Author Archives: Judi

Green Beans

Green Beans 101 – The Basics

Most of us are familiar with green beans. They are enjoyed around the world and are a common staple in most food pantries. We treat green beans as a vegetable, but did you know they are actually legumes? Yes, they are! They are a VERY healthy addition to your plate, any time, practically any way you enjoy them.

Below is a comprehensive article covering all aspects of these delicious beans, from what they are to suggested recipe links. So, read on to learn more about green beans!

Enjoy!
Judi

Green Beans 101 – The Basics

About Green Beans
Green beans are a common food in America. They have different names, such as green beans, snaps, snap beans, and string beans. Whatever they’re called, they are the same food. They do have cousins that are very similar in flavor and structure, but are yellow, purple, or purple/beige in color. Furthermore, although we usually treat green beans as a vegetable, they are actually in the legume family. What distinguishes them from other beans is that they have edible pods with immature beans inside.

Green beans are native to North, South, and Central America. Over time, they were carried around the world and are now enjoyed in literally all cuisines. In America, green beans are grown commercially in a number of states, including Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, Florida, California, New York, Oregon, North Carolina, Delaware, and Pennsylvania.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Green Beans
Green beans are an excellent source of Vitamin K, and a very good source of manganese, Vitamin C, dietary fiber, folate, and Vitamin B2. They also contain a wide array of other nutrients including chlorophyll, making them a healthful food to include in the diet whenever we can. They also contain the mineral silicon, which is important for healthy bones, skin and hair. They also contain some protein, and are naturally low in sodium. Eating one cup of green beans, with a mere 44 calories, is almost like taking a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement!

Green beans are high in flavonoids, which are antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties. Such antioxidants have been found to reduce the development of blood clots. This in turn, can help to reduce the risk for cardiovascular diseases, heart attacks, and strokes.

A research study found that green bean consumption may help prevent pre-cancerous polyps that often lead to colon cancer. Further studies revealed that green bean intake can reduce the recurrence of cancerous adenomas and colorectal cancer.

Green beans may also help to control blood sugar levels in diabetics. A study at the Central Food Technological Research Institute in India found that green beans are one of the vegetables known to have a definitive hypoglycemic influence on patients with diabetes.

The flavonoids and antioxidants in green beans have shown to be helpful in boosting the immune system and protecting our eyes from macular degeneration. Other health benefits from green beans include improved bone health and prevention of osteoporosis through their Vitamin K and select minerals, protecting us from and treating gastrointestinal issues through their fiber content, and improving fertility among women and protecting infants from neural tube defects through its folic acid content. There are plenty of reasons to eat more green beans!

Note that green beans do contain a lot of Vitamin K. If you take blood thinning medications it is important not to change the types and amounts of foods you eat routinely as it may affect the level of medications you need. Check with your doctor if you decide to suddenly eat a lot more green beans then you usually do.

Also, green beans do contain a low amount of phytic acid and lectins (in lower amounts than other beans) which may cause issues for some people. Therefore it is advisable to eat them cooked, rather than raw.

How to Select Fresh Green Beans
When buying fresh green beans, look for ones that are smooth and firm with a bright green color. Avoid those with brown spots and bruises. Their firm texture should provide a “snap” when broken.

How to Store Fresh Green Beans
Store unwashed fresh green beans in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Depending upon their age, they can keep for up to a week. However, when purchasing fresh green beans at the grocery store, the picked date will probably not be on the bag. Therefore, it is best to use them as quickly as possible, within a few days.

How to Freeze Green Beans
Wash your fresh beans in cold water. Snip off the ends and cut them into desired lengths, usually 2 to 4-inches long. Steam the beans or water blanch them (in boiling water) for 2 to 3 minutes. Immediately transfer the beans to a bowl of ice water and allow them to cool for another 2 to 3 minutes. Drain them, then package your prepared beans in freezer bags or containers. For best quality, use them within 6 months. However, they will be edible beyond that time frame.

Here is a video I prepared on how to freeze fresh green beans https://youtu.be/8Y-ra7zuSpE

Fresh vs Frozen vs Canned vs. Dried Green Beans
Fresh. With our modern transportation systems, fresh green beans are available most of the time in many grocery stores in America. They are delicious, crisp, colorful, and can be prepared any way you want. They are a wonderful option, but do be sure you have the time to prepare them soon after purchasing or you may be tossing them out. Depending upon their age, they may or may not last very long in the refrigerator.

Frozen. Frozen green beans are a convenient staple food to have stocked in your freezer. They have already been blanched, so they can be used with little preparation. They still have their bright green color as do the fresh beans, and their nutritional value is high since they are usually processed shortly after being harvested. Unless they are to be included in a soup or stew, cook them in as little water as possible for best nutrient retention. For best quality and nutritional value, use frozen green beans within 6 months (within 3 months is even better) of purchase. They are edible beyond that, but their quality may decline with age.

Canned. Canned green beans are a good staple food to have in the pantry when time is short and in case of emergencies, especially when power is lost. The beans can be eaten right from the can, if necessary. Many people prefer canned green beans because they have a softer texture than the frozen variety. But, if you prefer your beans to be crisp-tender, the canned option may not be your favorite. Their color is duller than fresh or frozen green beans, which may or may not be appealing. They may also have added salt and other ingredients that may be a concern to you. Drain, then rinse your canned green beans to reduce the sodium content. Some brands now carry green beans canned without added salt, which is helpful to those following a low-sodium diet.

Dried. Dehydrated green beans are carried by a number of retailers that specialize in food for long-term storage. They are a good staple food to have in your pantry for extended emergencies and power outages. They simply need to be rehydrated by adding them to a bowl with some water. Given a little time, they will rehydrate and be ready to use. From the dried state, they can also be added to soups and stews, and even be eaten as a snack, like popcorn. The nutritional value of dehydrated vegetables holds up well and they can keep in a cool, dry, dark pantry for years.

How to Prepare Fresh Green Beans
Fresh green beans are simple to prepare. Just rinse them in fresh water, remove the ends, and then cut them into desired lengths. They can then be boiled, blanched, stir-steamed, steamed, included into soups, stews, and casseroles, or used in any recipe calling for green beans.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Green Beans
Green beans are a staple food in most homes. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, doing the same thing all the time with the same foods. Here are some suggestions to help spark you into doing something different once in a while with green beans.

* Keep things simple when you’re in a hurry. Quickly blanch some fresh green beans for 2 or 3 minutes, remove them from the boiling water and toss in a little butter, lemon zest, a sprinkle of salt and some lemon juice.

* Quickly sauté some green beans in butter, olive oil, or vegetable stock along with some onions, tarragon, thyme, parsley, and chives. Remove when crisp-tender and sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds, if desired.

* Blanch or steam green beans then toss them with grape tomatoes and balsamic vinegar.

* Sauté some green beans with onions and mushrooms. Top with sour cream or cashew cream.

* Sauté some green beans with onions and garlic in butter, oil, or vegetable stock. Top with balsamic vinegar, a pinch of sugar, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste.

* Green beans go well with tomatoes. When in a pinch for time, top some cooked green beans with a little tomato sauce. Sprinkle with some Parmesan cheese, if desired.

* Serve cooked green beans with clementine or mandarin orange slices. Top with a mixture of orange juice, a little orange zest, a pinch of cardamom, and a touch of balsamic vinegar.

* Add some blanched or steamed green beans to your favorite salad.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well with Green Beans
Basil, capers, cayenne, chervil, cilantro, cumin, curry powder, dill, garlic, ginger, marjoram, mint, mustard, nutmeg, oregano, parsley, pepper, rosemary, salt, savory, tarragon, thyme, turmeric

Foods That Go Well with Green Beans
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, bacon, beans (in general), beef, cashews, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, fish, lentils, nuts (in general), peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pork, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, shrimp, sunflower seeds, tempeh, tofu, turkey, walnuts

Vegetables: Arugula, bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chili peppers, chives, cucumbers, fennel, greens, kale, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, okra, onions, potatoes, scallions, shallots, spinach, tomatoes, watercress, yellow squash, zucchini

Fruits: Coconut, lemon, lime, olives, orange

Grains and Grain Products: Barley, corn, kasha (buckwheat), millet, quinoa, rice (i.e. brown, wild), risotto

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, cheese (i.e. cheddar, Gorgonzola, mozzarella, Parmesan, pecorino, Swiss), cream, crème fraiche, ghee

Other Foods: Honey, maple syrup, miso, oil (esp. olive, peanut, sesame, and walnut), pesto, soy sauce, stock, vinegar (esp. balsamic, cider, red wine, sherry, tarragon), teriyaki sauce

Green beans have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Casseroles, French cuisine, Indian cuisine, pasta dishes, pilafs, salads, soups, stews, stir-fries, succotash

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Green Beans
Add green beans to any of the following combinations…

Almonds + lemon
Garlic + lemon
Garlic + nuts (i.e. pine nuts, walnuts), olive oil
Herbs (i.e. parsley, rosemary) + nuts (i.e. pistachios, walnuts) + shallots
Honey + lemon + mustard
Lemon + pine nuts
Mustard + potatoes + tarragon
Onions + tomatoes

Recipe Links
Green Beans with Tomatoes (Judi in the Kitchen video) https://youtu.be/GvTyb5ixIyE

Easy Steamed Green Beans (Judi in the Kitchen video) https://youtu.be/kiXVxSrbYGI

Fermented Green Beans and Carrots (Judi in the Kitchen video) https://youtu.be/LbkEqqmApzg

Green Beans with Garlic and Lemon (Using Frozen Beans) (Judi in the Kitchen video) https://youtu.be/HGYpQ1un0Oo

Easy Fresh Green Beans with Garlic and Lemon (Judi in the Kitchen video) https://youtu.be/yoe0F6WjrnA

Easy Green Beans with Mushrooms (Judi in the Kitchen video) https://youtu.be/utFqKY4izv8

Dehydrate or Freeze Fresh Green Beans (Judi in the Kitchen video) https://youtu.be/kA0AiYmqyGA

How to Freeze Green Beans (Judi in the Kitchen video) https://youtu.be/8Y-ra7zuSpE

Fast, Delicious Green Beans with Tomatoes (Judi in the Kitchen video) https://youtu.be/8a8CgmIGgMc

Spring Vegetable Salad with Mint Pesto https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/spring_vegetable_salad_with_mint_pesto/

Green Bean Salad with Lemon and Dill https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/green_bean_salad_with_lemon_and_dill/

Balsamic Green Beans with Pearl Onions https://www.southernliving.com/recipes/balsamic-green-beans-with-pearl-onions-recipe

Lemony Green Bean Pasta Salad https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/lemony-green-bean-pasta-salad

Penne with Green Beans and Tomatoes https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/penne-green-beans-tomatoes

Caramelized Spicy Green Beans https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/caramelized-spicy-green-beans

Marinated Bean Salad http://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=131

Fennel Green Beans http://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=173

7-Minute “Quick Steamed” Green Beans http://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=321

Healthy Green Bean Casserole http://www.hummusapien.com/healthy-green-bean-casserole-vegan/

Sticky Sesame Green Beans https://www.dawnjacksonblatner.com/recipes/sticky-sesame-green-beans/

Resources
https://producemadesimple.ca/what-goes-well-with-green-beans/

http://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=134#descr

https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/green-beans#buying

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/285753.php#benefits

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/green-beans.html

Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia. (1993) So Easy to Preserve. 3rd edition. Athens, GA: Cooperative Extension Service.

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.

Black-Eyed Peas

Black-Eyed Peas 101 – The Basics

Black-eyed peas are a delicious legume that is popular in the American South (among other places around the world). If you’re not familiar with them, you’re missing out! Below is a comprehensive article all about black-eyed peas, from what they are to suggested recipe links. If you haven’t tried them before, I urge you to at least give them a try sometime with any recipe that sounds like a “go” for you and your family. I doubt you’ll regret it!

Enjoy!
Judi

Black-Eyed Peas 101 – The Basics

About Black-Eyed Peas
Despite their name, black-eyed peas (Vigna unguiculata) are actually a type of shelling bean in the cowpea family. Their pods can be up to two feet long. Black-eyed peas are native to Asia and Africa and have been cultivated since about 3,000 BC. According to early records, black-eyed peas were brought to the West Indies by West African slaves, then onward to America. They were originally used as food for livestock, but became a staple in the slaves’ diet. The fields were left untouched by northern soldiers who saw no value in the crops, so they became an important food for the Confederate South in America.

Black-eyed peas are still a staple in Southern (American) foods where they are commonly served with deep leafy vegetables such as collard or turnip greens. In the South, it’s customary to eat black-eyed peas and greens on New Year’s Day for good health and wealth in the New Year.

Black-eyed peas have a kidney shape and are white with a black eye in the center. The black “eye” forms where the pea attaches to its pod. They have a creamy texture and a flavor all their own, that can be described as nutty, earthy, and savory.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
As with all legumes, black-eyed peas are a healthful addition to the diet. One cup of cooked black-eyed peas has 160 calories, negligible fat, and 5 grams of protein. That same one cup also has substantial amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, folate, and Vitamins A and K. They are also a very good source of soluble fiber which is known to help lower cholesterol thereby warding off heart disease.

Folate. One cup of cooked black-eyed peas provides more than half of our daily folate needs. This crucial B-vitamin is not only important in preventing anemia, but is also critical for pregnant women in ensuring their offspring are not born with neural tube defects (spinal and brain issues).

Manganese. One cup of cooked black-eyed peas also provides roughly half of our daily needs for manganese. This mineral is a valuable antioxidant that helps to protect cellular structures from damage. It is also used in the formation of cartilage and the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

Vitamin A (Beta-Carotene). One cup of cooked black-eyed peas provides a substantial amount of Vitamin A by way of its beta-carotene content. This important vitamin is critical for proper eye function and also skin health. It also is utilized in the maintenance of our mucous membranes in the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, helping to protect the body from invading pathogens. Vitamin A is also critical in the proper functioning of our immune system protecting us from pathogens that have entered the bloodstream.

All things considered, black-eyed peas are a very healthful food to include in your diet when you can. Their nutrient content can help to lower the risk of diabetes, improve blood pressure, decrease blood lipid levels thereby lowering the risk of heart disease, and reduce inflammation. All from a humble black-eyed pea!

How to Select Fresh Black-Eyed Peas
If you plan to shell the peas yourself, look for pods that appear fresh and tender. Avoid those that look dried out, blemished or moldy.

If you are shopping for fresh peas that have already been shelled, choose ones that look fresh and tender. Avoid those that look dry, wrinkly, or show signs of age and starting to spoil.

How to Store Fresh Black-Eyed Peas
Freshly harvested black-eyed peas are highly perishable and have a short shelf life. Unshelled peas should be kept in a cool, humid place (at 45°F to 50°F) for no more than 3 to 4 days after harvest. They should be shelled and cooked or frozen as soon as possible after being purchased.

Shelled, uncooked peas may be kept in the refrigerator in a covered container or plastic bag for no more than 7 days. Once cooked, black-eye peas should be stored in the refrigerator in a covered container and used within 3 to 5 days.

How to Prepare Fresh Black-Eyed Peas
Rinse the pods to remove any debris. Slim, very young black-eyed peas can be eaten in their pods, like green beans. The more mature peas should be removed from their pods before being cooked. To do that, gently squeeze the pod so it will separate at the seam. If that does not work, you can carefully cut along the seam with a knife. Allow the peas to drop into a bowl or container. Discard the pods. Rinse and drain the peas.

If your fresh peas have already been shelled, place them in a bowl of cold water and sort through them. Remove any damaged peas or those that have an off color. Drain the peas and rinse/drain them again until the water is clear and free of debris. Cook them right away, if possible. If you can’t cook them immediately, place them in a covered container in the refrigerator and cook them as soon as possible.

If the peas are to be cooked and eaten right away, they will need to be boiled in broth or water until tender. This takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending upon how tender you like them. The cooking liquid may or may not be used in your dish, depending on the recipe and personal preferences.

If the peas are to be frozen, they will need to be blanched first. See the section (below) on “How to Freeze Fresh Black-Eyed Peas” for instructions.

How to Freeze Fresh Black-Eyed Peas
Rinse the pods to remove any debris, then remove the peas from the pods. To do that, gently squeeze the pod so it will separate at the seam. If that does not work, you can carefully cut along the seam with a knife. Allow the peas to drop into a bowl or container. Rinse and drain the peas. Rinse/drain them again until the water is clear. Discard the pods and any immature, over-mature, or damaged peas. Bring a large pot of water to boil and boil the peas for 2 minutes. Immediately transfer the peas to a bowl of ice water and allow them to cool for 2 minutes. Drain well and spread the peas out on a tray and blot dry with a paper towel. Place the tray in the freezer and allow the peas to freeze. Transfer the frozen peas to a freezer bag or container. Label with the date and return the peas to the freezer.

Alternatively, you could place your boiled, cooled and drained peas to a freezer bag, and lay the bag flat in the freezer. It will be helpful to move the bag occasionally as they freeze to avoid having them all frozen into one big lump.

For best quality, use your frozen peas within 6 months. They will be safe to eat beyond that, but the quality may deteriorate.

Fresh vs Dried vs Canned Black-Eyed Peas
Fresh. Fresh black-eyed peas are not commonly found in grocery stores. In areas where they are grown, they may be found at farmers’ markets or roadside stands. Other than that, they would be hard to come by in areas where they are not grown. So, most people don’t have fresh peas as an option.

Dried. Most grocery stores carry dried black-eyed peas year-round. They are a staple pantry item for many people and will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for 2 to 3 years. They are edible beyond that, although their quality may deteriorate. Since they have been shelled and soaking/cooking them is not a difficult process, dried black-eyed peas are a good item to keep in your food supply.

Canned. Canned black-eyed peas are found in most grocery stores. Their flavor and texture are comparable to dried peas that have been fully cooked. Some varieties are already seasoned. They are truly a convenience food in that they are ready to eat simply by opening the can and rinsing them, if desired. Canned black-eyed peas are an excellent option to keep in the pantry, especially in case of emergencies when there is a power outage.

How to Prepare Dried Black-Eyed Peas
Dried black-eyed peas can be prepared the same way you would prepare any dried bean or pea. First rinse and sort through the beans, removing any stones or other debris, and damaged peas. They should be “quick soaked” or “overnight soaked” first before being cooked. This is an important step because it reduces the compounds that can cause gas and bloating in some people when beans/peas are eaten.

Quick Soak Method: After the peas are rinsed and sorted, place them in a large pot of water. Bring everything to a rapid boil, and boil for 2 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, cover with a lid, and allow the peas to sit in the hot water for 1 hour. Drain the soak water and rinse the peas. Then cook the peas by covering them with cold water in a large pot. Bring to a gentle boil, then lower the heat to simmer with the lid tilted. Allow them to cook until they reach the desired tenderness. This can take anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 hours, depending upon how tender you like them and how fast the water is boiling. See the “Important!” note below.

Overnight Soak Method: After the peas are rinsed and sorted, place them in a large pot of cold water. Cover the pot and let the peas soak overnight or at least 6 to 8 hours. Drain the soak water and rinse the peas. Then cook the peas by covering them with cold water in a large pot. Bring to a gentle boil, then lower the heat to simmer with the lid tilted. Allow them to cook until they reach the desired tenderness. This can take anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 hours, depending upon how tender you like them and how fast the water is boiling. See the “Important!” note below.

Important! When cooking dried peas or beans, do not add salt or any type of acid (such as lemon juice or vinegar) to the water early in the cooking process. This will cause the skins of the peas to toughen and they will not soften up like expected, even with extended cooking time. Save adding salt until they have already started to become tender. Add any acid at the end of cooking time, because adding it early can cause it to turn bitter.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Black-Eyed Peas
Here are some tips and ideas for using black-eyed peas…

* When cooking dried black-eyed peas after they have been soaked, do not add salt to the water early in the cooking process. When added early, the salt will cause the outer skin of the peas to toughen, making it hard to get them to soften as they cook. Add salt toward the end of cooking after the peas have already started to soften, or save the salt until the peas are used in a specific dish.

* When cooking dried black-eyed peas after they have been soaked, do not add any acid (such as lemon juice or vinegar) to the cooking water early in the cooking process. The acid will turn bitter when added too early. Wait until the peas are fully cooked, then drizzle them with a little acid of choice for flavoring.

* If you like the convenience of canned peas, but don’t want the additives found in canned foods, try buying dried peas, soaking and cooking them completely (or almost completely), and freezing them. You’ll have whatever amount of peas you need without added salt, etc., ready to go whenever you need them.

* Make a black-eye pea salad with peas, chopped tomatoes, corn, onion, avocado, bell pepper, cilantro and your favorite Italian dressing.

* Finely chop the vegetables (for the salad above), add a little cumin along with the salad dressing and turn it into a salsa.

* Make a black-eyed pea dip by blending black-eye peas with garlic, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Add a little sugar to sweeten the mix just a bit.

* Make a “sloppy Joe” type of mixture by sautéing (in oil or vegetable stock) some onion, garlic, bell pepper and carrots until tender. Stir in cooked black-eyed peas, some cooked grain of choice (i.e. rice, millet, couscous), Cajun seasoning (or a mix of paprika, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, cayenne, garlic and onion powder), and 2 or 3 tablespoons of tomato paste. Add more vegetable broth for liquid as needed. Serve as-is, on toasted buns, or on a bed of cooked grain.

* Enjoy a traditional Southern (American) dish by serving cooked black-eyed peas on a bed of cooked grain (rice), with a side of deep leafy greens, and a slice of cornbread.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well with Black-Eyed Peas
Allspice, basil, bay leaf, cilantro, coriander, cumin, dill, garlic, ginger, marjoram, oregano, parsley, pepper, sage, salt, thyme

Foods That Go Well with Black-Eyed Peas
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, and Seeds: Bacon, beans (in general), black beans, chicken, eggs, fish, ham, kidney beans, pork, poultry, and tahini

Vegetables: Arugula, bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, celery, chard (Swiss), chiles, greens (bitter; i.e. collards, mustard, turnip greens), mushrooms, onions, potatoes, scallions, shallots, spinach, tomatoes

Fruits: Lemon, olives, tamarind

Grains and Grain Products: Barley, corn, corn bread, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, cheese (i.e. feta), coconut butter, coconut milk, cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Agave nectar, barbecue sauce, capers, oil (i.e. olive, safflower, sunflower), tamari, vinegar (i.e. apple cider, balsamic)

Black-eyed peas have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
African cuisine, burritos, Cajun cuisine, Caribbean cuisine, casseroles, chili (vegetarian), Creole cuisine, dips, gumbo, hummus, Indian cuisine, salads (i.e. bean, green, Hoppin’ John, tomato), soul food, soups, Southern (US) cuisine, stews, succotash, “Texas caviar”

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Black-Eyed Peas
Combine black-eyed peas with any of the following combinations…

Bell peppers + celery + onions
Brown rice + onions
Coconut milk + sticky rice
Corn + dill
Feta cheese + tomatoes
Garlic + greens
Onions + tomatoes
Pumpkin + rice

Recipe Links
Hoppin’ John https://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/hoppin-john/

Avocado Black-Eyed Pea Salad https://www.callmepmc.com/avocado-black-eyed-pea-salad/

Avocado Black-Eyed Pea Salsa https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/213030/avocado-and-black-eyed-pea-salsa/

Black-Eyed Pea Salad with Avocado and Jalapeno https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/black-eyed-pea-salad-with-avocado-and-jalapeno/

Southwestern Black-Eyed Pea Salad https://www.shelikesfood.com/southwestern-black-eyed-pea-salad/

Avocado and Black-Eyed Pea Salsa https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/avocado-and-black-eyed-pea-salsa-53032281

Cowboy Caviar https://www.culinaryhill.com/cowboy-caviar-recipe/#wprm-recipe-container-26521

Black-Eyed Pea Casserole with Cornbread Crust https://www.rachaelhartleynutrition.com/blog/2015/12/black-eyed-pea-and-greens-casserole-with-cornbread-crust

Black-Eyed Pea Hummus https://www.gritsandpinecones.com/black-eyed-pea-hummus/#wprm-recipe-container-19643

Lucky and Spicy Black-Eyed Pea Salad Recipe http://www.vietworldkitchen.com/blog/2010/12/spicy-black-eyed-pea-salad-recipe.html

Zannie’s Black-Eyed Pea Dip https://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/zannies-black-eyed-pea-dip/

Southern Black-Eyed Peas (Vegan) https://healthiersteps.com/recipe/southern-black-eyed-peas-vegan/

Vegan Black-Eyed Peas https://www.thespruceeats.com/vegetarian-black-eyed-peas-1001609

Creole Black-Eyed Peas https://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2008/01/creole-black-eyed-peas.html

Black-Eyed Peas with a Healthy Twist https://www.justapinch.com/recipes/side/other-side-dish/black-eyed-peas-with-a-healthy-twist.html

Black-Eyed Peas with Bacon and Pork https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/patrick-and-gina-neely/black-eyed-peas-with-bacon-and-pork-recipe-1920605

Black-Eyed Pea Salad https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/patrick-and-gina-neely/black-eyed-pea-salad-recipe-1910721

Resources
http://www.foodreference.com/html/fblackeyedpea.html

https://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Black_Eye_Peas_6584.php

https://foodcombo.com/find-recipes-by-ingredients/black-eyed-peas

https://www.stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/16567

https://www.latimes.com/food/la-xpm-2012-sep-15-la-fo-rosh-hashanah-rec1-20120915-story.html

https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/health-benefits-blackeyed-peas-4253.html

https://www.livestrong.com/article/414892-health-benefits-of-black-eyed-peas/

https://cookforgood.com/how-to-shell-fresh-black-eyed-peas-and-field-peas/

https://www.aces.edu/blog/topics/food-safety/fresh-from-the-farm-alabama-recipes-fresh-black-eyed-peas-and-other-southern-peas-best-vinaigrette-for-pea-salad/

Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia. (1993) So Easy to Preserve. 3rd edition. Athens, GA: Cooperative Extension Service.

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.

Zucchini with Italian Herbs and Tomatoes

Zucchini with Italian Herbs and Tomatoes

Yes, we know that zucchini are seasonal to the warmer months. But due to our modern wonders, most grocery stores carry this delicious fruit (although we treat it as a vegetable) year-round. Hence, I eat it any time of year and was sparked to develop the delicious recipe below.

With my heritage being Italian, I gravitate toward herbs commonly used in Mediterranean cooking. Hence this dish. It’s delicious to me and I hope it is to you too! Below is a video link showing how this dish is made. You can spiralize your zucchini or simply cut it into bite-size pieces. The recipe accommodates either way you choose to cut it up. The written recipe is below the video link.

Enjoy!
Judi

Zucchini with Italian Herbs and Tomatoes
Makes 2 to 4 Servings
(Depending on Size of Squash and Servings)

This recipe can EASILY be increased based on your needs. The amount of zucchini is flexible based on the size of the fruit. Adjust seasonings and amount of tomatoes to your liking. Enjoy!

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil*
1/3 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium zucchini, spiralized or cut into bite-size pieces (about 3 cups zoodles or pieces)
1/2 tsp EACH of dried basil, parsley, and oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
10 grape tomatoes, cut in half
Juice of ½ lemon
Grated Parmesan cheese, optional topping

Heat a skillet over just above medium heat. Add the oil and onion. Sauté the onion for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the garlic and sauté 1 more minute. Add the zucchini, herbs, salt, and pepper. Sauté the vegetables only 1 to 2 minutes, until the zucchini just starts to soften. (If using cut zucchini, they may need just a little more time to cook, to your preferred amount of tenderness.) Remove from heat and add the grape tomatoes. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Drizzle with lemon juice. Toss to combine. Top with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired, and serve immediately.

*If preferred, you can sauté the vegetables in a little vegetable stock or water (start with 2 or 3 tablespoons and add small amounts as needed). But be careful not to add too much, as the zucchini will release liquid as it cooks and can easily become soggy if there is too much liquid in the pan.

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.

 

Green Peas

Green Peas 101 – The Basics

Green peas (also known as English peas, garden peas, and sweet peas) are a food most of us are familiar with. We either love them or hate them. BUT, I’d speculate that if you have a hate-affair with peas, it’s because you were always fed the canned variety when you grew up and you weren’t allowed to leave the table until you ate your peas. Right?? Well, if that’s the case, let me urge you to give them another try! But this time, try the frozen variety, and don’t cook them to death. They’re sweet, nourishing, and have a totally different flavor and texture than the canned peas! AND you can eat frozen peas without cooking them at all! To me, that’s the most tasty way to eat them.

Below is a comprehensive article all about green peas, from what they are to their health benefits, to what goes with them, to suggested recipe links. Hopefully you’ll find what information you need below.

Enjoy!
Judi

Green Peas 101 – The Basics

About Green Peas
Peas are members of the legume family, but they are commonly sold and cooked as vegetables. Other members of this same family include lentils, chickpeas, and beans that are commonly sold as dried beans. There are three types of peas that are commonly eaten, green peas (also called garden peas, English peas, or sweet peas) (Pisum sativum), snow peas ((Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon) and snap peas (Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon ser. cv.). This article focuses only on green peas.

Green peas have rounded pods that are usually slightly curved with a smooth texture and vibrant green color. Inside of them are green rounded pea seeds that are starchy with a sweet flavor. The pods of green peas are not edible.

The modern-day green pea is thought to have originated from a field pea in central Asia and the Middle East. The history of green peas dates back thousands of years and is thought to be among the first crops cultivated by mankind. Peas are now grown around the world and are used in both the fresh and dry forms. Canada is now the world’s largest producer of peas, growing about 3 million tons per year. A lot of peas are also grown in France, China, Russia and India.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Green Peas
Being a legume that is commonly used as a vegetable, green peas have slightly more calories than a typical vegetable. Yet, they are still fairly low, with 62 calories in a one-half cup serving. Most of the calories (70%) come from carbohydrates, with the rest provided by protein and a small amount of fat. A one-half cup serving of green peas provides a substantial amount of Vitamins A, K, C, and E, thiamine, folate, manganese, iron, phosphorus, zinc, and fiber. Since peas are actually legumes, they have more protein than most vegetables. For example, they have four times the protein of carrots.

Despite their carbohydrate content, green peas have a relatively low glycemic index. Their protein and fiber content have been shown to help control blood sugar level, reducing the risk for diabetes and heart disease.

The fiber in green peas has shown to help lower the risk of bowel conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and even colon cancer. The fiber in peas, combined with their abundant minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium help to protect us from heart disease by lowering total and LDL cholesterol.

The humble green pea is loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients. These special compounds, combined with the other nutrients found in green peas, make them especially helpful in warding off heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Antinutrients. Despite their healthful qualities, green peas also contain some antinutrients that can prevent the absorption of certain minerals within the peas. They contain phytic acid which can bind to the iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium within the peas, blocking our ability to absorb them. They also contain lectins which can cause gas and bloating in some people, and may interfere with nutrient absorption. The amount of lectins and phytic acid in green peas is lower than that in other legumes and usually does not cause a problem in most people. However, cooking, sprouting, or fermenting foods deactivates most of the lectins. So, it is best not to eat green peas raw, especially if this is a concern to you. Phytic acid should not be a problem in small amounts and has actually been shown to have beneficial effects such as killing cancer cells and warding off kidney stones by preventing oxalates from forming them. So, the best way to ward off any problems associated with phytic acid and lectins in green peas is to ferment, sprout or cook them first and keep serving sizes reasonable. Since frozen peas have been blanched in boiling water, eating frozen and thawed green peas should present no health problem. A one-third to one-half cup serving size of cooked, sprouted, or fermented green peas should present little to no issue for most people.

Selecting Fresh Green Peas
Only about 5% of green peas grown are sold as fresh. The remaining are either frozen or canned. When selecting fresh green peas, they will very likely still be within their pods. Choose pods that are firm and smooth with a bright medium green color. Avoid pods with colors that are very light, very dark, yellowish, whitish, or speckled. Make sure they have no mildew on them and are not water-soaked. Check to be sure they have fully developed peas inside by giving them a gentle shake. If they have a slight rattle, they are full of peas. Fresh green peas are very perishable and should be used within three days of purchasing them. Fresh green peas are usually available from spring up to early winter months.

Fresh vs Frozen vs Canned Green Peas
Fresh. Since fresh green peas will not keep for long, be sure you have the time to prepare them when making your purchase. The pods are not edible, but the peas may be eaten raw, although cooking them is best. So they must be shelled first no matter how you opt to eat them. Unless you grow them yourself, know a local gardener, or have a farmer’s market nearby, fresh green peas are rarely available in local grocery stores, so they are not readily available.

Frozen. Frozen green peas have a bright green color, a delicious mild flavor, and a slight texture when eaten. They have already been shelled and blanched, so they can simply be thawed and added to a salad, and eaten just as they are. They can be added while frozen to stir-fries, soups, or other cooked dishes right out of the bag. Serving them as a side dish involves only brief cooking time, so frozen peas are often the preferred choice of many cooks. Frozen green peas are available in just about any grocery store, so this variety is readily available year-round. Frozen green peas are easy to use since they can be thawed and eaten just as they are. Or they can be easily cooked in very little time, so they are a very convenient food to include on your menu.

Canned. When compared with the frozen option, the color of canned green peas is much duller, the flavor is stronger, and the texture is soft. Most varieties of canned green peas have salt added to them which may or may not be an issue of concern. Most people prefer the flavor and texture of frozen green peas over canned. Nevertheless, canned green peas are a good staple food to have available in the pantry in case of emergencies or power outages.

How to Store Fresh Green Peas
Green peas should be used as quickly as possible after harvesting. So, if you are able to get freshly harvested green peas, they should be shelled and used or frozen as soon as possible. This is because their flavor declines quickly after being harvested, with their natural sugars turning to starch.

Store fresh green peas in perforated plastic bags in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator with the slider vent closed to help keep them moist. Use them or freeze them within 3 days. They may become soft and turn brown if kept too long.

How to Shell Fresh Green Peas
First, rinse the pods under running water to remove any loose debris. Snap off the top and bottom ends of the pod and gently pull the “string” that runs along the seam of the pod. If there is no “string”, gently cut the pod open along the seam, being careful not to cut into the peas inside. Gently open the pod to remove the seeds (peas). The peas do not need to be washed since they were encased in their pods. The peas can then be cooked or blanched for freezing.

How to Freeze Green Peas
To freeze fresh green peas, wash and remove the peas from the pods. Discard the pods. Blanch the shelled peas in boiling water for 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 minutes. Immediately remove the peas from the boiling water and place them in a bowl of ice water. Allow them to chill for the same amount of time they were in the boiling water (1-1/2 to 2-1/2 minutes). Drain them well and place them on a tray. Carefully pat them dry with a paper towel, then place the tray in the freezer until the peas are completely frozen. Transfer the frozen peas to freezer bags or containers. Label them with the current date and use them within 1 year for best quality.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Green Peas
Try to keep a bag of frozen green peas in the freezer for easy additions to meals. Here are some quick ideas on ways to use them…

* Add fresh cooked or frozen/thawed green peas to a green salad for a sweet flavor, protein and nutrition boost.

* Make a green pea hummus/dip and serve with fresh vegetables, chips, bread, or toast.

* Make an easy green pea pesto by blending: 1 bag of frozen/thawed green peas, a handful of mint leaves, grated Parmesan cheese (to taste), 1 or 2 garlic cloves, and black pepper to taste. Add a little olive oil through the tube as it’s blending and thin the mixture with some fresh lemon juice. Spread the pesto on toasted bread and top with ricotta cheese. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within a few days.

* Make a quick pea, tomato and parsley salad by tossing thawed (and warmed, if desired) green peas with chopped fresh tomatoes and parsley. Season with your favorite oil/vinegar mixture or other salad dressing.

* Toss lightly cooked (or frozen/thawed) green peas with cooked couscous, quinoa, rice or other grain or choice. Sprinkle with lemon juice, lemon zest, and chopped tarragon. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Give it a quick toss and it’s ready to serve.

* Add frozen/thawed (and warmed, if desired) green peas to your favorite mashed potatoes for a sweet, colorful addition and nutrition boost.

* Make an easy pea soup by placing a bag of frozen peas into a pot. Cover (by about ½-inch) with vegetable stock. Boil the peas in the broth until they are tender, adding in a generous amount of your favorite herbs such as dill or chives. Blend or puree the mixture, then top with cashew cream, sour cream, or a splash of heavy cream.

* Add some thawed green peas to your favorite pasta dish for added sweetness and protein.

* Add some thawed green peas to your favorite macaroni and cheese dish for color, flavor and added protein.

* Add some green peas, along with some sautéed garlic and onion to polenta for an easy side dish. Sprinkle with a little cheese for added flavor.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well with Green Peas
Allspice, basil, bay leaf, cardamom, chervil, cilantro, coriander, curry powder, dill, garam masala, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, marjoram, mint, nutmeg, oregano, parsley, pepper, rosemary, saffron, sage, salt, savory, sorrel, tarragon, thyme, turmeric

Foods That Go Well with Green Peas
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (fava), beef, cashews, chicken, eggs, fish, pork, sesame seeds, shrimp, tofu, turkey

Vegetables: Artichokes, asparagus, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chiles, chives, cucumbers, fennel, greens (bitter), leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, scallions, snow peas, spinach, squash (winter), sugar snap peas, tomatoes, turnips

Fruits: Avocados, grapefruit, lemon, lime

Grains and Grain Products: Barley, breadcrumbs, bulgur, couscous, noodles, pasta, quinoa, rice, spelt

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, buttermilk, cheese (esp. feta, goat, mozzarella, Parmesan, ricotta), coconut milk, cream, crème fraiche, ghee, sour cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Mayonnaise, oil (esp. olive, peanut, sesame, sunflower), pesto, soy sauce, stock, vinegar

Green peas have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Casseroles, curries, guacamole, hummus, paellas (vegetarian), pasta dishes, pesto, risottos, salads (pasta, vegetable), sauces, soups (pea, spinach, vegetable), stews, stir-fries

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Green Peas
Add green peas to any of the following combinations…

Almonds + grapefruit + thyme
Artichokes + oregano + snap peas
Arugula + potatoes
Buttermilk + mint + olive oil + scallions
Carrots + mushrooms
Coconut + coriander
Dill + mint
Garlic + mint + spinach
Ginger + sesame oil
Lime + mint + paprika
Mint + ricotta cheese
Mushrooms + pasta
Pasta + ricotta cheese

Recipe Links
English Peas with Mint https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/english-peas-with-mint-232121

10 Things to do with Frozen Peas https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/article/10-things-to-do-with-frozen-peas

Minted Green Peas and Carrots http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=189

Sautéed Mushrooms with Green Peas http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=recipe&dbid=303

Cream of Cashew Pea Soup https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/cream-of-cashew-pea-soup

29 Recipes that Start with a Bag of Frozen Peas https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/frozen-peas-recipes/

Italian Peas https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/90209/italian-peas/

47 Recipes that Start with a Bag of Frozen Peas https://www.myrecipes.com/convenience/freezer-recipes/frozen-peas-recipes-ideas

Simple Peas and Onions https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/simple_peas_and_onions/

Green Pea and Chickpea Falafel https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-green-pea-and-chickpea-falafel-230089

Resources
https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/peas_and_edible_pea_pods_are_great_fresh_or_preserved

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=55#descr

https://harvesttotable.com/harvest-store-peas/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/green-peas-are-healthy#section2

https://www.amplemeal.com/blogs/home/why-antinutrients-aren-t-that-big-a-deal

https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/article/10-things-to-do-with-frozen-peas

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.

Long Island Veggie Soup

Long Island Veggie Soup

This is a delicious soup that’s really easy to put together. It’s hearty and flavorful and well worth trying. This is a recipe I developed when I ran my bakery/bistro some years ago. I named it “Long Island Veggie Soup” in honor of my employee, Debby, who came from Long Island, New York. I sold a LOT of this soup during those years!

Below is a video showing how I make this soup. The written recipe is below the video link.

Enjoy!
Judi

Long Island Veggie Soup
Makes 6 to 8 Small Servings or 3 to 4 Meal-Size Servings

This is a delicious and easy pea/lentil soup that I developed when I ran my bakery/bistro. I named it in honor of my employee, Debby, how came from Long Island, New York.  Enjoy! Judi

½ cup dry split peas (green or yellow, or a combo of both), rinsed and drained
3 Tbsp red lentils (split or whole), rinsed and drained
1/3 cup uncooked rice (any kind you prefer), rinsed and drained*
1 cup chopped carrots, (about 2 or 3 small to medium carrots)
1 cup chopped celery (about 1 stalk)
½ cup chopped onion
1 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
1 tsp fresh lemon zest (the zest of 1 lemon) (or ¼ tsp dried lemon peel)
½ tsp dried garlic powder
6 cups vegetable stock (or chicken broth, if preferred)
Salt and pepper, if desired and to taste**

Place all ingredients in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 1 hour or more, stirring often, until the peas and vegetables are cooked and the soup is thickened. Taste and adjust seasonings, if desired. The soup may be smoothed out with an immersion blender or in a regular blender, but it is also very enjoyable just as it is. Serve.

Store any leftover soup in a covered container in the refrigerator. Use within 4 or 5 days. The soup may also be frozen.

*Any uncooked grain of choice can be used in place of the rice. Or you could use 2-1/2 tablespoons of uncooked rice and 2-1/2 tablespoons of very tiny pasta of choice.

**Salt and pepper may not be needed, depending upon how much seasoning is in the broth that you use. Taste first after it has cooked a while before adding any extra seasoning.

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.

Black-Eye Pea and Kale Soup

Black-Eye Pea and Kale Soup

We all know that soup is popular in the cold months, and for good reason! But I’m one of those who enjoys soup just about any time of year. So, it’s never off the menu for us.

Here’s a delicious soup that combines black-eye peas, rice, tomatoes, and kale…a wonderful combination of ingredients! AND it’s loaded with great nutritional impact. On top of that, I developed the recipe to be really simple to put together. So, it’s a win-win for anyone who opts to try it!

Below is a video link where I demonstrate how to make the soup. The written recipe is below the video. I hope this helps!

Enjoy!
Judi

Black-Eye Pea and Kale Soup
Makes About 10 Cups of Soup (5 Meal-Size Servings)

6 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
2 cups cooked black-eye peas (or 1 (15 oz can) black-eye peas)
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes (any type), with the juice
½ cup uncooked rice of choice
4 cups chopped kale
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped bell pepper
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
2 dried Bay leaves
1 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil leaves
Salt and black pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a large pot with a lid.* Bring to a boil, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour, until all vegetables are tender and flavors blended. Remove bay leaves and serve.

Leftover soup should be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator and used within 5 days. Extra soup may also be frozen, and will be best if used within 6 months.

* Optional step based on your preference. If preferred, you can first sauté the vegetables in 1 or 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Sauté them briefly, just until they start to soften. Then add the remaining ingredients and follow the directions from there. Or, you can add a little oil to the bowl as the soup is served, as a finishing touch. The added oil will give the soup a greater depth of flavor.

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.

Blueberries

Blueberries 101 – The Basics

Blueberries are a sweet, delicious, and VERY healthful fruit to eat. Lucky for us, they’re available year-round usually as fresh in produce departments, but always in the frozen foods department of our grocery stores. There’s little reason not to eat them, and a LOT of reasons TO eat them! The following article has just about any information you may need to know about blueberries, from what they are to suggested recipes. Read on!

Enjoy,
Judi

Blueberries 101 – The Basics

About Blueberries
Blueberries are members of the Ericaceae family of plants. They are cousins to cranberries, bilberries, huckleberries, and lingonberries. There are many different varieties of blueberries grown around the world with flavors ranging from mildly sweet to tart and tangy, and colors ranging from blue to maroon, to very dark purple. Most blueberries have a waxy “bloom” on the surface that serves as a protective coating.

Most species of blueberries are native to North America, although they are now grown around the world from commercially to home backyards. The wide array of hybrid varieties allows these delicious fruits to be grown from warm regions like Chile and Argentina into cold climates as far north as Scandinavia, and everywhere in between. In the United States, over a dozen states produce blueberries commercially yielding over 550 million pounds of berries each year. Despite that fact, most of the blueberries consumed in America are grown in Chile and Canada.

Nutrition and Health Benefits
Blueberries are high in Vitamins C and K, manganese, copper and fiber. They also contain other nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and folate. Blueberries are considered to have a low glycemic index, with a value between 40 and 52. One cup of blueberries has only 84 calories, which is not a lot considering the nutritional and health benefits of this delicious fruit.

Blueberries are high in phytonutrients that have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and even antimicrobial properties. These special compounds in blueberries help to fight insulin resistance with antidiabetic effects, lower our risk of heart disease by decreasing blood pressure, protect our nervous system and improve brain function, fight urinary tract infections with their antimicrobial effects, and even help to protect against cancer.

Note that people who take the blood thinner Warfarin should ask their health care provider before consuming a lot of blueberries since the Vitamin K in blueberries may interfere with their medication.

How to Select Blueberries
When shopping for fresh blueberries, look for ones that appear firm, smooth, plump, and have a bright, uniform color with a whitish bloom on the surface. Reddish blueberries are not fully ripe and will be tart. For the best flavor, choose ones with a deep, dark blue color. Gently shake the container to see if the berries move freely. If they do not, they may be soft, damaged and/or have extra moisture in the container which invites mold. Opt for a container where the berries appear to be dry, and free from mold or moisture.

When shopping for frozen berries, opt for a bag where the berries are loose and are not clumped together. This indicates they have been at least partially thawed in transport, then refrozen.

How to Store Fresh Blueberries
When you first bring them home, before placing your fresh berries in the refrigerator, inspect the berries and remove any crushed or moldy/moist berries. They will invite mold and shorten the lifespan of the other berries in the container.

Also, check to see if there is a moisture absorber in the bottom of the container. Some have them whereas others do not. If your container does not have an absorber in it, gently transfer the berries to a clean, dry dish. Place a paper towel that was folded to fit in the bottom of the container and gently transfer the berries back into the container. The paper towel will help to absorb extra moisture in the container, helping to prolong the life of the berries.

Important! Do not wash your berries until you are ready to eat them. Always store them dry. Any moisture in the container will cause them to mold quickly.

How to Freeze Blueberries
Wash and drain fresh berries. Remove any damaged, crushed, or moldy berries before freezing them. Spread the prepared berries on a pan and allow them to dry, then place it in the freezer. When the berries are frozen, transfer them to a covered freezer container or freezer bag. Blueberries will keep well for 1 year in the freezer, although they are safe to eat after that amount of time.

If preferred, fresh blueberries may be frozen unwashed, as they came from the grocery store. Be sure to sort through them and remove any berries with blemishes, soft spots or mold. Freeze them in the same manner as stated above, but remember to wash them before using them after they are frozen.

Expect some changes in color and texture when your frozen berries are thawed. They will be darker in color and softer in texture. Use frozen berries in their frozen state if possible, or use them immediately after thawing. If you have thawed blueberries that you cannot use right away, store them in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within three days.

Dried vs Fresh vs Frozen Blueberries
Dried blueberries. Dried blueberries usually are made with added sugar and oil. Some varieties also have added sulfur dioxide. So if you’re avoiding added sugars, oil, and other ingredients, reading labels is mandatory when shopping for dried blueberries. With the added ingredients, they are much higher in calories and (of course) fat than fresh or frozen blueberries. Also, up to half of the antioxidants of blueberries are lost in the drying process, so overall the dried variety is not as healthful as the fresh berries. However, since dried blueberries are concentrated, they have more fiber than their fresh counterparts, which makes them a good dietary addition for those suffering from constipation. Dried blueberries can be a flavorful addition to homemade trail mix and granola.

Fresh blueberries. Fresh blueberries have their maximum potential of antioxidants and health benefits, with relatively few calories and ample fiber to counter the effects of their natural sugars. They are often available in most grocery stores year-round, and can be used in just about any recipe calling for blueberries. The down side to fresh blueberries is the fact that they are relatively expensive and they are highly perishable.

Frozen blueberries. Frozen blueberries are a convenient form of this healthful fruit to keep on hand. Since they are frozen shortly after being harvested, their nutrient content is similar to that of fresh berries found in your local market. Research at the South Dakota State University found the antioxidant levels in frozen blueberries to be comparable to those in the fresh berries, when tested at one, three, and five months after being frozen. Commercially frozen blueberries have been washed before being frozen, so they are ready to use right from the package. Frozen blueberries can easily be added to cooked dishes, like hot oatmeal, muffins, crisps, tarts, breads, pies, and sauces. It’s best to use frozen blueberries within one year of purchase.

How to Prepare Blueberries
Blueberries are very perishable, so do not wash them until you’re ready to use them. First look through them to remove any moldy or damaged berries. Remove any stems that are still attached to berries. Place them in a bowl of water or in a strainer within a bowl of water. Give them a gentle swirl, then drain them well. If desired, spread them on a paper towel and gently pat them dry.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Blueberries
Blueberries can be found in the freezer section of many grocery stores and are often found fresh year-round in produce departments. With blueberries readily available there’s good reason to make use of them as often as possible.

* Top waffles, pancakes, oatmeal, yogurt, or any cereal with blueberries for a sweet, healthful addition to breakfast or dessert.

* Add blueberries to your favorite smoothie for a health and flavor boost.

* Add blueberries to muffins or quick breads.

* Add blueberries to your favorite green salad for a fruity sweetness and healthy addition.

* Top ice cream or frozen yogurt with blueberries.

* Make flavorful ice cubes by placing fresh or frozen blueberries into ice cube trays. Cover with apple juice and freeze. Place the frozen cubes in lemonade, iced tea or club soda.

* When adding blueberries (especially frozen berries) to batters, such as muffins or pancakes, first toss the berries with a little of the flour to be used in the recipe. Then add them last to the batter after it is well mixed. This will help to keep them suspended in the batter rather than sinking to the bottom. This also helps to keep the berries from bleeding their juices in the batter, turning it blue or purple.

* Another way to keep blueberries from sinking in a batter is to spread half the batter in the pan, add half the blueberries, add the remaining batter, then top with the remaining blueberries.

* Make a quick trail mix with your favorite nuts and dried blueberries.

* Blueberries go well with chicken, so they also make a nice addition to chicken salad.

* Make an easy sandwich with your favorite nut butter topped with fresh blueberries instead of jelly or jam.

* Freeze your favorite blueberry puree into popsicle molds for a cold refreshing treat on a hot day.

* Add frozen blueberries to a beverage for a fruity, refreshing flavor, especially on a hot summer day. While frozen, they will function as little ice cubes, chilling your beverage that much more.

* Make a parfait by layering your favorite chia pudding, with blueberries and peaches.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Blueberries
Cinnamon, ginger, mint, nutmeg, rosemary, thyme, vanilla

Foods That Go Well with Blueberries
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, chicken, hazelnuts, nuts (in general), pecans, pork, sausage, turkey

Vegetables: Cucumbers, fennel, greens (salad), rhubarb, spinach

Fruits: Apples, apple juice, apricots, bananas, blackberries, coconut, currants, lemon, lime, mango, melon, nectarines, oranges, peaches, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon

Grains and Grain Products: Cereals, corn, grains (in general, esp. whole grains), oats, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Buttermilk, cheese (in general), cream, crème fraiche, ice cream, mascarpone, sour cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Agave nectar, balsamic vinegar, honey, lavender, maple syrup, sugar

Blueberries have been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (breads, muffins, quick breads, scones), cereals, corn cakes, crepes, desserts (cobblers, pies, tarts, crisps, crumbles), drinks (i.e. cocktails), granola, pancakes, salads, salsas, sauces, smoothies, soups (fruit)

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Blueberries
Combine blueberries with any of the following…
Cinnamon + lemon + rice
Cinnamon + nutmeg + peaches
Corn + nectarines
Cream cheese + lemon + nutmeg
Ginger + orange
Hazelnuts + rhubarb + ricotta
Honey + lime + mango
Lemon + ricotta
Maple syrup + pecans

Recipe Links
Massaged Kale Salad with Creamy Blueberry Vinaigrette https://www.theroastedroot.net/massaged-kale-salad-with-creamy-blueberry-vinaigrette/

Blueberry Chia Smoothie https://www.loveandzest.com/blueberry-chia-smoothie-trainingbites/

Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie https://www.blueberrycouncil.org/blueberry-recipe/blueberry-pomegranate-smoothie/

Easy Blueberry Fruit Leather https://www.blueberrycouncil.org/blueberry-recipe/easy-blueberry-fruit-leather/

Blueberry and Watermelon Salad with Marinated Feta https://www.blueberrycouncil.org/blueberry-recipe/blueberry-watermelon-salad-with-marinated-feta/

Chocolate Almond Blueberry Smoothie Bowl https://www.blueberrycouncil.org/blueberry-recipe/chocolate-almond-blueberry-smoothie-bowl/

Blueberry Balsamic Dressing https://www.blueberrycouncil.org/blueberry-recipe/blueberry-balsamic-dressing/

Blueberry Almond Overnight Oats https://www.blueberrycouncil.org/blueberry-recipe/blueberry-almond-overnight-oats/

Blueberry Chutney https://www.blueberrycouncil.org/blueberry-recipe/berry-blueberry-chutney/

5 Ingredient Blueberry Skillet Dump Cake https://sweetphi.com/5-ingredient-blueberry-skillet-dump-cake/

27 Super-Sweet Blueberry Desserts That Taste Like Summer https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/g97/blueberry-desserts-recipes/

40 Recipes to Make with Fresh Blueberries https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/recipes-to-make-with-fresh-blueberries/

22 Blueberry Recipes We’re Completely Obsessed With https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/blueberry-recipes

56 Healthy Ways to Eat More Blueberries https://greatist.com/health/healthy-blueberry-recipes#1

Autumn Spiced Blueberry Chia Jam https://www.bcblueberry.com/recipes/sauces/autumn-spiced-blueberry-chia-jam

Blueberry Sauce https://www.bcblueberry.com/recipes/sauces/blueberry-sauce

Resources
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=8

https://www.stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/16576

https://nutritionfacts.org/?s=blueberries

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/287710.php

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-blueberries

https://www.blueberrycouncil.org/blueberry-nutrition/health-benefits-blueberries/

https://www.foodandwine.com/blogs/11-ways-use-blueberries

https://www.recipetips.com/kitchen-tips/t–1439/preparing-blueberries-for-cooking.asp

https://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/health-benefits-dried-vs-fresh-blueberries

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140722124810.htm

https://www.mensjournal.com/food-drink/frozen-blueberries-better-you-fresh/

https://www.bcblueberry.com/features/feature-articles/five-tips-using-frozen-blueberries

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.

Thyme

Thyme 101 – The Basics

Thyme is one of those herbs that we usually have in our dried herb/spice collection. When you do a little digging about thyme, you’ll learn that there’s SO much more to it than just flavoring chicken or beans. Its uses range from flavoring foods, to a sore throat remedy, to an insect repellent! Read on to learn about this ancient herb!

Enjoy,
Judi

Thyme 101 – The Basics

About Thyme
Thyme is a perennial herb in the mint family. It has a delicate appearance, with tiny leaves growing outward from a long stem. The leaves are small and long, with a green-grayish color on top and a lighter shade underneath. It has a strong aroma and flavor. There are about 60 different varieties of thyme, with French thyme (the common variety), lemon thyme, orange thyme, and silver thyme being the most common types. Thyme is used around the world in many food dishes and cuisines. It has a sharp grassy and woody flavor with floral notes, and like the song, it pairs well with parsley, sage and rosemary.

Thyme has been used since ancient times for culinary, aromatic, and medicinal uses. Ancient Egyptians included thyme in their embalming process when preparing deceased pharaohs for the afterlife. Ancient Greeks burned thyme as incense in temples. In medieval times, a sprig of thyme was given to knights as a sign of bravery. Thyme oil has been used as an antiseptic since the 1500’s.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Thyme
Although we only consume small amounts of this herb in food, thyme is an excellent source of Vitamin C, a very good source of Vitamin A, and a good source of iron, manganese, copper and fiber.

Thyme has been used since antiquity for its medicinal and antiseptic properties. The main active ingredient is thymol and has been included in an array of personal hygiene and home sanitizing products. Thymol has been found to protect the fats in cell membranes and other cellular structures. It has been included in pesticides targeting bacteria, viruses and some animal pests like rats and mice. Thyme has been found to contain a number of flavonoids that increase its antioxidant activity. According to The World’s Healthiest Foods (https://whfoods.com), this brings thyme high on the list of foods providing antioxidant protection.

Thyme has been used in aromatherapy to provide relief from respiratory ailments and to stimulate the immune and circulatory systems.

The oils in thyme have been found to have antimicrobial activity against a number of bacteria and fungi, including Staphalococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli and Shigella sonnei.

Very diluted essential oil of thyme has been used to treat skin and mouth infections. Note that thyme essential oil should always be very diluted, never ingested, nor used to treat children or pregnant women.

How to Select Thyme
Dried thyme is available in the spice section of most grocery stores. Most chefs recommend buying fresh thyme for its bright flavor and ease of use. Many grocery stores now carry fresh thyme in the produce department. Opt for sprigs with a vibrant color, free of dark spots and yellowing.

How to Store Thyme
Store fresh thyme in the refrigerator wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel within a plastic bag. It should keep for about 10 to 14 days. If it develops an “off” smell or appearance, or becomes soft, your thyme has spoiled. Discard it.

Dried thyme should be kept in an airtight container in a dry, dark place. It will keep well for about six months. If you notice your dried thyme has little aroma, especially when the leaves are crushed in your hand or with a mortar and pestle, it’s time to replace it.

How to Freeze Fresh Thyme
Fresh thyme can be frozen. First wash, trim and chop the thyme. Allow it to dry thoroughly, then place it in a freezer bag. Or, you could place your washed, trimmed and chopped thyme into ice cube trays. Add a small amount of water and freeze. When the cubes are frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag. For best quality, use frozen thyme within 4 to 6 months. However, it will be safe to consume long beyond that time frame.

Dried vs Fresh Thyme
The flavor of fresh and dried thyme are about the same. However, the dried herb needs some time to be rehydrated for the flavor to be released, so add it early during cooking. Fresh thyme can be added early during cooking or toward the end. The longer it cooks, the more flavor will be released. Many chefs use whole sprigs of fresh thyme and remove the sprigs before the food is served. The stems won’t break down during cooking, so removing the sprigs is necessary. However, the fresh leaves may also be removed from the stems and used in fresh or cooked foods.

How to Prepare Thyme
A spring of fresh thyme can simply be rinsed and then tossed into food that you’re cooking. Whether dried or fresh, thyme can be added to cooked foods at any stage of cooking. It’s important to note that the longer it is cooked, the more flavor it will release.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Thyme
* When converting fresh thyme to dried (or vice versa), use 3 parts fresh thyme for 1 part dried thyme.

*If a recipe calls for fresh or dried thyme and you don’t have any available, fresh or dried rosemary, sage, oregano, marjoram or dried basil (not fresh) may be substituted. Their flavors are similar to that of thyme and blend well with thyme.

* When poaching fish, place sprigs of fresh thyme on the fish and in the water for added flavor.

* The flavor of thyme blends well with beans, especially kidney beans, pinto beans, and black beans.

* Thyme blends well with eggs in omelets or when scrambled.

* The flavor of thyme blends well with tomatoes, so add some to tomato sauce or your favorite tomato dish.

* Make your own insect repellant by mixing 4 drops of thyme essential oil with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, or 4 drops of thyme essential oil with 2 ounces of water.

* Suffering from a cough or bronchitis? Make a soothing thyme tea by infusing three sprigs of thyme in 1-1/2 cups of boiling water. Allow it to steep for 5 to 15 minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs. Add a slice of ginger, a slice of lemon and a bit of honey, if desired. When it cools down, you could also add some sliced apples or peaches for a refreshing fruit beverage.

* For a sore throat, make a soothing gargle that fights bacteria by boiling thyme in water, then allow it to cool. Gargle three times a day. Researchers have found throat infections usually disappears in 2 to 5 days.

* For a refreshing beverage, make thyme-infused water. Place two whole bunches of thyme sprigs in 4 to 8 cups of filtered water (1 or 2 quarts) in a covered container or jar. Allow it to sit overnight at room temperature. In the morning, remove the thyme and add lemon and/or honey as desired. Sip throughout the day.

Other Herbs/Spices That Go Well with Thyme
Basil, bay leaf, garlic, lovage, marjoram, mint, mustard, oregano, parsley, pepper, rosemary, savory, sumac

Foods That Go Well with Thyme
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beans (in general), beef, chicken, eggs, fish, lamb, peas, pork, sesame seeds, tofu, venison

Vegetables: Beets, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, carrots, chard, eggplant, fennel, greens (salad), leeks, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, spinach, squash (summer and winter), tomatoes, winter (root) vegetables, zucchini

Fruits: Apples, citrus (esp. lemon), pears

Grains and Grain Products: Corn, polenta, quinoa

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (esp. blue, cheddar, fresh, goat, and ricotta)

Other Foods: Oil (esp. olive)

Thyme has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Baked goods (i.e. biscotti, biscuits, cookies), Bouquets garnis (usually parsley, thyme and bay leaf), bread pudding, breads, Caribbean cuisine, Cajun cuisine, casseroles, chowders, Creole cuisine, egg dishes, European cuisines, French cuisine, gratins, Green cuisine, gumbos, herbes de Provence, Italian cuisine, Jamaican cuisine, marinades, Mediterranean cuisines, Middle Eastern cuisines, pasta dishes, salad dressings, salads (i.e. pasta), sauces (i.e. barbecue, cheese, cream, pasta, red wine, tomato), soups, stews, stocks, and stuffings

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Thyme
Combine thyme with any of the following combinations…
Garlic + lemon + olive oil
Goat cheese + olive oil
Onions + spinach
sesame seeds + sumac

Recipe Links
Grilled Salmon with Thyme and Lemon https://www.thespruceeats.com/grilled-salmon-with-thyme-and-lemon-334452

Our 35 Best Thyme-Infused Recipes https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/our-best-thyme-infused-recipes-gallery

Roasted Potatoes with Lemon, Rosemary, and Thyme (vegan) https://theveglife.com/roasted-potatoes-with-lemon-rosemary-thyme-vegan/

Thyme and White Bean Pot Pies https://minimalistbaker.com/thyme-white-bean-pot-pies/

Thyme-Infused Vegetables https://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipes/thyme-infused-vegetables

Vegan Mushroom and Thyme Soup https://theminimalistvegan.com/mushroom-thyme-soup/

Dijon, Thyme, and Pine Nut Broccoli https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/dijon-thyme-pine-nut-broccoli

Garlic and Thyme Pan Seared Mushrooms https://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-recipe/garlic-and-thyme-pan-seared-mushrooms-vegan-gluten-free/

Oven Roasted Potatoes and Carrots with Thyme https://www.sunset.com/recipe/oven-roasted-potatoes-carrots-with-thyme/

Resources
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=77#descr

https://www.stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/18499

https://www.thespruceeats.com/all-about-thyme-996135

https://www.healthline.com/health/health-benefits-of-thyme#4

https://www.food.com/about/thyme-348

https://www.mccormick.com/spices-and-flavors/thyme

https://www.justapinch.com/recipes/dessert/cookies/thyme-uses-and-three-recipes.html

https://www.mariaushakova.com/2017/08/how-to-make-thyme-tea/

https://www.medicalmedium.com/blog/thyme-tea

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.

Salt

Ways to Reduce Your Salt Intake

The current 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that Americans consume less than 2300 mg of sodium a day. That equates to less than one teaspoon of salt. Yet, many Americans still consume a lot more than that. Furthermore, recommendations are moving toward reducing that amount even more, to 1500 mg per day (about 2/3 of a teaspoon of salt, and this does not account for naturally-occurring sodium in our food). Where does all this sodium come from? In the average American diet, about 77% comes from processed foods or foods prepared outside the home (such as restaurant meals), 12% comes from natural sources (naturally occurring sodium in foods), 6% from salt added at the table while eating, and 5% added while cooking. When examining those percentages, it’s clear that most of the sodium in our diet comes from foods that we did not prepare ourselves.

We do need some sodium for our bodies to function normally, but the amount is far less than we consume. A mere 186 mg of sodium per day is all that’s truly needed, and that small amount can be found naturally occurring in whole, unadulterated foods. Furthermore, consuming whole, unadulterated plant foods such as fruits and vegetables, provides an abundance of potassium, helping to balance the potassium to sodium ratio in the body.

Many people need (or want) to slash their salt intake for numerous reasons and struggle to do so. The following are some suggestions on how to reduce your sodium intake, balance the sodium to potassium ratio, and yet still enjoy the flavor of our foods.

Prepare Your Own Foods at Home
This may hard to do all the time, especially if you travel a lot in your career, have odd working hours or a lot of responsibilities with little time to spend in the kitchen. You’re forgiven! However, it’s up to you to work out a way to squeeze a little valuable time for yourself to prepare some of your own foods to take along with you so you can reduce your need for restaurant foods.

Here are some ideas for easy food preparation at home…
* Try overnight oats for a ready-to-go breakfast in the morning. Recipes are all over the internet!

* Take time on a day off to prepare foods ahead for the coming week. Many people spend time on the weekend making a lot of food for the coming week’s lunches. Pack them in individual serving containers so you can just grab one and put it into a travel bag with an ice pack on your way out the door. It’ll be ready when you are. If need be, they could be stored in the freezer and placed in the refrigerator the night before you need it so it can thaw safely.

* Plan on having a large salad once a day, or at least as often as you can. Lettuce can be washed in advanced, drained, and then stored in the refrigerator in a covered container between layers of paper towels. It will stay crisp and will be ready when needed. Other vegetables can also be washed and cut in advance and stored in a similar way. Just be sure they’re not stored overly wet, or sitting in a puddle of water, which could cause them to spoil.

* Make a large pot of soup on a day off. Chill it down well, then store it in the refrigerator, either in a large container, or in individual containers. It can also be frozen in individual serving size containers for an easy lunch or supper when needed. If you remember, transfer a container (for the next day) in the refrigerator the night before so it can thaw (or at least start to thaw). Warm the soup on the stove or in the microwave for a fast meal.

* Make sandwich filling of some sort on a day off. Homemade hummus, nut butter and fruit spread, or (if you’re an omnivore) cooked meat or a meat combo if you prefer, are all possible sandwich fillings where you can control what’s in them. Store the filling in a covered container in the refrigerator and sandwiches will be easy to make when you need them.

* Make a large casserole on your day off. Like the soup, salads, and sandwich fillings, making a large casserole ahead of time gives you a nice option of your own foods made to your liking that you can enjoy during the week and have ready when you are. Individual portions can be stored in the refrigerator or frozen until needed. Warming it in a microwave or even toaster oven is an option, as long as your container is appropriate for those methods.

* Put supper in the crock pot/slow cooker in the morning before you leave for work. This may not work for everyone, since it involves extra time in the morning. But if you can get up a little earlier or work it out, a nice, hot, homemade supper will be ready for you when you get home. How convenient is that?

Season Foods with Herbs or Spices Instead of Salt
Sometimes a little added salt goes a long way in making food palatable, and that should be OK as long as we don’t overdo it (or have a medical issue requiring a salt-free diet). However, seasoning our own food with plenty of herbs and spices can reduce our need for added salt. Try some of the following options to flavor your foods instead of salt…

Proteins, Beans, Legumes, and Marinades: Basil, chiles/cayenne, chives, cilantro, coriander, dill (weed), ginger, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, pepper, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme, turmeric

Vegetables, Stir-Fries, Salads: Basil, chiles/cayenne, chives, cinnamon, cilantro, coriander, dill (weed), ginger, mint, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, pepper, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme, turmeric

Fruits: Cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, mint, nutmeg, pepper, rosemary, tarragon (esp. with lemon), thyme (esp. with citrus)

Grains, Grain Products, and Grain Dishes: Basil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, chiles/cayenne, coriander, ginger, mint, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme, turmeric

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cardamom, chives, dill (weed), mint, nutmeg, rosemary, sage, thyme (esp. with cheese)

Casseroles, Sauces, Soups, Stews: Basil, cardamom, chiles/cayenne, chives, cinnamon, cilantro, coriander, dill (weed), ginger, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, pepper, rosemary, tarragon, thyme, turmeric

About some specific herbs/spices used to replace salt…
* Basil. Basil is sweet yet peppery. Fresh basil has more flavor than that of dried. Basil is excellent in pesto, marinades, dressings, sauces, sandwiches, soups, and salads. It is often used in Mediterranean dishes, especially tomato-based sauces and pizzas. There are different varieties of basil, giving different flavors to this herb.

* Cardamom. Cardamom is a warm, aromatic spice. Whole cardamom pods can be used, or the seeds (which are inside the pods) can be used whole or ground. Cardamom is commonly added to Asian spice mixes and curry pastes. It works well in baked goods and sweet breads along with cloves and cinnamon.

* Chiles/Cayenne. Chile peppers vary a lot in their heat, so always add a little at first if you’re not sure. Cayenne is a specific type of Chile pepper. Chile peppers are available fresh, dried, flaked, ground into powder, and made into hot sauce. Hot sauce may be high in sugar and/or salt, so do read labels if you’re on a salt-restricted plan. Opting for fresh hot peppers gives you more control over the sodium content of your food. Chiles work well in most foods, including vegetable and seafood dishes. A pinch of chili pepper with mustard can help you reduce the amount of cheese needed in a cheese sauce (thereby reducing sodium in the sauce, since cheese is high in sodium). Chiles combine well with cumin, coriander seeds, and turmeric. Cayenne pairs well with meats, grains, soups, and vegetables.

* Chives. Chives have an onion-like flavor but are milder than onions. Add chives to hot dishes at the end of cooking to preserve the flavor. Chives are excellent in mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, casseroles, salads, cream cheese, fish and poultry.

* Cinnamon. Cinnamon is most often used in sweet treats and baked goods like cakes, quick breads, and fruit crisps. But cinnamon also works in some savory dishes too. In Turkish and Middle Eastern cuisines, cinnamon is used to flavor chicken and lamb. It can also be used to add a special flavor to curries, tagines, casseroles, roast vegetables, Bolognese sauce, and stewed fruit.

* Coriander/Cilantro. In the United States, we refer to the seeds of this plant as coriander, whereas the leaves are called cilantro. The cilantro leaves have an earthy yet citrusy flavor. The coriander seeds have a warm, spicy, citrus flavor. Cilantro can be used raw or added to hot foods at the end of cooking time to preserve their flavor. The leaves are excellent in salads, soups (esp. carrot and coriander soup), salsas, curries, fish, and chicken dishes. It is often combined with lime and chiles in stir-fry dishes. Coriander seeds are commonly used in Indian cuisine.

* Cumin. The flavor of cumin is earthy and smoky. Cumin is the second most popular spice in the world (whereas black pepper is the first). Cumin pairs well with many foods, but especially chicken, beef, lamb, game, beans and rice. For a Mexican flare, combine cumin with oregano and chili. For a taste of India, combine cumin with cardamom, coriander, and turmeric.

* Dill. Dill seeds and dill weed (the leaves) are both used in a variety of dishes. Their flavor is very different. Dill seeds have a flavor of fennel, star anise, and celery combined. They are what gives dill pickles their characteristic flavor. The leaves (dill weed) have a fresh, bright flavor that add hints of lemon anise. Dill weed blends well with cottage cheese, cream cheese, omelets, seafood, steak, potato salad, and cucumber salads.

* Ginger. Ginger has a sharp aroma and flavor of pepper and lemon. It can be purchased fresh or dried and ground. Ginger enhances both sweet and savory dishes. Grated fresh ginger can be added to stir-fries, rice, curries, and meats. It can be added to salad dressings and even stewed fruit.

* Mint. This refreshing herb works well in both sweet and savory dishes. Try this with salads, pasta or couscous. Mint also goes well with carrots, cucumber, rice, melon, tomato, yogurt, and peas.

* Nutmeg. Nutmeg is sweet yet pungent at the same time. Most people prefer the flavor of freshly grated nutmeg rather than that of dried nutmeg, but use whatever you have on-hand. It works well in baked goods with cinnamon and cloves. Nutmeg plus black pepper complement each other in white sauces and cheese sauces. Nutmeg also adds a natural “warmth” when added to homemade potato, cauliflower, and cabbage soups.

* Oregano. Oregano has a warm, aromatic, and slightly bitter flavor with a strong aroma. It is commonly used in Greek and Mediterranean cuisines. It can be used in meat, poultry and seafood marinades. Use it also in egg dishes, breads, casseroles, and salads. It’s an essential ingredient in spaghetti sauce and gives pizza its classic flavor.

* Paprika. Paprika is made from dried and ground sweet peppers and hot peppers. It is milder and sweeter than cayenne pepper. Paprika can be paired with caraway, coriander, cinnamon and dill for a Hungarian flare. Combine paprika with garlic for a Spanish twist. Paprika also goes well with chicken, lamb and fish, on baked sweet potatoes, in beans, and with scrambled eggs.

* Parsley. Parsley has a mildly bitter, grassy flavor that blends well with other flavors, but does not overpower them. Flat-leaf parsley is preferred by chefs because its flavor holds up well when heated. Curly parsley is often used as a garnish. Parsley goes well with roast lamb, grilled steak, fish, chicken, vegetables, potatoes, omelets, stuffing, soft cheese, marinades, dressing, sauces and soups.

* Peppercorns. Peppercorns are not only the common black variety, but can also be red, green, yellow, and white. Each color has its own flavor. Some are sweet, some are bitter, while others are hot. Try a blend of different colored peppercorns for a warm flavor twist to your dishes.

* Rosemary. Rosemary is an aromatic herb with a pine-like fragrance. Use rosemary sparingly, as it can overpower other flavors. Use rosemary fresh or dried, but crush the dried rosemary first to release its essential oils and flavors. Rosemary can be added to meats, breads, pizza, tomato sauce, beans, potatoes and egg dishes. Roast whole springs of fresh rosemary with root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, and sweet potatoes.

* Sage. Sage is similar in flavor to rosemary, but with more lemon and eucalyptus flavor. Sage retains its flavor with prolonged cooking, which is unlike many herbs. Sage is often used in Italian and French cuisines where it is added to meats, poultry, and stuffing. Chopped sage is often added to pasta and gnocchi.

* Spice/herb blends. There are a number of spice/herb blends on the market that have no salt added to them. These can make cooking easy for you if you’re in a hurry or don’t want to spend time researching what to season a food with. When shopping for a spice blend, look for “Salt-Free” on the label, or carefully read the ingredients list to be sure there is no added salt in the mix.

* Tarragon. Tarragon has a distinct licorice-like flavor with a star anise aroma. To preserve its flavor, add it near the end of cooking time. Tarragon is often used in French cuisine and goes well with fish, poultry, eggs, beef, and vegetable soups. It can also be added to salad dressings.

* Thyme. Thyme has a strong earthy, slightly minty flavor. Unlike many herbs, the flavor of thyme improves and is released with prolonged cooking. Whole thyme sprigs are often added to dishes early on to release their full flavor. Whole sprigs are often added to slow-cooked meals and casseroles, and removed at the end. Thyme pairs well with rosemary, parsley, sage, savory and oregano. It is used to flavor meats, chicken, game, and roasted vegetables. Thyme pairs well with paprika, oregano, and cayenne in Cajun cuisine. It also pairs well with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper in Caribbean cuisine. Lemon thyme goes well in soups and vegetable dishes.

* Turmeric. Turmeric is a common ingredient in curry and is often used in South Asian dishes. North Africans often use turmeric with ginger in flavoring meats, vegetables, and rice. A little turmeric goes a long way, as its flavor intensifies with cooking.

Foods That Can be Used to Season Dishes Without Added Salt
In addition to specific herbs and spices being used to replace added salt, some foods can be used as ingredients to replace added salt by adding another flavor dimension to a dish. Here are some examples…

Proteins, Beans, Legumes, and Marinades: Balsamic vinegar, beverages (beer, wine, coffee), celery, garlic, kelp granules, lemon, mushrooms, nutritional yeast, onions, salsa/chutney, vinegar (in general)

Vegetables, Stir-Fries, Salads: Balsamic vinegar, celery, garlic, kelp granules, lemon, mushrooms, nutritional yeast, onions, salsa/chutney, vinegar (in general)

Fruits: Balsamic vinegar, celery, lemon, vinegar (in general)

Grains, Grain Products, and Grain Dishes: Balsamic vinegar, celery, garlic, kelp granules, lemon, mushrooms, nutritional yeast, onions, salsa/chutney, vinegar (in general)

Dairy, Non-Dairy, Cheese: Balsamic vinegar, celery, lemon, mushrooms, nutritional yeast, onions, salsa/chutney

Casseroles, Sauces, Soups, Stews: Balsamic vinegar, beverages (beer, wine, coffee), celery, garlic, kelp granules, lemon, mushrooms, nutritional yeast, onions, vinegar (in general)

More about specific foods used to replace salt…
* Balsamic vinegar. Balsamic vinegar can be used far beyond salads. It comes in a variety of flavors that helps it to pair well with many foods. Some balsamic flavors include lemon, cherry, espresso, chocolate, garlic, apple, and more. The flavors enable balsamic vinegar to pair with many foods. It can add a sweet, fruity flavor to ice cream, yogurt, and beverages. It can be used to marinade red meats. Garlic and lemon balsamic vinegars can be used to flavor poultry, seafood and vegetables.

* Beverages (esp. beer, wine, coffee). Assorted beverages have been used to flavor foods in lieu of salt. Beer, wine, and even coffee have been used to flavor stews, soups, chili, pasta sauces, and braised dishes. These liquids can be used on their own or combined with broth. [Note! Beware of commercially prepared broth, as it may be high in sodium. Read the label to be sure it meets your needs regarding sodium intake.]

* Celery. For someone on a highly sodium-restricted diet, eating celery may be questionable. But for the rest of us, the unique flavor of celery can add a salty flare to otherwise bland foods. One stalk of celery naturally contains 32 mg of sodium, which is not a lot. But, since celery is mostly water, that sodium flavor seems to be accentuated in celery. So if you’re mixing up some food of whatever sort and you are missing a salty component, rather than reaching for the salt shaker, try adding a stalk or two of celery. Hopefully it will do the trick.

* Garlic. Garlic is an excellent alternative to salt. We’re all familiar with it and most likely have some in the kitchen, whether fresh or dried. Raw garlic adds a pungent zest to foods while roasted garlic adds a delicious sweet, nutty flavor. Add garlic to chicken, fish, meats, vegetables, salads, breads, and stir-fries…almost anything!

* Kelp granules. This option may be new to some people even though kelp has been available as a food for quite a white. Kelp granules are what they say…dried granules of kelp. It is salt-free, but NOT sodium-free. Along with other nutrients, kelp does contain iodine, a needed element that is added to table salt. Kelp granules do contain some naturally-occurring sodium from growing in the salty sea water. (One teaspoon generally contains about 100 mg of sodium.) However, it is far less than what you would find in table salt. (One teaspoon of table salt contains 2,325 mg of sodium.) This can serve as a good food source of iodine if you’re on a low-sodium or salt-restricted diet. However, it’s important to read the nutrition facts label first to be sure it meets your needs regarding sodium restriction. Also, don’t overdose on kelp because that could lead to an iodine overload!

* Lemon zest/lemon juice (or any citrus zest/juice). Lemon (or any citrus fruit) brightens flavors and pairs with most foods, from appetizers, to main dishes and vegetables, to salads, breads, and desserts. It can be added to marinades to bring flavor to foods without a lot of salt. The zest of the fruit brings out an even stronger flavor than the juice, so add it when you want a more pronounced citrus flavor to foods.

* Mushrooms. Mushrooms can add a subtle umami flavor to foods without adding extra salt to the dish. A mixture of caramelized onions, garlic, and mushrooms with a dash of balsamic vinegar may be all you need to flavor a specific food.

* Nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is deactivated (killed) yeast that comes in powder or flakes. It is an excellent source of an array of vitamins and minerals, with only 5 mg of sodium in two tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes. It is described as having a nutty, cheesy, savory flavor. Nutritional yeast is often used as a vegan cheese substitute. If you’re not used to eating nutritional yeast, it’s best to slowly add it to your diet. Adding it too quickly may cause some unpleasant side effects. (1) Nutritional yeast has a lot of fiber, with about 5 grams in just 2 tablespoons. Adding too much too fast may cause gas, cramps, or even diarrhea. Drinking plenty of liquids with nutritional yeast may help to prevent this. (2) Some yeast products may trigger migraine headaches in some people. This is due to tyramine, a compound the body makes from the amino acid tyrosine contained in yeast products. (3) Nutritional yeast contains high amounts of the B-vitamin niacin, which can cause a flushing reaction in some people. This is like a facial to full-body hot flash, with reddening of the skin followed by burning and itching. It can last for ten to twenty minutes. The condition is uncomfortable, but not harmful. (4) Some individuals with irritable bowel disease are sensitive to yeast products. Nutritional yeast may trigger an immune response, worsening symptoms in some individuals with such conditions.

* Onions. Onions add a deep umami flavor to foods, especially when paired with garlic. Onions are used to flavor many foods including stews, soups, any braised or roasted dish, tomato based sauces, burgers, meatloaf, casseroles, pizza, salads, and more. When caramelized, onions add a sweetness to many foods including vegetarian and vegan dishes.

* Salsa and chutney. Salsas and chutneys add a fresh flavor to meats, fish, omelets, vegan/vegetarian dishes, appetizers, cheeses, chips and crudités. Homemade versions would be ideal for those on a reduced salt plan since you can control the ingredients. When purchasing store-bought varieties, read the nutrition facts panel and ingredients list to be sure it meets your needs.

* Vinegar (in general). When the flavor of a dish seems “flat” and bland, add a touch of acid to brighten it up. Vinegar (or even citrus juice) will enhance the flavors in sauces, salads, green vegetables, marinades, salsas, and chutney. There are many flavors of vinegars which vary from extremely to mildly acidic and very sour to sweet, so experiment with enhancing the flavors of foods with different vinegars rather than added salt.

Foods to Avoid When on a Low-Sodium Diet
* Canned soups. Canned soups are usually very high in salt content, so avoid them if you are on a reduced sodium diet. If you see a low-sodium option, also read the label before purchasing it to be sure it meets your needs, because they may also have too much sodium for some people.

* Bouillon cubes and commercially made broths. Traditional bouillon cubes and prepared broths can be extremely high in added salt. Be sure to read the nutrition facts panel and ingredients list, even if it is labeled as low-sodium. It still may have too much sodium for some people who are on a sodium-restricted diet.

* Chips and salted snacks. This one almost goes without saying. Commercially prepared chips and salted snacks like nuts, pretzels, popcorn, and pork rinds are laden with added salt. If you’re on a salt-restricted plan, such items will be off your list unless you opt for an unsalted or low-sodium version. (They ARE out there!) Always check the label first.

* Milk and cheese products. Cow’s milk has some naturally-occurring sodium (about 105 mg per cup). When milk is made into cheese, the sodium content is concentrated, resulting in products that are often higher in sodium. Furthermore, most cheeses are high in sodium since salt is added during the cheese-making process. Therefore, cheese may be off your list if you’re on a low-sodium diet. Be sure to read the Nutrition Facts panel on all milk products to be sure they meet your needs.

* Salted butter and margarines. These foods can be a source of sodium that we often don’t think about, but when combined with the sodium in other foods, it can add up. Opt for unsalted or low-salt versions when possible.

* Flavorings and condiments with added salt. The list can be long here, but this includes all herb/spice blends with added salt, such as garlic salt, celery salt, onion salt, and seasoning salt. Meat tenderizers, barbeque sauce, soy sauce, ketchup, mustard, teriyaki sauce, oyster sauce, salad dressings, tamari, Worcestershire sauce, pickles and pickle relish, sauerkraut, bacon bits, and even croutons will likely contain added salt. When in doubt, read the label!

* Food mixes. Prepared food mixes are often high in added salt. Such items include gravy mixes, boxed pasta/vegetable/rice mixes with seasonings, instant pudding mixes, Ramen noodles and other instant soups, and all other instant or convenience foods. Even dried bean mixes with seasoning packets are something to beware of when on a sodium-restricted plan. Always check the label to be sure it meets your needs.

* Frozen dinners and prepared frozen foods. These foods are usually laden with added salt used as a flavoring and even preservative. This also includes frozen pizzas. When in doubt, read the label for the sodium content on the Nutrition Facts panel to see if it meets your needs.

* Processed meats. Processed meats such as bacon, lunchmeats, ham, corned beef, hot dogs, salt pork, and sausages, are often very high in salt content. Avoid these unless they are a low-sodium option that actually meets your nutritional needs (check the label).

* Poultry. Many poultry items (such as Thanksgiving turkeys) are injected with broth for moisture and flavoring. This can greatly increase the sodium content of these foods, possibly raising it above your limits. Check the label or ask the meat department manager in your store about the sodium content of what you’re considering.

* Some bread products. Salt is normally added to yeast bread dough because it helps to control the growth of the yeast during the bread baking process. Read the label to be sure any bread you purchase meets your needs.

* Some canned foods. When on a reduced-sodium diet, another way to lower sodium intake is to choose salt-free canned foods rather than “regular” canned options. This includes canned vegetables, beans, sauces, gravies, salsa, and soups. More and more foods are being packed with salt-free options, so the choices are increasing. When on a sodium-restricted plan, reading canned food labels is a must-do.

* Bottled vegetable juice. Many tomato-based vegetable juices are high in sodium. However, some varieties are labeled as being “reduced-sodium.” Read the Nutrition Facts panel to be sure it meets your needs.

* Restaurant foods. Many of these same principles apply when dining at a restaurant. When in doubt, ask the server which menu options are low-sodium.

* Beware of softened water. Softened water is “softened” with added sodium. This should be avoided when on a sodium-restricted plan. Softened water should not be used for food preparation nor drinking when sodium intake needs to be low.

Resources
https://www.cdc.gov/salt/index.htm

https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=10&ved=2ahUKEwiBn9zxz4_mAhUSEawKHY–AMIQFjAJegQIAxAC&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.heart.org%2F-%2Fmedia%2Ffiles%2Fabout-us%2Fpolicy-research%2Ffact-sheets%2Faccess-to-healthy-food%2Freducing-sodium-in-the-us-diet-fact-sheet-2019.pdf%3Fla%3Den%26hash%3DD86A882315B2BA51D74F104EF00B74DCCF41C980&usg=AOvVaw1WLawWhm8kk_JELArmKMMo

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sodium-per-day#recommendations

https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/nutrition/herbs-and-spices

https://www.savoryspiceshop.com/dill-weed

https://foodinsight.org/cutting-down-on-sodium-6-alternatives-to-salt/

https://shescookin.com/10-naturally-delicious-sodium-substitutes/

https://nutritionovereasy.com/2011/02/is-kelp-high-in-sodium/

https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/custom/1323565/2

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/nutritional-yeast-dangers#1

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15426-sodium-controlled-diet

https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/guidelines-for-a-low-sodium-diet

https://healthfinder.gov/healthtopics/category/health-conditions-and-diseases/heart-health/low-sodium-foods-shopping-list

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.

Orange Balsamic Dressing Over Spring Mix Salad

Orange Balsamic Dressing on Spring Mix Salad

Here’s a really easy salad to put together that can be used as a side salad for any number of people (it can easily be increased), or used as a meal salad with the simple addition of a protein food of your choice.

Below is a video demonstration of making the dressing and salad. The written recipe follows the video link.

Enjoy!
Judi


Orange Balsamic Salad Dressing
Makes 1 (Meal-Size) Serving or 2 (Side Salad) Servings

This dressing goes well over any green salad, but would also blend well with a citrus salad. This recipe makes enough dressing for one large meal salad, or two side salads.

2 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp Frozen orange juice concentrate*
½ tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp Honey
¼ tsp Salt
¼ tsp Onion powder
1/8 tsp Garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir well. Drizzle over salad greens and enjoy!


Orange Balsamic Salad Dressing

Makes 4 (Meal-Size) Servings

½ cup Extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup Balsamic vinegar
¼ cup Frozen orange juice concentrate*
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp Honey
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Onion powder
½ tsp Garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in a small mason jar. Cover with a tight lid and shake well. Drizzle over salad greens and enjoy! Store any extra in the refrigerator and use within 4 days.

* If you want a slightly less tart dressing, use 2 teaspoons orange juice concentrate for 1 serving, or 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons orange juice concentrate for 4 servings. With this ratio, the flavors all blend and they are balanced so no one flavor stands out.

 

Spring Mix Salad

1 (5.5 oz) tub of Spring Mix, or any Spring Mix blend
1 or 2 Clementine oranges, peeled and sectioned
1 serving of Orange Balsamic Salad Dressing, or more if desired
1 avocado, cut into bite-size pieces
Protein food of choice, if using this as a meal salad

Place the Spring Mix greens into a large bowl. Add the orange slices and the dressing. Toss lightly to coat the greens. Top with avocado pieces and serve.

If desired, you can easily transform this into a meal salad by adding a protein food of your choice.