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Flavor Tips for Salt Free Cooking

Take a few minutes and read these low sodium cooking tips. 
Most of you will find a salt free seasoning tip or several that will help you
with your low sodium diet and help you stick to it.

For a Salt Free Tex-Mex Dorito like flavor:  take #103 Table Tasty salt substitute and #117 Bravado chili seasoning at about a 50/50 combination.  You will get a Dorito like flavor and it's salt free. Sprinkle on unsalted corn chips, unsalted potato chips, unsalted nuts, potatoes, eggs, popcorn. Even in sour cream as a dip and add to guacamole.  Beat some into eggs when making a Spanish Omelette and stir in or sprinkle on some of this mix to spice up deviled eggs. This combination is amazing when added to taco meat, even sprinkled on grilled fish for fish tacos. It really does make a good salt free taco seasoning. It's also good added to beans.

 
Quick & easy salt free vegetable broth.  Stir about 1  teaspoon of  #103 Table Tasty salt substitute into a cup of water, or more to taste, and you will have a quick, tasty, salt free vegetable broth.

Zesty Lemon & Herb seasoning (#104) is delicious in Tuna Salad. It's got lemon and dill in it to help give it a little of that dill pickle tang. Trader Joe's has a very good no salt added canned white albacore tuna. Also Crown Prince no-salt-added Tuna is quite good and can be ordered on Amazon.  If you buy fresh tuna, don't panic. It is very dark in color, almost like beef, but it turns light in color when you cook it. The color you're used to seeing in the can.

Flavorful dipping oil.  If you warm, (not too hot) a very good extra virgin olive oil, in a dish with #106 Gusto Garlic & Herb Pepper seasoning. in a microwave about 30-45 seconds, or slowly in a pan. You will get a wonderful dipping oil, like they give you in many of the Italian restaurants for your bread.  Also try adding a little Balsamic vinegar at the edge of the oil. You could also use Supreme Garlic and Herb instead of Gusto, if you don't like pepper.  They both are good flavors used here.

Flavored vinegar is a great way to add flavor to your food without salt. Tarragon is one of the saltiest tasting herbs, also one of the most expensive, try Tarragon vinegar.  Rice wine vinegar is very popular as it doesn't have a strong vinegar taste like most vinegars. Make sure you use the Unseasoned Rice Vinegar as the Seasoned Rice vinegar has salt and sugar. Apple cider vinegar has always been touted as the one vinegar with the most health benefits and is used in many of our recipes. There is Sherry vinegar, Champagne vinegar and other herbal vinegars to try.  Find what you like.

Adding a little vinegar instead of salt to the water when poaching an egg, will help the egg white stay together better.  Adding vinegar instead of salt to water when hard boiling eggs will help the egg shell from cracking and the egg white from going in the water.

Adding a little vinegar to freshly boiled or steamed spinach or any greens, perks them up and gives a nice taste, usually added at the end of cooking.  Greens can sometimes have a bite and oddly enough the vinegar cuts through that and mellows it out.  Since you're not cooking your greens in bacon fat anymore, you need other flavorings.  Fresh lemon juice will also work but sometimes the lemon juice will make the greens change color to a sort of khaki color instead of a deep green.  Not as appealing to the eye.  Zesty lemon herb seasoning works especially well with greens or green vegetables and keeps the colors bright.  Zesty is also great on green beans, asparagus, broccoli, artichokes, or anything green.

Since most of you are not using bacon fat for that nice smokey flavor in your greens or beans, you can try Wrights Liquid Smoke.  A drop is all you need as it is very potent but it gives a nice smokey, grilled taste made from roasted hickory wood. Soon we hope to have a salt free seasoning blend with a nice smoke flavor. 


This is more of a health tip than a flavor tip. To skim off that last bit of fat off the top of a hot pot of soup, try this:  place a lettuce leaf or two on top of the hot soup. Take the lettuce leaf out with tongs and the oil will cling to the lettuce leaf. This can also be done pretty well with a paper towel.  There are also kitchen utensils called fat skimmers, available. You can also refrigerate your dish, especially if it is a soup or stew, and after it is cold, you can lift off the fat which comes to the top and discard. 


Always keep fresh lemons and/or limes around. You won't believe the difference they can make. Your tongue has trouble distinguishing between salt and sour as you pucker up with either. By adding a squeeze of fresh lemon juice at the end of your cooking or even at the table, you'll find many dishes brighten up with a hint of saltiness. You may have noticed that many Mexican dishes, especially soups have a squeeze of lime at the table. Just take a little of your food to the side and try a little squeeze of fresh lemon or lime and test and see what the taste difference would be, before you add it to your whole plate or pot.


Fresh lemon zest ( the yellow part of the lemon) adds a brightness and  a lot of flavor to food.  Do not get the white part of the lemon (the pith) as it is bitter.  Sprinkle on just about anything.  Also, lime zest works well.  Actually, any citrus zest is amazing.  This is where organic or citrus without sprays would be best.


Add fresh lemon zest to olive oil with Zesty Lemon Herb seasoning, fresh lemon juice, maybe a little water and you have a delicious and quick salad dressing, or drizzle over vegetables.  Delicious especially over green vegetables like asparagus, green beans, spinach, even avocados, etc.

Invest in a pepper mill. The difference in flavor between fresh ground pepper and regular store bought, is huge.

Browning your food well (carmelizing), will add a lot of flavor.  I think browning more slowly on a medium or medium low heat instead of a quick sear on a high heat will add the most flavor to most recipes. Make sure you brown your meats with #106 Gusto when making soups or stews, pot roasts or even for the crockpot. By doing this the broth has a really good flavor and color. You are not using canned broths or bouillon cubes (not even the low sodium ones, as they are usually still too high in sodium and many have potassium chloride added), so you must learn how to flavor the broths naturally, and browning or caramelizing adds a lot of flavor. Take your time on this step. If this is done well, and not burned, it will add a tremendous amount of flavor and rich color.


Use the little browned bits on the bottom of your pan, called fond.  Deglaze the pan by adding liquid (water, wine, juice, tomatoes, milk) to release those browned bits. by scraping them off the bottom (usually with a spoon) and those little bits add a ton of flavor. Be careful, don't let them burn.  Even just to start to burn will ruin the sauce or gravy and you will get a strong burnt taste and there is really nothing you can do to fix it.
 
When cooking with wine, use something you would like to drink but don't cook with something expensive.  If you don't know what wine to buy, the recipes in the cookbook we usually use a dry white wine like Chablis and try Chianti for a red wine.  If in doubt which wine to use, a white wine is many times a better choice in your recipe, as it doesn't make your vegetables or sauces too dark or purple.  White wine lets the colors stay bright but red definitely adds a richness to certain dishes like beef stew.  Do not buy "cooking wine", it often tastes terrible and usually has salt added.  Every wine has a different taste which will change the flavor in the recipe you're cooking.  So try different wines. You'll notice that wine is usually added as the first liquid to a hot pan so that the alcohol can burn off and then other liquids can be added.  Good wine adds good flavor.

There are just three basic carriers of flavor:  fat, water, and alcohol.


The crock pot or a slow cooker is your friend. You will get incredible flavor. Again, this is about letting the food cook over a long time, nice and slow,  which allows flavors to mingle and permeate the food. Generally, it works like this, low temperature is 10 to 12 hours and high temperature is 6 to 8 hours. Put the food in the crock pot in the morning and come home to a delicious meal. When you buy a crock pot, we recommend getting one with a removable crock as it is much easier to clean. If you don't have a removable liner try using those oven cooking bags inside the crock as it makes clean up easier.

 
Try simmering instead of boiling your food.  Boiling your food too long or at a hard rolling boil can start killing the flavor.  A simmer is not boiling. A simmer is bringing food to the boiling point, just to where is starts to bubble and then turn the heat down. Keep it at a slow bubble.  This gentle cooking helps preserve and enhance flavor.


Instead of using bread crumbs or cracker crumbs (they are usually very high in sodium) try using oats like in our Meatloaf Masterpiece recipe.  Old fashioned whole grain rolled oats is a good filler, high in fiber and low in sodium.  You can grind the oatmeal so the pieces don't show (if that bothers some of you).  Don't use quick cooking style oatmeal.

Avoid croutons, they are usually very high in sodium.  Try making your own (it's not hard), or just forget about them.

Corn tortillas are commonly made without salt and therefore have no sodium.  Read your labels and even if there is salt they still may be low in sodium.

A pressure cooker is a great way to cook quickly and add lots of flavor. Cooking in a pressure cooker, adds flavor just like you had been cooking all day.  It's a great way to cook tougher cuts of meat (as they are usually more flavorful). These tougher cuts will cook up tender, in minutes versus hours. This is a great way to cook soups and stews, for maximum flavor.  We have used a pressure cooker for years (one that says can't explode). 


It's usually better to by products that say "no salt added" rather than products that say "reduced sodium".  Reduced sodium products may still be too high in sodium for a low sodium diet.  Reduced sodium products just have to be a certain percentage lower (25-30% lower) than their regular product.  Many times that does not make it a low sodium product, just a reduced sodium product. 


Instead of steaming or poaching your fish, seafood, chicken or vegetables in plain water, add a piece of onion, garlic, carrot, celery, fresh parsley stems, lemon zest (a nice slice of lemon peel), fresh lemon juice, vinegar, wine, peppercorns, and/or a little of Benson's Seasonings, to the water. Court bouillon is flavored quick broth. This flavorful water will impart flavor to the food instead of plain water which just takes flavor out of the food.  It's like a quick vegetable stock. This also works well when cooking rice,  even potatoes.  Just remove the spent vegetables before cooking your food or definitely before serving. You can put things like peppercorns in a cheesecloth so it's easy to lift out of the water at the end of cooking and no one bites into a peppercorn for example.


Watch the serving size on the nutritional labels.  The sodium level may not look too bad, until you look at the serving size.  The sodium level stated may be for a half cup, when actually you know that your serving size is a cup.  Or it may state a tablespoon, when you are actually using 3 tablespoons.


Those of you who are watching your potassium, be aware that many low sodium products are made with potassium chloride (salt substitute).  The doctors may tell you no salt substitutes but they may forget to tell you to watch for the salt substitutes (potassium chloride) in many low sodium products, like low sodium chicken broth, even many low sodium seasonings (not ours).  We use no potassium chloride in any of our seasonings.


Nuts are heart healthy, they have the good fats and are high in fiber.  Nuts add good flavor to food.  If you toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat for  3 - 5 minutes (until you can smell them and they are golden), shake the pan like you would for popcorn.  Their flavor is more pronounced and fresher tasting.  Freeze nuts that are not being used as they will go rancid fairly fast. Be careful and don't burn them, just lightly toasted.  Toasting them in a 350 F oven about 10 minutes will give you a more even color, but you have to wait to heat up the oven.  Lightly toasted nuts, such as pine nuts on a spinach salad or pecans on a green salad  or in a chicken salad or walnuts in a fruit salad are wonderful.  Sliced almonds sprinkled over fish, chicken or green beans are tasty.  Grind toasted almonds to use like a flour for breaded fish or chicken or pork chops.  Try coating a piece of fish or chicken with finely chopped macadamia nuts, for a buttery, breaded taste.  Cook slow so you don't burn them.  Nuts tend to burn easy because of their oils.  These tips are easy, flavorful and remember the oil in nuts are good for the heart. 


If you are cooking with or eating butter, always use unsalted butter.  The amount of sodium varies significantly in a pat of butter, from brand to brand.  Generally, the less expensive the brand, the higher the sodium.  Salt can cover up flavor flaws so unsalted butter can give you a more pure butter taste.  You will find that the different unsalted butter brands will each have a different butter taste, so find one you like.

Most margarine and shortenings are trans fats.  Trans fats are proven not good for your heart. Stay away from anything that says hydrogenated.  That means trans fats.

Macadamia nut oil is a very heart healthy oil with a rich buttery taste.  It's not butter but it's very good.  Try macadamia nut oil on popcorn with Table Tasty and you popcorn lovers who are on a low sodium diet and have felt deprived, will be amazed how good this tastes.  A heart healthy, buttery, salty taste.   Just air pop some popcorn.  Drizzle with some macadamia nut oil.  Sprinkle with Table Tasty, toss with your hands, add a little more oil or Table Tasty, if needed.

Avocado Oil also has a rich, somewhat buttery taste. 

Buy meats with the bones when possible.  Bones add flavor.  This works for everything.  Beef, chicken, turkey, fish, or pork.  A pork chop for example with the bone will have better flavor than a boneless pork chop.  It's just the way it is.  Always make your soups and stews with some bones.  The flavor difference is huge.

When you are shopping, be aware that most of the time when a product says low fat or no fat, the sodium may be 2 or 3 times higher than the regular product.

Try a pinch of cayenne or chili powder, even a little ground white pepper added towards the end of cooking, especially in soups, sauces and gravies.  This can add a little zip without making it hot.  Soups are some of the most challenging dishes to cook salt free and tasty. Table Tasty really helps here and so does a pinch of #117  Bravado chili seasoning.  You can also add a little (a pinch) of red pepper flakes at the begining, to the olive oil, when you are sauteeing vegetables especially when you are going to use these vegetables for a soup or a sauce. 

Wood chips are a flavorful addition when grilling or barbecuing or using a smoker.  There are many types of wood to choose from and sizes.  Just make sure you soak them well, first, or they will just burn up and not smoke.  Hickory wood chips are the most popular and can be found in most grocery stores.  Try mesquite or apple wood for completely different flavors.

Eggs.  Most of the sodium in eggs is in the whites.  If an egg is 77mg of sodium then around 13 mg of sodium is in the yolk and about 64mg of sodium is in the white.

Fresh Meats naturally have 20-30 mg of sodium per ounce.

    Nut Oils,  are heart healthy, no sodium and no potassium.  Walnut oil is considered the most heart healthy nut oil as it has the most omega 3 fatty acids.  All tree nut oils have special heath benefits.  Roasted nut oils, tend to have the most flavor.  Nut oils can turn rancid so always store them in the refrigerator. These are great to create more flavor in salad dressings and vinaigrettes.  Also, delicious drizzled over vegetables.  Try almond oil, hazelnut oil, pecan oil, macadamia nut oil, pine nut oil, and others.  The flavors can surprise you.  More flavor for a low sodium diet.  
    Cook with a rainbow of colors.  You've heard the saying "We eat with our eyes first."  Make your food colorful.  When using the basics, like onion try adding also red onion or some green onion.  Bell peppers, instead of just green, splurge and get a red and/or yellow bell pepper.  Use celery, (always the darker the green, the better), and carrot (unless used raw is usually peeled, otherwise the peeling may turn dark when cooking).  Use different colors of squash, like green Italian zucchini, yellow bar zucchini, and white zucchini (light green) or called Mexican squash. Try different colors of potatoes instead of the same kind every time.  Tomatoes come in a variety of colors and flavors.  If you miss the taste of a really good flavorful tomato and you don't have a garden, try heirloom tomatoes. They are usually varigated and not the prettiest shapes, but they have great flavor.  Even if you just use red and yellow cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half, the color and presentation on the plate is beautiful.  It's amazing what a variety of colors on your plate can do.  This adds a definite eye appeal.  It's healthier.  Colors are richer in antioxidants.  If you have trouble finding colorful fruits and vegetables, shop your local farmers market.  You will find varieties of the freshest produce both colors and flavors that you never see in the grocery stores. We all should be supporting our local farmers markets.

    Many of you ask about what kind of chicken to buy?  We always tell you watch the labels and the very fine print on the labels.  It is a common practice especially with boneless skinless chicken breasts to inject them with a sodium broth.  Now I am seeing this more in other chicken products.  Many chicken pieces are ice glazed.  The glaze is a sodium broth.  Here is a link to a page by Foster Farms discussing this process about plumping (injecting with a sodium type broth).  http://www.saynotoplumping.com/

    Always look for yellow chicken.  The more yellow the better.  The chicken is usually raised more natural and is usually a little older so a little bigger and we have found almost always has better flavor.  Yes, we usually buy chicken with the skin on.  It makes for a better tasting and a moister chicken recipe.  You don't have to eat the skin.  As you read above, most skinless chicken has a sodium broth injected. If you can find a natural cage free or free range chicken, they are usually the best.  Usually expensive but amazingly good and no hormones or antibiotics.  Kosher chicken is usually brined (read your labels).  Occasionally, we shop at Mexican markets in our area and their chickens are usually very yellow.  Sometimes the chickens are fed marigold petals to help get that yellow skin.  The Mexican shoppers seem to know that yellow chickens are best.  Even if the yellow is helped along, these chickens tend to be bigger and more flavorful.  Good to cook long and slow.  You may find this to be the case in other ethnic markets.

    It looks like most all of the turkey is being plumped (injected with a sodium broth) or brined.  Look for free range, no antibiotics or hormones.  These farmers raise their turkeys this way so they are the most natural and usually the most flavorful.  These will most likely not be plumped.  Not easy to find. Try natural food stores, or direct from the farms, or mail order.

    Breadings - These can be tricky on a low sodium diet because sodium in breadings can be sneaky.  Plain flour is most commonly used to bread meats or vegetables for cooking especially frying.  Flour tends to need salt otherwise it tastes bland like paste.  Try adding seasonings (like Gusto) to the flour before breading, this makes a big difference in the flavor so it's not bland but you still achieve a crispy coating.  Try other breadings like ground nut flour or nut meal.  Almond meal or almond flour is good and fairly easy to find.  Store this in the freezer so it stays fresh. There are many other types of breadings that give you flavorful results.  Light batters like a tempura batter, egg whites, beer batter, corn meal, ground or chopped nuts, seeds like seasame seeds, rice flour, corn flour, potato flour, cornstarch, arrowroot, a little mustard, freshly ground peppercorns, or try a variety of mixed peppercorns.  Even a pinch of cayenne or chili added to a breading adds a little kick to take away the bland.  It doesn't have to be hot, just flavorful. Lot's of combinations to try to get that crispy coating you miss and without the salt.   

    There is a newer breading you might light to try called Panko.  These are Japanese breadcrumbs.  Very light and the plain are low sodium at only 40 mg of sodium per 1/2 cup serving.

    Note:  Bread, especially white bread is high in sodium because as said before plain flour needs salt. so white bread crumbs are usually salty. If using something like a saltine cracker make sure you get the unsalted tops to save on the sodium even if it's a little bit. Like cracker crumbs, you can make your own and save some of the sodium that you would find in premade bread or cracker crumbs.  Also, be careful using flavored crumbs. The sodium is up there and watch as different brands can be even higher in sodium than other brands..

    Any of our salt-free seasonings mixed-in with your coating of choice will be more flavorful and have good aroma.  Mixing-in Table Tasty is a nice surprise with it's salty taste, and has arrowroot to help it stick to whatever you are breading and this also helps thicken a sauce or gravy.  
     
        
    If you are eating bread...buy good quality bread.  Cheap or inexpensive bread is usually much higher in sodium.  Try breads seasoned with garlic, herbs and/or seeds as they will have more flavor and the sodium tends to be lower.  For example, try breads like, sourdough, rye, garlic, jalapeno, even olive oil bread for some ideas.
    Shop for your groceries in the outer perimeter isles of the store.  Most of the high sodium products are in the center isles.  The outer isles you will find your fresh fruits and vegetables, breads, dairy and meats.  Buy fresh as you can.  
    Add wood chips to your smoker, barbecue and when grilling.  Wood chips come in a variety of woods and sizes.  The most common is hickory wood in chunks or chips which you can find in most grocery stores.  You can also find mesquite, apple, maple and others.  Every wood imparts a different flavor. Make sure you soak them in water before using.  You want the smoke not a fire.  
    Never add salt to water - You will be surprised how flavorful your food will be without adding salt to the water when cooking vegetables, potatoes, pasta, rice, even oatmeal. If you think about it, usually you add toppings, or sauces, seasonings, etc to these foods. There is enough flavor in these to compensate for not adding salt to the cooking water.
    Think you must add salt to a recipe?  Sometimes, you think you need salt especially in baked goods.  Try cutting the salt called for in the recipe in half and you usually will still have good results. Perhaps the next time you can cut that amount in half again.  Then eliminate the salt altogether. Think of salt as a flavor inhancer.  Salt is not usually needed for a chemical reaction, for example to make bread rise.  Depending on what you are prepareing, you can add more vanilla or other flavor extract, or fresh lemon zest, or black pepper, seasame seeds. or other seasoning, with good results.   
    Sea Salt and other fancy salts, Kosher salt have the same amount of sodium per weight as regular table salt. 
    Marinades help add flavor and can be used for a variety of foods.  A steak marinade is one of the most popular. However, there are many kinds of marindes for chicken, pork, fish, seafood, and vegetables.  A marinade is traditionally an acid and an oil plus flavorings.  For example, an acid could be lemon juice, or wine or vinegar.  An oil could be vegetable oil, olive oil, even a nut oil.  Flavorings could be garlic, onion, lemon zest, herbs, spices, seasonings of some sort even cayenne or chilies.  Marinading can be for just a few minutes, a few hours or even overnight.  Note: Don't use fresh citrus juice for fish for more than a few minutes as it cooks the fish.
    Use fresh lemon zest (the yellow part, no white pith) for a nice lemon flavor instead of juice where the juice might make a sauce too thin. Different size zest will give a different taste and look to the dish.  Use the a vegetable peeler for long strips, tines of a fork for thin strips (you can then chop or mince them), a small grater will do a good job but a lemon zester or a microplane will make the fastest, easiest, lemon zest for most recipes.  
    Add minced fresh Italian parsley towards the end of your cooking.  Usually when you're ready for that last stir before you're ready to serve.  Then sprinkle with a little more fresh parsley on the very top of your food just as you've placed it on the platter or bowl, to serve.  Parsley adds a nice fresh taste with a hint of saltiness. Parsley is one of the most nutritious herbs and makes the finished dish beautiful. This must be nice fresh green Italian parsley leaves, not old, or yellow and not too much of the stems, for the best results. (This is one of the main reasons we have parsley flakes in all of our seasonings.  For taste, with that little edge of saltiness and to make the food beautiful).

    Chopped fresh herbs added at the end of cooking really can perk-up a dish.  A little fresh basil for instance, stirred into pasta sauce just before serving, adds a lot of flavor and aroma. Sprinkle a little more on top.  If fresh herbs are added to a hot recipe, just the warmth of the food will carry the aroma of the fresh herb. 

    Good aroma really helps food taste better.  If you pinch your nose closed and taste something most cannot taste anything.  The smell (aroma) of the food is important to increasing flavor.  That is why nothing tastes good when you have a cold.  No smell, no taste. This is why when cooking with our seasonings (because they are so fresh and have very aromatic ingredients), the smells (aromas) are so wonderful.  You can call this true aromatherapy. Aroma definitely helps the flavor of the food.

    Note:  If you are cooking for someone who is not eating very well.  Make sure you try a crockpot or slow cooking.  Fill the house with the aroma of good smelling food.  It opens the appetite and starts the taste buds working.  Remember when you would walk in to a house when someone was cooking something that smelled so good...you couldn't wait to eat.

    Note:  If you are eating a healthier diet - a low sodium diet, these are lifestyle changes.  We highly recommend growing some fresh herbs to go along with our seasonings, as they do compliment and add more flavor.  It's less expensive to grow your own and it is enjoyable to eat something you've grown.  If you have never had a garden, this is a good place to start.  You can even start by growing a few herbs on the kitchen windowsill.  If you are wondering which herbs to start with, try the fantastic 5 fresh herbs:  Parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme (like the song) and basil.  You could add cilantro, dill, tarragon or whatever you like.

    Sweating - An important cooking technique for developing flavor
    Sweating is when an ingredient usually sliced or diced vegetable is cooked in a very small amount of fat over low heat. Slow cooking softens and develops flavor. Aromatics like carrots, celery, onions, shallots and leeks are usually sweated to develop a mellow sweetness.  This is an important step to developing flavor when making soups and sauces. You don't want any color as this is not browning this more softening for onions to let them turn from opaque to translucent. Use a covered heavy bottomed pan or Dutch oven.  The cover helps keep the moisture in to allow the ingredients to soften without burning or scorching. Ingredients are usually sweated in a small amount of fat like oil or butter or a combination of the two. You can also sweat them in a little stock or water. The key is to go slow, keep the lid on for moisture, stir occassionally and take your time.    
    Today's food safety is often color-blind. You cannot always tell when meat is cooked and safe by color alone. It used to be if chicken was pink it wasn't done. Today's chicken can be safe and still pink. With the addition of preservatives, nitrates and nitrites which can cause a pink color, or commonly you might still see a pink color in a younger bird or a thin-skinned bird, even after the bird is thoroughly cooked. Also, artificial colors, flavors, sodium broth injections, marinades, etc can make food appear done when it is not and sometimes not appear done when it really is. The color of beef is affected by acidity and fat content. Low-fat beef patties usually need more cooking time at higher temperatures. Beef can turn brown before reaching a safe temperature, for example, if it is from an older animal. It might look done enough but it might not be. Safely cooked chicken or poultry needs to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees, ground beef 160 degrees, pork and seafood 145 degrees. The safest way to tell if meats are done is to invest in a meat thermometer. 

    Cooking tips are added often, so keep checking back.

    Raw onion adds both flavor and crunch to fresh salsas, salads, sandwiches and burgers for example, but sometimes the onions are too strong. Tip:  After you cut them, place in a sieve or colander and rinse briefly under the tap with cold water. The water washes away the strong sulfur juices which will mellow both the pungent flavor,strong aroma and hopefully stops the tears.  This is a quick and easy tip, but it works.  

    Vinegar - So many kinds to add that flavorful zing

    Have a variety of vinegar available, especially for a low sodium diet. Most of us are familiar with apple cider vinegar, white distilled vinegar and balsamic vinegar, but there are so many more types and flavors. Red wine vinegar, and white wine vinegar are staples in the vinegar realm. Try Chardonnay vinegar or Sherry vinegar with a different flavor edge.  Also, there are hot and spicy vinegars, garlic vinegar, and many types of herbal vinegar to choose from.  One of my favorites is tarragon vinegar.  Remember every brand will taste different.

    Tip:  A substitute for the popular apple cider vinegar is 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of apple juice, this works great, especially if you don't use vinegar or just run out of it.  

    Dried Herbs vs Fresh Herbs

    When you are substituting fresh herbs for dried herbs usually the dried herbs are much stronger.  Rule of thumb is 3 to 1. Three teaspoons of fresh herbs to 1 teaspoon of dried. The dried should be fragrant The more aroma usually the fresher they are.

    What is "mise en place"?

    It means "In it's place". This is an important cooking term and is used by all well trained chef's and good cooks. Whenever you begin a recipe, you set out what what you will need.  This includes cooking equipment, setting out the ingredients and prepping them such as chopping onions, mincing fresh garlic, chopping fresh parsley. You want to make sure you have everything you will need for the recipe and this also helps you not to forget anything.  This also speeds-up your cooking time because all of the prep work is done. Doing this step will make you a better cook. 

    Low Sodium Soy Sauce Substitute Recipe

    Low Sodium Soy Sauce Substitute Recipe

    This doesn't taste exactly like the real thing but it is pretty good.

    2 Tablespoons No or Low Sodium beef broth or stock
    1  Tablespoon red wine vinegar
    1  teaspoon Balsamic vinegar
    2  teaspoons molasses
    1  teaspoon sesame oil
    Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    1/4  cup boiling water
    If needed, at the end, add Table Tasty salt substitute, to taste 

    Combine all of the ingredients and let set for about an hour for the flavors to mingle.  Use sauce as is, or for a thicker sauce, let simmer to reduce sauce to about 3 Tablespoons (about half).

    Parsley stems vs Cilantro stems

    When blending fresh parsley do not use the stems as they taste bitter. However, when blending fresh cilantro you can use the stems as they taste sweet.
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