Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cooking with Herbs and Spices

The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans are out. It seems that the guidelines are focusing more on foods. The basic premise of the Dietary Guidelines is that nutrient needs should be met primarily through consuming foods.

There are also three selected messages for consumers.

• Balancing Calories
  • Enjoy your food, but eat less.
  • Avoid oversized portions.
 • Foods to Increase
  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
 • Foods to Reduce
  • Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals – and choose the foods with lower numbers.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
 The advice is to choose steps that work for you and start today. I am going to start with sodium. No special reason, I just am.

The sodium guidelines are as following.

• Reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg

• Reduce intake to 1500 mg among persons 51 and older, if you are African American of any age or have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. The 1500 mg recommendation applies to about half of the US population, including children, and the majority of adults.

 Sodium Equivalents
• ¼ teaspoon salt is equal to 600 mg sodium
• ½ teaspoon salt is equal to 1200 mg sodium
• ¾ teaspoon salt is equal to 1800 mg sodium
• 1 teaspoon salt is equal to 2300 mg sodium

On average, Americans consume about 3,400 mg of sodium per day. The major culprits are processed foods such as luncheon meats, canned soups, and prepared mixes. Check this graphic to see breakdown of salt consumption 

The best method that I know of to reduce sodium is to get in the kitchen and get cooking. I recommend use fresh ingredients. Instead of focusing on reducing sodium, I am focusing on using herbs. It just sounds better to tell me what I can eat.

Although I may not make the 1500 mg of sodium per day, my goal is to move in that direction. Here is a recipe to help you get started on that 1500 mg per day road.

Herb Spice Blend

Makes about ¼ cup.

1 Tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 Tablespoon whole white peppercorns
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ teaspoons celery seeds
1½ teaspoons dried thyme
1½ teaspoons dill seeds
1½ teaspoons mustard seeds
1½ teaspoons garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

1. Combine both peppercorns in a small food processor or coffee grinder. Add remaining ingredients and process until desired size. Transfer to a small jar. Mixture can be stored in the freezer for several months.
2. To use, rub each side of meat with about ½ teaspoon of seasoning mixture. Grill or broil as desired.

Note: This mixture work nicely on lamb, pork and poultry. This recipe makes enough to season 8 to 10 servings of meat.

Adapted from Bon App├ętit, September 1995


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  2. Ankit;
    Thanks so much for your comment. I love hearing from people. It makes me feel good that people 'get something' from my posts. Please keep commenting, that way, I can get even better at this blogging thing.

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