In theory, it should make little difference to your health whether you cook for yourself or let someone else do the work. But unless you can afford to hire a private chef to prepare meals exactly to your specifications, letting other people cook for you means losing control over your eating life, the portions as much as the ingredients. Cooking for yourself is the only sure way to take back control of your diet from the food scientists and food processors, and to guarantee you’re eating real food and not edible foodlike substances, with their unhealthy oils, high-fructose corn syrup, and surfeit of salt. Not surprisingly, the decline in home cooking closely parallels the rise in obesity, and research suggests that people who cook are more likely to eat a more healthful diet.
“Work With What You Got!”
©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2019 All Rights Reserved
While the Nutrition Fact label can tell you a lot about a food, you need to check the ingredients list to see what you’re really eating. Is your breakfast cereal made with whole grains or does your favorite salad dressing contain oil that is high in saturated fat, for example.
By law, ingredients lists must be ordered by weight. The heaviest ingredient goes first, followed by the next heaviest, and so on. It is not a good sign if sugar is the first ingredient in a cereal or when bad fats like partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oils are the third ingredient listed on a can of biscuit dough.
Below is a list of common phrases found on many food packages:
Cholesterol Free or No Cholesterol: Don’t be fooled by the words No Cholesterol written across the label of a jar of peanut butter or bottle of canola oil. If you turn to the Nutrition Facts label, you’ll see that no brand of either food has cholesterol – and never did! Only foods of animal origin contain cholesterol. But manufacturers hope you don’t know that.
Light: This word is used to describe fat content, taste, or color. If the manufacturer is describing the fat content as “light,” the product has at least 50 percent less fat than the original. The label must also say “50% less fat than our regular product.” “Light” olive oil, on the other hand, describes the oil’s color. The oil is as caloric as regular olive oil, but has been processed to remove some of its flavor. A muffin mix can say “light and fluffy” as a way to describe its texture or consistency.
Low-Fat or Fat-Free: Low-fat products must contain 3 grams or less fat per serving and fat-free products must have less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving. But check the number of calories – that number could be very high. It is easy to gain lots of weight eating fat-free cookies because they are loaded with sugar.
Low Sodium or Light In Sodium: This means that the sodium was cut by at least 50 percent over the original product. Be careful when using a “low” version of a super-high-sodium food such as soy sauce or soup. You can still end up consuming a lot of sodium. Check the numbers on the Nutrition Fact Label.
Sugar-Free, No Added Sugars, Without Added Sugars: A sugar-free chocolate candy may not contain a speck of sugar, but it’s still got plenty of fat and calories. Be sure to check out the Nutrition Facts label to know how many calories and grams of saturated fat you’re consuming.
Sweetened With Fruit Juice, Fruit Juice Sweetener, or Fruit Juice Concentrate: These sweeteners are made by reducing fruit juice (usually grape juice) into a sticky sweetener. These sweeteners are not nutritious. They are just like sugar.
“Work With What You Got!”
© Victoria Hart Glavin Tiny New York Kitchen © 2017 All Rights Reserved
Add these Japanese items to your pantry and you’ll reach for them again and again. Some of these items are common enough that you can find them at Whole Foods or your local health food store. Others might require a trip to an Asian grocery store or an online order. Your efforts will be richly rewarded.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on fancy sake for cooking, but a decent bottle is tastier and more complex than cooking sake.
This mineral rich dried kelp is what gives dishes depth. The sheets should be sturdy with fine sea salt on the outside. Look for labels that say “kombu.”
Dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna (also known as katsuobushi) that is the yin to kombu’s yang in dishes. Quality ranges widely. You do get what you pay for here.
Avoid seasoned rice vinegar, which has sweeteners and other additives in it. Choose a brand that lists rice and water as the only ingredients.
It encompasses a range of fermented soybean pastes, from younger fresh-tasting white to long-aged, funky red. The latter, which is mellow and sweet, is the best intro.
Brewed from sticky rice, this cooking wine is sweeter and less alcoholic than sake. Pick one made with sugar rather than glucose or corn syrup because you can taste the difference.
Togarashi & Sansho
Make fruity togarashi chile powder your new Aleppo. Sansho, made from the husks of sansho peppercorns, lends tongue-tingling anise notes.
Short-Grain White Rice
With its pearly grains and subtle flavors, koshihikari is the crème de la crème of Japanese short-grain rice.
Lighter, thinner, and saltier than standard soy, usukuchi is perfect for seasoning dishes like yosenabe (hot pot) without darkening the color too much.
“Work With What You Got!”
© Victoria Hart Glavin Tiny New York Kitchen © 2016 All Rights Reserved