Tag Archives: immersion blender

A Quick Peek

While low sodium cooking began as a part of a medical routine, I can say with full honesty that it is now a true passion. Maybe that’s already obvious by the fact that I blog on my adventures three days a week. Or the fact that I own an apron that says “Sodium Girl.”

But in a second bout of honesty, I’ll admit that low sodium cooking does take time and effort – at least at the very beginning. Your taste buds must adjust, you must adjust, your kitchen must adjust. Once you get started, though, and outfit your home and your brain with as many low sodium tools and as much knowledge as possible, you will find that living a successful low sodium life becomes a breeze. And ultimately, it becomes enjoyable.

So first, on this Hump Day morning, I wanted to give you a glimpse at my favorite kitchen accoutrements that make cooking low sodium food easy and fun.

First off, my wall of aprons. There’s no reason not to look your best while stirring a pot:

Then there’s my wall of spices. You can never have enough flavor, and everything tastes better when it doesn’t take up your whole counter:

Not to be out shown, there is also my wall of pots, pans, and other doo-dads (see a theme here). A red frame plus a peg board equals kitchen magic. While I believe you can never have enough equipment, I also know that it pays to have a place for each spatula, stock pot, and frying pan. That way you’re kitchen feels “cute” and clutter-free. I’m not OCD, just CAO – crafty and organized:

Of course, there’s also my trusty Dustbuster, which keeps me from losing my mind when I have a mid-cooking spill:

And finally, my ultimate, favorite kitchen companion – the immersion blender:

You can make anything, from soup to whipped cream, in seconds with this utensil. It requires no lifting, sifting, or pouring, which means less mess for you and more meals that are made in mere minutes.

I can’t say enough about this gadget, and trust me, I’ve talked about it before. And if you can only buy one thing to better outfit your cooking space, this secret weapon would be my first choice.

So now that I’ve given you a behind-the-scenes tour of what makes my low sodium kitchen tick, I wanted to also give you a VH1-esque, behind-the-music look at how I arrived in this enthusiastic, positive, and ultimately organized space. You definitely don’t get there in a day. It’s a journey. A full-fledged road-trip from the starting point of “oh my god, I have to do what?” to a final destination of “oh my god, I really did that!” with a lot of fun explorations and surprises in between.

I am honored to share that the Lupus Foundation of America is presenting a three-part series this week on my blog and my story.

If you’re hankering for more backstage glimpses of the Sodium Girl story, check out part one on their blog. And if you’re gearing up for a low sodium kitchen make-over, feel free to shoot questions my way.

Chow (and cook and clean) on.


Filed under cooking, good living, tips & tricks

Soup’s On

Say hello to a bowl of caramelized fennel corn chowder. It was noon thirty on Sunday and I was hungry. But it was raining, I was pretty full from breakfast, and what I really needed to focus on was cleaning the house. Never a good sign when your feet turn dusty gray from walking around barefoot. So I did what I always do when I want something healthy, light, and quick to eat. I made soup. But I’m not talking pour-it-from-a-can, chunky chicken and wimpy noodle soup. I’m talking about a delicate, earthy soup that is complex in flavor and simple in construction. I’m talking about caramelized fennel corn chowder soup.

Now before we continue in this discussion, let’s get a bit serious, or at least scientific, for a moment. If you have had your finger on the food media pulse lately, you know about the BPA blow up (surprise, it’s bad for you) and NYC’s movement to lower the sodium content in manufactured goods and chain restaurant menus. Basically, in sum, studies are showing that food in cans, while providing a cheap and quick meal solution, aren’t particularly good for us, especially in the long term. And while I do not know how much soup Americans consume annually, I do know that we have become addicted to the over-salted taste and convenience of canned goods. According to Dr. Marion Nestle:

“Companies have free rein to add as much salt to their processed or prepared foods as they like. The makers of processed foods do focus-group testing to see how consumers like the taste of their products. They invariably find that below a certain level of salt–the “bliss” point—their study subjects say they don’t like it. Soups are a good example. A measly half-cup portion of the most popular Campbell’s soups contains 480 mg of sodium or more than a full gram of salt (4 grams to a teaspoon).”

And nutrition standards only allow 480 mg sodium (the equivalent of more than 1 gram of salt) per serving. Let’s be honest, who’s only eating half a cup of soup? So if you are now becoming concerned with all those question marks you are consuming, let me propose an easy solution: let’s make soup at home.

As I have said before, what I think holds people back from cooking is not necessarily money, but a sense of comfort in the kitchen. And for the busy, on-a-budget, nervous cook, soup is a great way to get your feet wet and learn how to make healthy, low sodium meals at home.

Why? Well, two things make soup the ultimately easy homemade meal:

1) You can use pretty much any vegetables you have lying around – frozen peas and corn are hearty and nutritious, leftovers always work well, even leafy greens in a light broth can be comforting – which enables you to avoid grocery store wastefulness and make low sodium meals without spending much money.

2) With the right tools – I think you all know by now that I’m talking about an immersion blender – you can whip up fresh soup in a matter of minutes without making a mess. It can be a one-pot clean up.

Soup also doesn’t need much to be tasty, and if you want to add depth, there are simple no-salt tricks that can enhance flavor:

  • Roast or caramelize your vegetables first – this will bring out the natural smoky and sweet notes of your tomatoes, cauliflower, onions, corn, fennel….well you get the point.
  • Top it off with fresh herbs. Not only does it perk up your taste buds, it can turn a bowl of slop into something that looks refined.
  • Add a dollop of heavy cream or crème fraiche to lighten the taste. The cream may mute the color, but the taste will become richer.
  • Gentle citrus notes, like a squeeze of orange, can add a surprising brightness to soup and work well with root vegetables and squash.
  • A pinch of spice never hurts. Stir in some curry powder (great with pea soup and cauliflower) or sprinkle some red chili pepper flakes before serving. If someone wasn’t paying attention before, they will be now.

I created this particular caramelized fennel corn chowder recipe on the fly after assessing the ingredients I already had in my possession. It took me less than 30 minutes to make and consisted of only 5 products: fennel, roasted garlic, frozen corn, heavy cream, and low sodium bread. So take a spin with some homemade soup this week, the weather is perfect for it. If you need suggestions for good veggie combinations, my friend who currently resides in London Town loves this NY Times roundup.

Soup on.


  • 1 head of garlic, roasted
  • 1 bulb of fennel, diced or sliced, either way it’s getting blended
  • 1 ½ cups of frozen corn
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon of heavy cream (0 mg of sodium)
  • fresh herbs, chives and parsley work well, roughly chopped or torn
  • 2 slices of low sodium bread (10 mg of sodium per slice), cut into 1/2 inch squares and toasted


1. Spoiler alert: this recipe was so quick because I already had roasted the garlic for a dinner party the night before. To roast the garlic, cut off the tops of the entire head of garlic and put into a little boat made of tinfoil. Drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil onto the garlic and throw it into an oven on 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until the garlic is soft. If you are in a rush though, skip the roasted garlic and simply sauté in some olive oil in your soup pot on medium heat.

2. Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in your soup pot over medium heat. When hot, add the fennel (and garlic if you are not roasting it). Stir constantly and allow the fennel to soften and turn to a nice, brown caramel color. Should take 5 minutes.

3. Add the corn and allow it to soften for another 5 minutes.

4. Add the roasted garlic (if you made roasted garlic) and the cup of water. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes to draw out the flavors.

5. Take pot off of the flame and plug in your immersion blender. Blend on low to medium for 2 minutes or until the consistency is nice and creamy. You can always add an extra step of running the soup through a sieve if you want it to be absolutely silky.

6. Put pot back on the burner and turn flame to low to reheat. 5 minutes before serving/eating, add the cream and stir.

7. Ladle steaming soup into a gigantic bowl or cup and top with fresh herbs, croûtons, and pepper flakes if desired.


Filed under brunch, cooking, dinner, lunch, quick fix, recipe box, tips & tricks

The Wish List

It’s holiday time and it’s getting down to the wire for finishing your list and checking it twice. For those of you who are last minute shoppers, much like myself, I thought I would impart some gifting advice and help you navigate the world of food related presents that are easy on the wallet and require very little time to procure.

Thoughtful and useful, these knick knacks and do dads are perfect for those seeking to become more comfortable in their kitchen and more adventurous in their cooking. And if none of these suggestions strike a chord with your inner elf, you can always buy your loved ones a warm pair socks. I know I need some.

Cooking Classes

The best way for people to learn how to cook something is by actively watching and participating in its construction. And if your loved one is a classic type A, and wants the dish to be perfect the first time he or she attempts it, cooking classes will help them feel like an immediate master of the stove. As for the rest of us, cooking classes are also a fun and social way to get outside of your cooking comfort zone. So grab a gift certificate or save a date on the calendar for a class at one of these local culinary schools:

Salud, San Mateo Whole Foods

Tante Marie

Parties That Cook

Baking Arts

City Girl Cooks

First Class Cooking

Scents and Spices

Doesn’t saffron rice and truffle mashed potatoes sound delicious? But who really wants to spend upwards of $5 on oils and spices? This year, give the gift of ultimate flavor by supplying your friends and family with the taste bud tools that will take a no sodium dish from edible to extraordinary.

Penzy’s Spices

iGourmet – Flavored Oils and Aged Balsamics

McEvoy Ranch Olive Oil

Far West Fungi

Herb Tree

Cooking Utensils

One of the most difficult things about a dietary restriction is having to make the majority of your food from scratch. But by adding these few items to your tool belt, you can cut time and energy when creating home-made meals.

Immersion Blender


Rice Cooker

Cookbooks and Recipe Resources

We all need inspiration and when learning how to cook sodium free, the more resources for culinary creativity the better. These food muses will ignite your cooking instincts and will help you better understand where sodium lurks and how to find flavor in its absence.

The No-Salt, Lowest-Sodium Cookbook

The No-Salt, Lowest-Sodium International Cookbook

Pocket Guide to Low Sodium Foods

Healthy Heart Living Magazine

Cooks Illustrated

Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It

Miscellaneous Stocking Stuffers

And for the no sodium chef that has everything, here are two more gift ideas that can round out any fully stocked kitchen.

Farmers Market Tokens from CUESA

CSA Memberships

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Filed under cooking, food shopping, good living, tips & tricks

Cookie Hang

Oh me oh my – it’s the holidays. 96.5 has been blasting Christmas carols since the middle of November, store-front windows are sporting a menagerie of lights and pine needles, and people are gathering regularly for exchanges of gifts, goodies, and sweet treats.

Last night my book club traded in well-read pages for a cookie hang which, for those of you who do not craft on a regular basis or own an absurd amount of tupperware, is an event in where people gather with enough baked goods for everyone to share. There are oohs and ahhs, a lot of munching, and very few leftovers. Even if you are a dude with a lot of dude friends, you should host one of these…maybe under the guise of a beer hang.

With approximately thirty minutes to create my contribution and approximately zero skills when it comes to successfully baking, I decided to whip up a batch of

orange flavored coconut macaroons

dipped in tangerine chocolate

Sounds fancy, tastes good, easy to make. So for your next holiday gathering, if you want to impress your coworkers without breaking a sweat, try this simple recipe and go ahead, be greedy and save a few for yourself.


  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 1 bag (8 ounces) of coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1 orange
  • 1/4 cup of tangerine or orange juice
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips or melting chocolate


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Separate egg whites from egg yolks and use a hand held mixer or an immersion blender to whip the whites until they are…well, white and slightly stiff.

3. Add sugar in slowly (1/3 at a time) and continue to mix.

4. Add in flour and mix with a spoon.

5. Fold in coconut. Grate orange peel with your trusty microplane grater.  Dollop a spoonful of macaroons onto your non-stick, Silpat baking sheet.

6. Put in oven for 15 – 20 minutes.

7. While the cookies are baking, melt chocolate and orange juice in a homemade double broiler or heat safe bowl over a boiling pot of water. Keep the burner on low once chocolate is melted so that it stays smooth and does not burn.

8. When cookies have come out of the oven and cooled a bit, dip one side into the chocolate and set on wax paper or another surface that you don’t mind getting chocolatey (i.e. a plate, a cookie sheet, your face).

And if you just happen to miss your cookie hang, send these off to be devoured by coworkers. They are even more delicious the next day.


Filed under quick fix, recipe box, sweets

The Ultimate Kitchen Utensil

I mean this with all my heart when I say it. Everyone needs one.

The glorious IMMERSION BLENDER (cue solo spotlight and angels singing) is the culinary gods’ gift to cooking. I mean, it is seriously the nicest thing those guys have done since inventing the spatula or maybe Mickey Mouse shaped waffle irons. And I liken the creation of the immersion blender to the brilliance of Velcro shoes. They are both simple, time saving devices that also happen to look pretty awesome. Do you want one yet? Just wait.

In 1950, a Swiss genius named Roger Perrinjaque invented the immersion blender by basically taking the blades of a normal blender and sticking them on a long rod, or wand, that can then be dropped directly into a pot of to-be-blended ingredients like lumpy vegetables or boiled potatoes, eliminating:

(A) the need for transferring liquids from a pot to a blender to the counter and floor while on the way back to pot

and (B) the unnecessary dirtying of multiple kitchen appliances, making clean up a snap

So why am I peddling this gadget? I believe, there are two main reasons why people generally steer clear of home cooking: money and time. But I think, and know, it is possible to make delicious, nutritious, and quick meals in your own kitchen without spending too many dollar bills or wasting too many hours. To do this, you need to become somewhat comfortable in your kitchen. But more importantly, you need the right tools. And that’s where our friend the immersion blender comes in.

When I’m exhausted or in a hurry and I need to make a quick meal, I almost always make soup. Without much effort or culinary skill, I can cook, clean, and sit down to eat a bowl of freshly made, vegetable heavy soup in a Rachel Ray minute (which generally averages around 30). Since I always have frozen peas or corn in my fridge, I can even make soup when I don’t have time to go to the store. It’s a vitamin rich dish, out of virtually nothing, in virtually no time. Add a little ground black pepper or crushed red pepper flakes and boom, you’ve got yourself one large bowl of tasty. And if you have the time to pick up fresh veggies or happen to have some wasting away in your fridge, begging to be used, you can simply simmer those in a pot before blending or take a few minutes to broil in the oven, creating a deeper, smokier flavor. Slightly more time consuming, but slightly snazzier.

As for other uses, I take my immersion blender to town to create pestos (great for pizzas, appetizer toppings, and of course pastas), sauces (spicy, creamy, BBQ, curry), and even whipped cream.

If you are not convinced yet, this appliance is also a space saver. It is at least 1/3 of the size of a normal blender and fits easily on your counter top or in your cupboard. It’s dishwasher safe if you’re lazy (like me) and also super easy to clean if you scrub on your own time (like me). And it earns you money while you sleep. Well that part is not true, but if you think of it in terms of cost in time saved, I’m sure it amounts to some sort of profit.

So seriously, do yourself, your stomach, and your clock a favor and grab one of these gems immediately. And mom, if you’re reading this, I also think I want a pair of these.


Filed under cooking, tips & tricks