Monthly Archives: May 2011

Tomato Free Ketchup

There are some rules that I strictly adhere to:

1) White pants are always appropriate, even for dudes.

2) When it is raining, flip flops are a fine choice.

3) And ketchup is good on anything. Even pancakes. I’ll understand, though, if you use syrup.

Now ketchup can cost you a few hundred mg of sodium depending on how much you squeeze. The brand I looked at today had 190mg of sodium in it. Per tablespoon. And I’m pretty sure neither you nor I are only going to use a tablespoon. That’s plain ridiculousness.

Which is why I am so, so, so very thrilled to be including a homemade ketchup in my cookbook. It is crazy easy to make and if you beg and plead enough, I’ll probably break down and give you the recipe.

But what if you can’t eat tomatoes?

While I was recently speaking at the Bay Area Association for Kidney Patients this past weekend, I asked the room of my new friends if there was anything they missed eating. And one darling woman raised her hand and said red sauce and all the wonderful foods that go with it.

I excitedly told her (whose name I never got, so we’ll call her Margaret) that this sodium challenge was easily overcome. That salt-free tomato sauce is easy to make at home and that there are many salt-free tomato products already on the market.

But Margaret answered back that because of her kidneys, she had been advised to cut out vegetables that were high in potassium. It wasn’t just the salt that was a problem. Things like phosphorous, protein, and potassium had to be watched too. And so tomatoes were out.

Putting on my salt-free thinking cap though, I started throwing out ideas for a thick, easily creamed substitute.

Pumpkin? No, too much potassium. Cauliflower? Potassium. Sqaush? Potassium. Bell peppers? Finally, a winner. And if you ask me, the perfect low sodium and low potassium swap out.

So Margaret and everyone that loves ketchup and red sauce as much as I do, here is a salt-free, low potassium ketchup (spread over a quinoa “meat” loaf) that I made just for you.

Happy long weekend and chow on.


3 cups pureed red bell peppers (about 3 large bell peppers + food processor or blender)

3/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon black pepper


In a small pot, bring all the ingredients to a rolling simmer over medium heat. Cover with a lid and cook until reduced by 1/3, about 15 minutes. If using right away, keep the ketchup warm on low flame with pot covered. Or, if it is being saved for later use, place in an airtight container and refrigerate. Ketchup will stay good for one week.



Filed under improbable eats, recipe box

Look What I Made Wednesday: Low Sodium Ravioli

You may have noticed that I was a bit slow in posting today. Almost twelve hours late. Where did the time go?

I think I lost it with my words, marbles, and vision as my face has been tightly pressed against the computer screen this past month in order to get all the low sodium tips, recipes, and other salt-free nuggets of advice down on (electronic) paper so that sometime next year, it can be in your hands.

That was a really long sentence I think I have lost my ability to punctuate too.

While I reboot my brain, I wanted to give you a sneak peak of some love pockets. Some would call them ravioli. But this blog is about embracing the freedom to be creative with food. So I’ll call them by whatever name I want.

Sorry, did that sound cranky? Then, seriously, check out these love pockets. They’ll fill you with warmth. Herby, buttery, butternut squash warmth. And I rolled the dough by hand. Just for you. Also because I don’t have a pasta roller. But whatever the reason, it was surprisingly easy. It makes me want to do it again. On a school night.

So thanks for hanging in there with me and enjoy virtually making these salt-free raviolis.

Weren’t they easy?

Chow on.

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Filed under good living, tips & tricks

Bunny Bars

Hey. Congratulations.

We all totally survived that whole “end of days” thing. What a load of hype. There wasn’t a single meteor, no invasion by aliens, and hardly a tremor. I think the rattling I felt was just a combination of the wind and the Muni passing by. Sometimes I do think it’s an earthquake. Don’t judge. The supposed Rapture sure didn’t.

So, yeah, that whole apocalypse thing not happening was kind of a relief. Although we took full advantage of the buzz and hosted a party to celebrate. The theme: your last meal on earth.

I made low sodium meatball subs. Obviously. Was that even a question?

But the idea of impending disaster – whether real or highly dramatized – was also a good reminder to be prepared. To have your earthquake/apocalypse kits packed and ready to go. And I’m not just talking about water, first aid supplies, and a cross bow. I’m talking about filling those 911-bags with low sodium foods that are lightweight, nutritious, and low in salt.

I’ve found some great products already, which include things like individual packets of tahini butter and these other goodies. But finding a granola bar has always been a bit difficult. Between my salt-free needs and my nut allergy (ugh), there aren’t many cunchy oat snacks that I can eat.

Until Bunny Bars. Which are sold in WALGREENS. And are gluten, sodium, and nut free. Score.

They’re great for the emergency kit, as an afternoon snack, for hiking, for lunch boxes, for baseball games…

…and definitely good for magic shows too.

I think these treats may be marketed specifically for children. I just have a hunch.

But their taste is definitely appropriate for adults. A population that can eat chocolate at all times of the day without having to ask for permission. Ever.

So yeah, sodium-free Bunny Bars. Hop to it.

And chow on.

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Pulp Fiction Fantasy Bread

How about I tell you that I spent less than 8 big smackers on the meal above. And that it was for two people (there was another bowl of soup and sandwich that didn’t make it to the plate). And that there was a gigantic loaf of freshly baked, no knead, no rise, salt-free bread left over.

Now, what if I told you that I only bought 3 tomatoes, 2 carrots, and one beet at the store. And with the eggs, flour, and beer that I had at home, I was able to make this entire low sodium meal, soup AND sandwich. Again, for under 8 buckaroos.

And don’t completely loose your mind when I confess that the bread was flavored not with salt, but with the leftover tomato, carrot, and beet pulp that I had sitting on my counter after straining my soup.

(If you lost your mind, I found it. It’s right there next to your jaw on the floor).

It’s true. What you see above is a tomato, carrot, beet soup – dotted with roasted corn and basil that I happened to have on hand. And next to it is a scrumptious sandwich made from tomato, carrot, beet pulp bread. Prepared a la croque madame. Cause I was feeling fanciful.

With my juicer and the many bloody mary mixes I have been making for the book, I have been swimming in a pool of sunset colored pulp. Of course, I could throw it into the compost. I could make them into little veggie burger patties. I could even throw them in a pan with some rice or pasta and call it dinner.

But I wanted to think bigger. I wanted to make bread. Savory, naturally sweetened bread with a doughy crumb and crackly crust. And I wanted it to be easy to make and equally simple to clean up.

Cue flour and beer.

The carbonated bevy (with a little help from salt-free baking powder) acted as the perfect rising agent. And much to my surprise, I made a pretty little loaf on the first try in only an hour, with only a bowl and a pan to wash when it was done. As for the plate, I licked that clean.

The recipe is easy bake oven:

That’s it. Really. I wouldn’t lie to you. And watch your step. Your brain is on the floor again.

So next time you have some veggie scraps, don’t throw them away. Throw them in some bread.

And then toast that bread. Slather it with something creamy and maybe some tomatoes. And top it with an egg. Call it dinner. Or lunch. Or Madame. Or Monsieur.

But definitely call someone over to enjoy it.

Mother nature can’t thank you enough. Neither can your friends.

Bake on.


  • 1 to 1 1/2 cup of veggie pulp (as liquid-free as possible)
  • 3 cups flour (I used bread, but all purpose is ok!)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sodium-free baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder or red chili pepper flakes
  • 1, 12 oz can of beer
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • thin tomato slices, salt-free mayo or creme fraiche, and any herbs for bread spread

Preheat your oven to 375 dg F.

You’re doing great already.

Then, in a mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking soda, black pepper, and chili powder. Mix with a wooden spoon until combined. Make a well in the center and add your dry veggie pulp. Mix until distributed, breaking up any clumps with your spoon. Then, make another well in the center and slowly add the beer, mixing as you pour. When all the beer is added, there may be some flour left in the bowl unmixed. So roll up your sleeves and get in there, using your hands to give the dough a final mix and knead. Add a little more flour if it is too sticky and a little more water if it is too dry. You want it to be a slightly wet, but not can’t-get-it-off-my-hands goopy.

Finally, dump the batter into a greased 9 x 5 bread pan, spreading the dough out with your hands or wooden spoon until it fills the pan evenly. Place in the oven for 30 minutes. When time is up, drizzle olive oil over the bread and put back into the oven for 30 more minutes.

Take the bread out of the oven and allow it to cool, 15 minutes minimum.

Slice 4, 1/2″ pieces of bread and place on a baking sheet. Put them back in the oven on the next to highest rack, under the broiler on high, until crisp and brown, 2-3 minutes on each side. Meanwhile, fry two eggs in an oiled saute pan, 2-3 minutes so the yolk is still a bit runny.

When bread is toasted, spread a bit of greek yogurt on one half, layer with tomato slices, and top with the second bread half.  Top each sandwich with a fried egg and serve immediately alongside some warm and creamy soup.


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Look What I Made Wednesday: Eggs Benedict

It’s time for the weekly cookbook teaser and this week, I am going to show you one of my proudest creations thus far in a four photo love story.

But before we get to the foodie shots, let me give you a brief background on this dish.

Eggs benedict is to brunch as rain is to Seattle. They define each other. They go hand in hand. And I just got an SAT anxiety flashback…so give me a moment to collect myself. How I ever got into college, I’ll never know. Those tests were totally awful. If only they were about chocolate.

But back to Benedict. The most traditional version is made of two, toasted English muffin halves, topped with Canadian bacon, poached eggs, and Hollondaise sauce. It’s like a united nations of delicious.

Of course, other variations exist, like Eggs Florentine (spinach instead of ham), Eggs Montreal (salmon instead of ham), and Eggs Sardou (with artichokes instead of muffins, anchovies for the ham, and truffles instead of Hollondaise), just to name a few.

Which means there is more than enough room for a low sodium version too.

While I’m still working on the name for this dish (Eggs Beatrice? Ten points to whoever gets the nerd reference), I’ve nailed the ingredients. So as I brainstorm for an appropriately sassy title, feel free to oogle over the photo flirting below.

Chow on.


Filed under breakfast, brunch, improbable eats, recipe box

Can’t Believe It’s Not Mayo

People have phobias. Weird ones.

I have a few and I’m sure you have some too. I think it is just a part of life and those quirky qualities that make us so adorable. At least that’s what I tell myself.

I for one hate ants.

Okay, hate is kind of a strong word and now I’m feeling a bit guilty saying I hate ants because I’m sure, in the whole Lion King circle of life situation, they do fulfill some important (maybe even cute) purpose. Like hauling small twigs to their mounds or drinking dew drops from a lily bud. And other things like that.

But like a bad horror movie, I’m terrified of being covered in them.

I can’t really explain it. I’m not scared of spiders or snakes. Or even sharks or giant monsters. But ants…they are so small and they come in large groups and they could be anywhere. Just when you think you’ve found one, bam, there they are in your pillow or crawling up your leg.

Ants. They win every time.

So that’s my fear. And if you think that one is silly, here’s another common phobia: mayonnaise.

No joke, there are a lot of people that hate the stuff. Whether it is because of its whipped egg base (true, a weird concept) or its creamy texture, some people despise the stuff. They would even pass up a perfectly layered turkey and gouda sandwich if there was a speck of mayo to be found.

And because this blog is about not judging (and of course, low sodium food), I decided to offer those with salt-free needs and mayo-phobias a solution to their creamy spread fears.

First of all, canned mayonnaise can contain upwards of 120 mg of sodium per serving. Most of that comes naturally from the eggs (70 mg per egg), but salt is often added as well.

Of course, you can whip up your own mayo at home, which my mother did for these delicious little devils. But with the eggs alone, you will still be creeping up on the salt factor. It’s natural and it’s not a bad thing. Just be aware of it and be sure to use your homemade mayo pretty immediately, like that day. It can get pretty scary pretty quickly.

So when I want to make something with mayo (like this chicken curry salad) and I want to reduce those sodium numbers, I often use creme fraiche or yogurt instead. Although, even these options have a bit of sodium in them as well. Usually around 20 mg per 2 tablespoons.

And that get’s me, finally, to today’s recipe. Thanks for being so patient.

If you want a mayo substitute without any sodium at all, an option exists. And you’ll find it in the most unlikely place: silken tofu.

I was a bit skeptical of this recipe at first, but after a good blend in the food processor, some garlic, and a hint of vinegar, I’m pretty convinced that this sodium-free mayonnaise (or shall I say tofunnaise) is going to change my life.

And remember, the beauty of homemade food is that you can do whatever you want in terms of flavor. Add curry, add herbs, add horseradish, add pickles and paprika, add wasabi.

Add whatever you want and don’t feel one bit guilty for eating a whole tub. Slap it on corn, on your burger, on french fries, on artichokes. Make an aioli, make deviled eggs, make spinach dip, make a milkshake. Just kidding on that last one. Mayonnaise milkshakes may be pushing it. Make a tea sandwich instead.

But seriously, don’t be afraid. Go for it. This spread is healthy and salt-free. And made just for you.

Chow on.

  • 1/2 package silken tofu (about 1/2 a cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely diced or 1/8 teaspoon ground garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider or white vinegar
Place into a cuisinart and blend until combined and smooth.
Use. Enjoy. Keep for approximately 2 weeks in the fridge.


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College, Kidneys, and Viral Videos

Perhaps you’ve heard of someone named Justin Bieber. He is a teen dream and he is said to be responsible for an international outbreak of Bieber Fever.

Not gonna lie. I caught it.

You may have also heard of Rebecca Black. Although slightly less well known and with no “fever” to her name, she too recently swept the nation with her song “Friday,” in which she “drives” around with her friends and sings (auto-tuned) about how excited she is that it is Friday. I’m already sorry for linking to this video.

But Bieber and Black, watch yourself.

You may both be huge hits on the YouTube, you may have the charming good looks of someone who has not yet gone through puberty, and you may have huge crews that back you up in choreographed dance routines.

But guess what? I’ve got a crew too and a video on YouTube to prove it. And while I don’t even attempt to do the running man, I do talk about Lupus, kidney disease, and living a limitless low sodium life with a lot of energy, hot pictures, and a horrible hair cut.

Kidding aside, it was such an honor to be back at my alma mater, sharing my stories, advice, tips, and even food (that’s right – I made salt-free sushi!) with a group of low sodium warriors.

And if you missed the talk, not only can you watch it here anytime you want (see: video above), but I’ll be speaking as a part of Stanford Hospital’s Health Library lectures again on Wednesday June 22 at 7pm at the Redwood City Public LIbrary. Call (650) 498-7826 to register. It’s free. And I’ll bring more sushi.

As an extra bonus, I’m also very excited to announce that I’ll be speaking at the Bay Area Association of Kidney Patients on May 22nd. Check out their website for more information! And I’ll try to come up with a good dance routine for that appearance as well. Requests welcome.

And finally, I also had the recent honor of guest blogging for one of my favorite websites – Big Girls Small Kitchen – and their sister site – Small Kitchen College. As someone who lived through undergraduate with a host of dietary concerns, I wanted to give current collegiate cuties some helpful tips on how to eat at the cafeteria, snack during finals, and of course, go out on dates without worrying about their dietary needs. Who can bother with food when you’re already stressing over which jeans to wear?

So if you know someone lucky enough to still be in high school or college, and who must keep to a strict meal plan, then please forward these tips along. Click here for the Top Five College Dietary Challenges (and Their Awesome Solutions).

With that, I’m off to enjoy my Friday (slash, work furiously on finishing my book). And I promise, next week will be full of lots and lots of yummy recipes.

We we we so excited.

Chow on.


Filed under good living, tips & tricks