Category Archives: breakfast

Monday Morning Sandwich Cake

For a long time, I resisted using Twitter, Facebook, or FourSquare. Not because I was against the free sharing of private information. But because I thought it was really weird that people felt the need to constantly tell me (and the entire world) what they were eating.

Thanks to these public broadcasting systems, it’s 11 am and I already know that Katie is enjoying a frozen yogurt with berries. And that Tom and six other friends are meeting at the local pub later to watch the game and eat some hot pepper pizza. And that Michelle has already had her second lunch of the day and she’s still not full. Someone get the girl a burrito.

Sharing details about today’s news, your latest accomplishment, or even the weekend’s funniest YouTube video – that’s all great. But the black bean salad you just downed? And the aftermath? I’m not sure I really wanted to know about that…

Of course, I eventually gave in. Big Time. I mean, I own a blog about food. I welcome stories about your bean salad. And I take it all back. The guffaws, the judgment, the misunderstandings.

Because this is what I am eating for breakfast.

And I couldn’t resist telling you about it.

I now totally understand the enthusiasm for sharing live updates on the food you put into your body. Because while this low sodium breakfast sandwich is nothing special, it is really good. I am enjoying it very much. And I want you to be able to enjoy it too.

So here’s what we have: a salt-free rice cracker, topped with a layer or no-salt spicy mustard, a mound of alfafa sprouts, a layer of (leftover) roasted vegetable and bean spread, and slice of no-salt-added turkey. A sandwich that is just as filling, colorful, and flavorful as something you would find at the deli. Without the salt.

Sure, it is gorgeous. And yes, it is just as a tasty. But most importantly, it is easy to make. A true feat when it comes to low-sodium breakfasts and lunches.

So yeah. I just told you about the sandwich I made. Now I’m going to take a bite.

And I hope you’re inspired to make something this simple and flavorful the next time you need a healthy snack to start your day off right.

Sharing is caring.

Chow on.

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Filed under breakfast, lunch, quick fix, recipe box

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.

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Filed under breakfast, brunch, improbable eats, recipe box

Pomegranate Molasses Granola Bars, Sort Of

I’ve always been pretty good at making up my own rules.

When my grandparents babysat me, I convinced them that we always ate cookies before dinner. It helped prep the stomach for the nutrients to come. When it rained, I never wore shoes. What’s the point? My feet were going to get wet anyways. And in college, I pretty much majored in the art of rule making. They called it Creative Writing.

From early on, I gave myself license to do what I wanted. Which, turns out, is a very important life skill. Because the truth is, most of the time, things don’t often go quite like you’ve planned. That’s not to say that things won’t eventually work out. They always work out. But just when you think you’ve built a straight and narrow path from point A to point B, something’s bound to gently nudge you off the road and force you to re-imagine your route to that final destination.

Which, yesterday, was a pan of granola bars.

I began my Thursday with the intention of creating a chewy, low sodium, salt-free granola bar that I could munch on for breakfast, during a bike ride, or while hiking in the hills.

I had grand plans for this granola bar. I was going to take oats, chopped dates, apricots, and cranberries and mix them with honey, brown sugar, and pomegranate molasses to make a treat that was full of sugary calories, but not too sweet to eat. I mixed, I melted, I baked, and I waited. These granola bars were going to be great.

And then, from the oven they came. A golden brown block of granola. That, much like my achey body on some mornings, refused to budge from its baking bed.

I knew that as soon as I tried to remove the granola, it was going to crumble and fall apart. Dreams of a perfectly rectangular piece of granola were shattered.

And as I stared at my brick of toasted fruit oats, I knew I had two choices: give up and crumble apart myself, or, come up with a new plan. Redefine the path from A to B. Reinvent the rules. And decide that this recipe was never meant to be for granola bars. This was for making granola bites.

If you live with a chronic illness or any kind of health limitations, this is the same choice you are faced with everyday. You wake up each morning with your grand plans and then, something – whether it is a doctor appointment, the need to find a low sodium snack in a salty world, or the fact that your joints just won’t move like you want them to – will cause those plans to get derailed.

But like my granola, you have a choice. You can either view the disruptions as impermeable road blocks. Or you can simply go build a ladder out of wood or marshmallows (remember, you make the rules) and climb right over them.

Sure, there are plenty of times I’m faced with moments where I can’t do things like I want to. But it doesn’t mean I can’t come up with a different solution that gets me to the same end goal.

So go ahead, find control in making up your own rules and in making some granola this weekend. Feel free to not follow my directions. Maybe your version will even successfully come out of the pan.

Happy weekend. Chow on.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup diced dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup diced powdered dates
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 1/4 cup of orange juice and zest from entire orange
Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 dg F.

Place your oats in a baking pan and toast in the oven until they turn lightly golden and begin to smell oaty, 10-12 minutes. Take out of the oven and place in a large mixing bowl.

While your oats toast, chop your dried apricots and dates, either with a knife or a quick pulse in the food processor. Add them and the cranberries to the mixing bowl with the oats.

Lower oven to 300 dg F and cover an 8×12 inch baking pan with parchment paper (or grease well with unsalted butter).

Then, in a small pot, melt the butter and allow it to brown and smell nutty, 5 minutes. Add the sugar, honey, molasses, orange juice and zest, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook for 2 minutes and then pour immediately into your mixing bowl. Stir the contents until well combined and pour onto your parchment covered baking pan.

Place pan into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. The granola will be a darker brown when it is done and it will still be soft when you take it out. Allow to cool and harden at least 1 hour before cutting. Whether it comes out in squares or chunks, it will be delicious.

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Filed under breakfast, good living, recipe box, sweets, tips & tricks

Fraiche Start

Today is a new week.

My dishwasher cleaned all the dishes and I will put them away. I’m going to start wearing my retainers too, at least at night, which I bought over a year ago to straighten my teeth – yes, I’m 28 years old. And I will actually go to that dance class I always say I want to go to. Maybe I’ll even start taking yoga again.

The list of things that might happen are endless. Because it is a brand new week. The slate has been wiped clean. Anything is possible.

Like salt-free, cheese-less quiche.

Fluffy quiche made with a confetti of heirloom carrots and dill. Filled with low sodium creme fraiche. And clouds. The kind that just drift by like marshmallow balloons on a beautiful sunny day like yesterday.


Oh my god, did you just bite your computer?

I almost did, because I can still smell the sauteed shallots and the nutty butter notes in the flakey crust. And when I close my eyes, I swear I can taste the light-as-air custard that simply dissolves into notes of spring once it hits your mouth.

I just bit the screen again.

This quiche is proof that you do not need salt or cheese to make an extraordinary breakfast pastry. Just carrots. Creme fraiche. Dill weed. Eggs. And sunny day clouds. Although I think the recipe would work just fine without the clouds if there aren’t any. And hopefully, this new week, they are hard to find.

If you want the full recipe, visit one of my favorite sites in the world, Food52.com: Fraiche Start Carrot Quiche.

And if you don’t have the time or interest to make the dough, no worries. I made the quiche sans crust yesterday, pouring the carrots and custard straight into a pie pan, and it worked perfectly. So feel free to choose your own ending for this recipe.

Now it’s time for me to take out my retainer and go to dance class.

Chow on.

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Love Your Heart Recipe Rally

I had a dream.

I know. I’m one national holiday too late. But still, I had a dream.

And no, it wasn’t the one where I was flying over buildings or showing up late to school without my pants. Or flying pant-less over buildings to make it to school on time. That would be absurd.

This was a real life dream and something that could impact more than just me and my personal well-being. This was something that had the potential to change people’s approach to food. To health. To life. This was a dream about making bagels, pizza, and bacon wrapped scallops, without the salt. And then encouraging other people to do it too.

Then I woke up, and two weeks ago, I sent out a challenge, a few tweets, and a handful of emails, asking a group of bloggers to do just that – cook a single recipe with little to no sodium.

I asked them to do this because, during this month of February, we are currently celebrating Heart Health month, Valentine’s Day, and the release of the USDA’s new food regulations (which now say that 50% of Americans need to eat 1,500mg of sodium or less a day – about 1/2 a teaspoon of salt).

With all of that going on, I thought we needed to have a cyber party. With lots of food and maybe some festive hats.

And fifteen people responded – enthusiastically – even though none of them have dietary restrictions.

And trust me, none of them took the challenge lightly. To stick to the low so guidelines, they could have simply baked chicken without any salt or blended tomatoes together and called it soup. But instead, because they are all culinary rockstars, they picked recipes that were highly dependent on soy sauce, cheeses, broths, and breads. All ingredients that are high in sodium.

They asked questions; they shared their discoveries (really? there’s sodium in milk!); they began to notice how high sodium is in both packaged and natural ingredients; they found great solutions by thinking beyond the Morton’s box; they withstood ridicule from their wives (sorry Oui, Chef!); they made multiple attempts until things tasted just right; and I think it is fair to say that they even surprised themselves with the salt-free results. I know I’m beyond impressed.

In the end, they created sixteen incredible low sodium dishes for you, me, and America to enjoy.

But beyond the gusto and total generosity they gave to this project, they also proved that, as food-loving, salt-enjoying eaters, low sodium, making satisfying versions of their favorite foods was not only possible, but exciting.

And while I could talk about these bloggers until the end of the day, I think it is time that you leave this page and check out their masterful work. So, without much further ado, let me present to you the first ever Love Your Heart Recipe Rally. There is plenty of good reading and eating to last you through the long weekend.

Hogwash: Curried Cumin Crackers

Taste Food: Red Hot Low Sodium Chicken Wings

Oui, Chef: Curried Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Maple-Ginger Sweet Potatoes and apples

Allison Fishman: Jersey Za’

Farm & A Frying Pan: Low So Sloppy Joe and Chocolate Bark

Mrs. Wheelbarrow: Broccoli and Potatoes, Indian Style

Haute Apple Pie: Heart Healthy Beef and Broccoli

Gina’s Skinny Recipes: Baked Seasoned Fries with Skinny Garlic Aoli

Couldn’t Be Parve: Love Your Heart Chocolate Pudding

Exercise.com: Recovery Water and Power Bar

Shared Bites: Spicy Polenta Chips with Roasted Red Pepper Dip

The Sustainable Palate: Low Sodium, Big Flavor French Onion Soup

Gotham Skinny: Pistachio And Cardamom Cookies

SF Tao of Pao: Mapo Tofu

The Internat (happy birthday!): Granola

Thank you again to our unbelievable low sodium superheroes who went beyond the call of duty (and who, I hope, are all wearing pants). I know that these recipes – and each cook’s own journey – will inspire you and your loved ones to cook food that will feed and fuel your body. And I also hope they inspire you to experiment and innovate on your own as well.

Even with a low sodium diet, there’s nothing you cannot make. It may taste a little different, it may look a little different, but the creativity you will bring to the table will surely please the eye, stomach, kidney, and heart.

And as for my contribution (this is my party and I can cook if I want to), check out the recipe for “Fake’in Wrapped Scall-Nots” below.

Click, read, and chow on.

Ingredients:

  • 1 zucchini, thinly sliced length-wise with a mandoline
  • Bowl of ice cold water
  • 2 halibut filets (serves 4 guests, 3 “scallops” each)
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Directions:

1. Mix the curry and brown sugar together in a wide bowl. In a separate bowl, do the same with the cumin and smoked paprika.

2. Bring a small pot of water to boil and quickly blanche the zucchini ribbons, 1-2 minutes. Immediately remove from pot and dunk them into the cold water bath, 3-4 minutes. Remove from water and tap to shake off extra liquid. Roll the zucchini ribbons in the cumin/paprika bowl until well covered. Set aside.

3. Using a tablespoon scoop, press down lightly on the halibut filet (start in the corner, like cutting cookies from dough). Trace the shape with a knife to cut out scallop-like rounds. Repeat until you’ve created 3 scallops per guest.

4. Dredge the halibut rounds in the curry/brown sugar mixture. Make sure both sides are covered.

5. Slice the zucchini lengthwise into three equal ribbons – the width should be about the height of the halibut scallop. Repeat until you have enough ribbons for each piece of fish.

6. Wrap the zucchini ribbon around the halibut and secure with a toothpick. Repeat until all the halibut scallops are wrapped.

7. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high flame. Add the halibut rounds to the pan in a single layer and cook, 5-8 minutes per side or until halibut has a golden sear. Remove halibut and set aside.

8. Just before serving, place all the halibut scallops on a cookie sheet and cook in your oven’s broiler (on low) for 3- 5 minutes.

9. Remove from oven and immediately serve over something luscious, like white wine cream sauce, or something super healthy, like a vibrant pea puree. Enjoy.

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Filed under breakfast, brunch, dinner, improbable eats, lunch, quick fix, recipe box, sweets

Meatloaf Birthday Muffins

As you may recall, last year I decided to wake up before the sun rose and make my Man Friend a freshly-baked batch of birthday cupcakes. But these were no ordinary cupcakes. There was no buttercream frosting nor chunks of chocolate hiding within the batter. These were something special, because that’s what birthday cupcakes are all about – celebrating the extraordinary. These were savory molds of dough filled with cheddar cheese, bacon, and beer. These, my friends, were Beef Cakes.

And since I’m a girl of tradition (insert my mother rolling her eyes here), I decided that, 365 days later, it was time to wake up with the sun once again and make my lovely little Man Muffin another batch of Beef Cakes for his 28th birthday – a golden birthday to boot. But I didn’t want to just repeat last year’s recipe. That’s too obvious, not to mention boring.  So taking a tip from Emeril, I decided to “kick it up a notch!”

For weeks, I brainstormed and deliberated, asking both family members and unsuspecting strangers to weigh in on the dilemma. What kind of Beef Cake would you want to receive? Most people said something involving bacon, so I took that into account. But after considering my many options – Corn Dog Cupcake, Pizza Cupcake, Crocque Monsieur Cupcake, Reuben Sandwich Cupcake – I decided on something foolproof and assuredly delicious that I knew would hold in cupcake form and would contain tons of punch and flavor.

Thus, to commemorate the day that my Hubby-To-Be entered the world, so too was this piece of savory genius born: the Meatloaf Muffin. It was mostly a traditional recipe that included a combination of ground pork and beef, homemade breadcrumbs, carrot, and herbs. But to put a new spin on it, I added fried bacon bits and sautéed fennel and garlic. I manhandled the mixture, scooped handfuls into a cupcake tin, baked them for 40 minutes, and then covered each top with mustard and ketchup “icing.”

Ta. Da.

“How were they?”, you ask with suspicion. Well, the smell was so extraordinary that it lured the Birthday Boy from the coziest bed ever created.  As for their looks, I was told they resembled giant meatballs. It was an apt description – good-looking, giant meatballs. And as for the most important sense of all, taste? Even after they had cooled on the ride to work, it was reported over Gmail that, “People really loved them.” Actually, Boy’s coworker Kevin really loved them. Apparently, he had three.

So thank you, Kevin. And thank you, Mother-In-Law-To-Be for giving me such a good reason to turn meat into a dessert.

As for the rest of you, consider this an early birthday gift. Below is a recipe for a low sodium version of meatloaf cupcakes. I know. You weren’t expecting it. That’s what I do. I surprise people when they least expect.

As odd as they may sound, they are great for large dinner parties, for having food pre-made in individual portions always helps move the serving along – especially when you are feeding a friendzy. Did you see what I just did? I combined friend and frenzy to make “friendzy.” Surprise. Again.

So flip the oven to 350 and get ready to get down with some Meatloaf Muffins. Chow on.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of homemade, no sodium croutons
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 of white onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and broken
  • 1 bulb of fennel, stems cut off and roughly chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • 1 ½ ground pork
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a pan over medium heat, brown the 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Add the fennel, onion, and garlic andsautéuntil softened and caramelized.

3. In a food processor combine the carrot, garlic, fennel, and onion.  Pulse until finely chopped.

4. Combine the veggie mixture with ground pork, ground chuck, and the bread crumb mixture. Use your hands!

5. Add the eggs, apple cider vinegar, spices, and herbs. Mix thoroughly and then scoop handfuls into well-greased cupcake tins. They make about a dozen meat cakes. Fill until meatloaf rises about a 1/2 inch above the tin. Bake for 40 minutes.

6. Insert a temperature probe at a 45 degree angle into the top of the meatloaf and avoid touching the bottom of the tray with the probe. The cakes are ready when it is at 160 degrees.

7. Before serving, turn broiler on low and let the top of the muffins crisp.

8. Take out of the oven and allow the muffins to cool. Decorate with Heinz no salt added ketchup and mustard and some parsley leaves. Dig in.

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Filed under breakfast, brunch, dinner, recipe box

Friday Round Up

Well it is almost the weekend and what a great week it was: an interview with Chef Jamie Lauren, a posting on food52.com, and the long-awaited Faux Miso Marinated Cod recipe – I think I’m ready for a nap. So while we wind the week down and get ready to recharge over the weekend, I thought I would dedicate today’s post (and future Friday’s to come) to reader comments, food pornography, and other odds and ends.

Let’s start with bacon. One of Sodium Girl’s super readers found a very low sodium brand of the fatty good stuff at Costco and stocked her refrigerator full of it. The nutritional information on the MapleLeaf Brand (from Canada) claims that it contains a mere 105 mg of sodium in 2 slices and apparently, the taste is so savory and delicious that super reader could barely believe the label was true. So instead of worrying about the validity of the information, or worse, throwing away her low sodium treat, super reader got onto the world wide web and wrote Costco a note:

I have been buying MapleLeaf Brand bacon from Canada at my Costco Warehouse. According to the nutrition labels this bacon has 105 mg of sodium in 2 slices. It is wonderful bacon – so good I’m not sure if that nutrition information can be correct. As I am on a low sodium diet I would greatly appreciate any information you have about this bacon. I have researched the brand on the internet but haven’t been able to find any nutrition information. Thank you!

And their response?

Thank you for your email to Costco Wholesale. The information on the packaging is correct.

Well I’ll take that as an affirmative for low sodium goodness.  Super reader says that she’ll continue to “eat on” and enjoy her bacon, a well deserved treat, if I do say so myself. Great super sleuthing, super reader, and thank you for a fantastic low sodium discovery.

As for the food porn, I wanted to send you off into the world of weekend brunches with this shot of my new favorite breakfast – I call it the Jackson Pollock Fried Egg Sandwich. All it takes is an egg, a frying pan, and some balsamic vinegar that you throw on the white and yolk as it hardens. Add a few dried herbs and spices and you have a pretty picture that is good enough to eat. Just another way to dress up a quick fix.

With that, I sign off for the week.  I must go prepare for a lesson in low sodium, Japanese cooking.  That’s right, low sodium Japanese cooking.  Now how is that for suspense?  Have a good one and chow on.

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