Thursday, August 25, 2016

Trader Joe's Multigrain Slims

Trader Joe's Multigrain Slims
I know these aren’t a new product, but I noticed them for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Up until then, the only lower sodium TJ bread products I was aware of were its salt free multigrain bread and its lavash. However, I rarely, if ever purchased either of those products. I don’t really care for the texture of the bread, and California Lavash makes a product that is lower in sodium and readily available at all my local grocery stores. But for some reason I decided to check the sandwich thins, and I’m glad I did.

Only 100 mg Sodium per Sandwich Thin
If you’re not into making your own breads, these are perfect for sandwiches and burgers. I know how difficult it is to find low sodium sandwich/hamburger buns in grocery stores. The sodium level can range from the low 200s to over 400 mg sodium per bun. However, the TJ thins are only 100 mg per roll. Yes, that’s right! 100 mg sodium per roll/bun/thin (whatever you want to call them). Two slices with just 100 mg sodium. Pretty amazing!
Summertime Tomato Sandwich
As a bonus, they’re tasty too. And they hold up to pretty messy sandwiches. I’ve used them now with burgers and our summertime favorite, garden fresh tomato sandwiches. Unfortunately, I only bought one package to “test drive.” Now that I’ve discovered how great they are, I plan to keep 2-3 packages on hand in my freezer for those times when I’m not up to making my own homemade bread.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Bratwurst Burgers

Bratwurst Burger
A while ago I read an online discussion about Johnsonville Bratwurst Grillers, patties of bratwurst sausage. All of the comments were positive, extolling the convenience and taste. I remember thinking at the time, “What an interesting idea.” And, as often happens, I promptly forgot about it.  Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. I was searching online for something – I can’t remember what – and came across a recipe on the Swift Premium Pork website for a homemade version of bratwurst burgers. I realized I had all the ingredients on hand and that it was easily adapted to low sodium. So I figured I’d give it a try. Boy, am I glad I did. The brats burgers were delicious!
Broiling
Making them was easy as can be, and the end result was outstanding. It truly satisfied my husband's sausage craving. I used ground pork purchased from a local butcher shop and broiled them in my toaster oven because it was way too hot outside. I’m sure they’d be even better grilled.
Seasonings
The recipe calls for a bit of cream mixed into the ground pork. That seemed to keep the burgers soft and moist. It also called for 2 teaspoons of sugar, but I think 1 teaspoon would suffice. I followed the recipe except for omitting the salt. Later, after eating our first batch, I looked up some bratwurst recipes online. Some called for the addition of either celery or caraway seeds. That might be an option if you like those flavors. The same with adding some dry mustard. Also, many recipes stipulated mace instead of nutmeg. I plan to try that next time.
Shaping
I put together the brats mixture about 1 hour before cooking the first batch. I shaped all four patties at the same time using a handy gizmo from my local grocery store. The first burgers were very tasty, but the 2nd batch, that had been in the fridge overnight, were great. The spices had melded together perfectly. Served on homemade low sodium buns, with salt free mustard and dill pickles from Healthy Heart Market, and unsalted potato chips or pretzels, the brat burgers were a perfect summer (or winter, fall, or spring) meal.
With NSA Pickle & Potato Chips
Bratwurst Burgers
Adapted from Swift Premium

1 pound ground pork
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoons ground nutmeg or mace
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground sage
½ teaspoon ground marjoram
½ teaspoon dry mustard (optional)
¼ - ½ teaspoon celery or caraway seeds (optional)

Directions:
Stir together cream, sugar, nutmeg/mace, coriander, onion powder, pepper, ginger, sage, marjoram, seeds and dry mustard (if using). Pour over ground pork in large bowl and mix (I use disposable vinyl gloves for mixing and shaping). Form mixture into four 3/4-inch-thick patties.

Cook patties, uncovered, for about 12 minutes or until instant-read thermometer inserted near centers reads 160°F, turning patties over halfway through cooking.




Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Low Sodium Party Snack Mix

Low Sodium Party Snack Mix
Everyone loves crunchy snacks! Whether it’s potato chips, popcorn, cheesy crackers, trail mix, or pretzels – they’re tasty and fun to eat. Unless you’re on a low sodium diet, that is. Then it can be hard to find suitable snacks that are satisfyingly crunchy, tasty, and low in sodium. Thank goodness products like unsalted potato chips and tortilla chips are becoming easier to find in most grocery stores.

But one of my favorite snacks will never, ever be considered a low sodium treat. I’m talking about cereal-based party mix, a close cousin to trail mix. Unfortunately, it’s a sodium nightmare. Sodium laden cereal; salted nuts, pretzels, and bagel chips; along with salted butter, and seasoned salt. What a boatload of salt! The good news is that if you change the ingredients, you can create a super crunchy and tasty treat, just as good as the original but without all the sodium. And you can use better quality ingredients and change the proportions a bit to make it a nutritious, fiber rich snack too.

I’ve been making this low sodium snack treat for a few years now. The only downside is that it is so irresistible that I want to eat more than I should at one sitting. I use salt free bite-size shredded wheat and whole grain corn puffs as a cereal base. I also add a slightly sweet low sodium cereal and unsalted pretzels. I increased the amounts of nuts/seeds used to give the snack mix more nutrition and protein. (Nuts.com is a good source for all kinds of unsalted raw and toasted nuts/seeds.) Finally, I use unsalted butter, NSA seasoning blends (usually Forward from Penzeys), and low sodium Worcestershire sauce (French’s or Lea & Perrins). The end result is a great snack that doesn’t last long at our house.
Ready for Seasoning
One great thing about the recipe is that it can be easily doubled or tripled if you have a crowd. Also, it’s very flexible. Measurements and quantities don’t have to be exact. A little more or less of anything won’t make much of a difference. I avoid using small nuts or seeds. I think sunflower and sesame seeds would get lost in the mix, but pepitas are a really nice size. Their green color is a welcome addition too. Pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, and peanuts are great nut choices. I particularly like  pistachios. They’re the perfect size and texture with a delicious flavor and unusual green color. Macadamia nuts are wonderful too. They’re really crunchy but with a slight sweetness and a hard to describe buttery crispness.

LOW SODIUM PARTY MIX
6 Cups “Stuff”: Mix and match to suit your taste – just be sure to use a total of 6 cups.
3 Cups Low Sodium/NSA Cereal (See examples below)
2 Cups Unsalted Nuts/Seeds (See examples below)
1 Cup Unsalted Pretzels (See examples below)
Flavorings:
3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1 Tablespoon Low Sodium Worcestershire Sauce:
1 Teaspoon NSA Seasoning Blend of Choice
½ Teaspoon NSA Garlic Powder
½ Teaspoon NSA Onion Powder
Ready for Oven/Microwave
Microwave Directions:
In large microwavable bowl, mix cereals, nuts, and pretzels; set aside. In small microwavable bowl, microwave butter uncovered on High about 40 seconds or until melted. Stir in seasonings. Pour over cereal mixture; stir until evenly coated. Microwave uncovered on High 5 to 6 minutes, thoroughly stirring every 2 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool. Store in airtight container.

Oven Directions:
Heat oven to 250 degrees. In a large bowl, mix cereals, nuts, and pretzels; set aside. In small microwavable bowl, microwave butter uncovered on High about 40 seconds or until melted. Stir in seasonings. Pour over cereal mixture; stir until evenly coated. Pour cereal mixture into large ungreased roasting pan. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool. Store in airtight container.
Baking
VARIATIONS
Asian:
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1 Tablespoon NSA Toasted Sesame Oil
1 – 2 Tablespoons Low Sodium Soy Sauce (Depending on sodium content)
½ Teaspoon Sugar
½ Teaspoon Powdered Ginger
½ Teaspoon NSA Onion Powder
½ Teaspoon NSA Garlic Powder
¼ – ½ Teaspoon NSA 5 Spice Powder (Optional)
South of the Border:
Substitute  1 – 2 Tablespoons low sodium taco sauce for Worcestershire
Season with a chili flavored NSA blend
Barbecue:
Substitute  1 – 2 Tablespoons low sodium barbecue sauce for Worcestershire
Season with favorite NSA barbecue dry rub
Ready for Munching
INGREDIENT EXAMPLES

Cereals:
O Organics Wheat Squares – 100 Mg/ ¾ Cup
Barbara’s Honest O’s Multigrain – 20 Mg/1 Cup
Barbara’s Multigrain Puffins – 80 Mg/ ¾ Cup
Unsalted Pretzels:
Unsalted Large (Broken into 1-Inch Pieces)
Nuts/Seeds: