Monday, July 19, 2010

It pays to read the label

     A trip to the supermarket takes a little longer now.  Reading the labels and comparing the contents is an exercise in amazement and discovery.  I have been fooled before by labels that say "heart healthy", "low sodium" and "fat free".

     Just today I sought out fiber rich canned black beans.  The low sodium variety listed 180 milograms of sodium on the label.  But in the health food aisle I found Eden Organic Black Beans with "no salt added" - only 15 mg per serving.  No cholesterol, 1 gram of fat (not saturated or trans fat), 18 grams of carbs offset by 6 grams of dietary fiber.  7 grams of protein.  All good!  These will be in our low impact black bean quesadillas this week.

"No salt added" seems to be the phrase that is the most reliable predictor of sodium levels, as opposed to "Low Sodium" which is low relative to what?  Between two cans of green beans, the only difference in nutritional content is the milograms of sodium - 400 mg for one and 10mg for the "no salt added" variety.

I know what you are thinking... "but the no salt ones don't taste good."    My answer is that the "no salt added" ones taste different and the flavor of the beans can be enhanced by adding things like seasoned pepper or balsamic vinegar, or both!  Better yet, buy or grow fresh beans that taste good plain.

Penzey's Spices  offers a variety of seasonings that we have found to be very flavorful and more than adequate in replacing salt.  Adobo seasoning is one of our favorites for seasoning chicken, fish or pork. Penzey's recommends it for guacamole as well.  No sodium.  It's companion for Mexican cooking is Epazote which has a good relationship with all kinds of beans.  No sodium. I don't like to be without either of them.

This is a seasoning chart I have carried with me for 40 years. I have no idea what the source was but it served me well as I learned to cook.

This herb used forAppetizers & SoupsMeat & PoultryFish & ShellfishVegetablesSaladsEggs, Cheese, Sauces
ALLSPICEVegetable, Pea, Mock Turtle, TomatoSpaghetti Sauce, Spiced Beef, Tongue, Meat LoafClam Chowder, Court Bouillon for Cooking FishRed Cabbage, Beets, Pumpkin, Sweet PotatoesOrange and Grapefruit Salads
BASILTomato and Vegetable SoupsLiver, Lamb, Any stew, Beef StewBluefish, Halibut, MackerelCabbage, Egg Plant, Squash, TurnipsMixed Greens, Seafood, Tomato AspicAny Cheese, Rice or Macaroni Dish, Spanish Omelet
CLOVESTomato, Pea, Potato, BeanHam, Pork, Veal Loaf, Duck, Beef StewBeets, Beans, Baked Onions, Winter SquashFruit Salads
Cream, Pea, Asparagus, Tomato, Cheese Spreads, Avocado DipsChicken, Lamb, BeefFish stews or ShellfishCarrots, Cabbage, Rice, Beans, Mixed Vegetables, TomatoesFrench Dressing or MayonnaiseScrambled or Deviled Eggs
MARJORAMSpinach Soup, Oyster Stew, Vegetable JuicePot Roasts, Any Stew, Gravies & StuffingsAll Broiled Fish, Creamed Crab or ScallopsCarrots, Onions, Peas, SpinachMixed Greens, Chicken, SeafoodAny Egg or Cheese Dish, Creamed Sauce for Vegetables
OREGANOSoups, Minestrone, Tomato, Vegetable, AvolemenoFried Chicken, Kidney Stew, Pork VealMelted Butter served with Shellfish, Fish stuffingMushrooms, Onions, TomatoesMixed Greens, Potato, SeafoodOmelets, Italian Sauce
PAPRIKACream Soups, Chicken Broth, Potato Soup, CanapesVeal,Lamb,Pork,BeefAny Fish or ShellfishCabbage, Cauliflower, Potatoes, SquashFruit Salads, DressingsBaked, Poached, Omelets
PARSLEYGarnish in Canapes & SoupsStews, Steak Sauce, Stuffing, GarnishParsley Butter, Fish StuffingAll Vegetables and in Lemon Butter for Potatoes and CarrotsIn Salads or add to dressingSeasoning & Garnish - all dishes
SAFFRONChicken Soup, Soup StockChicken, Lamb, VealHalibut, SoleOnionsDeviled Eggs, SeafoodSpanish Rice, Saffron Butter Sauce
SAGEFish Chowder, Cottage Cheese SpreadPoultry Stuffing, Sausage, StewsBaked Fish, StuffingBeans, Onions, TomatoesSpanish Omelet
TARRAGONSoups, Tomato, Vegetable, Cheese SpreadsChicken, Game, Turkey, Sweetbreads, VealAny Fish or ShellfishAsparagus, Celery, Green Beasn, Peas, TomatoesAny Salad Dressing, Chicken, Sliced TomatoesAny Egg or Cheese Dish, Sauces, Bernaise, Tartar

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