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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Exposing excessive salt, sugar in processed foods; plus, organic spaghetti from Italy

MARONE! Sugar is just as worrisome as excessive sodium in pasta sauces. A half-cup of Frescorti-brand Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce contains about 2 teaspoons of sugar in addition to 27% of the maximum amount of sodium you're supposed to consume in one day.
SWEET TOOTH? Rienzi-brand Marinara contains a little over 2 teaspoons of sugar and 25% of the maximum daily recommended sodium in a half-cup.


HACKENSACK, N.J. -- If you love pasta, shopping for a bottled sauce without too much salt and sugar involves a lot of label reading and Google searches.

Although the "Nutrition Facts" label on jars of marinara and other sauces gives you the percentage of the maximum daily recommended sodium in a half-cup, the amount of "sugars" is given only in grams.

A Google search reveals 4 grams is equal to one teaspoon of sugar.

So, the Frescorti-brand Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce I saw in the Paramus ShopRite has 2 teaspoons of sugar in a half-cup.

The Rienzi Marinara nearby had a little over 2 teaspoons of natural and added sugar in a half-cup.

To reduce the salt and sugar in the pasta sauce you prepare at home, blend half a jar with a low-sodium alternative, such as ShopRite's Wholesome Pantry Organic (8% sodium in a half-cup), or with a can of no salt added or low-sodium crushed tomatoes.

For example, Tuttorosso Crushed Tomatoes (no salt added) lists 1% sodium and 3 grams of "sugars" in a half-cup.

Another way is never to salt the water you use to boil your pasta, and if you use anchovies, to drain the can of oil and rinse the tiny fish before adding them to your sauce.

I also usually add red wine, extra-virgin olive oil, dried herbs and red-pepper flakes.

BETTER: Of the three bottled pasta sauces I saw at the Paramus ShopRite last week, Botticelli-brand Tomato & Basil had the lowest amount of salt and sugar. Still, with 20% sodium and 1 teaspoon of sugar in a half-cup, Botticelli had more salt than Victoria-brand sauces.
TWO SIDES OF GAROFALO: A 16-ounce package of non-organic Garofalo Linguine from Italy, above, was a pricy $2.89 at the Paramus ShopRite, Forest Avenue and Route 4 east. For Garofalo Organic pasta, you have to go to the Costco Business Center on South River Street in Hackensack.
ORGANIC SPAGHETTI: I bought eight 1.1-pound packages of Garofalo Organic Spaghetti for about $1.49 each at the Costco Wholesale Business Center. The best-if-used-by date is September 2020.
ORGANIC PASTA AND ANTIBIOTIC-FREE SHRIMP: For dinner one night, plus plenty of leftovers, above and below, I used a package of Garofalo Organic Spaghetti and 2 pounds of Responsibly Farmed Shrimp from Whole Foods Market in Paramus ($9.99 a pound); extra-virgin olive oil, fresh garlic, a can of organic diced tomatoes, some organic pasta sauce, red wine, anchovies, dried herbs and other seasonings.

Organic pasta

In the last few years, I've become a big fan of organic whole wheat spaghetti and other shapes from Italy, including the brands sold at ShopRite, Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe's.

In fact until recently, whole wheat was the only organic, non-GMO pasta available for a reasonable price at the North Jersey stores where I shop (currently about $1.50 for a full 1-pound package).

Now, the Costco Business Center at 80 S. River St. in Hackensack is selling packages of Garofalo Organic Spaghetti and other shapes, including Gemelli (twins) and Penne Rigate.

Pasta Garofalo was first produced in 1789, according to the Italian company's website.

But the site seems somewhat dated, as in this entry:

"We could boast about the fact that Pasta Garofalo has been considered the quality pasta par excellence since the twenty year Fascist period" -- a reference to former Prime Minister Benito Mussolini, who was strung up in April 1945.

If some Italians are taking this long to get over Mussolini, imagine how long some Americans will take to get over President Trump.

OTHER SHAPES: The Costco Business Center also bundles six 17.6-ounce packages of Garofalo Organic Gemelli, Penne Rigate and a third shape for $9.49 or about $1.58 each.

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