bite my words

Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Kale salad

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A weekend post! It’s been a while, I know. Sorry… Running low on cooking tips and foods to write about. However, I need to share with you my current obsession: kale salads. They are so good!

It took me a while to work-up the nerve to try making one, actually. After all, kale is kind of tough and potent when it’s raw. I’m very comfortable tossing it into soups and casseroles but I was reluctant to try a salad. I’m so glad I got over that! Kale salads make great cheap, nutritious lunches. The especially great thing about them is that, unlike other salads, you can make a big batch (dressing and all) and it keeps fantastically in the fridge for a few days. The trick is to massage the kale. That tender love makes all the difference. Just wash and chop your kale, sprinkle with a tiny bit of salt and then massage the leaves until they’re bright green and fragrant. Then add your other ingredients, dressing, and toss.

I love tahini-based dressings like this one from Cookie and Kate. I like to add toasted sesame seeds and chopped tart apple, shaved parmesan, maybe a little creamy avocado. It’s really up to you. The addition of nuts or seeds makes it a more balanced meal, providing some much needed protein.


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Fighting fire with oil

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As I’m sure you know, hot peppers like jalapeños can vary considerably in strength. There are times when I find they’re not spicy at all and other times when I feel them burning my eyeballs while I’m cooking them. You may also notice that sometimes you can be left with burning fingers for hours after chopping hot peppers.

You could wear gloves to protect your fingers from the fire when chopping hot peppers but who keeps gloves in their home kitchen? Not me.

I recently learned this great trick to protect your digits: either coat your hands with oil before handling the cut peppers or, if you’re concerned about your dexterity with greasy hands, rub them with oil and then wash them with warm water and soap after handling them.

“Why does this work?” my fellow cooking nerds might wonder. The oil in the capsaicin will dissolve in oil but not in water.


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Home-made baking powder

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I recently met someone who was looking for a natural baking powder. We discussed the ease of making one’s own. This prompted me to look-up this recipe (from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking).

“Why would one want to make their own baking powder?” you might ask. Well, commercially available baking powders often contain aluminum which many people attempt to avoid any more exposure to than necessary.

Recipe:

1 part baking soda

2 parts cream of tartar

2 parts arrowroot powder

Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container at room temperature. This mixture should last for about a month. To be sure that it’s still fresh, drop a teaspoon of it into a cup of hot water. If it bubbles vigourously, it’s still active.


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Blue garlic

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Ever had garlic turn blue on you when you’re cooking? Ever wonder why that happened and if it’s still safe to eat? Well, science writer Harold McGee has the answer for you in his column The Curious Cook

For those of you who can’t be bothered to click the link, or read the entire article, I’ll give you the abbreviated version… Apparently there’s a reaction when the sulfur complexes in the garlic react with other substances in the cooking; acids, and copper. I’ve also read that iodine in table salt can cause a similar reaction. It’s still perfectly safe to eat but it does look a little unappealing. 

So, how to avoid this reaction? Apparently, cooking over a high heat can help. Also, avoiding old copper-bottomed pans might be helpful as well as using a non-iodized sea salt when cooking with garlic. 


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The magic of kitchen shears

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A great way to cut down (yep, pun intended, I’m the worst!) on time spent in the kitchen is by investing in a good pair of kitchen shears. Use them to:

  • chop herbs; especially chives, green onions, and basil
  • cut a whole chicken into pieces (it’s a lot cheaper to buy a whole bird than it is to buy the pieces)
  • cut-up dried fruit for granola
  • cutting pita bread into triangles
  • not so much a cooking tip, but they’re also great for cutting the ends of a bouquet of flowers

 

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