Over the Salt

Mindful choices for healthy and low sodium cooking


2 Comments

Refreshing summer salads I: pineapple and peppermint

Pineapple and peppermint salad

Pineapple and peppermint salad by Ria

Pineapple and peppermint salad by Ria

This refreshing salad is a delicious sweet treat for the summer and accompanies most vegetarian or fish dishes well.

  • Core a fresh pineapple and cut into small chunks / wedges
  • Pick some mint from the garden (about a cup) and chop it roughly
  • Combine in a glass bowl
  • Refrigerate for an hour before serving

Thanks to my sister for the recipe. Especially for the suggestion of using chocolate mint on occasion rather than peppermint. Nom.

Variations

  • Try adding a quarter cup of finely chopped red onion for a bit of bite
  • Love ginger? This one is great with a little fresh rasped ginger root (not too much, just a taste)


3 Comments

Golden comfort food

Potatoes

Potatoes with Onion Relish and corn

 

One of my favorite comfort dishes is tiny potatoes pan fried in a wok with herbs, accompanied by fresh-made onion relish. For a 3 pound bag of golden potatoes, I use only one stick of butter. It takes only ten minutes to chop everything, and twenty minutes to fry up the potatoes and then the onions. Drain the potatoes in paper towels in a bowl while you fry the onions at the end.

Ingredients
3 lbs of potatoes – golden baby potatoes
Herbs – Herbs of Provence, or fresh rosemary from the garden
Butter – no salt, a swirl of olive oil to stop the butter from burning
A teaspoon of olive oil
Greek yoghurt with honey (optional finishing ingredient to smooth out the flavors)

Pan
A non-stick wok, stir with a wooden spoon

Heat – High

Onion relish
Use the left-over browned butter in the bottom of the wok
Add chopped onions at high heat, stir constantly
A cup of raisons
Chocolate balsamic vinegar (regular white balsamic otherwise)
Two tablespoons brown sugar
Tiny chopped tomatoes
Finish off with a dollop of honey yoghurt

It is a dish with no salt, and the sweet and sour onion relish is perfect with it. Better than going out to a restaurant any day.


1 Comment

10 ways to a healthy breakfast

file9831244402030Andrea’s breakfast post inspired me to write down some thoughts about eating a healthy breakfast. Just a few months ago, I’d grab a pre-made protein drink from Odwalla or Boultons and run out the door with it, in a style I called eat-while-running away. On arrival at work, I’d stop at Tullys and grab a coffee with soy milk. By lunch time, the lack of a healthy breakfast made me desperate for real food, and I’d eat more of the wrong stuff. The cycle kept repeating itself.

When I started reading labels more closely for sodium content, though, those convenience drinks stopped making it into the shopping basket, and coffee was replaced by tea, which was much more tasty. I started thinking about food in a more wholistic way, more as a series of choices that would blend together to keep my energy balanced throughout the whole day.

My considerations for breakfast are (1) high protein (2) low salt and (3) tasty and nutritious. I just noticed that I like to garnish with strawberries or grapes when I looked at the images. Here are my 10 favorite ways to a healthy breakfast.

  1. Fabulous fruity oatmeal
  2. Baked savory frittata
  3. Flatbread roll-ups
  4. Divine date loaf
  5. Living yoghurt
  6. Rock cakes
  7. Protein smoothies
  8. Fresh fruit salad
  9. Tiny quiches
  10. Sweet and savory fried rice

1. Fabulous fruity oatmeal

FabOatmeal300One of the best dishes of oatmeal I had in recent years was at a restaurant. It was a shallow bowl of oatmeal with mango puree and raspberries in the center on top. This started my love affair with fruit in my oatmeal, and not just the usual raisons. I tried fresh fruit in season, little cups of fruit in juice (peaches, pears, oranges), diced prunes and dates, mango slices and bananas. Sometimes, I tried more than one at a time! I stopped adding milk, yoghurt, cream or any dairy to the breakfast. I also stopped adding sweetener most of the time, as the fruit was sweet enough. On the odd occasion, I’d add a little maple sugar, date sugar or honey, depending on what fruit choice I made. If the fruit was not juicy enough on its own, a little mango nectar is a perfect addition.

2. Easy savory frittata

EggMuffinHeaderI was first introduced to these by the fabulous Jane. When we were at the ICU, she sent along what she calls egg muffins to help keep me fed on healthy snacks. A couple grabbed from the refrigerator, and taken along in a plastic bag would keep me going all morning. They had some onions and green peppers, garlic powder, pepper and salt. And love of course; love is always the most important ingredient. It took a couple months before I was making my own; they are made in a muffin pan, and can have many optional ingredients. Nowadays, I make a dozen on the weekend in half an hour, and carry them with me for quick snacks on the go. Heated for 30 seconds, two make a perfect breakfast. Savory frittata recipe>

3. Flatbread roll-ups

rollup300Almost any flatbread will do for this recipe, depending on what you have on hand. I like fresh corn or flour tortillas, potato flour flatbread, pancakes or crepes, or even the various thin-bread you can get now in most stores. The roll-up is just the medium to keep the ingredients off your fingers. I like using fillings like peanut butter and honey, banana, strawberries and nutella, potato salad, stir fried veges and tofu, vege bolognese, eggs and cheese, leftovers of various kinds – mashed potatoes with chicken breast and tomato for example.

4. Divine date loaf

dateloafOne of my favorites from childhood. Date loaf or date bread is tasty, nutritious, and full of bliss. It has dates, molasses, date sugar, flour, egg and butter, though not in that order. My sister has a great post on how to make it here. Delicious for breakfast, or an in-between meal snack. It is also easy to eat slices on the road, while driving. Divine date loaf recipe>

5. Living yoghurt

yoghurt-smallI’m a big fan of yoghurt with live cultures, especially probiotics. It helps balance your stomach, which is perfect after a night where you stayed up too late, or ate weird food the day before. I like to add fresh sliced fruit, berries and a little local honey for the burst of flavor and for color. Colorful foods wake up my senses in the morning. Usually, this is paired with a protein drink made from fresh juice and WPI (whey protein isolate) for the energy.

6. Rock cakes

RockCake300I know, that sounds like an odd name for a breakfast food – rock cakes. However, it is the Australian name for scones with dried fruit in them. If you are making scones and the dough gets overworked, the scones will not be as light as what Americans call biscuits, and which we Aussies call scones. So stick some golden raisons, chopped dates or fruit peel in them, and serve with butter and jam. A drizzle of honey adds joy.

7. Protein smoothies

Smoothy300Simple and delicious. I make these every morning, and take one to my sweetie to help him wake up. I found that protein wakes my brain up faster than tea or coffee, though tea in the morning is a must for the day. I like orange, guava, mango and pineapple juice, and use some or all as a start and about 18 oz. We like Whey Protein Isolate, or WPI, as it dissolves completely. We get it from Super Supplements, though my sister tells me she also found it in a health food store in Sydney. Mix it up with a blender, or shake it in one of those handy mix bottles with the round ball in it. Serves two. Optional additives are vegetable juices, a blended banana, flax seed oil or wheat germ. The juice gives an energy boost, and the protein sustains you through the morning. One thing to keep in mind is to use whole juices, rather than extracts, and if you fresh squeeze your fruit, it’s like a taste of paradise.

8. Fresh fruit salad

fruit300All the texture, flavor and delight to the senses. Fresh fruit, in season, is a fabulous way to begin the day. Don’t forget to include baby tomatoes (also a fruit) in the mix, with edible flowers if you like them. One of my favorite ways to enjoy fruit salad is to prepare a batch for a few days, slice up cheese ahead of time and serve the cheese on the side.

9. Tiny quiches

mini-quicheThese small quiches are just the same as large ones, only cuter and made in a tiny muffin pan. Colleen’s pastry recipe is a good choice for the crust, nice and thin. Add mushrooms, scallions, veges or salmon and bacon if that’s how you roll. Mix the eggs up with heavy cream for a rich taste, and cap it with grated cheese. Quick and easy once you have the pastry made, and you can make pastry in batches to freeze. Cook in a 375 degree oven for 12-15 minutes. While a few of these are great for breakfast, keeping some on hand is helpful for casual guests or afternoon tea as well.

10. Sweet savory fried rice

friedriceSweetFried rice is just as good for breakfast as it is for dinner. As a dish, it started life as a way to use up leftovers like day-old rice, odds and ends of vegetables, plus whatever spices you have on hand. When you take the notion of good coconut oil, sweet ingredients like corn, zucchini, maui onions and some crushed pineapple, and add golden raisons and an egg, it’s just about the perfect breakfast. Serve over wilted baby greens and, if you’re adventurous, stir in a nice big spoonful of jam. Fried rice recipe>


Leave a comment

Lime and Thyme Pasta

LimeThymeHead

Wok cooking at it’s easiest. Pasta dish with mushrooms and tofu, (though it is just as good with chicken breast), finished with coconut cream. Roasted finely-chopped garlic and thyme, sliced portabello mushrooms, added some Worcestershire sauce and fresh squeezed lime juice, cooked pasta shells and diced tofu, a cup of coconut cream, and thickened with a teaspoon of starch. Easy, savory and filling in less than 20 minutes.


Leave a comment

Easy savory frittata

EggMuffinHeader

 

In the morning, I like easy better than coffee. This quick egg recipe allows me to prepare snack meals for the week and grab them to go. All I need is a muffin pan, a dozen eggs and some imagination. Other ingredients are seasonal, like fire-roasted corn, snap peas, sweet peppers or gem tomatoes. The recipe makes a dozen tiny frittata that are delicious both hot or cold.

Ingredients

  • One dozen eggs
  • Cheese – shredded
  • Optional vegetables – whatever is fresh – finely chopped
    • sweet onions
    • sweet tiny peppers
    • fire roasted corn
    • shelled sweat peas
    • mushrooms
    • summer squash
    • zucchini
    • potatoes or sweet potato
  • Enough liquid to make up 800ml total batter
    water or cream, both work
  • Garlic powder 1/4 teaspoon
  • Pepper to taste
  • A pinch of garam marsala or savory herbs

Making the recipe

  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
  • Crack the eggs into a large measuring beaker
  • Add enough liquid (water or cream) to make 800mls
  • Beat the mixture and add the spices, set aside
  • Prepare a non-stick muffin pan with butter or oil (I like butter)
  • Grate the cheese and add a desert spoon to each muffin cup
  • Chop the vegetables and sprinkle over the cheese, until cups are 2/3 full
  • Give the egg mixture a last stir (herbs may have settled) and add to the muffin cups
  • Bake for 22-25 minutes
  • They are done when risen and lightly springy on top.

Savory bites

I usually make this in a large muffin tin and the recipe makes 12. However, my sister tells me that mini muffin pans make cute bites that are perfect for afternoon tea. Share the recipe link on facebook and follow us to get more fun recipes.

Store the indivual frittata in an air-tight container or in small bags ready to grab for work. I like to heat them and serve in rolled flatbread. My thanks to Jane for introducing me to the idea of the frittata and providing a couple dozen when I was visiting my sweetie in the hospital. These little protein bombs kept me going.


1 Comment

Poached Egg over greens

PoachedEggsSriracha-BrittHansing

I am a creature of habit. I find something that works, does not make me sick to my stomach, makes me feel full, and I am happy to eat it every day. For some odd reason, my new habit became a poached egg over baby greens for breakfast. You don’t need oil to make a dressing, the creaminess of the poached egg creates a rich dressing to the salad.

What is also nice about this is the speed of which you make it. It takes only a few minutes to cook the egg and you don’t have to waste time with having oil emulsify in a dressing. The protein keeps you full, and of course I have to add Sriracha, which to my surprise only has 100mg sodium per serving. SCORE! 

Here’s what I use:

  • 1 serving of baby mixed greens 
  • splash of champagne vinegar
  • 1 egg poached in water and white vinegar
  • fresh ground pepper
  • Sriracha

Heat water until boiling with about 1/4 cup of white vinegar in a small pan or deep edged pot, (enough to submerge the egg). Reduce head to a rolling simmer and cook the egg in the water for 3-4 minutes. NOTE: this makes a soft boiled egg. I personally do a double transfer to make sure the egg is drained well. You can remove it with a slotted spoon, place it on a small dish to further drain, and then transfer it to your salad. I bet there is a professional way to do this that does not add extra dishes, but this has worked best for me.

Sprinkle the greens with the champagne vinegar, add the egg, freshly cracked pepper, and enough Sriracha to make you happy. The yolk of the eggs blends with the greens and hot sauce to create a creamy dressing. 

Quick, easy, done. Enjoy!


Leave a comment

Basic Equipment

kitchenEquipmentContrary to popular belief, you dont need a cupboard full of electrical mixers, blenders, grinders or other gadgets to start you on your journey to having fun with cooking. They are nice to have but unless you use it all the time a gadget does not save time – it just takes up space.

Below is a list of what I think should be in every kitchen, and it is what I advised my daughter when she moved into her first apartment.

Starting with the utensil drawer

  • Vegetable Peeler
  • Teflon spatula (commonly known as an egg lifter)
  • Silicon scraper x 2
  • Bamboo or Wooden spoons x3
  • Metal tongs
  • Ladle
  • Slotted Spoon
  • Large serving spoon
  • Pastry brush
  • Potato masher
  • Balloon whisk

Moving onto the larger utensils

  • Colander
  • Cheese grater – these come in a bewildering range of sizes so choose a free standing grater for your first one and gradually add to this
  • Large and small strainers (preferably with metal mesh)
  • Good quality chopping boards – keep one separated for preparing fruit and vegetables a tip is to buy this in a different colour. Dont use glass boards- they ruin the knives’ edge
  • Set of small stackable bowls for preparation
  • At least 2 Mixing bowls – preferably glass or stainless steel; neither of which will react or absorb the flavours of the food you are preparing
  • 8″ Chef’s knife (I prefer Wusthof Trident but that is another matter)
  • 8 to 10″ Serrated Blade knife
  • at least 2 paring knives – these come in handy for most small preparation
  • Rolling pin
  • Set of measuring cups and spoons
  • Large pyrex measuring jug (dual measurments are great)
  • Disposable storage containers (I use these because I dont fret when the food stains them and I have to throw them out)

Now for the Big Stuff

A good set of saucepans should include lids and at a minimum you need a small medium and large of the best quality you can afford. Skimping on this will cost money in burnt food if the bases are too thin.

Add to this at least one Deep dish 10″ teflon coated frying pan with lid. This can be used to cook an amazing variety of foods and casseroles.

Square sided Cannisters for your staples always come in handy, they stack in the cupboard and keep out critters and you can see at a glance what you need when doing a shopping list. Alternately stack all of the baking ingredients into a tub to keep out the moisture and critters.

Spices need to be stored away from direct sunlight to maintain their flavour, you can use another tub to store these.

For Baking I recommend the following basics

  • Muffin pan
  • 8″ round cake pan
  • Teflon baking tray
  • 8″ Loaf pan
  • 2 x Baking sheets
  • 2 x wire racks to cool the cooked food or rest pans on when out of oven

Dont forget that you can add to this as you discover the need or have the money to expand with more toys.

Article Copyright Colleen Loader 2013