The magician of winter produce, spaghetti squash knows a few culinary tricks. Upon first examination, the oblong shell contains only seeds and hard flesh. But put it into an oven and, ta-da, the tough interior transforms into mounds of soft, stringy ribbons, which can be used for salads, noodle stand-ins and casseroles, and as a soft resting place for fish, poultry or meat. But there is another trick in spaghetti squash’s repertoire, one that is particularly perfect for the holidays: latkes.
Of all the five tastes, umami is the most mysterious. Technically speaking, the savory flavor comes from glutamic acid. Less technically speaking, when added to recipes, umami makes a dish taste yummy (which is the actual English translation of the Japanese name).
But while umami is most commonly associated with high-sodium, bottled products — like soy sauce, miso paste, and kimchi — here’s the tastiest secret of all: Mother Nature makes it too. Those magical glutamates are also found in mushrooms, meat, seaweed, and even green tea. So when your taste buds crave a savory oomph, try swapping out the salty options for fresh sources of umami. And to get started, try this Umami Mushroom Noodle dish, complete with Five Spice Sauce. If you want to even more flavor, add in umami-rich shrimp and ground pork or beef for a multiplied umami effect.
Fall not only means the start of football season — it also means the start of many Sunday meals getting replaced by chips and dip, salty bar snacks and microwave finger foods. But filling up while watching your favorite team doesn’t have to be a losing situation for your health. Nor does it have to keep you limited to raw vegetables from the crudites platter.
This year, replace high-sodium, store-bought spreads with a dip of your own creation — one that’s just as creamy and craveable and also a fun makeover of classic ranch dressing and vegetables.
What’s the best way to use up an abundance of summer vegetables? Pizza, obviously. And in as much time as it takes to order delivery, you can make a summer pie that’s bursting with flavor and able to satisfy hungry guests. Bonus points: This pie is gluten-free, meat-free and dairy-free too. So what’s the trick?
Let’s talk a little about low-sodium pickles. It turns out that a lot of what our taste buds (and our hot dogs) expect is not just the salty lick of the brine, but the tangy kick of the acid. Which means, with the right ingredients and strong spices, you can make a low-sodium pickle (or relish!) that meets palate approval.
If you’re searching for a side dish that cools things off and heats them up at the same time, this is the recipe. Two star ingredients of the warm-weather months, corn and watermelon, take a zingy turn with the help of traditional street-corn chili-powder seasoning and a quick pickle. With just a few minutes of prep work, you’ll create a colorful salad that highlights the sweet flavors of watermelon and corn, all balanced by a spicy surprise. Also nice: The salad offers a refreshing counterpoint to traditional barbecue fare.
Summer is a perfect time to experiment with one of the best flavor boosters beyond the spice rack: fire.
Grills, of course, are great for burgers, chicken and hot dogs. But hot grates also bring out something special in fruits and vegetables, lending a smoky essence (and some sexy grill marks!) to everything they touch. And much like salt, a little heat releases the mouth-watering scent of ingredients, enhancing the flavor of a dish without the extra sodium.
So while you have the kebab skewers out, have some fun. Here, a Caprese salad gets a low-sodium twist with grill-friendly paneer in place of the usual, saltier mozzarella. Just thread everything on a stick, and then head to the barbie.
With spring in swing, it’s the time to welcome warm weather but also a bounty of new ingredients — like spicy radishes, buttery lettuces and beans and sweet peas. Which means you can give your spice rack a break and make natural flavors the star of the meal. And this month I’m excited to highlight a recipe that puts some of April’s arrivals to good use.
In this Easter and Passover-worthy salad, fennel, endive, mint and lamb provide all of the seasoning you need — no salt necessary. Fennel offers an herbaceous, licorice-like taste. The endive brings a welcome bitterness. The juicy lamb provides a natural salty kick. And a little fresh mint, lemon juice and olive oil add the right touch of sweet and sour to balance it all out.
For those on low-sodium diets, here’s a tasty trick: Grab some citrus. Just like a sprinkle of salt, a squeeze of lemon, lime or orange will perk up any ingredient from leafy greens to proteins, not to mention grab the attention of your taste buds. And while you might not expect it, these fruits are at their best and brightest during winter, so now is still the perfect time to play with their tangy flash of flavor.