Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sugar-free marinara, easy bok choy, Jerry's and more

I prepared imported whole-wheat shells from Whole Foods Market with canned yellowfin tuna, organic diced tomatoes and a bottled marinara sauce with sugar, and wasn't as happy with the outcome as I've been when I've used a sugar-free sauce from Costco Wholesale or Trader Joe's. 

Editor's note: Today's all-you-can-read buffet includes notes on sugar-free marinara sauces, an easy preparation for greens, reduced-fat cheeses, bargain takeout dinners and a meat-free Thanksgiving.

By Victor E. Sasson

I'm swearing off bottled marinara sauce with sugar, which gave my favorite pasta preparations an off taste.

The 100% whole-wheat spaghetti, linguine, shells and other shapes I buy have a nutty flavor. They don't need sugar to make them appetizing.

I don't put sugar in coffee or tea; and don't eat cake, pie and other sugary snacks, so why put sugar in my pasta?

At Costco Wholesale today, I picked up sugar-free Victoria Marinara Sauce, which is made with Italian tomatoes and comes highly rated by Consumer Reports magazine.

Two 40-ounce bottles were on sale for $6.14 (regularly $8.39).

Kirkland Signature Marinara, Costco's house brand, also is made without sugar.

Three 32-ounce bottles have a new label and a higher price than when they were introduced, but they are still a bargain at $2.66 a bottle.

The new label and higher price for Kirkland Signature Marinara.

I also like another sugar-free sauce, Trader Joe's Marinara, but the 28-ounce can has to be supplemented with tomato sauce or diced tomatoes, if you prepare a full pound of pasta.

Two other bottled sauces I've used, from Tuscan Traditions Organic and Gefen, list sugar right after the first ingredient, tomatoes.

Trim the end of baby bok choy, separate stalks and wash under cold water. Then plunge the pieces into boiling water for a few minutes, above, before transferring them to another pan with warmed sesame oil and sake, rear.

I seasoned the bok choy with a little salt, garlic powder and Kirkland Signature Organic No Salt Seasoning from Costco Wholesale.

Easy bok choy

You can skip stir frying when preparing baby bok choy or almost any other Asian or American green.

The first step is to trim and cut the greens into smaller pieces, and rinse them under cold water.

Second, blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes and transfer them to another pan or drain the boiling water.

Third, season with sesame or extra-virgin olive oil; salt, garlic powder and no-salt seasoning.

Fourth, enjoy.

Easy baby bok choy with fresh, wild-caught flounder fillets poached in bottled Mexican Green Salsa and fresh lime juice. The fish, from Canada, was $7.99 a pound today at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack.
Part of the cheese section at my Hackensack Costco.

Say reduced-fat cheese

I picked up three reduced-fat cheeses at my Hackensack Costco today -- thin-sliced Jarlsberg Lite Swiss, a wedge of aged Parmigiano Reggiano from Italy and the same great cheese, shredded and bottled, for use in frittatas, omelets and pasta dishes.

A 2-pound package of Jarlsberg Lite is $8.59. The Parmigiano Reggiano is $10.69 a pound in a wedge, and $13.59 shredded in a 16-ounce plastic bottle that carries the Kirkland Signature label.

The Italian cheese is made from part skimmed cow's milk, and aged more than 24 months.

Parmigiano Reggiano has been made in Italy since before the Renaissance, according to tiny print on the plastic wrapper only a teenager can read.

The milk comes from provinces surrounding Parma, and the wedges have "nutty and sharp notes," with crystals of calcium throughout.

The package suggests shaving the cheese and drizzling it with olive oil, but you can also eat it with fruit and nuts, such as roasted almonds dusted with cinnamon, or add shavings to fried eggs sunny side up.

The package recommends trimming the inedible rind, cutting up the wedge into three or four pieces and wrapping them tightly in plastic wrap. 

I don't wrap them. I store them in Snapware, plastic containers I found at Costco that have rubber seals.

A restaurant-quality takeout dinner from Jerry's Gourmet & More in Englewood included grouper with pesto under a tomato slice, center; stuffed zucchini, caponata, snap peas and dumplings. 

Meals To Go

Jerry's Meals To Go -- complete, restaurant-quality dinners -- are still North Jersey's best bargain in takeout, whether you pay the full price of $7.99 or the reduced price of $5.99 after 4 p.m.

I plate the food and reheat it in the microwave for about 4 minutes.

After 4:30 on Wednesday afternoon, I found dinners with salmon, tilapia, grouper and shrimp. Pork and chicken also are available.

Jerry's is at 410 S. Dean St. in Englewood (1-201-871-7108).

If you go, don't miss the retail store at Balthazar Bakery, 214 S. Dean St. in Englewood, where the crusty baguettes are still only $2.

Another Jerry's takeout dinner included shrimp with prosciutto and spinach; spaghetti with seafood and three vegetables.

Meat-free turkey day 

For Thanksgiving, Whole Foods Market will be 
selling a Vegan Dinner for 1 and Trader Joe's will offer a vegan Turkey-Less Stuffed Roast with Gravy.

The Vegan Dinner for 1 ($16.99) is 100% meat-free Gardein roast stuffed with "a savory mix" of vegetables, wild and brown rices, and dried cranberries.

You also get butternut squash puree, cranberry orange relish, green beans with almonds and vegan wild mushroom gravy.

Trader Joe's roast weighs 2.5 pounds ($9.99). Ingredients include soy, peas, wheat and ancient grains, and it comes with stuffing and gravy.


  1. Is that a serious question? You need someone to tell you why sugar might e in a pasta sauce?

    1. It's an unnecessary additive, and plenty are made without it.


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