One of the things I miss about my old way of cooking is how easy it used to be. I could use anything that came off the shelf! Once I discovered that most pre-prepared foods and ingredients in the grocery store contain some sort of item that’s on the FODMAP danger list, my frustration grew as my food stayed boring. I wanted flavour!!
One of my biggest frustrations was with cooking savoury dishes. I used to always reach for our handy ‘italian seasoning blend’ when I was cooking meats and sauces – a practice that had to stop when I discovered it had onions and garlic added in.
I’ve done a little checking and discovered that not all ‘Italian Seasoning Blends’ are created equal. Not in taste, and certainly not in price!
To do a small comparison at home, I challenged The Husband, The Son and Myself to a taste test of 4 Italian blends:
1) Clubhouse italiano ($5.76 for 125 g). This was our ‘go to’ Italian spice seasoning in the past. Its ingredient list is: Salt, dehydrated vegetables (red and green pepper, onion, garlic), sugar, spices and herbs (including oregano, basil), modified cornstarch, yeast extract, high oleic sunflower oil.
2) McCormick’s Italian seasoning ( $5.49 for 18 grams). The ingredient list is: Marjoram, thyme, rosemary, savoury, sage, oregano, basil.
3) McCormick’s Italian seasoning (organic) ($6.65 for 15 grams). The ingredient list is the same as the regular McCormick’s Italian seasoning.
4) Homemade blend of equal parts of :Marjoram, thyme, rosemary, savoury, sage, oregano, basil. Most of these have been sitting in my spice drawer for a while, so I wasn’t sure if their flavour would still be potent. I’m calling this blend ‘free’, because I didn’t have to buy anything.
I prepared rice pasta and tossed equal amounts with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of spice mix. Results of the taste test:
The Husband and The Son both preferred the Clubhouse blend. I think if I had added salt to the other dishes, and maybe the olive oil was infused with garlic that the comparison would have been closer.
I myself didn’t like the Clubhouse blend. I haven’t eaten garlic or onions in 5 months and found the flavour too overpowering. Among the other blends, I couldn’t tell a difference!
So, I think in the future, once I have used up my purchased bottles of Italian seasoning, I might start just adding a pinch of each of the listed herbs to my Italian flavoured dishes. Once I get lazy, I’ll probably purchase the McCormicks regular blend – I’m not really hung up on the organic aspect of the product – I know from experience growing these herbs in my garden that most of the herbs listed in the blend don’t have huge problems with pests, so I’m guessing (hoping?) that they wouldn’t have a lot of pesticides sprayed on them in the first place. The exception would probably be basil – my home grown basil always looks like I’ve been sharing it with something else.
Once again I have discovered how important it is to read labels…. A year ago I wouldn’t have guessed that the ingredient list in the Clubhouse blend would be so different from the McCormick blend. And the labels can tell you a lot about how much you are paying or overpaying for something. I was surprised that the 2 matching bottles of McCormick’s contained different amounts of product! At about 5 cents/g, the Clubhouse brand is the cheapest – but that’s probably because of all the ‘filler’, with the McCormick’s organic coming in at the most expensive at 44 cents/gram.
Next update, I’m hoping to write next about some upcoming road trips we are planning to take as a family. Travelling with IBS isn’t for the faint of heart, or the unprepared….