Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Tessemae Salad Dressings

Tessemae Salad Dressings
I know that finding good tasting low sodium salad dressings can be quite difficult. Not impossible, but difficult nonetheless. The safest course of action is to make your own. But sometimes it’s really nice to have a bottle of commercially prepared dressing on hand.

The beauty of store bought salad dressings is their keepabiity. I don’t eat salads every day, so I like having a dressing in the fridge that won't go bad in a few days. Homemade dressing made with yogurt, buttermilk, fresh herbs, and fresh aromatics like onions and garlic need to be consumed within a few days. Even vinaigrette dressings. (That’s why when I make homemade dressings and I want to keep them for a couple of weeks, I use dried herbs and garlic.)

With that in mind, I’ve looked for low sodium commercially bottled salad dressings. I’ve tried several only to be repeatedly disappointed. My biggest complaint, with both regular or lower sodium dressings, is the consistency and texture. Way too many emulsifiers and thickeners (lowfat dressings are the worst). And each stabilizer adds a strange taste that must be masked by either sugar or salt. YUCK!
That’s why I was so happy to discover Tessemae salad dressings. This brand has several lower sodium options. As an added bonus, they’re all organic. Several also are dairy free, sugar free, vegan, gluten free and non GMO. My favorites so far are the Balsamic Vinaigrette (65 mg sodium/tbsp), Lemon Garlic (55 mg sodium/tbsp), and Honey Poppyseed (65 mg sodium/tbsp). I’ve found for a side salad, that 1 tablespoon works just fine. For a larger salad, I might use closer to 2 tablespoons. But even doubled, the sodium level is acceptable to me.

The balsamic is a basic vinaigrette featuring balsamic vinegar and can be used in salads or just drizzled on top of vegetables. The lemon garlic dressing is good all by itself and is also a perfect canvas for just about any seasoning additions you’d want. It doesn’t have any overpowering flavor notes, so it could be adjusted to all sorts of cuisines – Mexican, Asian, Italian, and more. I’ve added a spoonful of  salsa and a sprinkle of cilantro for a plain grilled chicken salad. A quick drizzle of soy sauce and sesame oil along with thinly sliced green onions creates an Asian-inspired salad. And, because of the lemon, it's great with a salad featuring any sort of fish, like tuna of salmon.

The honey poppyseed has the sweetness of typical coleslaw dressing. It’s great with cabbage or any salad that would be enhanced by a sweeter, creamier dressing. I also purchased some Creamy Caesar. At 170 mg sodium/2 tbsp, it’s a lot lower in sodium than other store-bought Caesar dressings. It’s got a nice peppery bite too.

Check out the website: Zesty Ranch & Cracked Pepper are both 65 mg sodium/tbsp, while Classic Italian is 70 mg sodium/tbsp. So Far, I've found Tessemae dressings locally at Safeway, Whole Foods, and Raley's. If you check out the website, it actually lists the stores for each separate salad dressing. Just click on the dressing you're interested in, and you'll get a page with the specific nutritional info and a listing of stores that carry that particular dressing.

Tessemae offers quality products with much lower sodium than most store bought salad dressings. They can be found in the refrigerated case of most grocery store produce sections.

Monday, July 3, 2017

365 (Whole Foods) Organic Applewood Smoked Turkey Breast Slices

Whole Foods Smoked Turkey Breast Slices

I know I’m late to the party, but I just discovered this product a few days ago, and what a find! 240 mg sodium for 2 oz or 4 slices. Wow! Compare those numbers to another easily available product such as Hillshire Farms Honey Roasted Turkey Breast at 410 mg sodium/2 oz serving. Applegate Organics/Naturals Smoked Turkey Breast is a lot better at 360 mg sodium/20 oz serving. But that’s still not as good as the 365 Applewood Smoked Turkey Slices.

Boar’s Head is a wonderful source for lower sodium deli style meats. It has a large selection of turkey breast products, including several smoked varieties. Their lower sodium Hickory Smoked Black Forest turkey breast is 390 mg sodium per 2 oz serving. Their Simplicity All Natural smoked turkey breast is only 250 mg sodium per 2 oz serving. Really great numbers! But there’s a problem. Not with the products but with availability. Boar’s Head makes the meats, but not every store carries all the varieties. In my local area, I’m only able to get low sodium plain roasted turkey breast. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a fine product. But it’s the smoky flavoring that I’m craving, and plain roasted turkey doesn’t satisfy that hankering.

I’m able to get packaged Applegate smoked turkey breast slices in several of my local supermarkets. It, too, is a fine product. My only complaint is that the smoke flavoring is very mild.

Only 240 mg sodium for a 2 oz serving (about 4 slices)

The 365 smoked turkey, however, has a more robust smoke flavoring that I really like. Its slices are also a bit thicker than most, making it easier to separate them. Also, 2 ounces adds up to four slices. Since the slices are a bit thicker, I’ve only used 2-3 slices per sandwich, lowering the sodium even more. Even with the reduced serving size, the smoky flavor still comes through.

So far I’ve used the 365 smoked turkey slices in cold sandwiches and salads. It’d also be good in scrambled eggs or omelets, grilled sandwiches, and any application where you’d normally use ham.

Smoked Turkey Sandwich with Summer Tomatoes and Lettuce

I only bought one package just to “test drive.” But next time I’m in Whole Foods, I plan to purchase at least two packages. I’m really happy to have made this discovery.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Chili Dogs

Chili Dogs Ready to Eat!
My husband and I have always loved chili dogs. Certainly not the healthiest things to eat, but they sure are tasty. Once we went low sodium, we pretty much gave up on them. But, as I’ve said before, “Alway Be Checking.” You just never know what you’re going to find.

The hardest part was finding hot dogs with low enough sodium content to use. That’s why I was so excited to discover Nature’s Rancher Uncured Pork & Beef hot dogs at Whole Foods. They’re only 250 mg sodium/link. That is really good for hot dogs! Once I had the hot dog problem taken care of, putting together lower sodium chili dogs was relatively easy.

(For a list of lower sodium hot dogs, click HERE)

I know finding ready-made low sodium hot dogs buns can be problematic. Some people really like King’s Hawaiian hot dog buns with only 130 mg sodium/bun, but they can be hard to find. Just remember, you don’t have to be tied to a traditional hot dog bun. I’ve used slices of homemade or store-bought low sodium bread for hot dogs. I just mist the bread lightly with water and microwave for about 5-8 seconds to soften it enough to wrap around a frankfurter. Other times, I’ve use low sodium homemade or store-bought flour tortillas. I’ve even used homemade hamburger buns, just cutting the hot dog lengthwise and flattening them a bit before putting into the bun. Of course, you can always make your own hot dog buns. Or you can make an open-face version using just half of a bun and eating it with a fork. And you can even forgo the buns altogether and top a hot dog with chili and all the fixings.

When it comes to the chili, I use my own hamburger/hot dog chili sauce topping. (Click HERE to read the recipe) I make up a pot full at a time. The chili sauce is all meat ‒ no beans, no chunky vegetables, no tomatoes ‒  and is made with all salt-free ingredients.

I’ve found that steaming or lightly simmering these lower sodium hot dogs produces the best texture. The links are kind of skinny, so broiling or grilling can dry them out. I’m not complaining, though. If the links were larger, they’d have more sodium.

Steaming - Almost Ready!
For me, the key to making really good chili dogs is to steam them a bit once they’re all put together. The hot frankfurter goes into a bun and is topped with NSA or low sodium mustard* (I always add a spoonful of low sodium sweet pickle relish* on mine), hot chili, a sprinkle of shredded cheese, and a handful of chopped onions. Then the whole thing is put into a shallow bowl or plate and microwaved for 8 - 12 seconds. When it comes out of the microwave, I cover it all with plastic wrap or a plastic microwave cover. (I’ll put a pot holder over the cover opening to keep the steam from escaping.) Alternately, you can wrap each individual chili dog in plastic wrap. But I find using a plate neater and easier. By the time I’m ready to serve up the hot dogs, they’ve been properly steamed.

Served with salt free french fries or potato chips, some NSA pickles, and you’ve got a great low sodium “fast food” treat.

*Low Sodium Chili Dog Condiments:

Westbrae No Salt Added Stoneground Mustard (Available at Amazon or Healthy Heart Market)

Boar’s Head Yellow Mustard (54% lower sodium – 25 mg sodium/tsp)