Tuesday Reviews-Day: San-J Tamari Lite

Tuesday Revews-Day

San-J Tamari Lite


Sounds very much like a made-up word, but in the food world we know it as the fifth taste behind the more commonly recognized tastes of sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. Umami is best described as the mouth-filling savory quality that you get from mushrooms, oysters, and soy sauce among other things. This savory flavor is responsible for quite a lot of taste-satisfaction, but most soy sauces are made of 50% wheat and 50% soybeans, and are seen as unsafe for those looking to avoid gluten for whatever reason.

For the record, this article at Celiac.com references testing that showed naturally-fermented soy sauces contain less than the 20ppm limit for a product to be considered gluten-free, and even under the 5ppm detection limit. Ergo, very little gluten is found in your average soy sauce and therefore isn’t too much of a worry. That said, it’s unknown how many of the fructans from the wheat survive the fermentation process, but it must be pretty low as soy sauce is not one of the items banned on a Low-FODMAP diet, just limited.

In the interest of better safe than sorry, the alternative to soy sauce is tamari: fermented in the same tradition as soy sauce but from 100% soybeans. And this year San-J has released a Tamari Lite with 50% less sodium than regular tamari sauce. Nothing wrong with cutting some sodium, right? I was sent a sample bottle of San-J’s Tamari Lite and we’ve been using it in place of the San-J Tamari (Black Label) that we usually buy and have noticed absolutely no chance in our food’s flavor.

With everyone looking for simple ways of improving their health with a minimum of inconvenience, I see this as a definite step in the right direction. And since soy and tamari sauces are so wonderful at adding flavor to a dish–be it Asian-inspired or otherwise–having a lower sodium option that has 200 years of tradition and quality behind it is hard to say no to.

Thanksgiving is this week and the gap between it and Christmas feels very small this year. Since I know everyone is looking for snack recipes that travel well (either for pot-lucks, informal gifts, or appetizer options), I thought this recipe that came with my Tamari Lite sample might just fill a need.

Asian Spiced Nuts

1 large egg white
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon San-J Tamari Lite 50% Less Sodium Gluten Free Soy Sauce
2 teaspoons 5 spice powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
4 cups raw pecan halves
1/4 cup white sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.

Whisk the egg white in a large mixing bowl until very foamy. Whisk in the sugar, San-J Tamari Lite 50% Less Sodium Gluten Free Soy Sauce, 5 spice powder, and cayenne pepper until full combined. Add the pecan halves and sesame seeds and stir to coat. Place the pecans on the prepared baking sheet in an even layer. Cook for 10 minutes; stir the nuts and then cook for another 5 minutes. Let cool.


***In case you didn’t catch it the other two times I said it, I was sent a bottle of San-J Tamari Lite for purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own and no other compensation has been exchanged for this post. Any factual errors are mine, too, so apologies if I got something wrong. As for the gluten-free study, always consider the source and make the best choices along with your doctor and/or nutritionist for your personal situation.***

If You Just Can’t Fathom Going No Salt, Why Not Try LoSalt?



***This is a sponsored post. I received a sample of LoSalt for the purpose of review. Now that we’ve got that out of the way…***

Chances are you or someone you know well has been told at one time or another to watch your/their sodium intake. Sometimes it’s because of high blood pressure, other times because of swelling due to water retention, and then there’s just your general health to be considered. But salt is not only something we need in certain amounts but it’s in an awful lot of things we eat. Especially if what we eat is highly processed–salt is an excellent preservative.

Chemically, table salt is sodium chloride, and the sodium is what gets many into trouble. There are other types of salts, though, and LoSalt–a salt substitute launched in the UK in 1984–using a combination of 1/3 sodium chloride and 2/3 potassium chloride. Now, potassium is another one of those minerals our bodies need, but it’s not something you want to load up on either. Still, if your doctor is concerned about your blood pressure, LoSalt might be a good option if you just crave that salt-enhanced flavor in your food.

The might comes in when you look at the rest of the picture. Folks with any sort of kidney issues should be careful with potassium intake, as it may be harder for your body to process the potassium, leading to other health problems just as serious as the ones you might try to avoid by using a salt-substitute in the first place. Also, talk to your doctor or dietitian about these sorts of changes, or ask your pharmacist if there’s a chance extra potassium could interfere with any other meds you’re taking.

As always, be safe and do your own research with credible sources.

Todd and I had no qualms about trying out the sample of LoSalt we received last month, using it in place of table salt on occasion. The flavor-enhancing properties seemed just the same as your average iodized table salt and there was nothing unpleasant about it’s texture and no aftertaste like you get with sugar substitutes. Still, we do prefer Kosher salt for cooking, and seldom have a need for table salt after the fact, so it’s not become our go-to seasoning just yet.

Of course, if you’re still worried about your salt intake of whatever stripe, there are other ways to enhance the flavor of your food. Experimenting with fresh and dried herbs can add flavor without salt and a bit of lemon juice can boost the flavor of a soup or steamed vegetables.

However you choose to add flavor to your meals, always remember moderation in everything… even moderation.

Under Pressure


(Sorry if you now have that song stuck in your head.)

Growing up I’d always heard dire stories about pressure cooker malfunctions–blowouts, dinner ending up on the ceiling, and even injuries in the more severe cases. These stories pretty much insured that it was one kitchen appliance that I wouldn’t be bothering with, despite some of the so-called benefits.

Or so I thought.

Recently I received a book to review that had me rethinking my stance on pressure cookers and other things. While that review is for a future post, it did get me researching and eventually buying a pressure cooker of my own. I think this is one of the most researched pots in my kitchen (or any other appliance or vessel, for that matter).

At first I figured (since I wasn’t 100% sure I’d be using it a lot outside of the projects for the aforementioned book review) that I’d hunt around some thrift stores for one on the cheap. But the more I thought about it, the better buying new sounded–mostly because you never know how well (or not) that pot was treated in its former home.

So the research began. I looked both in stores and online, keeping in mind a few deciding factors:

  • Ease of Use
  • Consumer Ratings
  • Price

Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker (affiliate link)

The shocking thing, to me, about pressure cookers was the price. The least expensive version my local Bed, Bath & Beyond carried was $70, with most–manual and electric–in the $99 region. And the fact that there were electric ones was quite intriguing, though I later opted for manual because of size/price concerns. After all, if the whole process turned into more trouble than it was worth, I didn’t want to be out too much money for this little experiment.

While 4- and 6-quart models are fairly common and relatively inexpensive, I learned that for my purposes, nothing less than a 10-quart model would do. That’s what ultimately knocked the electric models out the running, though I really did love the idea of being able to plug it in and let it do most of the work/monitoring.


Fagor DUO Pressure Cooker (affiliate link)

Within the manual types, though, there are those with pressure dials and those where you place the appropriate weights on the steam valve yourself. And those with rubber gaskets and those without. Ultimately I went with a 10-quart Fagor DUO that has a pressure dial and gasket. This model was very highly rated on Amazon and elsewhere, and those who purchased the 10-quart without the perforated basket and trivet missed those features tremendously, hence my decision to go with the DUO.

The gasket is what makes the build-up of steam pressure possible while also, as I understand it, acting as a safety valve should something go awry. If the other safety measures fail, the gasket will blow and release the built-up pressure at a designated spot, preventing a more serious mishap. Gaskets are also the more maintenance-heavy parts of the cooker as they require oiling after each use/cleaning and replacement at least once a year. The gaskets are pretty universal, though, so finding replacements shouldn’t be too tough.

Before I got into the book review project, I wanted to try out the basic tenet of pressure cooking: shortening the cooking time of everyday foods. The box for the pressure cooker touted roasting a chicken in 15 minutes–that was something I could easily try.

15-18 minutes was listed as appropriate for a 3 lb chicken. As mine was 4  lbs I figured 20 minutes would be enough. Now, that’s just the time required at pressure (high or 15 psi, in this case). You also have to factor in the time it takes for the vessel to reach that pressure as well as depressurizing afterwards, so my question was how much time it really would save.

Well, color me surprised when it took less than 5 minutes for the cooker to reach the needed pressure and less than 5 for it to depressurize afterwards! (And that’s using the “natural” method of moving it off the heat and waiting for the chamber to release the pressure on it’s own, not using the automatic release or cold-water release, both faster and useful for more delicate items.) So we really did have a roasted chicken in half an hour. Sure beats the 2 hours called for in the original recipe I was following!

Roast Chicken in less than 30 minutes.

Roast Chicken in less than 30 minutes.

Of course, pressure-steaming a chicken does mean you’re not as likely to have a golden-brown skin on your bird without browning it beforehand. You can do this in the pressure cooker before putting the lid on, but maneuvering the 4lb chicken in the deep pot wasn’t quite an easy task and I didn’t want to dirty another pan, so we settled for the paler bird. In the end, the brown rice I was making to accompany the chicken took longer than the chicken did. Quite a change!

For a first run it was a little nerve-wracking, baby-sitting the pressure cooker is a requirement to make sure, especially on an electric stove, that the pressure stays constant, but overall a success. While I’m not sure I’d use a pressure cooker for those more delicate foods that cook rather quickly on their own, I can definitely see it as a useful tool for rapidly making stocks and soups when the need arises, as well as other projects I’ve got lined up.

Review: Domino’s Gluten Free Pizza Crust


Special diets can wreak havoc on those nights you just can’t bear to cook and are looking for a simple solution for dinner. These nights don’t happen often for us, but when they do it’s lovely to be able to click over to the food of your choice, place an order online, and have it at your door on demand. Which is why I was happy to hear that Domino’s is now carrying a gluten-free pizza crust.

Of course, Domino’s is quick to point out that they cannot guarantee a gluten-free crust free of cross-contamination risk, so it’s not appropriate for those with celiac or severe wheat allergies but generally safe for those of us who just have to avoid ingesting the wheat to avoid problems. The only size it comes in is small, too, but about there is where the caveats stop.

For folks on a low-FODMAP diet the rest of the ingredients might also cause issues, so make sure you check out the full ingredient lists available on the Domino’s website.

Domino's Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

Domino’s Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

I opted for ham, pineapple, spinach, and roasted red bell peppers on my pizza with shredded provolone cheese. The first time I looked into ordering from them I could have sworn I noticed something about their regular cheese bl

end that put it in the potentially-High-FODMAP range, so I opted out of the usual cheese and requested the provolone only, just to be on the safe side.The crust itself was tasty, if a little chewy, and I very much enjoyed my first not-made-by-me pizza since this whole FODMAP journey began. While the small pizza didn’t offer much in the way of leftovers, it was probably for the best as by the time I got to the last slice it was starting to get a little soggy. (Could have been the pineapple, all things considered, but I suppose I won’t know for sure until I order another one without it, right?)

It’s nice when the big companies notice and try to do something to help out those of us who otherwise wouldn’t be ordering from them. Sure, they are (ultimately) motivated by the corporate bottom line, but whatever the reason I’m glad to have another option for those  busy nights and/or pizza cravings. I can only hope that other companies will follow Domino’s lead.


I was not compensated for this review in any way, shape, or form. It is based purely on my own experience ordering a pizza like anyone else would.

Perfect Pasta Without the Wheat


In honor of National Noodle Month, I though it’d be a good time to talk about the wheat-free pasta situation. Is it a situation at all? That’s for you to decide.

Pasta and sauce has always been the go-to meal for the time and cash strapped individuals and families out there. Spaghetti is cheap (about a dollar a pound for the basics) and a sauce can be anything from seasoned crushed tomatoes to olive oil with a little Parmesan cheese. It’s a satisfying meal, no question. And who hasn’t loved gooey mac & cheese at some point in their lives, right?

With many people looking to get whole grains in their diet, whole wheat pasta has secured a place on the shelves and–while not always as tasty as the refined durum semolina products out there, many of us accept it as one of those little steps we can take to be that much healthier.

When you go wheat free (like I did when I switched to a Low-FODMAP diet), pasta is one of those things you automatically kiss goodbye, usually with a heavy heart.

That doesn’t have to be the case, however, if you’re willing to give some alternate grains a try.

Rice, corn, and quinoa are the major players you’ll find when you hunt down the non-wheat pasta possibilities in your local grocery store. Some brands (like Heartland’s pretty blue and yellow packaging) can be found alongside the usual suspects in the pasta and sauce aisle. Their gluten-free pasta features a blend of corn and rice flours which taste very much like what we’re used to from their what counterparts. The only down-side I’ve experienced with this brand is that they tend to get dry and crumbly when refrigerated. They still eat fine, the texture just doesn’t hold up as well for leftovers. Still, when I made Macaroni and Cheese for our family of relatively picky eaters, I used their elbow macaroni noodles and no one had anything bad to say about my substitution.

Image via Heartland Pasta

Image via Heartland Pasta

Others, like Ancient Harvest’s quinoa pastas are more likely to be found in the specialty foods section of larger stores. We’ve been big quinoa fans for a while, and it’s such a great food on it’s own, but those unfamiliar with quinoa might need to get accustomed to this pasta’s flavor. It is a little heavier (akin to whole wheat pasta) than the corn and rice versions, but very tasty and probably comes in the most variety of sizes and shapes, though it’s usually the specialty stores that carry more of those options.

Image via Ancient Harvest

Image via Ancient Harvest

Or you can look for rice noodles in the ethnic foods section. These range from the usual cellophane noodles (though not much of a substitute for spaghetti) to almost clear rice pastas that offer substance if not a lot of flavor, to the Tinkyada brand of brown rice noodles. These noodles, to me, have the best flavor and texture of all the “substitute” pastas we’ve tried over the last several months and also reheat the best–important if you like to cook extra for leftovers. I’ve yet to find a local source that carries the variety that the product picture, below, shows, but we can usually find the elbows, fettucini, and spirals even in our local Wal-Marts tiny gluten-free section.

Image via Tinkyada

Image via Tinkyada

To get the best results from a wheat-free pasta, it’s very important not to over-cook them. Almost all of the noodles we’ve tried can get a little mushy, a little less than al dente, a little quicker than the sturdier wheat noodles. I’ve also found that it doesn’t always take the time the package says for them to reach perfect doneness, so don’t get distracted the first time you make a particular brand to avoid unpleasant results.

The other downside to these alternative noodles is that they cost about twice as much as the old standbys, sometimes a little more that double in fact. Still, if it’s a matter of being able to eat the foods I love without becoming ill afterwards, it’s a price I’m willing to pay (at least on occasion). After all, the other option is to make your own gluten-free pastas and while that’s something on the list to try one of these days, it’s nice to know that’s not my only option.


This post is based solely on our own experience with the brands listed above. We have received no compensation (direct or product-in-kind) for mentioning these brands and as food is strictly a matter of taste, your mileage may well vary. I encourage anyone on the hunt for gluten-free pasta to use this only as a starting point and get out there and explore the possibilities. Going wheat-free doesn’t have to mean giving up the foods you love.