What I Cook With

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don't miss dairy

Emily Stokes
I'm a lady who loves cheese, sour cream, & ice cream, but I recently became lactose intolerant. My key focus in recreating dairy recipes is taste, but I try to be as health conscious as possible. Some of my recipes are low lactose rather than dairy free. I'm also a writer, teacher, nanny, dog mom, housewife, native Yinzer, current Californian, and social organizer extraordinaire.

What I Cook With

The Benefits of Sea Salt

I’ve always been a big advocate of using sea salt when cooking meals, rather than your average table salt. Recently I read some articles online that tried to tell readers sea salt was no better than table salt. If you happened to read those articles as well–please don’t believe them. The only positive thing I can say I got out of them was that they got me to think more about sea salt vs table salt, which is important. It’s not smart to just chase after the new fad ingredient or food without doing some research and thinking about it first. Why is it better? Why should I use it? Will it really benefit me in anyway? What’s the best way to incorporate it into my life so I will benefit from it?

I generally try to use fresh ingredients or products with no added sodium. I add other spices into recipes so I can skip salt altogether. Spicy things like red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper can add so much flavor I don’t find a need for salt. The same thing goes for potent flavors like garlic, onion, and basil. But sometimes I add a dash of sea salt to bring out those flavors, and it comforts me to know sea salt is better to use than regular table salt.

Yes, by weight, sea salt and table salt contain the same amount of sodium. Sea salt does not have less sodium than table salt. This was the point of those articles. Moderation of salt intake is one of the most important considerations in maintaining a healthy diet. However, because sea salt is not refined and usually coarse, you end up using less salt in measurements. Sea salt has a saltier, more potent flavor as well, so for less salt you get more flavor, therefore not missing the extra salt. One grind of the sea salt shaker provides more flavor than a few shakes of the table salt shaker-so true!

One of the greatest things that makes sea salt better than table salt is it’s mineral content. Here’s a paragraph from my favorite low-sodium diet cookbook “Muscle Chow,” by Gregg Avedon:

“Sea salt is obtained by the simple process of concentrating sea water under the sun. Up to 5 percent of sea salt is composed of naturally occurring potassium, calcium, and magnesium, the minerals that are responsible for the salt’s mild flavor and good taste. Because sea salt is naturally occurring, your body can readily assimilate its minerals–they’re just like the nutrients from food. Table salt, the salt most people use, is mined from inland salt deposits, heated to extremely high temperatures, and refined with chemicals. Potassium iodide or sodium iodide is added to create iodized salt. Dextrose (sugar), sodium bicarbonate, and sodium silicoaluminate, are often added to  keep the salt white and easy to pour.”

Still wondering what’s the best salt to buy at the super market? Get the coarse sea salt! And here is a tip I often provide in my recipes: it is always healthier to add your own amount salt. If you don’t want the no salt added canned vegetables, tomato sauce, and cooking stock because of taste, you should buy them anyway and add your own salt. You can decrease the sodium content of your meals by buying no salt added canned foods and add sea salt instead, judging the flavor by your own taste. By doing this and switching to sea salt you can drastically decrease the amount of sodium in your diet, which can help maintain water retention in your body and decrease your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.

        

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Non-Dairy Creamer, or a replacement for Half & Half

I used to drink half and half in my coffee every morning. No sugar, just cream. It really made the perfect cup of coffee. And I am a huge coffee drinker. When even a little bit of half and half made me feel sick, I had a hard time handling it. At first I just dealt with the discomfort, but stomach cramps finally led me to try other products.

Plain soy milk in coffee was just disgusting. Even Very Vanilla Soymilk didn’t really cut it for me. I tried Coconut Milk Creamer–totally gross. I didn’t want to do it, but for a long time I started using Coffeemate non-dairy creamer. That stuff is really terrible for you–it’s like drinking trans fat. I tried many different flavors that were tasty. My favorites were the sugar-free vanilla, which tasted like marshmallow to me, the peppermint mocha, and original, which was the closest taste to half and half that I could find. But they completely covered the taste of the coffee as well. That’s okay if you are drinking ground Foldgers, but not okay if you bought a new bag of fresh, whole bean Caribou Blend. What can I say? I love my coffee.

I realized that when I ordered a soy mocha or soy latte at Starbucks it tasted amazing. So why didn’t my coffee taste amazing when I added vanilla soy milk? The answer was in the steaming. I don’t know why, but heated soy milk in coffee tastes ten times better than cold soy milk in coffee. Especially when that soy milk is very, very sweet. The sweeter the better.

So after all of my experiments and attempts to find the perfect healthy replacement for half and half, I have finally found the answer. I wanted to pass along my knowledge, which is actually a small recipe.

Ingredients:

8ounce cup of coffee
1/3 cup Silk Very Vanilla Soymilk
1  teaspoon or packet of sugar

Directions
1. Mix the soymilk and sugar (I use Splenda or Truvia) in a microwave safe mug and heat for 30 seconds.

2. Pour in the fresh, hot gourmet coffee and find your happy place.

New Tip:

You can also substitute vanilla soy milk with soy vanilla ice cream–it’s a great cream alternative to your coffee and helps it cool down as well.

Coffee with soy milk.

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