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What gourmet or specialty food products do you buy that make your diet easier?

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Old 01-15-2008, 03:06 PM   #1
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Default What gourmet or specialty food products do you buy that make your diet easier?

Do you buy any gourmet or specialty food products that make your diet tastier? Maybe a tasty sauce, or a special salad dressing? Any seasonings or rubs for your fish or veggies?

For example, products that count could be a special glaze, that while high in sugar or calories, doesn't add much per serving when used in a prepared dish.

I'm not referring to Kraft products, Wish Bone spritzers, or anything highly processed or "diet", thanks

If you buy it online, please include a link
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Old 01-15-2008, 03:08 PM   #2
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Black Forbidden Rice by Lotus. It's very unusual, is whole grain, and it tastes good all by itself without salt or seasonings. It's also fantastic in a salad or as a base for any dish that calls for a non-sticky rice. I've never cared much for rice (white or brown) but really like this. You can read more about it here It's also available at many or most health food stores, and occasionally from Amazon at a great price per case.
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Old 01-15-2008, 03:22 PM   #3
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Lundberg Family Rice Blends - particularly the brown and wild rice blend. YUM.

Stash teas. Especially the decaf vanilla chai. Really solves a particular sort of craving (spicy-sweet) for me, so it is excellent.

World Foods sauces. These can be a little calorically pricey, but I spread the flavor by using these as bases for stirfry sauces and thinning considerably with chicken broth so each portion ends up with half a serving or so. My favorites are the Thai Coconut Galangal sauce and the Spicy Ginger Chili dipping sauce. Both make great stirfry bases.

Jarred roasted red peppers. Instant flavor, minimal effort, and great as stuffing for a pork tenderloin.
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Old 01-15-2008, 03:24 PM   #4
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I spare no expense for groceries, usually

One of my absolute favorite, priciest items:Eden Cherry Butter - tart, delicious, I just need a thin scraping on a Kashi waffle. Love this stuff!!! Even at $8.00 a jar, it lasts me forever.

I also pay WAY too much for teas - all kinds of fancy teas. Currently, I have a can of The Republic of Tea - Pomegranate Green Tea sitting on my desk at work. Great stuff.

I'm not sure if it counts, but I love buying the microwaveable brown rice from Trader Joe's. It's delicious and not TOO expensive (unless you consider how cheap it is to buy bulk brown rice and make from scratch). It's not exactly gourmet, but it's definitely a speciality food item that makes my life a lot easier.
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Old 01-15-2008, 03:28 PM   #5
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Oooh, and to add onto Glory's post...

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Butter! Glorious, can be used in savory and sweet applications, and wonderful to keep on hand.
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Old 01-15-2008, 03:58 PM   #6
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Really good, aged balsamic vinegar. Not supermarket varieties.

I use it straight on salads, without oil, along with some cracked black pepper or other spices from the grinder. It's kind of expensive for a salad dressing, but I love it and it doesn't take much to make an impact. I buy a lot of my vinegars at TJ Maxx because they frequently have excellent offerings at good prices.
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Old 01-15-2008, 04:01 PM   #7
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Herbs and spices from World Merchants Spice in Seattle. You can't get better quality and freshness, and you buy just how much you need and put it in your own jars. Their blends are excellent. We order from them quite frequently.

http://www.worldspice.com/
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Old 01-15-2008, 04:09 PM   #8
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Ooooh Suzanne, you'd die at my Christmas presents. My FIL's went to Italy in October...they brought us back a bottle of the most outrageously wonderful balsamic, as well as a bottle of first-press olive oil (it was pressed in NOVEMBER). So amazing to drizzle a teeensy bit on top of a stew or soup.
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Old 01-15-2008, 04:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mandalinn82 View Post
Oooh, and to add onto Glory's post...

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Butter! Glorious, can be used in savory and sweet applications, and wonderful to keep on hand.
Ha I love this gourmet pumpkin butter too (although I do eat the Trader Joe's stuff as well): Stonewall Kitchen Maple Pumpkin Butter. Nearly 8 bucks for pumpkin butter! I don't buy this as often as I would like it. It's divine for adding a tbs to cooked butternut squash. I also like to heat up a tbs and dip a really ripe banana in it.
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Old 01-15-2008, 05:45 PM   #10
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Sorry Suzanne, but it's all from Trader Joe's

Roasted Eggplant and red pepper spread
mini apple cranberry or blueberry fiber muffins
Brown rice blend with daikon radish seeds and black barley. They also make one with red quinoa, isreali couscous, orzo and baby garbanzo beans blend that is quite good
Their greek yogurt - not the fage stuff, but the store brand. cheaper.

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Old 01-15-2008, 06:10 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mandalinn82 View Post
Ooooh Suzanne, you'd die at my Christmas presents. My FIL's went to Italy in October...they brought us back a bottle of the most outrageously wonderful balsamic, as well as a bottle of first-press olive oil (it was pressed in NOVEMBER). So amazing to drizzle a teeensy bit on top of a stew or soup.

OK. Hand over the balsamic and nobody gets hurt. I'm jealous. Lucky you.

There is a little place in Livermore by the Eckert Winery. The guy grows and bottles his own olive oil. Between that place and the Olive Pit in Campbell. They both have excellent olive oils. Of course, where you are, you probably have those types of places all around.
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Old 01-15-2008, 06:12 PM   #12
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Hmmm, I have several things from Stonewall Kitchens. I really love the cranberry horseradish jelly/spread/whatever they call it. You only need a little. (We won't talk about their carmel sauce that my DH loves )

Oh, and like Amanda, I like the Lundburg Family rice blends. I can't get them locally, but they do have them in Anchorage. We try to shop at a specialty grocery and/or the organic grocery there every few months. The specialty one started out as strictly an Asian grocery, but they've added a lot of other more unusual things. It's a hoot to try and guess what's in some of the Japanese canned goods though. Just the picture, no English. They have awesome seafood there too.
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Old 01-15-2008, 06:34 PM   #13
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Love the subject! For me, the hunt and capture of these kinds of goodies makes my journey to healthier eating much more fun. I tend to spend too much on special food, but, on the other hand, I almost never eat out.

Light Chevre(goat cheese) from Trader Joe's. TJ's Greek Style Yougurt - even the fat free is yummy. Amore tomato paste in a tube. TJ's 72% dark chocolate. TJ's frozen scallops - I got some at Costco the other day and find that the TJ's are much better. From Costco, I get those mini sweet peppers. From TJ's a little plastic box of something called "Micro Greens" - Includes radish sprouts among other things. TJ's frozen "haricots verts". Pounds and pounds of tree ripened peaches from an orchard about 90 miles away. Nuts and seeds from TJ's to make my own snack mix. Watercress. Fresh, wash-it-yourself spinach. Much better than the bagged stuff. Boring, but useful - individually frozen, bonless, skinless chicken breast from Costco. Costco's is much better than my local grocery store.

Maybe a little off the subject, but I recently discovered the Chicken Cesar Salad at Costco's snack bar. You get a bowl full of romaine lettuce, a lot of chicken, a sprinkling of shredded parmesan (the real stuff, not out of the green can), and a separate package of croutons and another sealed cup of dressing. When we make a trip to Costco, I carry a little container of whatever salad dressing I like, and substitute that for the Costco dressing. Ideally, I don't eat the croutons. I used to always get the Hebrew National sausage, so the salad is quite an improvement. The salad is $3.79.

We grow our own red onions. last year, I made a bunch of Balsamic, roasted red onions from Ina Garten. I froze them in little patties to use on a salad, sandwich or whatever. I also made a big vat of Martha Stewart's peach chutney, using peaches from the local orchard, and froze it the same way. Both items provide a tasty little jolt of flavor to my meals.

This is probably way more than you want to know.....Thanks to everyone else for sharing your special foods. I especially want to try the pumpkin butter which has been mentioned before.
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Old 01-15-2008, 06:38 PM   #14
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Mustard: I will spend ridiculous amounts of money for fancy mustards. I love mustard and use it on all sorts of stuff besides sandwiches (salad dressing, chicken roll-ups, eggs, etc.).

Raspberry-Chipotle Sauce: Fontana Farms is one source for it, they also sell it (although a different brand) at Cost Plus. It's great on chicken and in sandwiches. I also make little pseudo pizzas with pitas and use 1 tbsp as a topping instead of tomato sauce. It's very spicy so a little goes a long way.

Fresh Fish: I get it from my local farmers market. Sometimes it has literally been caught that morning and is so fresh you can eat it raw. It costs a small fortune but the taste is so superior to grocery store fish that I can't eat the store-bought stuff anymore.

Pickles: I love pickles for a snack and will spend any amount of money for something new and different. I spend $10 to get a quart jar of dill pickles from a stand at my farmer's market, but they are the best dills I've ever had (and no sugar added). The same stand also makes a really low calorie veggie soup that I also pay $10 a quart for.

Also, balsamic vinegar and other high-end vinegars. I try not to think about how much they cost.

And I'm not sure if these count but also:
  • Light chevre from Trader Joe's. I love this stuff and use it in any recipe that calls for cheese. I also eat it on sandwiches.
  • SnacLite PowerPB. 80 cal per tbsp, half the fat, twice the fiber, and twice the protein of regular peanut butter. And it tastes like peanut butter and has the same consistency as peanut butter.
  • Penny's Low Fat Muffins
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Old 01-15-2008, 07:05 PM   #15
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Barbara, where is your farmer's market? I love farmer's markets. I love supporting the local people and you are making me want some pickles.

Thank you for the link for the spices. We grow quite a bit of our own herbs. However, I'd like to get some spices. I don't like paying grocery store prices for something that is probably almost near its shelf life.
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Last edited by cbmare : 01-15-2008 at 07:08 PM.
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