Trader Joe’s Cheddar Rockets
As anyone that has kids knows that kids snack. There is no way around it. They are growing and burn a lot of energy and sitting down and getting all your calories at three meals a day is just not going to happen. One snack that many parents feel OK about giving their kids are Pepperidge Farm Goldfish. They are essentially made out of flour, cheddar cheese, salt and oil and baked (not fried). Kids love them and while probably not the healthiest thing in the world for them, it’s not the worst either. I was happy to see Trader Joe’s recently release a new product called Trader Joe’s Cheddar Rocket Crackers which seemed to be aimed squarely at Goldfish. But, I’m fine with that! I have been known to make special trips to a regular grocery store to get the Goldfish fix my kids were craving…
So, what is the difference between regular Goldfish and these rockets? I had a look at the ingredient list on the side of both packages. Both are about 140 calories per 1 oz serving. Both have 5g of fat. The rockets have 2g of saturated fat and the Goldfish 1g. The Goldfish have 250mg of sodium and the Rockets 240mg. Goldfish have 20g of Carbs and the Rockets have 19g. Goldfish have 3g of protein and Rockets 4g.
Goldfish are made in the USA and the Rockets are a product of Canada?!?!? Hmmm….
So, you can see that they are very similar in the nutrition information. The actual ingredients on the side of the package are almost identical. So, it appears that who ever is making these Rockets for Trader Joe’s did a very good job of copying Goldfish. But what about the taste? They are very similar in taste and texture. The Goldfish seem to be a little less dense and lighter than the Rockets. I would have to give the edge to the Rockets in the taste department. They are just a bit more cheddarier (is that a word?) than the Goldfish. Not enough to make me drive to Trader Joe’s just to pick up a box or anything.
At the end of the day it’s all about whether my kids will eat them or not. At first they were a little skeptical about them because of the shape wasn’t the same as Goldfish (for those of you that have kids, know what I’m talking about!). But once they started to eat them, they gave them a stamp of approval but almost finishing off a whole box of them. Two hungry pre-teen boys can eat a lot of snacks after soccer practice!
So, how do you rate something as mundane as Goldfish/Rockets? I guess you have to take the industry standard which is Goldfish and compare them. I give the Rockets a slight edge in the flavor department but my kids didn’t care either way. The big thing for me was not having to make a special trip to a grocery store to get Goldfish, which I seem to be doing a couple of times a month. I am going to rate the Trader Joe’s Cheddar Rocket Crackers a solid 8 Bells!
Trader Joe’s Shrimp Fried Rice
I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before. During the Vietnam war my father was a civilian working in Thailand for the defense department. I was a little, little kid but I do have many vivid memories of the experience and look back fondly being able to live in a foreign place like Thailand before jet travel has made it so easy to travel anywhere in the world. One memory I had was flying on a 707 from San Francisco to Bangkok, but in those days the planes couldn’t make it across the ocean without stopping in Hawaii. I remember getting waffles with strawberries for breakfast after we took off. We flew Pan Am… it was all so retro… We had Thai maids when we were living there and they took care of us kids with the help of my mother. Can you imagine being a stay at home mother and having a maid that also cooked your meals? It was a little luxurious to say the least. Living there so early in life gave our family a flavor for Thai food early on in life. As I’ve mentioned many times here I am an Asian food freak (well I am an equal opportunity foodie!) and will eat just about anything remotely Asian put in front of me.
When I saw the Trader Joe’s Thai Shrimp Fried Rice show up in the freezer section recently, I just had to grab a bag! This is a product of Thailand. I usually like it more when food items like this are made close to the source of the original recipe. I usually makes for a more authentic meal.
As is typical with these freezer fried rice recipes, you have two options to prepare this, microwave or skillet. For some of the other fried rices I think it’s a tossup in terms of flavors whether you prepare it in the microwave or the skillet. This one on the other needs to be done in the skillet IMHO. The reason why is that unlike other frozen Fried rice, this one comes with a separate bag of shrimp. The shrimp has been marinated and covered in a delicious Thai flavored coating that begs to be sauteed before it’s integrated with the rest of the rice.
One word of warning, this is a step up on the heat scale from their normal hot foods. The Thai’s didn’t hold back on this one! I eat a fair amount of Thai food in my little town east of Seattle. I think we have 3 Thai restaurants in a town of about 10,000. I’ve had all different levels of quality of Thai food and I have to say this fried rice is right up there with some of the better ones. I loved the lime leaves and the tiny little hot peppers. Lots of fresh, bold flavors. My wife walked in when I was cooking it and she said it smelled just like a Thai restaurant! The only problem was that the rice had formed these clumps and cooking them was hard to thaw them out. I put the lid on the skillet to get the heat to penetrate those clumps to make them easier to break up but it took several more minutes to prepare.
It says on the package that there is 4 servings, but really it’s barely two. If you are going to split this, you’ll need to add something else to complete it. Maybe some dumplings or spring rolls. You are going to need a beer or something to wash down the heat. Something light, like Josephbrau Pilsner or a nice Pinot Grigio.
I really liked this Thai Shrimp Fried Rice. I thought it was pretty authentic and easy to make. Only issue with it could be the heat for some and the lumps of rice that don’t effect flavor but made it harder to make. With those issues, I am going to give this 8 hot and spicy bells!
Trader Joe’s Happy Trekking Trail Mix
One of the things that Trader Joe’s is well known for is their nuts and trail mixes. They have a bewildering array and even I can’t keep up with them all. Lightly Salted? No salt? With chocolate? Dark Chocolate? Milk Chocolate? Gluten Free? There are so many choices it can make you mad! I like to eat a lot of nuts, especially peanuts (I know, they are not a nut!). They are a great snack and good for you and fill you up. What else is there?
I’ve been through a lot of the trail mixes that Trader Joe’s carries looking for a good healthy snack to tuck into my desk draw at work or on a hike here in the Cascade mountains. I have been looking for the right combination of nuts, dried fruit and a little bit of chocolate. I think I have found the best mix for me! It’s called Trader Joe’s Happy Trekking Trail Mix. Don’t get me wrong, there are so many different mixes I’m sure we all have our favorites. I really like the Powerberry one too. The one thing I like is that they don’t fill these mixes up with peanuts or peanut oil. Not that I don’t have anything against peanuts, sometimes I just don’t want peanut flavoring on my mixed nuts!
Trader Joe’s Happy Trekking Trail mix is a combination of Almonds, Cashews, Pistachios, Milk Chocolate, dried Cranberries and Dried Cherries. I think it has just the right amount of that blend of salt and sweet. The chocolate isn’t too sweet. The dried fruits aren’t all that sweet either. I love the combination of Almonds, Pistachios and Cashews. A serving is only a 1/4 cup and has 160 calories, so don’t sit down and eat a bag in one sitting, you will get fat!
We do a fair amount of hiking here in the Seattle area and this would make a great bag of trail mix! I plan on hiking soon and will definitely bring this along for me and the kids. I also keep a bag in my desk at work for those 3pm munchies I always seem to get!
I am going to rate Trader Joe’s Happy Trekking mix a solid 8 Bells!