Are you label conscious? Not like fancy handbags and designer jeans. I mean food labels. Do you read them? Not enough people do.
Last month I drove up to Anaheim for the Natural Products Expo West, “showcasing products in the categories of natural and specialty foods, organic, supplements, health and beauty, natural living and pet products.” The term “natural” is not regulated in any way, so companies like to slap it on everything from chemical cleaning products to potato chips. It was like playing detective, trying to determine which products were made of real food and which ones were not.
I enjoyed the company of some other label-readers, but was looking for Green Valley Organics. They had contacted me about potentially sponsoring my ticket to Camp Blogaway — a tempting offer — but I am skeptical of “natural foods” and wanted to learn more about them and their company first.
Lactose-free dairy? Pastoral image of a cow on green hills for their logo? Probably full of chemicals and “organic-CAFO” milk, right?
We sampled their (delicious) products and saw pictures of the idyllic green farmland where they raise their cows and goats. We learned about how proud they are to be a Certified Humane® company. And I read all the labels.
I agreed to work with them. I don’t eat much dairy myself, so when I do, I want to make sure it’s organic and high-quality. They asked me to test out some products and shipped me a box of goodies: some yogurt, some kefir (a drinkable yogurt), and some sour cream.
Ok, a lot of sour cream. Whoever packed the box got a bit overzealous.
We happily ate tacos for the next 3 days. Hey, it’s Cinco de Mayo! Make some Mexican food and slather it in this sour cream; everyone wins.
But a taco recipe was too easy. How about a creamy pasta bake stuffed with veggies and topped with crunchy almonds and tangy, slightly softened tomatoes?
That’s what I thought. By not using crème fraiche you have your own small victory over the French. Plus, it will help you soak up those margaritas and make excellent leftovers for lunch on Monday.
Speaking of labels, have you ever noticed that the back of a pasta box has the serving size listed as 2 ounces, but the recipes on the box call for 16 ounces – “serves 4?” This uses 8 ounces of pasta and serves 4. The rest is tasty, filling, and nutritious (in that order).
- 8 ounces whole wheat pasta
- 1/2 medium onion, sliced
- 8 ounces sliced cremini or baby bella mushrooms
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 6 ounces chopped spinach
- 1/2 cup Green Valley Organic sour cream
- 1/2 cup almonds, chopped
- 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1.5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- salt and pepper
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 servings