Another food thread, why not?

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
"Never Trust A Skinny Chef"
---motto of 300lb Japanese Chef in Dallas/Fort Worth

I'm not 300lbs, and I'm not Japanese, but I like food- as many around here know. So I often post about recipes and cooking here. I hadn't done so in a while, and its 2AM where I am, so why the heck not?

As the most ridiculously sensitive salt-dependant hypertensive in my primary care MD's 40+ year practice, I often use my cooking skills to come up with tasty ways to make my recipes lower in sodium.

I'm starting off this thread talking about sandwiches & what goes on 'em.

I've been accustomed to high-quality deli meats for some time now, but now I look for the lower sodium stuff. Boars Head has some high quality reduced sodium cold cuts, and delis that stock their meats usually have a nutrition guide. One of the best I've found is one of their Roast Beef meats- I can't recall the name of it, but it looks like its medium rare in the package, and is about 33% lower in sodium than most other lunch meats.

Natural and Lacey Swiss- not Baby- are among the lowest sodium cheeses out there, typically 15mg per serving. That's 10% of what a comparable serving of Cheddar, and 4% of a serving of American cheese.

Pickles? I love 'em! But again, they're a salt-bomb that I can't usually afford to eat. My solution: sprinkle dill (and other seasonings, like garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper and the like) on the sandwich and you'll get that familiar flavor. And if you pre-mix your spices to your taste and put it in a salad-dressing jar full of a nice olive oil, you have a customized "sub dressing".

Sprouts can be healthy, but I don't care for the flavor of most of them. The exceptions: onion sprouts. You get a very oniony flavor without the burn or the breath. Add radish sprouts if you want a bit more tingle.

I've tried healthier alternatives to regular mayonnaise, and found most of them to have odd aftertastes. However, if you take a low-fat plain or Greek yoghurt and mix it with mayo, most people will not notice a flavor or texture change (its slightly thicker). It smells like mayo, it tastes like mayo...and is lower in fat and salt.

Another nice spread is Greek Garlic spread. Simply blend cloves of raw garlic with vegetable- NOT olive- oil (slllllllloooooooooowly!) in your food processor with a bit of lemon juice and a pinch of salt (if you must). Puree. It looks like mayo, it smells like pure garlic, and it tastes like heaven. I've used it as a mayo substitute, happily.

I was born in New Orleans, and unless you live in France or live near a real French bakery, you can't get the same kind of crusty on the outside, soft on the inside bread that is key to the classic New Orleans Po' Boy and is ideal for any kind of "sub" or "hoagie"...or for slicing for garlic bread. Unless, that is, you can find a Vietnamese bakery. Thanks to a bit of history, Vietnam cooks learned a bit about French cooking, and their pastry chefs got the best of the deal. Just the other day, I found a new Vietnamese bakery that was selling 1ft long loaves of this bread at $1 for 4 loaves. That's with tax.

OK, y'all! The ball (-shaped chef) is rolling- post your own tips, healthy or not. Just make them tasty!
 

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Mark CMG

Creative Mountain Games
I'm sort of a burger and fries, or steak and potato (when I'm splurging) kinda guy. Once a week I roast up a chicken. Most mornings a hard boiled egg or two accounts for my breakfast. I've had Englishman tell me I have bland tastes. There's probably about thirty things in my diet and one of them is salt, which sort of lets you know my range. God love those of you with the ability to enjoy greater variety but I'm decidedly medieval in my scope of foods I regularly ingest. However, I am forever fascinted by such things, perhaps because of my own lack of flexibility. I'm keen to know more so please do keep the posts coming! :)
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
My wife and I do some historical reconstruction - one of her projects is translating and redacting recipes from the cookbook of Bartolomeo Scappi, chef to a couple of Popes, from back in 1570. There is nothing at all limited in scope of foods found in that book. Organ meats - ugh. :-S

We've had a project running for the past year and more - use at least one recipe from each cookbook we own. We own a lot of cookbooks, having inherited collections from both of our parents.

This has led us to some discoveries that are sandwich relevant. The absolute simplest is the world's cheapest panini press:

Many restaurants will sell you a thing they call a panini. It is a grilled sandwich, and it has lines across it, so it must be a panini, right? Wrong. Generally speaking they put it on a grill with an upper and a lower heating plate, and call that done. They're wrong.

The real thing about panini is not grilling from both sides at once, or having grill lines. The thing that makes a panini different from other sandwiches is application of pressure during cooking, which changes the texture of the bread.

The cheap press is really simple - get your griddle or fry pan. Make up your sandwich. Then, get a large pot (I'm talking something that'll hold a gallon of water or so for doing two sandwiches at once). Cover the bottom of the pot with foil. Give the foil a shot of non-stick coking spray. Put it on top of the sandwiches, and put a few cans of beans, tomatoes, or whatever is in your pantry to weigh down the pot. You want a coupel of cans per sandwich, typically (and depending on the bread you're using - I'm assuming you're not going through all this with Wonder bread - some experimentation will be called for.

You'll have to flip your sandwiches to get both sides toasty, but that's small price to pay for getting a panini press for free..
 

IronWolf

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I'm sort of a burger and fries, or steak and potato (when I'm splurging) kinda guy. Once a week I roast up a chicken. Most mornings a hard boiled egg or two accounts for my breakfast. I've had Englishman tell me I have bland tastes. There's probably about thirty things in my diet and one of them is salt, which sort of lets you know my range. God love those of you with the ability to enjoy greater variety but I'm decidedly medieval in my scope of foods I regularly ingest. However, I am forever fascinted by such things, perhaps because of my own lack of flexibility. I'm keen to know more so please do keep the posts coming! :)

This sounds similar to me. I seem to have a narrow range of taste so I tend to have a relatively set list of food I will eat. Most of my friends know me as a picky eater.

I've made attempts to try new foods, but even if I go into it with a positive attitude a fair number of things just don't taste right to me. I've slowly grown to like more foods, but it is a very slow process and some of the foods added to the list are just foods I will put up with now for helping make the family's life a little easier - not that I actually enjoy the food.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I've made attempts to try new foods, but even if I go into it with a positive attitude a fair number of things just don't taste right to me.

Well, so long as you get your nutrition, there's nothing wrong with having the list of things you prefer be short. There is no accounting for taste, in this case literally.

However, for sake of discussion (and possibly helping to find a way to broaden your palate should you choose to) - could you elaborate on "just don't taste right"? And what things do taste right to you?
 

IronWolf

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However, for sake of discussion (and possibly helping to find a way to broaden your palate should you choose to) - could you elaborate on "just don't taste right"? And what things do taste right to you?

It seems more foods taste bitter to me than others. When trying carrots and things like green beans and such, they have a bitter taste to them which doesn't sit well with me. They are probably the best example.

Then there is the texture issue. Certain foods just don't feel right due to texture. Pasta is a good example of this. My wife has figured out if the pasta is slightly overcooked and a good meaty sauce I am more likely to eat it. But even then a lot of my pasta eating is limited to spaghetti with a good (slightly sweet?), meaty sauce.
 

Wycen

Explorer
In certain situations I might be willing to try things I either don't like or suspect I wont like. For example I was at a dinner thrown by an old boss and he served lobster and I ate it, but crab and lobster don't do anything for me. Sushi and sashimi, of some types are fine, but when you present the head of the shrimpy critter to me to suck out the goop, I'm going to have to pass.

I once checked out a bunch of books about Roman culinary habits and recipes. I suspect many local libraries will have a copy of Apicius if you are interested. Some Roman's believed torturing the animal before/while butchering it would improve the flavor.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
It seems more foods taste bitter to me than others. When trying carrots and things like green beans and such, they have a bitter taste to them which doesn't sit well with me. They are probably the best example.

Ah, yes. That's not too uncommon - some folks have very acute receptors for bitterness. And, some vegetables are just bitter.

If you've heard all this before, just ignore me :)

A hint for many vegetables: many of them become more bitter the more they're cooked, due to chemical reactions that take place in the food (this especially goes for things in the cabbage family - cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and so on), and many Americans over cook their veggies, leading to a loss of nutrient value. Try only lightly cooking your vegetables when you can - quickly steam and lightly sautee.

Also, note that young vegetables tend to be less bitter than full-grown: go for baby spinach, young peas, and so on. Note that most things sold as "baby carrots" are just adult carrots reshaped to look like babies.

Some sauces, especially those based in lemon and soy, can help disguise the bitter taste.

Then there is the texture issue. Certain foods just don't feel right due to texture. Pasta is a good example of this. My wife has figured out if the pasta is slightly overcooked and a good meaty sauce I am more likely to eat it. But even then a lot of my pasta eating is limited to spaghetti with a good (slightly sweet?), meaty sauce.

I've heard that complaint about mushrooms and eggs, as well. In many instances, things that give you textural issues can be disguised, and still make it to your plate - often by simply making them small.
 

IronWolf

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Ah, yes. That's not too uncommon - some folks have very acute receptors for bitterness. And, some vegetables are just bitter.

If you've heard all this before, just ignore me :)[/quote]


That must be me. It was like a revelation for Mrs. IronWolf when I mentioned that a veggie I was sampling tasted bitter.


Umbran said:
A hint for many vegetables: many of them become more bitter the more they're cooked, due to chemical reactions that take place in the food (this especially goes for things in the cabbage family - cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and so on), and many Americans over cook their veggies, leading to a loss of nutrient value. Try only lightly cooking your vegetables when you can - quickly steam and lightly sautee.

Also, note that young vegetables tend to be less bitter than full-grown: go for baby spinach, young peas, and so on. Note that most things sold as "baby carrots" are just adult carrots reshaped to look like babies.

Some sauces, especially those based in lemon and soy, can help disguise the bitter taste.

All good tips! My wife prefers her veggies lightly cooked, she makes fun of the overcooked green beans that seem common around here. A lot of my last round of trying to learn to like more veggies was with either raw or lightly cooked ones. I don't think we tried much as a young veggie though, might be worth trying that and see if that makes a difference.

Lemon and soy sound worthwhile trying as well, as both of those flavors sit well with me.


Umbran said:
I've heard that complaint about mushrooms and eggs, as well. In many instances, things that give you textural issues can be disguised, and still make it to your plate - often by simply making them small.

My wife actually has a book called The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids' Favorite Meals. She mainly bought it for the kids, but she has used it on me as well. Sometimes it works well, she makes a homemade pizza thing that I am certain the sauce has lots of things in it that I don't typically eat, but blended in the sauce I have no idea. Then there are times she sneaks cauliflower in my mashed potatoes which I can generally spot easily.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
About "bitter" veggies:

I agree about the quick stir fry or, better still, steaming. However, it has come to light in our household that microwaving certain veggies increases their sweetness. My Mom is currently a HUGE fan of nuking corn on the cob- a bit of water in a covered dish, zapped for a while, and buttered, and your corn will come out quite tasty. I think some of the same goes for carrots.

If your primary method of cooking veggies is boiling, you can often find that the nutrients and flavor of the water are superior to that of the veggies you pull out...because that's where the boiling process put them. (That's more or less how you make vegetable stock, after all.)

In addition, sometimes bitterness can be attributed to the age of the veggie in question. Bell peppers change RADICALLY in flavor as they age- young ones can be quite sweet, while the older ones have the classic pepper taste that makes them invaluable in fajitas.

Carrots are another prime example of this. Baby carrots can be amazingly sweet. You might try those.

Finally, always make sure the stuff you're cooking is both ripe and in season (frozen stuff should be fine). Either factor can affect flavor.
 

IronWolf

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I agree about the quick stir fry or, better still, steaming. However, it has come to light in our household that microwaving certain veggies increases their sweetness. My Mom is currently a HUGE fan of nuking corn on the cob- a bit of water in a covered dish, zapped for a while, and buttered, and your corn will come out quite tasty. I think some of the same goes for carrots.

I do love sweet corn. When I was a kid there were times our entire meal consisted solely of sweet corn! We've been using the microwaving trick for corn on the cob for awhile now. We shuck the outer layers, put them in the microwave, nuke for about a minute per ear, rotate ears and then nuke for another minute per ear. Works great and tastes good.

Dannyalcatraz said:
In addition, sometimes bitterness can be attributed to the age of the veggie in question. Bell peppers change RADICALLY in flavor as they age- young ones can be quite sweet, while the older ones have the classic pepper taste that makes them invaluable in fajitas.

Bell peppers are liked by Mrs. IronWolf and IronPup, so we have those around frequently. Even on times they say they are especially good I have tried them and found them on the bitter side.

I have had them in fajitas, but eating them straight hasn't suited my taste buds.

Dannyalcatraz said:
Carrots are another prime example of this. Baby carrots can be amazingly sweet. You might try those.

I've had baby carrots, but maybe I just didn't have good ones. I'll listen for when Mrs. IronWolf and IronPup are saying how good the next batch of baby carrots is and give them another shot.

Dannyalcatraz said:
Finally, always make sure the stuff you're cooking is both ripe and in season (frozen stuff should be fine). Either factor can affect flavor.

We actually belong to a CSA where the farm veggies are delivered to us from a local farm. So we get fairly high quality veggies through our house, I just haven't been able to convince my taste buds to like them.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Have you considered that you may be...a carnivore?;)

Well, as long as you get your nutrients, you should be OK. There are other healthy options besides eating your veggies.

Grains, fruits & nuts can fill in for a lot of stuff you get from veggies, and can be gotten in a variety of ways. I make my own trail mix out of dried dates, cherries, pineapples, various kinds of rasins (regular, red & goldens, small and jumbo), pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, brazils and cashews. Oh yeah, and shelled sunflower seeds.

Then, of course, there is always things like juices or certain sauces. Marinara is particularly healthy, for instance. And V-8 contains stuff from all kinds of veggies.

I'm also a big fan of the lowly bean, but then again, I'm a Creole. To paraphrase a great modern poet, "red beans and rice didn't miss me."
 
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IronWolf

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Have you considered that you may be...a carnivore?;)

I blame my mid-western roots for my meat and potato diet!

Dannyalcatraz said:
Well, as long as you get your nutrients, you should be OK. There are other healthy options besides eating your veggies.

Grains, fruits & nuts can fill in for a lot of stuff you get from veggies, and can be gotten in a variety of ways. I make my own trail mix out of dried dates, cherries, pineapples, various kinds of rasins (regular, red & goldens, small and jumbo), pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, brazils and cashews.

I do enjoy a few select fruits and trail mix type mixes are always good. That helps as well.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
The main risk from trail mix is that it can be extremely high in nutritional value for its volume.

Why is that a problem?

Because its so darn tasty (if done right) that people can eat lots and lots of it...then wonder why they're gaining weight or having spikes in their blood sugar. My trail mix nearly killed a diabetic friend of mine- he was eating it a couple of coffee-mugs at a time.
 

LightPhoenix

First Post
Right now I'm more of a "Is it cheap and edible? I will eat it" sort of guy. Under more normal monetary circumstances I tend to enjoy cooking, and I'm looking forward to getting back into it if (fingers crossed) my job prospect comes through.

Ah, yes. That's not too uncommon - some folks have very acute receptors for bitterness. And, some vegetables are just bitter.

It seems more foods taste bitter to me than others.

Then there is the texture issue. Certain foods just don't feel right due to texture.

I'm the same way, especially with regards to texture. I simply can't eat tofu because the texture bugs me so much. Inevitably, every person I tell this to says I just need to try it cooked a different way. Let me tell you, I've had tofu cooked in more ways than I ever thought possible, and all of them tasted/felt weird in my mouth.

I get the same thing with bitter foods as well, and especially wines. All wines are immensely unpalatable to me, as is black coffee and tea. Most vegetables I don't have a problem with, and oddly I can tolerate dark beers more than lighter ones, and beers more than wines/teas. I'm also very sensitive to sweetness; what few deserts I can eat without having allergic reactions (to eggs) I generally don't eat anyway because of it. On the other side, I love things that are savory and/or sour.

I'm probably what they call a "supertaster," but the biologist in my screams at the over-generalization of the term. I am certain that it is not so cut-and-dry, and that a person's perception of taste/smell (like vision and sound) is highly variable based on genetic and environmental factors.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
The human sense of taste & smell can vary greatly from person to person, changes over time (kids have more taste buds than adults because we lose them as we age*), and health. If you do have allergies (as I do), certain reactions can virtually kill your sense of taste for periods of time.

"Super-taster" is kind of like "genius"- a statistical artifact. I qualify as a genius...just barely. I've never applied for a MENSA card, but I already know from certain tests that I qualify. And I also know several people who are so smart they make me feel like an idiot on a regular basis. Intellectually, I routinely test in the top .25% of the human race...but they're in the top .25% of that sample.

So you may be a super-taster...you just may not be the pinnacle of that classification.

* Which has led to speculation that this may account for why so many kids hate stronger-tasting foods like certain veggies, meats or cheeses, and may binge on sweets.
 

IronWolf

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I'm the same way, especially with regards to texture. I simply can't eat tofu because the texture bugs me so much. Inevitably, every person I tell this to says I just need to try it cooked a different way. Let me tell you, I've had tofu cooked in more ways than I ever thought possible, and all of them tasted/felt weird in my mouth.

Ah! Tofu. Mrs. IronWolf used to mix that in with the ground turkey for taco night.
 

LightPhoenix

First Post
"Super-taster" is kind of like "genius"- a statistical artifact.

Something seems wrong to me about that analogy, but honestly I've sat here for ten minutes trying to pin it down and can't. I think what you're getting at and I'm for some reason blanking on is that taste/scent is a gradation, like intelligence.

Ah! Tofu. Mrs. IronWolf used to mix that in with the ground turkey for taco night.

Travesty. :p
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
"Super-taster" is kind of like "genius"- a statistical artifact.

Not as I understand it. "Genius" is an arbitrary line drawn in an otherwise smooth statistical distribution. Some aspects of what we speak of as "supertasting" are not just the long tail of the distribution - there's a discontinuity in the distribution, a bit more of an "on/off" switch to the phenomenon, as it were.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I think what you're getting at and I'm for some reason blanking on is that taste/scent is a gradation, like intelligence.
That's what I'm getting at.

Not as I understand it. "Genius" is an arbitrary line drawn in an otherwise smooth statistical distribution. Some aspects of what we speak of as "supertasting" are not just the long tail of the distribution - there's a discontinuity in the distribution, a bit more of an "on/off" switch to the phenomenon, as it were.

It could be. I could be wrong. (I'm big enough to admit that.)
 

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