trader Joe’s Cold Brew Coffee

When I saw the Trader Joe’s Cold Brew Coffee on a trip through my favorite store I was initially tempted to buy two bottles. My boyfriend said it might make more sense to only buy one incase we found it wasn’t our “cup of tea.”  We both are big coffee (iced or hot) fans … but I have to say I’m glad I took his advice.
I’m a bit torn with this cold brew.  I’ve made cold brew at home and even though it can be a bit tedious, I enjoy mine a lot better.  The coffee itself is concentrated where in order to make a cup of ice coffee it’s one part coffee to two parts milk or water (or any combination of the two).  I made my coffee with ½ cup milk and 1 cup water along with 1 tablespoon of sugar free creamer.  But I have to say … the coffee itself is very bitter.  I felt it was a little reminiscent of Dunkin Donuts coffee but DD’s coffee is not as strong and not quite as bitter.
I’m kind of on the fence. Its okay for a rush type situation where I want ice coffee but don’t have any on hand to make. But it’s definitely not a coffee I’d willingly reach for.  So I guess we can say I’m just meh about this whole experience!
Have you tried cold brew coffee?

Vega Energizing Smoothie – Vanilla Almondilla

I had been searching for the Vega Energizing Smoothies for months. I have seen the full size pouches for sale at stores and online, but I wanted to try out a single serving packet before I made the plunge into a pricey multi-serving pack. Finally, my search came to an end on a trip to Whole Foods where I stumbled upon single serve packets for sale.  I picked up a few different flavors but the first one I wanted to try was the Vanilla Almondilla because vanilla is a universal flavor and can truly be mixed with any fruit or flavor combination.
I don’t particularly like drinking my calories/points plus for the day, but I do like smoothies every now and again. Protein mix based smoothies or yogurt smoothies it’s nice to mix up the routine once in a while.
The packet stated to mix the smoothie mix with 1 cup of water, so I opted to mix it up in a cup before adding it to my blender. After mixing … the smoothie mix was rather, green. Green coloring in food, particularly if it’s not broccoli or a mint flavored beverage or food it is a little alarming to me.  So I took a small sip off my spoon and gagged. Now I realize these are natural plant based product … but I wasn’t expecting it to taste like grass. It had no real vanilla flavor. It tasted like I went into a field, picked some grass, pulverized it into a powder, mixed it with water and took a sip.  I was so turned off I couldn’t even put it into the blender because I felt I’d essentially just be ruining my daily banana (or wasting it).  So I dumped my drink down the drain and called it a day with the Vega mix.  Looks like I may end up needing to return the remaining packets I bought because I’d rather try something else that I may like than to be disappointed again.  Now this wasn’t my forte, but others may enjoy it – so to each their own.
If you’re wondering a pack has 92 calories in it, which is 2 points plus values.
Have you tried any good smoothie mix as of late?

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough QuestBar

I received this Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough QuestBar from QuestBar from their 2 free 2 bars promo with Hungry Girl.  As far as I can see the deal is still available (see here:
I’ve heard many great things about the chocolate chip cookie dough bar so I had high hopes. I’ve heard this particular bar is a lot better ripped up into chunks and baked as you would cookies.  The bar can also be eaten straight out of the package or after being warmed in the microwave.  Since I have yet to try any of the bars heated up, I opted for the oven method.
Opening the package, I found the bar was rather dry and not the same consistency of the other QuestBars I have tried. I ripped the bar up into pieces and popped my pan in the oven for a few minutes just to warm through. Taking them out of the oven, I tried them and I have to say … I wasn’t a fan. The flavor wasn’t tasty and it wasn’t nearly close to being reminiscent of cookie dough.  It had an awful aftertaste.  The crisping in the oven made them slightly crunchy as a cookie would be – but I couldn’t get past the flavor. My boyfriend tried it and said it was okay, but he didn’t eat anymore than the single bite he took.  I’m not sure if I had a bad bar, but it was just a complete miss for me.
I enjoy QuestBars because they are jam packed with fiber and protein, something that is typically missing from snack or nutrition bars.  So far, the Chocolate Brownie is the only contender in the slam-dunk category.
This particular bar is 190 calories and 5 Points Plus values.
Have you tried any QuestBars? If so, what’s your favorite flavor?

Trader Joe’s Lobster Ravioli

I introduced my mother to the amazingness that is Trader Joe’s.  While there, she spotted the Trader Joe’s Lobster Ravioli and wanted to give it a try.  I vouched that I’d try it with her even though I am truly not a lobster fan.  I’ve tried to eat lobster numerous times, but I just can’t get past the texture.  I know I know … I’m a bad New Englander!
Typically I love Trader Joe’s items and had high hopes that this would transform me into a lobster lover. I mean, ravioli’s are delicious, so I was hoping it was possible. I mean I began to enjoy shrimp after my mother started making her homemade bake stuffed shrimp so I feel anything is possible!
These were boiled per the package directions and once cooked, removed from the water. My mom had her serving with butter on it and I spritzed mine with spray butter.  I was a little hesitant because the ravioli had a very strong fishy scent just sitting in the bowl.  Considering I’m not the biggest fan of seafood, I was a little turned off.  But I decided I’d give it my all…
First bite I thought these are very fishy. Second bite, it started to taste like the inner portion of a very fishy crab cake (and it resembled one, but a red colored crab cake). Third bite (this from one ravioli BTW) I was completely repulsed and couldn’t handle anymore.  These are just HORRIBLE!  My mom, who is a lobster fan, was completely repulsed by these.  She ate almost 2 ravioli and threw in the towel.  I admit, she was a lot braver than I because I threw in the towel after 1. Her facial expression said it all, but she did let me know they were completely disgusting.
High hopes aside, this is an item I will not be repurchasing ever again.  A serving was ½ the container – roughly 6 ravioli and the serving was 7 points plus. Not worth even the few points I threw away testing these out. Yuck!
What is one food you had high hopes for but it turned out to be a giant flop?

Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme Cereal

I spotted this new Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme Cereal at Target but refrained from purchasing because I had a few boxes of cereal at home to eat up.  Well, since I was in the midst of my cereal kick I ended up finishing off a box so I picked up this as a new flavor cereal.  I anticipated that this cereal would be phenomenal.  I mean cookies and cream? One of my favorite ice cream flavors ever in cereal form? No doubt it had to be amazing…
I opened the box, measured out my ¾ cup serving and ate it with some almond milk and I have to say … I was disappointed. It didn’t measure up to what I thought it would taste like.  It reminded me of a subdued cocoa puff with another flavor mixed in the background.  You can’t quite taste the “creme” but the chocolate is really mild and a little boring.  It’s not a sweet cereal to say the least.  The flavor combination kind of threw my taste buds for a loop.  This is a cereal I’d eat once in a while, but it’s not a cereal that’ll be my staple … nor will it be a cereal that I’d purchase again.
A ¾ cup serving is 3 points plus values.
Have you tried any new interesting cereals lately?

Justin’s Organic Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

When I spotted these Justin’s Organic Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups I was immediately excited. I LOVE peanut butter cups – or rather, I should say: I LOVE Reese cups … as well as homemade buckeyes.
I’ve seen Justin’s peanut butter in small serving pouches countless times at Target, but I have never picked up a pack.  On its own, I’m not the biggest peanut butter fan.  I enjoy it once in a while on toasted bread, but I felt purchasing the peanut butter was a waste since I’d rather a Cookie Butter sandwich over a pb sandwich any day.  Chocolate and peanut butter is a heavenly sin and since Justin’s is a healthier form of peanut butter and since it was organic, I decided I’d give it a shot.
A pack is 6 points plus, or you can have one cup for 3 points plus.  I opened the package, took my photos, gave my boyfriend a cup and took a bite of mine … and was immediately done.  The peanut butter was dry. The chocolate was drier. It was pale in comparison to the peanut butter cups I’m used to enjoying. Truthfully, after the first bite, it wasn’t worth my points and I offered it to my boyfriend.  He felt they were “ok” but agreed they were very dry.
I’m sorry to say but I’ll be sticking with my Reese cups going forward. Those never let me down plus they’re the same points plus values as the Justin’s.
Have you tried the Justin’s peanut butter cups?

Trader Joe’s Pulled Chicken Breast

Over the course of the past year, I have been trying out different packaged pulled chicken meals. I like a slightly sweet yet smoky barbecue sauce with my pulled chicken.  I had high hopes for this Trader Joe’s Pulled Chicken Breast with Rib Meat in Smoky BBQ Sauce.
A serving size is 1/3 of the package – 151grams.  Its 140 calories for the serving and only 3 points plus values which I felt was impressive.  What really sold me was the “smoky BBQ sauce” so I decided to take a gamble and pick up a package.  I heated it through for lunch one afternoon, piled my serving onto a Trader Joe’s multigrain slim and paired it with a cut up microwave cooked potato for “fries.”
At first it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t delicious.  It was smoky but also somewhat sweet. It was a simple meal – rather mediocre and not rave worthy.  I finished my serving, put the rest away and the next day I heated the remainder through to make a sandwich for my boyfriend and I.  Well, I bit into a piece of what I call grizzle.  You know that hard, “plastic” type cartilage that you can sometimes find in chicken?  Well … let me just say, I have texture issues and the moment I bit into that, I was done. I was no longer hungry, I was repulsed and my sandwich went into the garbage.
I’m starting to believe my quest to find A++ style pulled chicken, that’s not bad points plus wise, is not going to happen unless I just make it myself.
Have you tried the Trader Joe’s pulled chicken?