Radish Greens

Radish Greens 101 – The Basics

Radish Greens 101 – The Basics

About Radish Greens
Radish greens are the leafy tops of the radish plant. The radish is a small root crop that is a colorful and spicy addition to salads and other raw and cooked dishes. Most grocery stores carry radishes, either in bags with the leaves cut off, or with the leaves still attached to the radish bulb and tied in bunches. Some grocery stores will carry both options.

Radishes are members of the Brassicaceae or cruciferous family of vegetables and leafy greens. Both the bulbous roots and leafy greens are edible and nutritious. The leaves can be enjoyed as mature greens, microgreens, or as radish sprouts. Radish greens are commonly eaten as a vegetable in Korea and China. The greens have a spicy flavor, similar to their roots, and have been described as having a flavor similar to mustard greens. The flavor can range from slightly bitter to earthy and spicy. When cooked, they are often prepared in a similar way as other leafy greens. Radish microgreens can be used as garnishes on salads, slaws, or sandwiches.

Radishes are native to Asia and are believed to have been growing wild in areas of China and Central Asia. Ancient Egyptians and Greeks consumed radishes as a medicinal aid and natural remedy. The roots were also being cultivated during ancient times to improve flavor and appearance. Early radishes were large, tough, and elongated. As demand increased, breeders developed smaller varieties, including red radishes. Eventually, radishes were introduced to the New World and were planted in North America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Today, red radish varieties are grown worldwide and are popular for their ease of preparation and mildly spicy, peppery flavor.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Radish greens are an excellent source of Vitamins K and C, with one cup of the cooked greens providing 171% of the Daily Value of Vitamin K and 77% of the Daily Value of Vitamin C. They also provide a lot of Vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, calcium, Vitamin A (beta-carotene), potassium, and folate. They contain some fiber and protein as well. One cup of cooked radish greens provides 70 calories.

With radishes being in the cruciferous plant family, the greens also contain some sulforaphane, the important antioxidant that broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are well-known for.

Improved Cognition. In the August 2018 issue of the Journal of Medicinal Food, researchers reported that, in a study involving mice, those given a compound extracted from radish leaves, erucamide, performed better on memory tests than mice who had not received the compound. This suggests that consumption of radish greens may help protect against memory problems associated with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of impaired cognitive function by improving how specific areas of the brain work. Further research is needed to verify this effect in humans.

Increased Nutrient Absorption and Detoxification. According to Anthony William, the Medical Medium, the nutrients in radish greens are highly absorbable, even in digestive tracts that have become dysfunctional. Their high enzymatic profile allows their nutrients to be absorbed better than other foods. The greens also help to remove pathogens, radiation, pesticides, toxic heavy metals, and other toxins from the body.

Prebiotic and Weight Loss Effects. In the July 2023 issue of the journal Microorganisms, researchers reported their investigation of the effects of specific polysaccharides (types of carbohydrates) in radish greens on gut health and obesity. The results showed that the prebiotics in radish greens increased short chain fatty acid production in subjects. They also reduced fat accumulation in adipocytes, indicating the potential to help reduce obesity. The researchers concluded that radish greens may help to improve gut health and reduce obesity.

Antioxidant Protection. In test-tube and animal research, antioxidant extracts from radish greens demonstrated the ability to protect lung tissues from damage due to oxidative stress from free radical buildup. Free radicals are a natural by-product of metabolism, and antioxidants are used by the body to reduce oxidative stress and damage caused by these destructive molecules. More research with humans is needed to confirm the benefits of eating the whole plant vs antioxidant extracts from radish greens. However, the leaves of radishes may actually be the most nutritious part of the plant. The leaves have more protein, calcium, Vitamin C, and antioxidants than the roots. So, you can’t go wrong when eating radish leaves.

It is well established that antioxidants may also help to protect us from various types of cancer. Many studies have confirmed that radish leaves have antioxidant benefits. The antioxidants found in radish leaves seem to help protect against liver, colon, breast, cervical, prostate, and lung cancers. Much more research in this area is needed.

Lower Risk of Diabetes. Radishes have valuable compounds in them, including glucosinolate and isothiocyanates, that are believed to help manage blood sugar levels. Early studies have shown that these compounds may provide energy and reduce how much glucose is absorbed through the intestines. Radishes also contain coenzyme Q10, an antioxidant that researchers found that helps block the formation of diabetes in animals. More research is needed to confirm these benefits in people.

Protection from Anemia. Like other leafy greens, radish leaves contain high levels of iron. This is helpful for everyone in protection from anemia, but may be of special value to those who have been diagnosed with low levels of iron in their blood.

Immunity Booster. Leafy greens are known to help boost the immune system, and radish tops are no exception. Radish leaves are high in Vitamin C, Vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), iron, phosphorus, and folate, all of which are important for boosting the immune system. So, when striving to ward off whatever germs are going around in your area, make a point of eating all the leafy greens you can, and don’t forget the radish tops.

How to Select Radish Greens
Radishes sold with the greens still attached may often be found at farmer’s markets and most grocery stores. All radish greens are edible, although some varieties have a “fuzzy” mouthfeel when eaten raw. Cooking those greens will remove that fuzziness. The red bulb radishes usually mature in 21 to 30 days. Choosing smaller varieties indicates they are usually younger and more tender. Younger greens will have the mildest flavor and will be better suited for eating raw, such as in a salad. Radishes that take longer to grow, such as Daikon or large watermelon radishes will have older, and more bitter greens. The bitterness can be mellowed through cooking.

When shopping for radish greens, look for those that look fresh without any yellow spots or discoloration.

How to Store Radish Greens
Radish greens are very perishable and won’t keep for very long. To extend their life, remove them from the root (radish) when you get them home. Wash the leaves and dry them well. Store them by wrapping them in a paper or cloth towel, and placing that in a plastic bag or container in the refrigerator. Be sure to use them within 2 or 3 days.

If your greens have wilted slightly, they can be revived by placing them in a bowl of cold water for about 5 minutes. Drain them well and spin dry, if needed. Wilted radish greens can be used in pesto or blended into smoothies. They may also be cooked.

How to Prepare Radish Greens
Radish greens are simple to prepare. Like any other green, they should be washed well, then spun dry to remove excess water. Remove any spots or discolored leaves. They can then be used in any way you want.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Radish Greens
* Depending on the variety, radish greens can be peppery or spicy in flavor, or milder, like spinach. They can be used in ways you would use other greens with similar flavors.

* Use radish greens to make a spicy pesto.

* Add radish greens to a wrap in place of (or with) lettuce, for added flavor.

* Add radish greens along with their roots to salads for a spicy addition.

* Add radish greens to soups or stews. Because they will cook up quickly, add them toward the end of cooking.

* For a spicy, peppery flavor, top sandwiches with radish greens or microgreens (raw or cooked).

* Add radish greens to a cooked or fresh dish where you add radish roots.

* Blend radish greens into sauces, such as pesto or marinara.

* Add radish greens to casseroles.

* Steam or sauté radish greens with a little garlic and red pepper flakes, if desired, as a side dish. Top them with a dash of lemon juice or vinegar of choice to cut any bitterness.

* Add radish greens to a stir-fry.

* If you like the spicy flavor of radishes but don’t have access to the greens, try growing radish sprouts or microgreens. They are fast and easy to grow, and you don’t need any expensive, special equipment.

* If a recipe calls for radish greens and you don’t have any or enough, you can substitute them with mustard greens, turnip greens, beet greens, watercress, or arugula.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Radish Greens
Basil, capers, cayenne, chervil, cilantro, curry powder, dill, marjoram, mint, mustard powder or seeds, oregano, parsley, pepper (black), rosemary, salt, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Radish Greens
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (in general), chickpeas, edamame, eggs, pecans, pistachios, sesame seeds, snow peas, sugar snap peas

Vegetables: Arugula, asparagus, beets, bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, celery, chives, cucumbers, fennel, garlic, greens (other leafy greens, in general), lettuce, lovage, mâché, mesclun, mushrooms, onions, purslane, scallions, shallots, turnips

Fruits: Avocados, lemon, olives, oranges, pears

Grains and Grain Products: Barley, bread (in general), grains (in general), quinoa, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy Products: Butter, cheese (in general), cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Mustard, oil (esp. olive, sesame, walnut), soy sauce, tamari, vinegar

Radish greens have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Asian cuisines, European cuisines, French cuisine, German cuisine, hummus, pesto, salads, spring rolls

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Radish Greens
Add radish greens to any of the following combinations…

Avocado + Lettuce
Cabbage + Onions + Salt
Carrots + Cayenne + Lime Juice + Salt
Cilantro + Lime + Olive Oil
Cucumbers + Dill Weed
Cucumbers + Endive + Mustard
Dill + Salt + Vinegar + Yogurt
Garlic + Yogurt
Lemon + Orange
Mint + Orange Slices

Recipe Links

Stir-Fried Radish Greens https://www.bonappetit.com/story/stir-fry-radish-greens

Radish Greens Pesto https://www.loveandlemons.com/radish-greens/

Easy Sautéed Radish Greens https://www.thesophisticatedcaveman.com/how-to-eat-radish-greens/

Radish Top Soup https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/38036/radish-top-soup/

Radish Greens Dal https://blogexplore.com/food/curries-gravies/radish-greens-dal-mullangi-keerai-kootu-recipe/

Radish Leaves and Avocado Quiche http://gattinamia.blogspot.com/2008/04/raddish-leaves-avocado-quiche.html

Fermented Radish Tops https://www.almostbananas.net/fermented-radish-tops/

Radish Greens Pesto https://www.fromachefskitchen.com/radish-greens-pesto/#recipe

Sweet and Sour Stir-Fried Radishes with Their Greens https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016665-sweet-and-sour-stir-fried-radishes-with-their-greens


















Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Fruits and Vegetables

Benefits of Vacuum Blending

Blenders have long been a standard piece of kitchen equipment. They were originally used mostly for making milk shakes of all types. Newer blenders are being made much more powerful than the original ones, so they can break down more dense items such as hard fruits and vegetables and even frozen foods and ice cubes. More recently, the vacuum blender was developed and is steadily gaining popularity. The beauty of vacuum blenders is that they can be used either as a traditional blender or with the vacuum feature. People have become increasingly more interested in health, wellness, and nutrition. As a result, smoothies are now the trend over milk shakes because various fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens can be combined to make healthful drinks. These drinks can be consumed in assorted ways, including being meals in themselves, desserts, and snacks. With more people drinking smoothies on a regular basis, people are realizing that vacuum blending has its advantages when making these healthful drinks. With vacuum blending, air is sucked out of the blender jar before items are processed. There are advantages to this step, including the following:

* Maximized nutrients. It’s well-known that we cannot survive without oxygen. However, exposure to oxygen is often what causes food to lose its freshness and get stale or spoil. Oxidation is what causes apples, bananas, and avocados to turn brown when cut or peeled. When we use a typical high speed blender, oxygen reacts with the ingredients during the blending process, degrading the nutritional value of the food. Some nutrients, especially Vitamins C, A, and E are easily degraded by exposure to air. With a vacuum blender, air (and, of course oxygen) is removed from the blender jar before the food is blended. This prevents oxygen from interacting with the food and its nutrients as it is being blended, maintaining the nutritional value of the ingredients. Therefore, vacuum blended smoothies (and other foods as well) are potentially more nutritious than those prepared in a traditional blender.

* Preserved antioxidants. In a 2021 (48:271-277) issue of the Journal of Plant Biotechnology, researchers compared the effects of vacuum blending and traditional blending on the overall quality and antioxidant properties of apple juice and blueberry juice. The juice was tested after being blended for dissolved oxygen and it was found that over 80% (83% in the apple juice and 86% in the blueberry juice) of the dissolved oxygen had been removed. Comparisons of antioxidant activity between vacuum and traditional blending were made 3, 6, and 12 hours after blending. Antioxidants were well preserved with the vacuum blending with little change in antioxidant activity, whereas significantly more loss occurred with traditional blending. Their comparison confirmed that vacuum blending was associated with superior quality maintenance and antioxidant properties when compared with traditional blending.

* Preserved flavor. With oxygen being removed before food is blended, the food maintains its freshness for a longer period of time. Because of this, vacuum blended food will taste better than when the same food is traditionally blended. The longer the food is stored, the greater the flavor difference will be realized.

* Better texture. Vacuum blended smoothies have a creamy, smooth texture with little, if any foam. Traditional blenders usually cannot achieve such a smooth texture, leaving small bits of food throughout the mixture. Also, they often create a foam on the top of blended food, which is simply the result of mixed-in air.

* No separation over time. Traditionally blended smoothies tend to separate, leaving a watery layer on the bottom of the storage jar in a relatively short amount of time. Vacuum blended smoothies do not separate, leaving the blended food intact until needed.

* Preserved colors. Because oxygen is removed before processing in a vacuum blender, foods that can discolor when exposed to oxygen, such as apples, bananas, and avocados, will not turn brown after being blended. When such foods are processed in a traditional blender, the mixture will tend to turn somewhat brown as the contents interact with the oxygen that was blended with them.

* Extended storage time. Because ingredients are blended in a vacuum, preventing the interaction with oxygen which causes deterioration, smoothies can be made further in advance than with traditional blending. Furthermore, when sealing smoothies in mason jars with a vacuum sealer, by removing air from the jar before storage, the quality of the food can be preserved even longer. This frees up kitchen time, allowing people to batch prepare for a period of time, rather than blending each day.

* Other options. Not only can you make delicious and smooth smoothies with a vacuum blender, but you can also prepare baby food, blended soup, pesto, spreads, tomato sauce and other sauces, pâtés, cake mixes, ice cream, salad dressings, and more.

If you are considering investing in a high-speed blender and are serious about preserving nutrients in your food, it may be wise to consider choosing a high-speed vacuum blender.







About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Yellow Squash

Yellow Squash 101 — The Basics (REVISED)

Yellow Squash 101 – The Basics (Revised)

About Yellow Squash
Yellow squash is a member of the gourd family or Cucurbitaceae, sometimes called “cucurbits.”  Winter squashes and melons are also members of this same family. Yellow squashes are close cousins with zucchini and the two types are easily interchangeable in recipes. The seeds and skin of yellow squash are tender and fully edible. They may be eaten raw or cooked. Although they are technically a type of fruit, we usually treat them as a vegetable when preparing meals that include summer squash.

There are two common varieties of yellow squash: straightneck and crookneck. Either type can be used interchangeably in recipes calling for yellow squash. The flavors are similar, but there are some subtle differences. Straightneck yellow squash is commonly found in most grocery stores and is usually available year-round. It has thinner, smoother skin than the crookneck types. The flavor is mild and smooth.

The crookneck variety of yellow squash has a slightly thicker, bumpier skin. The end of the squash is usually larger, more bulbous than that of the straightneck variety. The flavor is slightly nuttier than that of the straightneck type. Because the skin is slightly thicker, the crookneck varieties of yellow squash may take slightly longer to cook than the straightneck types.

Summer squash is native to North America, specifically to what is now the central and southern regions of the United States. Cultivation quickly spread, and yellow squash is now available worldwide.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Yellow squash contains an array of important nutrients including the B-vitamins (especially Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, and folate), Vitamin C, Vitamin K, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, zinc, fiber and even some protein. Yellow squash is also rich in assorted phenolic compounds and carotenoids that provide many health benefits. Yellow squash is a low calorie food, with one cup having only about 20 calories.

Antioxidants. Yellow squash, especially the peel, contains numerous antioxidants, including phenolic compounds and carotenoids such as beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and dehydroascorbic acid. These same compounds also give carrots their deep orange color. These compounds are known to help fight cancer and other chronic diseases. Since beta-carotene is converted into Vitamin A in the body, it supports functions such as our immunity, vision and eye health, skin renewal, and arterial health. Lutein and zeaxanthin are known to protect eyes from vision loss and age-related diseases such as macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma. Vitamin C, another antioxidant, is also found in yellow squash. One medium yellow squash provides over half of our daily needs of this important vitamin. Vitamin C and other antioxidants help defend the body against oxidative stress and free radical damage.  Vitamin C is known to promote a stronger immune function, protect against cognitive decline, and promote a healthy respiratory system by protecting our mucous membranes, and improve joint, hair, and skin health because of its role in creating collagen.

Weight Control. Yellow squash is high in water content, low in starch, fat and calories, and contains a fair amount of fiber. This combination makes yellow squash an excellent food to include in any weight loss plan. You can eat a lot of it without consuming a lot of calories and the high water content will help to make you feel full. Also, small ones can be spiralized and used in place of noodles in many dishes, which gives it versatility when planning meals. Yellow squash can also be added to baked goods, adding moisture to the product, while allowing you to reduce the added oil and fat content.

Heart Health and Cancer. The many carotenoids in squash can help to lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and also downregulate the expression of certain genes that are linked to heart disease. In the May 2016 issue of the journal Scientific Reports, researchers analyzed data from rural China collected in the 1980s and found that the more fruits and vegetables people ate, the more they were protected from heart disease, gastric cancer, and stroke. Yellow and orange squash, in particular, were linked to reduced rates of these diseases.

How to Select Yellow Squash
Choose ones that are heavy for their size, with shiny, unblemished skins (with no nicks, pits, bruises or soft spots).  Also, the skins should be tender, not tough, which would indicate they are over-mature with hard seeds and stringy flesh. The stem ends should look fresh and green. Look for small to medium-size squash, not over eight inches long. Overly large ones will be fibrous with hard seeds, and will be tough to eat.

Yellow squash is available year-round in most grocery stores. To get the freshest available, shop at your local farmer’s market from June through August, when they are in season.

How to Store Yellow Squash
Because they have a high water content, yellow squashes are subject to dehydration. So store them unwashed in the refrigerator in an air-tight container, wrapped in a damp (not wet) towel, or plastic bag in the refrigerator drawer with the air vent closed for up to one week. Since they will dehydrate quickly, being packed in a container or plastic bag will help to retain their moisture. Since they are tender, handle yellow squash with care to avoid damage, which would shorten their shelf-life.

Also, yellow squashes (and zucchinis) are sensitive to ethylene gas, so they will keep longer when stored away from ethylene-producing fruits, such as apples, avocados, peaches, melons, and pears. Avoid storing fresh squash in areas that might freeze. They should maintain quality for 5 to 7 days.

How to Prepare Yellow Squash
Wash yellow squash well under cool running water. Remove both ends, but there is no need to peel it, nor remove the seeds. There are many nutrients in the peel and it is very tender, so refrain from peeling to get the most nutritional benefit from your squash. Cut or slice it into desired size pieces and use as desired.

Yellow squash can be eaten raw or cooked, although it is likely to be cooked more often than eaten raw. They are entirely edible, which makes them easy to include in many dishes. Yellow squash may be enjoyed raw in salads, spiralized into noodles, grilled, sautéed, steamed, boiled (briefly), roasted, stir-fried, stuffed, added to casseroles, added to egg dishes, and baked into breads or muffins. It may be used interchangeably with zucchini in just about any recipe. Uses for summer squash abound and are only limited to your imagination! They are inexpensive and are a non-starchy vegetable that can be enjoyed by most people.

How to Preserve Yellow Squash
Yellow squash is best when used fresh. It may be frozen, but it will be soft when cooked, so frozen yellow squash should be cooked very briefly in as little water as possible.

Freezing Yellow Squash. To freeze yellow squash, wash and trim the ends off the squash, then cut the squash into ½-inch slices. Blanch it in boiling water for 3 minutes, then immediately cool it in ice water for 3 minutes. Drain well and pack into freezer bags or containers.

To freeze yellow squash for frying later, blanch as directed above. Before packing, dredge the blanched and cooled slices in flour or cornmeal, seasoned in whatever way you desire. Spread the coated slices in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze just until firm, then package in freezer bags or containers. It will be best if used within one year, but as long as the temperature has been maintained at or below 0°F, it will be safe to eat beyond that.

Dehydrating Yellow Squash. To dehydrate yellow squash, wash, and trim the ends off the squash, and cut the squash into ¼-inch slices. Blanch the sliced squash in boiling water for 1-1/2 minutes, then immediately transfer it to a bowl of ice water. Allow it to cool completely, which should happen quickly, within about 2 minutes. Drain the cooled squash slices well and spread them in single layers on your mesh dehydrator trays. Follow your dehydrator manufacturer’s instructions for the temperature and suggested length of drying time. Store them in airtight containers, preferrable vacuum sealed and with an oxygen absorber to maintain quality. Keep the containers away from heat and light, in a cool, dry place. When properly stored, dehydrated squash should last for years.

Quick Tips and Ideas for Using Yellow Squash
* Add some grated summer squash to sandwiches.

* Add sliced yellow squash to a casserole.

* To get the most nutritional benefit from your yellow squash, do not peel it. There are many nutrients in the peel of yellow squash, and it is very tender, so it’s to your advantage to leave the peel on.

* Add sliced or diced yellow squash to a stir-fry. To maintain its texture, add it toward the end of cooking.

* To healthy sauté summer squash, heat 3 tablespoons of broth (vegetable or chicken) or water in a stainless steel skillet. Once bubbles begin to form add sliced squash, cover, and stir occasionally for 3 minutes on medium heat. Remove from heat and use the squash as desired.

* Yellow squash is sensitive to ethylene gas. It’s best not to store them near apples, bananas, peaches, melons, pears, or any other ethylene-producing fruit. Storing them near these fruits will shorten the shelf life of your squash.

* Enjoy an easy to make ratatouille by sautéing summer squash, onions, bell peppers, eggplant and tomatoes and then simmering the mixture in tomato sauce. Season to taste.

* Slice summer squash and serve it raw with your favorite dip, hummus, or spread.

* Frozen yellow squash will become very soft once thawed. It should be cooked in a quick method that involves the least amount of water possible to maintain texture and prevent mushiness. It can be added to other foods toward the end of cooking to help keep it from getting too soft.

* Add yellow squash to your favorite pasta dish. A pasta primavera would be an excellent option for added cut yellow squash or zucchini.

* Add some raw sliced or grated yellow squash to your favorite vegetable salad.

* Add sliced yellow squash to your favorite quesadilla.

* Add sliced or diced yellow squash to a cheese soup, other soup, or your favorite stew. Add toward the end of cooking to help maintain its texture.

* Add sliced yellow squash toward the end of cooking of a vegetable chili.

* Here’s an easy and fast side-dish idea. Combine 1 can of diced tomatoes in a skillet or pot (that has a lid) with some diced onion, a little garlic powder, a pinch of dried basil leaves, and a pinch of salt (if desired). Add some sliced yellow squash (and zucchini if you have some). Stir to combine. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for up to 5 minutes, until the squash is as tender as you want. It won’t take long, since the squash cooks quickly! Remove from heat and enjoy. This is excellent over a bed of cooked rice.

* Season some lightly cooked yellow squash with a pinch of dill weed and a drizzle of lemon juice.

* Try roasting slices of yellow squash along with other favorite vegetables.

* Try adding grated yellow squash to your favorite slaw. It would especially go well with a lemon dill dressing.

* Slice yellow squash lengthwise in ½-inch increments. Lightly brush it with oil, season it your way, and cook it on the grill.

* One pound of yellow squash = about 3 medium squashes = about 3 cups sliced

* If a recipe calls for yellow squash and you don’t have any or enough available, you could substitute any variety of zucchini or pattypan squash.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Yellow Squash
Allspice, basil, capers, chili pepper flakes, chili powder, cilantro, cinnamon, coriander, curry powder, dill, fennel seeds, garlic, ginger, Italian seasoning blends, marjoram, mint, mustard seeds, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper (black), rosemary, saffron, sage, salt, savory, tarragon, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Yellow Squash
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds:  Bacon, beans (in general, esp. cannellini, white), chicken, eggs, roasted or grilled meat, pine nuts, seafood, sunflower seeds, walnuts

Vegetables: Arugula, bell peppers, carrots, chard (Swiss), chiles, chives, eggplant, escarole, greens (bitter, such as mustard or turnip greens), onions, scallions, shallots, tomatoes, tomato sauce, mushrooms, root vegetables (in general)

Fruits: Lemons, olives

Grains and Grain Products: Bread crumbs, bulgur, corn, pasta, rice, wheat

Dairy and Non-Dairy Products: Butter, cheese (esp. feta, goat, mozzarella, Parmesan, pecorino, provolone, ricotta, Swiss), yogurt

Other Foods: Mustard, oil (esp. olive), vinegar (esp. balsamic, cider, red wine, rice wine, white wine), zucchini blossoms

Yellow squash has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (i.e., muffins, quick breads), egg dishes such as frittatas, omelets), enchiladas, pasta dishes (such as lasagna, linguini, orzo, rigatoni), ratatouille, risotto, salads (i.e., green, pasta), soups and vegetable stock

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Yellow Squash
Add yellow squash to any of the following combinations…

Basil + Tomatoes
Cheese + Eggs + Scallions [in a frittata]
Cilantro + Escarole + Scallions
Eggs + Goat Cheese [in a frittata]
Garlic + Olive Oil
Garlic + Parsley
Lemon + Rosemary
Mint + Thyme
Pecorino Cheese + Truffles
Tomatoes + Onions

Recipe Links
Baked Parmesan Yellow Squash Rounds https://www.fivehearthome.com/baked-parmesan-yelllow-squash-rounds-recipe/

Sautéed Yellow Squash with Fresh Herbs https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/sauteed-yellow-squash-fresh-herbs

100+ Ways to Use Zucchini and Yellow Squash https://www.cookinglight.com/cooking-101/essential-ingredients/healthy-squash-zucchini-recipes

Summer Squash Casserole https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/summer-squash-casserole

Roasted Vegetable Gnocchi with Spinach-Herb Pesto https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/roasted-vegetable-gnocchi-spinach-pesto

41 Sensational Summer Squash Recipes https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/our-best-summer-squash-recipes-gallery

22 Ways to Use Up Your Yellow Squash Bumper Crop https://www.allrecipes.com/gallery/yellow-squash-recipes/

Southwest Veggie Burgers https://foodrevolution.org/recipes/southwest-veggie-burgers/


















Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Navy Beans

Navy Beans 101 – The Basics

Navy Beans 101 – The Basics

About Navy Beans
Navy beans are small, pea-sized white beans that are closely related to other white beans, such as cannellini and great northern beans. Because of their size, navy beans are sometimes called pea beans. They may also be called Boston beans, Yankee beans, and haricot beans. They have a fairly mild flavor with a dense texture. When cooked, navy beans become creamy and are often pureed and added to soups, stews, and dips as a thickener. They are most often used in baked beans. Navy beans are the second most popular bean in America, following pinto beans. Navy beans are rarely sold fresh, so they can be found dried, canned or jarred in most American grocery stores year-round. All forms are reasonably priced, so they should be a pantry staple for everyone.

Navy beans originated in Peru several thousand years ago. Their current name stems from their use in the U.S. Navy in the early 1900s. Their long shelf life, low cost, and high nutritional value led them to become a standard food for sailors on Navy ships. There is a long tradition of serving Senate Bean Soup, which features navy beans, in the restaurant of the U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C. since 1903!

Nutrition and Health Benefits

Navy beans are high in nutritional value. They are rich in protein, fiber, folate, thiamin (Vitamin B1), riboflavin (Vitamin B2), niacin (Vitamin B3), pantothenic acid, pyridoxine (Vitamin B6), iron, potassium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, and selenium. They are so high in fiber content, that a 1 cup serving of cooked navy beans has 19 grams of fiber. That’s 91% of the Daily Recommended Intake of fiber! There are about 255 calories in one cup of cooked navy beans.

Metabolic Syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of conditions that increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes. These conditions include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. Having one of these conditions doe not mean you have metabolic syndrome. However, when you have several of them together, you have a greater risk of serious disease.  Up to one-third of American adults have metabolic syndrome.

Research studies have shown that navy beans appear to help reduce symptoms of metabolic syndrome. Scientists speculate this effect may be due to the high fiber content of the beans. In a study reported in the March 2015 issue of the Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research, researchers studied 14 adults who were overweight or obese. The subjects ate 5 cups of navy beans a week for four weeks and experienced reduced waist circumference and reduced total and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels when compared to baseline.

In another study reported in the February 2017 issue of Global Pediatric Health, researchers fed 38 children who had abnormal blood cholesterol levels a muffin or smoothie containing 17.5 grams of navy bean powder daily for four weeks. By the end of the study, subjects had higher levels of the healthy HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol when compared to a control group.

Reduced Risk of Heart Attack. As reported in the July 1999 issue of the European Journal of Epidemiology, researchers examined food intake patterns and risk of death from coronary heart disease among over 16,000 men in seven countries for 25 years. Those countries included the United States, Finland, The Netherlands, Italy, former Yugoslavia, Greece, and Japan. Typical food patterns were: higher dairy products (Northern Europe), higher meat consumption (United States), higher consumption of vegetables, legumes, fish, and wine (Southern Europe), and higher consumption of cereals, soy products, and fish (Japan). When all the final data were analyzed, comparing the risk of death from heart disease vs dietary pattern, researchers found that higher legume consumption was associated with 82% reduction in heart attack risk! Surely, it can only help in positive ways to have more legumes in your diet, including navy beans.

Navy beans contain a high amount of various nutrients that contribute to heart health, including fiber, folate, and magnesium. Folate helps to lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that plays a role in the methylation cycle. High levels of homocysteine are a risk factor for heart attack, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease, and are found in 20 to 30 percent of patients with heart disease. It is estimated that consuming 100% of the daily value of folate would, in itself, reduce the number of heart attacks in America annually by 10 percent. Only one cup of cooked navy beans provides almost 64% of the recommended daily intake of folate. So including navy beans in your diet on a regular basis can surely help to ward off heart disease.

Navy beans are also high in magnesium, which serves as nature’s calcium channel blocker. Ample magnesium helps to improve the flow of blood, oxygen, and nutrients throughout the body. Research has shown that a magnesium deficiency is associated with heart attack and free radical damage immediately following a heart attack.

Potassium, another element found in good supply in navy beans is important in nerve transmission and muscle contractions, including the heart. It also plays an important role in maintaining normal blood pressure. One cup of cooked navy beans offers over 700 mg of potassium, over one-fourth of our daily needs. Including navy beans in your meals when possible can help to protect against high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.

Stabilized Blood Sugar. Researchers have learned that the fiber in navy beans helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, especially in those with insulin resistance, hypoglycemia, and diabetes. Studies have shown that high fiber diets help to balance blood sugar levels by providing steady, slow-burning energy. Researchers have shown that those who consume about 50 grams of fiber a day had lower levels of blood glucose and insulin. The high fiber group also had lower total cholesterol, triglycerides, and VLDL (very low density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Navy beans are considered to be a low glycemic index food, with a rating of 29. If you suffer from blood sugar issues and/or dyslipidemia, including more beans, such as navy beans, into your diet would be advantageous to your health.

Reduced Risk of Iron Deficiency. A one cup serving of navy beans provides over 4 mg of iron, which is substantial. If you are at risk of developing iron deficiency, eating navy beans on a regular basis can help to boost your stores of iron, preventing or reducing the risk of iron deficiency. Unlike red meat, another source of dietary iron, navy beans are low in calories and are virtually fat-free. So, consuming navy beans for the sake of dietary iron is a healthier choice than red meat. Pregnant and lactating women, growing children, and adolescents all have increased needs for iron. Including navy beans in meals on a regular basis can help to meet those needs.

Energy Production and Antioxidant Protection. Navy beans are a very good source of manganese and a good source of copper. Both minerals are essential cofactors on the oxidative enzyme superoxide dismutase. This enzyme is critical because it disarms free radical molecules produced in the mitochondria (the energy production organelles within our cells).

Copper is needed for the activity of the enzyme, lysyl oxidase, which is important in linking collagen and elastin. Both substances are critical in providing flexibility in blood vessels, bones, and joints.

The production of hemoglobin relies on copper. Without copper, iron cannot be utilized properly in red blood cells. Iron is critical in hemoglobin for carrying and releasing oxygen throughout the body. Navy beans provide manganese, copper, and iron, all critical for energy production and protection from free radicals in the body.

Memory Protection. Thiamin (Vitamin B1) plays a role in enzyme reactions critical to energy production and brain cell/cognitive function. Thiamin is used in the making of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter that is essential for memory. Lack of acetylcholine has been shown to be a significant contributing factor in age-related impairment of mental function (senility) and Alzheimer’s disease. It has been well established that those with Alzheimer’s disease have a decrease in acetylcholine levels. One cup of cooked navy beans provides almost 40% of the recommended daily needs of thiamin.

Protein. If you’re wondering where people get protein when following a plant-based diet, wonder no more! Navy beans are a good source of protein (as are other beans), with a one cup serving providing about 42 percent (15 grams) of the recommended daily intake of protein. Furthermore, navy beans provide the blood sugar stabilizing and heart health benefits of soluble fiber, which meat does not offer.

How to Select Navy Beans
Dried Navy Beans. Dried beans are very inexpensive and have a long shelf life. When buying dried navy beans, examine the color and texture of the beans. They should have a cream color and smooth skin, without holes, cracks, or wrinkles on the surface. Also check the “Best by” date. A date further into the future indicates they have recently been processed and packaged. Whereas the sooner “best by” date indicates somewhat older beans. Older beans are perfectly edible, but take longer to cook, so it is to your advantage to choose bags with the date farthest into the future as possible.

Canned or Jarred Navy Beans. Canned (or jarred) beans are more expensive than their dried counterparts. However, they are ready to eat without the need for soaking and cooking. It’s always wise to keep some canned or jarred beans in the pantry in case you need to prepare a meal in a hurry and don’t have time to soak and precook beans. In an emergency, when there is no electricity, you could simply open the can or jar and eat the beans, so they can be vital to have available when unexpected events occur. When buying canned beans, choose cans that are not dented, rusting, nor bulging, and that have a “Best by” date well into the future. Inspect jarred beans to be sure the jar is not cracked and that the safety seal is still intact.

How to Store Navy Beans

Dried Navy Beans. Store dried beans in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight. They may be stored in their original plastic bags if you intend to use them within a relatively short amount of time. But when storing them for an extended period of time, it’s best to transfer them to a food safe container with a tight-fitting lid, such as a glass mason jar. Placing an oxygen absorber inside the jar with the beans and removing as much air as possible will help to maintain the quality of your beans. Label your beans with the date packaged, and “Best by” date that was on the original bag, if possible. When stored this way, they will keep for years. It is helpful to know that the older the beans get, the longer they may take to cook. So allow for ample cooking time, if needed, depending upon the age of your beans.

Canned or Jarred Navy Beans. Store canned or jarred beans in a cool, dry, dark place such as your pantry. Arrange your beans according to the “Best by” date so that you will reach for the oldest can (with the nearest “Best by” date) first. Placing newest cans toward the back of a row of like-items will usually arrange them according to date. Then simply take the first can in line when you need them and your system should take care of itself.

Canned vs Cooked Dried Navy Beans

Canned navy beans can be found in most supermarkets. While canned vegetables have lost a lot of their nutritional value when compared with fresh vegetables, there is actually little difference in the nutritional value of canned navy beans and those that you cooked yourself from the dried version. Canning lowers vegetables’ nutritional value since the process involves long cooking time at a high temperature. Whereas, cooking fresh vegetables is often done quickly and often with little water and at a lower temperature. Contrarily, navy beans require a longer cooking time both in the canning process, and cooking (from dried) at home. If canned navy beans make life more convenient for you, there is nothing wrong with saving yourself some preparation time and opting for a can of beans rather than cooking them yourself. It is suggested that you read the ingredients label when shopping and choose those without added salt or other chemical additives. Also, check to be sure the can liner was made without BPA (Bisphenol A), a known health hazard that is gradually being removed from all canned goods.

How to Prepare and Freeze Dried Navy Beans

Cooking Dried Navy Beans. Rinse the dried beans well and inspect for any foreign debris, such as pebbles, then drain. Place the rinsed and drained beans in a large pot and cover with at least two inches of fresh, cool water. There should be two to three times the amount of water as beans. Cover the pot and soak the beans for 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Drain off the soaking water and rinse the beans well. Fill the pot with fresh water, covering the beans with at least two inches of water, with about three times the amount of water as beans. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer the beans until tender, usually for 1 to 2 hours, depending upon how old the beans are (the older they are, the longer they will take to cook). When they are very tender, drain them and use as desired. One and three-fourth (1-3/4) cups of cooked beans is about equivalent to one 15.5 ounce can of beans.  Refrigerate any beans that you will not be using immediately, and use them within five days. If you cannot use them within that time, it’s best to transfer them to a freezer container or bag, label them with the date, and freezer them for later use.

Freezing Cooked Navy Beans. Freezing cooked beans is an excellent way to prepare them in advance that makes meal preparation with them faster, easier, and convenient. Furthermore, frozen prepared beans taste far better than canned varieties since there are no additives in them. To freeze your cooked beans, prepare your dried beans as detailed above. As soon as they are finished cooking, drain them well, then chill them quickly. This is easily done by draining your cooked beans in a colander, then immediately fill the cooking pot with fresh cold water. Transfer the hot beans into the pot of cold water and stir them to remove some of the heat from the beans. When the water warms up, drain them again, refill the pot with fresh cold water, and add the beans again to further cool them off. By that time, the beans should be cool enough to store. Drain them well, then transfer them to freezer containers or bags. Label them with the date frozen and place them in the freezer. Lay bags flat in the freezer so they will be easier to break apart when you want to use them. They may also be frozen on a tray then transferred to freezer containers or bags. This will make them easier to remove from the container or bag later (they won’t be frozen in a big clump). For best quality, use your frozen beans within 6 months. They will be edible beyond that, but the quality may start to deteriorate over time.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Navy Beans
* Try making a sandwich spread or dip by blending cooked navy beans with your favorite herbs and spices. Add a little oil, water, or broth to make it creamy and spreadable.

* Mix cooked navy beans with a little olive oil, sage, and garlic to serve on bruschetta.

* Add some cooked navy beans to tomato soup. Stirring in blended beans will give the soup a creamy richness as well as a nutritional boost.

* Combine navy beans with cooked roasted buckwheat and sautéed onions and mushrooms for a hearty main dish.

* Use navy beans to make a nutritious white chili.

* To give a rich, umami flavor to navy beans, try using dried mushrooms (porcini, cremini, shiitake, or oyster mushrooms would give the most flavor). Steep the dried mushrooms in boiling water to make a broth. The broth can be used to cook the beans separately, or added to a recipe as part or all of the cooking liquid. Chop the soaked mushrooms and add them to the recipe with the beans. If you don’t care for the texture of rehydrated mushrooms, grind the dried mushrooms to a powder and dissolve the powder in the pot of beans or your recipe liquid.

* Add cooked and cooled navy beans to a vegetable salad. Top the salad with a rosemary vinaigrette dressing.

* Try adding navy beans to a casserole for added protein and other nutrients.

* Try adding navy beans to vegetable bowls.

* Try making a bean spread, dip, or hummus with navy beans as the foundation. Here’s a recipe for Roasted Garlic and White Bean Dip as an example: https://www.alphafoodie.com/roasted-garlic-white-bean-dip/#recipe

* Add navy beans to pasta.

* Make a bean soup with navy beans.

* Make a plant-based veggie burger that includes navy beans.

* Add navy beans to tacos or quesadillas.

* Make a batch of your own baked beans (which typically use navy beans as the main ingredient).

* Include navy beans in any beans and rice dish.

* Try a British favorite by serving baked beans over a thick slice of crusty toasted bread. Top with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

* Mix up some cooked mashed navy beans with mashed potatoes for added nutrition and richness in your side dish.

* Try adding cooked navy beans in place of pasta, potatoes, or a grain in casseroles and soups.

* Navy beans cooked from dried can be somewhat bland until they are seasoned. To help season them along the way, you can add some seasonings during the initial cooking process. Try adding your choice of onion, garlic, celery, black pepper, and herbs of choice (such as rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley, cilantro, and/or bay leaves). You can add some salt for flavor, but wait until they have cooked at least 30 minutes before adding any salt. When salt is added early in the cooking process, it may cause the outer skin of the beans to become tough, making them hard to cook to a soft texture.

* If a recipe calls for navy beans and you don’t have enough available, you could substitute cannellini beans or great northern beans for the navy beans.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Navy Beans

Bay leaf, basil, cloves, coriander seeds, cumin, fennel seeds, garlic, mustard (dry or seeds), oregano, paprika (sweet) and smoked paprika, parsley, pepper (black), red pepper flakes, rosemary, salt, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Navy Beans

Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Bacon, beans (other types, in general), chicken, ham, lamb, pork, sausage, toasted sesame seeds, turkey

Vegetables: Arugula, asparagus, beets, broccoli, broccoli rabe, cabbage (red and green), carrots, cauliflower, celery, celery root, chiles, cucumbers, fennel, leeks, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, shallots, summer squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and tomato paste

Fruits: Lemons, oranges

Grains and Grain Products: Barley, bread, corn, pasta, quinoa, rice, wheat

Dairy and Non-Dairy Products: Cheese (i.e., ricotta, Parmesan)

Other Foods: Ketchup, maple syrup, molasses, mustard (prepared), soy sauce, sugar, vinegar (esp. apple cider vinegar), Worcestershire sauce

Navy beans have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…

Baked beans, Boston cuisine, casseroles, chili (vegetarian), dips, pastas (i.e. pasta e fagioli), pilafs, purees, salads (i.e., tomato, vegetable), soups, spreads, stews

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Navy Beans

Add navy beans to any of the following combinations…

Black Pepper + Maple Syrup + Mustard + Brown Sugar
Brown Sugar + Molasses + Vinegar

Recipe Links

Mom’s Navy Bean Recipe (and Video) https://keviniscooking.com/moms-navy-white-beans/#recipe

Three Bean Quesadillas https://www.pinterest.com/pin/351421577184162218/

Creamy Vegan White Bean Pasta https://www.thissavoryvegan.com/creamy-vegan-white-bean-pasta/#recipe

Navy Bean Falafel https://savoryspin.com/navy-bean-falafel-9/

Lunch Lady Baked Beans https://www.plainchicken.com/lunch-lady-baked-beans/

Artichoke, White Bean, and Quinoa Burgers https://www.thefullhelping.com/artichoke-white-bean-quinoa-burgers/#recipe

Southwestern 3-Bean Salad https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/228263/southwestern-3-bean-salad/

Lemony White Bean Dip [Note that this recipe uses cannellini beans, but navy beans could easily be used instead]  https://rainbowplantlife.com/lemony-white-bean-dip/#wprm-recipe-container-20542

Pasta Bean Soup https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/230587/pasta-bean-soup/

Boston Baked Beans https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/18255/boston-baked-beans/

Capitol Hill Bean Soup https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/capitol-hill-bean-soup

Vegetable Beef Soup https://www.myrecipes.com/ingredients/recipes-with-navy-beans?slide=a2b9dab1-a74f-44a5-96ea-97fdb54db8ef#a2b9dab1-a74f-44a5-96ea-97fdb54db8ef

White Beans with Sorrel Pesto https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/white-beans-sorrel-pesto

Vegetarian Navy Bean Soup Recipe https://www.aspicyperspective.com/vegetarian-navy-bean-soup-recipe/

Vegetarian Tuscan Kale and Navy Bean Soup https://www.northcoast.coop/recipes/recipe/vegetarian-tuscan-kale-and-navy-bean-soup

Smoky Navy Bean Soup https://www.connoisseurusveg.com/navy-bean-soup/

Navy Bean Soup https://www.contentednesscooking.com/navy-bean-soup/

British Baked Beans and Toast Recipe https://tipbuzz.com/baked-beans-on-toast/#recipe

Navy Bean Falafel https://savoryspin.com/navy-bean-falafel-9/?utm_source=yummly&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=social-pug&utm_campaign=yummly&utm_medium=yummly&utm_source=yummly

Navy Bean Salad https://www.camelliabrand.com/recipes/draft-corn-and-navy-bean-salad/?utm_campaign=yummly&utm_medium=yummly&utm_source=yummly

White Beans Recipe with Rosemary and Thyme https://thecozyapron.com/white-beans-recipe-with-rosemary-and-thyme/#recipe-bookmark

Herbed White Bean Soup Recipe https://www.thespruceeats.com/herbed-white-bean-soup-recipe-1375830

















Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Spring Mix

Spring Mix 101 – The Basics (REVISED)

Spring Mix 101 – The Basics (REVISED)

About Spring Mix
Although there is no one specific formula for the types of greens that make up Spring Mix, it contains a variety of fresh greens with different tastes and textures. These include red romaine, baby spinach, radicchio, green romaine, red oak leaf, mizuna, red leaf, Lolo rosso, arugula, red mustard, green mustard, red chard, frisée, and tatsoi. It contains a mixture of sweet and mild, and also slightly bitter flavors. The variety of greens may vary among different brands. Spring Mix is available year-round in most grocery stores, with the peak season being the warmer months from spring through summer. Spring Mix may also be known as mesclun (derived from the Spanish word “mezclar” which means “to mix”). Traditional mesclun usually consists of a mixture of chervil, arugula, lettuce, and endive.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Spring Mix greens contain good amounts of Vitamins A (carotenoids), C, and K, folate, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese, fiber, and even a little protein. It is a very low sodium food with only about 95 mg in a 2-cup serving. It is very low in calories, with 2 cups having about 20 calories. Like all leafy greens, Spring Mix is considered to be a nutrient dense food, meaning it has a lot of nutrients with few calories. Along with that comes a number of health benefits.

Bone Health. Calcium and Vitamin K both play important roles in maintaining healthy bones. Dark leafy greens contain both of those key nutrients and are one of the best dietary sources of Vitamin K. Numerous studies have shown that getting enough calcium, Vitamin D (which we can get from sunlight), and Vitamin K, along with regular weight-bearing exercise appears to offer the best protection against osteoporosis. Eating dark leafy greens, including Spring Mix, on a regular basis can help to meet those needs.

Supports a Healthy Pregnancy. Spring Mix provides some nutrients (especially folate, Vitamin K and calcium), that are needed for a healthy pregnancy. A study in Ethiopia, that involved 374 pregnant women found that women that had poor or inconsistent intakes of dark leafy greens, dairy products, and fruit had higher risks of adverse pregnancy outcomes, including preterm births, low birth weight infants, and stillborn infants. The results showed that dark leafy greens may play a role in healthy pregnancy outcomes.

Furthermore, folate (which is in a substantial amount in Spring Mix) has long been shown to play a role in preventing birth defects, such as neural tube defects, early in pregnancy. Other nutrients in Spring Mix also support fetal development along with healthy gestational weight gain.

Reduces Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. Research has shown that diets that regularly include leafy greens (along with other healthy foods) is associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. In a study reported in the June 2010 issue of JAMA Neurology, researchers followed the diets of 2,148 elderly people, age 65 and over for four years. Their neurological functions were tested every 18 months. During the course of the study, 253 individuals developed Alzheimer’s Disease. At the end of the study, dietary patterns were compared and adjustments were made for assorted variables. Researchers found that those who had higher intakes of salads and salad dressings, nuts, fish, tomatoes, poultry, cruciferous vegetables, fruits, and dark and green leafy vegetables along with a lower intake of high-fat dairy products, red meat, organ meat, and butter had a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. This clearly shows that following such a dietary pattern can help ward off this disease. Including Spring Mix in the diet along with other leafy greens on a regular basis can help to protect you from developing this Alzheimer’s Disease in later years.

Helps Protect Vision. Age-related macular degeneration is a leading cause of vision loss in older people. Spring Mix contains a variety of carotenoids, including lutein, which are known to concentrate in the retina of the eye and protect against harmful oxidation. Consuming Spring Mix along with a source of healthy fat (such as olives or nuts), improves the bioavailability of such fat-soluble compounds and can help to protect our vision as we age.

Supports Heart Health. Consuming a lot of leafy greens, such as Spring Mix, along with other vegetables has been shown to prevent atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, and stroke. Furthermore, potassium has been shown to help keep blood pressure under control. Spring Mix can help to provide a substantial amount of potassium when eaten on a regular basis. Also, Spring Mix provides assorted antioxidants (such as Vitamin C) that help to protect against cardiovascular damage over time. It is well established that routinely eating leafy greens, such as Spring Mix, along with a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables can help to keep the heart and cardiovascular system strong and healthy.

How to Select Spring Mix
When shopping for Spring Mix, it’s very important to choose greens that look fresh and dry. If there are beads of moisture in the package or box, choose a different package, if possible. Greens that have moisture in the packaging will not be the freshest available, and the added moisture will cause the greens to age quickly, get slimy, and spoil.

It’s also very important to look for the “Best By” date and choose the date furthest out, into the future. This will help to ensure that your greens will last the longest so you won’t have to discard them before finishing the package. Be sure to use them before the “Best By” date. It’s helpful to buy no more than what you would eat within a week.

Spring Mix greens purchased in plastic tubs tend to last longer than those sold in bags because the tubs help to protect them from getting damaged. So, choose the plastic tubs over the bags, if they are available. If you must buy Spring Mix in a plastic bag, it would be helpful to transfer the greens to a rigid refrigerator container when you get them home. (See more about this below.)

How to Store Spring Mix
Store your Spring Mix in the original plastic tub in the refrigerator in an area where it won’t accidentally freeze. To help prolong its life, open the container and place a fresh paper towel on top of the greens, then reclose the container and store it in the refrigerator. If desired, you could also empty the container, and line the bottom with a fresh paper towel, return the greens to the tub, then place a fresh paper towel on top of the greens before reclosing the container (this may be easier said than done). The added paper towel(s) to the tub help to soak up moisture that is released by the greens, which helps to keep them from resting against the liquid, which would cause them to age quickly. Keeping them chilled, in a humid, yet dry environment (without resting against moisture droplets) prolongs their shelf life as much as possible and prevents leaves from becoming soggy, wilted, and spoiled.

If you purchased Spring Mix in a plastic bag, it is helpful to transfer the mix to a rigid refrigerator container when you get them home. Line the bottom of the container with a fresh paper towel, add the greens, then top them with another fresh paper towel. That will help to keep them dry while protecting them from damage from being bumped or squashed while in the refrigerator.

How to Prepare Spring Mix
Spring Mix greens are usually washed commercially before being packaged, so you could simply remove what you need from the packaging and use it as desired. If you need to wash your Spring Mix greens, do so as needed when you are about to use them for a meal. They should not be washed in advance, because any moisture left on them will cause them to age, become soggy, wilt, and spoil.

Tips and Ideas for Using Spring Mix
* Spring Mix can be used alone or mixed with other greens for a delicious salad.

* When using only Spring Mix in a leafy salad, use lightweight dressings and ingredients, as the tender greens don’t hold up well with heavy ingredients.

* Add salad dressings to Spring Mix right before serving, not in advance. The tender leaves will wilt quickly when left to soak in a dressing, so it’s best to apply dressing at the last minute.

* Since Spring Mix greens are so lightweight and tender, it’s helpful to limit the amount of salad toppings in a Spring Mix salad, so the greens don’t get flattened down.

* Spring Mix can also be used as a bed of greens for fresh or grilled fruits and other vegetables.

* Toss greens, walnuts, and cranberries in a sweet balsamic dressing. Top with a cheese of choice.

* Add mixed greens, olives, feta, pepperoncini, and cucumber in a bowl. Add olive oil and lemon. Toss gently. Add salt and pepper to taste.

* Take your favorite homemade or premixed grain salad and toss in a handful of baby greens.

* Add candied or roasted pecans to your mixed greens and toss in a bowl with feta or goat cheese. Top with fresh raspberries.

* Use extra Spring Mix to make a green smoothie. Blend a couple handfuls with a banana and some other fruit or other favorite smoothie ingredients and enjoy!

* Spring Mix can also be lightly sautéed in a little fat of your choice along with garlic, sesame seeds, and other flavorings. Top it off with a little vinegar or lemon juice to brighten the flavor.

* Spring Mix can also be used as a substitute for spinach in any dish, cooked or raw.

* If a recipe calls for Spring Mix and you don’t have any or enough for the recipe, you could substitute any young, tender leafy salad greens such as spinach or baby kale leaves. If you don’t have those available, use any leaf lettuce that you have, such as green leaf, red leaf, oak leaf, or a butterhead lettuce such as Boston or Bibb. Even young arugula leaves and radicchio could be used. Use a mixture of what you have!

* Try quickly steaming Spring Mix with no special equipment. I show how to steam Spring Mix in this video, Easiest Steamed Spring Mix… https://youtu.be/4bZ1cI-2U9c   I have also steamed spinach the same way in the following video, FAST and EASY Steamed Spinach … https://youtu.be/ZWuZHxdPGxg

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Spring Mix
Anise seeds, basil, capers, chervil, cilantro, dill, garlic, marjoram, mint, mustard powder, parsley, pepper (black), salt, tarragon, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Spring Mix
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (in general), beef, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, hazelnuts, lentils, nuts (in general, especially toasted), pine nuts, pistachios, pork, poultry, pumpkin seeds, seafood, sesame seeds, sugar snap peas, sunflower seeds, tahini, tofu, walnuts

Vegetables: Beets, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, chiles, chives, cucumbers, fennel, jicama, leeks, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, radishes, scallions, shallots, sprouts, summer squash, tomatoes

Fruits: Apples, avocados, blackberries, cranberries (dried), lemons, limes, mangoes, oranges, pears, pomegranates, raisins

Grains and Grain Products: Corn and corn chips, croutons, quinoa, rice, wheat

Dairy and Non-Dairy Products: Cheese (i.e., blue, Brie, cheddar, goat, Gorgonzola, Parmesan)

Other Foods: Honey, mayonnaise, mustard (prepared), oil (i.e., flaxseed, grapeseed, olive), salad dressings, tamari, vinegar (i.e., balsamic, red wine, sherry, white wine)

Spring Mix has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Salads (i.e., grain, green, potato), sandwiches, veggie burgers, wraps

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Spring Mix
Add Spring Mix to any of the following combinations…

Almonds + Avocado + Carrots + Smoked Tofu + Tomatoes
Apples + Celery + Hazelnuts
Apples + Celery + Lime + Raisins + Walnuts
Avocado + Cilantro
Avocado + Lime
Avocado + Pumpkin Seeds
Balsamic Vinegar + Garlic + Mustard + Olive Oil
Blue Cheese + Pears + Walnuts
Carrots + Cucumbers + Dill + Feta Cheese
Chickpeas + Cucumbers + Feta Cheese + Olives + Red Onions + Tomatoes
Dijon Mustard + Lemon + Olive Oil + Scallions
Dill (Weed) + Garlic + Lemon + Scallions
Fruit + Toasted Pecans + Dried Cherries + Croutons
Goat Cheese + Pecans
Goat Cheese + Strawberries
Green Olives + Toasted Almonds + Vinaigrette Dressing
Lentils + Rice
Pears + Walnuts + Sherry Vinegar

Recipe Links
Grilled Chicken and Grape Spring Salad with Goat Cheese and Honey-Balsamic Dressing https://www.cookingclassy.com/grilled-chicken-and-grape-spring-salad-with-goat-cheese-and-honey-balsamic-dressing/

Greek Chicken, Garden Vegetable, and Spring Mix Salad https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/greek-chicken-garden-vegetable-and-spring-mix-salad-recipe-2125971

Spring Mix Salad with Grilled Chicken, Avocado, and Citrus Vinaigrette http://www.dolesalads.ca/recipes/spring-mix-salad-with-grilled-chicken-avocado-and-citrus-vinaigrette/

Karen’s Spring Mix Salad https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/24383/karens-spring-mix-salad/

Spring Mix Salad with Blueberries, Goat Cheese and Walnuts https://www.wholesomeyum.com/recipes/spring-mix-salad-recipe-with-blueberries-goat-cheese-and-walnuts-low-carb-gluten-free/

Mixed Greens with Bacon and Herbs https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/mixed-greens-with-bacon-and-herbs-106197

Spring Mix Salad https://www.acouplecooks.com/spring-mix-salad/

31 Recipes for Spring Greens https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/spring-greens-recipes-gallery

Spring Mix Salad Recipe https://foolproofliving.com/spring-mix-salad/#wprm-recipe-container-49324

Spring Mix Salad https://www.theendlessmeal.com/spring-mix-salad/

25 Recipes to Finish Off That Package of Mixed Greens https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/mixed-greens-recipes/

The Best Spring Mix Salad Ever https://lexiscleankitchen.com/the-best-spring-mix-salad-ever/#wprm-recipe-container-506442









Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.


Garlic 101 — The Basics (REVISED)

Garlic 101 – The Basics (REVISED)

About Garlic
Garlic (Allium sativum) has been used around the world for thousands of years as medicine and to flavor food of all sorts. We often think of it as an herb or spice, but botanically it is considered to be a vegetable. Garlic is a member of the allium family, so it is related to onions, shallots, leeks and chives. Although we typically focus on eating the bulb of the plant, the leaves, stems, flowers, and roots of the garlic plant are also edible.

The bulb of the garlic plant is the most used part. The bulb can be divided into portions known as cloves. Garlic cloves can be eaten raw or cooked for culinary and medicinal purposes. The cloves have a tart, spicy flavor that becomes savory and sweet when cooked. The leaves and flowers are sometimes eaten when they are young and tender.

Garlic is one of the oldest cultivated crops, with reference dating as far back as 5,000 years ago. Garlic grows wild in Central Asia, where it is believed to have originated. Throughout history, people traveling through Central Asia harvested garlic and carried it with them to their destinations, where they began cultivating the plants. Garlic is now used and grown around the world, with China producing about 80 percent of the world’s supply, followed by India, South Korea, Egypt, and Russia.


Nutrition and Health Benefits
Garlic packs a nutritional punch with good amounts of potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, copper, phosphorus, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, beta-carotene, and zeaxanthin (a carotenoid found in the retina of the eye). Garlic is very low in calories with one average clove having only about 4 calories.

Important Sulfur Compounds in Garlic and Their Medicinal Effects. When garlic is chopped, chewed, or bruised, allicin is formed. It is a type of sulfur compound that gives garlic its classic aroma, and is the active ingredient that appears to help treat so many ailments. However, it is important to know that allicin is an unstable compound and is present only for a short time after a fresh clove has been cut or crushed. Some people take odorless garlic supplements that have the allicin removed. This type of garlic is not as effective for medicinal uses. Enteric coated supplements (that contain allicin) can be used instead of the odorless capsules.

Other compounds in garlic that may play a role in its health benefits include diallyl disulfide and s-allyl cysteine. These compounds enter the body from the digestive tract and are carried in the bloodstream all over the body exerting strong biological effects.

Garlic also contains germanium, an element that has anti-cancer properties. Garlic contains more germanium than any other herb. Garlic now tops the American National Cancer Institute’s list of potential cancer-preventative foods.

Garlic has been used to treat heart disease, various cancers, enlarged prostate, diabetes, arthritis, allergies, flu, fungal infections, oral thrush, diarrhea, and more (a LONG list!). Research has shown that garlic does help to treat many of the ailments that it’s used for. Its antibacterial and antifungal properties help in the treatment of various conditions.

In test tubes, garlic seems to kill cancer cells. Population studies suggest that those who eat more garlic are less likely to get colon, stomach, and esophageal cancers than those who do not eat garlic.

In the Iowa Women’s Health Study involving 41,000 middle-aged women, researchers found that those who regularly ate garlic in addition to fruits and vegetables, had a 35 percent lower risk of developing colon cancer than those who did not regularly eat those foods.

Important Note…Garlic can interact with some medications. If you are taking prescription drugs for any reason, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it’s OK to take any garlic supplements that you are considering. This is especially the case if you are taking any blood-thinning medications.

Immunity Boost. Garlic can help to protect us from illness, including the common cold. In the July-August 2001 issue of Advances in Therapy, 146 people took part in a 12 week study during the winter months of November to February. The treatment group took one allicin-containing garlic supplement a day for the duration of the study, and both groups recorded any common cold symptoms on a daily basis. The treatment group recorded significantly fewer colds than the control group. Also, the control group recorded significantly more days that they were challenged virally with longer duration of symptoms. As a result, the treatment group was less likely to catch colds and recovered faster if they did catch one. The researchers concluded that allicin-containing garlic supplements can help to prevent attacks by the common cold virus and also lesson the severity of illness if someone does become infected.

Another study reported in the June 2012 issue of Clinical Nutrition (Edinburgh, Scotland), researchers found similar results where supplementation with aged garlic extract (2.56 grams per day) enhanced immune cell function by reducing the severity of colds and flu, and reduced the number of days sick by 61 percent.

Antimicrobial Properties. Garlic has long been associated with its benefits for helping to fight cancer, inflammation, and fungal, viral, and bacterial infections. In the July 2021 issue of the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, researchers discussed the various antimicrobial benefits of the organosulfur compounds in garlic. Specifically, these compounds included allicin, ajoenes, and allyl sulfides. They found that these compounds exhibit a range of antibacterial properties, destroying bacterial biofilm, bacterial toxins, as well as activity against a wide range of bacteria including multi-drug resistant strains. These compounds form bonds with specific enzymes, effectively breaking down the bacterial membrane. Drug resistant bacteria have become a global threat to our health and well-being. The compounds found in garlic can help to play an important role in the fight against serious pathogens. Consuming garlic, especially raw garlic that has been freshly cut, chopped or crushed, can help improve your health and aid your immune system whenever you are fighting any type of bacterial or other microbial infection.

Reduced Blood Pressure. It is well established that high blood pressure (hypertension) can be a contributing factor to heart disease and stroke. Numerous research studies have verified that garlic supplements (in doses of 600 to 1500 mg a day) can have a significant impact on reducing blood pressure in people with hypertension. The doses found to be effective were equivalent to about four cloves of garlic per day.

Improved Cholesterol Levels. Garlic has been shown to lower total and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Numerous studies have tested garlic supplements for their cholesterol-lowering ability and found that in subjects with high cholesterol, garlic supplements lowered total and LDL cholesterol by 10 to 15 percent. When tested, garlic seemed to have no specific effect on HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or triglyceride levels. Study results on the cholesterol-lowering effects of garlic are mixed, but the greatest benefit appears to come from eating raw garlic that was cut or crushed shortly before consuming it.

Antioxidants. Antioxidants are extremely important in helping the body to fight free radical molecules that contribute to disease and the aging process. In numerous studies, garlic has been found to contain antioxidants that support the body’s mechanisms against oxidative damage. High doses of garlic supplements have been shown to increase antioxidant activity in humans, especially reducing oxidative stress in people with hypertension. Researchers have speculated that with the combined effects of reducing cholesterol and blood pressure, plus with its antioxidant benefits, that garlic (including aged garlic extract) may reduce the risk of brain conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Heavy Metal Removal from the Body. At high levels, the sulfur compounds in garlic have been shown to protect against organ damage from toxic heavy metals. In the May 2012 issue of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, researchers reported that lead levels in the blood were reduced by 19 percent in employees who worked at a car battery plant (who had excessive lead exposure due to their work environment). The subjects were given 1200 micrograms of allicin three times a day for four weeks. The allicin also reduced many clinical signs of heavy metal toxicity, including headaches and hypertension. The allicin supplement was found to be more effective than the drug d-penicillamine (a drug given to patients to remove metals from the body).

According to Anthony William, the Medical Medium, garlic extracts toxic heavy metals from the colon and gives us a powerful immune boost. He says that garlic is most effective when consumed raw.

How to Select Garlic
Look for a solid, healthy looking bulb that is compact with taut, unbroken skin.

Avoid any bulbs that are damp or have soft spots on them. Also avoid bulbs of garlic that have a strong garlic aroma. The strong garlic smell indicates it has been handled roughly and the cloves are starting to break down, releasing allicin. A heavy, firm bulb, with little aroma and no obvious damage indicates one that is fresh and flavorful. If it feels light, it may be old and dried out.

If you see garlic that has begun to sprout, it is on the older side. It will be perfectly safe to eat, but the flavor will be sharper and less sweet than newer heads of garlic. If sprouting garlic is all you can find, buy only what you will use in a month and store it in a cool, dark place, away from heat (not next to the stove).

How to Store Garlic
Garlic keeps longest when stored at 60 to 65°F and in moderate humidity. At room temperature, whole bulbs can be kept hanging in mesh bags or in loosely woven baskets, away from heat, moisture, sunlight, and where there is good air flow.

Garlic can be kept in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. But once put in the refrigerator, it needs to be kept there until it is used. If refrigerated then removed for storage at room temperature, it will soon begin to sprout.

Leftover peeled cloves or chopped garlic will keep in the refrigerator in a small, tightly covered container. Try to use it within two or three days.

About the Different Forms of Garlic
Garlic can be purchased in different forms, including fresh bulbs, jarred minced garlic, dried granulated garlic, dried garlic powder, and even pickled and fermented garlic. Each form has its own applications. The following information helps to clarify the best uses for dried and fresh garlic.

Fresh Garlic Bulbs. Garlic bulbs are the entire head of garlic as it is grown. Each bulb contains segments (cloves) that are encased in a thin papery skin that can easily be separated from the bulb. One bulb can have anywhere from 8 to 20 cloves, depending on the species of garlic.

There are two basic types of fresh garlic that can be found in most grocery stores. Softneck varieties of garlic are the most common type of garlic found in stores. They do not have a center stalk. They often have 10 to 20 cloves. Hardneck varieties of garlic have a clearly visible, thick woody hard center stalk. They typically have 8 to 12 cloves in a bulb. The hardneck varieties of garlic are considered to be more of a delicacy than the softneck type.

Fresh garlic is suitable for roasting, being pounded into a paste, being chopped or minced into fine pieces, or being crushed with a garlic press. It may be included in any dish that calls for garlic.

Jarred Garlic. Jarred garlic may be sold minced or with whole cloves. It may be preserved in water or oil. Sometimes, jarred garlic may be packed with salt or other seasonings to help keep it fresh or impart other flavors. Most, if not all brands, of jarred garlic (whether minced or whole) have been pasteurized, which is a heat process that kills off any unwanted pathogens that may be in the food. This helps to preserve the contents of the jar, making it safe for us to eat.

Jarred garlic is usually sold in the produce section of most grocery stores. Jarred garlic will not have the same potent flavor as does fresh garlic. It will taste milder and will not impart a strong flavor to foods as would fresh garlic. This can be an advantage if you only want a subtle garlic flavor in a particular dish. Also, the pieces of jarred minced garlic will be very small and will soften easily when added to liquid ingredients in a recipe. Using jarred garlic can also be a time-saver if you are in a rush to prepare food that calls for minced garlic.

Dried Granulated (or Minced) Garlic. Dried granulated or minced garlic is minced garlic that has been preserved by drying and is often packaged in a plastic jar. It has a coarse texture, similar to that of cornmeal. It is available in the spice isle of most grocery stores. Using dried minced garlic saves time in food preparation and is often a pantry staple to have available in case you run out of fresh garlic, or if a recipe calls for dried granulated garlic. Dried granulated garlic can be added to dry rub mixtures and vegetable seasoning mixes. Also, it is commonly added to stir-fries, salad dressings, soups, stews, and sauces. Dried granulated garlic distributes well in such foods and adds garlic flavor without adding any extra moisture to the food.

Dried Garlic Powder. Garlic powder is made from garlic cloves that have been dried and ground into a fine powder. It can add an intense garlic flavor to any dish or recipe. Garlic powder is often sprinkled on popcorn, into scrambled eggs, and added to ground meats for a bold flavor.

Fermented Garlic. Fermented garlic has been used in traditional medicine around the world since antiquity. Hippocrates, an ancient Greek physician, used garlic as medicine. It was also used medicinally by ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Romans, and Chinese.

Fermented garlic is also known as “black garlic” and is made from fresh garlic that has been fermented. The fermentation process turns the garlic a dark color and reduces the intense flavor that it has in its raw state. Fermented garlic is described as being sweet with a chewy, jelly-like texture.

According to https://webmd.com, several studies have shown that black garlic serves numerous functions in the body, including as an antioxidant, antiallergen, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, and anticarcinogenic agent.

How to Prepare Garlic
Peel away as many of the outside papery layers as possible and discard.

If cloves are tight and can’t be easily pulled free, use the ball of your hand to press and roll the garlic against your cutting board to loosen the cloves.

Slice off the end of the clove, where it was attached to the bulb. Then place the clove beneath your chef’s knife and whack the knife with your other hand; this will loosen the papery skin. Remove and discard any skins.

Start by slicing the clove. For a fine chop, hold the tip of the knife with one hand and use the other to rock the blade back and forth over your slices.

For garlic that’s almost pulverized, place a clove into a garlic press and press down until the whole clove comes through the holes.

How to Preserve Garlic
Freezing Garlic. You can freeze garlic, though some people think frozen garlic isn’t quite as good as fresh. Put peeled cloves into a food processor or blender with a little water, pulse until they are evenly minced, and then freeze the puree in ice cube trays. Another way is to spread it out in a thin (and eventually breakable) layer on a silicone sheet. Once frozen, store the cubes or pieces in an airtight container. Be sure to use it within two months for the best flavor.

Dehydrating Garlic. Fresh garlic can be dehydrated. Peel and slice the garlic, then follow your dehydrator manufacturer’s instructions for time and temperature to dry your garlic. Note that this WILL make your house have a strong garlic odor! Some people opt to put their dehydrators outside on a porch during this process to avoid having the house smell like garlic. Store dried garlic at room temperature in an airtight container.

Pickling Garlic. Pickled garlic is an easy way to mellow out the flavor while preserving your garlic until you need it. Recipes abound on the internet for pickled garlic. They are simple to follow and come in different variations that should please just about anyone’s taste preferences.

Freezing Roasted Garlic. If you have lots of garlic available, it can be roasted, then frozen. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Trim the tops off of whole heads and discard. Place each garlic bulb on a piece of foil, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper, as desired. Wrap tightly and place it in a baking dish. Roast until the garlic is golden brown and tender, about 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the bulb. Let it cool slightly, then squeeze the garlic out of their skins into ice trays. Cover and freeze. When frozen, transfer the cubes to a freezer bag or container. Label with the date and use it within 2 or 3 months for best flavor.

Cooking/Serving Methods and Tips
Fresh garlic can be roasted, sautéed, added to soups, stews, casseroles and sauces, added to pizza toppings, and added to a whole host of dishes. Also, it can be used to flavor oil, and pickled (as above). It is usually used to flavor other foods rather than eaten alone. Below are some tips on cooking with garlic.

To roast a garlic bulb, lightly grease a casserole dish with olive oil, add some clean bulbs, and bake at 350F until the bulbs are soft, usually about 45 minutes. Cut the tips off the bulbs and cloves and squeeze out the now soft flesh. If needed, freeze the garlic in an airtight freezer container. The high oil content means it never freezes hard, and you can scoop the clove contents out with a spoon as needed. Roasted garlic will keep about a week in the refrigerator.

Another way to roast garlic is to preheat the oven to 400F. Slice the top off of a bulb of garlic and place the bulb on a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle the bulb with oil and wrap it with the foil. Place on a baking sheet and roast until the bulbs are lightly browned and tender, about 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the bulb.

To roast a few garlic cloves, heat a heavy skillet over medium heat for a few minutes. Remove the garlic cloves from the bulb. Leave the skins on the cloves and add them to the hot skillet. Allow them to roast for 7 to 8 minutes, turning the cloves over every 2 minutes or so. The garlic cloves should turn golden brown, and may be charred in some areas. Remove them from the pan and allow them to cool before using. The skins should be easy to remove.

Garlic can burn easily and burned garlic is not enjoyable (it’s bitter). To keep from burning your garlic, add it toward the end of sautéing onions or other vegetables. It can be added early in the sautéing process if it’s of a short duration.

To get the most allicin from your garlic, use fresh garlic rather than jarred. Allicin dissipates within days of being stored in water, as in jarred minced garlic. Also, cutting your garlic when you’re ready to use it, then letting it sit for 10 to 15 minutes will yield the most allicin it has to offer. When garlic is cut, oxygen reacts with enzymes in the garlic, which triggers the formation of allicin. Waiting that brief time from cutting to using garlic allows time for the reaction to take place.

Flavor. The more you cut garlic cell walls, the stronger the flavor will be. To get a mild garlic flavor, slice it. To get a strong flavor, crush the garlic. Coarsely chopped garlic will have a flavor in between the two.

Also, the longer your garlic cooks in with other foods, the less flavor it will impart. To get the most garlic flavor, add the garlic toward the end of cooking.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Garlic
* Add garlic to cooked vegetable dishes.

* Add minced garlic to vegetable salads.

* Add finely minced garlic to salad dressings.

* Add garlic to guacamole, salsa, and hummus.

* Add garlic to broths and soups.

* Add minced garlic to cucumber or zucchini noodles.

* Add minced garlic to baked potatoes.

* Add garlic to pizza.

* The more you cut garlic, breaking open cell walls, the stronger the flavor will be. To get a mild garlic flavor, slice it. To get a strong garlic flavor, crush the garlic. Coarsely chopping garlic will have a flavor in between the two.

* To get the most allicin from your garlic, always use fresh garlic rather than jarred. Allicin dissipates quickly when garlic is stored in water, as in jarred minced garlic. Cut your garlic and allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before using it to get the most allicin. This allows time for oxygen to react with the enzymes in the garlic, triggering the formation of allicin.

* Garlic can burn easily and burned garlic tastes bitter. To keep it from burning, add garlic toward the end of sautéing onions or other vegetables. It can be added early in the sautéing process if it will be done quickly.

* It’s helpful to know that the longer garlic cooks in with other foods, the less flavor it will impart. To get the most garlic flavor, add it toward the end of cooking.

* If a recipe calls for garlic and you suddenly realize you don’t have any garlic on hand, any of the following can be used as a substitute for 1 clove of fresh garlic: 1/8 tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp dried granulated garlic, ½ tsp dried garlic flakes or instant garlic, ½ tsp garlic salt (be sure to reduce the recipe by ½ tsp of salt), ½ tsp garlic juice, ½ to 1 tsp minced shallots, ½ tsp garlic chives, ½ tsp jarred minced garlic or liquid garlic seasoning.

* 1 head or bulb of fresh garlic usually has 8 to 12 cloves. One average size clove is about ½ tsp minced garlic.

* To remove garlic smell from your fingers, rub them on stainless steel under cool running water.


Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Garlic
Basil, bay leaf, capers, chili pepper flakes, chives, cloves, ginger, herbs (in general), mint, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper (black), rosemary, saffron, sage, salt, thyme, turmeric

Foods That Go Well with Garlic
Garlic is commonly used with meats, fish and other seafood, beans, vegetables of all types, salads, salad dressings, pasta sauces, quinoa, cheese dishes, garlic bread, and for flavoring butter. The following list may help you in developing recipes and meals including garlic.

Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (in general), beef, chicken (and other poultry), chickpeas, eggs, fish, lamb, legumes (in general), lentils, meats (in general), peanuts, peas, pine nuts, pork, pumpkin seeds, tahini, tofu

Vegetables: Artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, broccoli rabe, carrots, cauliflower, chard, chiles, eggplant, escarole, fennel, greens (bitter), kale, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, shallots, sorrel, spinach, squash (summer and winter), tomatillos, tomatoes and tomato sauce, yams, zucchini

Fruits: Lemon, olives, oranges

Grains and Grain Products: Bread, bread crumbs, corn, couscous, noodles (esp. Asian), pasta

Dairy and Non-Dairy Products: Butter, cheese (i.e., feta, goat, Gruyère, Parmesan, ricotta, Swiss), sour cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Chili pepper paste, chili pepper sauce, oil (esp. olive, sesame), salad dressings, soy sauce, stock, tamari, vinegar (esp. apple cider, balsamic, red wine, rice wine)

Garlic has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Aioli (i.e. garlic mayonnaise), American cuisine, casseroles, Chinese cuisine, curries, dips, French cuisine, Greek cuisine, Indian cuisine, Italian cuisine, Latin American cuisines, Mexican cuisine, Middle Eastern cuisines, pasta dishes, pesto, pistou, pizza, purees, salads and salad dressings, sauces, soups, Spanish cuisine, spreads, stews, stir-fries, Turkish cuisine, Vietnamese cuisine

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Garlic
Add garlic to any of the following combinations…

Almonds + Bread Crumbs + Lemon + Olive Oil + Parsley
Basil + Olive Oil + Tomatoes
Bread Crumbs + Mushrooms + Parsley
Broccoli + Lemon
Chard + Potatoes + Rosemary
Feta Cheese + Oregano
Ginger + Parsley
Kale + Tamari
Leeks + Potatoes + Saffron [in soups and vegetable stock]
Lemon + Parsley
Olive Oil + Parsley
Olive Oil + Rosemary
Parsley + Sage
Potatoes + Rosemary


Recipe Links
4 Tips for How to Cook with Garlic http://www.eatingwell.com/article/275955/4-tips-for-how-to-cook-with-garlic/

Creamy Roasted Garlic Potato Soup with Crispy Brussels and Chili Oil https://www.howsweeteats.com/2015/01/creamy-roasted-garlic-potato-soup-with-crispy-brussels-chili-oil/

30 Recipes for Garlic Lovers https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/recipes-for-garlic-lovers/view-all/

21 Recipes Every Garlic Lover Should Know https://www.foodnetwork.ca/everyday-cooking/photos/garlic-recipes-you-should-know/#!garlic-sauce

25 Garlic Recipes for *Garlicy* Good Dinners https://www.brit.co/garlic-dinner-recipes/

25 Garlic Recipes No One Can Resist https://insanelygoodrecipes.com/garlic-recipes/

13 Delicious Recipes That Are Heavy on Garlic https://www.thespruceeats.com/delicious-recipes-that-are-heavy-on-garlic-4800090

27 Garlic Recipes That Put Our Favorite Ingredient Front and Center https://www.delish.com/cooking/g18/garlic-recipes/

12 Great Garlic Recipes to Try https://www.acouplecooks.com/garlic-recipes/

Roasted Garlic https://www.acouplecooks.com/roasted-garlic/

Mashed Red Potatoes with Garlic https://www.acouplecooks.com/mashed-potatoes-with-kale-and-garlic/

Easy Garlic Bread https://www.acouplecooks.com/easy-garlic-bread/

Roasted Garlic (And 25 Things To Do With It) https://www.thewickednoodle.com/25-things-roasted-garlic/






































Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Fruits and Vegetables

Food Safety 101

Food Safety 101

Food Safety is Important for Everyone. Prevention is key!
Foodborne illness, also referred to as foodborne infections, foodborne disease, or food poisoning can affect absolutely anyone. Researchers have identified over 250 foodborne diseases, with most of them being caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites. Foodborne illness can also occur from contamination of chemicals or other toxins in food.

Foodborne illness affects as many as 1 in 6 Americans annually. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that each year 48 million people get foodborne infections, with 128,000 being hospitalized, and 3,000 dying as a result of their illness. The effects can range anywhere from mild digestive distress to death, and many problems in between. It can result in very serious consequences, so foodborne illness should not be taken lightly. Knowing how to avoid foodborne illness, recognizing the symptoms, and knowing what to do if you do encounter such illness can literally be life-saving. It’s something we should all be aware of, with knowing how to ward off any potential problems cannot be underestimated.

High Risk Populations. Some individuals are more prone to developing foodborne illness, and if they do get sick, their health risks become increased. This includes people with a weakened immune system, such as those undergoing cancer treatment, those who have certain illnesses such as diabetes, liver or kidney disease, those who have had organ transplants, or HIV/AIDS, or are taking certain medications, children under the age of 5, adults 65 years of age and older, and pregnant women.

Some Pathogens That Cause Foodborne Illness

The most common pathogens that cause foodborne illness in the United States are:

* Norovirus. Norovirus is the most common foodborne illness, and it is a very contagious virus. It can arise from consuming food or beverages infected with the virus. However, it can also be spread from person to person, especially when someone is caring for the infected person. Symptoms of norovirus include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and mild fever.

* Salmonella. Salmonella are bacteria live in the intestines of mammals. People usually come in contact with it by eating food that was contaminated by animal feces. Symptoms of a salmonella infection include vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

* Clostridium perfringens. The CDC estimates that this bacterium causes almost 1 million foodborne illnesses in the United States every year. The bacterium produces spores in their inactive forms that can survive heat, dryness, and other environmental conditions. The bacteria become active and multiply when food is kept at an unsafe temperature (between 40-140°F) for an extended period of time. When someone eats the food, C. perfringens produces a toxin that causes diarrhea. Foods typically linked with this type of foodborne illness include poultry (such as turkey and chicken), meats (such as beef and pork), and gravy. Outbreaks of this type of infection tend to happen where large numbers of people are served and keeping food at the proper temperatures is difficult. Such settings include hospitals and school cafeterias, prisons, nursing homes, and large events serving catered food. Most of such outbreaks happen in November and December with many being linked to common holiday foods such as turkey and roast beef.

* Campylobacter. This bacterium causes about 1.5 million illnesses annually in the United States. The infection can happen when people eat raw or undercooked poultry, or something that touched it. It can also be transmitted by eating other foods, including infected seafood, meat, and produce, by having contact with animals, and by drinking untreated water. People usually recover without treatment, but some need antibiotics. Symptoms include diarrhea (often bloody), fever, and stomach cramps. Nausea and vomiting may occur along with the diarrhea. Symptoms often start 2 to 5 days after ingesting the tainted food, and can last about one week. Sometimes complications such as irritable bowel syndrome, temporary paralysis, and arthritis can occur. In those with a weakened immune system, Campylobacter infection can spread to the bloodstream causing a life-threatening infection.

* Staphylococcus aureus (Staph). Food poisoning caused by Staph is a gastrointestinal illness caused by eating foods contaminated with toxins produced by the bacterium. The illness is characterized by a sudden onset of nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps. Most of those infected will have diarrhea. Symptoms occur quickly, usually within 30 minutes to 8 hours after consuming the item with the Staph toxin. Symptoms last no longer than one day, and severe illness is rare. The illness cannot be passed from one person to another.

About 25% of people and animals have Staph on their skin and in their nose. It usually does not cause illness in healthy people, but Staph makes toxins that can cause food poisoning. Food contaminated with the toxin may not smell bad or look spoiled. Foods that are not cooked after handling are particularly at risk of being contaminated with Staph. Such foods include sliced meats, puddings, pastries, and sandwiches. People who carry Staph on their skin can contaminate food if they don’t wash their hands before working with food. The bacteria themselves are killed by cooking, however, the toxins are not destroyed by the heat and will still be able to cause illness.


Some other pathogens that don’t infect as many people as the most common ones, but their illnesses are more likely to lead to hospitalization include:

* Clostridium botulinum (Botulism). Botulism is a rare, but very serious disease caused by a toxin produced by this bacterium (and also some closely related other types of Clostridium bacteria). The toxin attacks the body’s nervous system, causing difficulty breathing, muscle paralysis, and even death. The toxin can be produced in food, wounds, and even the intestines of infants. Interestingly, the bacteria that make the toxin are found naturally in many places and it is rare for them to make people sick. The bacteria produce spores that help the bacteria survive in the environment. The spores usually do not cause sickness. However, under certain conditions, the spores can grow and make a potent lethal toxin. The conditions that allow the spores to grow and produce toxins include: low or no oxygen (anaerobic) environment, low acid, low sugar, low salt, a specific temperature range, and a certain amount of water. Improperly home-canned, preserved, or fermented foods can provide the right conditions for this to happen. When the foods are eaten, people can become seriously sick, or even die if they don’t get medical attention quickly.

Symptoms of botulism usually start with weakness of the muscles that control the eyes, face, mouth, and throat. The weakness may spread to the neck, arms, torso, and legs. Botulism may also weaken the muscles involved in breathing, which can lead to breathing difficulty and possible death.

* Listeria. Listeriosis is not very common in the United States, but it is the leading cause of death among those infected with foodborne illnesses. It is caused by eating food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. About 1,600 people get listeriosis each year, with about 260 dying. Mild cases cause gastrointestinal distress, which resolves on its own. However, the bacteria can become invasive in the body, making its way into the blood and even brain. When this happens, it can cause meningitis, miscarriage, and other fatalities. The bacterium is most likely to cause illness in pregnant women and their newborns, adults aged 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems.

Listeria can hide in many foods. In the 1990s, infections were mostly linked to deli meats and hot dogs. Currently, Listeria outbreaks are often linked to dairy products and produce. Recent outbreaks have been traced to soft cheese, celery, sprouts, cantaloupe, and ice cream.

* Escherichia coli (E. coli). Many strains of E. coli are harmless. However, certain strains that can enter the body from contaminated food or water can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections, respiratory illness, and other illnesses.

* Vibrio. Vibriosis causes about 80,000 infections with 100 deaths in the United States annually. People become infected by eating raw or undercooked seafood, or exposing a wound to seawater. Most infections happen from May through October when water temperatures are warmer.

Vibrio can cause watery diarrhea often accompanied by abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills. The symptoms often occur within 24 hours of ingesting the tainted food, and last about three days. Severe illness is uncommon, and usually occurs in people with a weakened immune system.

The bacteria can cause a skin infection when an open wound is exposed to salt water or brackish water, which is a mixture of fresh and salt water, often found where rivers meet the sea.

Symptoms of Food Poisoning
Most people with a foodborne illness recover without medical treatment. However, those with severe symptoms should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Some common symptoms of foodborne diseases are:

* Nausea
* Vomiting
* Stomach cramps
* Diarrhea

It’s important to note that symptoms may differ from person to person, and may also depend on which pathogen or toxin contaminated the food. Sometimes, symptoms can be very severe, even life-threatening.

Common Food Safety Mistakes
No one intentionally does something to cause foodborne illness among their family and friends. However, some innocent mistakes can cause serious illness when handling food, especially raw meat, fish and poultry. Being aware of simple mistakes that can easily happen can help to prevent serious illness. The following are some common food safety mishaps that can happen when a person is not thinking about food safety.

* Leaving raw meat out of the refrigerator for an extended amount of time. This allows harmful bacteria to breed and can possibly make someone very, very sick. Such a thing can happen when someone is preparing the grill. It’s best to leave the raw animal foods covered and in the refrigerator until everything is ready for cooking or grilling.

* Leaving cooked or raw food uncovered or unrefrigerated beyond safe times, especially when eating outside. This exposes food to insects, debris, viruses, and bacteria, in addition to the food being kept in the temperature danger zone (40°F to 140°F) too long. When left within the danger zone range too long, harmful bacteria can flourish potentially making the food dangerous to eat. Keeping food covered, while keeping hot food hot and cold food cold can go a long way in avoiding foodborne illness. Always put extra food away as soon as possible after serving.

* Not putting leftover foods away in a timely manner. Leftover food should be refrigerated within two hours of being cooked, when dining inside. Note that this is two hours from the time something is cooked, not two hours from when you’re finished eating. This includes take-out foods or leftover foods from dining out that you elect to take home with you. When eating outside on a hot day, the food should be refrigerated within one hour of being cooked. Foods left out for prolonged times may easily allow the growth of potentially harmful bacteria to grow within. Anyone who eats that food later in the day or in the next day or two could possibly become very sick.

* Not properly sanitizing and disinfecting food preparation surfaces and tools. This can accidentally spread unsafe food juices and/or particles on counters, knifes, cutting boards, plates, tongs, and other surfaces or tools used for food preparation and serving.

* Using the same food preparation tools and surfaces for all foods. This can create an environment where bacteria and viruses are not contained to specific areas and are more likely to spread. This is especially true when handling raw, then cooked animal foods along with fresh produce that will be served raw.

* Sitting food out in the sun. This warms the food, increasing the rate at which pathogens can multiply and reduces the time frame for safe food consumption. Being mindful of temperature regulation and the environment prepared food is exposed to, especially when dining outside can go a long way in preventing foodborne illness.

The Importance of Cleanliness

Personal Hygiene
Wash hands and surfaces often! Germs that can cause foodborne illness can live on your skin. Because of that, it’s very important to wash hands often. This is especially important after using the restroom, blowing your nose, touching or scratching a wound, covering your mouth with your hand when you sneeze or cough, working around others who are sick, changing diapers or assisting a child in the bathroom, handling chemicals, brushing your hair, handling money, handling or petting an animal, handling raw meat, seafood, or poultry, chewing tobacco or smoking, eating, using electronic devices, taking out the trash, handling dirty items (no matter what they are), and touching anything that may contaminate your work area or food.

To thoroughly wash your hands, use warm water and soap, and scrub all areas for at least 20 seconds. Rinse hands well and dry with a clean cloth or fresh paper towel.

Utensils and Equipment

Food preparation and serving equipment and utensils should routinely be washed with hot, soapy water (or washed in a dishwasher) after each use. This includes dishes, glassware, pots and pans, cutting boards, preparation knives and serving utensils, reusable straws, lunchboxes, water bottles, and plastic food containers.

Sanitation on a regular basis can be important for preventing foodborne illness, especially if you prepare raw meats, seafood, and/or poultry. Utensils may be placed in a pot of boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove them with tongs and allow them to cool before being stored.

To sanitize cutting boards, larger equipment, or items that cannot be boiled, prepare a sanitizing solution of one tablespoon of bleach in one gallon of water. Allow items to soak at least 2 minutes, or up to 5 minutes. Remove them from the solution and allow them to air dry. There is no need to rinse them after being sanitized, unless a stronger bleach solution is used. In that case, rinsing with potable water is necessary. Prepare your sanitizing solution fresh, as needed, because it will not keep beyond 24 hours. It is very important to note that bleaches that contain thickening agents, fragrances, or other additives are not considered to be “food grade” and should not be used on food, plates, utensils, or other equipment that will come in contact with food.

When cleaning sinks and all equipment that will be used in food preparation, it’s important to remember that any disinfectants or cleaning agents used in their cleaning (other than the weak sanitizing bleach solution detailed above) must be rinsed very well so all traces of such chemicals are removed after being cleaned. Residues left from such chemicals can be transferred to food during preparation, potentially causing foodborne illness in those who eat the food.

To sanitize kitchen surfaces such as countertops, work tables, refrigerator shelves and door handles, and oven door handles, prepare a bleach solution of 1/3 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water (4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water). Wipe the solution on the surface to be sanitized and allow it to sit for at least one minute before wiping it off with a clean cloth or paper towel.

Important! Do not use bleach on marble, non-stainless steel, aluminum, silver, or chipped enamel. Also, NEVER mix bleach with any other chemicals. Only mix it with water. Be sure to wear gloves, use cloths or sponges that you don’t mind getting bleach on. Wear clothing that would be safe to wear around bleach in case some splashes on you. Make sure you have good ventilation when using bleach products.

Separate to Prevent Cross-Contamination

Biological Contamination. For food safety, it is critically important to keep raw animal products that will be cooked (like raw meat, fish, poultry, and eggs) away from fresh produce or other foods that will be eaten raw. Raw animal products may be contaminated with harmful bacteria that can make us very sick if ingested, even in tiny amounts. Such foods should be kept separate when shopping, bagging, storing, preparing, or working with these foods in any way imaginable.

Using color coded cutting boards and utensils is helpful in preventing biological cross-contamination. Designating a specific color of cutting board to always be used when cutting raw animal foods and another specific color to always be used when preparing raw produce is extremely helpful in preventing such cross-contamination. Washing and also sanitizing your cutting boards and utensils after each use can be extremely helpful in preventing such contamination. Also, never place cooked food back on the same plate or cutting board that previously held raw food, especially raw animal foods. If you must use that same place, wash it in hot soapy water first, and preferably, also treat it with a sanitizing solution before reusing it. Do not reuse a cutting board in this way because some are porous and you may not remove all potential pathogens that are on it.

Also, be sure to also sanitize kitchen counters and work areas after cutting or handling raw animal foods. Even a small amount of raw meat juice splashed on a kitchen counter can be enough to contaminate food that will be consumed raw if it comes in contact with that area. It’s important to be mindful of keeping your work areas and all tools that were used sanitized after working with any raw animal foods and before doing anything else, to prevent possibly harmful cross-contamination.

Chemical Contamination. Chemical contamination happens when food come in contact with chemicals or factors that are not intended to be ingested. The most common causes of such contamination include cleaning products in the food storage or preparation area, and pesticides and herbicides from unwashed fruit and vegetables.

Products such as detergents, sanitizers, and other chemicals you may have in your kitchen are potential contaminants if they come in contact with your food. Such items should always be stored well away from food and food preparation areas. They should be stored in their original labelled containers. Make a point of never storing food in any container that was used for storing chemicals because any residue on the container could possibly leach onto the food. When using chemicals in your food storage and preparation area, always remember to rinse well after cleaning and sanitizing.

When preparing fresh fruits and vegetables, always rinse them well before peeling, cutting, or preparing them in any way. This includes thick-skinned produce that will be peeled and the peel discarded, such as a melon. If a melon is not washed before being cut, any soil, microorganisms, or chemical residues that linger on the outside of the peel can be carried inward to the edible flesh when you cut into it with a knife. This could lead to possible foodborne illness, depending upon what was on the surface. Washing before cutting is critical to preventing such a mishap.

If you are reactive to chemical residues on fresh produce such as apples, and want to remove more residue than simple rinsing with water can do, there is a way to remove most of what was left on the food. Make enough of a solution of 2 cups water to 1 teaspoon of baking soda to completely submerge the food. Place the food in the solution, weighing it down if needed (because some items such as apples will float). Allow the food to soak in the solution for up to 15 minutes. Remove the food from the soaking solution, rinse, then dry well and store them as usual. Wash and rinse your soaking container well to remove any residue. This tactic has been proven scientifically and works well for removing chemical residues from foods. Here is a link to a video I released on this technique… https://youtu.be/AsUAD6EWyzw

Physical Contamination
. Raw meat, poultry, and fish may be contaminated with harmful bacteria. Such foods should always be kept separate from other foods, especially those that are already prepared or will be eaten fresh. In the refrigerator, fresh foods or those foods that have already been prepared should be stored on shelves above shelves where any raw animal foods are being kept. The raw animal foods should be kept tightly wrapped to help prevent any fluids from leaking out of their packaging. This protects your fresh or prepared food from possibly being contaminated with any drippings from the raw animal foods. If any leaking does occur, be sure to thoroughly clean and sanitize the refrigerator shelf before placing any other items in that area.

Also, it is important to be mindful of keeping designated cutting boards and utensils for use with raw animal foods and raw produce items. Using color-coded utensils and cutting boards designated for such items is an excellent way to prevent cross-contamination and cross-contact of possible bacteria in your kitchen. Designate a specific color, such as green, for use with fresh fruits and vegetables. Another color, such as red or orange can be designated only to be used when cutting raw meats, fish, and poultry.

Common Allergens.
If someone you prepare food for is reactive to any specific food, then extra care should be taken to avoid cross-contact of that food with other foods when preparing any meal. Using color-coded utensils and cutting boards would be helpful in making sure there is no cross-contamination. Also, use care in keeping the allergen away from other foods in storage, or at least wrap it well, so there is no chance it will spread (in the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer) in any way onto other foods nearby.

Some highly sensitive people may even react to the aroma of a specific food. If you have someone you prepare food for who is extremely reactive to something, it may be best not to have that food in the home at all. It’s far better to be safe than sorry!

About Washing Food

Fruits and Vegetables. Fresh produce usually should not be washed until you are ready to use it. When in doubt, check the food label or packaging that it came in. Foods with an inedible peel, such as melons, citrus fruits, and avocados still should be washed before being cut. This is because any soil or germs on the outside of the peel can be carried into the edible flesh with a knife as it pierces the skin. To prevent this, always wash all fruits and vegetables before using them, even if they will be peeled first. The US Food and Drug Administration suggests we use a vegetable brush to scrub firm produce, such as a cucumber.

Meats, Poultry, Fish. The flesh of meats, poultry, and fish should not be washed before being cooked. If there are bacteria on the surface of such foods, washing them first can spread the bacteria onto clean surfaces in your kitchen, greatly increasing the risk of foodborne illness. For instance, if contaminated poultry is rinsed in a sink, the sink will then harbor the bacteria. If any of the rinsing water splashed on the faucet handles or countertop, you greatly increase the risk of spreading the bacteria on other foods, equipment, kitchen cloths, and/or utensils from being in contact with the splashed water. The only way to prevent this is to never rinse such foods. The only way to kill bacteria that are on fresh animal foods is to cook them to the proper internal temperature.

Food Safety When Cooking

When cooking, it is important to heat foods to the proper minimum internal temperature to be sure any bacteria in or on the food is destroyed. A food thermometer is essential for this task. See the next section to find the proper cooking temperature for the food you are cooking. Remember that those temperatures listed are minimum temperatures for safe cooking. Bringing foods to higher temperatures is perfectly fine and a matter of personal preference.

When you are finished cooking and need to hold the food for a little while before serving, it is important to keep it out of the temperature danger zone of between 40°F (5°C) and 140°F (60°C). Bacteria grows very rapidly when held between 70°F (21°C) and 125°F (52°C). If food is held within this temperature range for 2 hours or longer, it may not be safe to eat. To keep hot foods hot, they can be placed in an oven set on its lowest temperature, which should be above the maximum temperature of the danger zone. To keep cold foods cold, place them in the refrigerator or in an ice chest where they can be covered with ice. Of course, if they are frozen foods such as ice cream or sorbet, hold them in the freezer until needed. If they are frozen foods that were softened, they can be held in the refrigerator. But be aware that they will continue to thaw or soften if they were previously frozen.

Minimum Internal Cooking Temperatures for Food Safety

The only way to kill all bacteria in foods, especially raw meat is to cook it to the proper minimum internal temperature. A food thermometer is essential for ensuring your food has heated internally to the appropriate temperature. The chart below lists these temperatures:

* 145°F for whole beef, pork, lamb, veal, and uncooked fresh, smoked ham that was packaged in a USDA-inspected facility (and not previously opened)
* 145°F for fish and shellfish of any type
* 160°F for all ground meats
* 160°F for eggs
* 165°F for all chicken and poultry (whole or ground)
* 165°F for heating leftovers of any type (including cooked ham)
* 165°F for casseroles

Chilling Food
After a meal is finished, be sure to pack any leftovers in an appropriate container and store them in the refrigerator as soon as possible. To help prevent foodborne illness, all leftovers should be stored in an appropriate way (in the refrigerator or freezer) within two hours of being cooked. Note that this is not two hours after getting up from the dinner table. Being mindful of how long food has been sitting out and adhering to this rule can help to prevent serious illness in anyone who will consume the leftover foods later. This is important because the temperature of our homes falls within the temperature danger zone. Food should be kept within this range for as little time as possible.

If you are dining outside in the sun on a hot day, it is important to put food away within one hour of being cooked, not two. Under these conditions, food will be subjected to warmer temperatures (still within the danger zone) than if they were served indoors. The warmer temperatures outside will invite bacteria to proliferate even faster than indoors. Hence, we need to chill the food sooner when dining outside, to prevent possible foodborne illness later.

Temperature Danger Zone
. The Danger Zone is the temperature range at which bacteria can readily grow and multiply. The range is between 40°F and 140°F (5-60°C), with the most vulnerable range being between 70°F (21°C) and 125°F (52°C). If a food is contaminated with harmful bacteria and left in the Danger Zone temperature range, the bacteria can grow potentially causing foodborne illness in those who consume the food, even if it has been cooked before being eaten. Keeping food out of this temperature range helps to prevent foodborne illness (by limiting the growth of bacteria in the food) in those who handle or consume the food. Food is safest when it is either frozen, chilled, or heated beyond the Danger Zone temperature range. The colder it is, the less likely for bacteria to grow and multiply.

Ideal Temperature for Your Refrigerator and Freezer.
The ideal temperature range for a refrigerator should be above 32°F (0°C) and below 40°F (4°C). This keeps food out of the danger zone, deterring the growth of any bacteria that may be on the food.

Freezers should be kept at 0°F (-18°C) or below.

Thawing Food
Many of us keep food in the freezer for convenience and safe storage. The problem can come when we want to use the food and time is short. Some foods, such as frozen vegetables, can be prepared from a frozen state, while others, such as a frozen casserole, will cook better when thawed first. There are different ways that food can be safely thawed.

* Refrigerator. Thawing in the refrigerator is slow, but a food-safe method. It’s often convenient to transfer food from the freezer to the refrigerator before retiring for the night, when you need to cook it the next day. If you are thawing meat, poultry, or seafood, be sure to place it in a pan or plastic bag so any juices will not drip onto other foods in the refrigerator. Because of the potential risk of cross-contamination with thawing animal foods, it is best to place it on the bottom of the refrigerator so there is no chance of any liquid dripping on something below.

* Cold Water. Place frozen food into a leak-proof plastic bag or container for faster thawing than the refrigerator. Submerge the bagged food in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes until it is thawed. Cook the food immediately after thawing.

* Microwave. Food may be thawed in the microwave. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for thawing food in your appliance. It is important to cook meat or poultry immediately after microwave thawing.

No matter which method works best for you in a specific scenario, it’s very important not to simply allow foods to thaw at room temperature. Doing so allows the outer surfaces of the food to be exposed to the Danger Zone (40-140°F or 5-60°C) temperature range. In this range, harmful bacteria can multiply and grow, possibly causing foodborne illness. It is best to avoid this and never allow foods to sit at room temperature for any length of time, whether it has been cooked or not. The general rule of thumb is to not allow any perishable food to sit at room temperature for 2 hours or more, even if it was frozen at the start. There is a risk of foodborne illness when eating such food, even if it is cooked after that time. It’s helpful to plan in advance when using frozen food. If it needs to be thawed first, choose the method that will work best for you, based on your circumstances.

Refreezing Thawed Foods
It is not safe to refreeze any plant-based food that has been out of the freezer and at room temperature for two hours or more. If it is a hot day, you do not have air conditioning, and the house is very warm (especially over 90°F or 32°C), it should not be refrozen if it has been at room temperature for one hour. If the frozen food is an animal-based food (meat, fish, poultry, milk-based, or eggs) or contains animal-based foods (such as a casserole or soup), it should not be refrozen if it has been at room temperature for one hour or more. If the house is very warm, then no animal food should be refrozen. It should be cooked or discarded.

Managing Leftovers

* Always practice the 2x2x4 Rule when dealing with leftover cooked food. This is a good rule to remember when storing leftover food of any type. In brief, here is what this means. The first 2 represents 2 hours. This means that all leftover foods should be refrigerated within 2 hours of being done cooking (NOT two hours after you are finished eating). The second 2 represents inches. When placing hot or warm leftover foods in the refrigerator, try not to have them over 2 inches thick. It takes a long time to chill such foods at the core. The thicker it is, the longer it will take to cool down. Limiting the thickness to no more than 2 inches will allow it to cool down faster, helping to avoid foodborne illness from that food. The last number represents 4 days. As a general rule of thumb, use leftovers within 4 days. Of course there are exceptions to this rule and you should let common sense be your guide. Here is a video I released explaining this guideline for handling and using leftover foods… https://youtu.be/iIMNN8J1AHc

* Be sure to discard any perishable food that was left out at room temperature for 2 hours or more. Discard any perishable food if it was left out for 1 hour or more when the temperature was above 90°F (32°C).

* If you enjoy a meal out at a restaurant and take any leftover food with you, place it in the refrigerator immediately when you get home, as long as it is within the two-hour time frame of having been served the food. If it has been longer than two hours that the food has been at room temperature, it is best to throw it away. Bacteria readily grow at room temperature and food that has been sitting out for longer than two hours may not be suitable for consumption. Eating it may result in serious foodborne illness, and it’s not worth taking a chance.

* When reheating leftover food, always be sure to bring it to an internal temperature of at least 165°F (74°C). This helps to ensure that any harmful bacteria in the food have been destroyed by the heat.

* Be sure to use leftover food within 3 to 4 days of initial preparation, unless you know for a fact that it has a longer shelf-life.

* An easy and convenient way to use up leftovers is to take them to work for lunch the next day. If that’s not an option, you could have them for supper the next evening. If they aren’t enough for a complete meal, add a side dish to balance out the meal. A cooked vegetable or a side salad will often be enough to make the meal complete.

* If possible, reinvent the leftovers into a whole new dish for the next evening’s supper. Including them in casseroles, soups, wraps, hash, a rice dish, or even a pasta dish are possibilities based on what you’re working with. Try to prepare enough for one meal, rather than having a large amount leftover, once again. It’s best to eat up leftovers in a short time rather than keeping them going by always including them in new foods, over and over.

* If having your leftovers the next day is not an option, they could be frozen to have later as a lunch at work or a fast, easy supper when time is short.

* If you really don’t enjoy having leftover food, try to prevent them in the first place. Limit the amount of food you prepare to what you anticipate being able to eat in one sitting. Depending upon what you are cooking, that can be hard at times, but it’s well worth the effort rather than throwing away good, edible food.

* If you find that your refrigerator is becoming clogged with leftover foods, make a commitment to finish them up that day. Have a leftover buffet for supper, and make it an “all you can eat” night, if needed.

* Leftover vegetables can be frozen to be used later when making homemade stock. Freeze leftover vegetables the day they are made for the best quality.


Product Dating When Shopping and at Home
“Use By” or “Best By” Dates. These terms are often used interchangeably. They indicate a date when the flavor or appearance of a product may start to deteriorate and not be at its best. However, the food is usually still safe to eat after this date. To enjoy your food at its best, it’s helpful to notice these dates on items when shopping, and choose the one with the date farthest into the future. This is particularly helpful when you are stocking your pantry with extra items that won’t be used right away.

When you get home, be sure to arrange your food items so those with the nearest “Use By” or “Best By” date will be easily accessible and first in line to be used. This way you’ll pick up and use those items first, always ensuring that your pantry items will be fresh and at their best.

Another way to help rotate your food is by using the “FIFO” (first in, first out) method of rotation. Using the oldest of a particular type of item when reaching for food to prepare is an easy and excellent way to help rotate your food supply, ensuring that nothing sits forever forgotten on the shelf.

Expiration Dates. An expiration date is different from the “Best By” or “Use By” dates. The expiration date indicates a date when the product, usually a dairy or meat item, will most likely be spoiled. There may be some leeway with this date regarding spoilage of any one food, but you should probably discard any foods that are past their expiration date. Some foods may not smell bad nor taste bad when they reach this point, but that doesn’t mean that they are free of harmful bacteria. It’s better to be safe than sorry regarding foodborne illness. When in doubt, throw it out!


Tips When Grocery Shopping

* If you intend to run errands during the same outing when grocery shopping, if possible try to make the grocery store your last stop. This is especially important if the weather is warm. The car can get extremely hot when closed up during warmer months. If you have no choice but to leave groceries in a hot car for a little while, bring either a cooler bag or ice chest (complete with ice or cooling agents of some type) with you and place the cold food in there. This will help prevent or at least slow down the growth of any harmful pathogens on the food before you get them stored properly at home.

* Before selecting perishable foods at the grocery store, be sure to double-check the expiration dates, especially on dairy and raw animal products. Be sure there is enough leeway before they expire so you can enjoy them as intended and not discard them because you suddenly realized they are too old to eat.

* When bagging groceries, be sure to bag any raw meat, fish, or poultry items separately. It is especially important not to package them with any foods that will be eaten fresh, such as fruits or salad vegetables. It’s helpful to double bag fresh animal foods so no juices can accidentally drip onto other items in your cart, car, or in your kitchen. Any bacteria on the packaging can get onto foods or other items within the same bag infecting them, possibly causing foodborne illness later.

* When you enter the store, make a point of wiping down the grocery cart handle with sanitizing wipes. Many stores supply the wipes for customers to use as desired. Doing so can help to reduce the transmission of germs from person to person. It can also help to prevent the spread of germs on food that we may handle in the store, such as when we’re sorting through cucumbers to find one we want to buy.

* When using your own reusable grocery bags, make a point of washing them weekly. They come in contact with many different surfaces and food items during any one shopping trip. They can pick up and harbor bacteria that can be transmitted to new items the next time they are used. It is wonderful for the planet to use such bags, but we need to take responsibility to keep them clean, if for nothing else than our own protection.

* Beware of purchasing food in deeply dented cans. Cans with deep dents (like ones your finger can fit into) may have damaged seams that can allow bacteria to enter the can, which can make the contents unsafe to eat. Also, if a can appears to be bulging from within, it could be a sign of botulism, a deadly bacterium growing inside the can. Avoid such cans at all cost. If you find one in your pantry, do NOT eat the food. Discard it immediately.

* If you expect to be in the grocery store for a while, such as when you have a long list of items to buy, try to select your frozen items, cold foods, and raw animal foods last. That will help to keep them from getting warm in your cart as you shop.

* Never buy meat or poultry in packaging that is torn or leaking. If you spot such a package, point it out to meat department personnel in the store.

* Do not buy any food past the “Best by,” or expiration date.

* If you notice a food that is close to the “Sell by” date, it should still be OK to eat. This is the date that tells grocers when a food item needs to be removed from the shelf. It is usually still fine to eat at that point, but it is assumed that the food will be eaten soon thereafter. If you notice a “Sell by” date is close to the current date and you want to buy that food item, it is fine to buy as long as you plan to consume it within a few days. If you need to keep it beyond that, it is best to choose something else.

Tips When Eating Out
There is no absolute way you can guarantee your food is safe when eating out. However, there are some steps you can take to help protect yourself.

* Be picky about where you eat. Check local reviews online on resources like Yelp and Google Reviews. If people have complained about being served undercooked food or getting sick after eating somewhere, it’s a good signal to eat elsewhere.

* Local health inspections are public information and should be available online, depending on your state. Do an internet search to find such information regarding local restaurants in your area. Choose those that have received high ratings from their local inspectors.

* Once you are in a restaurant, look around. Does it look clean? Do the floors have a lot of debris on them? Are tables being wiped down appropriately after patrons? Is the staff wearing clean uniforms? Appearance can tell you a lot!

* Once you are served, check your food. Hot food should be hot, not just barely warm. Food that has been cooked in advance and held warm may or may not have been held at the proper temperature to deter the growth of bacteria. The same goes for cold food. Cold food should be cold, and not room temperature. Again, bacteria can readily grow at room temperature, so the food may not be safe to eat if it was held at room temperature for an extended period of time.

* If you see that a food, particularly meat, fish, or poultry, was not cooked completely. Don’t eat it. Tell your server that the food is raw inside and needs to be cooked more. If you feel like something just isn’t right with any food on your plate, don’t eat it. Discuss the issue with your server and ask that the chef make it right or serve you something else.

* If you believe you got sick from food eaten in a restaurant, report it to your local health department.

* If you want to take leftover food home with you, bear in mind that it should be refrigerated within 2 hours of when the food was prepared. If the food is exposed to high temperatures, like in a hot car or at a picnic, the food should be refrigerated within one hour of being served. If you cannot chill your leftover food down in a timely way, it’s best to not take it home. It’s better to have it thrown out than take a chance on getting seriously ill over it. If you can chill your foods within a reasonable time frame, be sure to eat the leftovers within 3 or 4 days. Throw them away after that.

* Be observant when at a restaurant where you can see the food handlers. Are they wearing gloves or using utensils instead of their hands when handling food? Does anyone appear to be sick? Has anyone been coughing over the food they are preparing? Does the food appear to be kept at appropriate temperatures? If you see any possible means for contracting foodborne illness, it may be best to eat elsewhere.

* Many restaurants will post their inspection scores in plain view for patrons to see. Look for their certificate of inspection. If the restaurant has a poor score, it may be best to eat elsewhere.


Tips When Preparing Food at Home
* Be careful not to use too much of any chemical or sanitizer when cleaning at home. Follow the manufacturer’s suggestions on how to properly use a chemical. Be sure to rinse the area and all tools, utensils, and your hands very well after use.

* Always wash your hands well before and after handling food.

* Only use food-safe storage containers when packing up any extra food. Never pack food in a container that was used for a chemical or any non-food item. Any residue in the container could contaminate your food.

* Marinate meat, fish and poultry in a covered dish in the refrigerator.

* It never hurts to use your nose when opening a closed container. Aroma can tell us a lot about if a food is fresh or not. For instance, we often smell a jug of milk when we open it. The aroma can tell us if that milk has spoiled.

* Clean out your refrigerator at least once a week. Go through the foods in your refrigerator and toss out anything that has seen better days and is no longer fit to eat.

* Any raw poultry or ground meats should be discarded if they have been in the refrigerator for more than 1 or 2 days. If any raw meats are off color or smell bad, they should absolutely not be eaten. Wrap them well and discard them. Disinfect the area in the refrigerator where they were, along with the container(s) they were in.

* Inspect cooked leftovers, especially if they have been in the refrigerator for more than 4 days. They may be fine, but if they are starting to look or smell “off” then it’s best to toss them. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

* Rinse fresh produce with clean, cool water right before cutting or preparing it for a meal. This includes rinsing produce that will be peeled. This is because of the possibility of carrying any soil or bacteria that is on the surface inward to the part that will be eaten when something is peeled, cut, or sliced with a knife.

* Use a food thermometer to help ensure food has been cooked to the proper temperature. If it is not up to the proper temperature, cook or bake it longer, as needed.

* Keep foods at the proper temperature when you’re not able to serve them right away. Cold foods should be kept below 40°F. Hot foods should be kept above 140°F. An oven set at its lowest temperature setting will usually work for holding hot foods until serving time. When in doubt with cold foods, place them in the refrigerator or freezer until they can be served.

* When serving food buffet-style, keep hot food hot with chafing dishes, slow cookers, and/or warming trays. Keep cold food cold by nesting dishes in bowls of ice, or use small serving trays and replace them often, while keeping the extras in the refrigerator.

* When preparing or serving food, never place cooked food back on the same plate or cutting board that previously held raw food of any type. Always use a clean plate or cutting board that is reserved for use only with cooked food.

* Do not leave food out at room temperature for an extended period of time. It should be refrigerated within 2 hours of being finished cooking, and one hour if the temperature is very warm, such as 90°F.


Food safety is something we don’t always focus on when shopping, storing, or handling food at home. When reading all the dos and don’ts in this article, it can seem daunting and make a novice ready to throw his or her hands in the air and resolve to never fix food at home. However, the principals are not hard, especially when you consider how pathogens can be spread from place to place and allowed to grow and multiply when the conditions are right. Learning this information to the point where practicing good food safety measures becomes habit rather than effort can literally be life-saving. It’s well worth the effort to be mindful of such things until they become second-nature to you. After a while, instincts will take over and you won’t have to labor over what to do when. It will be time well spent and you’ll be glad you did in the long run!





























About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.


Paprika 101 – The Basics

Paprika 101 – The Basics

About Paprika
Paprika is the fourth most popular spice in the world and is often found in spice mixes and Cajun seasoning. It is made from finely ground, dried ripened sweet pimento bell peppers (Capsicum annum). They are members of the Solanaceae (nightshade) family of plants. This is a type of pepper that is sweet with very little heat. It is mild in flavor and has a brilliant orange-red color. The flavor of regular paprika has been described as bitter to mild and slightly sweet, with earthy/fruity/pungent notes. Paprika is sometimes hot, depending on the variety of pepper. Paprika has many different names, in the various languages and cultures around the world. This type of pepper is primarily grown in Hungary, Spain, South America, the Mediterranean region, India, and in California in the USA.

Spanish smoked paprika was smoked over fire which adds a smoky flavor. Smoked paprika has been described as being bitter to slightly sweet, and sometimes hot, with notes of meat and/or smoke. Hungarian paprika is usually sun-dried and sweet.

Early Spanish explorers carried red pepper seeds back to Europe. The plant was cultivated and over time it gradually lost its pungent flavor and evolved into “sweet” paprika. It is considered to be the national spice of Hungary, where it was introduced by the Turks in 1569. Many varieties of paprika can be found in Hungary, with their colors ranging from brown, red, and orange hues. In 1937, the Hungarian chemist Albert Szent-György won the Nobel Prize for research on the vitamin content of paprika. He found that pound for pound, paprika has more Vitamin C than citrus fruit. The bright color of paprika comes the carotenoids it contains.

Main Types of Paprika
There are three main types of paprika: sweet, smoked, and hot. There is a distinct flavor difference between the types of paprika, which can give varied flavor profiles to your dish. With flavors ranging from mild and sweet, to smokey, to bitter and hot, it’s helpful to know the differences so you can use the appropriate variety when preparing foods.

Sweet Paprika. This type of paprika is usually labeled as “paprika.” It adds bright orange-red color and a slightly sweet flavor without heat to any dish. It is often used as a garnish on deviled eggs and potato salad, and used as a flavoring in meat rubs and marinades. It may also be added to cheeses, chicken, duck, hors d’oeuvres, rice, salads, smoked foods, vegetables, and cottage cheese. It can even be added to salad dressings where it can act as an emulsifier (combining oil and vinegar). If a recipe does not call for a particular type of paprika, sweet paprika would usually be used. Sweet paprika is sometimes used to balance the flavor of other spices in a dish.

Smoked Paprika. This type of paprika is made from sweet peppers that were smoked during the drying process, giving it a smoky or meaty flavor. This adds a subtle smokiness to food. It is sometimes referred to as smoked Spanish paprika, or pimenton. Smoked paprika comes in several varieties, including mild, medium-hot, and hot. Note that substituting smoked paprika for sweet paprika (and vice versa) will change the flavor of the dish, sometimes in an undesirable way. Smoked paprika may be used in flavoring potatoes, sweet potatoes, lentil dishes, rice dishes, salad dressings, Romesco sauce for pasta, stews, barbecue sauces and dishes, chicken dishes, veggie burgers, vegetarian meatballs and gravy, shrimp dishes, tacos, BBQ sauce and sandwiches, deviled eggs, seasoned salt blends, corn chowder, refried beans, Tuscan bean soup, butternut squash dishes, pot pies, and any dish where you would enjoy a bit of smokiness flavor added.

Hot Paprika. Hot paprika is Hungarian paprika and is considered to be the national spice of Hungary. It is an important spice used in Hungarian cooking, and is often considered to be superior to the other types of paprika. It adds a peppery spiciness to any dish, and in Turkey and Hungary it is often used like many Americans use black pepper. It is kept on the table and used as desired on any dish before them. Hot paprika is often used in stews, meat dishes, and any dish that would benefit from a touch of cayenne pepper flavor.


Nutrition and Health Benefits of Paprika
Although we don’t eat a lot of paprika at any one time, it does have some nutritional value and health benefits worth noting. Paprika is rich in calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. It is also a good source of folate, Vitamin A (from carotenoids), choline, niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, iron, and Vitamin K. One teaspoon of paprika has all of 6.5 calories.

Antioxidants. Since paprika is made from colorful dried peppers, it is notably high in a variety of antioxidants. Antioxidants are important compounds that fight cell damage caused by highly reactive free radical molecules. Such damage is linked to chronic illnesses including heart disease and cancer. It is well-established that eating antioxidant-rich foods may help to prevent these conditions. The main antioxidants in paprika are in the carotenoid family including beta carotene, capsanthin, zeaxanthin, and lutein.

Healthy Vision. Paprika contains nutrients that may boost our eye health. These nutrients include Vitamin E, beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Studies have linked diets that are high in these nutrients, especially lutein and zeaxanthin, to a reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

In a study published in the March 2008 issue of the journal Archives of Ophthalmology, researchers studied the diets of over 1,800 women. They found that those with the highest intake of lutein and zeaxanthin were 32 percent less likely to develop cataracts than those with the lowest intakes.

In another study published in the September 2007 issue of the journal Archives of Ophthalmology, researchers examined the diets of 4,519 adults and noted that those with a higher intake of lutein and zeaxanthin were associated with a lower risk of age-related macular degeneration.

Inflammation. The hot varieties of paprika contain the compound capsaicin. It is believed that this compound binds to receptors in nerve cells reducing inflammation and pain. In turn, this may help to protect us against a number of inflammatory conditions including arthritis, nerve damage, and digestive issues.

Several studies have shown that topical creams with capsaicin help to reduce arthritis pain and nerve damage. Similar research on capsaicin tablets is more limited. So for now, if you want to try capsaicin for pain relief, topical creams may be a wise choice.

In a study published in 2014 in the journal Progress in Drug Research, researchers followed 376 adults with gastrointestinal diseases. Capsaicin supplements helped to prevent stomach inflammation and damage. In another study published in 2018 in the Journal of Neuroinflammation, researchers found that rats who were fed capsaicin supplements had reduced inflammation associated with an induced autoimmune nerve condition.

More research is needed in this area, but if you suffer from inflammation, eating more foods with capsaicin or taking capsaicin supplements may be helpful for your condition.

Cholesterol Levels. The capsaicin in hot paprika may also be beneficial for improving blood cholesterol by raising the level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. In a two-week study published in the December 2009 issue of The British Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that rats fed diets with paprika and capsanthin experienced significant increases in HDL levels when compared with rats on the control diet.

Carotenoids, as found in paprika, have also been found to help lower levels of total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. High total cholesterol and LDL levels have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Adding paprika to your diet on a regular basis may help to improve cholesterol levels.

Possible Anticancer Effects. Some of the compounds in paprika, including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin have been shown to fight oxidative stress which is believed to increase our risk for certain cancers. In a study involving almost 2,000 women, published in January 2005 in the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers found that those with the highest blood levels of beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and total carotenoids were 25 to 35% less likely to develop breast cancer. Capsaicin may also inhibit cancer cell growth and survival by influencing the expression of several genes. More research in this area is needed, but regularly including paprika in your recipes or sprinkling it on foods on your plate will help to increase your intake of these important compounds and thereby may help to reduce your risk of developing cancer.

Blood Sugar Control. Capsaicin appears to influence genes involved in blood sugar control and also inhibit enzymes that break down sugar in the body. It may also improve insulin sensitivity. In the April 2016 issue of Clinical Nutrition, researchers reported a 4-week study involving 42 pregnant diabetic women. Those who took a 5 mg capsaicin supplement daily experienced a significant decrease in post-meal blood sugar levels, as compared with the control group. In another study reported in the July 2006 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers studied 36 adults for 4 weeks. Those who included capsaicin-containing chili peppers experienced significantly lower blood insulin levels after meals than those in the chili-free control diet group. Lower insulin levels usually indicate better blood sugar control. Even though they were not specifically studying paprika, the researchers were studying a common compound, capsaicin, found in both paprika and chili peppers. Sprinkling hot paprika on your foods on a regular basis may help to control blood sugar levels.

Healthy Blood. Two nutrients that are important for healthy blood are iron and Vitamin E. Paprika is rich in both of them. It’s well established that iron is a critical part of hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that helps to carry oxygen throughout the body. Vitamin E is used to create healthy membranes for cells. A deficiency in either of those nutrients may lower your red blood cell count, which can cause anemia associated with fatigue, pale skin, and shortness of breath. Sprinkling paprika on foods when possible may help to protect you from iron-deficiency anemia.

How to Select Paprika
Which paprika you select depends on your preferred flavor and also the dish or food that you intend to use it on. Although all varieties of paprika are all made from dried peppers, the main types of paprika have different flavor profiles. If you prefer or need a mild, relatively sweet flavor for your intended use, then sweet paprika would be the one to buy. If you prefer or need a smoky flavor, then smoked paprika is called for. If you need or want a hot and spicy flavored paprika, then opt for hot paprika. No matter which you opt for, they will all be in the dried form and should be found in the spice section of your local grocery store.

How to Store Paprika
Paprika will generally have a long shelf-life when it is kept dry and cool, away from heat, light, and air. As long as you adhere to those conditions, it should keep for 2 or 3 years. It may not “go bad” but the flavor will diminish over time. Some suggest it be kept in the refrigerator, which may help to deter the loss of flavor and thereby prolong the shelf-life.  Either way, a tightly sealed container is important for keeping it away from moisture and air. To keep paprika at its peak flavor and condition, replace your supply every 6 months.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Paprika
* Sprinkle paprika on roasted potatoes.

* Season grilled chicken with paprika and a little salt and pepper.

* Add paprika to hummus.

* Combine paprika with other spices in a dry rub blend for grilled meats.

* Add paprika to a marinade.

* Add paprika to batter for frying chicken.

* Use paprika as a garnish for deviled eggs or potato salad.

* If possible, add paprika toward the middle to end of cooking time, unless a recipe specifies otherwise. This will help you to get the most flavor from your paprika, since prolonged heat can diminish the flavor.

* To get good flavor from your paprika, heat it in a moist environment. It tends to burn easily, so if you add it to something oil-based, don’t wait long before taking it off the stove or adding something water-based to the pan.

* Paprika is made with different varieties of peppers and is sometimes treated, such as being smoked. Varieties include: (1) sweet Hungarian paprika, which is mild and somewhat sweet, (2) hot Hungarian paprika, which is a bit pungent with a somewhat complex flavor, and (3) smoked paprika, also known as Spanish paprika, which may be mild or hot, and has a smoky flavor.

* If you need paprika for a recipe and don’t have enough, possible substitutes include ancho chile pepper powder, a pinch of cayenne pepper (which would be much hotter than paprika), a pinch of ground chipotle powder (which would add smokiness and heat), or chili powder (which would be slightly more pungent and add the flavors of cumin, oregano, and other spices).


Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Paprika (Regular or Smoked)
Cayenne, chili powder, cilantro, coriander, cumin, oregano, pepper, salt, turmeric

Foods That Go Well with Paprika (Regular or Smoked)
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (in general, esp. black beans, chickpeas), beef, black-eye peas, chicken, eggs, lamb, lentils, nuts (in general), pecans, pork, sausage, seafood, split peas, tahini

Vegetables: Bell peppers, carrots, chiles, eggplant, garlic, greens (bitter, i.e., collards), kale, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, rutabagas, sauerkraut, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, vegetables (in general)

Fruits: Avocados, lemons, limes, oranges

Grains and Grain Products: Corn, rice, seitan

Dairy and Non-Dairy Products: Cheese (in general), sour cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Oil (esp. olive), stock, vinegar (i.e., balsamic, sherry)

Paprika (regular or smoked) has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Casseroles, chili, deviled eggs, Eastern European cuisine (esp. Hungarian), egg dishes (i.e., hard-boiled, omelets, scrambled), goulash, hummus, marinades, paella, pasta dishes, purees, salad dressings, salads (i.e., macaroni, pasta), sauces (i.e., cream, tomato), soups, Southwestern (U.S.) cuisine, Spanish cuisine (esp. smoked paprika), spreads, stews, stroganoff (i.e., mushroom), tempeh bacon, Texas cuisine

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Paprika
Add paprika to any of the following combinations…

Garlic + Olive Oil + Seitan
Mushrooms + Sour Cream

Recipe Links
Tomato Sauce with Roasted Garlic and Paprika Recipe https://www.seriouseats.com/tomato-sauce-with-roasted-garlic-and-paprika-recipe

Cajun Spice Mix https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/149221/cajun-spice-mix/

BBQ Spice Rub https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/229329/bbq-spice-rub/

Oven-Baked Potato Slices https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/273572/oven-baked-potato-slices/

Taco Bell Seasoning Copycat https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/236257/taco-bell-seasoning-copycat/

Copycat Lawry’s Seasoned Salt https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/238702/copycat-lawrys-seasoned-salt/

Hungarian Mushroom Soup https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/17897/hungarian-mushroom-soup/

Quick and Crispy Home Fries https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/258117/quick-crispy-home-fries/

Smoky Vegetarian Collard Greens https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/256591/smoky-vegetarian-collard-greens/

Air Fryer Pumpkin Seeds https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/269968/air-fryer-pumpkin-seeds/

Beef and Prime Rib Rub https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/263435/beef-and-prime-rib-rub/

Homemade Portuguese Chicken https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/274690/homemade-portuguese-chicken/

Blackened Salmon Fillets https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/36487/blackened-salmon-fillets/





















Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower Seeds 101 – The Basics

Sunflower Seeds 101 – The Basics

About Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are the seeds of the sunflower plant (Helianthus annuus). There are several types of sunflower plants, with the linoleic variety being the most common. The variety most often sold as sunflower seeds for eating may also be called confectionery sunflower seeds. The average sunflower plant produces 1,000 to 2,000 seeds.

Sunflower seeds are commonly eaten as a snack, but can also be used as a garnish or an ingredient in assorted recipes. They are sometimes added to breads or other baked goods. The seeds may also be sprouted and eaten in salads. Sunflower seed butter is also available in many markets along with peanut butter. Sunflower seeds may also be used as a food for pets and wild birds. They are sometimes used as a substitute for those with nut allergies. The seeds are sold as in-shell seeds or dehulled kernels. They may be sold raw or roasted, salted or with another flavoring added. The seeds themselves have a mild, nutty flavor with a firm yet tender texture. Roasting enhances the flavor.

Sunflowers grow in temperate areas around the world. Because of their relatively deep root system, sunflowers are a hardy crop that is drought resistant and does well in arid areas. People have enjoyed sunflower seeds for thousands of years, with the earliest reference to them being eaten by Native Americans, dating back to 1,000 BC. They were first grown commercially in Mexico and the southern United States. In the 16th century, sunflower seeds were transported to Europe where they have since become a major crop. Today, the top sunflower growing countries are Ukraine, Russia, Argentina, China, and Romania. Sunflowers are grown in the United States (mostly in North and South Dakota), but ranks tenth in production globally. In 2017, 105.5 billion pounds of sunflower seeds were produced within 72 different countries. Almost half of those came from Ukraine and Russia.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of Vitamin E, and selenium, and a good source of copper. They also contain a lot of protein, fiber, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, zinc, Vitamin B1, phosphorus, manganese, Vitamin B6, magnesium, folate, and niacin.

Antioxidant Protection. Sunflower seeds are especially high in Vitamin E and selenium. These important nutrients function as antioxidants that help protect the body from harmful free radicals that play a role in the development of some chronic diseases. The seeds are also a good source of phenolic acids and flavonoids, which are beneficial plant compounds that also function as antioxidants. When sunflower seeds are sprouted, these compounds increase, which makes them even more healthful to eat. Sprouting also reduces some factors that can hinder mineral absorption. Sprouted sunflower seeds may be purchased in some stores, but are very easy to sprout at home.

Anti-Inflammatory Benefits. Chronic inflammation is a risk factor for many serious diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. C-reactive protein is a blood marker that is used to determine a person’s risk of such conditions. In a study involving 6,000 adults reported in the 2006 American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers found that those who ate sunflower and other seeds at least five times a week had 32% lower levels of C-reactive protein when compared to people who ate no seeds. It is known that sunflower seeds are abundant in Vitamin E, and that vitamin is known to help lower C-reactive protein levels. Also, the flavonoids and other compounds found in sunflower seeds can also help to reduce inflammation. So, eating a small handful of sunflower seeds on most days may be able to help reduce chronic inflammation.

Reduced Blood Pressure and Risk of Heart Disease. Chronic hypertension can lead to heart disease, causing a heart attack or stroke. Sunflower seeds contain a compound that blocks an enzyme that causes blood vessels to constrict. This may help blood vessels to relax, thus lowering blood pressure. They also contain magnesium which is also known to help reduce blood pressure levels.

Sunflower seeds are also rich in linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid that the body uses to make a hormone-like compound that relaxes blood vessels, lowering blood pressure. Linoleic acid is also known to help lower blood cholesterol.

In a 3-week study reported in the December 2012 issue of the journal ISRN Nutrition, women with Type 2 diabetes who ate 1 ounce (30 grams) of sunflower seeds or almonds a day (along with a healthy diet) had a 5% drop in systolic blood pressure. The subjects also experienced a 9% drop in LDL cholesterol and a 12% drop in triglycerides. This would help to reduce the risk of heart disease.

In the October 2014 issue of the journal Circulation, researchers reviewed 13 studies and found that those with the highest linoleic acid intake had a 15% lower risk of heart disease episodes, such as a heart attack. Individuals also experienced a 21% lower risk of dying of heart disease, when compared to those with the lowest intake of linoleic acid. Since sunflower seeds are high in this type of polyunsaturated fat, ingesting modest amounts of them on a regular basis may help to prevent complications leading to heart disease.

Sunflower seeds also contain no cholesterol and are very low in saturated fats, making them a healthful food for the cardiovascular system.

Diabetes. Studies suggest that those who eat 1 ounce of sunflower seeds a day, as part of a healthy diet, may reduce fasting blood sugar by about 10% within six months, when compared with those who ate a healthy diet without the seeds. Researchers speculate the blood-sugar-lowering effect of sunflower seeds may be partially due to their compound chlorogenic acid. The researchers concluded that more research in this area is needed, but the results look promising.

Immune System Booster. Sunflower seeds are high in selenium, magnesium, zinc, and iron which helps to strengthen the blood and immune system, helping us to fight off viruses.

Help for Expectant Mothers. For women who are planning to have children or are already pregnant, sunflower seeds have a lot to offer. Their high levels of zinc, folate, and Vitamin E make them valuable foods to include in the diet. According to the American Pregnancy Association, Vitamin E is essential for prenatal health because it helps the fetus develop and use red blood cells and muscles. It also supports and nourishes the skin of both the mother and her growing baby. Folate supports the placenta and helps prevent spina bifida, a serious neural tube defect that can happen when the expectant mother’s diet is deficient in this vital nutrient. Also, zinc is important for producing insulin and enzymes.

How to Select Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are sold in a variety of ways, both shelled and unshelled. They may be raw or roasted, processed with or without salt, or flavored in a variety of other ways. Whichever flavor you choose will depend on your personal preferences and intended use for the seeds.

When purchasing plain (unflavored) sunflower seeds in the shells, look for ones with shells that are firm and intact. When purchasing shelled (plain, raw) seeds be sure to look for the “Best by” or “Expiration” date and select a package with the date farthest into the future. This will ensure you get the freshest seeds available. Shelled raw sunflower seeds can go rancid in time because their oils will spoil when exposed to air. Be sure their packaging is sealed with as much air as possible having been removed from the container.

How to Store Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds in their original, unopened container can be kept at room temperature up to or shortly after their “Best by” date stamped on the package. The date stamped on the packaging is only an estimate of their shelf life. Environmental conditions, like light and heat can affect how long seeds will last, especially when kept at room temperature. Once opened, they should be placed in the refrigerator. For longest life, store them in the freezer, whether the package has been opened or not.

If the seeds are still in their shells, they should keep longer than shelled seeds. This is because the shells help to protect the seeds from oxygen, which is what causes their oils to go rancid. Light, heat, and moisture may also cause the seeds to spoil.

Roasting reduces the shelf-life of sunflower seeds by about half. So, if you prefer to buy roasted sunflower seeds (or even roast them yourself), be sure to store them in the refrigerator or freezer to extend their lifespan.

Stale vs Expired Sunflower Seeds
If your seeds are not rancid, but have become stale, they can still be eaten. They can be refreshed by briefly toasting them on the stove or in the oven.

Like all other seeds, sunflower seeds won’t last forever. When stored long enough, the fats in them will spoil or go rancid. At that point they should be discarded. You can tell that they are rancid when they taste bitter or sour, reminding you of rancid olive oil. The seeds may develop an “off” aroma, reminding you of putty, or nail polish remover. However, the change in aroma may not always be so obvious. If you are not quite sure that your seeds are old, but sense that something isn’t quite right with them, it’s time to toss them out. When in doubt, throw them out!

Portion Control
Sunflower seeds are highly nutritious, but they are also high in calories because of their fat content. A one-fourth cup serving of dry roasted salt-free sunflower seeds has 207 calories. Because they are delicious and easy to ingest, it’s very easy to eat more than this small amount at one time. But, it is important to limit your serving size to no more than one-fourth cup to help control calorie and fat intake. This is especially important for those who are on a reduced fat diet or those monitoring their calorie intake to control weight. To help prevent overeating sunflower seeds, many people buy them still in their shell. Having to shell them as you enjoy them slows down the eating process preventing one from eating a large amount in a short time. Many times, the shells are coated in salt. If you are monitoring your sodium intake, be sure to choose unsalted sunflower seeds, even those in their shells. Another way to help control your portion is to measure the amount you want to eat and place them in a bowl. Put the rest away so they are not easily accessible. Go to where you want to enjoy your seeds, away from the supply container. When you finish your allotment, it will be easier to stop eating them, than if you were going from “bag to mouth.” It takes far more personal discipline to stop eating when there is a lot of anything in front of you than if there is a measured portion with the rest having been put away.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Sunflower Seeds
* Add sunflower seeds to your favorite tuna, chicken, or turkey salad.

* Sprinkle green salads with sunflower seeds.

* Add sunflower seeds to scrambled eggs or an omelet.

* Use finely ground sunflower seeds as a breading in place of (or with) flour. This can be used on meats, fish, poultry, and vegetables.

* Sprinkle sunflower seeds on cold or hot cereals, such as oatmeal.

* Add sunflower seeds to homemade trail mix.

* Add sunflower seeds to homemade granola bars.

* Sprinkle fruit or yogurt parfaits with sunflower seeds.

* Add sunflower seeds to stir-fries.

* Sprinkle sunflower seeds over sautéed vegetables for some added crunch and flavor.

* Add them to veggie burgers for flavor and added nutrients.

* Sprinkle sunflower seeds on top of casseroles.

* Add them to baked goods like quick breads and muffins.

* Make sunflower seed butter and use as a dip or topping for apples, banana slices, celery, bell pepper, and carrot sticks, nut butter sandwiches, and toast.

* Add ground sunflower seeds to smoothies.

* Sunflower seeds can be used in pesto in place of pine nuts.

* Sprinkle sunflower seeds as a garnish on creamy soups, such as cream of potato, broccoli, or tomato soup.

* Sprinkle some sunflower seeds on tacos for a little extra crunch.

* Make a pie crust with sunflower seeds. Here’s a link to one version online… https://myquietkitchen.com/healthy-pie-crust-nut-free/#recipe

* Sprinkle some sunflower seeds on yogurt or ice cream.

* Stuff a pita bread with some salad and sunflower seeds for crunch, flavor and added nutrition.

* Top your favorite pasta dish with some sunflower seeds.

* Add sunflower seeds into your favorite cookie dough.

* Add sunflower seeds to your favorite quiche.

* Just so you know…do not eat the shells of sunflower seeds. They are tough and fibrous, and the human digestive system cannot break them down. Accidentally swallowing a small piece should be OK, but eating at lot of them could cause a serious blockage in the gastrointestinal tract.

* Add sunflower seeds to stuffed peppers.

* Add sunflower seeds to your favorite bean or legume salad.

* Add sunflower seeds to a veggie pizza.

* Add sunflower seeds to a cabbage slaw.

* Top your favorite fruit salad with some sunflower seeds.

* Top cooked winter squash, such as butternut squash with caramelized sunflower seeds. To caramelize the seeds, heat some seeds (such as 1/3 cup) in a nonstick skillet on medium-high heat for about 3 minutes. Stir them constantly so they don’t burn. Stir in a little brown sugar (such as 2 tablespoons). Stir constantly until the sugar is melted and the sunflower seeds are coated evenly. Remove from the pan and top your cooked squash with the hot seeds. Or remove the seeds from the pan and allow them to cool to be enjoyed as a snack or to be used later.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Sunflower Seeds
Basil, chili pepper, chili powder, cilantro, cinnamon, dill, garlic, mint, Old Bay Seasoning mix, parsley

Foods That Go Well with Sunflower Seeds
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (green), beef, black beans, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, hazelnuts, kidney beans, lentils, nuts (in general), seeds (other, i.e., flax, pumpkin), tofu (esp. silken), tuna

Vegetables: Arugula, beets, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, chives, fennel, leeks, greens (salad), mushrooms, onions, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes

Fruits: Apples, apricots, cherries (esp. dried), coconut, cranberries (dried), dates, fruit (in general), lemon, mango, peaches, raisins, watermelon

Grains and Grain Products: Kasha, millet, oats, pasta, quinoa, rice, wheat berries

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (in general), milk, Parmesan cheese, sour cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Agave nectar, brown sugar, caramel, honey, maple syrup, molasses, mustard, nutritional yeast, tamari, vinegar (esp. balsamic)

Sunflower seeds have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (i.e., breads, cookies, muffins, pie crusts), casseroles, cereals (i.e., hot breakfast), desserts, granola, muesli, pancakes, pastas, pâtés, risottos, salads, soups, Southwestern (U.S.) cuisine, spreads, stuffings, trail bars and mixes, veggie burgers

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Sunflower Seeds
Add sunflower seeds to any of the following combinations…

Basil + Garlic + Olive Oil + Pasta
Flaxseeds + Millet
Lentils + Onions in Pâtés
Quinoa + Raisins

Recipe Links
Herby Pesto with Sunflower Seeds https://www.botanicalkitchen.com/recipes/herby-pesto/

Shaved Squash Salad with Sunflower Seeds https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/shaved-squash-salad-with-sunflower-seeds

Sunflower Seeds Pesto https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/sunflower-seed-pesto

Cinnamon Vanilla Sunflower Butter https://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/cinnamon-vanilla-sunflower-butter-recipe.html#recipe

Roasted Pumpkin Salad Recipe https://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/roasted-pumpkin-salad-recipe.html#recipe

Lentil Carrot Avocado Salad https://www.yummly.com/recipe/Lentil-Carrot-Avocado-Salad-2139484

Pomegranate Sunflower Seeds Salad https://www.yummly.com/recipe/Pomegranate-Sunflower-Seeds-Salad-1082918

Maple Sunflower Seeds Granola https://www.yummly.com/recipe/Maple-Sunflower-Seeds-Granola-1093748

Old Bay Sunflower Seeds https://www.yummly.com/recipe/Old-Bay-Sunflower-Seeds-1590607

Multigrain Pilaf with Sunflower Seeds https://www.yummly.com/recipe/Multigrain-Pilaf-with-Sunflower-Seeds-9243967

Maple Roast Sunflower Seeds https://www.yummly.com/recipe/Maple-Roast-Sunflower-Seeds-964256

Spicy Roasted Pumpkin and Sunflower Seeds https://www.yummly.com/recipe/Spicy-Roasted-Pumpkin-and-Sunflower-Seeds-2137869

Arugula Salad with Grapes and Sunflower Seeds https://www.yummly.com/recipe/Arugula-Salad-with-Grapes-and-Sunflower-Seeds-9580758

Massaged Broccoli Rabe Salad with Sunflower Seeds and Cranberries https://www.yummly.com/recipe/Massaged-Broccoli-Rabe-Salad-with-Sunflower-Seeds-_-Cranberries-1861644

Berry Spinach Salad with Spicy Maple Sunflower Seeds https://www.yummly.com/recipe/Berry-Spinach-Salad-with-Spicy-Maple-Sunflower-Seeds-1457945

Simple Arugula Salad with Sunflower Seeds and Parmesan https://www.yummly.com/recipe/Simple-Arugula-Salad-with-Sunflower-Seeds-and-Parmesan-2435236

Nut-Free Vegan Pie Crust (Allergy-Friendly) https://myquietkitchen.com/healthy-pie-crust-nut-free/#recipe




























Joachim, David. (2010) The Food Substitutions Bible. 2nd Edition. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Robert Rose, Inc.

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.


Reducing Salt Intake

Reducing Salt Intake

The words “salt” and “sodium” are often used interchangeably, which leads to confusion with some people. They are not the same thing. “Salt,” also called table salt, is sodium chloride. Sodium chloride is 40% sodium and 60% chloride. One teaspoon of table salt contains about 2,400 mg of sodium. Sodium is a chemical element that we need in small amounts for normal muscle and nerve functions, for helping to keep our body fluids in balance, and more. Many foods in their natural state contain small amounts of sodium.

We all need a little sodium from our foods. In the body, sodium aids in the conduction of nerve impulses, contraction and relaxation of muscles, blood clotting, maintaining a normal heart rhythm, and maintaining the proper balance of water and minerals in our body fluids, both inside and outside of cells. It is estimated that we need about 500 mg of sodium each day for these vital functions. We can easily get that amount from fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, grains, nuts, meats, and seafood in their natural state without adding any salt to our foods.

Sources of Excess Salt in the Diet
The problem comes about when we add salt (sodium chloride) to our foods. This added salt can come from the salt shaker at the table, sauces added to flavor foods, seasonings added while food is cooking, boxed foods with prepackaged seasonings, processed meats and assorted foods with flavorings already added, eggs, soups (especially canned soups), breads, sandwiches, snack foods (such as chips, pretzels, popcorn, snack mixes, and crackers), dairy products (especially cheese), pizza, canned foods, and even commercial beverages.

It is very easy to overdo when using the salt shaker, especially since salt enhances the flavor of foods. Our taste buds quickly adjust to the enhanced flavors so that we expect it any time we eat those same foods. If we’re not careful, over time we can find ourselves slowly increasing the amount of salt that we add to foods because our acquired taste for it can increase our demand for salt. This makes table salt somewhat addictive.

Furthermore, many people rely on processed foods for most of their meals. Such foods have a lot of salt already added to them, not only for flavor, but also as a binder, stabilizer, and a preservative. Bacteria cannot survive in a high salt environment. The high level of salt in processed foods also acts as an addictive agent, often bringing us to crave more of those foods. So we often eat them regularly, much to the delight of the food manufacturers. Hence, most processed foods are high in salt for a number of reasons. Most Americans eat at least 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt a day, which comes to about 3,400 mg of sodium. This amount is way more than our bodies need, and can often lead to health concerns.

Different types of salt contain varying amounts of sodium per teaspoon, with fine Kosher salt and black salt having the least amount. According to https://Cronometer.com, one-fourth teaspoon of generic table salt contains 589.5 mg of sodium, or 39% of the recommended maximum amount of sodium. This mere amount of table salt still contains more than we really need metabolically. AND that doesn’t account for the sodium we get from foods in their natural state. People who use any salt at all will most likely consume more than that one-fourth teaspoon in any one day. Hence, for the sake of our health, we should make a conscious effort to try to bring our salt intake down.

Symptoms of Too Much Salt in the Diet
Signs that we have eaten too much salt can occur quickly after a meal, like increased thirst. This is a sign of dehydration, with the body signaling us to drink more fluids. Other symptoms of having eaten too much salt include swollen feet or hands, headache (in some cases), and a rise in blood pressure. These symptoms may or may not be prolonged since the kidneys are always working to balance the sodium and fluid levels in the body. However, if you continually overeat salt, the kidneys may not be able to eliminate all the excess sodium and it may start to build up in the body. This leads to the serious health risks associated with too much salt intake.

Health Risks Associated with a High Sodium Diet
Too much sodium in the diet can lead to a variety of serious health conditions. Here are some examples.

Hypertension, Heart Disease and Stroke. When we consume too much sodium (whether it’s from salt added at the table or in cooking, from restaurant foods, or from processed foods), the kidneys are forced to work very hard to keep the proper balance of fluids and electrolytes in the blood. They will retain water to dilute the excess sodium in the blood. This increases the amount of extracellular fluid and the volume of blood in the bloodstream. The increased blood volume forces the heart to work harder and increases pressure on the blood vessels. Over time, this extra work and pressure can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack, and even stroke, eventually leading to heart failure.

Kidney Disease and Kidney Stones. Besides being a risk factor for heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure is also a risk factor for kidney disease. With prolonged high sodium intake and increased blood pressure, the kidneys gradually lose their ability to excrete excess sodium. A study reported in the October 2014 issue of the American Journal of Hypertension found that patients with chronic kidney disease who had intakes of sodium greater than 4,600 mg a day experienced progression of their disease.

Many scientific studies have shown that there is a relationship between a high salt intake and increased calcium excretion through the kidneys. The amount of calcium that your body loses through the urine increases with the amount of salt you eat. The blood level of calcium needs to remain relatively constant. So, when the kidneys call for more calcium because of a high salt intake, calcium is leached from the bones to meet the need at the moment and keep the blood calcium level stable. This can be a contributing factor in the development of weakened bones at any age. Calcium is a major component of kidney stones and such stones are more likely to form when the kidneys are forced to process increased calcium due to increased salt intake. Limiting salt intake has been shown to reduce the formation of kidney stones, while also reducing the excretion of calcium through the urine, thus causing less leaching of calcium from bones. Therefore, to help reduce your risk of developing kidney disease, weakened bones, and kidney stones, it is important to keep your salt intake as low as possible. Focusing on unprocessed, unsalted foods can be valuable in this endeavor.

Calcium, Sodium, and Bone Loss. The body must maintain a stable amount of calcium in the blood for muscle contraction, proper functioning of many enzymes, blood clotting, and maintaining a normal heart rhythm. Our bones serve as a source of calcium reserves and we withdraw from our reserves as needed to maintain a stable blood calcium level. If we do not get enough calcium from our foods, calcium is released from the bones to maintain blood levels of this critical mineral. This, in turn, can weaken bones if a low blood calcium level occurs recurrently, or over a prolonged period of time. To maintain a normal level of calcium in blood without weakening bones, we should consume at least 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams of calcium a day.

When we eat a lot of salt, the more calcium will be excreted in the urine. In a study reported in the August 2014 issue of the Journal of Bone Metabolism, 86 Korean postmenopausal women were evaluated for their sodium and calcium intake vs excretion. The rate of osteoporosis among Korean women over age 50 is substantially higher than the rate among American women in that same age group. The subjects consumed an average of 3,466 mg of sodium and 813 mg of calcium daily. Researchers found there was a positive association between sodium and calcium intake and their excretion of those same elements after a 24-hour period. This means the more sodium they took in, the more sodium and calcium they excreted. The women were found to be at an increased risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis due to their high sodium intake. The researchers concluded that excessive sodium intake assessed by 24-hour urine specimen is associated with high calcium excretion in urine. High calcium excretion is also related to increasing bone resorption marker (which indicates that bone is being broken down).

Stomach Cancer. People have used salt as a means of preserving food for about 5,000 years. In recent times, technologies in food preservation have been developed that call for far less salt. Nevertheless, excessive dietary salt remains a common practice, despite recommendations to reduce our sodium intake. Gastric cancer is found around the world and dietary factors, including salt intake, are considered to be causative. In a 2014 issue of the journal Cancer Treatment and Research, researchers examined a number of published studies and found that salt intake along with a stomach bacterial infection of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) played a role in the development of gastric cancer. A comprehensive meta-analysis of long-term studies found a strong effect of total salt intake and salt-rich foods on the risk of gastric cancer in the general population. Researchers found evidence that supports the possibility of a substantial reduction in cancer with reduced salt intake.

H. pylori is a type of bacteria that can infect the stomach. This often happens during childhood and we usually have no idea that we are infected with the bacteria. It is a common cause of stomach (peptic) ulcers. Researchers estimate that more than half the people in the world may be infected with H. pylori. Most people are not aware they are infected unless they start developing symptoms of a peptic ulcer (a sore on the lining of the stomach) or a duodenal ulcer (an ulcer in the first part of the small intestine). Such symptoms include: an ache or burning pain in the stomach, stomach pain that is worse when the stomach is empty, nausea, loss of appetite, frequent burping, bloating, and unexplained weight loss.

In a study published in the May 14, 2009 issue of the World Journal of Gastroenterology, researchers reviewed the results from studies on the relationship between salt or salted food intake and stomach cancer risk. Most studies indicated that the average salt intake in each population group was closely correlated with deaths from gastric cancer. They found a moderate direct relationship between higher salt or salted food consumption and gastric cancer risk. Furthermore, salt intake was correlated with infection of the bacteria H. pylori. They speculated there was a possible relationship between the bacterial infection and high salt intake leading to gastric cancer. They concluded that limiting salt and salted food intake was a practical strategy for preventing gastric cancer. This includes reducing your intake of foods preserved by salting, such as salted fish and meats, and pickled vegetables.

In recent years, stomach cancer has declined in the United States, while it is much more common in some other parts of the world, such as East Asia. Stomach cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the world. It is believed that the rates have declined in the United States because there has been a decrease in the number of people infected with the H. pylori bacteria.

To lower your risk of developing stomach cancer, in addition to reducing your salt and salty food intake, eat more fresh fruits (especially citrus fruits) and raw vegetables. Such foods appear to reduce the risk of stomach cancer.

Dietary Sodium Recommendations

Americans consume an average of over 3,400 mg of sodium each day. That’s roughly equivalent to 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt. While the American Heart Association recommends we consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium a day (1 teaspoon of salt), ideally we should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day (a little less than 2/3 of a teaspoon of salt). This is still more sodium than the body actually needs. When we purchase already prepared foods, salted or brined foods, or those that were prepackaged by food manufacturers, it is impossible to tell how much salt or sodium is in the food unless there is a nutrition label we can examine. Food manufacturers know that Americans love their salty foods, so they don’t hold back when using salt in the preparation of their foods, unless the food is labeled as being low in sodium. Even then it may contain more sodium than if you prepared a similar food yourself at home. This is why reducing your intake of already prepared foods and making your own meals with fresh foods can be so monumental in reducing your sodium intake. The body only needs about 500 mg (or less) of sodium a day. Eating plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and unsalted whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and peas can provide that amount without any added salt.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that adults consume no more than 5 grams of salt (just under 1 teaspoon) per day. This amount of salt provides 1,938 mg of sodium (almost four times what the body actually needs). This is the maximum amount recommended by the WHO. We can actually get by with no added salt whatsoever, or eating little to no processed foods with added salt in them.

To help in determining how much sodium you are ingesting, the following information was provided online by the Ashchi Heart and Vascular Center located in Jacksonville, Florida.

Here are the approximate amounts of sodium in a given amount of table salt:

* 1/4 teaspoon salt = 575 mg sodium

* 1/2 teaspoon salt = 1,150 mg sodium

* 3/4 teaspoon salt = 1,725 mg sodium

* 1 teaspoon salt = 2,300 mg sodium

Here are some terms that may be helpful when examining food labels:

* Salt/Sodium-Free: Less than 5 mg of sodium per serving

* Very Low Sodium: 35 mg or less per serving

* Low Sodium: 140 mg or less per serving

* Reduced Sodium: At least 25 percent less sodium per serving than the usual sodium level

* Light in Sodium or Lightly Salted: At least 50 percent less sodium than the regular product

* No-Salt-Added or Unsalted: No salt was added during processing, but these products may not be salt/sodium-free unless stated

The Importance of Potassium
Potassium and sodium are both electrolytes that play an important role in maintaining fluid balance and blood volume. The body needs more potassium (roughly 2600 to 3400 mg per day for adults) than sodium (about 500 mg) to function normally, maintaining a healthy blood pressure and blood volume.

Unfortunately, the standard American diet is very imbalanced in these critical electrolytes, providing an overabundance of sodium with little potassium. For good health, it should be the other way around, with an overabundance of potassium with little sodium. Potassium is abundant in fresh fruits and vegetables, but it can also be found in some legumes, whole grains, meats, and milk products. Unfortunately, many Americans do not eat many fresh fruits and vegetables, while making processed and refined foods their mainstay. This leads to a big imbalance of potassium and sodium in the body, with far more sodium intake than potassium. This imbalance often leads to many of the chronic problems that plague modern society, including hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and increased risk of kidney disease and kidney stones, among others. Taking potassium supplements will not correct the problem because such supplements usually only contain up to 99 mg per tablet, and they may not be the correct form of potassium that the body actually needs. The most effective way to balance these two very important electrolytes is to include fresh fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed foods in your diet while minimizing your intake of refined and processed foods, restaurant fare, and table salt.

Tips and Ideas for Reducing Salt in the Diet

* Take the salt shaker off the table. If you find the food on your plate needs more flavor, try to add more herbs or spices that were used in preparation of that food, rather than salt.

* Celery naturally contains some sodium and has a somewhat salty flavor. Using celery in food preparation instead of salt can add some salty flavor without adding refined salt. Because it is not isolated and refined, the sodium in celery does not have the detrimental effects that refined salt does.

* Be aware of the amount of sodium you’re eating. Of course, we’re not going to have exact numbers, but examine your foods to be aware of where your sodium is coming from and roughly how much sodium you’re eating. If you eat a lot of processed foods, check the nutrition labels and make note of how much sodium is in one serving. Remember to add in the sodium from any salt you deliberately add to foods. Keep a tally during the day and check it out at the end of the day. The result may surprise you.

* Strive to eat more whole, fresh, unprocessed foods. Such foods will contain naturally occurring sodium in them. To get an idea of how much sodium they contain, use https://cronometer.com which is a free online diet tracking tool.

* If you opt to add salt to food while cooking or at the table, try to estimate how much you add and include that in your end of the day tally so you can track your sodium intake. Awareness is important. If you know where your sodium is coming from, you’ll know what to reduce.

* Strive to season foods without adding salt, or add as little salt as possible. Herbs, spices, lemon or lime juices, salt-free seasonings, onions, garlic, and ginger are excellent ways to bring flavor to foods without adding any salt.

* If you enjoy processed foods, try to reduce your portion size and complement the meal with added fresh or frozen foods without any added salt.

* Roughly 75 percent of the sodium Americans consume comes from processed, prepackaged, and restaurant foods, not from the salt shaker at the table. Cutting back on such foods and preparing your own meals will very likely reduce your sodium intake (unless you go wild with the salt shaker).

* Remember that salad dressings and condiments usually contain added salt. Check the labels and make note of how much sodium you’ve added to your foods through these items. Choose low sodium or no added salt versions when possible.

* Be careful not to trade your favorite salty snacks for ones that are loaded with added sugars and fats. They are no better for you and won’t help your health in any way.

* When shopping, choose canned goods with no added salt in them, or at least the low sodium variety, if possible.

* If you use soy sauce, be sure to shop for a low- or (preferably) no-sodium option.

* Try snacking on fresh fruit or vegetable sticks (like carrots, celery, bell peppers, or even cucumbers) rather than salty options like chips, pretzels, crackers, or popcorn.

* When making your own recipes, try adding celery in place of some of the salt. Celery has a somewhat salty flavor to it. Yes, it does contain sodium, but the sodium in celery is bound to an array of other minerals, making it a healthy addition to the diet. Replacing some salt with celery gives food a bit of a salty flavor while adding important minerals to the diet. Furthermore, the sodium from celery would be far less than an equivalent amount of flavor from added table salt.

* Beware of canned soups. They are usually very high in sodium. Choose lower sodium versions, when possible. If that’s not an option, reduce your serving size to cut the sodium per serving.

* Be aware that pizza is high in sodium. The dough itself, cheese, and added toppings such as pepperoni or sausage and all high in sodium. The sauce may even be high in sodium. So, even if you probably don’t add salt to your pizza, be aware that pizza in itself is usually very high in sodium. If you don’t want to give up pizza, try to eat less of it at one time. Add a large salad with a salt-free dressing to help balance it out and fill you up. Choose fresh fruit for dessert.

* When including nuts in your meals or snacks, choose salt-free varieties instead of salted versions.

* Be aware that restaurant foods (whether fast-food or dine-in) are usually high in salt. Try to limit your intake as much as possible or have smaller portions. When dining in, you could ask the server to request the chef add less salt (or even no salt) to the foods during preparation, if possible.

* Read labels! Even foods labeled as “reduced-sodium” may still contain a lot of sodium. They may have 25 percent less sodium than the full-seasoned version, but even the reduced selection may still be relatively high in sodium. Awareness is key!

* If you’re a meat, poultry, or seafood eater, choose fresh cuts rather than cured, salted, smoked, or versions that have been processed in any way. Such options are very high in sodium and will quickly take your sodium intake beyond any limits you set for yourself.

* When buying meats or poultry, check to see if it was injected with any type of saline or basting solution for flavor. Frozen turkeys have often been treated in this way, even if we’re not aware of it. Read the labels if you’re not sure. Such injected solutions may add a nice flavor to your foods, but a lot of that flavor comes from the added salt.

* Eat more fresh or frozen vegetables that were prepared without any sauces or flavorings. If needed, add your own seasonings at home.

* Choose rice and pasta in the dry forms when shopping and avoid those with added flavorings or seasonings. The added seasonings will usually be very high in sodium.

* Be aware that “instant” foods (such as sauces, mixed, or preseasoned foods) are often flavored with a lot of salt. If you choose such foods, be sure to read the labels so you are aware of their sodium content. If possible, choose low- or no-salt versions. If they are not available, try to use less of it at any one meal, to help reduce your sodium intake.

* Always taste the food on your plate first before adding salt to it. It’s easy to develop a habit of adding salt to food every time you sit down to a meal, without even taking your first bite. Give the chef some credit and taste your food first before reaching for the salt shaker.

* Remember that items like ketchup, mayonnaise, pickles, soy sauce, and mustard can be high in salt. Read the label to check what you have. Use less if needed to keep in line with your goals.

* When reducing salt intake, remember that it takes time to retrain the taste buds. Do whatever is right for you, but reducing it gradually may be easier than cutting it out all at once.

* Experiment with salt-free seasoning blends or adding more select herbs or spices to foods that you cook. Sometimes adding a little more of your non-salt seasonings to a dish can be enough to make it flavorful without adding salt.

* Try roasting vegetables to bring out their flavor. Season them with garlic, onions, and/or your favorite herbs and spices, while leaving salt off the list.

* When having a burger, try leaving off salty toppings like bacon, cheese, or barbeque sauce. Add lettuce and tomato, or have a side salad instead.

* Eggs themselves don’t have a huge amount of sodium, about 62 mg per egg. But, it’s rare to cook an egg just plain. We often add salt, cheese, bacon, sausage, ham, or milk (when scrambling). Those items all have their fair share of sodium in them. So, it’s wise to automatically think of eggs and egg dishes as being high in sodium. To help balance it out, add less of the salty ingredients mentioned, and more bell peppers, onions, or other items that you also enjoy in your omelets or with your eggs.

* When shopping for seasonings, avoid those with added salt, like celery salt or garlic salt. Choose dried celery flakes, garlic powder, or granulated garlic instead.

* Become familiar with food items that you enjoy that may be naturally high in sodium yet don’t taste salty. Examples include cottage cheese, hard cheeses, and other milk products.

* Assorted herbs and spices can be used instead of salt when we’re making our own foods. Different flavorings work well with different foods. It may take some experimentation to learn which flavorings and combinations of them are agreeable with you and your family, but it’s well worth the effort. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institute of Health has a .pdf document you can print out that includes a lot of suggestions. Here is the link to the document: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/healthdisp/pdf/tipsheets/Use-Herbs-and-Spices-Instead-of-Salt.pdf

Examples of Commercial Salt-Free Spice Blends

Bragg Organic Sprinkle Seasoning.
Ingredients: Rosemary, minced onion, minced garlic, granulated onion, dehydrated garlic, thyme, dried red bell pepper, dried carrot, dried tomato, black pepper, basil, extra virgin olive oil, dried parsley, dried tarragon, dehydrated lemon peel, dehydrated orange peel, apple cider vinegar, celery seed, dill seed, oregano, savory, sage, ground ginger, coriander, bay leaf, turmeric

* It is suggested for sprinkling on veggies, salads, fish, tempeh, poultry, popcorn, and more.

* Pros: All ingredients are organic and non-GMO. It also contains no additives, fillers, gluten, or preservatives.

* Cons: This blend contains oil and vinegar, both ingredients that some people prefer to omit from their diets for specific health reasons.

Dash (used to be Mrs. Dash) Original Seasoning Blend. Ingredients: Dried onion, spices (black pepper, parsley, celery seed, basil, bay, marjoram, oregano, savory, thyme, mustard, cumin, rosemary, cayenne pepper, coriander), dried garlic, dried carrots, dried orange peel, dried tomato, lemon juice powder, citric acid, oil of lemon

* It is suggested for chicken, burgers, eggs, vegetables, rice/vegetable mixtures, sauces, soups, and salads.

* Pros: This is a brand that has been available for many years (under the original name of Mrs. Dash), so it should be found at most grocery stores. Also, it contains no MSG.

* Cons: The blend contains lemon juice powder, which may or may not be a concern for some people. Manufacturers are allowed to omit ingredients that are in very small amounts. If the same lemon juice powder was used in this blend that was included in the Watkin’s brand listed below, rice maltodextrin may be in this blend, even though it may be in a very small amount. That may or may not be a concern for some people. Also, this mixture contains citric acid, which is often made from GMO corn. This may be a concern for some people who are trying to omit citric acid (or any source of a GMO product) from their diet.

Kinder’s No Salt Seasoning, Garlic & Herb. Ingredients: Potassium chloride, dehydrated garlic, spices, cane sugar, dehydrated onion, mushroom powder, maltodextrin, citric acid, yeast extract, sunflower oil, paprika, lemon juice concentrate, natural flavor

* This blend is suggested for chicken, pork, and seafood.

* Pros: It is sold at Walmart, so this brand should be readily available to many people.

* Cons: This spice blend contains potassium chloride, which may cause health problems in some people. It does not contain a list of the specific spices that are in the blend. This may cause a problem for some people, especially if they are reactive to certain spices. A complete disclosure of the spices in the blend would also be helpful for allowing chefs to be able to judge what foods it would flavor appropriately. Another ingredient that wasn’t found in other seasoning blends that is in this mixture is cane sugar. Many people are opting to avoid added sugars in their diet, so this ingredient may be unwelcomed in many kitchens. Maltodextrin, citric acid, yeast extract, and natural flavor are other ingredients that many people are deliberately avoiding for assorted health reasons. Furthermore, the lemon juice concentrate may have unwanted hidden ingredients that were not disclosed. In terms of ingredients, this blend has many strikes against it.

Lawry’s Salt-Free 17 Seasoning. Ingredients: Spices (including black pepper, celery seed, turmeric), garlic, onion, carrot, citric acid, toasted sesame seed, orange peel, red bell pepper, corn starch, and lemon peel

*  It is suggested for use on pasta, seafood, poultry, and beef.

* Pros: Lawry’s is a brand that most grocery stores carry, so this blend should be readily accessible. Also, it contains no MSG or artificial flavors.

* Cons: From the wording on the label, “Spices (including…),” it appears that some of their spice ingredients may not have been disclosed. This may be a problem for some people who are reactive to specific spices. Also, it contains citric acid and corn starch, which are commonly made from GMO corn. If you are avoiding genetically modified foods, this product should not be used.

McCormick Salt-Free Vegetable Seasoning
. Ingredients: Onion, garlic, spices (Including black pepper, thyme, basil), red bell pepper, tomato, corn maltodextrin, modified corn starch, sunflower oil, vinegar, parsley, citric acid, natural flavor and extractives of turmeric

* It is suggested for use on vegetables, salads, chicken, fish, eggs, rice, pasta, and vegetable dips.

* Pros: It is gluten-free.

* Cons: From the wording on the label, “Spices (including…),” it appears that some of their spice ingredients may not have been disclosed. This may be a problem for some people who are reactive to specific spices. Note that this blend contains corn, oil, vinegar, citric acid, and natural flavor. These are ingredients that some people prefer to omit from their diets for specific health reasons. If you fall into this category, this blend would not be your best option.

Simply Organic Spice Right Everyday Blends All-Purpose Salt-Free. Ingredients: Onion, garlic, black pepper, tomato, bell pepper, carrot, orange peel, celery, sage, rice concentrate, cumin, thyme, oregano, rosemary

* It is suggested for use on salads, side dishes, main dishes, and more.

* For Clarification Purposes: The only (very slightly) questionable ingredient in this blend is the “rice concentrate” and it’s really a matter of terminology. Rice concentrate is the fiber and silica portion of the outer layer of rice. It may also be called “rice hull.” It does not contain any of the rice kernel itself. It is used as an anti-caking agent to replace the synthetic silicon dioxide that is often used for this purpose. It is considered to be a clean label, natural, organic ingredient.

* Pros: All ingredients are organic, vegan, non-GMO, and Kosher.

* Cons: None.

Watkins Organic All-Purpose Seasoning Salt-Free. Ingredients: Dehydrated onion*, organic spices (black pepper*, parsley*, celery seed*, basil*, bay leaf*, marjoram*, oregano*, savory*, thyme*, cayenne pepper*, coriander*, cumin*, mustard*, rosemary*), dehydrated garlic*, dehydrated carrot*, dehydrated orange peel*, dehydrated tomato*, lemon juice powder* (rice maltodextrin*, lemon juice concentrate*, lemon oil*), citric acid. *Certified organic ingredients

* It is suggested for use on chicken, beef, vegetables, salads, or any favorite dish.

* Pros: All (except one) ingredients are certified as being organic. The blend is non-GMO Project Verified and kosher.

* Cons: The blend contains rice maltodextrin, an additive made from processed rice starch. Although this ingredient is considered to be safe by the food industry, it may or may not be an issue for some people. Also, the blend contains (not organic) citric acid, which may be a problem for some people. Avoid this blend if either of these additives are problems for you.

Samples of Homemade Salt-Free Spice Blends

No Salt Cajun Seasoning
2 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp dried thyme
2 Tbsp ground black pepper
¾ tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp paprika
Makes about 10 tablespoons

Salt-Free All-Purpose Seasoning Mix
2 Tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp mustard powder
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
Makes about 5 tablespoons

Italian Seasoning
3 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp dried marjoram
2 Tbsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 Tbsp dried sage
Makes 1/2 cup

Ranch Seasoning
2 Tbsp dried parsley
2 tsp dill weed
2 Tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp onion flakes
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp dried chives
1 tsp dried oregano
Pulse in a food processor until everything is combined. Makes about 7 tablespoons.

Curry Seasoning
3 Tbsp coriander
2 Tbsp cumin
2 Tbsp turmeric
1 tsp dried ground ginger
1 tsp dried mustard powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp red chili flakes
Combine well. Makes about 9 tablespoons.

Taco Seasoning
5 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp paprika
3 Tbsp cumin
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Makes about 3/4 cup

Pumpkin Spice
4 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp dried ground ginger
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
Makes about 1/3 cup

Chili Seasoning Mix
½ cup chili powder
¼ cup garlic powder
¼ cup cumin
3 Tbsp onion powder
2 Tbsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp dried thyme (optional)
Makes 1-1/2 cups of mix. One-fourth cup of mixture is equivalent to 1 packet of chili seasoning.

Herbs de Provence Mix
½ cup dried thyme
¼ cup dried marjoram
2 Tbsp rosemary leaf
2 Tbsp savory
1 tsp dried lavender flowers (optional)
2 tsp dried orange zest (optional)
1 tsp ground dried fennel
Lightly pulse the lavender flowers and orange zest in a food processor. Combine with the remaining ingredients. Makes about 1 cup.

Homemade Mrs. Dash
3 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 Tbsp dried marjoram
1 Tbsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 Tbsp dried savory
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp dried sage
1 Tbsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp dried lemon zest (optional)
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Makes about 3/4 cup

All-Purpose Seasoning
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1-1/2 tsp dried basil
1-1/2 tsp dried parsley
1-1/4 tsp dried savory
1-1/4 tsp ground thyme
1 tsp ground mace
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried sage
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
Makes about 4-1/2 tablespoons


Salt-Free Recipe Links

Ginger-Marinated Grilled Portobello Mushrooms https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/recipes/ginger-marinated-grilled-portobello-mushrooms/rcp-20049663

Roasted Potatoes with Garlic and Herbs https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/recipes/roasted-potatoes-with-garlic-and-herbs/rcp-20049702

Tomato Basil Bruschetta https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/recipes/tomato-basil-bruschetta/rcp-20049992

White Bean Dip https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/recipes/white-bean-dip/rcp-20049728

Fresh Fruit Kebabs https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/recipes/fresh-fruit-kebabs-with-lemon-lime-dip/rcp-20049779

Hummus https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/recipes/hummus/rcp-20049675

Rice and Beans Salad https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/recipes/rice-and-beans-salad/rcp-20049942

Southwestern Vegan Bowl https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/recipes/southwestern-vegan-bowl/rcp-20152941

Apple-Fennel Slaw https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/recipes/applefennel-slaw/rcp-20049776

Salad Greens with Squash https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/recipes/salad-greens-with-acorn-squash/rcp-20049920

Roasted Squash with Wild Rice and Cranberry https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/recipes/roasted-squash/rcp-20122247

Chicken Stir-Fry with Eggplant, Basil, and Ginger https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/recipes/chicken-stirfry-with-eggplant-and-basil/rcp-20049855

Mediterranean-Style Grilled Salmon https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/recipes/mediterraneanstyle-grilled-salmon/rcp-20049781

Nectarine Chicken Salad https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/nectarine-chicken-salad/

Low Sodium Overnight Spiced Oatmeal with Cranberries https://www.hackingsalt.com/low-sodium-overnight-spiced-oatmeal-with-cranberries/#.Y2rNZOTMJD9

Low Sodium Chicken Noodle Soup https://tastyhealthyheartrecipes.com/a-la-cart/soups/low-sodium-chicken-noodle-soup/#recipe

Low Sodium Spaghetti Sauce https://www.recipe-diaries.com/low-sodium-spaghetti-sauce/#tasty-recipes-15064

Black Bean Chili https://www.medicalmedium.com/blog/black-bean-chili



















































About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.