Sunday, October 23, 2016

Shopping at Trader Joe's

Some favorite TJ Products

I’ve always enjoyed shopping at Trader Joe’s. There are a lot of interesting products, and the prices are reasonable. TJ also has a pretty decent selection of loso offerings. It used to have a Low Sodium Products List available online and at individual stores. But for some unknown reason, TJ the list was removed from both the website and the stores.

Last year, Christy from The Daily Dish posted a copy of the 2013 list. It’s a really helpful resource. The downside is that it’s a few years old now, and the information may no longer be accurate. Some products might not be available, while other products have been introduced.

I’ve shopped at TJ for many years now and have developed my own, very personal, list of products I purchase. There are other low sodium products available, but these are products my husband and I have tried, liked, and I regularly buy. It seems as though every time I shop at TJ, I discover new and useful products. And many are seasonal. Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming up, and with them, a bunch of old favorites and new products. What are your favorites?

Dried Fruit: TJ offers a variety of dried fruits. These are what I buy for baking and/or snacking.
Dried Cranberries
Dried Pitted Tart Montmorency Cherries (wonderful in scones or muffins)
Dried White Peaches
California Slab Blenheim Apricots (so much better than dried Turkish apricots)
New Zealand Sweet Apple Rings

Nut Snack Packs: These snack packs are so handy. Good for a afternoon pick-me-up or for visiting grandchildren. I keep them in the freezer.
Happy Trekking Trek Mix: Almonds, Cashews, Pistachios, Cranberries, Cherries, Chocolate - 25 mg/serving
Just a Handful of Dry Roasted, Unsalted Almonds
Simply Almonds, Cashews and Cranberries: 20 mg/serving

Nuts: TJ has a great variety of nuts – raw, roasted, salted, unsalted. And great prices too. I use them in baking, salads, and as a garnish for vegetables. I keep them in the freezer.
Raw Walnut Pieces (for baklava)
Roasted & Unsalted Peanuts
Roasted & Unsalted Whole Cashews
Roasted & Unsalted Sunflower Seeds
Dry Roasted & Unsalted Whole Almonds
Dry Roasted & Unsalted Pistachio Nutmeats Halves and Pieces
Dry Roasted & Unsalted Almonds: Slivered
Dry Roasted & Unsalted Pecan Pieces
Dry Roasted & Unsalted Pignolias/Pine Nuts (my favorite in green salads)
Just Almond Meal

Frozen Veggies: TJ has a good variety of frozen vegetables, but these are the ones I stock up on.
Artichoke Hearts
Dorot Crushed Garlic: 25 mg/cube (so convenient)
Dorot Chopped Basil:15 mg/cube (good in a quick pizza sauce)
Fire Roasted Bell Peppers and Onions: 5 mg/serving
Melange a Trois - 3 Pepper blend: 10 mg/serving (perfect for when just a bit of bell pepper is needed)
Roasted Corn (good addition to Mexican dishes)
Edamame -In Pods (a perfect lunchtime veggie or afternoon snack)

Canned Veggies: I stock up on all these products.
Julienne Sliced Sun Dried Tomatoes: 10 mg/serving (I often use them instead of olives)
Organic Tomatoes Diced No Salt Added
Whole Peeled No Salt Added Crushed Plum Tomatoes with Basil
Whole Peeled No Salt Added Plum Tomatoes

Oils, Vinegars, & Sauces:
Balsamic Glaze: 5 mg/tbsp
Balsamic Vinegar
Chili Pepper Sauce: 0 mg/sodium
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Grapeseed Oil
Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar
Toasted Sesame Oil
Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar
White Balsamic Vinegar
Hot & Sweet Pepper Jelly: 55 mg/tbsp (I add a tablespoon to my favorite homemade vinaigrette)
Trader Giottos Organic Marinara Sauce - No Salt Added: 1/2 cup = 25 mg. sodium

Multigrain Slims: Sandwich Thins - 100 mg/roll
Garlic Basil Linguine Pasta: 10 mg/serving
Spinach Chive Linguine Pasta: 30 mg/serving
Lemon Pepper Pappardelle Pasta: 0 mg/serving

More TJ Goodies

Baking & Cooking Supplies:
100% Desert Mesquite Honey
Cinnamon Sticks (I use them in potpourri)
Clarified Butter (Ghee)
Grade A/B Maple Syrup
Lemon Curd
Coconut Cream
Pure Grade A Clover Honey
Pure Vanilla – Alcohol Free
Unbleached White Whole Wheat Flour
Whipping Cream - Shelf Stable (great to have on hand just in case)

Preserves and Nut Butters:
Almond Butter - Unsalted (easy to mix)
Unsalted Peanut Butter - Creamy (a natural P-nut butter that’s tasty and also easy to mix)
Preserves - Cherry, Blueberry, Blackberry
Seville Orange Marmalade

Soups and Other:
Organic Creamy Tomato Soup Low Sodium: 140 mg/cup
Organic Low Sodium Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup: 140 mg/cup
Solid White Albacore Tuna No Salt: 35 mg/2 oz
Solid White Albacore Tuna Half Salt: 90 mg/2 oz

Chips & Pretzels:
Organic White Corn Tortilla Chips - Unsalted
Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels No Salt on Top: 80 mg/oz (an every-once-in-a-while treat)

Candies: I love TJ dark chocolate covered dried fruits. They are all low in sodium.
Dark Chocolate Covered Blueberries
Dark Chocolate Covered Cherries
Dark Chocolate Covered Cranberries
Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans
Dark Chocolate Covered Raisins
Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds

Unsalted Butter
Ovoline Fresh Whole Milk Mozzarella: 25 mg/oz
Shredded Swiss & Gruyere Cheese Blend: 55 mg/oz
Fully Cooked Chicken Sausage - Sun-Dried Tomato & Spicy Jalapeno: 400 mg/link (I use 1 link for 2 servings)
Columbus Reduced Sodium Turkey Breast: 240 mg/2 oz
Columbus Low Sodium Dry Salami: 290 mg/5 slices
Persian Cucumbers (similar in taste & texture to English cukes but much smaller)
Cranberry Orange Relish -Seasonal (I buy several tubs at Thanksgiving and freeze them to use throughout the coming year)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Banana Bread: from Homemade Baking Mix

Banana Bread with Fruit for Breakfast
Banana bread is the perfect answer to those overripe bananas that have a way of accumulating. It seems like bananas can go from yellow and firm to spotted and soft overnight. Unfortunately, most banana bread recipes call for 3 - 5 bananas. I never have that many overripe bananas at a time. What to do? Freeze them! Whenever I spot an browning banana, I toss it into the freezer. I don’t bother peeling or mashing. Just the whole banana. Eventually, I’ll accumulate a few, and then it’s time to make banana bread.

Several months ago, I started using my Homemade Low Sodium Baking Mix in Bisquick’s Banana Nut Bread recipe. It was so easy and tasty, that I’ve been using it ever since.

Cooled and Ready to Cut

I’ve made a few changes to the Bisquick banana bread recipe. First of all, I used my homemade low sodium whole grain baking mix. I also increased the vanilla and added a bit of lemon juice to keep the bananas from darkening. Because bananas are so moist and can make baked goods heavy and dense, I also added a bit of both NSA baking powder and baking soda. And I don’t use the nuts. Finally, I bake the banana bread in either a square or round cake pan.

I wrote about the homemade baking mix a while ago. It was a recipe from King Arthur Flour. Unfortunately, the baking mix recipe I’d been using is no longer on their website. Another recipe, called Quick Mix, is posted instead. The biggest difference between the two mix recipes is that Quick Mix includes dried milk and/or dried buttermilk. I’m going to stick with the original recipe because I think it’s closest to Bisquick which does not contain any dry milk or buttermilk powder. I’ve had really good luck using Bisquick recipes but subbing my homemade mix and also omitting salt and using loso ingredients.

Want a piece?

Banana Bread (Homemade Baking Mix)
(Printable Recipe)

1⅓ cups mashed very ripe bananas* (approximately 3 large)
⅔ cup sugar
¼ cup milk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ - 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 eggs
¼ teaspoon Featherweight baking powder
⅛ teaspoon baking soda
2⅔ cups Homemade Low Sodium Baking Mix
½ cup chopped nuts (Optional)

Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease bottom of 9x5x3-inch loaf pan.

Stir bananas, sugar, milk, oil, vanilla and eggs in large bowl. Stir in baking mix and nuts, if using. Pour into pan.

Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean; cool 10 minutes. Loosen sides of loaf from pan; remove from pan and place top side up on wire rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.

*I use frozen bananas. I thaw the bananas in a bowl before peeling. The flesh slips out easily once thawed. Sometimes there are dark sections at the tips; I discard those. The frozen bananas are watery, but I do not drain off the liquid.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Unsalted Potato Chips

Unsalted Potato Chips

I know it sounds crazy, but I REALLY like unsalted potato chips. Truth be told, I actually like them better than the regular salted kind. They just taste so potato-ey. Years ago, I loved the idea of potato chips, but the actual experience never lived up to my expectations. After a couple of handfuls, my mouth started burning. It was the salt. Way too much.

I cannot imagine ever eating full salt potato chips again. I’ve tried Lay’s Lightly Salted potato chips. They have only 50% salt compared to the regular chips. As far as I’m concerned, they taste just fine. I can’t fathom why anyone would want more salt.

But back to the unsalted chips. I’m able to get both Kettle and Tim’s Cascade Style unsalted potato chips at my local grocery stores. The Kettle brand is a bit thicker than regular grocery store potato chips. The only downside is that they tend to get a bit greasy/oily near the bottom of the bag. It helps to store the bags upside down to distribute the oil better. Tim’s chips are super crunchy and thicker too. They’re also reduced fat, so they're not oily.

Whenever I shop, I pick up a couple of bags of whichever brand the store carries. Having a handful of crispy, crunchy potato chips makes even a so-so sandwich lunch something special. Throw in a Healthy Heart Market dill pickle, and there's no reason to complain about missing salt.

Chips & a pickle make a humble fried egg sandwich special!

I know other brands are out there, so look for them. I’d love to hear about what you’re able to purchase.