Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Yams, farmed salmon, Costco Wholesale and more

A wedge of a frittata, made with store-bought pesto and boiled yam slices, feels at home plated with leftover organic whole-wheat pasta shells with pesto and salted cod fish.

The frittata puffing up under the broiler. I spooned on Kirkland Signature Basil Pesto from Costco Wholesale after removing the pan from the oven.


I've been yamming it up in the kitchen.

I couldn't resist that play on words after preparing a frittata with sliced yams, pesto and cheese.

Yams are said to be starchier and drier than sweet potatoes, and may not be the best choice on my no-bread, no-pizza diet, but they taste as sweet.

For the egg mixture, I used three whole organic brown eggs, a 16-ounce carton of 100% egg whites, grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese and a little low-fat organic milk, all from Costco Wholesale.

The mixture was poured into a hot, non-stick pan with oil and allowed to set over a medium-high flame before I placed the yam slices -- boiled for about 15 minutes -- and reduced-fat Jarlsberg Lite Swiss Cheese (also from Costco) into the mixture.

A frittata allows you to layer yam slices, sweet potatoes, cheese or other fillings.

I finished the frittata under the broiler, set on low, for about 10 minutes or until it browned and puffed up. The pesto was added after I removed it from the oven.

I prefer to make frittatas instead of omelets that are folded, because the former allows you to use more yams, cheese or whatever you are stuffing it with.

A couple of years ago, I put a note in the suggestion box at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack, asking for lactose-free milk. On Monday, I saw 96-ounce containers of 2% lactose-free milk for the first time, but I use 1% lactose-free milk from ShopRite, and would really like to see Costco give members a price break on organic lactose-free milk. Organic milk contains about 60 percent more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids than non-organic varieties, according to Consumer Reports on Health.

Salmon warning

Consumer Reports on Health says that "in general," farmed salmon isn't as good for you as wild-caught salmon.

"Some research suggests farmed salmon may harbor higher mercury and pesticide residues and higher levels of possible carcinogens called PCBs," according to the March 2014 edition of the newsletter.

"The risks depend on how the salmon was raised and what it was fed. So it makes sense to spring for wild salmon," the newsletter says, adding both contain high levels of omega-3, the fatty acids that may support heart health.

Whole Foods Market pledges that all of the farmed seafood it sells is free of pesticides and antibiotics, but Costco Wholesale and other retailers rarely tell consumers anything more than that their farmed salmon is artificially colored.

The March 2014 edition also lists four seasonings that may improve your health: chili pepper, cinnamon, sage and turmeric.

'Poultry litter'

The April 2014 Consumer Reports on Health reiterates the consumer organization's recommendation to buy antibiotic-free poultry, and notes organic poultry "is raised almost always without the routine use of antibiotics."

"The widespread use of those drugs in food animals is triggering a rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria," the newsletter says.

Then, the newsletter notes, "Organic birds can't be fed poultry litter (a mixture of droppings, spilled feed, and feathers) or arsenic drugs."

Isn't that an appetizing notion, that poultry raised on harmful antibiotics also may dine on feathers and droppings?

The newsletter also notes there are "no government-approved organic standards for seafood."

Grass-fed cattle

"As with chicken, organic cattle aren't raised with routine antibiotics, but for optimal nutritional benefits, look for organic meat that's also labeled "American Grassfed Approved" or "USDA Process Verified grass-fed," according to the newsletter.

"Studies suggest that meat from such animals might provide more health benefits than meat from animals fattened on a conventional diet of grain."

Both organic and non-organic beef and lamb from Australia and New Zealand are often labeled "grass fed," and they are available at ShopRite, Costco and Trader Joe's.

Even with more than 25 staffed checkout lanes, shoppers waited in long lines on Sunday at the Trader Joe's Chelsea in Manhattan, above.

A sign outside a deli on Seventh Avenue in the Chelsea section of Manhattan.

Lazy afternoons

My afternoon visits to Costco Wholesale in Hackensack keep on paying off in a less-crowded, less-frenetic shopping experience than the mad morning rush.

Just inside the door on Monday, I couldn't resist picking up another no-iron, 100% cotton dress shirt with a spread collar for only $17.99, and it isn't made in China.

Two 96-0unce bottles of Kirkland Signature Organic Lemonade (18% juice) were $5.99, two dozen KS Organic [Brown] Eggs were $6.99, and six 16-ounce cartons of KS Egg Whites were $8.79.

Three half-gallons of KS Organic Milk (1%) were $9.99, and four half-gallons of Tropicana Orange Juice were $11.59.

Wild-caught haddock fillets from Iceland were $8.99, a 1-pound tub of Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix was $4.79; and 5 pounds of seedless Red Globe Grapes from Peru were $7.99, but the label says they are "treated with sulfer dioxide for fungicide use, [and] please rinse well."

A 2-pound package of reduced-fat Jarlsberg Lite Swiss Cheese has a new package, but is still $8.59; and a new item, a 2-pound package of sliced Adams Reserve New York Extra Sharp Cheddar, aged more than 12 months, was only $6.99.

Three pounds of bananas were $1.39, the lowest price in North Jersey.

All organic products, whether you buy them at Costco or elsewhere, are free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Timing is everything

At H Mart is Fort Lee, a 1-pound, 3-ounce package of stir-fried vermicelli noodles with vegetables from Pinocchio Catering is usually $5.49, but after 7 p.m. on Saturday, they were half price. 

I picked up two for $5.49.

The Korean supermarket also was having a sale on scallions -- five bunches for 99 cents.

At the H Mart in Englewood, some prepared Korean food from Jinga goes on sale after 4 p.m.

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