Dr. Gourmet Newsletter: July 30, 2007

Dr. Tim Says....

Timothy S. Harlan, M.D.We eat too much salt. Simple but true. As a culture today, the developed world consumes a tremendous amount of sodium. It’s not just in the U.S., but the United Kingdom has had a campaign for about three years to convince people to reduce the amount of salt they consume. Most Asian diets are high in sodium as well, with almost every sauce, from soy sauce to fish sauce to hoisin, having added salt.

As a population it’s a major issue for policy makers to get folks to cut back from over 6000 milligrams (mg) (that’s 6 grams) of sodium per day (about 2 1/2 teaspoons of salt) to the more reasonable 2400 mg. Tough to do, because there’s so much salt in the processed foods that Americans eat. A report this week by the Council on Science and Public Health estimates that such a lowering of salt intake might save 150,000 lives each year. Hold the Salt.

Featured Recipe

Chicken and Rice Salad
I love rice salads and you can do so much with them. They are perfect for summer picnic days because, like pasta salad, they're a meal all by themselves. This salad works great with a bit of fresh basil or mint chopped into it and makes it even more bright and fresh.

Ask Dr. Gourmet

I have a couple of questions to ask on a situation that everyone runs into:

1) Does it still matter if you store opened cans of food, let's say tomotao paste, in the refrigerator? I have heard (perhaps urban myths) that because the materials used to make cans has changed, that this is no longer a great danger. Is that true?

2) If you remove the mold that forms atop an opened can of tomato paste, and carefully remove any visible moldy portions so that the next spoonful coming out doesn't touch any mold -- is it safe to use that paste? If you tasted it, and it tasted OK, I would assume it's still a bad idea to push your luck and say "Well it tastes OK, so I'll use it anyway?"

Dr. Gourmet Says....

I do love my work. It is emails like yours that keep me going.

Your question is one that we have all probably asked at one time or another. The USDA and FDA use a test known as the "Howard Mold Count" to determine the amount of mold in products that you purchase. There are regulations about the acceptable levels of mold in certain foods. The minute you open that can of tomato paste any mold that is in the can can grow with the exposure to oxygen. The longer it is in the fridge the more chance of mold growing. Most of the molds are benign and not likely to hurt you, but they will taint the flavor of the tomato paste.

There is, however, a better solution than digging down to tomato paste that doesn't have mold on it. There are many manufacturers that sell tomato paste in a tube. This is widely available in most every grocery store and a little higher priced but none gets wasted. (I use Amore Tomato Paste.)

Featured Ingredient: Tomato Paste

ChocolateIt is rare that a recipe will call for a whole can of tomato paste. Buying tomato paste in a tube allows you to squeeze out the amount that you need and seal the container. After dozens and dozens of moldy cans of tomato paste, I have learned my lesson and this is one of the staples that I keep extra of in my pantry.

Tomato paste usually contains a fair amount of sodium. I have not seen tomato paste in a tube in a low-sodium version. For more about tomato paste in a tube, here's my "Eat - Don't Eat" column about Tomato Paste.

1 Tbsp. tomato paste = 14 calories, 0g fat, 0g sat fat, 0g mono fat, 0g protein, 3g carbohydrates, 129mg sodium, 0mg cholesterol

Did You Know?

Great ingredients make for great meals. Whenever you can, use the highest quality supplies for your recipes. The flavor difference will always come through in your finished dish.

If there is an ingredient that you are not familiar with, check the Ingredients section of my website. There are pages and pages of information about the ingredients used in my recipes.

Hand on Heart

Hand on Heart

Dr. Harlan's latest cookbook, Hand on Heart, includes several of the recipes from drgourmet.com, plus a few that were developed specifically for the book, like Banoffee Pie! More on what's inside.

Cooking to Reduce the Burn

Cooking to Reduce the Burn

Cooking to Reduce the Burn was created specifically for those suffering from GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease). With Tummy Tips and easy recipes to help you eat well and eat healthy without painful acid reflux. Download it for FREE!

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