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How to Fix a Food That is Too Sour

It’s easy to add a little too much lemon juice or vinegar when finishing a dish. If this happens, all is not lost! There are different ways that this problem can be handled. Try whichever tactic listed below that would be right for your food that is too sour.

Below is a video where I discuss this topic. Following the video are my complete notes on how to reduce sourness in a food.

I hope this helps!

Add sweetener. Sweet and sour go hand-in-hand. A simple way to balance a food that is too sour is to add some sweetener of your choice. For example, when making a salad dressing, if too much vinegar was used, add a touch of sweetener to balance it out and transform your pucker into a smile.

Sometimes, homemade tomato sauce can be a bit sour or bitter from the tomatoes and/or tomato paste. Adding a little sugar will balance that out so your sauce will taste amazing. Even adding a fresh carrot to your tomato sauce while it’s cooking will do the trick, if you don’t want to add sugar.

Add salt. Adding a bit more of a salty component to your dish can balance the sour flavor. Example: If you’ve added too much lemon juice or vinegar to a stir-fry, simply add a touch more soy sauce to balance it out.

Add a little baking soda. When a food is too sour, it’s too acidic. Baking soda is a great neutralizer for acids. A little goes a long way here, so only add a SMALL amount at a time. If the food bubbles up, stir it and allow time for the bubbles to dissipate, and the baking soda to do its job. Taste the food after the baking soda is well mixed in. Adjust flavorings if needed.

Add some cheese. Adding a little Parmesan or ricotta to a sour sauce can help to balance the flavors and reduce the tartness.

Add some veggies. Adding some chopped vegetables, such as carrots or potatoes, will absorb some of the acid and help to balance flavors out in a soup or stew that is too sour.

Add some fat. Adding some fat such as butter, oil, ghee, coconut oil, or cream can help to balance flavors in a sour dish.

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.


Millet 101 – The Basics

Millet is a food that many Americans are not familiar with (other than being a part of bird food). Yet, it’s a commonly eaten seed (used as a grain) in other parts of the world. Among other uses, millet flour is a common ingredient in the Indian flatbread,  Roti.

If you haven’t tried millet, this tiny seed is worth toasting and cooking it in some way that sounds favorable to you. It has a number of important health properties, so it’s worth including some in your diet at least now and then. Below are notes covering many aspects of millet, from what it is to how to use it, along with links to some recipes using millet. You should find what you need there! I hope this helps.


Millet 101 – The Basics

About Millet
Millet is a tiny, round seed of a grass, with over 6,000 varieties around the world. It can be white, gray, yellow or red. The term “millet” actually refers to a variety of grains, but is commonly thought of as the hulled variety most often available. It is technically a seed, but is usually referred to as a grain, since that is how we use it for culinary purposes. It is naturally gluten-free, so it is a safe alternative food for those who are gluten-sensitive. In North America, millet us used mainly as part of bird seed. Its flavor is somewhat bland with a light nutty flavor, especially when toasted. It blends well with many foods and seasonings. Millet can be purchased as a whole grain (usually hulled), flour, and flakes. The types commonly eaten fall into the scientific categories of Panicum miliaceuem or Setaria italic, and they are in the Poaceae family.

Millet is believed to have originated in Ethiopia, where it has been eaten since prehistoric times. It may be one of the first grains cultivated by man, with research indicating it was used 10,000 years ago or even earlier. Millet was mentioned in the Bible as an ingredient of unleavened bread. To this day, millet is still a very important staple food in many African, Eastern European, and Asian countries. It is a main ingredient in flatbreads, beer and other fermented beverages, and porridges. The customary Indian flatbread, roti, is made from ground millet seeds. Millet was brought to America in the 19th century. Today, most of the world’s millet is grown in India, China, and Nigeria.

Nutrition Tidbits and Health Benefits
One cup of cooked millet has about 6 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber, with about 210 calories. It is a good source of copper, phosphorus, manganese and magnesium. It also contains an array of B-vitamins and other minerals as well.

Millet is naturally gluten-free. However, many varieties of millet have been tested for gluten contamination, and were found to contain gluten residue. This can happen when millet is processed in a facility that also processes gluten-containing grains. If you are gluten-sensitive, be sure to purchase millet that is labeled as being certified gluten-free.

In 2010, researchers at the Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada found that all varieties of millet are high in antioxidants and phenolic compounds.  Antioxidants are known to help protect the body against harmful compounds that can form when foods are broken down and when we’re exposed to toxins. Such compounds can promote heart disease, cancer and other diseases. So, antioxidants can help to protect us from such diseases and it’s important to get all we can through our foods to help keep us healthy. Phenolic compounds include phenolic acids, flavonoids, tannins, stilbenes, curcuminoids, coumarins, lignans, quinones, and others. Such compounds are known to have anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties, so they also can help to ward off cancer and other serious diseases. The phenolic compounds in millet have also been shown to help remove toxins from the body by promoting elimination and neutralizing certain enzymes in some organs.

Scientists in South Korea found that millet lowered blood lipids in rats fed millet for four weeks. The researchers concluded that millet may be helpful in preventing cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, researchers at the University of Kentucky showed a link between the consumption of whole grains and a lowered risk of heart disease. This may be due at least in part to the magnesium content of grains which lowers blood pressure, and in turn lowers the risk of stroke and heart disease. Millet is known to be a good source of magnesium.

Millet also has a low glycemic index which helps to control blood sugar. Scientific studies have shown millet to be effective in helping to control blood sugar levels in diabetics.

The fiber content of millet can also help some digestive issues by promoting regular elimination of waste. This also helps the kidneys, liver, and immune system to function better.

How to Select Millet
Millet is usually available as a whole grain that has been hulled. It is usually found prepackaged, but some stores also carry it in bulk bins. If purchasing it from bulk bins, be sure the store has a good turnover of it so you know it is fresh. No matter how it is sold, be sure there is no evidence of moisture in the package or container.

How to Store Millet
Store millet in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place. It can be stored in a pantry, refrigerator or freezer. When kept cool, dry, airtight, and out of light, it should keep a year or two. If packed with oxygen absorbers in an airtight container, and placed in a cool, dry, dark place, it should keep for many years.

How to Prepare Millet
To soak, or not to soak (millet before cooking)…THAT is the question. According to and  there is no actual need to soak millet before cooking it. It does not contain bitter tannins, like sorghum. Nor does it contain saponins, like quinoa. With the outer hull removed and the absence of such compounds, there is no actual reason to soak it unless you simply want to. One part of millet can be soaked in 3 to 4 parts of cold water from 6 hours to overnight, or in hot water for one hour. Either way it is soaked, the cooking time will certainly be shortened, and it will absorb less water during cooking, so bear that in mind.

Depending upon how it is cooked, millet can be creamy like mashed potatoes, or fluffy like rice. Millet should first be rinsed under running water to remove any debris. For a chewier texture like that of rice, add 1 part of millet to 2 parts of boiling water or broth. For a creamier texture, add 1 part of millet to 3 parts of boiling water or broth. Return the liquid to a boil, then turn down the heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes (for a chewy texture), or 25 minutes or more, for a more creamy texture.

To obtain a creamy consistency like a risotto, stir the millet into a small amount of boiling water or broth. Stir it often adding a little more hot liquid every now and then, like you would a risotto.

To impart a nutty flavor to millet, roast it first (before boiling it) by placing it in a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir it often. When the granules are golden brown, add them to boiling liquid and proceed as stated above.

According to Bob’s Red Mill, one cup of millet makes about 3-1/2 cups cooked (when cooked like rice).

Here’s a simple recipe for cooked millet…

Cooked Millet
Makes 3-1/2 Cups

1 cup millet
2 cups water or broth

Place the millet in a fine mesh strainer and rinse it well. Place the strainer over a bowl and allow the millet to drain.

Bring 2 cups of water or broth to boil in a pot with a lid. Add the rinsed and drained millet. Cover the pot and lower the heat to medium-low. Set the timer for 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, turn off the burner and remove the pot from the hot burner. Leave the lid on the pot, set the timer for 5 minutes and allow the millet to rest and absorb any remaining liquid. When the time is up, remove the lid, fluff the millet with a fork and serve with flavorings of choice or use in any recipe calling for a cooked grain.

Cooked millet may be used in any recipe calling for couscous, rice, bulgur, quinoa, or any other cooked grain. It may also be served as a breakfast porridge with fruit, spices, and/or milk of choice. Cooked millet may also be used as a side dish with any meal calling for potatoes or a grain. It may also be included in burger patties, quick breads and even pancakes.

How to Preserve Millet
According to Bob’s Red Mill, a company that sells millet, cooked millet can be frozen, and will keep about 2 months in the freezer. However, cooked soft grains, like millet, will have different properties after being frozen. Therefore, they don’t recommend freezing cooked millet. So, according to Bob’s Red Mill, it is best to cook smaller amounts of millet so you can use it up quickly. Cooked millet will last up to 4 days in the refrigerator in a covered container.

According to at millet can be frozen and they provided suggestion on the best way to accomplish the task. Freeze cooked millet in a thin, flat layer in a small freezer bag. The smaller, flat layer allows the cooked grain to thaw out faster when the time comes. They suggest using the frozen grain straight from the freezer when it is going to be added to something like a soup, stew, casserole, or even a salad. If needed, frozen cooked millet can be thawed by transferring it to a microwave safe bowl. Sprinkle it with one or two tablespoons of water, cover the bowl, then microwave in 1-minute increments until thawed and warmed. It can also be warmed slowly in a saucepan on the stove with one or two tablespoons of water added. Stir it often to be sure it does not burn nor stick to the pan.

Quick Tips and Ideas for Using Millet
Millet works well in breakfast porridges, as a replacement for rice served with stir-fried vegetables, and as a savory pilaf. It also adds bulk to soups, casseroles, and meatless burger patties. With millet having a cooked texture like that of rice, quinoa, or buckwheat, it can be used interchangeably in just about any recipe calling for those grains. So it can easily be used in pilafs, casseroles, side dishes, soups, stews, puddings, baked goods, and more.

Millet can also be ground into flour to replace up to 25% of wheat flour when used in yeast breads. It can also be popped like popcorn and enjoyed as a snack, or included in granola, cereals, or baked goods for a little crunch.

Here are some easy ideas for using millet…

* Serve cooked millet as a breakfast porridge, as you would oatmeal. Top it with your favorite fruit and/or nuts, milk, and any flavorings you prefer.

* Add ground millet to breads and muffin recipes in place of some of the flour.

* Cooked millet can be used as an alternative to cooked rice or potatoes with any meal.

* Use cooked chilled millet in any salad calling for a cooked grain.

* Toast millet before cooking it to bring out its nutty flavor by placing it in a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir or shake the pan often until the millet is lightly browned. Watch it carefully to prevent it from burning.

* Millet can be used in a recipe in place of couscous.

* Make a millet polenta-like loaf by placing cooked millet into a loaf pan. Cover the pan and refrigerate it overnight. The next day, remove the loaf from the pan, slice it, and fry the slices in a little olive oil over low heat, until browned and heated through. Serve with a sweet or savory sauce.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well With Millet
Basil, bay leaf, cardamom, chervil, chili powder, cilantro, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, curry powder and spices, dill, garlic, ginger, mint, oregano, parsley, pepper (black), rosemary, saffron, salt, tarragon, thyme, turmeric, vanilla

Other Foods That Go Well With Millet
Protein, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (esp. black beans), chicken, chickpeas, eggs, lentils, nuts (in general), pancetta, peas, pistachios, seeds (in general), sesame seeds, shrimp, sunflower seeds, tahini, tempeh, walnuts

Vegetables: Arugula, beets, bell peppers (red), broccoli, burdock, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, celery root, chard, chiles, chives, eggplant, fennel, greens, leeks, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkin, scallions, shallots, squash (winter and summer), sweet potatoes, tomatillos, tomatoes, turnips, vegetables (in general, and sautéed baby vegetables), watercress, yams, zucchini

Fruits: Apples, apricots (esp. dried), avocado, berries (in general), blueberries, cherries (esp. dried), coconut, currants, dates, lemon, lime, mango, orange, peaches, raisins, raspberries

Grains and Grain Products: Amaranth, bulgur, cereals, corn, oats, quinoa, rice

Milk and Non-Dairy: Butter, cheese, milk (all types), sour cream, yogurt

Other Foods: Honey, maple syrup, oils, soy sauce, stock (vegetable), tamari, vinegar

Foods and Cuisines that Include Millet
Asian cuisines, baked goods (breads, muffins), batters (pancake, waffle), casseroles, cereals (hot breakfast), couscous, croquettes, curries, dals, granola, East Indian cuisine, millet cakes, muffins, North African cuisines, pilafs, polentas, porridges, puddings, risottos, salads (fruit and green), sandwiches (sloppy Joes), stir-fries, stuffed mushrooms or vegetables, stuffings, tabbouleh, veggie burgers

Suggested Flavor Combos
Combine millet with any of the following…
Agave nectar + almond milk + coconut milk
Almonds + cardamom + cinnamon + cumin + turmeric
Almonds + orange
Apricots + raisins
Black beans + sweet potatoes
Blueberries + fennel + hazelnuts
Chickpeas + garlic + greens
Cilantro + lime + tomatoes
Dates + nuts
Garlic + mint + parsley
Ginger + winter squash
Honey + milk
Honey + nuts
Orange + pecans
Peanuts + sweet potatoes

Recipe Links
12 Vegetarian Millet Recipes (Plus 3 Ways to Cook Millet)

Moroccan Carrot Salad with Millet

Cauliflower Millet Soup with Lemon

Vegetable Fried Millet

Turmeric Spiced Millet Veggie Burgers

Millet with Roasted Tomatoes and Chickpeas

Vegan BBQ Lentils with Millet Polenta

Millet Tabbouleh Salad

Black Bean and Millet Salad

Basic Millet Pilaf


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.

How to Reduce the Spiciness of a Food

It can happen to the best of us. We taste our food that’s cooking and WOW it’s too spicy! This can happen in a number of ways and we’ve all done it at one time or another. All is not lost. There ARE ways to salvage the dish.

Below is a video where I discuss this topic. Written notes are below the video.

I hope this helps!

Add more of the other ingredients to tone down the spiciness. Depending on what the dish is, you could add more liquid, protein, starches, vegetables, or other ingredients to counter the spiciness. Adding some bland ingredients like potatoes or rice can help, even if not in the original recipe. If doubling the recipe, be sure not to add more spicy ingredients until you’ve added the other ingredients, allowed it to cook some, THEN tasted it first before adding anything else.

Add a dairy ingredient. Milk, cream, sour cream, or yogurt can cool off spiciness in a dish. BUT, be careful about adding milk-based items to a cooking hot liquid, as the sudden heat could cause the milk to curdle. Instead, add a little to each serving after it has cooled just a bit. Coconut milk is a good alternative that may also work well in calming spiciness in a food.

Add some acid. Adding some form of acid, like citrus juice, vinegar or even ketchup can cut the spiciness of a food. This trick is often used in Thai cuisine, known for its spicy foods.

Add some sweetener. Adding a little sweetener of choice can help to cut the spiciness in a food. Just be careful not to add too much or your dish may end up tasting like an odd dessert.

Add a spoonful of nut butter. A spoonful of nut butter added to a spicy soup or stew can help to reduce the spiciness without its flavor being noticeable. Peanut, almond, or cashew butter, and tahini are possible options.

Serve the spicy food with something bland and starchy. Pairing a spicy food with a bland starchy food can balance the flavors out so nothing is overly bland nor spicy. Crusty bread, rice, potatoes, or pasta are all possible candidates.

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.


Honeynut Squash

Honeynut Squash 101 – The Basics

Honeynut squash are pretty new on the market, so you may or may not know what they are. They look like small Butternut squash, and they are related, but not the same plant. They are a hybrid of a Butternut squash and a Buttercup squash. They are sweet and delicious, so let me urge you to at least give one a try! The following is a comprehensive article about these beauties, from what they are to how to enjoy them. I hope this helps!


Honeynut Squash 101 – The Basics

About Honeynut Squash
Honeynut squash are relatively new on the market, having been available for only a few years. They look like a small butternut squash, but are only up to 6 inches long. They were developed as a friendly challenge between a food scientist, Michael Mazourek, an associate professor in Plant Breeding and Genetics at Cornell University, and Dan Barber, chef and co-owner of the Blue Hill at Stone Barns Restaurant in Pocantico Hills, New York. The challenge resulted in a hybrid squash variety of Cucurbita moschata that looks like a mini butternut, but with a sweeter flavor. It is actually a cross between a Butternut and Buttercup squash. Honeynut squash are available in the fall through winter months.

A specific trait that makes the Honeynut different than Butternut squash is that the Honeynut is green like a zucchini until it ripens, when it turns its characteristic honey-orange color. The flesh is firm, moist, and orange with a small cavity in the bulbous end of the squash filled with stringy pulp and a few flat, cream-colored seeds. When cooked, Honeynut squash is tender and creamy with a flavor described as sweet, nutty, caramel, and malt-like.

Honeynut squash can be used interchangeably with any other winter squash in most recipes.  Mazourek describes the flavor of Honeynut squash as, “starchy with a smooth, even texture, and a flavor that gets sweeter as you eat it.” Since the flesh is sweeter than that of Butternut squash, he also suggests that you reduce sweeteners in a recipe when substituting Honeynut for Butternut squash. The skin is edible like that of a delicata squash, so peeling is optional.

Nutrition Tidbits and Health Benefits
Honeynut squash is an excellent source of beta-carotene, and is a good source of B-complex vitamins like folate, niacin, and riboflavin. It also contains iron, zinc, copper, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. Butternut squash are well known for their beta-carotene content. Honeynut squash top their Butternut cousins by having up to three times the beta-carotene.

Since Honeynut squash are relatively new in the food market, little information is available about their health benefits. However, there is ample information about the benefits of eating winter squash (in general), so the benefits are well worth mentioning. Chances are that they also apply to Honeynut squash.

Blood sugar management. Winter squash are classified as low to medium on the Glycemic Index. This means they help to control the release of sugar in the digestive tract. This effect can help to ward off the spike in insulin and blood sugar levels that we commonly experience from some foods, such as potatoes. It is believed that the pectin content of winter squash causes this effect. Studies have shown that pectin in foods has antidiabetic effects by slowing the release of sugars in the digestive tract. The B-Vitamins found in winter squash also have important roles in regulating carbohydrate metabolism. So with all nutrients considered, including winter squash in your diet may be very beneficial for everyone, but especially for those who have issues with blood sugar control.

Antioxidant protection: We know that winter squash are high in beta-carotene, a well-known antioxidant. The Vitamin C and minerals copper and manganese also found in winter squash are known to aid in the activity of antioxidants. Together, these nutrients help to protect us from harmful molecules that can form in the body, protecting heart health and helping to ward off cancer and other diseases.

Eye protection: It is a well-established fact that the leading cause of blindness world-wide stems from a Vitamin A deficiency. Winter squash are known to be rich in Beta-carotene, and Honeynut squash are no exception, with them containing two to three times the Beta-carotene as Butternut squash. Beta-carotene is a precursor in the body for Vitamin A. So there is no doubt that consuming Honeynut squash as well as other winter squash can help to ward off eye diseases including blindness through its Beta-carotene content.

How to Select Honeynut Squash
Look for ones with the least green and most orange color. The orange color indicates ripeness, more intense flavor, and greater nutritional benefits. Opt for those with smooth skins, few blemishes, and no signs of wrinkling (which indicates age and dehydration).

How to Store Honeynut Squash
Honeynut squash can be stored for a month or more if kept in a cool, dry place. The ideal temperature range for storing winter squash is 50-68°F, according to The World’s Healthiest Foods website at  Note that the skin of Honeynut squash is not as thick as that of other winter squash, so it may not keep quite as long as expected. (Some winter squash may keep for as long as 6 months within that cooler temperature range.) If you notice that your squash has started to wrinkle, use it right away. Wrinkling is a sign that it is drying out and won’t keep much longer.

Of course, once your squash has been cut or cooked, it should be placed in the refrigerator in a covered container, and used within several days.

How to Preserve Honeynut Squash
Honeynut squash can be frozen like any other winter squash. Roasted, baked, or boiled squash can simply be removed from the peel, mashed or pureed (if desired), and placed in a suitable freezer container or bag. Flatten the bag and remove the air. Seal, label, and freeze flat. Smaller amounts can be frozen in ice cube trays, muffin tins, or in specific amounts placed on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Transfer frozen lumps to a freezer bag, label, seal, and return to the freezer. (If the frozen squash pieces are stuck to the pan, just wait a couple minutes and they should release without too much effort.) Properly frozen cooked winter squash will keep up to 12 months in the freezer.

When it’s time to use your frozen squash, it may be used frozen or thawed overnight in the refrigerator, or on a thaw setting in the microwave. The freezer container may also be placed in a pan of warm tap water. Change the water often. Do not heat the water on the stove unless the freezer container was designed to withstand such heat.

Honeynut squash may also be blanched before being frozen. This method would be helpful if you intent to cook your squash in a casserole or soup where you want the cubes to be further cooked later. Cut the squash into cubes and blanch them by placing them in boiling water for 3 minutes. Immediately transfer the cubes to a bowl of ice water and allow them to chill for another 3 minutes. Remove from the ice water and drain them well. Place them into a freezer container or on a tray to freeze individually. Place container or tray in the freezer. Transfer frozen cubes from the tray to a freezer container, label, and return them to the freezer. They should wait for you up to 12 months.

Honeynut squash that was cut and frozen raw will keep in the freezer for up to three months. To prevent having one big lump of frozen squash cubes, place your cut squash in a single layer on a tray. Place the tray in the freezer until the squash is frozen (about an hour). Transfer the cut squash to a freezer container or bag. Label the container, remove air if possible, and return the squash to the freezer.

Once cooked, Honeynut squash will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

How to Prepare and Cook Honeynut Squash
Honeynut squash can be cooked like any other winter squash. The best way to enjoy and intensify the flavor would be to roast the squash. Wash the squash well and slice it in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds with a spoon and place cut side down in a baking dish. The dish can be clean and dry, or lined with a silicone sheet or parchment paper to make cleanup easier. It is not necessary to coat the squash with oil. Roast it in the middle of the oven at 375°F or 400°F until a sharp knife can easily pierce the flesh. The skin of a Honeynut squash is edible, so the peel does not have to be removed. However, it may be a bit tough after being roasted in this manner, so removing the peel is optional.

Honeynut squash can also be boiled, steamed and sautéed. They can also be microwaved by using the “baked potato” setting.

Quick Ideas Using Honeynut Squash
Here are some simple ways to include Honeynut squash in your meals…

* Roast one squash for a simple side dish. Their small size allows them to be put on a plate for an attractive inclusion in any meal. Use one squash for two people. Cut in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds with a spoon, then place cut side down on a baking dish. Roast at 375 to 400°F until you can easily pierce it with a fork. Remove from oven and season as desired. Flavor suggestions: (1) Drizzle with sesame oil, then sprinkle with sesame seeds and cayenne pepper. (2) Drizzle with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon; add maple syrup, brown sugar, or honey to taste. (3) Top with feta cheese, nuts of choice, and a sprinkle of coriander, cumin and mint. (4) Drizzle with melted butter, honey and chopped pecans.

* Add roasted (and cooled) Honeynut squash to your favorite smoothie. Season with cinnamon, cloves, vanilla and ginger (or just use pumpkin pie spice) for a Fall pumpkin pie flavor.

* Use roasted, mashed Honeynut squash in place of mashed potatoes. Simply roast, remove flesh from the shell, mash and stir in some butter and salt, if desired.

* Use Honeynut squash in place of Butternut when making a squash soup.

* Add cubes of roasted Honeynut squash to a spinach or kale salad.

* Spiralize your Honeynut squash into noodles. Sauté onion and garlic in a small amount of your favorite oil. Add the noodles and sauté until just tender. Sprinkle with some salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese.

* Add a little roasted and pureed Honeynut squash to pancake batter. It’ll add a nutrient boost, beautiful color, and a sweet flavor to your pancakes.

* Make a delicious salad with a mixture of kale and salad greens, avocado, diced apple, shredded carrots, and steamed or roasted Honeynut squash cubes. Top with a honey mustard dressing, or other dressing of your choice. Add a protein of your choice (meat or poultry, cheese, nuts/seeds, or beans) for a complete meal.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well with Honeynut Squash
Allspice, basil, bay leaf, cardamom, cayenne, chili pepper flakes, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry powder, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, marjoram, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley (flat-leaf), pepper, rosemary, saffron, sage, salt, savory, star anise, tarragon, thyme, vanilla, za’atar

Other Foods That Go Well with Honeynut Squash
Proteins, Nut, Seeds:
Bacon, beans (in general), beef, black beans, chestnuts, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, nuts (in general), pecans, pine nuts, pork, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, tahini, tofu

Vegetables: Artichoke (Jerusalem), arugula, cabbage (savoy), carrots, cauliflower, celery, celery root, chiles, chives, fennel, greens, kale, leeks, mushrooms, onion, radicchio, shallots, spinach, tomatoes

Fruits: Apples, apple juice, berries, coconut, cranberries, dates, lemon, lime, orange, pears, pomegranate seeds, raisins

Grains and Grain Products: Barley, bulgur, corn, couscous, grains (whole), farro, millet, quinoa, rice, wheat

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter and browned butter, Cheese (in general), coconut milk, cream, milk (dairy and non-dairy), Parmigiano Reggiano, yogurt

Other Foods: Honey, maple syrup, miso, oil, stock (vegetable), sugar (brown), tamari, vinegar (esp. balsamic, cider, red wine, sherry)

Winter squash such as Butternut and Honeynut have been used in…
Baked goods (i.e. muffins), casseroles, curries, gratins, pasta (i.e. gnocchi, lasagna, ravioli), pies and tarts, pizza, purees, risottos, soups and bisques, succotash

Suggested flavor combos using Honeynut squash
Combine Honeynut squash with…
Apples + cinnamon + ginger+ maple syrup + walnuts
Cilantro + curry powder + lime + yogurt
Coconut milk + lemongrass
Fruit (i.e. cranberries, dates) + nuts (i.e. pecans, pistachios)
Orange + sage
Quinoa + walnuts
Rosemary + tomatoes + white beans
Sage + walnuts

Recipe Links
Twice Baked Honeynut Squash

Vegan Butternut Squash with Chili Risotto

Roasted Honeynut Squash with Za’Atar and Pomegranate Molasses

Honeynut Squash Risotto

31 Butternut Squash Recipes That Will Make You Wonder Why Pumpkin Gets All The Attention

Stuffed Honeynut Squash

Savory Stuffed Honeynut Squash

Vegan Wild-Rice-Stuffed Butternut Squash


Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia. (1993) So Easy To Preserve. Athens, GA: Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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.

Hemp Seeds

Hemp Seeds 101 – The Basics

Hemp seeds are interesting little seeds that have a strong nutritional punch to them. If you want an easy way to boost the health benefits of your foods, include some of them in whatever you want and your body will thank you for it. The following is a comprehensive article covering all about hemp seeds.


Hemp Seeds 101 – The Basics

About Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are the seeds of the plant family, Cannabis sativa. They are the same species classification as the cannabis/marijuana plant, but are a different variety. So, they are completely different plants. Hemp seeds do not cause any mind-altering effects.

Hemp seeds have a mild, nutty flavor and the hulled seeds are sometimes referred to as hemp hearts. They can be eaten raw, cooked, or roasted. Hemp seed oil has been used as food and medicine in China for over 3,000 years.

Nutrition Tidbits and Health Benefits
Hemp seeds are very nutritious. They are about one-third fat, being rich in the omega-6 fat, linoleic acid, and the omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid. They have a ratio of 3:1, omega-6 to omega-3, which is considered to be the optimal ratio for health.

They are also a great source of protein, Vitamin E, and the minerals phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc. About one-fourth of the calories in hemp seeds comes from protein. Furthermore, the protein in hemp seeds is considered to be almost a complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids, which is unusual in plant foods. (They are a little short in the amino acid lysine to have the complete balance of amino acids that humans need to be considered “complete.”) Two to three tablespoons of hemp seeds provides about 11 grams of protein. They are also a very digestible protein, being better than many grains, nuts and legumes.

Hemp seeds may help reduce your risk for heart disease. They are rich in the amino acid arginine, which produces the gas nitric oxide in the body. This gas makes your blood vessels relax and dilate, thereby reducing blood pressure. Increased arginine intake has been shown to correspond with lower levels of C-reactive protein, an inflammation marker associated with increased risk for heart disease.

Hemp seeds and hemp seed oil may also improve skin disorders such as eczema, atopic dermatitis, and acne. Studies suggest that the immune system works at its best when the omega-6 and omega-3 fats are properly balanced. Recent research has shown that eczema is actually an autoimmune condition. Because of the optimal balance of essential fatty acids in hemp oil, studies have shown that the oil may relieve the dry skin and itchiness of eczema, reducing the need for skin medications, and helping to correct the condition internally.

Studies have shown that the high levels of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) in hemp seeds may reduce the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in women. Women experienced reduced breast pain and tenderness, depression, irritability, and fluid retention associated with PMS. Studies indicate that the high GLA content of hemp seeds may also reduce the symptoms experienced during menopause. The oils in hemp seeds produce prostaglandin E1, which reduces the effects of prolactin, the hormone that appears to cause the symptoms experienced during PMS. During menopause, the oils in hemp seeds may help to regulate hormone imbalances.

Whole (unhulled) hemp seeds are also a good source of fiber, both soluble and insoluble, which helps to improve digestion and cleanse the colon. Whole hemp seeds are crunchy and are more shelf-stable than the hulled version. It is noteworthy that sometimes the hull can get stuck in teeth or dental work. Hence, some people avoid the whole seeds for this reason. Hulled hemp seeds do contain some fiber, however, they do not have the colon-cleansing effect of the whole seeds because the outer hull which contains most of the fiber has been removed.

How to Select Hemp Seeds
When buying hemp seeds, look for those packaged in air-tight, opaque containers that will protect them from light and air. Look for a “best by” date and opt for the freshest you can find.

How to Store Hemp Seeds
Once opened, store your hemp seeds in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer, where they will keep for about a year. If kept on the pantry shelf, they may last only three or four months before starting to go rancid. If you notice any “off” smell to them, throw them away, as they have started to spoil and should not be eaten.

Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Hemp Seeds

Here are some simple ways to include hemp seeds into your diet…

* Sprinkle whole or shelled hemp seeds onto cereal, hot or cold.

* Add a spoonful of hemp seeds to yogurt for a nutty flavor and nutritional boost.

* Add hemp seeds to a smoothie.

* Add some hemp seeds to baked goods when mixing dry ingredients.

* Sprinkle some hemp seeds onto a salad of any type.

* If using whole hemp seeds, grinding them in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle can help to make them more digestible.

* Hemp seeds are completely gluten free, so those who are sensitive to gluten can freely eat them.

* Add hemp seeds to breading mixture when coating foods for frying or baking. Or, simply use hemp seeds in place of bread crumbs when mixing breading ingredients.

* Make hemp seed milk in the same way you would make your own almond milk.

* Use hemp seed oil only as a “finishing” oil, rather than cooking with it or heating it in some way. This will maintain the quality of the fatty acids, and avoid breaking them down from the heat. Use hemp seed oil to make salad dressings, add flavor to cooked vegetables, and drizzle over popcorn, pasta dishes, cooked grains such as rice, or even pizza.

* Sprinkle hemp hearts (hulled hemp seeds) on cooked vegetables of any type.

* Add some hulled hemp seeds to burgers of any sort, meat or meatless.

* Add some hulled hemp seeds to soups, sauces, stews, tomato sauce, pesto, and casseroles for a little nutty flavor and nutritional boost.

* Add hemp hearts to any chia seed pudding.

* Add hemp hearts to pancake or waffle batter.

Foods That Are Known to Go with Hemp Seeds
Protein, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (white), cashews and cashew butter, eggs, walnuts

Vegetables: Bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, celery root, mushrooms, onions (green), squash (winter), vegetables (in general), watercress

Fruit: Avocados, berries (in general), blackberries, lemon, lime

Grains and Grain Products: Baked goods, breading (for meats, fish, poultry), cereals, grains (whole), noodles, oatmeal, popcorn, rice

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (cottage), yogurt

Other Foods: Chocolate, oil, vinegar (esp. white wine)

Herbs: Cilantro

Hemp seeds have been used in…
Baked goods (breads, cookies, muffins, piecrusts, quick breads), cereals (hot and cold), chili (vegetarian), dips, granola, pestos, pilafs, salad dressing, salads (green), smoothies, soups, spreads (i.e. chickpea), stir-fries, trail mixes, and veggie burgers

Recipe Links

18 Creative and Delicious Hemp Seed Recipes

Hemp Seed Recipes: How to Use Hemp Seeds

39 of the Best Hemp Recipes Ever (and Why Hemp is a Super Healthy Food)

11 Delicious Hemp Seed Recipes

Gluten-Free Vegan No-Bake Hemp and Chia Seed Bars


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.

Green Beans with Tomatoes

Green Beans with Tomatoes

Here’s a simple way to dress up green beans. Green beans with tomatoes is a delicious way to serve green beans and the dish goes well with many meals. Below is a video demonstration of my making the recipe with fresh green beans. But frozen and thawed green beans can easily be used instead. The recipe is below.


Fresh Green Beans with Tomatoes
Makes 5 to 6 Servings

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ cup diced yellow onion
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
Up to 1 lb of fresh green beans, or frozen green beans, if desired*
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes in juice
1 tsp dried basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 to 2 tsp balsamic or red wine vinegar, optional

Wash, trim, and cut the fresh green beans into bite-size pieces; set aside. (See below if using frozen green beans.)

Warm a skillet over medium heat. Add oil and allow it to heat up briefly. Add the onion and sauté about 1 minute. Add the garlic and prepared green beans. Sauté for about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes with juice, basil, salt and pepper; stir to combine. Cover and bring mixture to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until the green beans are as tender as you like, stirring occasionally. It takes about 10 minutes for fresh beans to become crisp-tender. Remove from heat and drizzle with vinegar, if desired.

*If preferred, frozen green beans can be used. Simply place the frozen beans in a colander and rinse with running water until they are thawed. Allow to drain, then proceed with recipe as usual. Very little cooking time is needed when using frozen and thawed beans. A few minutes should be enough to lightly cook them without them becoming mushy.

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.


Cranberries 101 – The Basics

Cranberries are popular in American cuisine, especially during the fall months when they are freshly harvested. They are traditionally served with most Thanksgiving feasts. Not only do we enjoy cranberry sauce during Thanksgiving, but we also love cranberry bread, cranberry salad, cranberry beverages, and dried cranberries in trail mix.

If you’re looking for something a little different to do with cranberries this year, read on! I have a LOT of suggestions to do with cranberries along with suggested flavor combinations of foods that go well with cranberries. Look no more!!


Cranberries 101 – The Basics

About Cranberries
Unlike many foods we routinely consume today, cranberries are native to North America. Interestingly, the plant has not spread widely across the globe. Today, over 80 percent of the world’s cranberries are grown in the United States and Canada, with most of those being grown in the United States. In 2014, about 840 million pounds of cranberries were produced in the United States, while about 388 million pounds were produced in Canada. Our main cranberry producing states are Wisconsin and Massachusetts. Cranberries are also grown in New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington.

Cranberries are grown on very low-lying vines that thrive on a combination of peat-based sandy soil and wet conditions. The area where cranberries grow is usually referred to as a “bog” or “marsh.” Wetland habitats are places where cranberries naturally grow. They usually take 16 months to fully mature. They are often planted in late spring or summer and mature during the fall of their second year.

Cranberries are closely related to blueberries, with both fruit belonging to the Ericaceae family of plants. The two berries have similar properties, yet unique benefits as well. We may see white and red cranberries in the grocery store. They are actually the same variety, with the white ones having been harvested about two to four weeks early. The white cranberries are milder and less tart in flavor than the red ones, but they lack some of the healthful phytonutrients that generate the red color in the more mature berries. The color of the mature berries can range from pale red to crimson to scarlet to deep purple.

Most of the cranberries grown in the United States are processed into juice, dried, or made into sauce. Only five percent are sold fresh. Due to their sharp, sour flavor, fresh cranberries are rarely eaten raw and unflavored.

Nutrition Tidbits
Cranberries provide an array of vitamins, minerals and other compounds that provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Among other nutrients, cranberries are a good source of Vitamins C, E, and K, along with pantothenic acid, manganese, copper, and fiber. One cup of cranberries has a mere 46 calories.

For the greatest nutritional value, use your cranberries when fresh and uncooked. Many of their nutrients are lost during the cooking process, especially when heated to 350°F or above.

Cranberries have long been known for their benefit against urinary tract infections. Historically, Native Americans are known to have used cranberries as a treatment for bladder and kidney diseases. Compounds in cranberries prevent bacteria from adhering to the walls of the bladder. As reported in an article at, scientists have found that this effect can be seen within eight hours of drinking cranberry juice.

Also, some scientific evidence suggests that cranberries may reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease by preventing platelet build-up and reducing blood pressure. They may also reduce the risk of cancer by slowing tumor progression, and protect dental health by preventing bacteria from adhering to teeth and helping to protect against gum disease.

How to Select Cranberries
Fresh cranberries are usually harvested between mid-September and mid-November, so the freshest berries would be found during this time frame.

Look for fresh, plump, brightly colored berries that are firm to the touch. Firmness is a prime indicator of freshness when shopping for cranberries. The richer the color, the higher is their phytonutrient (anthocyanin and proanthocyanidin) content.

How to Store Cranberries
Before storing your cranberries, pick through them, removing any that are soft, discolored, pitted, or shriveled. Store them in the refrigerator (unwashed) until you are ready to use them. Fresh, ripe cranberries can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

How to Preserve Cranberries
Fresh cranberries may easily be frozen for later use. Simply place your washed and drained berries on a tray. Place them in the freezer. When the berries are frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag, label the bag and return them to the freezer. Cranberries will keep for 6 to 12 months in the freezer. Once they are thawed, they should be used immediately.

Cranberries can be purchased dried, but they are usually sweetened during their processing, and many of them were also coated with oil. The added sugar and oil greatly increases the calorie content of the cranberries. Furthermore, some people need to avoid added oils and sugars in their foods. Some producers do dehydrate cranberries without added sugars and oils, so know what you’re wanting when you shop and read labels carefully. If you have a dehydrator, follow the manufacturer’s directions for drying your own cranberries.

Fresh vs Frozen vs Canned vs Dried vs Juiced
Fresh cranberries are found only during the fall months when they are harvested. They are relatively inexpensive, so if you use a lot of cranberries, it’s wise to stock up during this time and freeze or dry some for later use. As with so many foods, regarding nutritional aspects, fresh is best.

Frozen cranberries can be found in some grocery stores. They can be used in many recipes calling for fresh cranberries, however their texture may be softer when thawed then when fresh. Usually frozen cranberries are added to smoothies or cooked foods calling for the berries.

Canned cranberries are usually found as cranberry sauce, whether it be whole berry or the jelly variety. Canned cranberry sauce is delicious, but heavily sweetened. So, if you’re monitoring your added sugar intake, this option may not be the best for you.

Dried cranberries can be found in most grocery stores. However, most of them are heavily sweetened and they often also have oil added to them. All this makes them taste pleasant, masking the natural tartness of the cranberries. You’ll need to shop around if you’re looking for dried cranberries without the additives. Some companies do offer them dried without added sugar or oil, but not many. If your local grocery stores does not carry them, they can be found online.

Cranberry juice is found in most grocery stores. It is often blended with sweeteners and sometimes other liquids to reduce the tartness of the cranberries. One-hundred percent juice varieties are now available; however, they are a blend of a number of different fruit juices including cranberry juice. Such juices may have no added sugars, but the concentration of fruit juice makes them high in naturally occurring sugars. Again, if your diet calls for sugar restriction, such juices may not be the best for you. Some stores do carry 100% cranberry juice, without added sweeteners or other juices to mask the tartness of the cranberries. So, if you’re opting for cranberry juice, read labels carefully to be sure you purchase the type of juice you’re looking for.

How to Prepare Cranberries
Cranberries should be stored unwashed in the refrigerator. Wash them just prior to being used. Place the cranberries in a strainer and give them a quick rinse under cool, running water. Allow them to drain, then use them as desired.

When using frozen cranberries that will not be cooked, thaw them well and allow them to drain before being used. If you’ll be cooking your frozen cranberries, simply use them in the frozen state for the best flavor. Note that this may increase your cooking time somewhat.

Cooking/Serving Ideas
Fresh or dried cranberries are often used in many sweet and savory foods, baked goods, salads, relishes, snacks, and dishes from breakfast to suppertime desserts, especially during the fall months when they’re in season. In addition to the numerous suggested recipes listed below, the following are some quick ideas for using cranberries. Enjoy!

* Add some frozen cranberries to your favorite smoothie.

* Add some fresh cranberries when you juice vegetables for a healthful addition.

* Add some cranberries, whether fresh or dried, when you’re making your favorite quick bread, muffins, cookies, and even pancakes.

* Add some cranberries to the pot when you cook your favorite grain. This would work well with rice, quinoa, wild rice, millet, and buckwheat.

* Make a simple cranberry jam by mixing ground cranberries with a small amount of maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar, or even other fruits like apples, oranges, pears, pineapple, and/or pomegranates.

* Make a savory cranberry chutney by mixing ground cranberries with onions, garlic, ginger, and apple cider vinegar.

Here are some quick ideas for using cranberries as provided by The World’s Healthiest Foods website at

* Take advantage of cranberries’ tartness by using them to replace vinegar or lemon when dressing your green salads. Toss the greens with a little olive oil and then add color and zest with a handful of raw cranberries.

* To balance their extreme tartness, combine fresh cranberries with other fruits such as oranges, apples, pineapple or pears. If desired, add a little fruit juice, honey or maple syrup to chopped fresh cranberries.

* For an easy-to-make salad that will immediately become a holiday favorite, place 2 cups fresh berries in your blender along with 1/2 cup of pineapple chunks, a quartered skinned orange, a sweet apple (such as one of the Delicious variety) and a handful or two of walnuts or pecans. Blend till well mixed but still chunky. Transfer to a large bowl. Dice 3-4 stalks of celery, add to the cranberry mixture and stir till just combined.

* Combine unsweetened cranberry juice in equal parts with your favorite fruit juice and sparkling mineral water for a lightly sweetened, refreshing spritzer. For even more color appeal, garnish with a slice of lime.

* Add color and variety to your favorite recipes for rice pudding, quick breads or muffins by using dried unsweetened cranberries instead of raisins.

* Sprinkle a handful of dried unsweetened cranberries over a bowl of hot oatmeal, barley, or any cold cereal.

* Mix dried unsweetened cranberries with lightly roasted and salted nuts for a delicious snack.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well With Cranberries (Fresh and Dried)
Allspice, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, mint, nutmeg, pepper (black), salt, vanilla

Other Foods That Go Well With Cranberries (Fresh and Dried)
Proteins, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, almond butter, chestnuts, chicken, hazelnuts, nuts (in general), pecans, pork, pumpkin seeds, turkey, veal, walnuts

Vegetables: Arugula, beets, Brussels sprouts, chiles (jalapeño or serrano), kale, onions, pumpkin, squash (winter, esp. butternut), salad greens, spinach, sweet potatoes

Fruit: Apples, apple cider, apple juice, apricots, currants, dates, figs, lemon, lime, orange, pears, persimmons, pineapples, pomegranates, raisins, raspberries, tangerines, watermelon

Dairy and Non-Dairy: Cheese (soft), milk, yogurt

Grains: Bread crumbs, corn (popcorn), cornmeal, farro, oats, quinoa, rice (esp. brown, wild), wheat

Other: Agave nectar, caramel, honey, maple syrup, miso, sugar, vinegar (esp. balsamic), vodka, wine (esp. port)

Cranberries have been used in…
American cuisine, baked goods (esp. breads, cakes, cookies, muffins, pies, quick breads, scones), cereals (esp. hot), cobblers, compotes, crisps, drinks (cocktails, juices, punches), granola, muesli, pancakes, pilafs, puddings (esp. bread, rice), relishes, salad dressings, salads (esp. grain, green), salsas, sauces (cranberry), sorbets, soup (fruit), stuffings (corn bread), trail mixes

Suggested Flavor Combos Using Cranberries

Combine fresh cranberries with…
Apples + oranges
Apples + raisins
Balsamic vinegar + ginger + honey + miso + orange
Brown sugar + lime + oranges + walnuts
Cinnamon + ginger + oranges + vanilla + walnuts
Cloves + ginger + oranges
Dates + orange
Maple syrup + vanilla
Nuts + wild rice
Oatmeal + walnuts
Oranges + pears + pecans

Combine dried cranberries with…
Grains (i.e. couscous, oats, quinoa, wild rice) + nuts (i.e. almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts)
Oats + vanilla
Orange zest + wild rice
Pears + pecans
Pecans (or walnuts) + wild rice

Recipe Links
Holiday Cranberry Relish

Perfect Oatmeal

Cranberry Sauce

40 Best Cranberry Recipes for All Your Fall Meals

50 Things to Make With Cranberries

16 Savory and Sweet Recipes to Make with Fresh Cranberries

Cranberry Chutney

Cranberry and Cilantro Quinoa Salad

Jamie’s Cranberry Spinach Salad

10 Things to Do With Fresh Cranberries

28 Mouthwatering Cranberry Recipes

25 Sweet and Savory Cranberry Recipes That Go Beyond the Sauce

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Cranberry Salsa and Blue Cheese Cranberry Scones

Cranberry Gingerbread Cupcakes

Roasted Cranberry, Wild Rice and Kale Salad

Cranberry Crisp

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.


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

Cutting Board

Cutting Boards 101 – The Basics

Cutting boards come in different sizes, shapes, thicknesses, and materials including wood, plastic, bamboo, stone, glass, and more. Most of us have them in our kitchen equipment, and we use them on a regular basis. But cleaning them can be a bit confusing because the different materials can require different treatments. To complicate matters, the type of food we use on them (from raw meats to fresh vegetables and fruits, to baked breads) also makes a difference on how they should be treated.

First, one important rule-of-thumb when using cutting boards is to have several of them, with one being reserved only for use with raw meats, seafood, and poultry. Raw animal foods carry their own risks for specific food-borne illnesses that can create serious concerns if not handled properly during food preparation. Reserving a board only for such uses can help to avoid potential cross-contamination of pathogens that can lead to serious disease.

The following information will hopefully help you out with how to choose the right cutting boards for your needs, and regularly clean and maintain the boards for safe use in food preparation.

Wood Cutting Boards
Wooden cutting boards are a favored piece of kitchen equipment for most chefs, both professional and casual alike. Yet, they do require some specific care to maintain them over the years.

Pros: It has been proven by research that wood boards retain less bacteria than plastic boards, especially those with a lot of knife marks. Wood boards can be sanded and resurfaced if necessary. Also, they are usually heavy and don’t slide around easily, which can be extremely hazardous. It has been proven that wooden boards are THE BEST surface for maintaining a sharp knife edge. Also, they come in a variety of sizes, shapes and thicknesses.

Cons: They require more routine maintenance than other types of boards (i.e. waxing and oiling). They cannot be soaked for long periods of time. They cannot be put in the dishwasher.

Routine cleaning: Wooden cutting boards should NOT be placed in the dishwasher. The exposure to prolonged heat and water can cause the board to warp and possibly crack. Cracks in wooden cutting boards will tend to harbor microbes that can feed on trapped food particles. This is NOT what you want to happen to your cherished wooden cutting board!

Routine cleaning of your wooden cutting board, after using it to cut breads, fruits and vegetables can be done simply by hand washing it in hot, soapy water with as much manual scrubbing action as is needed to get it clean. Using a scrub brush will help to make this job faster and easier. Rinse it well, pat it dry, then stand it up to air dry completely before putting it away.

When using your wood board for high-risk foods such as raw meat, fish, and poultry, it should be immediately hand-washed in hot soapy water, then sanitized. Dry the board, then allow it to air dry before putting it away.

Sanitizing your wooden cutting board: Research has shown that wooden cutting boards harbor fewer microbes than do plastic cutting boards. Nevertheless, if you have used your wood board for cutting raw animal foods (meats, poultry, fish), sanitizing it after it is hand-washed is important to kill any remaining pathogens after it was washed. This should be done EACH time the board is used for raw animal foods, especially if that same board will be used for cutting fruits and/or vegetables that are to be eaten raw (this practice is not recommended). There are some options (listed below) on how to sanitize your board.

If your wooden cutting board is not being used for raw animal products, you can get by with sanitizing it less often than when using it for raw animal foods. According to the results of a study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology (August 2015), traditional detergent-based household methods of cleaning will usually sufficiently clean cutting boards used in the preparation of foods that are not high risk (such as raw animal foods) or when not being used for immune-compromised individuals. Ideally for ultimate food safety, cutting boards should be sanitized after each use. However, when no one being fed is immune compromised or when only low-risk foods are being prepared, sanitizing it less often should suffice.

To reduce the risk of cross-contamination if using a cutting board for high-risk foods such as raw meat, fish, and poultry, it is suggested that we have different cutting boards for high-risk foods than for low-risk foods (fresh vegetables, fruits and breads). Having different colors, shapes or sizes for different types of food can help to keep the cook from using the wrong cutting board during food preparation.

Bleach: The USDA recommends that we sanitize a board used for cutting raw animal foods in a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented bleach to 1 gallon of water. First, hand-wash the board in hot, soapy water, and scrub it well. Then apply the bleach solution and allow it to sit for 3 to 5 minutes, rinse well, then dry it with a clean cloth or paper towel. Stand it up for a little while to help ensure it is completely dry before storing it.

A slightly stronger solution, but simpler to mix up was suggested by Global News of Canada. Mix one teaspoon of bleach to three cups of water. Pour that over the washed cutting board and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Rinse it well, then dry the board.

Vinegar: Vinegar is a non-toxic item that most of us keep in our kitchen. After being hand-washed in hot, soapy water, a wood board can be sanitized with a solution of 1 part of white vinegar to 4 parts of water. Allow the solution to remain on the board for a few minutes, then rinse it well, and pat it dry. Allow the board to air dry before storing it.

If you REALLY want to “go for the gusto,” you could also use undiluted white vinegar to sanitize your board. Spray your cutting board with straight white vinegar, allow it to sit for 3 to 5 minutes, rinse it well, pat it dry, then stand it up, and allow it to air dry before putting it away.

Hydrogen Peroxide: As always, wash your board first with hot, soapy water. According to The Food Network, wood cutting boards can be sanitized by pouring 3% hydrogen peroxide (this is the type of hydrogen peroxide commonly found in your local pharmacy) all over the board. Distribute the liquid around the board with a cleaning sponge, and leave it alone for a few minutes as it bubbles, killing any microbes that are left on the board. When finished, rinse well, and wipe it off with a clean cloth or paper towel. Allow it to air dry before storing the board.

To Deodorize a Wooden Cutting Board: There are several suggested ways to deodorize a wood cutting board…
If your board has any lingering odor from some food used on it, sprinkle baking soda on the board, then pour white vinegar onto it. Important! This will create a lot of bubbling, so be sure to do this in a sink! When the bubbling stops, rinse the board well, dry it with a clean cloth or paper towel, and then stand it up to air dry.

Another way to remove odors from a wood board would be to rub the board well with a cut lemon, squeezing the juice as you rub. Allow the juice to sit on the board for a few minutes, then rinse it well and dry the board.

Some people remove stains and odors from a wood cutting board by sprinkling it with coarse salt, then rubbing it with a cut lemon, squeezing to remove the juice as they rub. When finished, rinse the board well and dry the board. Allow it to air dry before putting it away.

Spritzing the board with white vinegar after use can help to avoid the development of odors in your board.

Protect the Wood: Oiling wooden boards helps to maintain their surface and keeps them from drying out, which could cause them to crack. This also helps to prevent liquids from food and microbes from penetrating the board, helping to keep it clean and germ-free. The goal is to penetrate the wood and saturate the wood fibers with board oil.

All wooden cutting boards should be oiled periodically by rubbing them with food-safe (this is critical!) mineral oil (or an alternative oil of choice). This oil can be found in most local pharmacies. Note, that mineral oil is the oil of choice by most professional chefs for this application, since it will not go rancid over time. Do not use vegetable oils for this purpose. They will spoil, causing the board to smell bad and possibly transmit rancid oils into your food.

If you prefer to use a food-derived oil, you could use traditional coconut oil (which is solid at room temperature) or fractionated coconut oil (which is liquid at room temperature). Just note that some say traditional coconut oil may go rancid over an extended period of time, whereas fractionated coconut oil should not.

First, be sure your board is as clean (and dry) as possible. Then, simply rub a generous amount of your preferred oil very well into the DRY board with a clean, dry cloth, or new paint brush dedicated to this purpose (do not use your hands as you might get a splinter!). Doing this will help to prevent cracks in the board, keeping it from harboring microbes in hard-to-reach areas. After being oiled, stand your cutting board up on its side on a clean, dry towel, or place it on a wire rack. Allow the oil to soak in as long as possible before wiping any excess off. Try to allow the oil to soak in for at least a few hours (up to 24 hours) before wiping away the excess. A simple way to do this would be to wipe the board with oil in the evening. Allow it to sit overnight. Wipe any excess oil off in the morning, and allow it to air dry until it is not tacky or sticky feeling. Then use the board as needed.

How often you should oil your board depends upon how often you use it. Wooden boards used daily may benefit from being oiled once a month. Those not used very often could be oiled once or twice a year. If your board feels “dry to the touch” it’s time to oil it. If nothing else, let that tip be your guide.

Spoon (Wood) Butter (Cutting Board Creams or Waxes): You can also condition your board with “spoon butter” or “wood butter” which is a mixture of beeswax, food-grade mineral oil, and sometimes other waxes. These same creams may also be referred to as cutting board creams or waxes. They can be purchased in stores (local and online) that carry cutting boards and kitchen supplies.

While board oil penetrates the wood, board creams or waxes coat the surface of the board, protecting it from liquids and stains. Board creams or waxes also help to protect sanitation, as they fill in knife marks, where bacteria can live, even after the board is cleaned. When used in conjunction, both board oil and cream or wax can protect your wooden cutting board from inside to out, helping it to serve you well for years.

To use board creams or waxes, rub a generous amount of the mixture into your board and allow it to sit for at least several hours, up to 24 hours (overnight is really convenient). Then buff excess off your board with a clean, dry cloth. Allow it to air dry until it no longer feels tacky or sticky, then use your board as normal. Use it freely on any wood or bamboo bowl, board, or kitchen utensil.

Plastic Cutting Boards
Plastic cutting boards are enjoyed by many. They are usually made from polyethylene and can be washed at the sink, soaked for indefinite periods of time, and placed in the dishwasher. They are relatively good on knife blades, but not as good as wood boards in that respect.

Pros: One benefit of plastic boards is that they come in different colors. The assorted colors can help you isolate their use for specific types of foods, such as one specifically for raw meats, while another is specifically for raw vegetables, and yet another is dedicated only to cutting breads. Such a system is excellent to help prevent cross-contamination of bacteria which can be deadly.

Plastic boards can be safely soaked for long periods of time and can also be placed in the dishwasher.

Plastic boards are relatively good for maintaining the sharp edge of your knife, since they give slightly in the cutting process.

Cons: Over time, plastic boards can get a lot of knife gouges in them which are permanent. Such furrows allow places for bacteria to harbor, even after the board has been washed. When a plastic board becomes “fuzzy” or has a lot of knife furrows in it, it’s time to replace it.

Sanitizing Your Board: Always start by first washing your board in hot soapy water, or running it through a dishwashing cycle. If your board has been used for low-risk foods such as breads or fresh fruits and vegetables, occasionally letting your plastic board soak in a diluted bleach solution (1 tablespoon of unscented bleach to 1 gallon of water) for 5 minutes can adequately sanitize the board. If the board has been used for cutting raw meat, seafood, or poultry, it’s important to sanitize it after EACH such use.

Placing it in the dishwasher after each use is also a good way to help keep your plastic board clean and fresh.

No matter how your board has been washed or sanitized, be sure your board is completely dry before storing it. Any moisture left on the board can allow bacteria to remain viable.

Bamboo Cutting Boards
Bamboo cutting boards have increased in popularity in recent years. They require less maintenance than traditional wood cutting boards and are harder and less porous than hardwoods.

Pros: Bamboo cutting boards require less maintenance than traditional wood boards. Since they do not retain water as traditional wood boards can, they are less likely to warp, crack, or harbor bacteria. Bamboo absorbs very little moisture and resists scarring from knives, so they are more resistant to bacteria than traditional wood boards. They make lovely serving trays for cheese, crackers, and other appetizers or finger foods.

Because bamboo is harder than traditional wood, it resists scarring from knife use, as does traditional wood. This makes it easier to clean and less likely to retain bacteria after use.

The hardness and density of bamboo makes it less likely to stain when preparing some foods like meats or tomatoes.

Bamboo is a sustainable crop, so less damage is done to the environment when bamboo is harvested than trees. Bamboo is a grass and one of the fastest growing plants on the planet! It is one of the simpler and more economically grown plants available. Also, they are relatively inexpensive.

Cons: Do not put bamboo cutting boards in the dishwasher, which might cause the board to warp and/or crack. Also, do not soak your bamboo board.

Read the label carefully when buying a bamboo cutting board. Some bamboo products are processed with formaldehyde and glues that can leach into foods over time. Choose only boards made with non-toxic treatments or organic practices.

Since bamboo is harder than traditional wood boards, they are not as forgiving to knife blades as wood boards. Hence, your knife may not last as long when using a bamboo cutting board, especially if it is a cheaper knife made with a softer metal than a higher-priced knife.

Bamboo boards should not be used as hot plates or trivets for hot items, since this might burn the board.

Pre-conditioning your bamboo board: If your bamboo board was not pre-conditioned by the manufacturer, you’ll need to do that before you use it. First, wash it well in hot soapy water, then dry it and allow it to completely air dry. Then prime it with food grade mineral oil. Apply a generous amount of oil and let it sit for a few hours to overnight. Wipe off any remaining oil in the morning with a clean, dry cloth or paper towel until it does not feel damp or sticky, and it will be ready to use. Do this about once a month to maintain your board and extend its life, or repeat this process any time your board looks dry.

Spoon (Wood) Butter: See this topic under the Wood board section. The same information applies to bamboo boards.

Washing, Sanitizing, and Maintaining Your Bamboo Cutting Board: Clean bamboo cutting boards with hot soapy water; and sanitize if it each time it is used for cutting raw meats, seafood, or poultry. Dry it thoroughly before putting it away. Do not put it in the dishwasher.

To sanitize your bamboo board, scrub it well with a mixture of 1 tablespoon bleach to 1 gallon of water (or 1 teaspoon of bleach to 1 quart of water…which is slightly stronger than the 1 gallon mixture). Allow it to sit for a few minutes, then rinse the board well afterwards, and wipe it dry. Allow it to air dry completely before putting it away.

Glass Boards
Glass cutting boards can be beautiful decorative elements in any kitchen. They make a nice platform or tray for items that you want to protect from other surfaces. Although they can be easy to clean and maintain, most professionals do not use glass boards for reasons stated below.

Pros: Glass boards are easy to clean since they are nonporous. Germs can’t penetrate them. They may be placed in the dishwasher.

Cons: Since glass boards are hard and have no “give” whatsoever, they can damage knife blades over time. For this reason, most authorities do not recommend glass cutting boards for cutting purposes.

Sanitizing Your Board: Simply wash your glass board at the sink or in the dishwasher. An occasional sanitizing with a bleach or vinegar solution is always advisable (see how, under “Wood” section).

Stone/Marble/Granite Boards
Stone boards are excellent when used for rolling pastry. They are naturally cool to the touch which helps to keep the butter or other fat in the pastry from melting during the rolling process. Doughs also tend to stick less to stone, marble, or granite when being rolled out. They can also be used to place pots on to keep them from scratching a counter top. But since they are extremely hard, they can dull knife blades over time when used to cut foods, so they are generally not recommended for use as a traditional cutting board.

Pros: There is no chance these boards will warp. They can be used as a hot pad or trivet. They can be very attractive and add a nice element to your kitchen décor. They are simple to clean and sanitize and do not need special treatment to maintain.

Cons: They can dull your knife blade when used as a true cutting board. If not careful, they can chip or crack if mishandled or bumped.

When to Replace Your Cutting Board
Replace your cutting board when it shows a lot of wear, such as extensive knife marks. Deep groves in any board can allow bacteria to live on the board, even after being washed.

Also replace your board if it has warped. Using a warped board will not be stable on the counter or table, which can be very hazardous when using a sharp knife. The cost of a new board is well worth it when compared to having a serious knife injury.

If you are using a wood or bamboo board and the seams are starting to separate, it’s time to replace the board. It may be unstable to use, making working with a sharp knife potentially dangerous. Also, deep groves may catch your knife making cutting action erratic and possibly invite an injury. Furthermore, deep groves or cracks can also harbor bacteria. So, needless to say, a board that is separating is not worth keeping! When dealing with food and food-related equipment…”When in doubt, throw it out!”

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.


Desiccant Packets

Uses for Desiccant Packets

You know what I’m referring to here…those little packets of drying agent found in bottles of vitamins, etc. We usually toss them with the bottle when it’s empty. Well, there ARE useful things we can do with them, so consider keeping one of those bottles and save the packets in there for future use. Here are some ways to use them…

Store some with silver tableware or silver jewelry. The drying agents won’t stop silver from tarnishing, but it will slow it down.

Add some with clothes and blankets during off-season storage. The drying effect will help to prevent mustiness and mildew.

Add them to whatever you store in a damp basement. They will help to keep items dry and prevent mustiness and mold from forming.

Put them in a camera bag. If you use your camera outdoors, the humidity in the camera bag can cause some film and condensation to form on the camera. Placing some drying packets in the camera bag can help to prevent that from happening.

Add them to any container where you store photos. Moisture can cause old photos to stick together and ruin them. Adding some drying packets to the photo box can help to save those precious old photos.

Protect important documents. Add some drying packs to any container where old, important documents are being stored. Birth certificates, marriage licenses, death certificates, property titles, important receipts, and treasured old letters and cards are all prime examples. This will help to preserve the documents.

Use them when storing dry flowers. Many people use dried flowers for potpourri, room decor, and assorted craft projects. Drying packets can help to dry flower petals and also keep them dry in their storage containers.

Add them to your toolbox. Some tools and accessories are prone to rusting. Adding some drying packets to your toolbox can help to prevent that from happening.

Help keep electronics dry. Put some drying packets in your electronics bags and storage containers to help keep them dry and prolong their life.

Add them to powdery mixtures to prevent clumping. Some powdery mixtures can tend to clump up when humidity enters the box. Laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, and other powdered cleaning agents are good examples. Toss in a few drying packets to help prevent the clumping. Be sure to remove them when using the detergent!

Preserve stored collectables. If you have a collection of old baseball cards, comic magazines, or any other such paper items, add some drying packets to the storage container. This will help to soak up moisture in the box, preserving your precious items that much more.

Help to preserve holiday decorations. Adding some drying packets to your boxes of stored holiday decorations can help to keep them fresh and dry for your next use.

Revive old musty books. Place some drying packets in a plastic bag with a musty book. Leave it there for a few days and that will help take the moisture and musty smell out of the book.

Add them to garden seed packets. If you save seeds from year to year, add some drying packets to the bag your seeds are stored in. The reduction in moisture may help to preserve your seeds a bit longer.

Place some in bathroom medicine cabinets. Adding some drying packets to bathroom medicine cabinets can help prevent shelves from rusting, and also to help protect the contents of the cabinet from the excessive moisture in the bathroom.

Add them to your sorted vitamins and other pills. If you divvy out pills in advance, adding some drying agents to your storage container can help to keep your pills dry and fresh.

Keep fishing tackle items from rusting. Placing some drying packets in your fishing tackle box can help to keep those items from rusting.

Store some in shoes. If your shoes have gotten wet, or if your feet tend to sweat a lot, place some packets inside your shoes when storing them to help dry them out and reduce odors.

Prevent carpentry nails from rusting. If you store carpentry nails and such, they might rust over time. Placing some drying packets in with those items can help keep them from rusting.

Prevent holiday tins from rusting. We all enjoy the beauty and joy decorative tins can bring to our homes and tables during the holidays. But they do have a tendency to rust over time. Place some drying packets in your favored tins when they are being stored to help keep them dry and prevent rusting.

Place some in closets. Closets can tend to smell stale, especially if not used regularly. Place some drying packets in closets to help make them (and their contents) fresh and dry.

Place some in gym bags. This will help to keep the contents dry and smelling fresh.

Rescue your cell phone. Many people have accidentally dropped their cell phones in water. After retrieving your phone, wipe it dry and remove the battery and memory card, if you can. Place your phone, battery, and memory card in an air-tight container (such as a plastic bag) with some drying packets. Leave it there at least overnight, even up to 24 hours, and your phone should (hopefully!) be fine.

Keep windows dry. Sometimes condensation can form between window panes. Placing a few drying packets between the window panes can help to stop the condensation from forming.

Keep pet food dry. If you invest in a large, bulk bag of dry pet food, place a few drying packets in the bag to help keep the pet food dry and fresh. Of course, be careful not to feed them to your pet…they are NOT edible!

Keep windshield from fogging up. The car windshield can get foggy on humid days, especially during early morning drives. Placing some drying packets on the dashboard can help to soak up some of that humidity, preventing the window from getting foggy.

Extend razor blade life. Razors tend to have a short life, especially when not dried after use. They’re too expensive to waste them like that! After use, dry them off, then go one step further by placing them in an air-tight container with some drying packets.

Preserve dry makeup. Preserve the life of dry makeup powders by storing them in an air-tight container with a few drying packets. This is especially helpful if you live in a humid area.

Keep dry foods dry. Add one or more drying packets (depending on size) to opened, dry foods. Bread crumbs, flour, herbs and spices, pastas, rice and other grains, and crackers are good examples of foods that can age quickly if moisture gets in them. The drying packets will help to keep these foods fresh and dry until needed. This is especially helpful if you live in a humid climate.

Freshen stale dresser drawers. Have you ever noticed a musty odor when you open a dresser drawer that isn’t used very often? Place some drying packets in the drawer to keep the things inside fresh and dry.

Freshen luggage. When returning home from a long trip, dirty laundry in luggage can cause smelly, and even moldy luggage. Carry some desiccant packs with you and turn them loose in your luggage to do their job on the way home. You’ll still need to wash your laundry, but at least it (hopefully) shouldn’t be moldy!

Revive your used packets…Don’t Throw them Out!
When your packets have been used and reused, don’t toss them! They can be revived by placing them outside in the sun on a dry, hot day. Afterwards, store them in a tightly closed container until you need them again.

If that won’t work for you, place the used packets on a clean, dry baking sheet and place them in your oven set at its lowest temperature. Allow them to “bake” for an hour or more to dry them out. (Be careful not to burn the packets during the process. If you see the packets turning dark, remove them from the oven!) Store them in an airtight container.

Better yet, if you have a dehydrator, place the used packets in the dehydrator with the temperature set at about 120°F for 2 or more hours. Return them to your storage container to be used again.


Assorted Vinegars

Vinegar 101 – The Basics

This post covers a lot of details about vinegar, from general information to specifics about assorted types of vinegar. Hopefully you’ll find what you’re looking for. Please let me know if you need further information!

I hope this helps!

Vinegar 101 – The Basics

About Vinegar
The word “vinegar” stems from the French word “vin aigre” which means “sour wine.” This is appropriate since vinegars are made by adding bacteria to liquids to cause fermentation. The liquid to be fermented is usually wine, beer or cider. The fermentation process creates alcohol, which is then exposed to oxygen. The bacteria then create the acetic acid, turning the liquid very acidic, giving it the tart flavor characteristic if vinegar. Depending upon the process used and the type of vinegar being made, the fermentation process can take anywhere from a couple days to years. Some vinegars, such as balsamic, may be left to ferment for up to 25 years. Vinegars are often diluted to contain from 5 to 20 percent acetic acid, by volume.

Vinegar has been used for thousands of years as a cooking ingredient, condiment, medicine, and preservative. Today it is even being used as a cleaning agent. The use of vinegar has been traced back to ancient Babylon, around 5,000 B.C.E, where it was used in cooking and as a medicine, preservative, and a drink for strength and wellness.

Vinegars are excellent additions to marinades because the acid helps to break down proteins, making them more tender. Vinegar can also be used to balance out flavors and reduce bitterness in some foods. It is commonly used in salad dressings, marinades, sauces, mayonnaise, and ketchup.

Nutrition Tidbits
Most vinegars have few nutrients yet they do have some beneficial health properties. It is very low in calories with one tablespoon having only 3 to 14 calories, depending upon the variety. The few calories it has comes from the little bit of sugars remaining from the fermentation process. If you have food sensitivities, it is important to read labels, as some vinegars are a blend of vinegar, juice, added sugars, and possibly other ingredients that may cause reactions in some people. A few vinegars contain gluten while others contain added sulfites.

Early records in China, the Middle East, and Greece, show vinegar being used as a digestive aid, an antibacterial agent on wounds, and a treatment for cough. Today, a few small studies have shown some health benefits from vinegar, which has sparked a lot of attention for using vinegar in natural health treatments.

Studies published in 2010 showed that including vinegar with a meal helps to reduce post-meal blood glucose levels. Balsamic vinegar has been shown to lower triglyceride and total cholesterol levels.

General Tips for Using Vinegar
* Use vinegar to brighten the flavor of foods and balance the richness of a fatty dish.

* Use vinegar to tenderize protein foods (such as meats and poultry) by adding it to marinades.

* Use vinegar when pickling foods, as it not only adds flavor, but acts as a preservative by killing bacteria.

* Adding a little vinegar to cooking water can help to brighten the color of vegetables, especially those in the cruciferous family (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, etc.).

* Some resources suggest adding a little vinegar to the water when boiling eggs. They say it makes eggs easier to peel.

* Some suggest adding a little vinegar to water when poaching eggs to help keep them together.

* For a quick buttermilk substitution, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to 1 cup of milk. Allow it to rest a few minutes for the milk to thicken.

* To perk up the flavor of cooked beans or bean soups, add a little vinegar during the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Adding it earlier will make the beans tough and harder to cook properly.

How to Store Vinegar
Vinegar does not need to be stored in the refrigerator. However for best quality, store it tightly capped in a cool, dry, dark place, away from sunlight and heat. Some vinegars will have a “Best by” date stamped on the bottle. Even though it may be safe to consume the vinegar beyond that date, the quality may not be its best.

Unpasteurized, raw apple cider vinegar may become more cloudy with age. That’s simply the culture (bacteria) multiplying in the bottle. It is still safe to use.

Generally speaking, unopened vinegar will keep for about two years in a cool, dry, dark place. Once opened, it should be used within about six months for best quality. To keep opened vinegar longer, it may be stored in the refrigerator.

What is the “Mother” in Vinegar?
The “Mother” of vinegar is a mixture of cellulose and bacteria (or culture) that fermented the original liquid into vinegar. It is found in fermented alcohols and unpasteurized vinegars, most commonly in raw apple cider vinegar. It creates a cloudy appearance in the vinegar and is harmless to consume. It will not affect the flavor of the vinegar. In fact, the “M other” contains friendly probiotic bacteria, prebiotic fibers, and nutrients that can boost health.

Food Sensitivities
Gluten: Most vinegars do not contain gluten. However, some that are made with grains may contain gluten. This information is listed below each type of vinegar for clarification. When in doubt, check the label and ask your physician or dietitian, if necessary.

According to Shelly Case, RD (at, the distillation process destroys gluten. So, if a vinegar (such as white vinegar) was made from wheat (a gluten-containing grain), and it was “distilled” the gluten has been removed or destroyed in the process and would therefore be safe to eat, even by those with gluten sensitivities. If the vinegar was made with a gluten-containing grain, such as wheat, and was not distilled, then the vinegar does still contain gluten, and would not be safe to eat by those with gluten sensitivities. Beware and read labels! This information is also confirmed by the FDA as stated here…

Sulfites: Most fermented foods contain naturally-occurring sulfites. However, naturally-occurring sulfites differ from those added as food preservatives, and usually present no problems to those with sulfite sensitivities. Some vinegars have added sulfites, whereas others do not. If you are sensitive to sulfites, always check the label before purchasing vinegar, and consult your physician if necessary.

Common Varieties of Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar: Also known as cider vinegar, this variety is pale brown with a mild apple flavor. It is made from fermented apple cider, unpasteurized apple juice, or apple pulp. It is inexpensive.

Best Uses: Apple cider vinegar is excellent in chutneys, stews, marinades, sweet pickles, and in coleslaw or salad dressings.

Food Sensitivities: Apple cider vinegar is naturally gluten-free.

Balsamic Vinegar: This is a dark, sweet vinegar that has been produced in Italy for over 800 years. It is usually made from whole processed red or white wine grapes (called “grape must,” or the crushed grapes including the seeds, peel and stems). The grape must is boiled to a concentrate, fermented, acidified, and then aged in wooden barrels for up to 50 years. The longer it is aged, the thicker, sweeter and pricier it gets.

Best Uses: Balsamic vinegar is excellent on strawberries, tomatoes, grilled meats and poached fruit. It can also be used in salad dressings, marinades, sauces, and soups. It is sometimes reduced into a thick sauce and served over fruit or ice cream.

Food Sensitivities: Balsamic vinegar is gluten-free and, like other vinegars, contains naturally occurring sulfites. Most balsamic vinegars will not have added sulfites, but if you are sensitive, it is advisable to always check the label before purchasing any balsamic vinegar.

Malt Vinegar: Malt vinegar is a dark, flavorful vinegar that is very popular with fish and chips in England. It comes from barley that was made into beer, then fermented into vinegar. It has a milder, sweeter and more complex flavor than plain white vinegar.

Best Uses: Malt vinegar is often used on French fries (and on fish and chips in the UK), and in making pickles.

Food Sensitivities: Malt vinegar is made from barley, which contains gluten. Therefore, if you have a sensitivity to gluten, you should avoid malt vinegar UNLESS it was distilled (which would have removed the gluten). Malt vinegar naturally contains a small amount of sulfites, less than 10 ppm. This is a very low level, which usually poses no issue, even for people who have a sulfite allergy. When in doubt, ask your physician!

Red Wine Vinegar: This vinegar is made from red wine and is usually aged in wooden barrels. It has a strong flavor that blends well in hearty dishes. Red wine vinegar is often used in French and Mediterranean cuisines and is less acidic than distilled or cider vinegars.

Best Uses: Red wine vinegar is excellent in salad dressings, stews, sauces, marinades, and with cooked meat and fish.

Food Sensitivities: Red wine vinegar is gluten-free since it is made with grapes. Like other vinegars, red wine vinegar will have naturally occurring sulfites. However, some brands of red wine vinegar have ADDED sulfites, whereas others do not. If you are sensitive to added sulfites, it is important to read the label before purchasing this type of vinegar.

Rice Vinegar: This type of vinegar is made from fermented rice. It is commonly referred to as rice wine vinegar. It has a mild, sweet flavor and is less acidic than other vinegars.

Best Uses: Rice vinegar is excellent in salad dressings, seafood marinades, and Asian cuisine in dishes like sushi, pickled ginger and seafood, and stir-fries.

Food Sensitivities: True rice vinegar (made only with rice and no other grains) is naturally gluten-free. However, some rice vinegars imported from Asia may contain a mixture of grains. If your rice vinegar was made only with rice OR was distilled, it is considered to be gluten-free. Otherwise, be sure to read the label carefully to be sure it does not contain something you might react to.

White Vinegar: This is also known as distilled vinegar or distilled white vinegar, and is made from fermented grains. It is clear, highly acidic, and has a very sour flavor. It is one of the least expensive vinegars and is now being used as a cleaning agent, especially for washing windows and cleaning coffee pots. It is not as strong as “cleaning vinegar,” yet it is still an effective cleaning agent.

Best Uses: White vinegar is excellent for preserving foods such as in pickling fruits and vegetables. It is also an effective antibacterial, grease, and mineral-removing cleaning agent.

Food Sensitivities: White vinegar is made from fermented grains, particularly wheat. If white vinegar was not distilled, it will still contain gluten. If the vinegar was distilled, it should contain no gluten. So, if you are sensitive to gluten, be sure to purchase white vinegar that has been distilled.

Cleaning White Vinegar: It’s important to note here that “cleaning white vinegar” is not the same as the age-old distilled white vinegar. Although they may look the same, cleaning vinegar is stronger and is not something to ingest. Cleaning vinegar is diluted to 6% acidity, whereas distilled white vinegar is diluted to 5% acidity. That one percentage point difference may seem small, but in vinegar terms, it equates to cleaning vinegar being 20% stronger than distilled white vinegar. It is TOO strong to ingest and can cause harm if consumed.

Some brands may also be scented with chemicals not intended for consumption. Hence, that’s one more reason not to add this type of vinegar to your salads! If you do use “cleaning vinegar,” I suggest you do not store it near your usual vinegars that you use in foods. You really don’t want to mix these up! Its added strength makes it a very effective cleaning agent. However, be careful what you apply cleaning vinegar to. Its strong acidity will damage hardwood floors, granite, marble, and metals. It is safe to use on bathroom ceramic surfaces, on glass, and in the laundry. Cleaning vinegar is more costly than distilled white vinegar.

White Wine Vinegar: The flavor of white wine vinegar will range from mild to very tangy, depending upon the type of wine used in its production. It is usually pale in color with a mild flavor. It is often used in French and Mediterranean cuisines.

Best Uses: White wine vinegar is excellent in vinaigrette dressings, vegetable dishes, soups, stews, pickled vegetables, and in cooking meat and fish.

Food Sensitivities: Since white wine vinegar is made from grapes, it is naturally gluten-free. The vinegar will contain naturally-occurring sulfites from the wine, and may or may not contain added sulfites. If you are sensitive to sulfites, please read the label before purchasing white wine vinegar.

Less Common Varieties of Vinegar

Black Vinegar: Black vinegar is also known as Chinkiang vinegar, and is usually made from glutinous rice or sorghum. It has a woody, smoky flavor. It is a common sour ingredient in foods found in southern China. In the United States, black vinegar is used as a dipping sauce for dumplings and in meat marinades.

Best Uses: Use black vinegar as a dipping sauce, and to flavor meats and stir-fries. It may be used as a less expensive alternative to balsamic vinegar.

Food Sensitivities: Traditional black vinegar, made from rice or sorghum would be naturally gluten-free. However, some varieties may have been made with added wheat, millet, peas, barley, bran and/or chaff (the outer husk of a grain). Wheat and barley contain gluten. So, if the vinegar was made with other grains in addition to rice and was not distilled, it may contain gluten. If you are gluten sensitive, be sure to read the label before purchasing any black vinegar.

Black vinegar may or may not have added sulfites. If you are sensitive to sulfites, reading labels is warranted.

Cane Vinegar: Cane vinegar is made from the syrup of sugar cane. It has a mellow flavor, similar to rice vinegar. It is not sweet since it contains no residual sugar. It is yellow to golden brown in color, and is less acidic than distilled vinegars. It is made in the Philippines, France, and Louisiana. It is called “sukang iloko” in the Philippines. Champagne, white wine, cider, and rice wine vinegars may be substituted for cane vinegar.

Best Uses: Cane vinegar is often used in sweet and sour dishes, and to flavor meats.

Food Sensitivities: Since cane vinegar is made from sugar cane, it is naturally gluten-free. However, it is important to check the label before purchasing cane vinegar, as it may contain other ingredients that may or may not contain gluten.

Cane vinegar usually does not contain added sulfites, but check the label before purchasing, as brand ingredients may vary.

Champagne Vinegar: This vinegar is made from a slightly dry white wine, made from the same grapes as champagne. It is made only in the Champagne region of France. It has a mild flavor.

Best Uses: Champagne vinegar may be used like any white wine vinegar. It is especially good on citrus salads, and in marinades and sauces.

Food Sensitivities: Champagne vinegar is naturally gluten-free since it is made from grapes. It will contain naturally-occurring sulfites from the wine. If you are sensitive to sulfites, check the label before purchasing to be sure it contains no added sulfites.

Coconut Palm Vinegar: This type of vinegar is made in Asian countries from the sap of the coconut palm tree, and/or the water of the coconut. It is a white, cloudy vinegar with a flavor ranging from mild to sharply acidic. All varieties have a faint flavor of yeast or must. A substitution would be 1 part rice or white vinegar, 1 part water, and a squeeze or two of fresh lime juice.

Best Uses: Coconut vinegar is usually used as a dipping condiment, and can be added to sauces, cooked foods and salads.

Food Sensitivities: Coconut vinegar should be naturally gluten-free. However, if you are gluten-sensitive, read the label before purchasing to be sure no gluten-containing ingredients have been added.

Flavored Vinegars: Some flavored vinegars, such as tarragon vinegar, are available in many grocery stores. However, many people make their own flavored vinegars by adding desired herbs, spices or flavorings to wine, rice, or cider vinegar. Colorado State University Extension has prepared an excellent website detailing how to make your own flavored vinegars, with specific recipes included.

Specialty flavored vinegars may also be purchased from select stores. The following are just a few (of many) online shops carrying flavored vinegars. Please note that I have no connection with any of them.

Specialty vinegars may also be purchased at

Fruit Vinegars: In this case, we’re referring to vinegars made with fruit other than apples (as in apple cider vinegar). Fruit vinegars can be made with just about any fruit you want including, apples, apricots, grapes, pineapples, pomegranates, passion fruit, raisins, peaches, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, figs, pears, cranberries, lemons, mangoes, oranges, plums, raisins, tomatoes, and more. Fruit vinegars may be purchased online and in some grocery stores. They can also be made at home.

Best Uses: Fruit vinegars add a sweet-tart flavor to whatever foods they’re served with. They pair well with extra virgin olive oil and have been used to flavor pork, turkey, chicken and fish. They add fruitiness to green salads, vegetables, and dips for fruit/cheese trays. They can also be used in marinades for a sweet-tart flavor.

Instructions for making your own fruit vinegars can be found on this and other websites:

DIY Fruit Vinegar Instructions, using strawberries, blueberries, figs, persimmons, or pears:

Red Rice Vinegar: This vinegar is made from fermented red yeast rice. It is milder in flavor than red wine vinegar. It is sweet, tart, and salty.

Best Uses: Red rice vinegar is often used in Chinese seafood dishes and dipping sauces.

Food Sensitivities: Sometimes barley and sorghum are added to red rice vinegar. Since barley contains gluten, this type of vinegar may contain gluten if it is not distilled. If you have a gluten sensitivity, it is important to check the label to see if it contains barley. If so, and if it was not distilled, it should be avoided.

Seasoned Rice Vinegar: This is rice vinegar with added sugar, salt, and sometimes sake or MSG (monosodium glutamate). Using this vinegar is an easy way to boost the sweet, salty, and tangy flavor of foods. It is found in the Asian section of some grocery stores.

Best Uses: Seasoned rice vinegar is often used in sushi and salad dressings.

Food Sensitivities: This rice should be naturally gluten-free, but check the label to be sure a gluten-containing ingredient was not added. Also, some people react to MSG. Read the label carefully if you have food sensitivities when choosing seasoned rice vinegar to be sure there are no added ingredients that you need to avoid.

Sherry Vinegar: True sherry vinegar is made in Spain from sherry wine, and is used in Spanish and French cuisine. The wine is aged for at least 6 months, with the resulting vinegar being aged from 2 to over 10 years. The older the vinegar, the darker the color, the more complex the flavor will be, and the more expensive it will be to buy. It has a bright, deep flavor. Some grocery stores may carry sherry vinegar. Wine vinegar may be used as a substitute for sherry vinegar.

Best Uses: Sherry vinegar can be used to flavor beans, marinara, soups, snap peas, tomatoes, and green salads.

Food Sensitivities: Since sherry vinegar is made ultimately from grapes, it is naturally gluten-free. It will contain naturally-occurring sulfites since it is made from wine. It is important to read labels since less-expensive brands may have additives.

Spirit Vinegar: Spirit vinegar (sometimes referred to as grain vinegar) is a colorless, strong vinegar made by a double fermentation process of a grain, usually barley. The first fermentation converts sugars to alcohol. The alcohol is distilled then subjected to the second fermentation, which converts the alcohol to acetic acid. It has a higher acidity than other vinegars. This vinegar is sometimes referred to interchangeably with distilled white vinegar. However, spirit vinegar contains a higher acid content than white vinegar, and it still contains a little alcohol, where white vinegar does not.

Best Uses: This type of vinegar is used mostly in pickling.

Food Sensitivities: Since spirit vinegar is made with distilled liquids, it is considered to be gluten-free.

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.