Monday, June 20, 2016


Sloppy Joe Sandwich with NSA Potato Chips
For some reason I got a hankering for an old timey favorite – Sloppy Joes. It had been years since I last made them. I didn’t even remember what recipe, if any, I used to follow. But I did remember that a pal from the GardenWeb Cooking Forum frequently posted a recipe she used from the Kansas State University Extension Service. I found it and happily realized I had everything I needed to make up a batch.

Once the ground beef was thawed, it came together easily and quickly. Paired with some homemade low sodium sandwich buns, it was a tasty meal, suitable for lunch, dinner, and family get togethers. I used all loso/NSA products, yet it was satisfyingly flavorful. Nothing bland or insipid about it at all. And the leftovers tasted just as good reheated the next day.

The sloppy joe mixture could be served on low sodium/NSA bread or biscuits instead of buns. Or used as a wrap filling for loso lavash. It'd be great with lightly steamed NSA corn tortillas or crisp taco shells. Not to mention lettuce wraps. It could also be a chunky spread/dip for loso crackers or tortilla chips. Even celery stalks. And I ate it once as a salad topping, sort of like a taco salad.

It’s one of those recipes that’s also very adaptable to what you have on hand. For example, I rarely keep fresh green peppers around, but I always have a package of the 3-pepper medley in my freezer. When I don’t have fresh onions, I’ll use dried onions if the recipe includes simmering in liquid. I also keep celery seed and dried celery flakes on hand for those times when I don’t have fresh celery in the crisper. Although tomato sauce probably works best, crushed tomatoes or diced/whole tomatoes run through the blender a bit would work just as well.

This was another one of those, “Why haven’t I made this more often?” moments. Needless to say, I’ll be including this recipe in our meal rotation, especially during the hot days of summer when slaving over a hot stove is definitely not appealing.

Sloppy Joe with NSA Potato Chips & NSA Dill Pickle
Here’s the recipe:

Sloppy Joes
Grainlady from Cooking Forum
(Printable Recipe)

½ C chopped onion
¼ C chopped green bell pepper (I use frozen pepper strips snipped into small pieces with a kitchen scissors)
¼ C chopped celery
1 LB ground beef
1 8-oz can tomato sauce (I used NSA)
¼ C catsup (I used NSA Heinz)
1 T vinegar (I used apple cider)
1 T sugar
(I also added 1 clove of crushed garlic; a dash of garlic powder would work fine too)

In a skillet, brown ground beef, onion, green pepper, and celery. Break the meat into small pieces. Brown until meat is cooked through and vegetables are slightly tender. Drain any fat or liquid from the meat mixture. Add the tomato sauce, catsup, vinegar, and sugar. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes over LOW heat. (Do not use high heat or the natural sugars in the tomato products may burn.) Add a little water if the meat mixture seems too thick. To serve, spoon the meat mixture into warm hamburger buns.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Tamale Pie - Classic American Style

American Style Tamale Pie

I love tamales. I love the meaty chili filling surrounded by masa. It’s one of my favorite things to order at a Mexican restaurant. I even like this casserole that uses a masa crust and tastes really close to the real thing. Yet, in spite of all this, I also like the old-fashioned American style Tamale Pie casserole. No attempt at trying to make it taste authentic. It’s a cornbread-like crust that tops a ground beef filling with tomatoes, bell peppers, corn, and just a hint of chili seasoning.

It had been a long time since I made Americanized tamale pie and the craving hit me recently. I started to look up recipes online but then remembered that I’d always used one from my very old Betty Crocker Cookbook. I found the recipe for “Fiesta Tamale Pie” and happily realized I had most of the ingredients on hand. It was easy to put together, easy to alter to low sodium, and the end result was quite tasty. I topped each serving with a combination of store-bought NSA pico de gallo along with some chopped avocado and extra cilantro. It was so enjoyable that I wondered why I hadn’t made it in a while. Now that I’ve rediscovered this classic and homey casserole, I know I’ll be making it more often. It’s a perfect one dish meal!

It also lends itself to lots of variations depending on what you’ve got available and what appeals to you. You could use ground turkey, chicken, or even pork instead of beef. You could substitute NSA/low sodium whole beans, especially pinto or black beans, for half or all the meat. Or you could do the same with the corn, using well rinsed hominy. Instead of regular NSA diced tomatoes, you good use unsalted Rotel for added spice. Or perhaps use some chopped jalapenos, Anaheims, or poblanos instead of all bell peppers. You could even substitute masa for half of the cornmeal in the crust.

Hot from the Oven!

Here’s my adaptation of the original Betty Crocker recipe:

Fiesta Tamale Pie
Adapted from Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cookbook – 1961
(Printable Recipe)

I small onion, finely chopped
⅓ cup chopped green bell pepper (optional)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. ground beef
1 14 oz. can NSA diced tomatoes
2 cups NSA frozen corn (I used 1 cup corn and 1 cup rinsed hominy)
1½ tsp. NSA chili powder
½ tsp. ground cumin
10 pitted ripe olives (I used Lindsay low sodium olives – 40 mg sodium/5 olives)
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup milk
2 eggs, well beaten
½ cup grated cheddar cheese (optional)

Heat oven to 350. Saute onion, bell pepper (if using), garlic, and ground beef together until meat is cooked through and vegetables have softened. Drain excess fat. Add tomatoes (with juice), corn, and seasonings. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Pour mixture into square 9 x 9 inch casserole dish. Press olives into mixture. Combine cornmeal, milk, and eggs. Spoon over filling. If desired, sprinkle top with cheese. Bake approximately one hour until cornbread topping is fully cooked. Let rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Safeway Multi-Grain Very Low Sodium Bread

Safeway's Low Sodium Bread
I enjoy making my own homemade bread, but I know others may not. Safeway’s low sodium bread is perfect for those looking for a good alternative to home baking. It’s sold exclusively by Safeway under their Signature Kitchens label. And, yes, it is truly low sodium: 5 mg sodium for a 2 slice serving. Although its first ingredient is white flour, the list also includes wheat bran, whole wheat flour, rye flour, cracked wheat, and flax seed. The bread comes in a 1 pound loaf (16 ounces) with 18 slices. The texture is soft, and the taste is pretty good. An added bonus is that it’s reasonably priced – between $3.00 $3.30 per loaf.

Only 5 mg Sodium for 2 Slices
I know there are other more well known low sodium breads available at many grocery stores. Both Food For Life Ezekiel 4:9 Low Sodium Sprouted Grain Bread (0 mg sodium/single slice) and Alvarado St. Bakery No Salt Sprouted Multi-Grain Bread (10 mg sodium/single slice) are made with organic sprouted grains. They both weigh 1.5 pounds (24 ounces) and contain 20 slices. The Food for Life costs between $4.00 to $4.50 per loaf, while the Alvarado St. loaf is around $6.00 to $6.60 each.

Two Safeway Slices
It never hurts to have more than one option available. So, if you’ve got a Safeway store nearby, consider its low sodium bread as another possibility in the ongoing search for products suited to a low sodium diet.