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Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Right Way to Use Salt with Daily Cooking

Imagine food without salt.

Salt gives our food its delicious taste. Salt reveals the truest flavor of the different ingredients producing a good blend of taste in the food. When salt is added in the various stages of the cooking process, it intensifies the natural flavors and aromas in foods making it quicker to combine with other ingredients. But be careful, while a pinch of salt is enough to enhance flavors, double it and you're making a big mistake.

Salt can either make or break a dish. But if you know the right way of using salt in your food, you can make it work magic from how your dishes look to the way they smell and taste. Here's how:

  • To get the highest flavor in your meat, poultry and fish, add salt to food before cooking. Salt will force juices out of the meat and prevent it from browning, but when grilling where you like your food juicier, apply salt to meat earlier so it will not pull juices out of the food. Freshen up fish and seafood by soaking them in salted cold water for 10 to 15 minutes before preparing as desired, this will allow salt to penetrate to the food prior to cooking.
  • Salt is your powerful ingredient in making sauces and marinades. The flavor of acidic substances like vinegars and citrus juices when blended with salt provides food a more concentrated flavor. Always add the salt to dry ingredients during the sauteing process before adding your liquids. This works the same for foods that require sauteing like soups or chowder. Once your dish is done, taste and adjust the salt if necessary.
  • There are different ways to use salt when cooking vegetables. To boil and blanch, salt the water first before cooking. To poach vegetables, add salt to the water and simmer for a few minutes. Salt helps preserve the green color in cooked vegetables. Salt steamed veggies right after cooking. Roasted and grilled vegetables should only be salted prior to cooking while the raw veggies and fruits should be salted just before serving.
  • Some say we should not put salt on salad. This may hold true but it is plainly normal to put salt on salads, just don't use too much. To enjoy freshness, start with a great-tasting vinaigrette. Dissolve salt well to the vinegar before adding the oil then sprinkle a pinch of salt to your greens prior to dressing.
  • In cooking pasta, add a liberal amount of salt to the cooking water. This will bring out the natural taste of the pasta and boost the flavor of the finished dish. Let the water come to boil before adding salt. Salting the water prior to boiling will take it longer to boil.
  • Salt on desserts? Yes. Salt makes the same thing to sweet foods that it does to savory foods. It has the power to bring out bright flavors from within. Since desserts are sweet, a small pinch of salt is only needed to add vitality. Sprinkling a pinch of salt to few slices of watermelon can sweeten the taste of the watermelon.
Taste in your food depends on the way you salt it, or even spice it. If you put salt on anything, a small amount is all you need to reveal the desired flavor of the food, it's the rule of thumb. Don't forget that it's the way you work with salt during cooking that makes the difference.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Healthy Pasta

You love pasta, but you wanted to lose weight, so you sort to a low-carb fad diet and avoid your favorite food because pasta is carbohydrates. 

Can pasta really make you fat?  The answer is No.

Like all major food groups, eating too many of them will put on weight. If you eat ten bowls of pasta a day then you surely lead to weight gain, but carbohydrates don't make you fat any more than protein does. 

For so many decades, pasta has been a vital part of healthy and well-balanced diets of most people all over the world. Pasta is a good source of complex carbohydrates that sustains energy better than quick energy released from sugars. It is low is glycemic index that does not cause sugar in the blood to rise quickly. Enriched varieties of pasta are good sources of the essential nutrients iron, B-vitamins and folic acid. Pasta is very low in sodium, it is cholesterol-free, and it even helps you lose weight, imagine that! 

The Traditional Pasta Serving
You don't eat just the pasta alone, of course. The usual way pasta is paired with fish, lean meats, poultry, olive oil, tomato sauce, cheese and the abundance of fruits and vegetables, makes it complete with all the essential vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients from both whole and enriched grains to fiber-rich foods.  According to nutrition experts, a well-balanced diet comprises 45-65% calories from carbohydrates, 15-20% from protein and 30-35% from fats. Let your preschoolers and teenagers enjoy a sumptous lunchbox of pasta.

Now you can think that eating pasta is eating healthier. It is up to you to decide what you like to eat and put it all together, perhaps a plate of pasta and fresh vegetables for dinner? or a traditional risotto added with few fresh herbs to surprise your family! For as long as you eat your rich-carb foods in balance, you are on your way to a healthier you.

The Origin of Pasta
The origin of pasta dates back to ancient Italy as a simple noodle food. This dried noodle-like food made from rice flour became popular for its nutrition and shelf life that it began to be produced in large quantities quickly making pasta the people’s food served in banquets all over Italy , the whole of Europe and eventually the whole world and has evolved hundreds of pasta makers by the 1700's.

Storing Pasta
Keep dried and uncooked pasta in an airtight container and store in a dry place, use within a year. Keep cooked pastas in airtight containers and refrigerate for 3 to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 8 months.