Over the Salt

Mindful choices for healthy and low sodium cooking


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Golden nectar fruit cake

GoldenNectar-RiaLoader

I have been learning to bake, one step at a time. My approach is to master a single recipe, then try variations on that one with other ingredients, calling my sister in Australia for midnight inspiration as often as not. For the holidays, I wanted to make a fruitcake like I remembered from childhood, but without the bits I didn’t like, such as peel, cherries and nuts. Of course, I called my sister to get a recipe, and some suggestions on how to experiment, as she’s my inspiration for such things. She suggested I start with the Divine Date Loaf recipe, soak a bunch of raisins, sultanas, currants and diced apricots in alcohol, and add them until the batter couldn’t coat any more fruit. This sounded good to me, and I proceeded to experiment from there.

Variations on Divine Date Loaf

  • Substitute gluten free flour for plain flour
  • Use barley malt syrup instead of molasses
  • Add a cup of honey for sweetness
  • Soak about 3 cups chopped sultanas, raisins, apricots,
    currants in 1 cup rum + 1 cup brandy for 3 days, stirring each day.
    Add cup of honey, lemon crystals or zest to this mix.
  • Cook at lower temperature (300 instead of 375 degrees) for 40 minutes
  • Stand small loaf pans in water bath to prevent burning
  • At the 30 minute mark, turn off heat and put aluminum foil on top of pans (prevents burning)

I made 4 mini loafs and a bunch of muffins in large silicon muffin moulds. It was golden, delicious and like nectar. Mmmmmm.


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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.


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Easy savory frittata

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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.


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Divine Date Loaf

Date Loaf

Date Loaf warm from the oven

We all have foods that invoke those halcyon days of our youth, warm comfort food that we ‘go to’ to make bad days better. Date loaf is one such food for my sister Ria, and in the past months all she wanted was some Date Loaf like we used to eat when we were kids. This recipe has been reverse engineered from memories of what it should taste like. When made using low sodium baking powder and sweet butter each slice averages 100mg sodium.

For the best results there are a couple of things to do first.

Date mix

Date mix

Step One: the flavour is better if you can soak the dates overnight in the water and molasses. If you dont have time  the day before – boil the water and pour over the chopped dates, place in freezer until cool (about 1 hour) use this time to do step 2.

Step Two: Sift General purpose (plain flour) with the low sodium baking powder 6 times using a large strainer or sieve.

Step Three: Preheat oven to 375F or 180C then grease and line the base of your loaf pans.

Mixing the cake

Butter,sugar,date loaf

Cream the butter and sugar with a fork, add eggs and stir till mixed

date, flour, date loaf

Add 1/3 date mix and sieved flour to butter/sugar/eggs, stir until a batter, continue to add dates & flour till all mixed in, stir 3mins for good measure

Cake Batter

pour finished batter into prepared loaf tins. Cook 25 – 45 mins till cake springs back when lightly touched

Ingredients: Measurements in imperial and (metric)

  • 3 cups General Purpose Flour (Plain)
  • 6 level teaspoons Low Sodium Baking Powder (less than 450mg/tsp)
  • 2 Sticks sweet butter (225gm unsalted butter)
    you cannot use margarine for this recipe as it

    contains too much salt
  • ½ cup Brown Sugar
  • ½ cup Date Sugar
  • 1/3 cup Molasses
  • 4 Eggs (large/70gms per egg)
  • 12 oz Chopped Dates (400gm)
  • Water (enough to cover dates in a measuring cup to 800ml total volume)

Photos and recipe copyright by Colleen (tummyluv) in Ria’s kitchen.


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Eating foods in season

strawberries with curried cashews - snack

Strawberries + Curried Cashews

I love the idea that we live in a time when we can get any produce at any time, at least hypothetically. Yet recently, I’ve come to notice that foods that are forced to grow out of season just don’t taste as good. The out-of-season foods may be uniform in size and shape, and they are made to pack and travel well; that makes them reliable in a sense. Yet what is missing, for me, is the concentrated flavor and organic variation that makes the food visually and aesthetically pleasing. As an artist, I cannot imagine wanting to draw a perfect apple or raspberry; that would make for an artificial-looking image composition at best, more like wax than something edible. Apparently my taste buds feel the same way!

Lately, I’ve been making fresh fruit snacks from whatever fruit is in season, usually from local growers. Organic is a preference, where available, though a good wash removes most of the chemicals. I choose fruit that is just at, or nearly past, its peak, firm but starting to get a little soft. Ready to eat today or tomorrow is my general rule, and it has to be “smelly”, that is to say ripe. If there is no scent to the food, then I walk away. From May onwards, local farmers markets are opening in school parking lots and community centers, and that’s my favorite place to shop for fresh produce. It’s always good to learn something new from the grower, and the sensory experience of seeing the food and being amongst community members makes me feel connected. Being in the moment, and noticing what my body wants to eat is also part of the experience.

Balances of sweet and savory appeal to me most, things like pears with curry cashews and chopped dates, pistachios sprinkled over nectarines, accompanied by a sharp cheese (Beecher’s Flagship), some pickled onions, snappy crackers (Ritz baked). Here are some snacks I’ve enjoyed from March through May in Seattle.

pear and honey cashews

Pear + Honey Cashews

mango and strawberries

Mango Strawberry Parfait

strawberry and nectarine with dates

Strawberry Nectarine + Dates


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Vegetarian fried rice

Vege fried riceWhen we were deciding what to have for dinner one evening, I noticed we had some firm tofu on hand, and thought about doing a tofu scramble with some carbs. That led to wondering how hard it would be to make our own fried rice, rather than picking it up from the local Thai place. After heading to Bing to find some recipes, we thought we could put something together that may work. Our local favorite Thai place makes a killer basil fried rice with vegetables. My goal was to make a personal version that was just as delicious, and with no added salt.

Making the recipe
I like to use a non stick wok, though a skillet works just as well for most folks. First, I fried up an egg in a the wok and put it aside for later. Sauteed onions, sweet corn, tiny tomatoes (so sweet!), diced firm tofu, added garam masala spice (I like the savory flavor), stirred in a cup of cooked jasmine rice. I added the egg last, some basil infused oil, and dried basil. It took around five minutes to chop things, and 10 to cook it from start to finish. I’ve made it with several variations since, and it’s always delicious. Most often I take some for lunch the next day too.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Cooked rice
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon basil (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup corn
  • 1 cup chopped firm tofu
  • 2 eggs

Variations

Leave out the egg, add nuts or dried fruit if you like.

For seafood lovers, add some shrimp instead of tofu.

Photo credit: Ria Loader