Worth Trying in the New Year
New Year's resolutions are made to be broken, but end-of-year roundups can be helpful.
I am the pickiest of grocery shoppers and a vocal critic of prepared/manufactured foods. But every year I find a few good things to talk about.
n Arnold Select Sandwich Thins: These round sandwich (or burger) rolls are only 100 calories, come in whole grain, contain no high fructose corn syrup and, most important, taste good from the bag or toasted. Two slices of most breads add about 200 calories to a sandwich, so the difference is appreciable. Pepperidge Farms has responded with a lookalike that I haven't tried yet.
n Laughing Cow Lite Original and flavored spreadable Swiss cheese wedges. Three things appeal to me: At 30 calories, they taste rich and creamy. Portions are individually wrapped - one is enough to spread on a bagel or several crackers. The foil-wrapped wedges come in a delightfully retro round cardboard container opened by pulling a string. Laughing Cow isn't cheap, but is often on sale at discounters like Walmart.
n Progresso Tomato Basil Soup: Deep, wonderful tomato color and flavor. I coarsely grate a carrot, small zucchini and potato, cook them in water until tender, drain off some of the water and add the soup. This soup also benefits from slices of Italian turkey sausage broiled until crispy, then stirred into soup just before serving.
n Still on the soup shelf: Campbell's Select Harvest Caramelized French Onion Soup. Heat with an equal amount of beef broth, ladle into crocks, top with a thin slice of bakery baguette, spoon more broth over bread (so it won't soak up soup from the crock), top with shredded Swiss and Parmesan cheese and bake until bubbly. Almost as good as a French bistro.
n Fresh Market is full of wonderful stuff. I make special trips for Friendship Whipped 1 percent cottage cheese, freshly ground peanut butter and square ciabatta rolls, four to a package. Get them the day they are baked and freeze.
n Walmart has two hard-to-find items: Bailey Farms yellow, red and orange mini-peppers sold in a pint container. So cute, so sweet, practically seedless. Great for salads, or cut them in half and fill with Laughing Cow for a healthy snack. Also Boudreaux's Crawfish Tail Meat, cooked, peeled, deveined. Comes from China, not Louisiana, but works in gumbo.
n At Big Lots, I found pitted kalamata olives in brine. A 16-ounce jar was only $3.
n Edamame (soybeans), long popular in natural foods stores, have entered the mainstream. Fresh-frozen bright green edamames are protein-rich, look like fat lima beans, have a mild taste and pleasant texture. Pictsweet brand has edamames in the pod (which isn't edible). Organic brands offer them shelled. They cook quickly, are an interesting addition to vegetable soup.
n From the plethora of yogurts, I insist on Activa Lowfat Plain, in a pint tub. Swirl in a spoonful of apple butter, chocolate or maple syrup for a far better flavor than over- or artificially sweetened individual-serving containers. Cheaper, too.
n Kahiki-brand frozen egg rolls, only 70 calories in the vegetable variety, and quite flavorful (discard sauce packets, use plain soy sauce instead). However, these are triple-wrapped: carton, plastic tray, individual sleeve. I have a huge problem with over-wrapped foods. They are expensive - but Harris Teeter runs twofers.
n Last, the discovery that graham cracker and Oreo pie crusts are a perfect base for cheesecake. Break up the crust in food processor, press into greased springform and fill with cheesecake batter. I use the Oreo for chocolate cheesecake - costs much less than the chocolate wafer crumbs most recipes suggest.
Contact Deborah Salomon at email@example.com.
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