Saturday, September 15, 2012

Food puzzle: Cooking spray with no calories

Canola Oil Cooking Spray is a new item at Costco Wholesale.

I used the spray to make an omelet from Costco egg whites, smoked salmon and capers.

Editor's note: Today, I discuss a food with no calories or fat; an easy omelet, a lower price for organic salad mix, restaurant-quality takeout that is marked down after 4 p.m., and a new, great-tasting whole-wheat pasta.

I picked up a new item at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack the other day, looked at the "Nutrition Facts" and came up with zero.

Zero -- as in no calories, fat, cholesterol or sodium. The serving size is listed as "one-quarter sec. spray" or .25 grams.

Ingredients are "canola oil, soy lecithin, water and propellant."

Kirkland Signature Canola Oil Cooking Spray must be a miracle food. How do they do that?

Two 16-ounce cans were $5.99 with an instant coupon deducting $1.75.

The cooking spray reminds me of Lemon Lime Adirondack Seltzer, which lists "natural flavor" as one of the ingredients.

That seltzer also lists zero calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium or sugar.

Omelets galore

I used the cooking spray Friday morning to make an open-face omelet with grated cheese, wild smoked sockeye salmon and capers, all from Costco.

I usually use extra-virgin olive oil to cook my omelets. A tablespoon of oil contains 120 calories -- all from fat.

Omelet with diced organic tomato, cheese and za'atar thyme mixture.

Omelet with organic diced tomato and imported fresh buffalo-milk mozzarella.

Using egg whites from Costco, I started making open-face omelets that allow me to add a lot of ingredients, but don't require folding.

In the past, I tried to cram too much into a traditional omelet and even if I was successful in folding it in half, the omelet usually fell apart.

The open-face omelet just slides off the non-stick pan onto your plate.

I start with two mixed whole eggs or the equivalent in egg whites poured into an 8-inch non-stick pan, allowing the omelet to cook through from the bottom.

Once the bottom is set, I add the ingredients of the day as well as such accents as crushed Aleppo red pepper or za'atar, a dried thyme mixture. 

There is sodium in the egg whites and most of the ingredients I use, so there is no need to add salt.

Kirkland Signature Real Egg Product is 99% pure egg whites.

Earthbound Farm Organic Half & Half with added tomato and cucumber.

Salad price drops

My wife went to Costco Wholesale in Hackensack on Friday for more Earthbound Farm Organic Half & Half -- spring mix and baby spinach -- and when I looked at the receipt, I rubbed my eyes.

The Half & Half or Organic Spring Mix, sold in a 1-pound clear-plastic tub, usually sells for $4.79 to $4.99, the best price in North Jersey. 

But the organic salad mix rang up at only $3.99 -- a price I've seen only at a Costco in South San Francisco.

Sunset-brand Romana Tomatoes also were $3.99 for 2 pounds.

A 10-pound bag of Earthbound Farm Organic Carrots was $6.99.

Lundberg organic brown rice doesn't require pre-soaking.

Amazon saves the day

I was disappointed last week when I went in search of Della-brand Organic Long Grain Brown Rice and found out Costco had discontinued the item.

When I got home, I went online and found Lundberg Organic Brown Long Grain Rice at, and ordered six 2-pound packages.

Like the Della-brand rice, this rice doesn't require pre-soaking and can be prepared in an electric cooker.

But the Lundberg rice appears to be grown in California, not in the South, where Della grows its rice.

Consumer Reports magazine has said that rice grown on old cotton fields in the South may contain traces of arsenic, which was used to kill the boll weevil, a beetle that feeds on cotton buds and flowers.

"We pride ourselves on growing rice that is good for you and the environment," the Lundberg package states.

The plastic bag is BPA-free.

Jerry's red snapper with vegetables and a cheese-stuffed mushroom.

Good eating tonight

After a hard, 4-hour volunteer shift at the hospital on Wednesday, cooking dinner was the furthest thing from my mind, but I had skipped lunch and was hungry.

On the way home, I stopped at Jerry's Gourmet and More in Englewood, and picked two Meals To Go -- red snapper and fried shrimp.

The restaurant-quality dinners are $7.99 each, but it was after 4 p.m., so I paid only $5.99 each.

My red-snapper dinner came with carrot, string beans, a stuffed mushroom cap, roast potatoes and pasta.

I left the starches for someone else, poured a glass of red wine, made a salad and savored every bite.

Colavita Whole Wheat Capellini with sardines and anchovies.

New whole-wheat pasta

Besides the dinners, I picked up two 16-ounce packages of imported whole-wheat pasta at Jerry's.

The Colavita Spaghetti and Capellini are $1.49 each -- 10 cents more than Trader's Joe's Organic Whole Wheat Spaghetti, Penne or Fusilli.

As part of my diet, I've stopped eating white pasta. 

Colavita and Trader Joe's 100% whole-wheat pastas taste the same as regular pasta, but contain much more fiber and leave you feeling satisfied longer.

The Colavita package recommends using "4 to 6 quarts of slightly salted water," but you can use far less water and skip the salt.

There is already plenty of sodium in the  Victoria-brand bottled Marinara Sauce I used on Friday night, as well as the sardines and anchovies in their oil, so why add more?

I also found the 3-minute cooking time listed to be optimistic. I cooked the pasta for 5 minutes before draining it and mixing it with the bubbling sauce.

This morning, I plan to have some leftover whole-wheat capellini topped with two organic eggs sunny side up.

I love breaking the yolks over the pasta, and eating them together.

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