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Ask Dr. Gourmet

Are Alessi brand packaged side dishes good for you?

Do the varieties of Alessi grain packages with the flavor included have any nutritional value.

Dr. Gourmet Says...

a package of Alessi brand Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms, a packaged side dish

Thanks for writing about these products.

They would be items that we would never review or recommend for a number of reasons. First and foremost is that the sodium content is outrageously high for a side dish - in the range of 600 to 800 milligrams for a cup of prepared risotto. The second reason is that the sodium comes predominantly from monosodium glutamate (MSG). If you see a product on the shelf and it contains MSG, you should never purchase it.

If you want to eat risotto, it's pretty simple to make your own. Here's my Chef Tim Says... column on risotto.

Here are a few risotto recipes to try:

Side Dish ideas (a side dish serving will be 1/2 of a main course serving):
Mushroom Risotto
Onion Risotto
Risotto with Peas
Main Course ideas:
Chicken Leek Risotto
Saffron Salmon Risotto
Risotto Con Pollo | Low Sodium Version
Risotto with Italian Sausage
Shrimp Risotto with Peas

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP
Dr. Gourmet