Monthly Archives: August 2011

Kohl Slaw

It’s officially day two of the kohlrabi fest and today, we’re mixing up something quick and simple: Kohl Slaw.

It’s raw, it’s juicy, it’s full of flavor, and no salt. And this would be a stellar dish to bring to any potluck or BBQ you plan to attend this weekend. You only need two bulbs of kohlrabi, two pears, an orange, and maybe a little spice to feed a whole army. Of eight or ten people.

So get this low-sodium kohl slaw marinating and chow on.

Ingredients

  • 2 kohlrabi bulbs, antenna and bottom rough spot removed
  • 2 pears
  • Juice from 1 orange
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (to taste)
  • Drizzle of honey
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
Directions
1. Because you cut the bottom of each kohlrabi bulb off, you now have a flat surface on which you can stand it upright. So sturdy! Carefully cut the kohlrabi into thin rounds, slicing the bulb and not your fingers. And then, cut the rounds into thin matchsticks. Place them in a large mixing bowl.
2. Cut the pears into similar sized matchsticks. Slice the pear into quarters–cutting around the pit and stem–and then cut those pieces into thin slices and matchsticks. But you may also have a secret pear cutting machine that does the trick. Either way, add your pears to the bowl with the kohlrabi.
3. Finally, when you are only a few hours from that picnic, add the orange juice, apple cider vinegar, honey, and black pepper to the bowl and mix until everything is combined. The acid from the juice and the vinegar will help soften the kohlrabi and turn all those matchsticks into a show-stopping slaw. Be sure to keep refrigerated until you serve.

 

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You’ve Been Kohlrabi’d

If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. And if you aren’t talking, you might as well be eating. So here’s some kohlrabi.

It’s weird looking. And I mean that in a super complimentary way. Because most of the time, when you encounter a strange looking fruit, vegetable, or person, they tend to really light up your pantry. And life.

I’ve seen kohlrabi before, but never really dared try it. And last week, two bulbs ended up in my farmers market basket. Which is why this week, we’re going on a kohlrabi adventure. Buckle up.

And as I put the finishing touches on my two experiments, I’ll give you some simple kohlrabi cooking tips to start us off. Kohlrabi is a very versatile vegetable. You can slice, saute, and eat it straight off the bulb.

Both dishes this week will feature kohlrabi in the raw — it tastes like a radish with just a hint of bitter spice. But you can also experiment with kohlrabi in the cooked — it is most often given heat when used for Indian fare.

And you can also always make it into a caterpillar.

Chow on.

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A Fund for Jennie

I was having a hard time deciding on what to write about today.

I thought about talking about my new shoes–or actually slippers which have lint-lifters on the bottom so that you can scrub your floors as you shuffle about your home.

I tested them out yesterday. I looked silly. And I discovered that my floor is really dirty.

I thought about salads, because so many of you wonderful people seem to like sprinkling salt on them and want an alternative to bump up the taste.

(Here’s the quick answer: 1. try cayenne pepper, black pepper, a sprinkle of salt-free garlic powder, or celery seed to liven it up; 2. use vinegars, oils, and citrus to add zip; 3. use more exciting greens like raw kale, Brussel sprouts, and arugula for a natural flavor booster).

I thought about telling you about this new restaurant I found where they make Japanese yakitori (meat on sticks) without the salt. Or my idea for savory donuts. Or my latest adventure in making low sodium “shrimp n’ grits.”

But then I thought about Jennie. And her girls. And the tahini pie. And that while my life has gone on, their new journey is just beginning.

And speaking of journeys, I started to think about you all again too–you’re never far from my mind. And how overwhelming a salt-free diet is when you are just getting started. Especially the shopping.

Where should I look for low-sodium food? What should I buy? What is safe? What isn’t? Will I ever have salsa and chips again? And, lord, please tell me that there is someone out there who makes low-sodium ice cream. Please. Oh please.

So here’s what I decided to write about today.

This weekend, I’m auctioning off a very special low-sodium starter basket filled to the brim with my favorite Sodium Girl approved, salt-free items. I’m talking about licorice, pickles (yeah, I said pickles), chips, vinegar, nori (for homemade sushi), cookies, tomato sauce, spices, and other goodies that will get your excited-meter climbing to new heights.

Here are the deets (as in details): bidding starts NOW by either placing your bid in the comments below or through a “silent” email to sodiumgirl at gmail dot com. I will continue to update the highest bid at the bottom of this post, on twitter (@sodiumgirl), and Facebook. And bidding will officially close at 5pm PST on this upcoming Tuesday, August 30.

Payment will most likely be handled through PayPal on the Bloggers Without Borders site and a shipping address will be required. And the proceeds from this auction and your goody-goody basket will help Jennie and her girls find their footing along this new path they are trekking.

So I bid you, go bid on auction items at the wonderful Bloggers Without Borders. Or on this salt-free package right here on this site. And save me from telling you about my lint shoes. I’m pretty sure you don’t want to hear about the not-goody-goodies they picked up.

Help on.

HIGHEST BID: $100

Want to just donate instead? Go here!

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Low Sodium Salutations

Hello New Friends!

Whether you have found this blog through the totally awesome mention in Better Homes and Gardens September Issue or my mom called you and told you to check it out, I just want to begin today by saying…WELCOME!

So old readers, say hello to new readers. And for everyone checking this blog out for the first time, let me tell you a bit about Sodium Girl.

like French fries. A lot.

I also like dancing–especially when there isn’t any music–and pretending to know how to pop and lock. I like immersion blenders; padron peppers; Shabu Shabu; pets with funny names; people with pet names; carbonated water; signing up for things like “circus school;” and laughing. Laughing is my favorite.

I love writing on this blog. And having your eyes (hello, new eyes!) join me as I make my way through this silly, sodium-free life.

I love knowing that when I make salt-free risotto cakes, you are making salt-free risotto cakes too. And that when I spill quinoa on my floor, you’ll be better prepared for kitchen mishaps of your own. And that at least two (if not three) times a week, we all join here to celebrate the fact that we can improve our health with our own two hands, some vinegar, and a pinch of cayenne.

Mostly, I love knowing that with every challenge I face and (without question) eventually conquer, I can help you do the same. And you’ll help me make new discoveries as well.

So new eyes and old eyes, I am so glad you are all here.

Now here’s how you can use the site: there are a couple of posts that are helpful for getting started.

Check out this video to “meet” me and hear how I changed my perspective from feeling limited to limitless.

And if you’re hot to get started on your own journey, check out these posts on dining beyond your kitchen–specifically on how to order in restaurants and how to travel both in the US and abroad. Think: foreign languages.

Of course, if there is a recipe you are looking for, try typing in some key words in the search bar on your right (do you see it? Scroll a little lower. Yes, right there!). Or post a comment below and I’ll be happy to direct you to what you are looking for.

If you have any other questions, whether it is about salt-free pickles or restaurant recommendations, post a comment as well or email me at sodiumgirl at gmail dot com.

(But just so you know, I’m faster at responding to comments on the site).

And next week, get ready for my new website–with an Amazon store, Yelp restaurant recommendations, and an actual Recipe Index–to be revealed. Stay tuned.

As for what I need from you?

Keep asking questions. Keep experimenting. Keep using your dietary needs as an excuse to live the best life possible and eat food that puts salty plates to shame.

And as always, chow on.

Oh, and say hello!

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Spam. No, Seriously.

I don’t think I am going to blow anyone away with this next statement, but SPAM is super high in sodium. One serving (and remember, there are usually multiple servings in one package), contains over 770mg of sodium. Even the oxy-moronic Low Sodium SPAM (really?) has over 530mg of sodium. So unless you want to eat one serving of SPAM musubi for your entire day’s worth of food, I’d suggest leaving SPAM on the shelves.

Maybe.

Last weekend, I attended a dinner party. More like a potluck. And the theme was SPAM. Going traditional was seriously frowned upon by the group. So instead of SPAM and pineapple pizza, more curious concoctions (like SPAM carbonara, SPAM empanadas, SPAM latkes, and SPAM pate) were afoot.

And let me back up by saying that this kind of get together is not strange in any way. A few weeks ago, the theme was nachos and before that, the apocalypse. So SPAM was just a part of the natural progression. And the crazier the challenge, the better the food. Or at least the memories.

Even with the high sodium content of the star ingredient, there was no way that I was going to shy from this culinary opportunity. If anything, I was even more determined to make it work. Which lead me to putting meat in a blender. Specifically browned and seasoned pork butt. Which, again, let me stress, got put into an actual blender and pulsed until it formed a silky smooth meat puree.

If you aren’t puking yet, you’re my new best friend.

The thought, “this is just like making pate,” ran continuously through my mind as I packed the now blended pork butt into a little tart pan. I covered it with plastic wrap, said a prayer, and then stuck it in the fridge.

Two hours later, I had my very own Salt-Free SPAM cake. In the shape of a flower. Because I am classy like that.

And for a second time today, I’m going to state the obvious and tell you that the recipe wasn’t perfect. When I tried to slice and fry the SPAM, it immediately fell apart. And the texture was far less desirable than plain ground meat (see: blender).

So next time–yes, there will be a next time–I will have to use some sort of emulsifier or glue, like cream or egg, to keep that SPAM cake together.

But the attempt was well worth it. Even with my chunky, strangely monotone SPAM, I made fried rice with pineapple, a tamarind “soy sauce,” and lots of bright veggies. It was all edible. So points for that. And as usual, the goal was more about overcoming sodium obstacles than creating a shelf-worthy salt-free SPAM. So on that end, I think the mission was completed as well.

Of course, the great lesson is to not shy away from the impossible. And with every attempt, you’ll either get closer to achieving your goal. Or you’ll realize that eating a whole, juicy pork chop is way better than putting it in a blender.

Chow on.

 

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Salt-Free Cake Pops

I’ve decided to give up sugar.

Just kidding. Have we met? I love my sugar.

And to celebrate the fact that I adore sweets of pretty much any flavor and variety, I made cake pops. Salt-free cake pops, to be specific.

Now you may have seen these little sticks of dough and frosting on Starbucks counters or on bookshelves (Chronicle has published some pretty rad guides on how to DIY the little suckers). But please excuse me as I toot my horn for a moment and say this: I have been popping cake long before it was popular. Or at least I was on the front end of the trend.

This is my wedding cake. From last year. A tower of cake pops.

This is me getting one shoved in my face.

And this is me only nibbling a bite since they were not low-sodium.

I know. GASP. How could you not have salt-free cake pops at your own wedding? Well there were sprained ankles, vows, and other non-food related details to attend to. And frankly, I just thought it would be too hard to make them and didn’t want to inconvenience our dear baker. I was also more than happy to stuff my face with french fries instead.

But the other day, in planning for a double bachelorette (that’s right, two brides, twice the fun), I decided to try my hand at making my own. And guess what? It is crazy easy. And quite the showstopper.

All you need to do is:

1) pick a cake or brownie recipe

2) get rid of the salt and any baking powder and baking soda

3) sub in sodium-free baking powder or baking soda (depending on recipe) and other spices (like cinnamon, almond, pumpkin spice, orange, and even cayenne) if you want to kick up flavor

4) pick up some melting chocolates at the market or at a craft store like Michael’s–and don’t forget sprinkles

5) follow the directions here on the kitchen and remember to freeze your cake pops before AND after dipping them in the icing

6) and to serve, either wrap them up individually; lay them carefully on a plate; or, if you have some styrofoam lying around, repurpose it as a cake pop stand!

Cake pop on.

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A Tahini Chocolate Pie for Mikey

It seems that sometimes food bloggers can get a bad rap. Some people are quick to draw a line between real writer and blogger. And many people joke at the enormous number of folks who now own a web address and talk about the delicious nature of food. Which is pretty on point. Because really, who doesn’t own a food blog these days?

But over the past two years of being a part of this community, I have witnessed something extraordinary.

Whenever a disaster strikes, no matter where or to whom, this group of strangers, all connected by their love of making and sharing recipes, gathers together. They rally. They support. They fundraise. They bake sale. They give back, no questions asked and no thank yous necessary. And whether or not these people are real writers or even cooks, they are truly all generous.

Perhaps it is the nature of the subject.

Food is about gathering one’s community. And when you share food with others, you are telling them you care. And when you eat what you have been given, you are sending that love right back.

Food is about connecting. Food is comfort.

The first time I ever lost a loved one was when I had just turned thirteen and my grandmother passed suddenly of a heart attack. There are three parts of those first days of mourning that I remember most. I was at my friend’s bat mitzvah when my parents came to tell me the news. I saw my father cry for the first time. And a friend brought over fried chicken.

The chicken came in a picnic basket with a note. This was a special recipe, one that only appeared when someone was experiencing loss.

Without having to say anything, this fried chicken expressed all the condolences, hopeful thoughts, and juicy words of wisdom that anyone could impart. And that first night, we sat silently as a family, chewing through that basket. Left alone to simmer in our thoughts, yet constantly hugged by the warmth and care of others with every bite.

That’s how I get to this pie.

A few days ago a loved member of this food blog community suddenly lost her beloved. Out of no where. No explanation.

One day they were walking hand-in-hand. And the next, she was letting his go.

Tweets, facebook posts, comments, and other 14o words of support have been flooding the internet. Some people are close (both in proximity and in friendship) to Jennifer.  And others, like myself, have had mere exchanges online. But everyone has once again come to the rescue, pouring out affection and a desire to help in anyway they can. Heartbreaking and uplifting all in one breath.

In a moment of inspiring strength and clarity, Jennifer left the community a note on her blog.

For weeks, she says, she was planning to make her husband his favorite peanut butter pie. And every day she would promise herself that this day, she would finally sit down and make it…

And today, her one request is for everyone to make that peanut butter pie. To hug those you love. And to share it with those you hold dear.

So this is my pie. For you all, for Jennifer, and for Mikey.

This is my pie that helped me slow down and enjoy the traffic. To revel in the fact that I had a to-do list and that even if I didn’t cross off all the items, I enjoyed the ones I accomplished. A pie that I made with my mother. And a pie that I ate with friends I don’t see often enough, many of whom have also experienced untimely loss.

This is my pie that reminded me to live in the moment. To always tell people that you love them. To never go to bed mad. To not sweat the small stuff. And to replace stress with chocolate and whipped cream.

This is my pie that celebrates life. The flakey crust, the bittersweet chocolate, and the rich filling.

And this is just one pie out of the hundreds, maybe even thousands, that celebrates Jennifer and Mike.

So today, I implore everyone to be a food blogger, a real writer, a cook, and rescuer. To join this community at our big, ever welcoming virtual table. To cheers to Mikey and to appreciate eachother, one bite of pie at a time.

Chow on.

adapted from Jeniffer Perillo’s Peanut Butter Pie

….if you do make a pie, and you’re on Twitter, the hashtag is #apieformikey. If you tag your post with that, Jennie will able to find them all someday

Salt-Free, Nutty Chocolate Pie for Jennie and Mikey

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup ground matzo crackers or matzo meal (about 5 large crackers)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
  • 5 tablespoons ice cold water
  • 4 ounces chopped chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz plan Greek (FAGE) yogurt
  • 1 cup tahini butter
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Directions
1. Place the matzo crackers, brown sugar, and chilled butter cubes in a food processor and pulse until it forms fine crumbs. Add the cold water (1 tablespoon at a time) until the crumbs come together to make a dough. Then press the mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the side of a 9-inch springform pan.
2. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or a microwave. And then pour it into the bottom of your matzo cracker crust, spreading to the edge with a spatula. Place it in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
3. Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or a hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Transfer the whipped cream to a small bowl and store in the fridge. Place the yogurt and tahini buter in a deep bowl. Beat on medium speed until it gets light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar. Add the coconut milk, vanilla extract, and lemon juice. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.
4. Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the tahini filling mixture and then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream. Pour the filling into the springform pan (over that melted and now hardened chocolate). Drizzle more chocolate on top or use a microplane to grate chocolate dust over the pie.
5. Keep in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving or place in the freezer 15 minutes before you’re ready to eat to make sure the filling is firm. Eat with loved ones and enjoy.
and for more amazing pies and people, check Food Network’s FN DISH blog for the ever growing list

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