“A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.”

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Trader Joe’s (79 Wolf Road, Colonie) graced the Capital District about a month ago and though Trader Joe’s as an establishment isn’t local, it is a local location so I’m stretching it a little bit to talk about the two most recent things I bought there. Though I assume most, if not all, of you have been to Trader Joe’s at least once since it opened, I bet most don’t know a little about its history (I didn’t) so we’ll start there.

Trader Joe’s as you know it started in 1967. It has been around since the 1950s but under a different name. One of the most noticeable differences between Trader Joe’s and other supermarkets is its lack of brand name products, most are under the Trader Joe’s name. One thing I learned the last time I was there was the meaning of the bells. You can’t be at Trader Joe’s long without hearing a ringing bell but I prefer that over the electronic PA system. One ring means more registers need to be opened, two rings means that one of the cashiers needs assistance with maybe questions or a price check, etc and three rings calls a manager.

Trader Joe’s was my grocery store while I went to NYU so I’m familiar with some of TJ’s staples like their Chocolatey Cats: Cookies for People. I don’t know what it is about these Low Fat cat shaped cookies that has me hooked but they’re delicious. For 15 cookies, there are 110 calories, 1.5g fat, 24g carbs, 2g protein, 1g fiber and 9g sugar. You get a pretty large bin, 1 pound of cookies, for under $5 and they last while. I’ve heard people compare the flavor of these cookies to the chocolate part of the Oreo and though it’s similar, it’s not exactly the same. They also come in vanilla but I recommend the chocolate. They may say that they’re low-fat but be careful, 15 cookies goes by really quickly so buy with caution!

Next is what I assume those of you who follow me on Twitter have been waiting for, Speculoos Cookie Butter. I have tasted this a few times to try and be able to explain this flavor in a post and I’m still at a loss for words, but I’m going to try! The jar describes it as “A deliciously usual spread reminiscent of gingerbread and made with crushed biscuits” or in basic terms, spreadable speculoos cookies. Speculoos is a type of Belgian shortbread cookie ground up to make this butter. It’s a little thicker than peanut butter but just about the same consistency. I’ve tried it on crackers, on the Chocolatey Cats: Cookies for People as well at pretzels and though it does pair well with the pretzels, I still can’t find that ONE thing that partners perfect with it. Toast or pancakes may be next, I’m determined. If you’ve enhanced food with Cookie Butter, let me know!

Trader Joe’s describes the process on their website: “After the cookies are baked to a fabulous finish, they’re crushed into a fine powder and mixed with magical ingredients (read: vegetable oils) and turned into a smooth, spreadable substance we call Cookie Butter.” They also have a dark chocolate bar filled with Cookie Butter but I found that the chocolate flavor was just too overpowering and all the Cookie Butter did was make the chocolate and little too sweet so my recommendation is to stick to it in its original form. I assume I’m not the only one who has tried some new things at Trader Joe’s, what did you buy on a whim? Did you like it or not? I want to know!