Creating Flavor: Making Your Own Seasoning Salt

Eating healthy is a goal for many, but that is hard to keep up if the food does not taste good, right? Flavor is important! It is especially needed to keep to the healthy eating habits you are creating. Seasoning your food well is a great way to add flavor without diminishing the healthy elements.

I wrote about the simple and quick way of creating flavor with compounding butters and oils here as one flavoring technique. But, another quick way to add distinction without a lot of effort is to use seasoning salt.  But, those premixed seasoning salts? Most of them on the market shelves have some detrimental ingredients.

Why Toss The Premixed Seasoning Salt 

Here is why you should consider deleting premixed seasoning salt from your grocery list:

Some ingredients in them are not needed and harmful.  Preservatives, anti-caking agents and MSG in many pre-made seasoned salts are not chemicals our body needs and could be harmful. The levels of sodium and sugar in them can be  quite high as well.

They are made with undesirable refined salts.  Regular white table salt has been bleached, and who wants bleach in your seasoning salt?  I wrote about swapping out regular table salt to unrefined pink salt here and why you would want to consider that simple switch. Unrefined salts usually have less sodium as well.

The taste can fall flat. If on the store shelf for a long time, premixed salts can lose potency and flavor. Unless they are dated, you do not how long ago it was created. If the flavor is bland, you may end up using more than you should as well adding sodium levels to your food.

How and Why To Use Your Own Quick Seasoning Salt

You can whip up one of your own seasoning salts in seconds and alter it just how you like it. Here are a few ways to use it:
  • Use as dry rub before grilling for a nice crust
  • Add to olive oil as a quick dip or marinade
  • Add to soups, stews, and chiles that have not been heavily salted already
  • Sprinkle on roasted or grilled vegetables and in mashed or baked potatoes

And, making your own reaps these benefits too:

Herbs and spices are jam-packed gems of phytonutrients.  Win. Win. Flavor and lots of vitamins. Read more about just how much here and here.

Making your own mix is cheaper than buying premade. You make as much as you need and eliminate waste as well.

You control heat level and flavor profile. Want more kick, amp up the pepper then.

Making your own is better for you. Choosing unrefined salt and organic herbs and spices offers health benefits like exposure to minerals and phytonutrients without pesticides.

One Salt, Three Ways

Here are a three ideas on how to take that salt and create more flavor!

Starting with 2 tablespoon of unrefined pink salt, add in the rest of the following ingredients (adding more of what you like and less of what you don't). Mix well to create the flavor profile of choice. Each mixture makes enough to season a dish or two you are making.

1.  Looking to add a little smokey Mexican bite to those beans or tacos? Then add this to the salt:
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried chipotle chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime zest (optional: dry in low oven for five minutes)

2.  Would you like to give your vegetables a mild curry distinction? Try tossing in these with the salt:
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • pinch of ground red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

3.  Want something a bit spicy and complex for that grilled wild-caught salmon or organic chicken thighs? Can't get simpler than rubbing on this mixed in the salt first:
  • 1 tablespoon ground coffee
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika

How to Season Best With Salt

How you apply your seasoning can make a big difference in flavor. Here are simple steps to season with salt or seasoned salt to extract the most flavor:

1.  First, ditch the salt shaker. Create your seasoned salt in a small bowl or other small vessel and keep your unseasoned salt that way as well. Salt shakers don't work well in distributing the salt evenly.

2.  Taking from the bowl of salt, pinch the salt or seasoned salt between your fingers.

3.  Raise your hand with the salt in it high over the food you are to season. The higher the better!

4.  Sprinkle back and forth over the food and keep moving.  The higher you are with sprinkling, the more evenly it is distributed. Go back and get more pinches as needed. But, go lightly the first time as you can add more seasoning later as well.

5.  Try not to miss a spot!

Do you have a favorite recipe for seasoning salt? Please add a link in the comments!

mortar photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/harryharris/1955412721/">harry harris</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>


How To Make Your Coffee Habit a Healthier One

Java. Joe. Jitter Juice. Morning Jolt. Whatever you like to call it. Coffee is a liquid infusion that many enjoy worldwide.  I know, I enjoy a morning cup, and it is something I look forward to when I awake. And, on that really rare occasion when I order an ice cream cone? You got it.  Coffee ice cream it is!

Many health practitioners suggest eliminating coffee and other caffeinated beverages from our diet and it may be a smart move for many of us, but more studies are emerging that show that cup of joe just might carry some real merit.

How Coffee Might Be Good For Your Health

Although for some, it is not a good choice, recent studies have been published that show those that drink the most coffee may enjoy these benefits:

Java may lower your risk for several diseases.  With over 1.000 various phytochemicals, coffee provides an enormous range of disease deterrents.  For example, coffee can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes because studies are showing that coffee interferes with glucose synthesis and release in the body.  It is also being studied for its use as a cancer risk reducer.  Other diseases it may fend off include liver disease, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and cardiovascular disease.

It helps dissolve stones.  Coffee could slightly reduce the risk of gallstones and lower your risk of kidney stones.


How a Band Aid Might Change Your Life

Sounding a bit melodramatic, am I? To say that a band aid changed my life?  Well, it did. It actually did!

Here's my story:  Almost a year ago, I suffered a large injury to the bottom of my foot. I was in New York City at the time and had to hail a cab to rush to the nearest urgent care. I will not elaborate on the injury details, but suffice to say, it was not pretty, the cab driver was horrified and it was quite painful.  It certainly put a damper on the rest of my time in the city with my family as well as the days that followed at home.

I received great care from the doctor in New York City, but when I got back home a few days later, my wound, and it was a large one, was healing slowly. It required a good amount of daily home care and the pain was getting worse.  I decided to see my own general practitioner to check on my progress. There, I was introduced to hydrocolloid dressings. This bandage, this dressing, this way of covering a wound, it changed my life, at least for the next few weeks anyway. Here is why:

Better Band Aids, Better Healing with No Scarring

Stocking up your first aid kit at the drugstore offers boxes upon boxes of band aid choices. Bandages are not so simple anymore. And, that is a good thing apparently as research proves there are better ways to cover that boo-boo and make it better, heal faster, and create a lot less scarring and other complications.

Some bandages help create a better environment for your wound healing. Here are some reasons to consider using hydrocolloid dressings to heal your next wound:

Your wound will heal much faster and better.  Hydrocolloid dressings create an environment that allows skin to form new skin cells where they do it best - in a moist climate. The principle of moist wound therapy is to create and maintain optimal conditions for your skin to heal faster and better with less chance of infection.  If you keep your wound covered with a hydrocolloid dressing, your skin cells will divide and migrate at an increased rate accelerating wound healing.

I watched it happen with my foot and it was fascinating.  Once I switched to that new dressing, it got so much better, so much faster.  I was up and around much quicker than the original doctor had predicted.


Travel Tips: Getting the Most Out of Your Adventure

Is exploring our planet and meeting its many inhabitants (human and otherwise) as important to you as it is to me?  Tasting and experiencing new foods, landscapes, languages and customs -- do you consider it all part of living a healthy lifestyle? I think so. Travel can be mentally expanding, stimulating and inspiring and provide a varied outlook to life. I wrote a bit about it here.

I also covered some practicalities of packing a great carry-on and avoiding jet lag but if traveling is important to you as it is for me and my family, I have compiled a few other tips that my family and I adopt when we embark on our travel adventures.

More Travel Tips

Consider some of these tips to make your travels run smoother and get the most our of your journey. Although most of these tips pertain to international travel, many of them can be applied to domestic travel as well.

Pack your healthy habits. Routines can be a bore, I know! Fully experience your destination, and that may include indulging sometimes. After all, isn't that part of the reason you are traveling -- to expose yourself to new ways?  But, if you veer too far to the left or right of your healthy eating or exercise regimens you can feel bloated, nauseated or worse and ruin your trip. Then, when you come back, it is a longer road ahead to get back on track or even button your pants. There may be several health habits you do at home that help you feel your best that you can easily incorporate into your travels. So, think about that and just keep your indulging in check is all.


Making Space For Greek Fava

Is there such a malady as non-buyer's remorse? Because if so, I think I have it. I have all the symptoms.

Our suitcases were at full capacity with numerous cans of organic olive oil from a recent trip to Crete and many tins of local raw honey from there, too.  We had several incredible wines from Santorini nestled so carefully in our suitcases as well.  So, I ask myself: would a bag of beans really have made such a difference in getting that suitcase closed before heading back home?

The answer is not really. So, here I am, chastising myself over not picking up a bag or two of the delicious Greek fava grown in the rich volcanic soil of Santorini. I could be whipping up a batch right now, at home, this very moment. It was a poor decision not to include those yellow nuggets of yumminess and fiber on my packing list and I will just have to live with the it -- symptoms and all.

Why Would You Want To Buy A Bag of Greek Fava Beans?

As confusing as this sounds, Greek fava has nothing to do with the fava bean. Rather, Greek fava is a split pea made into a smooth and delicate and creamy spread served with various toppings like onion, lemon juice, capers and olive oil. Greek fava has a similar look and texture to hummus and is served typically at taverns with bread as an appetizer.


Until Then . . .

Blowing Kisses!

There is a big family event in the works right now so I won't be around sharing health bits much over the next few weeks.  But just because I am not here, please put your feet up, make yourself comfortable and stay a while. Look over the categories and see what piques your interest, leave me a comment and get the conversation going!

I will see you soon, but for now, I bid you a heartfelt farewell and a few kisses your way. But, just in case you were wondering just exactly how to blow a kiss  and doing it just right, I have it all here for you.  So, until then, practice your technique, get it right and let me know how that goes.

Wishing you wellness in mind, body and spirit!

lori @ The Health-Minded

photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/thelotuscarroll/5580803407/">Lotus Carroll</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>


Refresh With Rooibos: Minty Sangria

I remember the big pitcher of iced tea with lemons and fresh mint my mom would make each morning during the summer.  Perhaps that is why I love it so and it is my beverage of choice summer, winter and every season in between. I wrote about tea here and the varieties of them as well as why you may want to quench your thirst with it often, but I have been into a different tea lately and serving it a bit differently as well.

I have been reaching for Rooibos tea, or red bush tea and tossing in a variety of fruits as well.  Rooibos is an herbal tea grown from a small shrub that grows near Cape Town, South Africa, and not grown from the Camellia sinensis plant where we obtain our other tea varieties. Both "teas" have endless health benefits but here is why you should consider giving Rooibos a rotation in your beverage making and doing so often.

Five Health Benefits Of Rooibos Tea

Rooibos tastes great and supports many of our bodily systems. Read how here:

It acts like your personal body guard.  Rooibos contains many antioxidants and we all know how good they are. But the wide variety of them in Rooibos tea helps to protect the body in a number of ways. Two polyphenol antioxidants called aspalathin and nothofagin are found in high concentrations in Rooibos tea, which aid in free radical protection. The polyphenols also have anti-inflammatory properties and can safeguard against heart disease and defend cells and DNA against damage and inhibit them from developing into cancer. The antioxidant chysoeriol can improve circulation as well.


Bread Basket Toppings

Those bread baskets are dangerous. Yes, they should carry proceed with caution signs. And, I think you know why. The waiter places it on the table before you and it takes a delicate and disciplined approach to not cave in and consume the entire basket in minutes (and especially if they contain those sumptuous and creamy buttery spreads.)  Those baskets can be a formidable challenge for those watching the waistline and consuming too much can kill the appetite. Being gluten-free lately has certainly helped me push that basket away, but those gluten-free options are enticing, too.

So, if you are going to dig in that bread basket seeking your favorite carb and throw a devil may care nod to the wind, try a spread or topping like one of these for some nutrient-packed options.  Who knows, you may enjoy the toppings so much, you won't eat so much bread and ruin your appetite!

Healthy Spreads

Here are three healthy toppings or spreads you can create quickly at home for your bread basket.  They make great pot luck additions too.


Summer Reading: Outdoors Required

Summer and reading. They just go together for me. I always have a list of books I want to read, but it seems that during the summer, I have an easier time finding opportunities to do it. But, I will not be reading my books in bed and they will not be on my nightstand either. Nope. These books will be peeking out of my beach bag or safely packed in my carry-on travel bag, thrown in my picnic basket or swinging in my backyard hammock. This is my SUMMER reading list after all, and I plan to be outside in the fresh air as much as I can when I read these this summer.

All of these books happen to be written by someone in the medical field - two by doctors and one by a pharmacist.  It is exciting to me that many doctors are taking a more holistic and open-minded approach to practicing medicine.  They are opening their eyes to the role our diets play in how we feel and how our symptoms present.  They take into consideration our stress levels, our lifestyles and are more interested now in getting to the root of our issues and encouraging us, the patients, to take a more active role (and therefore responsibility) in how we feel.

3 Books on My Summer Reading List

Here are three non-fiction books I will be reading this summer on the topic of health and why I chose them. You can purchase all of them off Amazon or at your neighborhood bookstore or check them out at your local library.