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Trader Joe’s Greek Whole Milk Yogurt – Maple Brown Sugar & Trader Joe’s Greek Whole Milk Yogurt – Chocolate Mousse

Trader Joe's Whole Milk Greek Yogurt - Maple Brown Sugar and Chocolate Mousse

Non-seasonal, but still lovely, packaging. Nice work, TJ’s!

Trader Joe’s has never been afraid to “go there” – in terms of yogurt development and placement. Like most grocery stores they offer a virtual cornucopia of yogurt flavors, types, and fat content. Unlike most grocery stores, they’ve been known to put out holiday versions of their classic greek yogurt.

Ranking: 2 stars 

2 star rating

 

What it is: Greek yogurt in two new flavors.
Price: $1.29 for an 8 oz. cup
Worth it: Not really. Both new flavors are only mildly interesting.

Last year we saw the debut of their Pumpkin Greek Yogurt over the October Pumpkin Madness. It must have worked well, because this year Trader Joe’s has debuted two new flavors for the winter holidays – Maple Brown Sugar, and Chocolate Mousse. Those might not be the flavors that come to mind when you first think “Christmas”, but that’s why we love Trader Joe’s isn’t it? They zig when everyone else is zagging.

Unlike the pumpkin Greek yogurt last of last fall, these two new flavors are whole milk, full fat yogurts. 320 calories wait for you in each 8 oz tub, 12 grams of fat (7 grams of that saturated fat) and 37 grams of carbs.

3 gallons of milk go into 1 gallon of Greek yogurt, so this is the nutritional density you’re paying for – not to mention the whopping 16 grams of protein. If you eat both of these, you’ve basically had a pretty heft meal. So, are these novel yogurt flavors worth it?

What you certainly can expect is what you always get from a whole milk Greek yogurt – thick, smooth, velvety and thick again. A greek yogurt needs to be eaten slowly, regardless whether you enjoy the flavor or not.

The flavors, in this case, are intriguing, but not incredible. The Maple Brown Sugar Greek Yogurt has a wonderfully evocative name, but doesn’t taste particularly special. It’s a combination of real brown sugar and real maple syrup (naturally, this being Trader Joe’s). Sugar and syrup, however, even brown sugar and maple syrup, are just your basic sweeteners. Basic sweetness is about what you get out of them here. The more nuanced notes of the sugar and syrup are lost in the generally yogurtiness of the yogurt. However, the sweetness is a nice counterpoint to the considerable tang of the yogurt cultures. Overall, a nice, fatty yogurt.

The Chocolate Mousse Greek Yogurt is a more complex matter. Some time ago, I reviewed Trader Joe’s European-style chocolate yogurts, and found them intriguing and sophisticated, but ultimately a bit off-putting. This chocolate greek yogurt is a lot thicker than those little yogurt pots, but hte flavor is the same – tangy chocolate. If you can hold those two words together in your head at the same time and not shudder a little, then you will probably enjoy this yogurt. The chocolate flavor comes courtesy of cocoa powder touched up with some sugar and vanilla extract, and it’s done well. The chocolate is strong tasting, bold and verging on the bitterness of dark chocolate, but it comes paired with the strong, undeniable tang of active yogurt cultures. Tangy chocolate folks – it’s here again.

I love novelty, and for some reason I really love novel yogurt flavors, but these two yogurts left me underwhelmed. The Maple Brown Sugar was too generically sweet for me to buy again, and if I wanted to try chocolate yogurt again I’d go with the European versions that are still on the shelves.

I’m tempted to recommend these as a desert surrogate, but honestly if you have room in your dietary budget for 300 calories of sugar and fat, just eat a real chocolate mousse. Aside from that, I think only Greek yogurt fans in desperate need of a little variety can really justify making this purchase.


The Breakdown

Would I Recommend Them: Only in the faintest of terms.

Would I Buy Them Again: Me? No.

Final Synopsis: Fatty yogurt available in a couple mildly interesting flavors.

Trader Joe's Whole Milk Greek Yogurt - Maple Brown Sugar and Chocolate Mousse

Trader Joe’s Whole Milk Greek Yogurt Chocolate Mousse – Nutrition Facts

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Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter and Jelly with Nonfat Greek Yogurt

Trader Joe's Peanut Butter & Jelly with Nonfat Greek Yogurt

A good idea in theory…?

Your first impression, when you hear about Trader Joe’s new Peanut Butter and Jelly with Nonfat Greek Yogurt, might be “That sounds gross.”

I’m proud to say that I’ve based this blog on the idea that sometimes even the most bizarre or outlandish sounding food products – even partially popped popcorn kernels or a red wine and milk chocolate drink, can astound and delight an eater who approaches the world with an open mind. Not this time though. Trader Joe’s new Peanut Butter and Jelly with Nonfat Greek Yogurt looks and smells and tastes terrible. Just really awful.

Yeah, I know that probably doesn’t strike you as an astounding verdict or anything, so before I start systematically eviscerating this poor, hapless product I thought I’d take a moment to find some praise for it – faint though it may be.

Kudos – kudos I say! – to Trader Joe’s for not giving a good goddamn what anybody else in the world thinks. There was zero demand for a no fat, peanut butter and strawberry jelly flavored greek yogurt. Exactly zero people were standing around demanding this mash up of a soggy sandwich and a tasteless  dairy culture, but someone at Trader Joe’s was sure as hell going to give it to us any way.

“Who the hell cares!” someone at TJ’s is probably bellowing even now, chomping on a cigar butt and gesticulating forcefully, “I said make some goddamn peanut butter and jelly flavored greek yogurt, and stock it on every store shelf nationwide!”

“Sir, the PB&J greek yogurt is a complete flop! No one is buying it!”, no doubt come the cries.

“So what!” our fellow at Trader Joe’s shouts. “Now fill this sushi with quinoa and start baconizing all this popcorn, and why isn’t there any rosemary on these toffee sunflower seeds?!”

Anyone can play it safe. It’s the bold innovators who deserve the acclaim. Long may you thrive, Trader Joe’s!

That said, this yogurt is really dreadful. I really wanted to like it, even in the face of the atrocious sounding name, if for no other reason than the packaging is kind of cute. Sadly, the contents don’t live up to even this promise. Peanut butter and greek yogurt have similar textures, I had reasoned, maybe it’ll be rich and creamy and sweet and – nope. Nope, none of that. It’s not even peanut butter colored – just sort of a dismal gray.

Well, I thought, maybe the strawberry jelly is sort of included as a fruit-on-the-bottom type sweet surprise that – nope. Nope, no jelly on the bottom. Instead, the peanut butter and jelly flavors have blended into each other, along with the tart, plain greek yogurt. Shockingly, the ingredient label shows that real strawberries have actually gone into this. Shocking, I say, because they are impossible to discern in this undifferentiated gray mass – neither in texture nor taste.

The PB&J sandwich is an American classic. This yogurt tastes nothing like it – only the vaguest elements of peanut butter are detectable, and only the faintest taste of strawberries shows up. If you have ever soaked a PB&J sandwich in skim milk until it started to fall apart, then tried to eat it, that is pretty much exactly like what you are getting here. All you really end up tasting is a blur of tartness, muddled with hard to place indistinct flavors. It may only be $0.99, but even that is asking too much when Trader Joe’s offers such a wide range of far tastier nonfat greek yogurts.

I remember figuring out that mushing together everything in my lunch bag was a bad idea back in Elementary school. Trader Joe’s has done an excellent job of reminding me why.


The Breakdown

Would I Recommend It: Nope.

Would I Buy It Again: Not unless I feel like wasting food.

Final Synopsis: Theoretically, a peanut butter and jelly infused greek yogurt. Practically, a gross, gray glob.

Trader Joe's Peanut Butter & Jelly with Nonfat Greek Yogurt - Nutrition Facts

Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter & Jelly with Nonfat Greek Yogurt – Nutrition Facts


Trader Joe’s 0% Frozen Vanilla Greek Fat Free Yogurt

Trader Joe's Fat Free Frozen Vanilla Greek Yogurt 1

Same purple packaging as the non-frozen variety. Consistency – I like it.

Sometimes Trader Joe’s nails the names, as with their Avacado’s Number guacamole, other times, as with Trader Joe’s 0% Frozen Vanilla Greek Fat Free Yogurt, they’re just being confusing. I dare you to parse that mangled phrase.  0% frozen, vanilla Greek, fat free yogurt. So obviously we’re talking about a 100% melted, fat free yogurt with the flavor of vanilla Greeks, right? This isn’t the first time Trader Joe’s has been syntactically confusing in their product titles (see Italian Blood Orange SodaThai Lime Shrimp, and French Berry Lemonade) but it is probably the most egregious. Just call it Fat-Free Greek Frozen Yogurt, you guys!

At any rate, I was excited to see this on the shelves because, like my father and his father before him, I love that froyo! The low calorie, low fat version of ice cream, frozen yogurt is the salvation of anyone craving a frozen treat.

Trader Joe’s offers ordinary non-fat Greek yogurt in vanilla already, and this frozen variety is incredibly similar. It’s as if they took the yogurt available in the refrigerated case and just cooled it a few more degrees. I’m a big fan of TJ’s non-fat Greek Yogurts, going so far as to live my life by a yogurt clock, so I was basically won over as soon as I saw this.

The frozen Greek yogurt capitalizes on all the best qualities of the non-frozen variety – it’s creamy, dense, and sweet (but not too sweet!) with a mellow tone of vanilla set against the yogurt tang.  It certainly isn’t the sort of sweet creaminess you’d get from a dairy vanilla ice cream, but frozen yogurt isn’t trying to be that. And at a scanty 100 calories per 1/2 cup and no fat, it doesn’t have to be.

I enjoyed this frozen yogurt in its own right, but it’s a basic enough taste that it can easy be dressed up with all the usual ice cream toppings, bits of crushed candy sweets, or even strawberries, raspberries, ripe peaches or plums. I mean, anything really, man. We live in a free and crazy age of bold experimentation – I can’t think of a reason not to pick up a tub of this and go completely nuts.


The Breakdown

Would I Recommend It: For sure – no fat, few calories and sweet frozen goodness. That’s all good.

Would I Buy It Again: Well, I finished eating this one already, so yeah.

Final Synopsis: Pretty much exactly like the frozen version of TJ’s regular 0% fat Greek yogurt.

Trader Joe's Fat Free Frozen Vanilla Greek Yogurt

Trader Joe’s Fat Free Frozen Vanilla Greek Yogurt – Nutrition Facts


Trader Joe’s Coffeehaus European Style Low Fat Yogurt – Mocha and Chocolate flavors

Trader Joe's Coffeehaus Lowfat Yogurt

Possibly the most unwieldy name Trader Joe’s has unveiled to date. I’m not even sure I’ve got it right.

Tangy coffee – do you like it? If you can answer that one question for yourself, there will be no need to read the rest of this post about Trader Joe’s Coffeehaus “European style” low fat yogurts. I will repeat it once again – do you like the taste of tangy coffee?

Very probably you have never had tangy coffee before, you might be confused by these words – angered by them even. No problem, friend. Just relax, sit back, close your eyes… and imagine. Imagine sipping a cup of coffee, imagine that unmistakable coffee aftertaste, that bold, full-roast dark coffee flavor that sits on the tongue like burnt toast. Now imagine it’s also real tangy. Tangy like a glass of Tropicana orange drink. Tangy, tangy coffee, sitting on your tongue, and also it’s cold. Do you like that idea?

If you’ve said yes, hold on tight because we are going to get into this. If, and I’m guessing this is more likely, you said no then you can feel free to navigate away from this browser tab right now. You sir, will not like Trader Joe’s Coffeehaus yogurts because if there’s one thing they have, it’s a serious tanginess.

Let’s unspool this for a moment. There’s about five different things going on in the name of this product alone, and it could do with a little unpacking before we start laying into if I, personally, enjoyed this thing or not.

To begin, let’s start with what a “European style” yogurt might be, and why Trader Joe’s feels they need to single that notion out for some reason – not just by name, but by packaging, iconography and font as well. How, in fact, is European yogurt different from the Greek yogurts, French yogurts and Swiss yogurts which can all also be found in Trader Joe’s yougurt aisle? The straight forward, if basically uncorrect, answer is that “European style” yogurt is called as such because it isn’t going to sit well with the average American. More specifically, it’s much less firm than standard grocery store yogurt, and much more tangy due to the presence of the many live, active bacteria cultures fermenting it full of lactic acid.

Now, every yogurt in the world is a product of bacteria cultures – that’s just the basic nature of its existence, but it’s not a fact that the big commercial yogurt companies like to play up on TV here in the States. The “now full of more live bacteria colonies than ever before” pitch is just not one that appeals to the standard demographic. As such, the bacterial nature of yogurt has been downplayed to the point where it’s almost totally overlooked. For the same reason, your usual grocery store yogurt varies between “slightly tangy” and “not tangy at all”.

Much more common in the US are the standard, “custard” style yogurts where fruit and thickening agents have been blended into a firm, sugary, low-bacteria yogurt. Confusingly, custard style yogurt can also be called French or Swiss style yogurt, despite the fact that they are much more American than European in sensibility. In fact, real Swiss yogurt (yogurt made by the Swiss in Switzerland) must, by Swiss law, contain a certain minimum number of bacterial colonies to even be considered yogurt.

So, to summarize, by saying “European Style” Trader Joe’s is singling that this is going to be some bacteria-filled, tangy yogurt, and you’d better be ready for that. They are as good as their word as well – each type of their coffeehaus yogurt comes packed with four different live and active cultures: S. thermophillus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Aciodphilus, and Bifidus. I don’t know quite enough about biology to expound on what all the important differences are between these, but I can tell you that you can sure as hell taste them in every tangy, zingy bite.

The other unusual aspect of these European style yogurts are their rather continental flavors. Dannon and Yoplait may have turned every type of cream pie and sherbet into a yogurt flavor, but even they haven’t yet done a straight up mocha or dark chocolate yet. While that might not go over very well in a custard style yogurt, it makes for a very nuanced bite here. The subtle bitterness of the dark chocolate and the mocha both play against the sourness of the yogurt, the tang of the lactic acid and the gentle sweetness of the added sugar. The result is a yogurt that challenges the tongue to a unique flavor experience, not merely a confection of high sugar content sweetness that passes the gums unnoticed.

So do I like tangy coffee? In this case, yes. I’ve had sweet yogurt, and I’ve had unsweetened yogurt, but I’ve never had yogurt that takes a path separate from sweetness all together. Tangy, bitter yogurt is an intriguing development, and one that I could easily see myself enjoying on my classier mornings.

 


The Breakdown

Would I Recommend It: Yes – if you’re willing to give a whole new yogurt experience a chance.

Would I Buy It Again: I’d like to think that I’m just cultured enough to do so.

Final Synopsis: A very tangy, somewhat bitter, somewhat sweet, sophisticated yogurt.

 

Trader Joe's Coffeehaus European Style Lowfat Yogurt - Mocha

Trader Joe’s Coffeehaus European Style Lowfat Yogurt – Mocha

 

 

Trader Joe's Coffeehaus European Style Lowfat Yogurt - Chocolate

Trader Joe’s Coffeehaus European Style Lowfat Yogurt – Chocolate