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Week of September 27, 2009

Tips for Reducing Sodium in Your Diet

Salt is a traditional flavor enhancer, but research suggests that a high salt diet could contribute to a range of disorders including high blood pressure.

  • Don’t automatically salt your food – taste it first.
  • Add a splash of olive oil or lemon juice close to the end of cooking time or to cooked vegetables – it can enhance flavors in the same way as salt.
  • Choose fresh or frozen vegetables, since canned and pickled vegetables tend to be packaged with salt.
  • Limit your consumption of salty processed meats, such as salami, ham, corned beef, bacon, smoked salmon, frankfurters and chicken loaf
  • Choose reduced salt bread and breakfast cereals. Breads and cereals are a major source of salt in the diet
  • Avoid salt-laden processed foods, such as flavored instant pasta, canned or dehydrated soup mixes, chips and salted nuts
  • Margarine and butter contain a lot of salt as well as a lot of fat.
  • Most cheeses are very high in sodium so limit your intake or choose lower salt varieties.
  • Reduce your use of soy sauce, tomato sauce and processed sauces and condiments (for example mayonnaise and salad dressings) because they contain high levels of sodium
  • Use herbs, spices, vinegar or lemon juice to reduce the need for salt.

Week of September 20, 2009

Try a Fresh Herb Marinade
If you have an abundance of garden herbs, try making a fragrant herb brush, which can be used for brushing oil or over grilled or broiled fish, meat, or poultry, garlic bread, or focaccia, as well as corn on the cob. Or dab an herbed vinaigrette over salads and steamed vegetables.

Choose herbs such as rosemary, sage, and thyme for your herb brush. Tie a small bouquet of herb sprigs together at the stem end with a piece of string or another sprig. Dip in olive oil and brush over grilled corn on the cob or other food.

Skewered Herbed Pork
Serves 4

8 large cloves garlic
1/4 cup(s) orange juice
2 tablespoon(s) balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoon(s) chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as sage, parsley, and/or thyme 1/4 teaspoon(s) Salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon(s) freshly ground black pepper
4 (about 4 ounces each) boneless center-cut loin pork chops, trimmed of fat and cut into thirds
1 medium red onion, peeled but root end left intact, cut into 8 wedges
1 medium navel orange, cut into 8 wedges

In small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring whole garlic cloves and water to cover to boil; cook about 2 minutes until garlic is tender. Drain well; cool slightly; peel.

In rectangular glass baking dish combine orange juice, vinegar, herbs, salt, and pepper to mix well. Marinate pork, onion and orange wedges, and garlic cloves 15 minutes, tossing occasionally. Drain; reserve marinade.

Meanwhile, heat broiler. Thread pork pieces, onion and orange wedges, and garlic cloves alternately on four 12-inch metal skewers, dividing evenly; place skewers on rack in broiler pan. Broil, about 6 inches from heat source, 6 to 8 minutes until pork is browned and cooked through and onions are tender, turning once, and brushing with marinade.

Per Serving: 141 Calories; 4g Fat (25.7% calories from fat); 1g Saturated Fat; 15g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 36mg Cholesterol; 32mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 2 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 1/2 Fruit; 0 Fat.

Week of September 13, 2009

Working with Hot Chilies or Peppers

Every cook handling hot chilies has had the same experience - that unthinking moment when the hand goes to the face and the burning, tingling sensatiuon of chili oil is experienced, especially around the sensitive eye, nose or mouth area.

The discomfort is not worth it!

So be warned, be careful and wear rubber gloves or wash your hands thoroughly in plenty of hot soapy water when handling chilies. Water alone will not remove the chemical capsaicin and even after using soap, traces may remain.

Baby oil or olive oil can be used to removce it from sensitive areas. This advice applies to dried and fresh chilies as the burning properties are equally strong for both.

Week of September 6, 2009

Marinades

Marinating food gives it flavor. The more area surface the more flavor can be absorbed into the surface of the food.

These lovely marinated scallops are a good example of flavor permiating the surface in just a short amount of time.

6 servings

Ingredients
1 pound medium sea scallops (18 to 24 count)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups trimmed watercress

Preparation
1. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add scallops to pan; cook 1 minute or until browned. Turn over and cook 30 seconds. Place scallops in a bowl.

2. Combine vinegar and next 4 ingredients (through pepper), stirring with a whisk. Pour vinegar mixture over scallops. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Arrange 1/2 cup watercress on each of 6 salad plates. Remove scallops from marinade with a slotted spoon, reserving marinade. Divide scallops evenly among plates. Drizzle each serving with about 1 tablespoon marinade.


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