Sunday, March 1, 2009

This & That - Spices, Snacks, & Tools

Salt Free Spice Blends

Several weeks ago my daughter & I were shopping at Cost Plus World Market and I noticed some intriguing spice blends. Most of the time when I find new spice blends, I'm immediately excited and then terribly disappointed. Upon careful inspection I'll discover salt listed as the first ingredient. You can imagine my surprise when I found several spice blends without any salt whatsoever. I plunked some into my shopping cart. Since them, I've been using these new spice blends more and more. The Thai Spice blend is great sprinkled on Asian inspired dishes. I've used the Greek Mediterranean blend on roasted asparagus and chicken. I've used the Garlic Pepper blend on all kinds of things, including last week's rib roast. The Cal Mex & the Fajitas blends are great for Mexican inspired dishes. The Jerk Chicken & Fish blend is tasty too. And the Key Lime blend has a spicy & tangy citrus kick to it. To tell the truth, I wasn't expecting much, but I'm really impressed with the flavors. The best part? These are great spice blends that I don't have to send away for. I've got a World Market nearby.


In the last month or so, all my local grocery stores have started carrying Newmans' Unsalted Rounds Pretzels. A serving size of eight pretzels(about 1 oz.) has 105 mg sodium. In the past I usually could buy Snyder's of Hanover's Unsalted Mini Pretzels (1 oz. [about 20 pretzels] = 75 mg sodium), but now it's getting more difficult to find them. The Newman's pretzels are harder & denser than the Snyder's. We enjoy their crunch, but they are a bit higher in sodium content.

We recently discovered Colombo Sesame Breadsticks produced by the same people who make wonderful San Fransisco style sourdough breads. These hard, crunchy breadsticks are coated in sesame seeds. A serving size of four sticks (1/2 oz.) has only 35 mg. of sodium. Like pretzels, they're great served with mustard or a homemade low sodium dip.

Helpful Tools

Right after getting my new Zojirushi bread machine, I bought a new & better food scale on sale at Bed, Bath, & Beyond. As I started making more & more dinner rolls and sandwich buns, I realized I needed an accurate and easy to use scale for dividing up the dough. I bought an Oxo Good Grips User-Friendly Food Scale. I can press the zero button to offset the weight of any containers I use. It's got a nice, large flat base, and, if necessary, I can pull the display away from the base for better visibility. I can weigh in metric or imperial weights too.

I use the scale all the time when baking now. It makes it so much easier for me to get uniformly sized buns and rolls. I also use it when breaking up bulk food items into smaller, more user friendly sizes. For example, last week I bought a two pound loaf of our favorite Tillamook Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese on sale. Using the scale, I was able to measure out perfect two ounce portions of the cheese for storage in the fridge. I also often use my food processor for shredding an entire loaf of cheese and then package up the shreds in two ounce portions. I'll freeze those and pull out a portion as needed. This helps me keep track of the sodium content of dishes with cheese in them.

I have even taken to using it when portioning out our meals. Not necessarily for calorie counting but to just make sure I'm divvying up the dishes equally. I wouldn't want to cheat either me or my husband.

The other item I've been using a lot is a small mini whisk. It really comes in handy when I'm blending a small amount of something -- thickeners for gravies & sauces, salad dressings, etc. I picked it up in the kitchen section of my local Safeway market.


Elenka said...

As always, thanks so much for all your advice. I could never do all that research myself.

OhioMom said...

I love World Market, and have never been disappointed in anything I have purchased there. I have my eye on one of their teacups with the strainer inside ... lol .. sometimes I just go there and wander around, while my daughter shops :)

shambo said...

Elenka, thank you for your kind comments. I'm more than happy to pass alone whatever information I happen to come across. I hope it is helpful.

Linda, I think I could easily spend way too much money at World Market. I love the different types of ethnic foods available and I also love their bed & bath section. It's a really good thing that I don't shop there more often.