July 6

Humana Cooking Demo: July 6, 2023

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Today's recipes: Blueberry Turkey Burgers, Garden Vegetable Potato Salad, Simple Fruit Vinaigrette

Today our topic was reducing sodium intake.  

Of course to reduce your sodium intake you need to use less salt, but it is much more complicated than just taking the shaker off the table or not salting your food when cooking.  In fact, the majority of our sodium intake comes from food eaten OUTSIDE our homes and in PRE-MADE and PROCESSED items we buy and use!  So, the BEST WAY to reduce sodium is to eat MORE real, whole foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and high-quality proteins.

Why so some people like salty flavors more than others?  It comes down to our taste preferences and where our tastebuds fall on the spectrum of flavors.  In its simplest form flavor is a triangle with salt, sugar, and bitter/sour on each corner.  "Balance" comes when we are in the center of the triangle.  If we are too far to the salt corner we can add something sweet and/or bitter/sour to move closer to the center.  This is why many low-salt foods have added sugar or why citrus, vinegar, or even black pepper are suggested as "substitutes" for salt.  

Going farther, spices and fat can also help to "balance" flavors, so using more spices in a dish or adding some high-quality fat like olive oil can decrease our dependence on salt.  This Flavor Star diagram shows the relationships between the flavor profiles and how to use them to enhance and balance the overall flavor of a dish. 

Another way we can build flavor and reduce our reliance on salt is to use cooking different cooking methods.  High, dry heat cooking like roasting creates a natural caramelization that boosts flavor.  Saluting, pan-frying, or grilling will create more flavor than baking.  Pureeing or cutting foods into smaller pieces can also create more of a "flavor balance".

Although how much salt you consume is important, it should also be noted that some high sodium issues are caused by too little potassium which is the natural counterpart to sodium.  So, consuming more high potassium foods can also help with blood pressure control.  Foods high in potassium include: bananas, kiwi, potatoes (white and sweet), watermelon, spinach, beets, legumes, avocados, mushrooms, and tomato sauce/paste.

The three recipes demonstrated and sampled today illustrate many of these concepts.  Plus, they are perfect for the summer months!  

  • Blueberry Turkey Burgers - Ground turkey is pretty bland, so it is important to add in some flavorful ingredients.  In this seasonal recipe, fresh or frozen blueberries are added to the meat to provide moisture, pectin for binding, a touch of sweetness, and tons of antioxidants!  Add in some dried Italian seasoning and garlic and you have a winner!  Cooking the burgers in a pan on the stove (or on the grill) will make them even more yummy!  
  • Garden Vegetable Potato Salad - Deli potato salad is usually loaded with salt and other preservatives.  This version uses a vinaigrette dressing to add flavor and adds in a RAINBOW of vegetables!  Instead of boiling the potatoes, which greatly reduces their potassium content, they are roasted which brings out natural flavor and keeps them firmer.  Using plenty of fresh herbs creates a refreshing balance and taste!  (Dried herbs can be used if you do not have fresh.)
  • Simple Fruit Vinaigrette  - Premade Salad Dressing are one of the worst items to use!  Luckily, making your own is simple and easy!  If you are a fan of raspberry vinaigrette this recipe is for you!  Just blend fresh fruit (works great with raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, peaches, and even mango!), onion, olive oil, vinegar, honey, and Dijon in a food processor or blender and you have a great salad dressing, marinade, or dipping sauce!  (Two other popular salad dressing are ranch and Italian.  We did an Avocado Ranch in the March 2, 2023 session, and I have included a recipe and video for Zesty Italian Dressing below.)

If you have any questions, let me know, and be sure to share if you make these recipes at home!  

About the author 

Mrs. Dornberg

Cheryl Dornberg, NBC-HWC, is a national board-certified health & wellness coach and culinary nutrition expert who is passionate about using the power of food to achieve optimal health and increase longevity. She specializes in motivating and empowering individuals to create sustainable & consistent dietary and lifestyle habits that support the management and prevention of chronic health conditions, increase longevity, and improve overall quality of life.

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