Oat milk chocolate bars at Trader Joe’s

My thoughts on food and “the way it should be” has definitely evolved over the last couple decades. I used to be firmly in the “traditional flavors and methods” camp of dishes like dim sum or banh cuon… until it suddenly hit me one day that food, just like culture, is constantly evolving, and it changes with times. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The best chefs in Hong Kong are constantly experimenting with different yum cha dishes to “touch the heart,” and those experiments then eventually reach places like Australia and the U.S., where the dishes get replicated in dim sum houses for the Chinese diaspora and those who love Cantonese food. Vietnamese people did not always have access to ovens, but when they did, they started making dishes like ga roti, or Vietnamese-style roasted chicken with Vietnamese seasonings. And it’s absolutely delicious. Is it “traditional”? Maybe it wasn’t traditional a hundred years ago, but now it’s readily accepted as Vietnamese cuisine.

I also used to freak out a little inside when people would ask me about vegan baking. Frankly, it just didn’t sit well with me. Other than health or ethical reasons (because those things, clearly, were not always enough…), why would you forgo eggs and butter? The idea of having a croissant made with vegan butter or no milk in my “milk chocolate” made me feel very, very uncomfortable for a while. But then, I finally saw the light when I started trying delicious vegan cheeses and vegan baked goods from bakeries and farmers markets stands that I enjoy, and I realized that deliciousness was, in fact, a possibility in baked goods without butter or animal products.

So that’s what led me to the Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer, where I learned that they’d been selling oat milk chocolate bars for some time now. And their latest item is an oat milk chocolate bar with crispy rice and cocoa nibs. So I decided to pick up both to try. Old me never would have entertained this back in high school or college. But today’s me does and happily tossed it into my shopping cart. Are they as rich as milk chocolate? No. But they are both very tasty and and satisfying. They definitely can satiate a chocolate craving. And I’m happy these options exist for those who either are lactose-intolerant or who are just for whatever reason avoiding dairy. I don’t fit into either of those camps, but I am in the camp of trying and exploring new, potentially delicious things.

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