Friday, January 25, 2008

The Best Salt Substitute

Rumor has it that the next crazed diet is going to name salt as the new enemy. The recommended intake of sodium is 2,300 milligrams per day, but most Americans consume much more. In an effort to keep you from falling victim to the hundreds of new low-sodium products that will be hitting our supermarket shelves soon, let me remind you of the wonders of spices and herbs. Herbs and spices add seasoning and bring out flavor without adding sodium to your diet. They can also help make low-fat foods more enjoyable.

How to get the most from your favorite herbs:
Basil: add it as one of the final ingredients or as a garnish because the taste of fresh basil comes more from your nose than your palate.
Ginger: Fresh ginger is sweet and lemony and is best in stir fries, in fish dishes, or on roasted vegetables. Dried ginger is hotter and spicier. When baking, any form of ginger works.
Rosemary: when using dried rosemary, use it when the recipe has plenty of liquids and cooks for a while so the rosemary rehydrates and is not hard and brittle.
Sage: fresh sage is milder than dried. It's best in tomato based dishes or sauces. Use sparingly with other herbs since it is so pungent.

Tips for using fresh herbs:
*Wash all fresh herbs
*Cut herbs and crush gently before adding them to your dish so they release the most flavor.
*Add fresh herbs towards the end of cooking to make their flavor last longer.
*If the recipe calls for dried herbs, use more of the fresh herbs to get the same amount of flavor.

Make your own rubs:
Citrus rub: Combine grated lemon, orange or lime peel (or all three) with minced garlic and cracked black pepper.
Pepper-garlic rub: Mix together garlic power, cracked black pepper and cayenne pepper.
Italian rub: Combine fresh or dried oregano, basil and rosemary with minced Italian parsley and garlic.
Herb rub: Use fresh or dried marjoram, thyme and basil.
**Press the rub onto the surface of the meat, seafood, or poultry before you cook it. Make sure to wash your hands after you handle the raw meat.

Match the flavor and the meat:
Lean meats: bay leaves, caraway seeds, chives, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, curry powder, onion, paprika, parsley, sage, thyme, allspice, turmeric.
Veal: thyme, mace, curry powder, nutmeg.
Lamb: basil, curry powder, dill, mace.
Lean pork: thyme, savory, rosemary, sage.
Poultry: rosemary, nutmeg, mustard, lemon juice, ginger, dill, curry powder, bay leaves.
Lean ground meats: allspice, basil, mustard, savory.
Lean meat loaf: rosemary, nutmeg.

See the recipe link on the side bar for a Seven-Spice Chicken recipe from the American Heart Association.

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