Sunday, December 6, 2009

MSG-less post

Yesterday I had a discussion with a few ladies on the DailyStrength forum. The topic was MSG - is it bad, it seems to be in everything, so how does one avoid it? The consensus was that it is bad and the only way to avoid it is to make food from scratch. Now this is great advice, except that it is hard to put it into practice in real life for working couples.

We try to eat at home as much as possible and I cook often - weekends for sure and a few days during the week. The other days are left over days or the occasional take out. Now, when I am cooking on weekdays, after a long day at work, there is only so much time I can spend in the kitchen. Add to that the fatigue of first trimester and it takes a Herculean effort to cook anything. The husband can only do so much himself, after taking care of dishes and laundry and the million other random chores.
So I often resort to pre-made sauces and soup mixes, which of course contain what? MSG. It's in broths, pastes, sauces, chips, anything that tastes good and expedites the eating process contains MSG. I do make several dishes 'from scratch' that don't have MSG, but there's only so many times one can make them without slowly drifting toward MSG for more variety. I've been craving jalapeno chips for months. I finally gave in and bought a big bag, which is also a big bag of MSG.

Yesterday's conversation however got me thinking. I mean, I really want to avoid this stuff. Sure, there's no concrete evidence one way or the other, but why take a chance? We've worked so hard for so long to come this far, why even risk jeopardizing the baby's health now? So I decided to get more organized about my MSG-less recipes. Usually I just wing it. I'll see what's around the house and throw something together. I don't pay attention to which meals I'm throwing in MSG and which not. Now, everytime I make a MSG-less meal, I'm going to record it in my blog so I can quickly search for them the next time. That way I'll have a quick reminder about the MSG-less possibilities that exist and hopefully I'll be able to steer myself away from the evil white powder. I hope others find them useful too. Here is what we had for last night's dinner.

Green salad

Ingredients (2 servings)

2 handfuls of mixed greens
Approx 12 grape tomatoes (or 2 vine tomatoes), halved or sliced
5 sprigs of cilantro, chopped coarsely
Red pepper, chopped (optional)
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp of balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper


Mix everything. If you have the time, allow it to sit for 10min or so, but it's not required.

Baked Salmon

Ingredients (4 servings)

1.25 lb salmon
1 tbsp olive oil


Wash the salmon and place it on a baking dish, skin down.
Coat the upper side with the oil.
Add salt, pepper, herbs (all optional).
Bake at 400F for 10min.

Note: I skip the salt if I plan to eat this with rice. In that case, I like pouring a bit of soy sauce on the fish when eating it.

Sauteed Bok choy with eggplant

Ingredients (2 servings)

1 lb bok choy (the ones with lots of green leaves), chopped coarsely.
1 large eggplant (chinese or american), sliced into half inch thick rounds.
1 big clove garlic
1 tbsp oil
Soy sauce or salt to taste


Heat the oil in a skillet.
When hot, add the garlic and eggplant. Stir and keep covered for about 3-4min.
Add the greens. Stir and keep covered for another 15min or until the eggplant is soft.
Add the soy sauce when done.

We ate the salmon and bok choy with rice and a bit of soy sauce. Each of these things are very easy and fast to make. This was tasty and nutritious too. No excuse for MSG in that meal!

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