The American diet is rich in high-sodium foods and, between processed foods and eating out, we are often getting much more than we need. Some say salt is a substitute for the flavor that used to exist when we consumed fresh, locally-grown produce. Though an easy way to flavor food, salt is a cheap and rather pedestrian flavoring agent.
Excess salt is a danger to the body and the brain. It can raise blood pressure, risk of heart attack and stroke, put a strain on your kidneys, and more. Did you know it can also lead to over-eating and cause weight gain?
Here are some tips to enjoy satisfying flavor in our foods, without added salt.
- Huddle up with herbs. What cuisines do you enjoy – Italian, Mexican, French, Indian? Choose some herbs that fit the flavor profiles and add them to your dish. For example, oregano, rosemary, and basil are go-to Italian herbs for elevating your pasta dish.
- Citrus zest and juices. Grate the skin of organic lemons, limes, or oranges for sweet and/or savory meals. Spritz fresh lime onto your tacos or lemon into a lentil soup.
- Roasted root vegetables. Lightly toss your favorite root vegetables (such as beets, parsnips, etc) in melted coconut oil and roast at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until tender, turning over once halfway through roasting.
- Eat slowly. Chewing your food well breaks down the carbohydrates, making it taste sweeter. Slowing down while eating introduces your tastebuds to the complex flavors in your food and makes for a more pleasurable meal experience.
- Caramelized onions. Sauté diced onions in some olive oil, stirring frequently until browned (about 45 minutes to 1 hour). Use in a French onion soup or on rice dishes, burgers or veggie burgers, omelets, and more!
- Organic food can be more flavorful. Try some organic strawberries or eggs and see if you can tell a difference between them and their conventional counterparts.
- De-glaze the pan. By simply using some balsamic vinegar, which combines with those sticky brown bits in your cooking pan, you can make a delicious sauce.
- Spice it up. Cumin adds a depth of flavor to a number of dishes, as does adobo, curry powder and even nutmeg.
Evaluate your salt consumption and then challenge yourself to incorporate one or more of these ideas. Your tastebuds and body will appreciate it.
Winter = slow cooker; at least for us. There is nothing better than loading up up the ceramic bowl with a variety of greens, protein, and vegetables, and letting the ‘kitchen servant’ work its magic while we perform ours in the nutrition world. Coming home to a cooked dinner is a relief and a joy – even better when shared with loved ones!
We are huge fans of cooking once and eating twice. You’ll notice that the caramelized parsnips and turkey, made in advance, provide the benefit of 1. using leftovers wisely and 2. making preparation so much easier.
Prep time: 15 minutes (we made the caramelized parsnips and turkey sausage patties earlier; otherwise this recipe extends to about 40 minutes)
Cook time: 6-8 hours in the slow cooker
1/2 lb ground turkey (or use 3 leftover turkey sausage patties from this recipe!)
1 lb parsnips, caramelized
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch dandelion greens, chopped
1 jar (25oz) tomato sauce
1 jar salsa
1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup arugula, rinsed
If you haven’t already caramelized the parsnips or made the turkey patties, start them. Once turkey is cooked, add to bottom of slow cooker, layer with chopped green bell pepper and red pepper flakes. Saute onion and set aside. Pour jar of tomato sauce and salsa on top of turkey mixture in slow cooker and greens. Then add caramelized parsnips and the sauteed onion. Set crockpot timer for 4-6 hours.
Serve turkey chili over fresh arugula. Enjoy!
A parsnip is a fantastic root vegetable which is rich in vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants and fiber.
Before sweetness in the form of sugarcane and beet were an option, Europeans used parsnips as a source of sugar. Next time the craving for a sweet arises, try some caramelized parsnips and find how sweet and grounding this root vegetable can be!
1 lb parsnips
2 tbsp coconut oil (or butter, if preferred)
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
Peel parsnips and chop into 1/2 inch pieces. Melt coconut oil in skillet then add parsnips and cinnamon. Cover with lid and cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes or until they become more golden. Add water and cover. After water evaporates you’ll be left with tender and caramelized parsnips. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Roasted Root Vegetables
The beautiful part about a pan of roasted vegetables isn’t just their bright colors, but that you’re able to experiment with different types of root vegetables (e.g parsnips) and use them in a variety of ways during the week. We love putting the roasted vegetables in a grain bowl or on salads.
Yields: about 6 servings
2 medium sweet potatoes
3 medium beets
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cut the veggies into similarly sized pieces. Place the vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to ensure all pieces are lightly coated and add salt and pepper. Roast for about 30, turning once, until all the vegetables are tender. Garnish with fresh herbs (parsley, rosemary and thyme work well), if desired.