Food Waste Back On The Menu 


saynotofoodwaste.food.sustainable.healthy.local.pass.law.illegal.change.movement.foodwaste.1

You know that a movement is gaining traction when the government decides to get involved in the action. And you know this movement is going global when not just one or two, but a few countries worldwide take steps to curb their unnecessary food loss. 

For a long time USA was at the forefront of the fight, approving legislation that increased incentive for food donations. Bill Clinton signed the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act into law in 1996.

saynotofoodwaste.food.sustainable.healthy.local.pass.law.illegal.change.movement.foodwaste.3It took another few years before the topic picked up heat with the publication of the now famous study by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. The “Global Food – Waste Not, Want Not” study highlighted that 50% of grown food is thrown away.

This inspired a wave of new actions and strengthened the existing ones. Authors, chefs,  politicians, students and even average citizens decided to volunteer their time to help ignite a movement. And they did! 

Of course, it was the French who really dressed the movement up in style. They made Disco Soupes a hit all over France (we even brought it to DC!), and it inspired a group of entrepreneurs to rally behind a more sustainable food system.

What started as a change of individual habit grew beyond those personal walls. Suddenly, people were expecting local restaurants, stores and supermarkets to shape up their act. One supermarket took heed and launched the famous Inglorious Fruits & Vegetables campaign.  After that, managers saw that it was actually profitable to sell produce that’s not ‘perfect’.

saynotofoodwaste.food.sustainable.healthy.local.pass.law.illegal.change.movement.foodwaste.2Then France got serious, and now they passed the most progressive law on food waste seen in government. From now on, supermarkets with large food loss will be obliged to donate their surplus to charities. They’ll do this by July 2016 or face fines, even jail time if they don’t! Also, it’s not illegal to spoil the food by pouring bleach or scaring people with arrest for trying to save the produce from trashcans to feed human.

Maybe it’s too early to celebrate, but we’re seeing food waste back on the menu, and that’s a good sign! Let’s see what our community serves up next!

Will you join? If so, what would you like to see cooking in the kitchen?

Happy celebrations!
Hokuma

Midweek Delicacy Time: Salmon Burger With Yogurt Sauce

IMG_1074

Salmon Burger with Yogurt SauceAfter a wonderful Memorial Day weekend of grilling, friends, and seriously over eating, I started thinking of lighter summer meals. While being light on calories, this salmon burger is heart healthy, and very tasty . Don’t sacrifice important nutrients and fats for over-processed diets or low-fat ingredients. Using only whole ingredients this meal will get you bikini ready.

In the spirit of not wasting food we used up our spinach leaves which were starting to wilt. I also grilled the salmon skin until crisp making a delicious side to the burger. Salmon skins go great with the yogurt sauce.

Happy eating friends!

Ingrid

Ingredients

Serves 4


Ingredients Salmon Burger1 (1-pound) Salmon fillet, skinned and chopped (reserve salmon skin)
2 cups chopped baby Spinach
1/4 cup Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 fresh Lemon, juiced and divided
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh Ginger
1 tablespoon low-sodium Soy Sauce
1/4 cup Sesame seeds, divided
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Dill
1/2 teaspoon minced Garlic
Coconut oil cooking spray
4 whole-wheat hamburger buns

PreparationSalmon Burger

  1. Combine salmon, spinach, panko, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, ginger, soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Form mixture into 4 (3 1/2-inch) patties.
  2. Place remaining sesame seeds onto a plate, and dip one side of patties into seeds to coat.
  3. Stir together yogurt, dill, garlic, and remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a small bowl.
  4. Preheat a lightly oiled grill pan over medium heat until hot but not smoking.IMG_1056
  5. Cook burgers over medium heat, turning, 3-4 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through.
  6. Grill buns, cut sides down, for about 2 minutes or until golden.
  7. While the buns are toasting salt and pepper the salmon skin and grill until lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Flip once.
  8. Place burgers on buns, and top with 2 tablespoons yogurt sauce.

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Expo Milano 2015: You’ll Wish You Were There

Expo1

When learning about the appalling levels of food insecurity and waste in our world, one can quickly become cynical about whether these problems will ever be resolved, especially when it seems like so few people in power are truly aware of, much less concerned with their consequences. The organizers of Expo Milano 2015, however, beg to differ. From May 1st through October 31st, the city of Milan is playing host to representatives from 145 nations and international organizations (including Oxfam, the WWF, and the UN) as they participate in a global showcase of food security presentations, proposing sustainable solutions to one of our world’s most dire crises. The theme of the expo, ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,’ emphasizes the importance of international coordination in addressing issues of nutrition while respecting our planet’s resources.

Expo2Of course, the expo isn’t all work and no play. In addition to sharing their insights on food security, participating countries share their food culture with visitors through exhibits on their gastronomic traditions and samples of their cuisines. Every participant (country or organization) has its own pavilion or a space within one of the nine Thematic Clusters where it can display its exhibits based on its chosen theme. For instance, the Afghan exhibition ‘Eating for Longevity, Afghanistan Amazingly Real’ can be found in the Spices cluster and aims to rectify cultural misconceptions by showcasing the country’s local foods as well as recent advancements in hospitality and women’s rights. Some of the thematic areas are based on globally-significant foods, such as Rice, Fruits and Legumes, and Coffee, while others, like the Bio-Mediterraneum, are more conceptual, described as providing “multi-sensorial and educational experiences” to educate visitors about the history and future of food through social, cultural (i.e. artistic), technological, and ecological lenses.

Courtesy of corelanguages.com

Courtesy of corelanguages.com

For those of us who can’t make it to Milan in the next 5 months, there is an online magazine that shares photos and highlights from the expo, articles on the central topics, and interviews with various speakers (‘Expo Ambassadors’). There is also a map that shows off the creative designs of the various pavilions, clusters, and thematic areas. I highly recommend checking the site out, although I must warn that it might fill you with a painful sense of sorrow for not being able to see the expo in person. Unfortunately, I had to decline an invitation to participate in a food waste event being held there in June, but I’m sure Expo Milano 2015 will be inspiring several more of my posts here on SayNotoFoodWaste over the next few months. After all, it’s wonderful to see so many people celebrating the value of food to our world and working to make a real, global impact.

Eva

PS: The US pavilion has its own website.

Midweek Delicacy Time: Fennel and Celery Root Gnocchi

Fennel & Celery Root Gnocchi

Fennel and Celery Root GnocchiLast week I received a fun food challenge from Vegas.com to make a luxury meal from one of Las Vegas’s top restaurants. The challenge put forth was to create my own version/replication of a renowned dish you can only get in Las Vegas. To all competing they sent out 8 dishes to choose from. All that was provided was the name, description and place where the dish is made. A couple of the other dishes I considered making was the Decadence D’Or Cupcake from Sweet Surrender, and Roasted Organic Chicken from Le Cirque.

As I researched the recipes I thought about what the purpose of this blog is and what our goals are in providing these weekly recipes. To make healthy meals which incorporate seasonal vegetables, minimize food waste, and making the process of delicious meals easily accessible. The dish I chose is luxurious with layered  delicate flavors while using all parts of a celery helping to eliminate food waste.

The added clue of the dish I chose, Fennel & Celery Root Ravioli from the restaurant Picasso, described a Court-bouillon sauce and crispy celery leaves. I wanted to showcase what I imagined for the sauce more, so I swapped out the ravioli for the gnocchi. This makes a great weekend or party dish to surprise your guests with. Let us know what you think.

Happy eating friends!

Ingrid

P.S. Vegas.com’s Social team will choose and share their favorites.

Ingredients

Serves 4


Court-bouillon SauceCourt-bouillon Sauce Ingredients
1 1/2 cups Water
1/2 cup White Wine
1 Lemon, juiced
1 small Onion, chopped
1 Celery rib, chopped, reserve celery leaves
1 Garlic clove, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Black Peppercorns
4-5 sprigs fresh Thyme
1 Bay Leaf

Fennel & Celery Root Gnocchi
1 Fennel Bulb, stalks discarded, bulb halved, cored, and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 Celery Root, peeled, and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 Garlic cloves, unpeeled
Salt and Pepper
1 pound Gnocchi
1/2 cup fresh Parsley leaves
1/2 cup fresh Tarragon leaves
1 Lemon, juiced
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup Court-bouillon sauce, see recipe given

Court-Bouillon PreparationCourt-bouillon Sauce

  1. Combine all ingredients listed for the Court-bouillon in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 8 minutes.
  2. Strain through a fine mesh. Reserve 1/2 cup for later.

Tip: Refrigerate any extra for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months. Be sure to bring to a boil before reusing.

Fennel & Celery Root Gnocchi PreparationFennel & Celery Root Ingredient

  1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add fennel and celery root to water and cook until softened, 3 minutes.
  2. Using slotted spoon, transfer fennel and celery root to colander and run under cold water to stop cooking. Set aside to cool.
  3. Add garlic cloves to water and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Using slotted spoon, transfer garlic to bowl and rinse under cold water to stop cooking.
  5. Peel and mince garlic. In a blender or food processor pulse garlic, fennel, celery root, parsley, tarragon, lemon juice, and Parmesan until finely ground, 20 to 30 pulses, scraping down sides as needed. Fennel & Celery Root
  6. With blender running, slowly add oil until incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Add 1/2 tablespoon salt to boiling water then add the gnocchi, strain as soon as they float to the top, about two minutes.  Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water.
  8. In a sauté pan over medium heat add the 1/2 cup reserved court-bouillon sauce, 1 cup fennel & celery root pesto, and gnocchi, gently toss to combine, adding 1-2 tablespoons cooking water at a time as needed to adjust consistency taste. Allow to simmer on low while preparing the celery leaves.
  9. Heat a medium skillet at least enough oil and butter (equal parts) to skim the pan. Pan-fry the celery leaves and cook for about a minute. Sprinkle salt and pepper. Serve over gnocchi, passing remaining pesto on the side. Crispy Celery Leaves

Tip: If you swap back in cheese raviolis be sure to use large raviolis.

The Mediterranean Diet: What You Need to Know

medithummus

When people hear the word ‘diet,’ they tend to think of temporary food restrictions and exercise regimens geared towards weight loss. However, the alternate, original definition of diet just refers to a person’s or group’s eating pattern. The duality of the word can generate a bit of confusion, especially when talking about the Mediterranean diet, whose emphasis on healthy fats might confuse those trying to slim down. The diet is not a plan for rapid weight loss but rather a lifestyle, modeled after that of Italians and Greeks, designed to improve general health – which could include shedding some extra pounds.

medit salmonMediterranean cuisine emphasizes fresh produce, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats including olive oil, nuts, and fish. As the Mayo Clinic’s guidelines explain, “the focus of the Mediterranean diet isn’t on limiting total fat consumption, but rather on choosing healthier types of fat.” This fat substitution means swapping butter for olive oil and red meats for seafood as well as seeking out low-fat dairy products. Olive oil and fish are the two features most commonly associated with the diet not only because they’re so prominent in it but because they respectively contain antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, which decrease blood clotting and regulate blood pressure. To further promote heart health, the diet discourages eating processed foods (especially meat), added sugars, refined grains and oils, and trans fats while encouraging the use of spices rather than salt to flavor meals. It even allows for moderate red wine consumption to lower risk of heart disease.

In addition to lessening the risk of heart disease, the Mediterranean diet has been recently linked to improved brain function thanks to a study published earlier this week that compared participants’ performance on a variety of cognitive tests before and after following specific diets over a few years. Participants on a low-fat diet suffered a decline in many aspects of cognitive performance, whereas those on the Mediterranean diet supplemented by healthy fats from nuts and oils improved their performances on various cognitive function and memory tests. More investigation is needed into how exactly the diet affects the brain, but the scientists have some preliminary hypotheses, such as that antioxidants might counteract stress. This study has made the rounds on several news outlets because it serves as a breakthrough in connecting heart disease prevention to brain health and suggests that diet can be used to preemptively prevent cognitive deterioration.

Courtesy of medical-reference.net, 2013

Courtesy of medical-reference.net, 2013

Of course, eating nutritious foods isn’t enough to guarantee a healthy body. For one thing, eating any foods in excess or consuming an imbalance of nutrients can be harmful, which is why the Mediterranean diet encourages eating in a social setting. While some people argue that being surrounded by fellow eaters stimulates them to consume more, the logic used by proponents of the diet is that of the slow meal: conversation distracts you from your food, allowing you to eat more slowly and your body to register its fullness. The diet also includes regular, at least moderate exercise as the vital counterpart to mindful eating in maintaining a healthy body.

Interested in trying this magical diet? Here’s a helpful guide to get you started.

Eva

Midweek Delicacy: Baked Fried Chicken with Whole Grain Rice & Sweet Peas

Baked Fried Chicken

Baked Fried Chicken

One of my favorite dishes used to be fried chicken. I would always make it with mashed potatoes, peas and gravy on the side. For some time now I have made a point to eat healthy. To stay heart healthy I have taken this old-time favorite and provided few twists making it both delicious and nutritious. You will be surprised by how crispy and tasty these chicken nuggets come out.

This is a quick meal to prep and have on the table. What will take time is the type of whole grain rice you choose. For this weeks meal I found a beautiful organic Marooned Rice, by Blue Moon Acres. Even if the rice takes an hour, the rest of this meal is so light and simple you will be able to relax in between. The Marooned rice has a unique sweet nutty flavor that goes very well with the chicken and honey mustard dipping sauce.

Happy eating friends!

Ingrid

Ingredients

Serves 4


Baked Fried Chicken & SidesBaked Fried Chicken Ingredients
Coconut oil cooking spray
1 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Pecan pieces
1 1/2 teaspoon Paprika powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
2 Eggs
1lb boneless, skinless Chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 cup Whole Grain Rice, cook according to package
1 small package English Peas (or Sweet Peas)
3 tablespoons of butter softened
1/2 Lime juiced
Salt and Pepper to taste

Honey Mustard DressingHoney Mustard Ingredients
5 tablespoons Honey
3 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
2 tablespoons Rice Vinegar

PreparationBaked Fried Chicken

  1. Start the rice as per instructions on packaging.
  2. Preheat oven to 450º F. Thoroughly coat a wire rack with cooking spray and set on baking sheet.
  3. Combine breadcrumbs, pecans, paprika powder and salt in a food processor; process until the pecans are finely chopped and the paprika powder is mixed throughout, about  minute. Transfer the mixture to a shallow dish.
  4. Whisk eggs in a bowl. Add chicken and turn to coat, then dredge in the pecan mixture, turning to coat evenly. Shake off excess. (Discard any remaining egg and pecan mixture.) Place the chicken on the prepared rack.
  5. Bake the chicken until no longer pink in the center, about 15 minutes.
  6. In a medium-sized sauce pan, arrange the fresh peas in a vegetable steamer over boiling water. Cover and steam for 10 to 15 minutes or until peas are tender.
  7.  Combine butter and lime juice in a medium-sized bowl. When the peas are done, remove them from the steamer and spread the butter over the peas. Let it melt evenly and stir adding salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Combine all ingredients for the honey mustard sauce in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Serve as a dressing or a dip with the chicken, rice and peas.Honey Mustard sauce

Midweek Delicacy Time: Savory Beet & Sweet Potato Soup with Pistou & Vegan Sour Cream

Savory Beet & Sweet Potato Soup
Happy eating friends!
Ingrid

Ingredients

Serves 4-6


SoupSoup Ingredients
2-3 tablespoons Olive oil
several pinches Kosher Salt for Potatoes
1 Sweet potato, washed
3 large golden Beets, scrubbed clean with roots and leaves trimmed – peel & cut into 1/2 inch wedges
1 small white or yellow Onion, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon of Coconut oil
3 cups of organic Vegetable broth
2 cloves of Garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon Coriander
1 teaspoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Tumeric
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground Pepper
 Vegan Sour Cream Ingredients
Vegan Sour Cream
1 cup raw Cashews
2 teaspoons Apple Cider vinegar
1/2 fresh squeezed Lemon juice (you can substitute a lime)
1/8 teaspoon Kosher Salt

Tip: The cashew nuts and apple cider vinegar are what make this taste so wonderful. You can use other nuts but make sure at least half of the nuts are cashews.

Pistou IngredientsPistou
3/4 cup loosely packed fresh Mint leaves, Dill, and/or Sage (use any variation)
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf Parsley sprigs, (or Basil)
1 large Scallion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup extra-virgin Olive oil
2 tablespoons Water
1/4 teaspoon Salt

Tip: If you use more herbs than the measurements above be sure to add more olive oil. For every half cup of herbs you go over add in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Be sure to add salt to taste.

Soup PreparationRoasted Sweet Potatoes

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drizzle lined baking sheet with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
  2. Cut potatoes in half, length wise.
  3. Coat potatoes all sides with olive oil and salt, and place cut side down on lined baking sheet. Sprinkle potatoes with turmeric and additional salt.
  4. Bake at 450°F for 30 minutes until done. Check with fork for doneness.
  5. Place beets, onion and garlic on a large piece of foil on a baking sheet. Drizzle with coconut oil and season with cumin, coriander salt and pepper. Fold foil around beets and crimp ends to form a packet. Roast until beets are tender when pierced with a fork, 25 to 30 minutes.
  6. Combine the beets, onions, garlic, sweet potato and vegetable broth; puree until smooth in either your blender or food processor. Serve with sides

Pistou PreparationPistou

  1. In a food processor add herbs in batches and pulse until finely chopped.
  2. With motor running add olive oil in a stream, then water and salt, blending until incorporated.

Vegan Sour Cream PreparationVegan Sour Cream

  1. Place cashews in a cup or small bowl, and cover by a 1/2 inch with boiling water. Let soak for 30 minutes.
  2. Drain cashews and place in a blender with vinegar, lemon, salt and about a 1/4 cup of water. Blend until very smooth, adding more water as required to puree the mixture.

Midweek Delicacy Time: Seared Curry Scallops with Herbed Basmati Rice

Seared Scallops w Herbed Rice

Seared Scallops w Herbed RiceDo you ever get caught up in a conversation that just springs up a well of wonderful ideas? For this week, one such conversation about mint did just that. It sparked memories of flavors and smells; dishes I had as a child came back to me, particularly my first herbed rice. Like a painting, I had fun playing with color and flavors producing a quick meal you can have on the table within 30 minutes.

Before we get started I wanted to give an important tip, please read this recipe before starting. Many of us often cook by feel. I have gotten to where I hardly use measuring cups and just eye my measurements. However, some things need precision, and scallops are one such ingredient. Too little time can get someone sick and too much time they will turn into rubber balls. Scallops have a wonderful flavor and can make any dish look elegant. What makes them easy is, the less you fuss with scallops, the better they taste.

Happy eating friends!

Ingrid

IngredientsIngredients

Serves 4


Sea Scallops & Herbed Rice
1lb dry Sea Scallops, rinse cold water
1/2 teaspoon Curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted Butter, divided
Juice of 1 Lemon
1 cup long-grain Basmati Rice
1 3/4 cups of Water
1 tablespoon fresh Dill, minced
2 tablespoons fresh curly Parsley leaves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh mint, minced
1-2 Scallions (1 tablespoon), thinly sliced white and green parts

Roasted Carrots with Cumin & Coriander
1 bunch of small Carrots, slice in half lengthwise. Slice again lengthwise so you have small carrot sticks.
1 teaspoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Coriander
1 tablespoon Honey
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
Fresh Mint & Parsley, minced (use leftover from rice)
Salt & Pepper to taste

PreparationCarrot Sticks

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°. In small roasting pan combine carrots with honey, olive oil, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes or until carrots have started to brown.
  2. Combine the rice, 1 3/4 cups water, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon butter in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce the heat to low, stir once, and simmer, covered tightly, for 15 minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat and allow the rice to sit covered for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the parsley, dill, mint, scallions, and pepper. Fluff with a fork.
  5. Pat scallops dry and sprinkle both sides with curry powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.
  6. Heat butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until beginning to sizzle.
  7. Add the scallops making sure they are not touching each other and cook until golden brown, 2-3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate.Seared Scallops
  8. Add herbed cooked rice, lemon juice and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to the pan. Cook, stirring, until heated through, about 1 minute.
  9. When carrots are done add fresh herbs. Serve the scallops with the rice and carrots on the side.

Herbed Rice

Midweek Delicacy: Mediterranean Roasted Chicken with Pearl Couscous Salad

Roasted Chicken with Yellow Squash & Tomatoes

Mediterranean Night

The best part of creating these recipes is sharing the food and experiences with friends. From the last Meatball-off one of my guests set up a challenge for me.  He created a list of parameters I had to stick to for the next dish. His pallet wasn’t keen on a couple of things, no onions, nothing spicy and no pepper. Three things which I love. Something else which stood out for me of his likes and dislikes was his dislike of tomatoes except as a Marinara sauce, or in other cooked forms. This is a complaint I hear often, it usually has to do with eating mass-produced out of season tomatoes versus buying them in season locally grown.

Out of season vegetables don’t have the same values in vitamins, flavor, or natural color. Tomatoes show these sins the most often being flavorless with a mealy texture. During winter times I like to use homemade summer bottled/canned tomatoes, but I don’t always have them on hand. It is now early spring and we can start to find good vine ripened tomatoes in the stores. Be sure to smell them before you buy them. The ones with the stronger smells have the best flavor. Organic tomatoes have the best texture and flavor. Baking also helps bring out the flavors of the tomatoes and they go amazingly well with yellow squash.

My inspiration for creating a mediterranean meal came from my memory of an onion free couscous salad I created years ago for a client, who needed an alternative grain. My original recipe used mint instead of parsley. The change makes for a perfect bite when combined with the roasted chicken with yellow squash and tomatoes bringing out the best flavors in both dishes.

Happy eating friends!

Ingrid

IngredientsIngredients

Serves 4


Roasted Chicken with Yellow Squash & Tomatoes

4 chicken breast halves, cleaned without skin and bone (2 to 2 1/4 pounds)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 teaspoons fresh Oregano, chopped or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried Oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon Salt
2 tablespoons of a dry White Wine, like a Pinot Grigio (use any cooking wine or substitute with a white vinegar)

Pearl Couscous with Cucumber and LemonCous Cous Salad
1 Cucumber, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 packet Feta Cheese, cut into bite 1/4-inch pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 3/4 cups water
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups Pearl Couscous 10oz (sometimes known as Israeli couscous)
1 Lemon
16 oil-cured black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/3 cup fresh Flat-leaf Parsley, chopped
1 Garlic cloves, chopped

Tip: If you make this salad to stand on its own, substitute mint for the parsley.

Roasted Chicken with Yellow Squash & Tomatoes PreparationRoasted Chicken with Yellow Squash & Tomatoes

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425°. Pat chicken dry and season with 3/4 salt.
  2. In a large baking dish place chicken breast, yellow squash, Tomatoes, garlic, oregano, parsley and olive oil. Mix by hand so everything is evenly coated and distributed. Cook in oven for 20 minutes.
  3. Add white wine, baste and cook for another 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Israeli Couscous Salad PreparationToasted Cous Cous

  1. In a 2- to 3-quart wide heavy saucepan over moderate heat, pour in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and cook garlic and couscous stirring frequently, until the couscous and garlic appear slightly golden, 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Add water and salt bring to a boil. Cover and lower heat to a simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl add all the feta, cucumbers, parsley and olives.
  4. Mix in the cooked couscous.
  5. Grate the lemon rind over the salad. Be sure not to grate the white part of the rind. Add the juice from the lemon. Then add the last 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix well and serve.

Tip: The salad can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve.Israeli Cous Cous

What’s the Verdict on Sodium – Yeah or Na?

salt2

There has been a lot of talk in recent years over the dangers of excessive salt consumption, so should we be trying to eliminate sodium from our diets as much as possible? Recent evidence says no. In fact, having too little sodium poses many of the same health risks as having too much.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Low-Salt Diets May Pose Health Risks, Study Finds"

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Low-Salt Diets May Pose Health Risks, Study Finds”

The German Society for Nutrition (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung – DGE) recommends a daily intake of no more than 6 grams or 2 teaspoons of salt – almost double the maximum advised by the American Heart Association. The USDA also recommends consuming less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium, roughly one 1 teaspoon of salt, per day. This discrepancy is probably in part due to the fact that the US has a greater obesity problem than Germany, making the government more anxious to promote healthy habits. Another thing to consider, though, is that a lower limit implies that sodium is generally ‘bad for you,’ whereas the German government also seems more convinced of the benefits of sodium when taken in moderation.

Sodium is an essential nutrient because it supports nerve function and muscle performance and stabilizes blood pressure, and a study published last August suggests that cutting too much from a person’s diet can be harmful. The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology study monitored the sodium intake of participants over the course of several months or years and found that those who consumed less than 3 grams of sodium per day were at a heightened risk for heart attack and other cardiovascular complications as compared to those who consumed 3-6 grams – albeit still a lower risk than those whose daily intakes exceeded 6 grams. The reason sodium insufficiency is problematic is that, when there is too much water or too little sodium in the bloodstream, the body tries to regulate blood pressure by generating more lipids and hormones, the effort of which actually raises blood pressure. Hyponatremia, as the condition is called, can arise from dehydration, hyperhydration, liver or kidney disease, or a low salt diet. While its symptoms are typically muscle cramps, vomiting, fatigue, and headache – so, relatively mild – more severe complications can include cerebral  or pulmonary edema and even death. High-performance athletes are at heightened risk for developing hyponatremia because their bodies sweat out a lot of salt. The elderly are also at risk because they are more likely to have other medical conditions or be on medications that can contribute to the condition, with more serious consequences because of their fragile physical state.

salt

After reading all that, it is important to bear in mind that too much salt is not good for you either. Salt is addictive and dehydrates your body, causing your heart to work harder to pump blood, which increases your blood pressure and risk of overworking the organ into a heart attack. So, as with most things in life, the key is moderation. I wholeheartedly support any advice to eat fewer processed foods and more potassium, which lowers blood pressure – but don’t go to the extreme. Sodium is called an essential nutrient for a reason.

Remember to take health recommendations with a grain of salt (pun intended). Don’t ruin food for yourself by being preoccupied with exact nutritional figures – just strive for balance.

Eva