Monday, October 17, 2011

Ingredients label has a sweet spot

Blue Agave (Agave tequilana)Image via Wikipedia
"Agave tequilana," or blue agave plant, in Jalisco, Mexico.

I started using Organic Blue Agave Sweetener a few years ago after seeing it on the shelf at Trader Joe's in Paramus. 

But the ingredients label on the Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Blue Agave I found at Costco Wholesale recently contains a lot of information I seemed to have missed.

The natural nectar, extracted from the heart of the agave plant, "is a low-glycemic index sweetener, so it is slowly absorbed into the body, preventing spikes in blood sugar," according to the label.

"It is 25% sweeter than sugar, so you need less, and it has been consumed by ancient civilizations for over 5,000 years."

There's no mention of whether the nectar comes from the same part of the blue agave plant used to distill some of the best tequilas.

The label recommends using the sweetener whenever you use table sugar, such as for sweetening beverages and in baking. I use it in espresso and pour it over yogurt and hot, 10-grain cereal. 

The single ingredient listed is "organic light agave nectar." It's also gluten free.

The label identifies the sweetener as a product of Mexico, distributed by a company in Sugar Land, Texas.

Staying close to home

We've been wanting to try the Organic Tofu House in Ridgewood -- as we search for the best Korean soft-tofu stew in North Jersey -- but I just didn't feel up to getting on Route 17 and driving there.

So, on Saturday evening, we had dinner at one of our favorite places, Wondee's in Hackesnack, which is about a mile from our home.

I made a wonderful, meatless dinner of spicy soup with fresh shrimp, button mushrooms, chili oil and cilantro; crunchy green papaya salad with fish sauce; a whole, fried red-snapper covered in a sweet-and-sour red chili sauce; and a  bowl of brown rice.

My wife and son also had part of the fish, in addition to Thai wonton soup, with sliced pork; and fried pork, shrimp and crab dumplings, which were a bit dry. I mistakenly ordered them instead of the juicy steamed dumplings they prefer.

Wondee's menu also has a page of vegetarian appetizers and entrees, including a terrific mock-duck salad made with fried tofu and fruit.

The chef-owner, Wandee Suwangbutra, held the line on prices for a couple of years, but recently redid the menu. Her new price for a whole, wild-caught fish ($18) is still among the lowest around.

Wondee's Fine Thai Food & Noodles, 296 Main St., Hackensack; 
201-883-1700. Free parking in rear, BYO, no delivery.

The fatted goat

My wife defrosted a 3-pound package of Coleman's organic goat meat we bought at Whole Foods Market in Paramus ($7.99 a pound), only to discover an unusual amount of fat.

It's not the first time we've bought goat meat on the bone from Whole Foods, but it has never had so much fat, which my wife trims for her curry goat dish. We're looking for the receipt to return it.

In the past, we bought our goat meat in New York, at Fairway Market in Harlem, where we'd stop anytime we were on the way home from doing something in the city.

When Fairway opened its store at the Fashion Center in Paramus, I thought I'd have a reliable source for goat meat closer to home, but I was wrong. The store didn't stock any.

The butcher there said I could call and he'd have some sent over from Manhattan, but Fairway's frozen goat meat wasn't organic and there was no package information on how the animals were raised.

Coleman's label specifies the meat is halal and comes from animals raised without antibiotics, growth hormones and animal byproducts.

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