Category Archives: Food

Yellow Squash

Yellow Squash 101 — The Basics (REVISED)

Yellow Squash 101 – The Basics (Revised)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Add sliced yellow squash to a casserole.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Add sliced yellow squash to your favorite quesadilla.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fruits: Lemons, olives

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe Links
Baked Parmesan Yellow Squash Rounds

Sautéed Yellow Squash with Fresh Herbs

100+ Ways to Use Zucchini and Yellow Squash

Summer Squash Casserole

Roasted Vegetable Gnocchi with Spinach-Herb Pesto

41 Sensational Summer Squash Recipes

22 Ways to Use Up Your Yellow Squash Bumper Crop

Southwest Veggie Burgers


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

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

About Judi

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

Navy Beans

Navy Beans 101 – The Basics

Navy Beans 101 – The Basics

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

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

Nutrition and Health Benefits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Store Navy Beans

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

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

Canned vs Cooked Dried Navy Beans

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

How to Prepare and Freeze Dried Navy Beans

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Use navy beans to make a nutritious white chili.

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

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

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

* Try adding navy beans to vegetable bowls.

* Try making a bean spread, dip, or hummus with navy beans as the foundation. Here’s a recipe for Roasted Garlic and White Bean Dip as an example:

* Add navy beans to pasta.

* Make a bean soup with navy beans.

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

* Add navy beans to tacos or quesadillas.

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

* Include navy beans in any beans and rice dish.

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

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

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

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

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

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Navy Beans

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

Foods That Go Well with Navy Beans

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

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

Fruits: Lemons, oranges

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

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

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

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

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

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Navy Beans

Add navy beans to any of the following combinations…

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

Recipe Links

Mom’s Navy Bean Recipe (and Video)

Three Bean Quesadillas

Creamy Vegan White Bean Pasta

Navy Bean Falafel

Lunch Lady Baked Beans

Artichoke, White Bean, and Quinoa Burgers

Southwestern 3-Bean Salad

Lemony White Bean Dip [Note that this recipe uses cannellini beans, but navy beans could easily be used instead]

Pasta Bean Soup

Boston Baked Beans

Capitol Hill Bean Soup

Vegetable Beef Soup

White Beans with Sorrel Pesto

Vegetarian Navy Bean Soup Recipe

Vegetarian Tuscan Kale and Navy Bean Soup

Smoky Navy Bean Soup

Navy Bean Soup

British Baked Beans and Toast Recipe

Navy Bean Falafel

Navy Bean Salad

White Beans Recipe with Rosemary and Thyme

Herbed White Bean Soup Recipe


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

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

About Judi

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

Spring Mix

Spring Mix 101 – The Basics (REVISED)

Spring Mix 101 – The Basics (REVISED)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Try quickly steaming Spring Mix with no special equipment. I show how to steam Spring Mix in this video, Easiest Steamed Spring Mix…   I have also steamed spinach the same way in the following video, FAST and EASY Steamed Spinach …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe Links
Grilled Chicken and Grape Spring Salad with Goat Cheese and Honey-Balsamic Dressing

Greek Chicken, Garden Vegetable, and Spring Mix Salad

Spring Mix Salad with Grilled Chicken, Avocado, and Citrus Vinaigrette

Karen’s Spring Mix Salad

Spring Mix Salad with Blueberries, Goat Cheese and Walnuts

Mixed Greens with Bacon and Herbs

Spring Mix Salad

31 Recipes for Spring Greens

Spring Mix Salad Recipe

Spring Mix Salad

25 Recipes to Finish Off That Package of Mixed Greens

The Best Spring Mix Salad Ever


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

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

About Judi

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


Garlic 101 — The Basics (REVISED)

Garlic 101 – The Basics (REVISED)

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Add minced garlic to vegetable salads.

* Add finely minced garlic to salad dressings.

* Add garlic to guacamole, salsa, and hummus.

* Add garlic to broths and soups.

* Add minced garlic to cucumber or zucchini noodles.

* Add minced garlic to baked potatoes.

* Add garlic to pizza.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Fruits: Lemon, olives, oranges

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

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

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

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

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

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


Recipe Links
4 Tips for How to Cook with Garlic

Creamy Roasted Garlic Potato Soup with Crispy Brussels and Chili Oil

30 Recipes for Garlic Lovers

21 Recipes Every Garlic Lover Should Know!garlic-sauce

25 Garlic Recipes for *Garlicy* Good Dinners

25 Garlic Recipes No One Can Resist

13 Delicious Recipes That Are Heavy on Garlic

27 Garlic Recipes That Put Our Favorite Ingredient Front and Center

12 Great Garlic Recipes to Try

Roasted Garlic

Mashed Red Potatoes with Garlic

Easy Garlic Bread

Roasted Garlic (And 25 Things To Do With It)



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

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

About Judi

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


Paprika 101 – The Basics

Paprika 101 – The Basics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Add paprika to hummus.

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

* Add paprika to a marinade.

* Add paprika to batter for frying chicken.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Fruits: Avocados, lemons, limes, oranges

Grains and Grain Products: Corn, rice, seitan

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

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

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

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

Garlic + Olive Oil + Seitan
Mushrooms + Sour Cream

Recipe Links
Tomato Sauce with Roasted Garlic and Paprika Recipe

Cajun Spice Mix

BBQ Spice Rub

Oven-Baked Potato Slices

Taco Bell Seasoning Copycat

Copycat Lawry’s Seasoned Salt

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Quick and Crispy Home Fries

Smoky Vegetarian Collard Greens

Air Fryer Pumpkin Seeds

Beef and Prime Rib Rub

Homemade Portuguese Chicken

Blackened Salmon Fillets



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

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

About Judi

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

Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower Seeds 101 – The Basics

Sunflower Seeds 101 – The Basics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Sprinkle green salads with sunflower seeds.

* Add sunflower seeds to scrambled eggs or an omelet.

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

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

* Add sunflower seeds to homemade trail mix.

* Add sunflower seeds to homemade granola bars.

* Sprinkle fruit or yogurt parfaits with sunflower seeds.

* Add sunflower seeds to stir-fries.

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

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

* Sprinkle sunflower seeds on top of casseroles.

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

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

* Add ground sunflower seeds to smoothies.

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

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

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

* Make a pie crust with sunflower seeds. Here’s a link to one version online…

* Sprinkle some sunflower seeds on yogurt or ice cream.

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

* Top your favorite pasta dish with some sunflower seeds.

* Add sunflower seeds into your favorite cookie dough.

* Add sunflower seeds to your favorite quiche.

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

* Add sunflower seeds to stuffed peppers.

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

* Add sunflower seeds to a veggie pizza.

* Add sunflower seeds to a cabbage slaw.

* Top your favorite fruit salad with some sunflower seeds.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe Links
Herby Pesto with Sunflower Seeds

Shaved Squash Salad with Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower Seeds Pesto

Cinnamon Vanilla Sunflower Butter

Roasted Pumpkin Salad Recipe

Lentil Carrot Avocado Salad

Pomegranate Sunflower Seeds Salad

Maple Sunflower Seeds Granola

Old Bay Sunflower Seeds

Multigrain Pilaf with Sunflower Seeds

Maple Roast Sunflower Seeds

Spicy Roasted Pumpkin and Sunflower Seeds

Arugula Salad with Grapes and Sunflower Seeds

Massaged Broccoli Rabe Salad with Sunflower Seeds and Cranberries

Berry Spinach Salad with Spicy Maple Sunflower Seeds

Simple Arugula Salad with Sunflower Seeds and Parmesan

Nut-Free Vegan Pie Crust (Allergy-Friendly)


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

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

About Judi

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


Reducing Salt Intake

Reducing Salt Intake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dietary Sodium Recommendations

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

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

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

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

* 1/4 teaspoon salt = 575 mg sodium

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

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

* 1 teaspoon salt = 2,300 mg sodium

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

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

* Very Low Sodium: 35 mg or less per serving

* Low Sodium: 140 mg or less per serving

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

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

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

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

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

Tips and Ideas for Reducing Salt in the Diet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Examples of Commercial Salt-Free Spice Blends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Pros: It is gluten-free.

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

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

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

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

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

* Cons: None.

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

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

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

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

Samples of Homemade Salt-Free Spice Blends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Salt-Free Recipe Links

Ginger-Marinated Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

Roasted Potatoes with Garlic and Herbs

Tomato Basil Bruschetta

White Bean Dip

Fresh Fruit Kebabs


Rice and Beans Salad

Southwestern Vegan Bowl

Apple-Fennel Slaw

Salad Greens with Squash

Roasted Squash with Wild Rice and Cranberry

Chicken Stir-Fry with Eggplant, Basil, and Ginger

Mediterranean-Style Grilled Salmon

Nectarine Chicken Salad

Low Sodium Overnight Spiced Oatmeal with Cranberries

Low Sodium Chicken Noodle Soup

Low Sodium Spaghetti Sauce

Black Bean Chili



About Judi

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

Dulse Flakes

Dulse 101 – The Basics

Dulse 101 – The Basics

About Dulse
Dulse, or Palmaria palmata, is a type of seaweed or sea vegetable. It has dark burgundy leaves (fronds) that grow about 20 inches long and 1 to 3 inches wide. The fronds are soft and leathery with a skin-like texture. The plant is a perennial that regrows new fronds each year. It grows in the North Atlantic Ocean region and is found on both the European and North American coasts. In North America, dulse is found as far north as Arctic Canada and as far south as Long Island, New York. In Europe, it is found off the northern coast of Norway, and as far south as Portugal. Dulse may also be found in the northern Pacific regions. There, it is known as Pacific dulse, or Devaleraea mollis. In different cultures, dulse may also be known as dillisk or dilsk (Ireland and Scotland), red dulse, sea lettuce, or söl (Iceland). Records show that dulse has been harvested as food for at least 1,400 years.

Dulse is often eaten fresh as a vegetable in areas local to where it is harvested. Otherwise, dulse is often sold dried, as large pieces of leaves or crumbled, as flakes. Dulse is known for its salty flavor, and may be used in place of soy sauce or salt when seasoning foods. Along with its saltiness, dulse has a deep umami, slightly smoky flavor. Some people fry the fresh leaves, making a crispy bacon-like substitute. It is sometimes referred to as “the bacon of the sea” or “vegan bacon.” The dried leaves are often used as toppings for salads, potatoes, and popcorn.

Nutrition and Health Benefits

Dulse is a low-calorie food, with one tablespoon of dried dulse flakes containing about 10 calories. It contains potassium, iron, magnesium, iodine, copper, manganese, sodium, and many more minerals, as well as Vitamins A, C, B6 and B12, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein. It is exceptionally high in iodine, an essential nutrient for good thyroid function. Even though dulse has a somewhat salty flavor, it is not exceptionally high in sodium. A one tablespoon serving of dried dulse flakes contains 50 mg of sodium, which is 2% of the Daily Value.

Toxin and Heavy Metal Removal. According to Anthony William, the Medical Medium, Atlantic dulse is an excellent food for removing heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and aluminum, as well as toxins such as radiation, pesticides, and more, from the body. Dulse pulls toxins from deep, hidden places in the digestive tract, binds onto them, and carries them out of the body through the feces, without releasing any along the way. Atlantic dulse is a critical component of his Heavy Metal Detox Smoothie.

Immune System and Thyroid Booster. According to Anthony William, the Medical Medium, the iodine in Atlantic dulse helps to boost the immune system. It also works with zinc in helping to stop a viral infection in the thyroid. This helps to reduce inflammation of the thyroid, helping it to function more efficiently. Dulse also helps to protect the thyroid from the effects of radiation. He suggests we consume two tablespoons of dulse daily to get its full benefits. Note that if you have thyroid issues, and especially if you take any type of medication for a thyroid disorder, please consult with your healthcare provider before including dulse into your diet. There may be limits on how much dulse you should consume based on its iodine content. Your thyroid medication may need to be adjusted when adding dulse to your diet.

Antimicrobial Properties. Years ago, traditional medical practices were to use a poultice of dulse applied to wounds to prevent infection. This practice is supported by modern science, which has shown that dulse has antibacterial properties.

Iron Content of Dulse. If you suffer from iron deficiency, including dulse in your diet on a regular basis can help to correct that problem. A one-fourth cup serving of dulse flakes provides 4 mg of iron (22% of the recommended Daily Value of iron). Since the iron is plant-based, including a Vitamin C-rich food (such as an orange) in the same meal as the dulse will boost the absorption and utilization of the iron found in dulse. Adding dulse to a dish that contains tomatoes (which contain Vitamin C) will also satisfy that need.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids. In a study published in the June 22, 2011 issue of the journal Lipids in Health and Disease, researchers found that dulse (Palmaria palmata) contained a high proportion of the omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Getting ample EPA in the diet helps to protect us from coronary heart disease, high blood fats (especially high triglycerides), high blood pressure and inflammation. Consuming dulse can help to keep our cardiovascular system healthy.

Bone Health. In Anthony William’s book “Medical Medium Life-changing Foods,” Atlantic Sea vegetables (which includes dulse) are “especially beneficial for the bones, tendons, ligaments, connective tissue, and teeth…”. Dulse contains a wide array of minerals that can help to support the health of our skeletal system. This is especially important for growing children and women as they age and become more prone to osteoporosis.

Sodium Content of Dulse. Since dulse grows in the ocean, it naturally contains sodium. If you are on a sodium-restricted diet and you want to consume dulse, one option is to soak your dulse in advance to help remove some of the sodium. Another option is to limit the amount of dulse you consume so you can stay within your sodium limits.

Note of Caution. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should use caution before adding a large amount of dulse to their diet because of its high mineral content. Please check with your healthcare provider before making substantial changes to your diet.

How to Select Dulse

Although dulse grows in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, it is wise to opt only for dulse grown in the Atlantic. The Pacific Ocean has been greatly polluted with mankind’s trash. Hence, anything growing in that region will contain some degree of contaminants from the trash in the water. Dulse grown in the Atlantic Ocean will have far less contaminants and is considered to be a healthier option.


How to Store Dried Dulse
Store plain dried dulse in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. For extended storage, it may be kept in the refrigerator or freezer. Seasoned dried dulse often was made with oil in addition to seasonings. The oils can go rancid over time when kept at room temperature. Therefore, seasoned dried dulse should keep longer in the refrigerator and longest when kept frozen. It should be placed in an airtight freezer container for optimal storage. Use a rigid container when storing whole leaves to help prevent them from being crushed during storage.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Dried Dulse

* Add some dulse flakes to soups, stews, and casseroles for a salty, umami flavor.

* Add some dulse flakes to cooked beans for a hint of plant-based bacon flavor.

* Use dulse flakes as a flavorful garnish on eggs.

* Add some extra flavor and nutrients to avocado toast by sprinkling on a pinch of dulse flakes.

* Lightly sprinkle dried dulse flakes on a salad or any other food as a salt substitute.

* Some people will lightly pan-fry dulse leaves bringing out their bacon-like flavor and texture. Dulse cooked this way is sometimes added to boiled potatoes, turnips, or other vegetables. It may even be added to sandwiches for a meatless bacon-like flavor.

* Some people boil dried dulse leaves to soften them, then drink the broth to get the nutrients released during cooking.

* Dulse flakes may be sprinkled lightly on pizza before it is baked for added bacon-like flavor.

* If you want to reduce the saltiness of your dulse, rinse, then soak it for 20 to 30 minutes in water. Drain well, and use as desired.

* If a recipe calls for a sprinkle of dulse flakes and you don’t have any, you may substitute a sprinkle of sea salt. If you have them available, other types of sea vegetables may be used as a substitute for dulse. Examples include arame, wakame, hijiki, or kombu.

* If you want a salty, savory snack, you could simply snack on dried dulse leaves.

* Use dulse leaves to make a “DLT” sandwich. That’s dulse, lettuce, and tomato. Using dulse leaves will be much easier in this case than dulse flakes.

* Add dulse flakes to a smoothie for a savory, salty flavor and to help remove toxic heavy metals from the body.

Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Dulse
Capers, curry powder, dill, ginger, parsley

Foods That Go Well with Dulse
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beans, cashews, eggs, fish, peanuts and peanut butter, sesame seeds and paste, bean sprouts, tahini, tofu, walnuts

Vegetables: Cabbage (i.e., Chinese, napa, red), celery, greens (i.e., collards), mushrooms, onions, potatoes, scallions, spinach, sweet potatoes, vegetables (in general), watercress

Fruits: Apples, avocado, coconut, lemon (juice and zest)

Grains and Grain Products: Grains (in general), noodles, oats, pastas, popcorn, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy Products: Butter

Other Foods: Miso, oil (i.e., olive, sesame)

Dulse has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Chili (esp. vegetarian), curry, dips, Irish cuisine, pasta dishes, pates, pizza, salads, sandwiches, Scottish cuisine, soups (esp. bean), stews, stir-fries, wraps

Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Dulse

Add dulse to any of the following combinations…

Basil + Sun-Dried Tomatoes + Walnuts

Dill + Lemon Zest + Parsley

Ginger + Sesame Oil

Lemon + Tahini

Lemon Juice and/or Zest + Walnuts

Sea Salt + Sesame Seeds

Recipe Links

Kale, Mushroom and Lentil Pilaf with Dulse

Ultimate Superfood Salad with Dulse Seaweed

Vegetarian Soba Noodles with Dulse

Detox Coriander Pesto with Dulse

Pea Soup with Dulse Seaweed

Cabbage, Broccoli, and Cashew Stir-Fry with Dulse

Stuffed Tomatoes with Dulse

Curried Lentil and Vegetable Soup with Dulse Seaweed

Gluten-Free Chocolate Dulse Cake

Dulse Smoothie with Berries and Irish Moss

Dulse Chips

DLT – Dulse, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich Recipe

Seaweed Popcorn Seasoning

Butternut Squash Soup with Smoked Kelp and Dulse

Roasted Mushroom, Feta, and Smoked Dulse Pasta Recipe


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

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

William, Anthony. (2016) Medical Medium Life-Changing Foods. Carlsbad, California, USA: Hay House, Inc.

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.

Dried Herbs and Spices

Using and Storing Dried Herbs and Spices

Using and Storing Dried Herbs and Spices

First, let’s distinguish the difference between herbs and spices. Herbs are the leafy part of plants. Spices are the dried seeds, bark, fruit, or ground roots of a plant. Such items are commonly used to add a wide array of flavors to foods of all sorts. Different cultures commonly use specific herbs or spices in their cuisine. Rarely will anyone use all the different herbs and spices that nature has to offer. Anyone who cooks at all will usually keep a specific supply of dried herbs and spices on hand so they are readily available whenever they are needed. We often keep them on the spice rack without thought of their age and if they should be replaced. We simply use them until they are gone, then get another bottle from the store when needed.

The problem with that is the fact that they do age over time and lose their flavor. If dampness got into the bottle, they may clump together and even spoil. This can happen if the bottles are opened and the contents are measured over a pot of boiling water or cooking food that is releasing steam. If we close that bottle up right away, the moisture is locked in and the herb or spice will soak it up, causing it to age, and possibly clump together or even spoil.

Most bottled herbs and spices will come with a “Best By” date stamped somewhere on the container, but we often don’t think to check the date to be sure our supply is still fresh. Or, maybe we grew the herb, dried it ourselves, and didn’t think to label the container with the harvest or packed date and also our own “Use By” date to ensure it is fresh.

So, it’s VERY easy to have an accumulation of outdated herbs and spices in our pantry and not give it any thought until we use them and discover they have not given any flavor to our food. Here are some tips to keep in mind to help you ensure your supply of herbs and spices are still flavorful.

Tips for Testing Freshness

  • Look at the color of your dried herb or spice. Is it still vibrant and colorful, or is it dull and faded? Old herbs and spices tend to lose their color over time. If the color has faded, the herb is probably old and the flavor has most likely dwindled.
  • Crush or rub some between your fingers then smell the herb or spice. Does it smell strong like it should? If the aroma is weak or musty, it is likely too old and will not lend much flavor when used in cooking. If it still smells good, but just not as strong as it should, you can still use it, but use more than the recipe calls for. Add some, let it cook for a little while, then taste the food. If it needs more flavor, add more of what you have available. When this is the case, it’s a good idea to write it down on your grocery list so it can be replaced soon.
  • Taste a small amount of the herb or spice. If there is no flavor or tastes stale, it’s old and not worth using because it will not give any flavor to your food.
  • Have you found that the herb or spice is clumpy? Chances are that moisture has made its way into the container and the flavor may be reduced or “off” some. Taste it to test its flavor. If it still tastes like it should, it’s still OK to use in your food.
  • This may sound obvious, but it’s important to replace the cap securely after using a dried herb or spice. Loose caps can allow air and moisture to enter the container, aging the contents reducing their shelf life. Also, a loose cap can lead to accidental spillage of the contents, sometimes directly into the pot of cooking food! That’s not a good moment and one that can easily be avoided by being sure the cap is securely placed on the jar or container before returning it to the storage area.

General Storage Life of Herbs and Spices

While dried herbs and spices usually don’t spoil, they do lose their strength over time. Here is a general guideline for their shelf life.

  • Whole spices and seeds should keep for 3 to 4 years.
  • Ground spices should keep for 2 to 3 years.
  • Dried leafy herbs should keep well for 1 to 3 years.
  • Dried seasoning blends usually keep well for 1 to 2 years.

Despite the above information, it is generally recommended that we replace dried herbs and spices every 6 months to 1 year. This is reasonable since we don’t know how long the bottled seasonings were on the store shelf before we purchased them. Unless we check the “Best By” date on the bottle, we have no idea how old they are. Replacing them on a regular basis helps to ensure that we’re adding fresh and flavorful seasonings to our food.

Storage Tips for Keeping Dried Herbs and Spices

In general, there are five factors that cause dried herbs and spices to age and lose their flavor. Those factors are: air (more precisely, oxygen), moisture, heat, light, and time. Keeping your dried flavorings away from these five factors can work together to help preserve your seasonings. The following tips can help.

  • Keep them in a cool, dry, dark location, away from heat. Many people store herbs and spices that they reach for regularly in a spice rack or cabinet above the stove. This is not the best idea because heat from the stove and steam from cooking food will rise and warm that storage area which can cause the seasonings to age faster than they should. It’s best to store them away from the stove or oven so they are not subjected to the heat and moisture released in that area.
  • If you purchase items in bulk, add some to a small bottle for easy use from your spice cabinet. The rest may be stored in its original package. Add an oxygen absorber to the original bag if you have them, and squeeze out as much air as possible, then seal the bag. If possible, place that bag in an airtight container with a tight-fitting lid and store that in a cool, dry, dark location away from sunlight and heat. Alternatively, you could store extra dried herbs in a glass mason jar with a sealable lid. Place an oxygen absorber in the jar and remove as much air as possible, and store it appropriately. Refill your small bottle as needed, while keeping your bulk supply cool, dry, and away from sunlight and oxygen, if possible.
  • Some resources suggest keeping spices from the red pepper family refrigerated to extend their freshness and flavor. Such spices include paprika, cayenne, and chili powder.
  • When you measure dried herbs and spices, be sure to use a dry spoon! Using a wet or even damp spoon will carry moisture into the container, potentially shortening the shelf life of your herb or spice. Again, don’t measure near or over a source of steam, such as the pot of cooking food you’re about to season.
  • When you buy new herbs and spices, be sure to rotate your flavorings accordingly, using the oldest ones first. It is helpful to label the bottles and packaging with the purchase date to help remind you which items are the oldest. If you grew your own herbs, it’s helpful to label their container with a harvest or packaging date after they were dried. It’s also helpful to label your containers with a discard date, which would serve as a reminder when they should be replaced for the best tasting flavorings possible.
  • If you grow your own herbs, be sure they are completely dry before storing them. This is essential for keeping them properly for the longest possible shelf life, without inviting mold or spoilage along the way. Test them by rubbing a little between your fingers. They should be lightly crispy. Also, if they feel somewhat cool to the touch, they most likely still contain some moisture and should be dried longer.
  • If you grew your own herbs, it is helpful to know that storing the dried leaves whole helps to preserve their essential oils, which is what provides their aroma and flavor. The oils are held in small cells within the leaves. When the leaves are crushed, those small cells are broken open, exposing them to air. The air causes the essential oils to exit the leaf, causing the aroma and flavor to dwindle faster than it would if the leaf was stored whole. Waiting to crush the leaves until they are needed helps to preserve their valuable oils.

Tips for Using Herbs and Spices

  • If possible, try growing herbs that you use most often. Growing them outdoors during the warmer months is a wonderful way to keep your own supply of fresh herbs. During the colder, winter months, try growing a pot of your favorite herb(s) indoors. There’s nothing better than being able to snip off some freshly grown herbs that you grew yourself!
  • Remember that the flavor of dried herbs is stronger and more concentrated than that of fresh herbs. The general rule of thumb when using a dried herb is to use one-third the amount of fresh herb that is called for in a recipe. Example: If a recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley, use 1 tablespoon of dried parsley flakes.
  • Whole spices keep their fragrance and flavor much longer than ground spices. If possible, get a spice grinder and shop for whole spices. Grind them as needed for the best flavor possible.
  • Add dried herbs early in the cooking process. This allows them time to rehydrate and release their flavors into the food over time.
  • Add fresh herbs late in the cooking process. This will preserve their delicate flavors and add a little extra color to the dish. If appropriate, use a little more of your fresh herb as an attractive garnish for your dish.
  • When using spices, remember that they can add a powerful punch of flavor. It’s best to add a little at a time, allow it to cook some, then taste. Add more if needed. It’s much easier to add more than to mask the flavor of too much of a specific spice in a food.
  • Toasting spices before adding them to a dish can help to enhance their flavor. Simply put your dried spices into a dry skillet on medium heat. Stir them until they become aromatic. Be careful not to burn them in the process since that could ruin the flavor! When they are aromatic, use them in your dish.

With a little thoughtfulness and planning, we can enjoy the many flavors of herbs and spices readily available to us, either through commercial markets or from our own gardens. We just need to remember to store them properly and rotate or renew our supply when needed.



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.

Barley Grass Powder

Barley Grass 101 – The Basics

Barley Grass 101 – The Basics

Barley Grass Powder vs Barley Grass Juice Powder
Some popular smoothie recipes call for adding barley grass juice powder to the mixture. Yet, when we shop for this item, we may also see barley grass powder. This can lead to confusion and some people may accidentally buy the wrong item. So, what’s the difference?

Both items are made from barley grass, which is the leaves of the young barley plant that has not yet started to produce seeds. However, the two powders are not the same thing.

Barley grass powder is made from the leaves of the young barley plant that have been dehydrated then ground into a fine powder. The powder contains all of the components of the barley grass (except the water), including the nutrients, phytochemicals, and fiber. The powder is a medium green color, that is not as dark as barley grass juice powder. Barley grass powder can be added to foods and beverages, as desired. Barley grass has strong nutritional and medicinal properties and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 1800 years. It is available in powder, capsule, or extract form.

Barley grass juice powder is also made from the leaves of the young barley plant. The leaves are first juiced, then the juice is dried at a low temperature to protect its nutrients. The result is a rich, dark green powder that contains concentrated nutrients that are found in barley grass. The juice powder does not contain the cellulose fiber, since it was removed in the pulp during the juicing process. Just like barley grass powder, barley grass juice powder may also be added to foods and beverages, as desired.

Does Barley Grass Contain Gluten?

While the seed of the plant (barley grain) does contain gluten, neither barley grass powder nor barley grass juice powder should contain gluten. As long as the grass (or leaves) were harvested when the plant was young, before seeds began to form, the grass should be gluten-free. Sometimes the leaves may be harvested late, after the seeds have started to form. In this case, there might be gluten in them. Also, some manufacturers do not have processing facilities that are dedicated to only gluten-free foods. In this case, there is the chance that there could be some gluten contamination (from other foods) in the powder. To be on the safe side, if you are sensitive to gluten, be sure to shop for barley grass products that are certified as being gluten-free.

Nutritional and Health Benefits

Young barley grass is said to be the most nutritious of all the green grasses. The array of nutrients found in barley grass powder and barley grass juice powder will be the same (except for the insoluble fiber which will not be found in barley grass juice powder), since they are derived from the same plant. However, the nutrients and phytochemicals will be much more concentrated and at a higher level in the barley grass juice powder than in the barley grass powder. Since the indigestible cellulose (insoluble fiber) has been removed in the barley grass juice powder, the nutrients will be easier to absorb in the digestive tract.

Barley grass (whether consumed fresh, powered, in capsules, or in juice powder) is rich in Vitamins A, C, E, K, and B-complex vitamins, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. It also contains high quality protein (with many different amino acids, including 8 essential amino acids) that the body can readily utilize. It also contains chlorophyll and an array of phytonutrients and antioxidants that make barley grass a highly nutritious food, no matter how it is consumed.

Heavy Metal and Toxin Remover. According to Anthony William, the Medical Medium, barley grass juice powder, draws out heavy metals, such as mercury, from the liver and other vital organs in the body. Barley grass juice powder is one of the key ingredients in his Heavy Metal Detox Smoothie, and it works in tandem with the other key ingredients of the smoothie to bind onto heavy metals and remove them from the body. Doing so can help to reduce the symptoms and effects of serious health conditions, such as memory and concentration issues, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, skin issues such as eczema and psoriasis, anxiety, depression, and many others. Barley grass juice powder replaces the toxins it removes with vital nutrients. Furthermore, it blocks pathogens, such as the Epstein-Barr, shingles, and other viruses from feeding on their preferred foods, such as toxic heavy metals. This, in turn, means that any conditions caused by these pathogens can be helped by consuming barley grass juice powder (and Anthony William’s Heavy Metal Detox Smoothie) on a regular basis.

Digestive Health and Weight Management. Fresh barley grass and barley grass powder (not the juice powder) contain a lot of fiber—all the fiber found naturally in the plant. Fiber moves slowly through the digestive tract, making us feel full longer. This helps to reduce the appetite and curb cravings. These factors can help in weight management, helping us to avoid overeating or over-snacking when we really don’t need the extra food. In a study published in the June 2019 issue of the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, mice were fed a high-fat diet to induce obesity. Barley grass juice was then given to the mice for 60 days at the rate of 200 and 400 mg/kg of body weight. Various tests were administered to the mice at regular intervals and again at the end of the study. Researchers found that barley grass juice showed potent antioxidant activity, accompanied by a significant decrease in body weight and BMI, and improved lipid profiles and liver function markers. They concluded that barley grass juice can be an effective agent in the management of obesity.

Reduced Risk of Heart Disease and Improved Blood Cholesterol Levels. As mentioned in the above paragraph, blood lipid profiles have been shown to improve with regular intake of barley grass juice. It has also been shown to reduce blood pressure and inflammation in the body. All factors combined help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Other Benefits. Barley grass contains a variety of important enzymes (fatty acid oxidase, cytochrome oxidase, peroxidase, catalase and transhydrogenase) that can help in the breakdown of fats in the body. Barley grass is also very high in chlorophyll, which helps deter harmful bacteria helping to prevent disease in the body. It also helps to balance the pH of the body, promoting good health and improved immunity. Barley grass juice powder has been shown to help increase energy, aid digestion, relieve constipation, and improve sleep and the health of skin, hair, and nails.

Barley grass juice powder has also been found to be helpful in healing arthritis, migraine headaches, asthma, fatigue, gastrointestinal issues, cancer, and diabetes. It also aids in the circulation of the lymphatic system. With all the health benefits of barley grass, it could be a valuable health tonic for everyone to include in their diet on a regular basis.

Ways to Include Barley Grass into Your Diet

* Grow your own barley grass and juice it on a regular basis.

* If you grow your own barley grass, the leaves can be added to a salad or any meal as a leafy green vegetable.

* Take barley grass capsules if juicing or consuming the powder are not good options for you.

* Add barley grass powder (or juice powder) to water, coconut water, juices, smoothies, or other beverages and drink it on a regular basis.

* Try adding barley grass powder (or juice powder) to pancakes, baked goods (such as quick breads), yogurt, and/or oatmeal. (See note below)

* Add it to a salad dressing.

* Mix it into soups. (See note below)

* Add it to hummus.

Note: To get the optimal benefit from your fresh barley grass, barley grass powder, or barley grass juice powder, use it in an unheated application. Heat treatment may reduce the nutrient content of this powerful food.


In summary, barley grass is an extremely nutritious, health-promoting food. If you want to improve or guard your health, including it in your diet on a regular basis may prove to be a valuable endeavor over time. If you have a serious health issue, it may be wise to consult with your personal healthcare provider before embarking on something new, just to be cautious. Otherwise, feel free to enjoy it any way you can work it into your day. Your body will thank you!


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.