Are you worth, your salt? – A recipe and a lesson…Lesscipe?

Spicy, sexy, salty.

Having a young child around is part of where I find my blog topics on food. This weekend Anastacia and I were preparing a meal together and I placed on our dinner table some sriracha salt. A wonderful mix of chilies, citrus zest and Himalayan sea salt – stick around for my recipe.

She began eating her meal and watched as I finished the preparation of my salad with this lovely salt. Timidly she asked if she could try some. “Of course you can!” I exclaimed, “salt is absolutely wonderful and this one is fabulous in the flavour department”. She looked up through sheepish eyes and admitted that at her moms house it is a banned substance because it’s “bad for you”.

Why salt has become the enemy for some folks floors me. With the information age we are far better off to do our own research than to buy into the latest fad food omission of the moment. Like fats, one day it’s great for you and the next it’s not.

Lets settle this with a bit of my opinion shall we?

In and around the time that low fat, low carb and low calorie diets were making their way on the scene (read: microwaveable lazy man food and the like) scientists and snake oil salesmen alike were ramping up to tear down salt.

Like any decade, there are food fashion “do’s” and “don’ts” and a host of crazed food police supporters touting the benefits of the diet of the day.

I don’t support the anti-salt campaign.

History

Salt used to be such a hot commodity that the Romans used it as a paycheque for some. The word salary is even derived from the word Sal, Salarium = Salt Money-fancy that!

Salt is mined in a lot of places. Here in Canada one of the largest mines in the world is located in Ontario. Globally, you can find salt mines in Poland, Germany, England, Morocco, Italy, Ireland, Pakistan and the USA.

This LINK shows traditional and newer mining sites. Check it out. Here’s a great shot of an amazing salt Mosque from the Wiki link:

Beautiful Salt Creations

Beautiful Salt Creations

Salt types

Before I get into the pros and cons of salt it’s a good idea for you to know about the types of salt that are available to you.

Himalayan Pink Salt – mined in the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan, 300kms from the HImalayas.

Sea Salt – produced from the evaporation of sea water.

Watch a video on how to make your own sea salt here: MAKE YOUR OWN SEA SALT

Kosher Salt – mined underground or from the sea and compressed to make larger granules

Celtic Salt – harvested from the sea of NW France and also known as grey salt there are no additives and its colour comes from clays found in the salt fields

Table Salt – mined above or below ground, processed and stripped of it’s beneficial minerals, talc and silica additives to name a few. Find a listing of all the chemical agents here.

Weeding out the enemy

Have you heard of the term Full or High Spectrum Salt? This term refers to salts that have been refined but NOT stripped of their valuable mineral content which makes salt extremely important.

The beneficial magical ingredients in GOOD salt are:

  • Calcium
  • Chloride
  • Iron – oxygen moving helper
  • Zinc
  • Iodine – healthy thyroid & body temp regulator
  • Sodium – regulates blood PH & stomach
  • Potassium
  • Manganese – bone development, metabolizing

Salt is also a natural electrolyte that helps to retain water in our bodies. Water retention is hugely important as it stimulates the thirst function and keeps our blood pressure stable.

Salt prevents muscle cramps and stimulates the adrenal glands. The latter leading us to better sleep patterns.

Salt creates hydrochloric acid in the body which helps us to digest food in the stomach. If you are sodium deficient, you can suffer from muscle cramps, nausea, dizziness and could even place yourself in a coma.

Why can’t some people eat salt?

People with high blood pressure cannot or shouldn’t consume salt. Why you ask? Well, the kidneys regulate sodium in the body, if they are over burdened with this process the body will nearly self destruct which leads to hardened arteries, heart attack or stroke.

It is uber important to know if you have blood pressure issues and if so – ditch the table salt immediately. Ditch it anyway.

Foods to avoid – BAD SALT

Processed foods high in sodium from table salt. This is the worst type of food you can put into your body. Not only is it made in a factory with old ingredients that are irradiated and dead, these meals are bad for our environment due to the type of production used to create them – I know I couldn’t sleep at night knowing my poor taste in food was damaging our fragile eco-system.

The avoid list:

  • Potato Chips
  • Pop
  • Pre-made microwave meals / kids pre-made luncheon meals
  • Fast Food – Fries/Burgers/Chicken mysteries
  • Packed Pizzas/Pastas/Pizza Pops etc…
  • Raisin Bran
  • Pre-made sauces Asian/Italian
  • Meat jerky, pre-cut/sliced meats of any kind
  • Conventional mix or pre-made pancakes / waffles / muffins
  • Traditional ketchup, pickles
  • Cheese slices, cottage cheese
  • Several types of pre-made veggie burgers (check the lable)
  • Several types of breads/buns/bagles that are pre-made
  • Clamato/tomato/vegetable juices – juice your own!!
  • Canned mushrooms, soups, veggies packed in salt
  • Pre-made salad dressings – make your own!!
  • “Just add water” dishes like rice/paella/pastas/noodles
  • Boxed desserts like cakes/pudding

I think the general lesson here is – learn to cook. I mean REALLY cook. For the love of all things healthy.

As with all things we consume, salt should be of the simplest and purest form as well as used in a somewhat civilized manner. When you’re looking to cook with salt ensure that you’re only using it as a “finisher” in dishes and not as part of an over-salted recipe.

If you will note in all of my recipes I rarely use salt for anything but “to taste”, or to use directly before consuming.

If you feel like a hero taking good salt off the table – you’re wrong. Check your kitchen, scrap the garbage and start eating good salt now. You owe your body and the bodies of the people who are in your care.

Sriracha Sea Salt Recipe

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Ingredients:

3 tbsp dried hot chilis

5 tbsp Himalayan Salt

1.5 tbsp Lemon zest

2 tbsp Dried diced garlic

Method:

Combine all ingredients and place into grinder.

If you do not have a grinder, place in a salt pig/vessel and sprinkle on salads, soups, pastas and meats.

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Zucchini steaks 

While camping in my good pals back yard this summer (don’t laugh till you see the pics) he picked what may be the most gigantic zucchini I’ve ever cooked.

This recipe is simple and tasty without too many calories. In fact, it’s pretty much Bikini Competition friendly though, I didn’t weigh it out so I can’t give you exact quantities/cals this time – sorry, I was a hungry bear!

I am recommending spray seasonings as they are far easier to NOT overdose on unlike bottled varieties. The application is also far more simple in a large recipe setting.

Ingredients: 

1 gigantic zucchini or a few medium sized friends.

6 small tomatoes diced or sliced

2 tbsp fresh oregano

2 tbsp shredded parmesano reggiano or Vegan Parma

Balsamic vinegar (spray type if you have it)

Braggs liquid aminos (spray type if you have it)

Himalayan sea salt

Hot chilli flakes

Method: 

Slice zucchini into 1.5-2″ “steaks”. Place in large bowl tossing with a few pinches of sea salt and chilli flakes. Allow to sit for at least one hour to draw out some of the water in the vegetable. You will notice there will be a pool of water at the bottom of the plate/bowl you have rested them in.

Fire up the BBQ and let warm on high for 5 minutes. Reduce to medium heat.

Place “steaks” on BBQ and allow to cook for 8-10 minutes per side, rotating at approx. the 2.5 minute mark – as you would a steak to get the perfect grill marks.

Spritz each side with one quick shot of Braggs while cooking.

Remove from heat once grilled.

Top first with parmesan / vegan parma , then tomato, then oregano and a spritz of balsamic to each one to top.

Serve warm with freshly ground pepper if desired.

I plated this with a marinated pickled beet salad, my killer breaded cauliflower and a couple of Field Roast Apple Sage links. 

The large zuc I am holding in the picture will serve 4 adults at least. If you reduce this recipe to a couple mediums this will serve 2 with no side dish.

Doukhobor Zuchinni time!

Doukhobor Zuchinni time!

Zucchini with mushroom pasta

Light & lovely.

Light & lovely.

I’m nearly certainly repeating myself here when I say I don’t like Pasta. Why do I even bother stocking it in my pantry? I think sometimes it’s a good void filler and is a cause for creation. Maybe I should try making my own and see how I feel then…until that time, this recipe uses boxed spaghetti.

I find that because my main concern with cooking begins with food waste, I am certainly at times to be found creating some really strange combinations. Some work, some don’t. This one is a humdinger.

Easy to whip together and full of nutrients, this recipe is great for gym junkies and waistline watchers alike. Dig in because the flavour of this dish is an adventure all its own.

You’re sure to enjoy the subtle crunch of the zucchini with the warmth of the cooked noodles and lightness of oil. If you’re using a sharply flavoured dairy product or alternative, this tastes fantastic blended with the heat of the chillies.

Ingredients: 

3 cloves garlic – up to 5 without being overpowering

1 medium yellow onion – or two, again, your choice

6 med white mushrooms or any mushroom of your choice – oysters would be delish in this

2 medium zucchini spirialized or cut into small noodle-sized slices

1 sm bunch noodles – I had some leftover spelt spaghetti

1/2 cup parsley

2.5 tbsp olive oil or grapeseed oil

1/4 cup Asiago – or nutritional yeast or feta or parmesan

1 tbsp dry chilies, salt & pepper to taste

Method:

To start bring water to boil on stovetop, cook noodle of choice for 15-20 minutes or until tender. I find that tender noodles work best in this recipe.

In large bowl toss spiralized zucchini noodles with 2 tbsp of oil and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

Cook sliced garlic and onions in small amount of oil over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for 3 more minutes.

Toss zucchini in with garlic/onion/mushroom mixture for 30 seconds. Transfer back into large bowl.

Rinse and drain noodles, combine with vegetable mixture in large bowl.

Spray lightly with oil top with cheese or nutritional yeast & pepper flakes

Serves 4

Breakfast Sammy – 5 minutes

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If you only have 5 minutes. you STILL have enough time to have something scrumptious and colourful and delish. When you’ve always got great ingredients around, your creativity in the kitchen will start to flourish.

Ingredients: 

Vegan or regular croissant

3 Field roast Italian or apple sausages diced

1/2 cup arugula

1/2 cup spinach

1/2 cucumber sliced

1 medium tomato sliced

German grainy mustard sweet & hot

Method: 

Pan fry diced sausages.

In meantime cut croissant and later on goodness.

Add sausages, smoosh together and serve halved.

 

Pizza – in a state of emergency

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If you ever feel like you have NO idea what to cook for dinner – always remember, if you have a freezer and a couple ingredients, you have a pizza. Last night I had NO idea what to make for dinner. I had rushed home to feed and walk the dogs, was charged by a moose, did my 30 minute HIIT workout just in time for my man to arrive home from a day on the ski hill. I had 20 minutes to get something going and my kitchen was especially empty.

Cue my pizza-itis.

Pizza is, in my humble opinion, one of the easiest, most robust culinary creations out there. You have an entire meal in one spot. How perfect is that? While our ideas of the perfect pizza may be very different, rest assured that a few great ingredients prepared well, can really tie together what would otherwise seem like a hodgepodge mess.

Ingredients: 

Gluten free rice tortillas – keep these frozen for emergency use later

Peanut satay sauce

1 sweet potato shredded

2 carrots shredded

1 bell pepper sliced

1 cup frozen pineapple diced

2 cups torn kale

2 tbsp fresh chopped chive or green onion

1/4 cup nutritional yeast – to add some cheesiness

Garlic salt

Peppercorns – fresh, crushed for taste

 

Method: 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place tortillas on a baking sheet, spread peanut satay sauce on as you would with any regular pizza sauce – I suggest more saucy, but that’s my preference.

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In a hot skillet lightly oiled, cook up your yam and pineapple fir about 5 minutes on medium heat to remove the starch from the yam.

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Top your pizza with all ingredients with the exception of the green onion. Place in oven and cook for at least 20 minutes or until you can see the edges of your tortillas getting browned. At around 20-25 minutes add your green onion & nutritional yeast and allow to cook for a couple more minutes.

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Voila! You can use this recipe for appies, or for your main course.

In a perfect world, while that’s in the oven you could splash some water on your face, turn on some sweet tunes and pour a glass of scotch to enjoy!

Raw vegan mushroom pizza

Pizza is something that I’ve always had a hard time letting go of. I think of myself as an aficionado really. The crust, toppings and crunch have to be JUST right or it’s not winning any major awards from me. 
While Raw & Vegan food is really good for your body, it’s admittedly, not always the tastiest when it comes to trying to outdo or copycat conventional foods. 
I am not laying out this recipe to you in order to show up an epic slice of pie…only to let you pizzaphiles out there know that you can possibly add MORE pizza to your life, without more YOU.
Tools you could use are: 
Dehydrator – or oven set to lowest temp
Mandolin
Food processor or hand blender
**Warning** This recipe cannot be completed in 1 day as the crust will need to dry overnight. 
Ingredients: 
Crust: 

3/4 cup hemp seeds & sunflower seeds
1 cup walnuts
1 tsp himalayan salt
2 cups fresh packed basil
2 tbsp fresh oregano
1 tablespoon agave
1.5 white onion sliced
6 cloves garlic
*1/8 cup water reserve if you did not soak your nuts, or they are dry

Toppings: 
Be creative here. For this one, I opted to put a base layer of  Spinach Pesto and top with my recipe for Cashew Cheese. Fresh ingredients include: kale, tomato, mushrooms, rehydrated sundried tomatoes, onion, garlic. Options are endless, be creative. 
Try marinating your veggies in liquid aminos/nama shoyu/soy sauce first!
Method: 
Pulse crust ingredients in food processor or with hand blender until thoroughly mixed and “dough” sticks together. 
Split into 2 or 4 depending on how large you want your pizza – I do mine as individuals and make 4. 
Flatten onto dehydrating sheet with teflex OR a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
Dehydrate for 24 hours or until crust is hard. Flip over and remove from reflex around hour 8 to ensure full drying. 
Dry on lowest oven setting or 200 max until dry. You will want to flip this half was as well however, oven drying may take a little less time depending. Keep an eye on it!
Spoon on each 1 layer of “cheese” and pesto. Top with your fave pizza ingredients. 
Go ahead and eat like this OR throw back in the over or dehydrator for about 1-2 hours to warm. 
**Tip** You can use the crust recipe to make CRACKERS! Just spread wafer-thin and dehydrate for half of the time….
Enjoy!
Adapted from Emily von Euw

Raw Vegan Noodles & Marinara

What could be more simple than a Raw Vegan meal that doesn’t require many ingredients? Pretty much nothing, right? Especially when you’re not inclined to order food out of a window in the side of a building. 
Here we have a simple dish that is great for the whole family to participate in preparing. 
Tools: 
Food processor or blender 
Spiralizing veggie cutter or knife
Ingredients: 
Noodles: 
3 med/large zuchinni
Sauce: 
5 medium tomatoes chopped
15 re hydrated sun dried tomatoes
2 large pitted dates
1/4 tsp cayenne (or less if you hate heat)
1 handful of fresh Basil
4 cloves garlic
1 small yellow onion
1 tsp grape seed or olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Method: 
Spiralize or slice zucchini into noodle shapes. Place all remaining ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth. 
Serve like spaghetti! Serves 4. 
Tips: 
Do not add sauce to noodles until you are ready to eat – it will make zucchini mushy. You can add other fresh herbs like oregano for increased “Italian” flavour. 
Be sure if you are spiralizing that you stop to cut the noodles every few turns to make sure they are not overwhelming to eat. 
Sun dried tomatoes come in all sizes, so if you are in Southern California (where the dates and tomatoes are HUGE) I would suggest halving the sun dried tomato count. 
This dish will keep for about 3 days in the fridge.