Read The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook Online

Authors: Marla Heller

Tags: #Cooking / Health & Healing - Heart

The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook (2 page)

BOOK: The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook
Dried thyme
Sweet paprika (Spanish and Hungarian have the most flavor)
Ground cinnamon
Ground ginger
Granulated garlic or garlic powder
Granulated onion or onion powder
Black peppercorns
Cayenne pepper
Chili powder
Curry powder
Herb-based salt substitutes, such as lemon-pepper

Salt and Other Seasonings

The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook
is based on foods you will find in your regular grocery store, not obscure foods that you will find only at specialty stores or online sites. For those few items we recommend that may be more difficult to find, we have included a Resource Guide

You will find that some of the recipes require a few extra spices or other flavorings than most ultrasimple recipes. In order to moderate the sodium content, we have taken a creative approach to seasoning for satisfying flavor that won’t leave you missing the salt. If you have been told to severely restrict sodium, you can reduce or eliminate the added salt in most of these recipes. Because of the “flavor building” provided by the herbs and spices, you will still find the dishes to be very tasty.

You can purchase seasoning blends at the supermarket, but many of them have salt as their main ingredient. It is an easy matter to make your own at home. Just mix them up and store them in a covered container in a cool, dark place away from the heat of the stove for up to six months. They all use granulated garlic and granulated onion, which are dehydrated and ground versions of these vegetables. These have a more granular texture and stronger flavor than garlic or onion powder, but some brands of powders are actually granulated.

Cajun Seasoning

For down-home spicy flavor, use this seasoning.


1 tablespoon sweet paprika, preferably Hungarian or Spanish
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
1 teaspoon granulated onion or onion powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a small covered container.

Italian Seasoning

This all-purpose seasoning is a fine way to spice up traditional Italian dishes.


1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon crushed hot red pepper
½ teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
½ teaspoon granulated onion or onion powder

Combine all of the ingredients in a small covered container.

Mexican Seasoning

Here is a not-too-spicy blend that will add a Mexican flavor to your cooking.


2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
1 teaspoon granulated onion or onion powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a small covered container.

The Freezer

Your freezer should be a treasure trove of ingredients for making meals. Too often it is the receptacle for bits and pieces of food that are forgotten and suffer freezer burn before they get a chance to be eaten. It might help to keep a list of what you have stored in the freezer as a reminder. Be sure to store the food in sturdy freezer bags and mark the date of freezing clearly on the package. Most frozen foods are best if consumed within three months of freezing.

Keep bags of frozen vegetables to add color and nutrients to your meals. Purchase them in bags so you can use the amount you need, and reseal either with a clamp or in a zipper bag. Avoid the ones that are laden with caloric sauces. I like the convenience of chopped onions and peppers, so I use them in my cooking when pressed for time. If you are handy with a knife, then use fresh.

Lean meat, chicken, and seafood could also be frozen so that you have a source of protein ready to turn into a meal. However, before you buy individually pre-frozen chicken breasts, check the labels: Most frozen poultry (and much fresh and frozen pork) is injected with a sodium mixture to add moisture, as the defrosted meat tends to dry out when cooked. I recently compared individually frozen chicken breasts (4 ounces each) and found sodium contents ranging from 180 to 425 mg. The solution is easy: Buy fresh chicken breasts without any additional seasonings and freeze them yourself, individually wrapped in plastic with an overwrap of aluminum foil.

Ground meat and poultry freeze well, but again, checking the labels can be helpful. Ground turkey breast, processed without any skin, is 99 percent fat-free, but it can be very dry when cooked, and I don’t use it much. I would rather use standard ground turkey with 7 percent fat for moist, juicy results. (Frozen ground turkey, at an average of 15 percent fat, can have the same fat content as ground round beef, so avoid it.) Frozen shrimp, available in two-pound bags at supermarkets, are convenient and easy to defrost for a fast meal, but because they are naturally high in sodium, don’t serve them more often than once every week or so.

For a treat, keep some frozen yogurt in the freezer, but be sure it’s a low-sugar brand. Also, store bags of frozen fruit (such as sliced peaches or frozen berries) for tasty smoothies that can be served for breakfast or as a nutritious cold dessert.

Individual and mixed frozen vegetables, without sauces
Frozen sliced pepper and onion mix
Frozen diced onions
Frozen diced green peppers
Frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Frozen 95 percent extra-lean ground sirloin (and patties)
Frozen IQF (individually quick frozen) shrimp
Frozen nonfat yogurt, with no added sugar
Frozen fruit, such as berries

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

This is where the DASH diet really struts its stuff, letting you take advantage of the cornucopia of fresh produce available at your local market. Please—get adventuresome with your produce. I never thought that I would eat a raw kale salad (see Kale, Pear, and Bulgur Salad
), but how wrong I was.

Seasoning Vegetables and Fruits

Be sure to have plenty of seasoning vegetables and fruits on hand. Onions and garlic are familiar, but shallots, a staple in French cuisine, are equally versatile and useful. Lemon juice and lime juice are fantastic flavorings and have long been used to perk up food where salt is kept at a minimum. For the best flavor, use fresh lemons and limes. To make juicing easy, use a wooden reamer or purchase an inexpensive electric juicer to keep on the kitchen counter.

Yellow onions
Lemons and limes

Good Keepers

These are the produce items that I always have in my kitchen, thanks to their long shelf life (at least a week, or a bit less for the romaine). Often, when I think I have nothing to cook for dinner, I am happy to find a bag of broccoli slaw in the crisper. (It can be put into service for a main course, too, as with the “Moo Shu” Chicken and Vegetable Wraps
.) Baby carrots can be nibbled as a snack or cooked as a side dish. You’ll find many uses for these reliable ingredients:

Baby carrots
Grape or cherry tomatoes or other high-flavor tomatoes
Romaine hearts
Coleslaw mix
Broccoli slaw

Your Personal Salad Bar

Vegetables are the centerpiece of a DASH meal. Load up your plate with vegetables, as they will fill you up and keep those hunger pangs at bay. (Although, as I often hear, people who eat the DASH plan’s daily recommended amount of produce are never hungry.) These are the vegetables that I buy as needed, often for specific recipes, but also to have handy for snacking and impromptu meals:

Carrots (whole, sliced, or shredded)
Lettuce (The dark varieties have the most nutrients.)
Red and green peppers
Red onions
Red cabbage

The Fruit Stand

Remember, fruits and vegetables are the foundation of the DASH diet. Fruit in season is always going to be the best and most flavorful, but there are some items available year-round that you should always have on hand for snacks and desserts, and for adding to salads. Fruits are often overlooked as salad ingredients, but their natural sweetness can serve to balance the dressing’s tartness, and they add bulk to the greens.

Fruit in season, such as berries, peaches, and plums

Dairy and Egg Products

Milk-based products are rich and satisfying but can also be high in fat and sodium. As you have surely seen in the supermarket, milk has fat-free (also called skim) and low-fat (1 percent fat) versions, as well as the common whole milk and (2 percent) reduced-fat varieties. Fat-free milk, which obviously has the least amount of calories and fat, is good for drinking and general use, but the slightly richer low-fat milk is better for cooking (making sauces and the like), so you may want to buy the milk that best fits your needs.

As for cheese, look for brands with reduced fat and sodium. The amounts of these nutrients will never be very low, because cheese requires some fat and sodium in the fermenting process to achieve proper flavor and texture. For snacking (or to build upon with fruit, vegetables, and nuts), nonfat yogurt and low-fat cheese are invaluable.

Eggs are another item that can be enjoyed in moderation in a balanced diet. It is the cholesterol in the egg yolk that can wreak havoc with heart health. However, most of the vitamins and minerals in eggs are in the yolks. Even the American Heart Association is now saying that most people can enjoy one whole egg per day. Many people solve the problem by using egg whites alone, but they can look unappetizing when cooked. A liquid egg substitute such as Egg Beaters can be a good alternative. If you prefer whole eggs, use eggs that are rich in omega-3 fats and lower in cholesterol.

Milk (fat-free and/or low-fat, as desired)
Unsalted butter (store in the freezer for using in small amounts)
Yogurt (nonfat)
Cottage cheese (low-fat or nonfat, and low-sodium)
Cheddar cheese, reduced-fat and reduced-sodium (Organic Valley is a good brand.)
Swiss cheese (reduced-fat)
Mozzarella (reduced-fat)
Parmesan cheese (Use in smaller amounts, since it is very high in sodium.)
Liquid egg substitute, such as Egg Beaters
Whole eggs, preferably rich in omega-3 fats

Take It Easy

Since so many DASH fans choose the plan because of problems with hypertension, I use few high-sodium foods. I’ve said it before: Concentrate on the foods you can have and do not worry about the few that you want to limit. There are lower-sodium versions of most of these foods, but unfortunately, supermarkets don’t always carry them. (See
for a list of online shopping sources.) You
occasionally indulge in these foods, but for the most part, limit the following:

Olives, green and black
Anchovies (oil-packed or salt-packed) and anchovy paste
Asian condiments, such as soy sauce, oyster sauce, and hoisin sauce
Prepared mustards
Pickles and relishes
Delicatessen meats

Essential Equipment

Some people enjoy cooking, and others have never learned to love it. I’ll bet the ones who are happiest in the kitchen have the best pots, pans, and knives and the ones who hate cooking are frustrated by bad tools. I’m not saying that you have to go out and spend thousands of dollars on new pots and pans and expensive appliances. But a few well-chosen kitchen items will make your time in the kitchen easier and more fun. These are the things that I can’t do without.

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