Wondering what to do with your basil? Here are 87 recipes that use the tasty herb

Growing your own herbs is something you can do inside or out, adding a variety of nee flavors to your food so you won’t miss all the alt you don’t eat any longer. We have an indoor herb garden in winter and big pots of basil outside in summer. So I was happy to see this piece in Epicurious, 87 Basil Recipes, Because You Can Only Eat So Much Pesto Pasta.

The headline appealed to me because I actually don’t like pesto because of the nuts in it, so I’m always looking for other ways to enjoy my basil.

You can see some of my choices in the photo gallery here — basil-topped, thin-crust, low-sodium pizza; basil topped chicken breast with tomato and low-fat mozzarella; and a simple basil and tomato salad.

Let me know your favorites, and which of the 87 you try out.

As you harvest your garden, here’s how to save your veggies and fruits

This past spring, we doubled the amount of space we devote to growing vegetables at our house. Chalk it up to Covid and looking for joy in small tasks such as raising my own tomatoes and green beans.

We added a second raised garden for tomatoes and green beans this spring. The harvest is starting to come in! The tomatoes are acherry tomato variety.

If you’re a food gardener like me, you’re harvesting about now and wondering how to preserve some of your crops. So this piece, How to Preserve Every Type of Summer Fruit and Veggie from Cooking Light magazine should be a big help.

It mainly talks about vegetables. There is a section on melons and watermelon. I’ve never have been able to get those to grow in our northern climate, but if you live somewhere that has the type pf weather they like, this article is for you too.

Super foods? Maybe think again about these 25

I’ve never been a believer in so-called “super foods,” items that someone or other decides will do amazing things for our bodies. Every body is different which is what makes giving nutrition advice so complex.

So when I see articles like Don’t Spend Your Money on These 25 “Superfoods”, Say Nutritionists in Men’s Health UK, I’m not surprised.

Salt is salt, no matter where it comes from, I avoid it to help control my blood pressure.

The story says such offerings as banana bread, a pandemic favorite, cauliflower, raw spinach, Himalayan salt and turkey bacon aren’t all that some have said they are.

It’s a good reminder, no one food is going to turn your life around. Find what works for you and stick with that.

Salt-free Product Review: Mrs. Dash Sloppy Joe’s Mix

I’ve long been a fan of Mrs. Dash’s salt-free marinades and salt-free taco seasoning. I recently also tried Mrs. Dash’s salt-free Sloppy Joe mix and found it a great substitute for the salt-ladened Manwich Sloppy Joe in a can I used to buy when my children were young.

The Mrs. Dash product did taste different, I think primarily because of the lack of salt. Manwich Sloppy Joe has 310 mgs of sodium a serving and claims one can is 10 servings!. If you’ve ever made it, you know that’s really not the case. I’d say a can is about three real-people servings, so each person would get about 1,000 mgs of sodium, half a day’s worth.

Our ground turkey Sloppy Joe’s.

The Mrs Dash mix includes:

Sugar, Dried Onion, Brown Sugar, Spices (Black Pepper, Celery Seed, Chili Pepper, Cinnamon, Cumin, Nutmeg), Cornstarch, Maltodextrin, Potassium Chloride, Yeast Extract, Tomato Powder, Dried Red and Green Bell Pepper, Dried Garlic, Citric Acid, Glucose, Natural Flavors, Vinegar.

We tried the Mrs. Dash seasoning with ground turkey instead of ground beef to hold the fat down as well. The combination worked well. I might modify the recipe on the package a bit and add more tomato paste than called for to give it a bit more tomato zwing.

One note, my local food stores don’t carry this product, so I bought it online at the Healthy Heart Market.

Food recall: cut fruit taken off Walmart shelves in 9 states

Attention Walmart shoppers, if you live in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma or Texas, you’ll be seeing less cut fruit in the aisles of your local store.

A Walmart supplier is recalling cut fruit in those states because of the possibility of listeria contamination, the Food and Drug Administration announced recently.

An example of the recalled fruit offerings.

“The recall is a precautionary measure due to a possible health risk from Listeria monocytogenes detected on equipment used in an area near where these products are packed. FDA discovered these findings during a recent inspection,” the FDA announcement of the recall stated. The distributor involved is called Country Fresh.

The FDA noted that “the products were packaged in various size clam shell containers (see photos). The “best if used by” dates are between October 3, 2020 and October 11, 2020 and the products are as follows:”

UPCItem DescriptionBest if used by:
68113118012APPLE GRAPE TRAY w/ CARMEL 2 lbs 10oz10/7/202010/8/2020
68113118006GREEN APPLE SLICES 32oz10/8/202010/9/202010/10/2020
68113118007MIXED APPLE SLICES 32oz10/8/202010/9/202010/10/2020
68113118004RED APPLE SLICES 14oz10/10/202010/11/2020
68113118010RED APPLE SLICES 32oz10/8/202010/9/2020
68113118014CANTALOUPE CHUNKS 10oz10/3/202010/4/202010/5/2020
68113118015CANTALOUPE CHUNKS 16oz10/3/202010/4/202010/5/2020
68113118023SEASONAL FRUIT TRAY 40oz10/3/202010/4/2020
68113135509SUMMER BLEND 5oz10/3/202010/4/2020
68113135510TROPICAL BLEND 5oz10/3/202010/4/2020
68113118037MANGO CHUNK 10oz10/3/202010/4/2020
68113118038MANGO SPEARS 16oz10/4/2020
68113118039PINEAPPLE GRAPE MANGO BLEND 16oz10/3/202010/4/202010/5/2020
68113118042PINEAPPLE CHUNKS 10oz10/3/2020
68113118046PINEAPPLE CHUNKS 16oz10/4/2020
68113118043PINEAPPLE CHUNKS 42oz10/10/202010/11/2020
68113118044PINEAPPLE SPEARS 32oz10/5/2020
68113118047RED GRAPES 10oz10/4/2020
68113118048SEASONAL BLEND 10oz10/3/202010/4/2020
68113118049SEASONAL BLEND 16oz10/3/202010/4/202010/5/2020
68113118050SEASONAL BLEND 32oz10/5/2020
68113118069SEASONAL TRIO 32oz10/3/202010/4/202010/5/2020

A Pandemic Food Find: salt-free Farmer Boy Lite Greek Dressing

Oil and vinegar was the salad dressing we used when I was growing up in my Italian-American household and it has been my go=-to choice since my first angioplasty in 2012. That’s because almost all commercial salad dressings are loaded with fat, salt and sugar, liklely why we enjoy them.

I’ve written about carrying my own oil and vinegar in handy small bottles when eating out to avoid restaurant dressing choices.

But all that said, I’m always on the lookout for alternatives. And I found one recently on the Healthy Heart Market, a product called Farmer Boy Lite Greek dressing. It has zero salt, a relatively low three grams of sugar and 2.5 grams of fat per serving with no saturated fat. (You can see the nutrition panel below by sliding the center line, a new feature on my blog.)

I bought a bottle to sample it and have been enjoying it since. Irt is a bit peppery for my taste but that’s often the case with products that take out salt and sugar or fat. Pepper is added instead to give it some flavor.

Also keep in mind, a serving is two tablespoons. I have not measured how much I use on my typical lunch salad (which can be pretty large), but I’m guessing it’s more than that.

Also keep in mind, it costs $5.99, plus shipping, for a 16-ounce bottle. If you can find it at a local store, you can save the shipping cost. The manufacturer sells it for slightly less, but you have to buy six bottles at a time. The company site notes a forerunner of the dressing has been available in the Clearwater, Fl. are for more than 30 years. The Lite version is relatively new, it says.

The processor’s site doesn’t have a list of retailers carrying the brand, I’ll contact them to see if I can get more information.

Some spice blending tips to spice up your pandemic cooking

Having a local source of great spices, I’m not talking about the pre-packaged kind in the supermarket, but fresher and specially blended spices, is a great aid in coming up with fun dinner options, even during this pandemic.

In the Chicago area, we have The Spice House, which has a variety of blends, including an entire section of salt-free mixtures for people like me trying to cut salt from our diets.

Salt-free spices are a must-have for any kitchen.
Salt-free spices are a must-have for any kitchen.

If you don’t have such a place, you can get creative and make your own blends. Here are a few from The Spice House to get you started. How much of each you blend is the art of it, experiment and see what works for you and the people at your table. Continue reading “Some spice blending tips to spice up your pandemic cooking”

A Pandemic binge-eating tip — try pre-portioning your snacks

The longer we’re home, the more we seem to eat in these Covid days. Indeed, the Covid 19 has come to refer to the weight people are gaining from being at home. So here’s a tip to try to limit the snacking damage you’re doing to yourself.

How many chips can you eat? Likely the whole bag if you keep it handy.

This site is a little too happy-talk for my taste, but it makes a valid point about pre-portioning your snacks (it talks a lot about healthy snacks, not the potato chips, ice cream, etc people are actually eating). Still, you might find some of the points it makes helpful.

If you search online, you can find some helpful gadgets to help you see what portion sizes are.

I wrote about one such system back in 2013. The point is, don’t eat out of an open bag of chips or container of ice cream. Take a snack-size portion and eat that.

I know it’s easier said than done but give it a try.

Pandemic peach recall — check peaches you bought

Food recalls have popped up everywhere this summer, more nuggets of grief in this pandemic world we live in. The latest recall is for peaches, sold in a variety of retailers across the country.

“Do not eat, serve, or sell recalled loose or bagged peaches packed or supplied by Prima Wawona or Wawona Packing Company LLC, or food made with these peaches” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported August 27.

Image by _Alicja_ from Pixabay

The peaches were sold at retailers such as Target, Walmart, Wegman’s, a variety of Kroeger stores, Food Lion and Hannaford stores. Continue reading “Pandemic peach recall — check peaches you bought”

More good news for olive oil — cook away with it!

Olive oil is on the ‘good food’ list these days and thanks for that. I love it on salads of all kinds, fish and veggies I grill on my barbecue. But even with all the praise it’s gotten nutritionally, there’s been a long-held caution about cooking with it.

“Many healthy chefs exclusively use it as a finishing oil because of the oil’s low “smoke point.” The concern was that if olive oil gets too hot, it starts to burn and smoke—which can mess with the flavor of the finished dish as well as degrade some of the oil’s health benefits,” recounts Wellandgood.com in a recent article.

A sampling of the amazing olive oil we brought back from Italy.

 

I never believed that, by the way. Now thankfully, it’s being called a false bit of information.

A recent study, “debunks a lot of people’s concerns about olive oil’s smoke points. For one thing, researchers found that both regular olive oil and extra-virgin olive oil can withstand temperatures over 475℉, whether on the stove or in the oven. (When sautéing, the temperature is typically 248℉.),” the article notes.

So cook away with olive oil at your side!

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