Food Review – Freeze Dried Mango from Trader Joe’s

9 01 2014

Yesterday, I stopped by Trader Joe’s to pick up a few necessities for upcoming meals—almond milk, tortillas, and such.  (Because of the recent polar vortex, they were out of everything I needed.  Astute Chicagoans, understanding that they might be surrounded by brutal wind chills and frozen snow drifts for forty-eight hours, apparently bought groceries to last three weeks).  I’m not one to walk into a grocery store—especially Trader Joe’s—and not buy anything.  So I picked up a few unfamiliar-to-me items.  And this, dear reader, is how I came upon a small, unassuming bag of “freeze-dried” mangos.

the slightly misleading package

the slightly misleading package

For those of you who are familiar with the product, please excuse my ignorance.  I admit to having scanned the package on previous shopping trips and passing it by.  The package itself is misleading—merely showing wrinkly, dried mangos, not freeze-dried mangos.  And there is, my friends, quite a difference.  I skipped the purchase of it so many times before because I wasn’t in the mood for tough fruit.  In the same manner one must be ready for tough love to truly enjoy it, if one eats tough fruit when one isn’t in the right mindset, it feels more like punishment or manipulation.  So I passed.

But yesterday was ripe for change.  Maybe it was all of those empty shelves.  Maybe I was a little high off of those numbing eye drops from the opthamologist.  Whatever it was, I am grateful.  And perhaps, a little doomed.


Imagine angels’ voices singing, for that is the only caption worthy of this lone piece of mango.

You see, freeze dried mangos are a very different beast than their boringly, simply dried brethren.  Freeze dried mangos are not leathery bits of a bad relationship.  They are happy clouds of sugary joy.  They seem so unnatural, so fake in their light powderiness.  One would assume that some sort of chemical was added, that some sugary concoction had to have infiltrated the fruit.  But, no.  For the only ingredient is, and I quote, “mango.”

These mangos have not been dried by the cruel sun, which would give them the appearance of a suburban mom who has tried to burn up all of her repressed feelings at the tanning salon.  No, these mangos have been dried up in the heavens by the tiny breath of little cloud sprites, filled with magic and love.

I felt that I was biting into a large mango-flavored marshmallow from a box of Lucky Charms cereal.  And yet, there is no marshmallow, meaning no gelatin—meaning no horse’s hooves or cow’s bones—in this treat.  There is, and I quote again, simply, “mango.”

And why add morbidity when you don’t need it?  Everything, the taste, the texture… is perfect as it is.  And yet, after eating just two delightful pieces, I fell victim to the downside of these morsels.

Oh my god.  There are more.

Oh my god. There are more.

Mangos are sweet because they have sugar; naturally found sugar, of course.  But sugar, nonetheless.  And the sugar is mostly what is left after the fruit has been freeze-dried.  These light, yet sugar-dense treats have so little substance, that they cling to the first substance they find—your teeth—and do not let go.  Swishing, picking, and brushing were all unsuccessful at getting every last bit of the packed-in sugariness removed.  I am so very fortunate that I did not find these treats when I was in my invincible twenties.  I wouldn’t have had the caution or the realistic fear of major dental work to contain my urges to eat bag after bag of the magical sugary goodness brought down to us from the sky elves.  Thank those love-filled heavens that I didn’t open any of these packages until my late thirties, when invincibility is far away and not even a mid-life crisis could sway me to risk it all and not practice restraint with these innocent looking sugar demons.

I would definitely recommend trying as much of this treat as you think you should, depending on your age and how long you must wait until your next visit to the dentist.

Morning Glory

5 11 2012

This morning, I left the apartment without eating breakfast.  I figured I would pick up a little something while I was running around.  As soon as I felt the November air kiss my face, I started craving a vegan Morning Glory muffin from Madison Market.  In the nine years of living in Seattle, I had my fair share of those yummy spontaneous breakfasts—especially when I lived in Capitol Hill—right across the street from the co-op.  There were so many mornings when I was running just a wee bit late and needed to grab a bite before running down to the theater or over to UW.  But no matter how rushed I felt, I was able to somehow always mindfully treasure my Morning Glory breakfasts.  Sometimes, it would be the small meal I would bring along with me before heading off on a journey somewhere—a road trip to the ocean or an excursion on one of the ferries across the Puget Sound.  Those little muffin moments were something I could count on in a pinch—dependable and comforting.

I absolutely love living in Chicago and I have some great spots in my neighborhood where I can grab a quick, yummy, healthy breakfast when I need to.

But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little homesick for the Pacific Northwest this morning.  I had a wonderful life there and my heart is full of lovely, splendid memories.  Sometimes, it’s just nice to be grateful for that.

To the people and places in Seattle, I raise a glass–or a muffin, rather–to you today.

Pretty Edible

29 05 2012

I’ve been seeing this more and more…  centerpieces and such of food that is cut, shaped, and arranged to look like flowers.

I’ve also been seeing this more and more….flower arrangements that are shaped, trimmed, and placed to look like food.

I’m just gonna go on record right here and now that I prefer food that looks like flowers to flowers that look like food.

Don’t get me wrong, I love flowers.  And if it ever happens that I receive flowers from someone, I am incredibly delighted and grateful.  I’ll even buy flowers for myself on occasion–I love having ’em around so much.  But I feel that giving flowers to someone when they are shaped as food, is just sort of cruel.  Call it the power of suggestion, but if I see something that looks like a cupcake, I’d kind of like to have a cupcake.  On the other hand, food that looks like flowers gives the receiver the benefit of both worlds….it’s pretty AND you can eat it!

Rest assured that the food-that-looks-like-flowers people did not pay me to make this statement.  It is quite simply my honest opinion.


Cooking Tips From Amanda #17

4 01 2012

Mmm!  Homemade black bean soup!  Delicious, yes?  Definitely, but make sure you’ve got your wits about you while you’re cooking.  Even if you always turn off your blender before unplugging it, make sure you put the lid on those tomatoes before you plug that blender back in.  Yes, it makes for a funny moment from a movie, but someone’s going to have to clean the lipocine off the top of the spice rack.

Update:  Two hours later and I just found a sad looking, partially punctured tomato next to the coffee table.

Deck the Halls and Roll the Balls

16 12 2010

Nearly every year around this time I make my Grandma’s Russian tea cakes (veganized, of course).  They are yummy, fun to look at, and an all-around great Christmas cookie.  But this year, they turned out even better for me than they usually do.  I don’t know if it was the 1940’s radio program (Phillip Marlowe) I was listening to, the quiet evening I had leading up to them, or just having one right out of the oven, but hooo-boy!  They taste just like Grandma used to make!  Memories of Christmases past came flooding back in just one bite.

I should probably research this more.  I’ll make a control group and then a hot chocolate group.  Yep, it’s going to be a long night.

Confusing Yum

28 08 2010

Yesterday evening I went to Whole Foods.  I donated three boxes of pasta to their donation-box for a neighborhood elementary school’s kitchen.  In exchange, I got a fun bag with a lot of lil’ samples–moisturizers, scrubs, soaps, etc…  Tonight I tried one of the face creams.

I should NOT use moisturizer that’s made with raspberry and cocoa essences.

I want to eat my face.

A Kinder, Gentler (and Tastier, Healthier) Betty Crocker

23 07 2010

Bopping around on the internet today, I came across this.  I don’t know these folks but I want to befriend them now on account of how delightful I think they are for doing this.  Awesome.

I love to cook and bake, but usually take somewhat of a hiatus from the big projects during summer months.  The heat simply encourages me to subsist on fruit, salads, sandwiches, and the like.  But come fall, you can bet I’ll be clickin’ on this link and scrolling down for all of their improved recipes.  And what’s great is that they’ll be adding recipes consistently for some time.