whee!

Low Sodium Cauliflower-Potato Bites

January 23, 2014 - Written by Diana

Cookerati - Low Sodium Cauliflower and Potato BitesWhen thinking of appetizers, cauliflower and potatoes smashed together make a great combination, while adding a little more nutrition. Your family and friends may figure out that there is something a little different about the potatoes, but only a little different. I went a little further to make it healthy, by cutting down on the sodium. I added a little chevre, some herbs and bread crumbs.

Bread is one of the worst when it comes to sodium, and regular bread crumbs are really bad. In order to still have a breadcrumb that works, I buy my own low sodium bread (there are a couple of gluten-free rice bread brands that work), and then make my own breadcrumbs. Bake the bread on low until it hardens, and then using mini-blender or smoothie maker grind the toasted bread into crumbs.

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Low Sodium Chicken Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers

January 22, 2014 - Written by Diana

Jalapeno poppers – done right are not super hot and just have a little bit of a bite.  I wanted to create something low sodium for my husband that has that bite because a lot of low sodium foods are flavorless, but this is not.  We’re using goat cheese and swiss cheese in the stuffing because they are lower in sodium and in the list of acceptable cheeses to use.  The chicken and goat cheese mixture can be prepared a day or so in advance, placed into a zippered plastic bag, and then refrigerated overnight.  To pipe, just cut off the corner of the bag you have already filled. We tried the poppers two ways. Whole, they were filled and stood up to bake melting the cheese inside. The cream cheese mixture stays warm inside and falls to the bottom as you eat because it is so soft. The other way was to slice the pepper in half and have a jalapeno boat. You can toast the top better that way, but you are getting more cream cheese and less pepper. We couldn’t decide which we liked better.  The boats had quite a bit of cheese, but it covered up the pepper taste more.  I guess it depends on how much heat you like.

Don’t forget to scroll down after looking at the recipe for the giveaway information and a list of other great appetizers.

Low Sodium Chicken Jalapeno Poppers - Cookerati

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Spaghetti Squash and Roasted Vegetables

January 19, 2014 - Written by Diana

Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Vegetables ~ Cookerati

 

 

 

 

 

I like spaghetti squash, it’s one of my favorite vegetables, but I’m not a fan of covering up it’s flavor and texture with spaghetti sauce.  To me, it’s not a replacement for spaghetti, it just mimics the texture but it’s so great tasting and yet low carb. When Filippo Berio sent me samples of Olive Oil, I ran to my cold food storage area (aka the unheated basement), and brought up the spaghetti squash. Squash is a great long storing vegetable, so for us right now this dish is very seasonal and from the local farm market.

My son assisted me in cooking this day. I was covering for someone on vacation all week, so I appreciated his help. Funny note: in my directions I told my son to cut the squash in half – which he did – staight across instead of lengthwise. He scooped it out to look like a bowl. Along with the squash, he roasted turip, carrots fennel and onion, all found in our marketbag. When I came home and checked on everything, we recut the squash lengthwise si it cooked more evenly.

After we removed the vegetables from the oven and let cool just enough to handle, we scraped the squash fibers out to look like spahetti, then sliced the other veggies snd tossed. For a little lightness we added fresh parsley and cut up some pea shoots and tossed along with the juice of a lemon.

PS – don’t forget to enter the giveaway…  Filippo Berio Giveaway

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Turkey Wing and Red Lentil Soup

January 16, 2013 - Written by Diana
Turkey Wing Red Lentil Stew

Turkey Wing Red Lentil Stew

Did you know that Turkey Wings have just enough meat for a soup or stew ?  I buy whole turkeys portion the meat out into separate labeled containers or bags and use them for separate meals. The turkey wings were set aside together and tonight used in a really quick and delicious soup.  I am a beef and lamb lover – I also love turkey and chicken, but I forget sometimes that poultry is my husband’s preference over red meat.  He likes red meat a lot, but every so often he’ll whisper in my ear and let me know we haven’t had turkey or chicken lately.  That happened this week, so I today I dug through the freezer found a couple of turkey wings and threw together a delicious stew.  A little bit of meat, a bunch of veggies and red lentils that melt into a thick creamy broth.

Ever since my husband has been on a low sodium diet, we’ve given up the curry powder.  We try to stay away from herb and spice blends that include salt as an ingredient and curry powder included salt.  So instead, I’ve taken the list of ingredients and I throw some or all (minus the sodium) into my recipes.  Ginger and Turmeric have become one of my favorite combinations along with cumin.  Today I also threw in some dried green cardamon pods – which are oh my goodness tasty.

Because the red lentils cook and dissolve so easily – this is a quick cooking stew, easy enough for weeknight dinner.

Turkey Wing and Red Lentil Stew
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A light but thick stew (soup) with lots of veggies, turkey and lentils.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Stew / Soup
Serves: 3
Ingredients
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 large turkey wings
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 garlic clove thinly sliced
  • 1 quart turkey broth
  • 2 carrots sliced
  • 1 parsnip sliced
  • 1 sweet potato peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • Sage leaves
  • Ground Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Paprika
  • 3 Cardamon Pods
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in ceramic dutch oven or soup pot.
  2. Place turkey wings into hot oil on one side and after it crisps a little turn the wings over. Add in onion and garlic, saute lightly .
  3. Pour the quart of broth into the pot and add in the rest of the vegetables.
  4. When the vegetables are softened add in the red lentils.
  5. While the lentils are cooking, pull the turkey wings out to cool.
  6. Remove all of the meat from the turkey wing, and then pull off the meat and return it to the pot and add in the herbs and spices.
  7. The lentils will get soft and start to melt.
  8. It’s ready.
Notes
The recipe only feeds three because of the amount of meat on a turkey wing. If you have a little extra meat to go back in at the end, you can add a few more veggies to make it for four people.

 

 

Low Sodium Diet – What Have We Learned So Far

January 3, 2013 - Written by Diana

My husband has been given a low sodium diet directive due to a diagnosis of Meniere’s Disease.  Sodium seems to be a trigger for the attacks, and we’re trying to lower our sodium where we can. We were always what we thought was light on the salt but now we need to go lighter – like 1500 mg to 2000 mg per day total.  So, here’s what we learned so far.  You think it’s easy and some of it has to do with cooking with fresh ingredients, but that’s the easy part.  There are saboteurs in your pantry and fridge that don’t have easy answers.  If you know any tips, put them in the comments.

1. Sodium is sodium is sodium.  While it may seem that sea salt is better for you, the construction of it contains more air and the shape is a little bulkier.  However, when you grind it down, salt is salt is salt and it’s still sodium.

2. Table salt is listed as 2400 mg in one tsp is the commonly accepted amount and the amount that a normal person should stick to for a day’s serving. If you are over 50 that amount drops.  It’s not just for blood pressure, your body doesn’t process sodium as well when you get older, plus your joints will retain water more with the higher sodium.  As a side effect my husband had ankle swelling that went away with the lower sodium.

3. Reading labels is not as easy as it seems since each brand can have major differences in it’s sodium level.

4. If it’s canned, it probably has salt unless it says it doesn’t in big letters. However, we did find cans of San Marzano tomatoes with very little salt and the label didn’t identify it as low sodium. Canned tomatoes, beans and many vegetables contain high amounts of sodium.

5.  Bread, crackers, biscuits, rolls, cakes – all contain salt.   We did find a really bad tasting dry rice flour bread with very little sodium and it was so dry it sucked the moisture out of whatever you put in it.  Plus it crumbled apart in your mouth. I made it into bread crumbs, because we couldn’t use it for sandwiches. Ezekial Bread in the freezer section, has a low sodium bread that although a little on the dry side, works well but is expensive.  The meat is low sodium turkey, or peanut butter, all of which needs to be counted.

6. Sea salt on the label doesn’t always mean it’s high sodium. I know – you think it negates rule number one, but it doesn’t. We’ve found low sodium crackers that say lightly salted.  I think rather than add salt to the ingredients, they are using a salt spray to coat the outside where it first hits your tongue… just a guess but I think that’s how it is happening.

7. Low sodium means – descriptive words like cheesy and bacony are not happening any more.

8. Cheese – darn it contains a lot of sodium with Parmesan being a real no, no.  Parmesan contains about 5oo mg in 1 oz.  Other cheeses are much lower. We’ve found Swiss Cheese  a very bland cheese usually contains the least.  However, you can still make a mac and cheese casserole, just zest it up with a decent pepper relish and some herbs.  If you want to use Parmesan, or a higher sodium cheese use small amounts in a way that counts so that the flavor will hit your tongue instead of being mixed in.

9. Bacon can be eaten – if you watch the sodium levels.  Bacon is brined, but sausage is a big no, no because it has salt added as an ingredient.  You may need to make your own sausage using herbs and spices to boost the taste rather than buying in the market.  Even your friendly butcher adds salt, so unless you can get it specially made, stay away from sausage.

10.  Vegetables contain naturally occurring sodium that should be counted, but don’t give up on them.  Celery, carrots and beets all contain sodium naturally.  These aren’t great amounts, so use them but add it into your sodium level.  Take only a few celery sticks from the veggie tray but more cauliflower.

11.  Speaking of veggie trays – those dips are a killer.  Sour cream is low in sodium but the stuff added in store bought dips are very high in sodium.  Most prepared dips, sauces and dressings are higher in sodium, so think about making your own.  Low fat does not mean low sodium .

12.  Baking soda is high in sodium (sodium bicarbonate), and it is also in baking powder.  I found a baking powder that is low in sodium but I’m not sure it works as well.  We’ll probably live with it, because we have to.  Cake mixes, pancake mixes, biscuits mixes – all higher in sodium.  However, you can try lowering the salt or leaving it out of most cake mixes, pie shells without issue.  Biscuits and breads need the leavening more, and you’ll notice the difference more there.

13.  Going out to dinner is a chore but doable.  I ask for the nutrition packet when I arrive.  While we are waiting to be seated, we can browse through and find something my husband can eat. This can also be researched online.  Most meals are over 1000 mg of sodium without the bread and salad course.  This works for chains more than the individually owned restaurants.  You can ask for alterations and no added sodium at restaurants, but the sauces are probably higher in sodium and owner operated restaurants may not know the level.  Grilled salmon or chicken that hasn’t  been marinaded is a decent choice.  Salads with an oil and vinegar dressing are an option also.

14.  Meat has sodium naturally and it should be counted. Brining is going to up the sodium level quite a bit.  Some meats are worse than others naturally, however that turkey you get from the market can be sky high with the saltwater injections.  We are buying our from the butcher without any added ingredients and Whole Foods has non-injected turkeys.  We are actually buying our own turkey for sandwich meat because even the low sodium sandwich meat can be high.

14.  Good Luck.  People think they use very little sodium – by not cooking with it and only sprinkling it on some foods but unless you do a quantitative assessment, you won’t know how much you are using.  Keep a log and write it down so that you can see what you are actually consuming.  Read every label, and recipe and document it. After you get accustomed to working without sodium, it will become easier to avoid.  An interesting side effect is that you will taste over-salting in everything.  People are so adapted to the higher levels and don’t notice all the salt in their foods. When you lower your level, you will recognize how much sodium is used and how salty food tastes now that you have adapted to the lower level.

 

Note:  We have adopted a lower sodium diet due to my husband’s disease and our ages.  Sodium occurs naturally and IS necessary for the body so trying to cut it out totally is not recommended. You may want to talk to your physician before adapting to a low sodium diet.  I am not a physician or a nutritionist.  I’m just sharing what we have learned from trying to adapt to a low sodium diet.