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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Check first for excessive salt and sugar, then enjoy the poetry of some food labels

Kirkland Signature Wild Alaskan Smoked Sockeye Salmon from Costco Wholesale with organic sunny side up eggs, also from Costco, and brown rice.
Along with organic salsa and low-fat Swiss cheese, the same smoked wild salmon makes a delicious filling in an egg-white omelet.


HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Did you know those silken, pleasantly salty slices of smoked wild salmon from Costco Wholesale were previously frozen?

Or that the wedge of crumbly Parmigiano Reggiano, which is cut and packed in Italy for Costco, is a hard cheese "made today as it was centuries ago"?

You can find this and other information about some of the best items at Costco on the same labels that list sugar and sodium content.

And all of the Kirkland Signature items I discuss today are a much better value than national brands sold in supermarkets.

Frozen whole

The Kirkland Signature Wild Alaskan Smoked Sockeye Salmon, for example, is from fish that are immediately frozen whole after they are caught "in the ice-cold waters off the coast of Alaska."

Then, the salmon are "cold smoked using time-honored traditions and minimal ingredients: salt, brown sugar and natural wood smoke." 

"Sockeye Salmon are a natural source of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids."

A 2-ounce serving of the smoked salmon, which is sliced, contains 650 milligrams of sodium or 27% of the recommended daily limit.

I usually use about that or less with eggs or in an omelet or sandwich. 

I also like to roll up slices of salmon and reduced fat-Swiss cheese with organic mixed greens and a little Dijon mustard for a breadless snack.

Avoid smoked salmon from farmed fish, which are usually raised with harmful antibiotics and colored artificially.

Costco Wholesale's price of $18.89 for 1 pound of Wild Alaskan Smoked Sockeye Salmon is lower than at any other store in northern New Jersey.

Italian geography

The wrapper for the Parmigiano Reggiano -- often called "the King of Cheeses" -- offers a geography lesson:

The cheese "uses the highest quality milk from provinces located between the Po River and Apennine Mountains" in the north of Italy.

"Only premium wheels are selected and aged for 24 months, allowing the intense, fruity, nutty flavor and grainy hard texture to develop.

"Each wedge of Kirkland Signature Parmigiano Reggiano is carved from a wheel that has passed Italy's rigorous maturation standards...."

And the wrapper offers tips on how to enjoy this wonderful cheese, which has less fat because it's made from part-skimmed cow's milk:

"Freshly grate, shred or shave on traditional pasta dishes, salads and rustic soups. 

"Chunk and serve with fresh pear slices and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Use the rind when cooking to add a burst of flavor to stews, stocks and risotto.

"Pair with a Chianti Classico or Chardonnay."

A 1-inch cube contains 180 milligrams of sodium or  7% of the recommended daily limit for an individual.

Formaggi Zanetti in Italy supplies the cheese to Costco, which pledges:

"Every Kirkland Signature product is guaranteed to meet or exceed the quality standards of the leading national brands.

"If you are not completely satisfied, your money will be refunded."

Kirkland Signature Organic Quinoa is grown in the mountains of Peru.

Say "keen-wah"

With fewer carbs than rice or pasta, Kirkland Signature Organic Quinoa is one of my favorite weight-watching bread substitutes.

"From Andean farmers to your table" is the message on the front of the 4.5-pound bag.

On the back, you can read the story of this easy to cook, gluten-free quinoa, which is pronounced "keen-wah."

"Quinoa -- known as the 'Mother Grain' in South American culture -- dates back to the Incan Empire and is actually a seed, not a grain.

"Today, we enjoy quinoa for its great taste and nutritional properties. Quinoa is one of nature's complete plant proteins.

"Our quinoa is cultivated by small-holder farmers in the Andean Mountains, who remain committed to sustainably grown, organic quinoa and continue to honor the farming techniques of their ancestors."

How to cook

You'll also find cooking instructions for this pre-washed quinoa from Peru (no need to rinse):

Listed as optional: "Toast quinoa in a dry skillet before cooking for an authentic South American flavor."

I'll have to try that. 

I prepare mine in an electric rice cooker, adding 2 cups of organic chicken broth for each cup of quinoa.

I also add whole garlic cloves or a can of organic diced tomatoes or chickpeas or all three, plus some olive oil and salt, and cook them on the "white rice" setting.

Costco's Organic Quinoa contains no salt. 

A quarter cup dry has 3 grams of "sugars," 3 grams of dietary fiber and 6 grams of protein.

Kirkland Signature Basil Pesto used as a spread on Dave's Killer Bread, an organic loaf with 21 grains or seeds that also is available at Costco.

Red wine, pesto

Kirkland Signature's delicious Cabernet Sauvignon from California in the 1.5-liter bottle ($7.99) offers great value. Check out the tasting notes on the label:

"...Vibrant, juicy flavors of black currant with broad, red fruit notes that linger on the palate, and are surrounded by hints of spice and sweet smoke with a graceful finish of cherry and mocha."

So, both the wine and the label are a mouthful.

Kirkland Signature's wonderful Basil Pesto is a refrigerated product that doesn't need to be heated when dressing pasta or when used as a sandwich spread.

You also can try it with scrambled eggs.

According to the label, the Basil Pesto contains only Genovese basil grown "in the Liguria region of Italy, which is a narrow strip of mountainous land bordering the Mediterranean Sea and surrounding the city of Genoa" [where pesto originated].

"Liguria is the only approved D.O.P. [an Italian acronym for Protected Designation of Origin] basil-growing region in Italy, because its unique soil, sea air, mild climate and soft spring ran create a pure, sweet basil."

However, a quarter-cup contains 26% of the recommended daily limit of sodium for an individual.

Of course, you wouldn't find that much pesto on a portion of pasta or if you use it as a sandwich spread.

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