Table Salt, Sea Salt, Kosher Salt, and Himalayan Salt. Are There Differences?

Salt is a universal ingredient used both in cooking and baking in all cultural cuisines. It is used to enhance taste, suppress bitterness, and preserve foods. Have you ever wondered why some recipes call for table salt while others recommend sea salt? All salts are not created equally, and there are many types to choose from. Himalayan salt, kosher salt, sea salt and table salt are just a few types commonly used. They differ in texture and taste as well as mineral and sodium content.

Table Salt

This is the most commonly used type of salt for cooking. It is highly refined so most of its impurities and minerals are removed. It is heavily ground so clumps may form easily. However, anti-caking substances are added to prevent these clumps and for easy pouring. Iodine is also often added as a  preventative measure against iodine deficiency. If you choose not to consume iodine-enriched table salt, make sure you are eating other foods high in iodine such as yogurt, eggs, seaweed and fish.

Uses: All cooking. It may be used in baking, roasting, stir-fry and more types of cooking. Table salt is a great, versatile ingredient. It may also be sprinkled on top of omelets, steaks, and other cooked foods for an extra kick of flavor. 

Sea Salt

Sea salt is made from evaporating seawater. Depending on where it is harvested, it may contain some trace minerals such as zinc, iron and potassium. Darker sea salts contain a higher concentration of impurities and trace minerals. Sea salt is less ground than table salt, so it may have a different mouthfeel when sprinkled on top of food. If you’ve noticed, sea salt is often larger in size compared to table salt.

Uses: Adds a pungent burst of flavor to freshly-cooked foods. It is a great complement to salads or baked fish.

Himalayan Pink Sea Salt

This salt is harvested in Pakistan. The trace amounts of iron oxide (rust) are the cause of the pink color. Himalayan pink salt contains trace amounts of potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium. There is also a slightly lower amount of sodium than regular table salt.    

Uses: Since the main difference is color, it can give your cooked dish a unique look if you sprinkle some pink sea salt on top. You can make desserts more visually appealing by sprinkling it on top of a chocolate truffle or savory meringue.  

Kosher

The term “kosher” is used to describe the types of food a Jewish person may eat and the ways it is prepared. The main difference between kosher and regular salt is the structure. Kosher salt has a larger flake size so it is easier to pick up and sprinkle over your foods. Kosher salt may also have a different flavor and texture but when dissolved in food, there is no major difference compared to regular table salt.

Uses: All cooking. The flavors disperse quickly so it may be tossed on everything from pork roast to popcorn. Kosher salt is also great for baking, because it disperses quickly.

https://authoritynutrition.com/different-types-of-salt/

http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/cooking-tips-techniques/cooking/six-types-salt

http://www.thekitchn.com/sea-salt-vs-table-salt-is-there-actually-a-difference-221471

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Hot Chocolate That Will Warm You Up Without Slowing You Down

For many of us, rich, sweet, and savory foods are tightly associated with bundling up in front of the fire with friends and family, fighting off the cold weather (or artificial snow for those of us on the West Coast) and creating fond memories. It’s on those days that many of our New Year’s resolutions to cut back on sugar, fat, and other nutrients in excess go out the window. As with many of our favorite treats, there is a way to have one without the other. Sticking to our January 1st guns doesn’t necessarily mean saying no to our favorite winter past-times.

Naturally Sweetened

Honey is a great natural sweetener, and is often used as a substitute for sugar, but is typically not found in hot chocolate. With this blend of milk, cream and cocoa (or cacao!), you’re sure to get all of the taste, without drinking your recommended daily amount of added sugar.

Dairy Free

You can still get the rich creamy taste of traditional hot chocolate without the dairy that comes along with whole milk and cream. Of course, you can purchase your favorite non-dairy milk, like almond or soy milk to steam and mix with your favorite cocoa powder, but if you’re feeling extra adventurous, try this recipe to create your own chocolate almond milk for a unique, dairy-free flavor. This recipe can be easily converted to hot chocolate by slowly steaming it on the stovetop!

Lighter hot chocolate doesn’t have to come at the cost of taste. After you whip up your naturally sweetened or dairy free hot chocolate, try adding a sprinkle of cinnamon to add flavor and anti-inflammatory properties, putting a fun, healthy spin on a winter favorite!

Unexpected Health Perks of Love

It is Valentine’s Day time. The air is filled with love, hands are being held, and grins stretch across faces. You feel happier being surrounded with such love, Valentine’s date or not. If you are one of the lucky ones with a Valentine’s Day date, you can rest easy knowing that you have yet another reason to be grateful for your partner: oxytocin.

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Oxytocin is a chemical released by the brain when there is physical contact and affection between partners and between parents and children. This chemical is extremely powerful, and your body reacts to its effects even faster when you commonly share that physical affection with your significant other. What are these effects? The most obvious and the one that you probably notice in yourself is an increase in positive feeling. Other effects that have been found are lower stress levels, lower blood pressure, better mood, and higher pain tolerance [NIH]. These are not the only health reasons to be grateful for your partner, though. Emerging research shows that people with higher oxytocin levels seem to naturally eating fewer calories and fat.

A study tested twenty-five men and how they ate a breakfast meal, one time with a dose of oxytocin and one time without oxytocin. Interestingly, the researchers found a statistically significant difference in the participants eating fewer calories and fat after the oxytocin dose. So what does this mean? Basically, the study has found that when we have higher levels of oxytocin, we naturally eat fewer calories and fat.

While this is one of the first studies on humans and more need to be done to expand the conclusions to women, the study’s findings can get you at least excited about the healthy moves your body may be making subconsciously when with you are with your significant other.

In practical terms, as you are hyped up on oxytocin cuddling and holding hands with your Valentine’s date, pat yourself on the back for knowing you may be self-regulating your calorie and fat intake without even trying. Lastly, give that date of your’s a big smooch to thank him or her for all of that oxytocin you have had and the lover’s diet you may have been on all this time.

 

Sources:

Lawson, E. A., Marengi, D. A., DeSanti, R. L., Holmes, T. M., Schoenfeld, D. A. and Tolley, C. J. (2015), Oxytocin reduces caloric intake in men. Obesity, 23: 950–956. doi:10.1002/oby.21069

https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2007/february/docs/01features_01.htm

 

Bring the Snow Inside with You This Year!

Around this time of year, much of the country is ready for the winter to subside, wondering when the inches, or even feet, of snow covering the ground will be cleared and life allowed to return to normal. While we can’t control the weather, we can help you clear some snow in a unique way— by adding it to your culinary repertoire! That’s right—folks are getting more creative than ever, and snow is being used for more than just snowmen and outdoor sports.

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Snow Cream—A creamier remix for snow cones

As alternative “ice creams” pop up on the scene, try these snow creams. For healthier indulgences, swap the canned jam for fresh, muddled strawberries or other seasonal fruits, or trade honey for white sugar. With just 3-4 ingredients each, and no churning necessary, this great dessert is fun for the whole family!

Candy with a Kick

If you’re feeling spicy, try these (and other vegetarian) snow recipes: cayenne pepper and honey snow candies. Flavored to taste, all you need is a bit of honey, cayenne pepper, and salt! It’s likely you already have these ingredients in your pantry—now there will be a perfect movie or game night snack for when you’re all snowed in.

Get Energized for a Snowball Fight

Try this twist on a classic Italian dessert sure to get you pumped up for your favorite winter activities. Food Network describes an affogato as “espresso poured over ice cream, then topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.” In this version, ice cream is substituted for fresh snow. For a richer flavor, try white chocolate shavings over the top!

Have any other snow recipes? Share with us in the comments below!

A Definitive Answer on the Difference Between Yams and Sweet Potatoes

In recent years, sweet potatoes have made their way to the spotlight. Making a splash as healthy snacks and even ingredients in gluten-free baked treats, these roots are definitely great for more than just Thanksgiving. But even with their increase in popularity, many are still confused by the difference between sweet potatoes and yams. Is there even really a difference? Let’s find out.

According to the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission (NCSPC), sweet potatoes come in white, orange, and purple varieties, but the most commonly recognized variety is the “orange, fleshy” one that has thin, smooth, skin (5). Sweet potatoes are a good source of beta-carotene, and vitamin A.

A yam, however,  is “a starchy edible root…[that is] rough and scaly and very low in beta carotene” (5). While you may be thinking “What do you mean? Yams are orange and soft like sweet potatoes!”, this is all a part of the misconception of the two roots. The NCSPC suggests that most Americans have never, in fact, come into contact with a true yam, as they are bred in West Africa and parts of the Caribbean. As such, most produce labeled as yams in local grocery stores are actually sweet potatoes. The misnomer is thought to come from an early distinction between the orange sweet potatoes we are now accustomed to, and other varieties of sweet potatoes that are less common, but more closely resemble African yams.

To sum it all up, true yams are long, white roots with rough skin mainly cultivated outside of the US, and infrequently used in recipes. Sweet potatoes, though available in different varieties, are typically orange, have smooth skin, and are sometimes labeled as yams in the grocery store. Now that that’s cleared up, try these gluten free, allergy friendly sweet potato brownies that taste just as good (maybe even better!) than the classics.

Sources:

  1. http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/vegetables/sweetpotato.html

  2. http://blog.dictionary.com/yams-sweet-potatoes/

  3. http://cesolano.ucdavis.edu/files/59967.pdf

  4. https://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/sweetpotato.html

  5. http://www.ncsweetpotatoes.com/sweet-potatoes-101/difference-between-yam-and-sweet-potato/

  6. https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/nutrition-through-seasons/seasonal-produce/sweet-potatoes-and-yams

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