Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Some Thoughts on Guacamole (Including Trader Joe's Reduced Guilt Chunky Guacamole)

I've been on a big guacamole kick lately.  I'm not about to try to explain it--it's not like it's related to the Super Bowl (didn't have or attend a party, didn't even watch much of the game, yet we still had some guacamole).  I suppose you could say it's somehow a physiological thing--my body craving all that avocado fat here in the cold of my first Albany winter.

Whatever it is, I think we're done with all the guacamole binging for now.  It was a fun little ride, experimenting with levels of lime juice, jalapenos versus cayenne, that sort of thing.  But last week, just after we'd sworn we were done with guacamole for a while, we returned home from a trip to Trader Joe's and I discovered that K had picked up some of their Reduced Guilt Chunky Guacamole, made with Greek yogurt.  Color me intrigued.  (I'm not sure what color "intrigued" actually is--probably somewhere close to fuchsia on the Crayola spectrum.)

Before I get to yet another Trader Joe's product review, indulge me--or don't; scroll right down to the pertinent information--as I pontificate momentarily on guacamole.

I started thinking more about guacamole after we moved up to Albany last August and were once again just minutes away from a Chipotle.  We've had their guacamole with chips a couple times since then, and I think it's pretty good.  Lots of real avocado, not thickened up with mayonnaise like something Mama June might make for Honey Boo Boo.  (Okay, so that's not true; Mama June's scared of marannaise--but you get the point.)

Nice album artwork.  Pretty good record, too.
And then we picked up one of those guacamole kits at Trader Joe's on a whim--$3.99 for two avocados, two jalapenos, a tomato, a few cloves of garlic, a lime, and a small (boiling?) onion.  Pretty convenient, and a nice, straightforward group of ingredients for guacamole.

After that, I decided to eschew the kit since it's not really a great value at that price (you can cobble together the ingredients individually right there at Trader Joe's, except for that stupid little onion, for less money and including bigger, better avocados).  Of course, the way my brain was working, especially around the holidays, I'd forget some ingredients and we'd have to improvise here and there.  It was kind of fun.

K likes her guacamole loaded with lime juice, garlic, cilantro, and salt.  Like, a lot of lime juice--enough to provide a mouth-puckering level of tartness.  That's okay, but I prefer a better balance.  I'm also okay with no tomatoes in my guacamole; they're fine, pretty inoffensive, but I have issues with raw tomatoes, so whatever.  I also do like a little onion in there.  And after forgetting to get jalapenos once, we instead used cayenne.  That worked well.

 Trader Joe's Reduced Guilt Chunky Guacamole

And then we came upon this one--Trader Joe's Reduced Guilt Chunky Guacamole.  I don't think K would have picked this up had it not been for the unique addition of Greek yogurt, and once I saw that, I certainly didn't blame her for doing so.  I mean, I'm generally against the idea of anything being used to thicken guacamole (at the expense of avocados), but this was something I could get behind.

We're talking low-fat Greek yogurt here, and that plays a part in the "reduced guilt" aspect of this guacamole.  The label claims "50% Less Fat & 40% Less Calories" (wouldn't it be "fewer calories"?  Just sayin') than regular guacamole; for a two tablespoon serving--there are about 11 in the 12 oz. container--you've got 30 calories and 2g of fat, none saturated.  Of course, this being guacamole you might also want to include the nutritional value of your tortilla chips in that count.

Forget about all that.  The addition of Greek yogurt intrigued us mostly in terms of how it would work both texturally and flavor-wise in guacamole.  Greek yogurt, even the non-fat kind, is pretty thick and creamy, and it possesses a rather tart flavor (we've already talked about the appeal of tartness in guacamole, so yeah, bring it on).

Guess what?  This guacamole does bring the flavor, including some of that tartness, in a way that works surprisingly well.  You've got the base richness of the avocado, and even though the Greek yogurt is sort of a filler, there are still a decent amount of small chunks of avocado present.  The rest of the ingredients are pretty standard--tomatoes, red onions, lime juice, cilantro, sea salt, jalapenos, garlic, and black pepper--and come together to create a well-balanced guacamole.  There's that tartness, emphasized by the lime juice, a little bit of heat from the jalapenos, and just enough salt to bring out the flavors (but not be overwhelming when combined with, say, a salty tortilla chip).

Speaking of tortilla chips.  While you're here, I suppose I should mention the chips used for dipping into the guacamole.  K picked up the Organic Tortilla Longboard Chips at Trader Joe's, and while I don't really have much to say about a tortilla chip, I must say that I kind of love the shape--like a longboard, to go along with the whole Hawai'ian theme at TJ's--of these chips for dipping. 

It's a small, stupid thing, but you know how triangular tortillas can sometimes be a bit awkward depending on the bowl they're being dipped into?  I feel like the longboard-shaped chips sort of alleviate some of those problems.  Give me enough time with them, though, and I'm sure I'll find some drawbacks. 

And if I'm not eating guacamole for a while, I suppose I'll have to find some other use for these chips.  But we'll see just how long this hiatus lasts.

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