Six years ago I founded ChopChop Kids, and published ChopChop The Fun Cooking Magazine for Families. Its aims are simple: Cook at home. Eat real food. Start young.
This blog post is written by Sally Sampson, the Founder and President of ChopChop Kids.
There are so many reasons to cook from scratch, not the least of which is to control what goes into your body. This is almost nowhere so true as with salt. Sodium (which is found in salt) can be found in massive amounts in the predictable (pickles) and the surprising (tomato sauce) in both prepackaged and processed foods, as well as restaurant fare (even, sadly, when you choose wisely). Just about three-quarters of the sodium in your diet comes from these sources.
Cooking is fun!
Cooking is fun and—if you start with simple dishes—easy. Food cooked from scratch is healthier (less salt, sugar and fat) not to mention that it tastes much better. Cooking teaches math (double or halve a recipe), science (how does milk turn into yogurt?) and patience (it’s sometimes immediate but not always). Cooking bonds families, teaches self-sufficiency (you can feed yourself) and cultural understanding. There are no negative side effects. And the more you do it, the better you will be at it. I promise. Really.
In the next few weeks, I will be posting recipes for easy dishes for back to school (or back to work). Start now and get your kids used to being the solution to their own lunch dilemmas.
As for salt, learn to see how little you can get away with. You might surprise yourself. Salt is a flavor enhancer but if you use too much, all you taste is the salt. When you back off, your food will actually taste more of what it is. One of my favorite flavor enhancers is lemon; instead of adding salt, squeeze fresh lemon juice or zest a little bit of lemon into a dish. Lime, orange, tangerines, even grapefruit also work well.
Try this taste test for starters: Make your own salad dressing.
- Put ½ cup olive oil and 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice in a jar, cover, and shake well. Or put everything in a bowl, blender or food processor and mix until well combined.
- Taste the dressing on a leaf of lettuce.
- Now, try adding one or more of these ingredients:
- 1 tablespoon plain yogurt;
- 1 minced garlic clove,
- 1 teaspoon crumbled dried herbs (like thyme, rosemary, oregano);
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (like mint, dill, basil, cilantro);
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground spice (like black pepper, cayenne, cumin);
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard or 1 teaspoon honey.
- Now taste it again on a leaf of lettuce.
- Does it need salt? Probably not! But if you think it needs it, add ¼ teaspoon. Try one more taste. See how a little goes a long away?
- Use right away, or cover and refrigerate up to 2 weeks.
Sally Sampson is the Founder and President of ChopChop Kids.
Read her full bio.
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